Moonraker Ale
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

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Style:
Strong Ale - English
Ranked #43
ABV:
7.5%
Score:
84
Ranked #35,050
Avg:
3.73 | pDev: 15.55%
Reviews:
125
Ratings:
170
From:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
 
England, United Kingdom
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  7
Gots
  6
SCORE
84
Good
Notes:
View: Beers
Reviews: 125 | Ratings: 170 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GuyFawkes
GuyFawkes from Illinois

3.42/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

From undated notes.

Murky brown color; hint of rust.

Khaki head which dissipates quickly.

Minimal lace.

Cloying sweet malt nose with some booze. Smells of US barleywine, never a winner with me.

Medium mouthfeel.

Not as overly malty as the nose, with some cinnamon added to the mix. Not awful; not great. Can't say I'd reach for another.

May 19, 2019
Photo of Wasatch
Wasatch from Colorado

3.29/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

16.9 Bottle?
BBEOCT06

Over 11 years on this bottle, WTF! Just bought it.

Poured into a tulip a transculent dark brown color, some carbonation, with a really quick light tan head, which leaves very minimal sticky lacing behind. The nose is malty, with a dark fruit complex (grapes, cherries, figs, plums, dates). The taste is malty, with a dark fruit complex (grapes, cherries, figs, plums, dates). Medium body, ABV hidden very well, still a complex brew, but feels watered down some. Overall, still tasty, this brew should not be aged this long.

Dec 29, 2017
Photo of Lone_Freighter
Lone_Freighter from Vermont

4/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The appearance was a semi-dark brown color with a one finger white foamy head that dissipated within about a minute. Light foamy lacing graced the sides of the glass. The smell had a roasty nutty caramel aroma, somewhat like a brown ale. But a nice rich invasive chocolate came through with a light coffee to enliven a bit. The taste was pretty much the same with a light added vanilla. On the palate, this one sat about a light to medium on the body with a fair sessionability about it. The carbonation was mostly subdued and good for the style and for me. Overall, it’s well done and definitely worthy of having again.

Jun 24, 2017
Photo of Taybeh
Taybeh from Minnesota

4.04/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On cask into a shaker. Too dark in here to tell, but probly dark brownish with decent lacing. Big waves of toffee, fig, licorice...very nice. Taste follows the nose but I'm not getting the layers as much. Smooth and creamy but no edge to clean up the finish. This was a happy surprise!

Dec 20, 2016
Photo of KarlHungus
KarlHungus from Minnesota

4.31/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

On cask at Town Hall Tap. It arrives a dark brown color with a dense off white head. Lacing stays around until the beer is gone. The aroma is malty with toffee, and carmel. There is also a really nice licorise note. The taste is similar to the aroma profile wise, but more pronounced. The mouthfeel is creamy with light carbonation. Overall, this is a treat to try on cask. I could drink a lot of this beer.

Dec 11, 2016
Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

3.4/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

The date on this beer is 13 Aug 09

This beer pours very dark, and seemed to be a very thick pouring beer. The color is somewhere between brown and black.

There is no head. There were hints of carbonation.

The nose is incredibly complex. There's some sweetness to it. It also has like a wine barrel smell to it, at least to me.

The taste of it is, well, this is the week part. There isn't much. Whatever flavors there were are gone now. It also has a watery feel to it, in spite of the thick looking pour. I would love to try this fresh, because aged is a severe letdown. If I see it again, and it's fresh, I'll gladly revisit it.

Sep 05, 2016
Photo of champ103
champ103 from Texas

4.23/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Hay Merchant in Houston.

A: Pours a near opaque dark brown color with a dense beige head. The head sticks around as a cap throughout and nice lace is left behind.
S: Huge toffee, brown sugar, and molasses in the nose. Then comes some wonderful fruity esters. Apple skins and pears are pretty dominate. Though also some dark fruits like plums peek through as well. Earthy English yeast. I love this.
T: Fruity esters are more up front than the nose. Pears and apples are very nice up front that are even slightly tart (probably why some are misinformed and saying the "I" word). A toffee sweetness, even some wood comes next. Earthy and nutty English yeast rounds everything out. Fantastic.
M/O: A medium body with a surprising amount of carbonation. Crisp, but smooths out as this breaths. So enjoyable to drink. If it was not so expensive this would be a regular purchase of mine.

A fantastic example of the catch all style. I can see this fitting into the Old Ale, Winter Ale, even a slightly less boozy English Barleywine style. This is very hardy without being over the top strong, and while maybe not the absolute masterpiece that the Harvest Ales are, this is still really well done and so enjoyable.

Feb 19, 2016
Photo of chinchill
chinchill from South Carolina

3.27/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

From a cask at the 2016 Atlanta Cask Ale Festival.
Pours dark brown with a bubbly head. Lightly hazy.
Slightly pungent aroma hints at the strong flavor but the taste is quite tart despite a sweet note up front.

Overall: Fresh and interesting but infected.

Jan 23, 2016
Photo of seedyone
seedyone from New York

2.23/5  rDev -40.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.25

09/08/11 at RnH, NYC. Not sure who thought this was a good idea. Not to my liking at all. Way too sour. Thought there was peppermint in the aroma but didn't find it elsewhere. Other references claim it was a CAMRA winter beer of Britain winner. Remind me never to go to Britain in the winter.

Jul 30, 2014
Photo of EmperorBevis
EmperorBevis from England

3.75/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottled
Dark black, almost no head. Malty aroma with a bit of fruitcake. Lots of CO2; overcarbonated. Thin and watery, with not much complexity in the flavor: a bit of malt, a bit of roasted coffee beams, not much else

Nov 01, 2013
Photo of macrosmatic
macrosmatic from Florida

3.56/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes. Poured from a 500 mL bottle into a Cigar City pint glass.

A: Hazy deep brown, one finger's worth of off-white head, and low visible carbonation.

S: Boozy, caramel, spicy, brown malts (which smell a touch oxidized/cardboard to me).

T: Sweet brown malt, bready, a little cinnamon or nutmeg and vanilla with some rum raisin flavors. It's quite boozy for such a moderate ABV.

M: Medium body, carbonation on the low side but acceptable, and a little hot.

O: It's not bad, but nothing I'd likely repeat. This bottle did have some age on it, which makes the booziness even more surprising.

Mar 31, 2013
Photo of ummswimmin
ummswimmin from New Jersey

4.04/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer was served in a fluted glass at the Ginger Man in NYC (review is from notes).

This beer had no foam when served to me. The coloring is brown with some decent light at the edges.

This beer is pretty rich, while being decently thin. I get dark fruit upfront while retaining some good mouthfeel as it eases off.

This one makes for a very good sipper.

Feb 22, 2013
Photo of flyingpig
flyingpig from Scotland

3.62/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark mahogany colour with deep red tinges with a thin, off-white head that is about a millimetre thick that remains consistent throughout.

Mainly dark fruits to start, a combination of plum and sugar with some raisin and a little spice too. There is some toffee malts and some grapes but it doesn't smell as strong as I had been expecting.

Dark fruits kick things off with the plums and raisin from the nose along with a sort of fig taste. There is some sweet, rich malts and a little sugar along with an alcohol laced finish.

Medium bodied and with moderate to high carbonation, there is a dry finish that is slightly bitter and boozy with some spice in the mix too.

Very fruity and not as dark as I had expected, although still quite sweet. You can definitely feel that 6.5% abv. after a few drinks and it is quite a boozy beer to drink but it is one that I would have again.

Dec 17, 2012
Photo of jonb5
jonb5 from England

3.58/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Half pint at JDW beer festival. Black, almost opaque apart from the brown edge. Tiny head, poor retention but it kept some lacing. Aroma was cork with notes of cranberry. Malty taste, stoutlike. There was some burn from the booze at the finish. Fairly smooth, texture was like thin syrup, minimal carbonation. Overall it had lots of burn from the alcohol but didn't really have the depth of character that some beers of this strength have.

Oct 29, 2012
Photo of russpowell
russpowell from Arkansas

3.06/5  rDev -18%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

One I remember having on cask in England, let's see how this bottled offering compares... Could not find a date anywhere on this bottle...

Pours an effervescent chestnut, with extremely thin cream colored head. Murks up, some lacing, zero head retention

S: Figs, dates & raisins

T: Figgyness & jammyness up front & faint leafy hops as well. More fruittyness, jammyness & a touch of treacle sweetness as this warms, mildly warming booze. Finishes fruitty, dry, & jammy

MF: Fairly thin considering the abv, minimal carbonation, some stickyness

Fails to impress, this bottle didn't fare well on this side of the pond. I remember it being somewhat better on cask, some beers may not be worth revisiting...

Jul 11, 2012
Photo of Samp01
Samp01 from New Jersey

4.32/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a slightly viscous cloudy brown with a medium lasting tan head. Aroma toasted caramel malt, dark fruits, plums, figs, and some liquorice notes. Taste is toasted caramel malt, dark fruits of plums, dates, black figs with some mild bitterness. A full bodied brew with a slightly viscous and sticky mouthfeel with some moderate carbonation on the palate. Finish is sweet toasted caramel malt, dark fruits, plums, dates, black figs followed by some sweet alcohol esters and some mild bitterness ending. Flavor and aroma of liquorice, dates and figs becomes more evident as it warms up. Overall an excellent, flavorful nicely balanced, and delicious brew, very enjoyable.

May 17, 2012
Photo of metter98
metter98 from New York

3.78/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: The beer is rather hazy mahogany in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a quarter finger high beige head that quickly died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface and a ring of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Light but interesting aromas of dark fruits (plums and prunes) and toffee are present in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell but the flavors are a bit stronger and also include notes of caramel and mineral water.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a bit thin and watery on the palate with a low to moderate amount of carbonation (similar to what you would expect from a cask ale). No alcohol warming is detectable.
O: This beer is quite easy to drink compared to others in the style because it isn’t that full-bodied and there are no traces of alcohol in the taste.

Note: 2009 vintage

Apr 14, 2012
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

4.21/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Two year old properly cellared bottle. Poured into a Gulden Draak tulip. Pours a very dark, nearly opaque brown with a half-finger fine light tan head that actually increased in size as it warmed. Massive lacing. Looks nice. Aroma of dark toasted and caramel malts, slight dark and dried fruit. Flavor follows with dark, toasted and sweeter malt, dark fruit. Finishes with malty dark fruit and a hint of wood, spice and hops. Nice medium body. Very pleasant. I would call this an old ale, not a winter warmer. I don't taste much spicing. I really enjoyed this. Wish this was available more often.

Feb 28, 2012
Photo of jazzyjeff13
jazzyjeff13 from England

4.03/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 500ml bottle with a BB of Jan 2012, although given the strength of this brew I prefer to think of it as vintage rather than old. The label mentions a tale of farm hands attempting to rake the moon from a stream, thinking it was cheese.

Poured into a tulip pint glass. A deep ruby-brown hue with medium carbonation. Forms a huge head of creamy light-tan foam that remains for a few minutes before reducing to a surface layer. A sweet, slightly cloying aroma of dark malt with notes of molasses, dried fruit, brown sugar, liquorice and yeast. A background whiff of booze. Posseses a vinous, wine-like quality.

Tastes of rich dark malt with a dry finish. Notes of dried fruit, molasses, prunes, liquorice, dry yeast and stewed hops. A dry, slightly harsh bitterness upon swallowing, with a warming hint of alcohol in the background. Fruity and vinous. Mouthfeel is thick and smooth, with a pleasing creamy sensation and tingly carbonation. Pretty astringent; dries the palate. Aftertaste of sweet, fruity malt.

A rich, fruity experience - quite intense, definitely one to sip and savour. A pleasing blend of flavours that rounds out nicely. A quality strong ale; goes down nicely on a cold winter night. Well worth trying.

Feb 10, 2012
Photo of Doppelbockulus
Doppelbockulus from Florida

3.97/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage

Pours a very deep brown that still allows some light through. About a 2 inch head rises.

The smell includes some sweetness, some hay, and some cream.

Taste is similar to an aging barley wine. The sweetness is barely starting to poke through. Hops are calm, not heavy. Tastes like whole wheat toast that is lightly toasted and still has a moist center. Very dim caramel that may be more apparent after a few more years.

Mouthfeel is much like bread. Mouth is full and busy, the beer is not syrupy but is still thick.

Jan 27, 2012
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Fatehunter from Oregon

3.94/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a tulip glass. Copper to dark brown color with barely any head.

Smells of hay, mild caramel and musty malt.

Packs a malt punch, but retains a lighter body. Sweet, like overripe plum. Malt all the way through. Despite a relatively low ABV there is a little alcohol heat to it.

Lots of bubbles but not very carbonated. A sticky texture, clings to the mouth.

A great winter warmer sipper. Dark and sweet.

Dec 24, 2011
Photo of fx20736
fx20736 from New York

4.08/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a goblet, served at 63f.

Lovely tawny port brown with an offwhite head.

Aroma: baking in the oven molasses-gingerbread cookies and faint suggestions of toffee, earthy Fuggles hoppiness, caramel and diacetyl.

mouthfeel: silky and smooth

taste: bready malt, molasses sweetness, with a slightly sour twang and a finish that is Treacly sweet with just a kiss of prunes.

Notes: Is this a Barleywine, a Strong Ale as the bottle suggests or a Winter Warmer as BA calls it? I guess it doesn't matter, this is another malty, sweet beer like a Wee Heavy but without the peatiness or a Belgian Strong Dark Ale but without the spices. The sweetness of this beer and 7.5% abv make this a sipper. Don't drink this if you're in a hurry, it's a beer to lay down and avoid a bit, then a sip and then another laydown. Good stuff.

Nov 11, 2011
Photo of AEK
AEK from Wales

4.66/5  rDev +24.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

500ml brown bottle poured into a JW Lees bitter pint pot.

A. A clear, autumnal red-brown beer topped by a slightly tanned bubbly head.

S. Vine fruits, fruity malt and some sherry notes in the background.

T. Honey, cloves, figs, spice and kirsch blend harmoniously with the alcoholic warmth this ale gives off.

M. Full.

D. A delicious strong ale from Manchester. Although good in bottled form this comes nowhere near to its cask counterpart which is a REAL brute!! 3 pints of this beast on draught and you will know about it (so will your pocket).

Apr 18, 2011
Photo of 7ways
7ways from Georgia

2.95/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Gotta say I expected more from Harvest Ale's little brother. This bottle is 1.5 years old, but others have given this vintage at least decent marks, and it's certainly not oxidized. Someone please BM me if this is supposed to only be consumed fresh.

Pours murky brown with a quickly vanishing head. Oily. Maybe I swirled too much, but it leaves only tiny pin pricks of lace. The constant swirling was because I can barely smell this damn thing; what I do get is pretty cheesy, with raisins and fruit X in the background.

The cheese plate aroma does not carry over to much into the taste. It's much more nutty and malty, with a vinous, not quite tart quality. Consumed cold it's quite metallic, but at the proper temp it vanishes. Nice caramel and bread notes, but they're just too weak. There is something that distracts from the taste as soon as I swallow; it's not exactly bad, but it hurts drinkability. Low but lively carbonation.

While not bad compared to most English beers available in the US, there is something essential missing here. With every sip I wait for something to happen, or to change, but it never does.

Feb 13, 2011
Photo of avalon07
avalon07 from South Carolina

4.32/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a orange-red color and a thick, cloudy texture. There was an inch of fairly long-lasting, foamy, head. OK lacing.

S: A nice aroma of malt, caramel, and some spices.

T: A solid, focused flavor of caramel and malt up front, with toffee and spices in the finish. A bit more noticeable alcohol than I would have expected, but not overly so. A very sweet, pleasant taste.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a super dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: A surprisingly flavorful and balanced beer. Drinkable.

Dec 16, 2010
Moonraker Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 170 ratings