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

BA SCORE
83
good
166 Ratings
Moonraker AleMoonraker Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom
jwlees.co.uk

Style: English Strong Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 10-15-2001

BEER STATS
Ratings:
166
Reviews:
121
Avg:
3.67
pDev:
15.8%
 
 
Wants:
9
Gots:
6
For Trade:
0
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 166 |  Reviews: 121
Photo of polishkaz
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of psm90
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Swampy root beer brown that looks as if it could be dark amber-bronze if it ever clears. There's a tremendous load of what looks like flocculated yeast in suspension, which makes me think that this bottle might be a bit long in the tooth. The respectable looking cap of foam is the color of sand and is a solid one finger at present. Lace doesn't look likely, but I'll chime in with a lace update if needed.

While it isn't a bad nose, it's nothing too exciting. Malt is uppermost with a stale, somewhat earthy, dark fruitiness that is flinty rather than sweet. No hops to speak of. There might be a hint of spiciness (nothing specific comes to mind). The nose reminds me in some ways of Anchor OSA; a beer that I don't love. The more I smell, the less I like, so I think I'll stop now and take a drink.

I'm not sure what the target flavor was here, but it's one that doesn't appeal to me. Moonraker is still dark fruity with vodka-soaked raisins in the pole position. The malt tastes overroasted with a bitter astringency that appears in some stouts (though this beer isn't at all stout-like). The word stale keeps coming to mind as I drink. It's also moderately metallic, firmly woody and has a too-prominent ethanol presence. It isn't as bad as I'm making it sound, but it isn't much better either.

The mouthfeel makes an attempt at full and rounded... and then loses its way by the finish. It's also slightly more carbonated than I like my winter warmers to be. Lace alert: the thick band at midglass gives some visual interest, even as I'm losing interest in the rest of the beer.

Moonraker is okay, but there are much better winter warmers than this. In fact, I've had a few from lesser known American brewers that could kick its ass to the dark side of the moon and back.

 1,789 characters

Photo of Sammy
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I accept the description on the bottle - this must be great in pies and such. Straight drinking - a suitably hopped dark beer with distinct sourness, smooth mouthfeel. Nice dark colour. Secondary malt and licorice. Somewhat drinkable. Must be shared. Not for everybody.

 269 characters

Photo of BeerSox
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

500ml bottle into nonic.

Deep, dark and cloudy mahogany color with a one finger tan head that rises to just even with the rim of the glass. It slowly settles to a thin cap.

Roasty malty background along with a bit of burnt caramel and cinnamon.

Toasted grains which load in the caramel flavor. Some light spices are in the middle, but a lot so they are noticed. The feel is slightly tart. Hops are on the low end - this is a mostly sweet beer. Full bodied.

Somewhat of a spicy Winter Warmer. Not overdone though. Some roastiness, but mostly sweet caramel.

 561 characters

Photo of kjkinsey
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of BretSikkink
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very dark brown, a few little clumps of sediment. When held to light, a few highlights of dark reddish amber show. Minimal head is foamy and quite sticky, although retention is not great.

Aroma is very thick and malty, very sweet with notes of caramel and toffee. Ester alcohol apparent as well.

Full, but not as thick as I expected, with plenty of bitter hops to balance the malt profile. Flavors emerge dramatically as the glass warms, with notes of coffee and oak join the fruity sweetness of the nose. There's an herbal sensation in the mouth, with a warming alcohol finish.

Winter warmer...interesting style. Big and well fermented, a complex brew but not as thick as other strong ale types.

 708 characters

Photo of macrosmatic
3.56/5  rDev -3%
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.

 608 characters

Photo of TastyTaste
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Dark maroon, still light-penetrable. Head is small, but retentive.

Smell: Fruity, yet somewhat sour and acidic.

Taste: Malty and more mellow than I would expect. Diacetyl is noticeable, yet not that strong yet. Malts are roasted, and the alcohol is weill hidden. OK.

Mouthfeel: Somewhat creamy, OK carbonation, not bad.

Drinkability: Not a bad winter warmer, but I think this might be a little past it's peak.

 434 characters

Photo of jonb5
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
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.

 439 characters

Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

P: 16.9oz brown pop top; nice, classy label; a date is clearly stamped; whether it's best-by or bottled on, I'm not sure. If it's best by, this is a couple of months out-dated, but with the I'm thinking this is probably ok

A: Hazy dark mahogany beer with a nice light beige cap with good retention

S: Lots of dark caramel, sticky sweet dark fruits, medium-toasted bread; simple, but not unpleasant.

T: Flavors match the aromas, with just a hint of minerality on the finish as well; this is much maltier and more full than the only other time I've tasted it, when I suspected that it was way past it's best-by date and sufficiently oxidized. I still feel this might be just a bit past its prime, but is still pretty tasty. Nothing out of this world, but rustic and tasty in a wonderfully English way

M: Medium-bodied

D: Medium-high

C: Again, this MAY be a bit out of date, or it may not; even if this is a bit past it's prime, I don't detect a lot of oxidation here; I'm just not completely blown away by this beer, which is kind of unexpected, as J.W. Lees is such a renowned brewery. Due to this, perhaps I'm being a bit hard on this beer. Bottom line: it's tasty, it's classic, and it's delightfully British. Is it worth almost six dollars for a pint? Meh.

 1,266 characters

Photo of cvfish
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - This beer poured a reddish brown color that produced a white foamy head that had decent retention and left a good lace on the side of the glass

S - The aromas produced by this beer were some caramel and malts, some fruitiness and toffee

T - The taste of this beer was a good bit of caramel malts, a bit molasses and toffee, and a bit of hops on the finish

M - The mouthfeel of this beer had a medium body that was smooth, and had a moderate amount of carbonation

D - This was a good beer, very drinkable, this was another good example of a beer from JW Lees

 565 characters

Photo of alpinebryant
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a flat looking slightly hazy brown. small to tiny white head

Smell of yeasty toffee and some dark plum. slight booze presence in aroma, grassy hops. some port aromas?

Taste of a sweet malty brown ale with some brandy/port flavors. Not sure if these are from spices or from barrel aging. Slight funk presence sa well. Smooth drinking , light carbonation. A decent beer, but not my favorite Winter Warmer. A lighter Old Ale IMO with some additional spices.

 462 characters

Photo of pcbnumber1
3.61/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Photo of RoyalT
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Appearance – Beautiful dark brown in color and full of carbonation and sediment. The tanned head was huge and relentless, lacing the glass wickedly on its slow ride down. It was a thing of beauty for sure. I hope it tastes as good as it looks.

Smell – The aroma is very muffled, even after warming. I can pick up a solid malt base though with maybe a bit of yeast to it. There’s also some sherry and dark fruits, most notably figs.

Taste – The oak comes out in the taste. The sherry is there as well, and they both work to compliment the strong malt base. This ale is a lot bigger at the tongue than it is at the nose. There’s a warming alcohol flavor to go along with the huge sugars.

Mouthfeel – I liked the fullness of the body here, but the carbonation was quite annoying. It kind of fizzled without satisfying. Otherwise, this felt good.

Drinkability – This is definitely 9 ounces of sipping ale. I enjoyed it very much, but the flavors are a bit strong and clumsy and may not be to everyone’s liking.

 1,026 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle bought from Harrington's Wine & Liquors, Chelmsford, MA.

Poured into a Rapscallion glass, formed a minimal uneven tan head over the cloudy, deep red brew. Head and lacing are both lacking, to say the least. Aroma is vinous and dark fruits, reminds me of their Harvest Ale. Taste is somewhat bitter for the style, with a slight spicy flavor. Mouthfeel is relatively creamy, but the bitterness is somewhat off-putting, and drinkability is similar. Not as overly spiced as some Winter Warmers are, but this one has room for improvement.

 549 characters

Photo of Viking
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

It's not just the worst Bond flick ever, it's also a Barleywine!

Murky brown ale with a slight reddish tint. Plenty of CO2 trails noticeable through the murk. Good sized tan head. Dissipates quickly, but carbonation keeps a thin lace atop the brew. Rich malty aroma with hints of raisin, toffee and an odd note of roasted malt. Chewey toffee/caramel flavor, with hints of dark fruit. A little thinner on the taste than I'd like, however. Despite the carbonation, mouthfeel is rather creamy. It's a lot like rich, chewey toffee candy, without the intense sweetness. A pretty smooth drinking brew.

 607 characters

Photo of flyingpig
3.62/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

 881 characters

Photo of John
3.63/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

275mL. bottle, bottle conditioned. Cloudy dark brown, minimal head. Dark ripe fruit, notes of prune, raisins and pear...some medicinal alcohol. These notes are also present in the flavor along with some sticky caramel and molasses and more strong alcohol. For a brew at 7.5% abv, this tastes like a much stronger beer, almost like a barleywine. Full mouthfeel. A unique, belly warming brew.

 390 characters

Photo of cokes
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chocolate hued with a layer of lively tan foam.
Nose of prune and leather, with rotting raspberries and carob clues in the distance.
At the fore, its a big toffee-coated plum malt monster. It ebbs to a husky raw graininess as the body fades, with an encompassing oak note. Metallic elements appear in the afterwash along with a caramel-chocolate continuation of the malts. It end with a coarse hopping that signals dead weeds. Brandy-ish grapey flares of alcohol pop up on occasion.
Medium bodied (on average), feeling fat up front, but whittles away to a stick figure close.
Ok, but a bit rough around the edges.

 622 characters

Photo of Dogbrick
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This Barley Wine pours a dark reddish-brown color with a thin light brown head. Thin lacing. The aroma is malty and fruity. Lighter body than most Barley Wines, with flavors of roasted malt, caramel, and fruit. The finish is very sweet and borderline cloying. Not the best of the style, but maybe a "Beginner's Barley Wine" due to the lighter body and more sedate flavors.

 372 characters

Photo of barefootbrewer
3.67/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Clear brown with a thin tan head.

S: The aroma is malty and spicy. Inviting.

T: This is another beer that is heavy on malt/caramel. There are some spice notes and perhaps a hint of sourness. The flavors seem to be fairly balance.

M: Mouthfeel is full and well suited.

D: Easy to drink sweet brew. Solid.

 312 characters

Photo of phisig137
3.67/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep brown, almost black color with ruby highlights, and a half finger head. Poor retention doesn't leave anything nice behind, just a flat looking glass of ale.

Aroma is sweet, brightly fruity, and slightly alcoholic. Malty caramel aromas are well blended with an unusually fruity yeast strain... seems almost overly fruity and out of place for a British beer.

Flavor is quite sweet, to the point of being cloying up front. Again, massive fruit flavors here.... peaches, apples, pears, and maybe plums. the finish begins to take on a dryer side, although not hoppy. Finish is lingering. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, and smooth. Drinkability is pretty good for the ABV.

not a bad beer at all. I rather enjoy this one. The yeast must be the house strain over at J.W. Lee's, as you can taste some similarities to the harvest ale in this one. I wonder if this has the potential to age as well... I personally love the harvest ale, and this one pales in comparison. BUT, this was 3.99 a pint, compared to $8.49 for 9 ounces. If I'm in the mood and can't afford it, this is a decent back up.

 1,103 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.67/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a very dark reddish-brown body with a rather short-lived, thin head.

Smell: A malty, refreshingly fruity aroma full of sour cherries, dark fruits, caramel, anise, port wine, and molasses.

Taste: Smooth, sweet malt-driven flavors are really allowed to shine here. Toffee, chocolate-covered raisins, light molasses, rum cake, blackberries, dark fruits, and sherry all wrapped up with a gentle, though noticeable sourness in the background. Only the faintest oaky bitterness in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Not much in the way of carbonation here at all.

Drinkability: An enjoyable, highly quaffable beer. I'm not sure this really belongs in the Winter Warmer category, but what's done is done, I guess.

 743 characters

Photo of thetachibro
3.68/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A dark red ruby, dark brownish color with a minimal head that is constantly fed by the carbination. A slight alcohol aroma with some caramel. When i first sipped this beer to me it was very sweet. that for me contributes to the average drinkablity. Medium bodied mouthfeel and not bad for a winter warmer

 304 characters

Moonraker Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
3.67 out of 5 based on 166 ratings.
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