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

121 Reviews
Moonraker AleMoonraker Ale

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

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

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Reviews: 121 | Ratings: 166
Photo of slyke
3.71/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A nice winter warmer, not the best I've had, but far from the worst. Aroma is fruity, with citrus most noticable to my olfactory. Spicing is on the mild side with a dry finish. A deep garnet color with a creamy white head that starts about 3/4 of an inch, then fades to 1/8 inch. Decent lacing. Perhaps the true test of a beer is "would I buy it again?" Yep.

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Photo of Kwak
2.01/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

this one poured thick out bottle the
dark red brown color with no head at all

the smell was very sweet with a slight hoppy aroma

the taste was malty with an sweet prune taste
heavy flavor with a strong alcohol aftertaste
almost win like very strong flavor.

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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.

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Photo of Doppelbockulus
3.97/5  rDev +8.2%
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.

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Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
3.4/5  rDev -7.4%
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.

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Photo of Imbiber
4.15/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark ruby in colour with a healthy white head that lasts quite long before diminishing. Aroma hops and a hint of alcohol on the nose. Rich, roasty, malty flavours on the tongue; chewy even. A nice, warming ale supposedly named for some Mancunians who apparently tried to rake the Moon's reflection out of a river.

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Photo of AEK
4.66/5  rDev +27%
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).

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Photo of Wonka
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

500 ML
7.5% ALC VOL
60 degrees

Appearance – cloudy, rust colored; micronized white head isn’t tremendous but its reasonable; a bit of lace

Smell – toffee and caramel; some dark berries; some astringency

Taste – a touch of bitterness but malts are prevalent; more of the dark berries come through in comparison to their standing in the nose; toffee, caramel, molasses and a dose of honey carry the load; nice roasted aftertaste

Mouthfeel – big and creamy at open but thins out a bit late; closes dry

Drinkability – very smooth; very easy on the palate; a bit warming

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Photo of evilkalla
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pint bottle into an ale glass.

Poured a hazy amber/brown with a fizzy, off-white small head which remained until I finished the glass.

Smell is of malt with some hints of fruit, spice and candy. I think I detect some grape in there too.

Taste is overall pretty malty with some bread and cherry. Not bad.

Medium to high level of carbonation, mouthfeel is pretty fizzy.

Medium finish with a hint of booze. Somewhat bitter on the finish as well.

Not a bad beer, but the spices and malts flavor in this beer seemed to clash for me.

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Photo of n00tz
4.36/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Dark brown translucent (not opaque, mind you) body with tan head that lingers for a minute or so. Carbonation is a little hard to detect without good light, but is actually very alive and inviting.

Smell - Roasty, smoky, toasty, biscuity all come to mind.

Taste - My first Winter Warmer, so I wasn't sure what to expect, needless to say I was very pleasantly suprised. It had a smoky/toasty flavor. No hops overtones. It would go great with some mild or smoked cheese. I am definetly not looking forward to losing this flavor in favor of eating my dinner shortly.

Mouthfeel - Perfect presense on my palate, smooth going down with no bite afterwards. Exactly how I want my beer to feel. It begs me to keep it in my mouth. Not much reaction to a little tongue motion, so perfect carbonation.

Drinkability - I sooo want more. At 6.69 a bottle it's very likely to show up in my fridge many more times. I think I'm in love.

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Photo of 7ways
2.95/5  rDev -19.6%
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.

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Photo of andrewm190
3.78/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I have toned down my points because I am not sure a beer should taste so much like grape. The beer reminds me very much of a barley wine.

It pours a nice color, a very dark purple/black, that closes towards red as you hold it to the light.

The smell is entertaining. I sense grape, as I said, I am very much reminded of grape juice. There is something else, chocolate? I don't think so, but thats the only other thing coming to mind. So very fruity, the taste matches the smell. There is definitely a high amount of flavor. The bottle boasts a roast malt finish; I however, cannot discern it.
The beer feels fine to the palate, small carbonation. There is no "bottled by" or "freshness" date on the bottle. My only real complaint is that it tastes a little too much like grape juice, or wine. I find it to be sort of a curious ale.

I give it low marks for drinkability because it is so much like grape juice or wine. I hesitate to call it a beer drinker's beer. I can certainly enjoy a pint, but its a beer I can only appreciate in small doses (relatively, i guess), I wouldn't want to have one followed by another.
All in all a good beer; not a bad pick-up.

 1,174 characters

Photo of Jdiddy
1/5  rDev -72.8%
look: 1 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Ok, I know that this review will be harsh but take it as a warning. Do not get an old bottle! The bottle I purchased must have been sitting at the store for years. It poured very thick with no head at all. It had huge chunks all throughout. It went right down the drain. I returned the other bottle I had purchased.

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Photo of fartingdog
4.02/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Update 11/22/06: I decided to crack another bottle with a proper fill level, and it was excellent. Still not alot of carbonation, but definitely at the right level for the style. Flavor was rich and the mouthfeel was thicker than than before. Gritty sediment was still present, but most was left in the bottle. Now I am glad I bought more, and the experience has tought me to pay attention to fill levels. I still feel the $7 price tag is a bit steep for the beer, but nevertheless, a great offering.

10/01/06, original review: This bottle was a low fill (beer only up to the base of the neck) so I didn't quite know what to expect. No immediate off aromas or tastes, but there was a definite musty, woody quality about it. Slight fizz when poured, but almost no head to speak of. In checking the other reviews I would say that this bottle is on par and the low fill was not detremental. Slightly malty, but thinnish on the on the toungue. There's some faintly gritty sediment as well. There's the slight alcohol warming after sipping, but is well hidden up front.

Not bad, but in seeing other reviews, I know this beer is capable of having more carbonation and is probably much superior in that case- very much like Gale's Xmas brew- my first one was brought over from England and was excellent- everything else I bought here in the US was flat as a board. Maybe the same goes for this one. I feel that when this beer is at it's peak it would be awesome, but I'm not sure how many $7 bottles I'd want to buy to find out. (That and I bought 3 others for the cellar with higher expectations- maybe they have faired better- I can only hope.)

Update 11/22/06: I decided to crack another bottle with a proper fill level, and it was excellent. Still not alot of carbonation, but definitely at the right level for the style. Flavor was rich and the mouthfeel was thicker than than before. Gritty sediment was still present, but most was left in the bottle. Now I am glad I bought more, and the experience has tought me to pay attention to fill levels. I still feel the $7 price tag is a bit steep for the beer, but nevertheless, a great offering.

 2,150 characters

Photo of mattpetti
3.14/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark brown with redish tint. It has almost not head other than from splashing and looks to have almost no carbonation. The smell is of ripe dark fruits, roasted malts and maybe a flutter of hops at the end. Medium bodied with the fruits and roasted flavors leading the way. The fruits are almost overpowering border lining on sweet caramel flavors as well. Almost no carbonation makes this beer tast almost juice like at times. There is a tiny bit of bitterness at the very, very end. Nothing seems to balance out the fruit though. Alcohol isnt very apparent in the taste but it is warming. I can see it hard to drink more than one of these beers due to the overpowering fruit flavors. Would be great with some winter food dishes like turkey with cranberry sauce though.

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Photo of paceyourself
2.12/5  rDev -42.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

It was the first and probably the last time i'll drink this brew. It starts with a unappealing sweet molasses aroma. Roasted malt, molasses and toffee are all apparent at first then a strong alcohol feel takes over. It has more chunks and sediment than any beer i have ever seen, it wasn't a very enjoyable sight. Drinkability and mouthfeel don't seem to important at this point.

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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

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Photo of Starchild
3.72/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

The pour and head both look good, but a little short. It looks like this beer is only 9.89 oz., not going to lie but I’m little disappointed seeing that I expected 12. The color is blackened brown and the foam looks good. First sip is smooth basically tasting like Newcastle brown ale. Then hints of liquorish, malt, hop, chalk, and vanilla. Sweet delicate flavors then bombarded the taste buds. Man. Be careful pouring, I had some clumps in my pint. Interesting beer and the taste has England all over it.

 507 characters

Photo of skynxnex
4.03/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Large head forms even with a gentle pour. Settles down with some
lacing. Smells of hops, not like an APA, but British. Also a hint of
alcohol. Color is deep ruby/mahogany. Taste is sweet malt with
hops. Slight bitter backing. Has the flavor that has been in the
English Pale Ales and real Altbiers that I've had. Good, but quite
different from normal American ales. Somewhat sour. The alcohol in the smell barely shows its head in the taste. Full, somewhat slippery mouthfeel.

Overall, a good strong ale. Low on the bittering hops so the malt
shines through.

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Photo of dannyvee
4.35/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

poured a clear, deep copper-maroon with a large, billowy off-white head that stuck around. malty, raisiny sweetness on the nose which was quite strong at cellar temperature. smooth, creamy, full body give quite an inviting mouthfeel. the taste was caramel, sweet malt, dark red fruit and a bourbon quality. all that malty sweetness then snaps to a very dry finish. a nice warming brew that i'll go back to again on a cold night.

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Photo of bcorrieri
3.27/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Small to medium head.
No Lace.
Color is medium dark brown to a pale carmel rim.
Opacity is medium.
Smell is nutty and malty.
Taste is of heavy malt and pecans.
Carbonation is medium to medium-heavy.
Finish is light medium to medium.
Overall a good winter/early spring beer.

Brewed on 12 aug 09 and drank on 5 mar 10.

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