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

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119 Reviews
Moonraker AleMoonraker Ale

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

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: 119 | Ratings: 163
Photo of DefenCorps
2.5/5  rDev -31.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

16.9oz bottle received from hwwty4 as the Ugly in the GBU BIF. Thanks, man (maybe?) Into my Duvel tulip

A: Pours a deeep brown with a thin tan head that dissipates very quickly to a ring. Deep crimson highlights. Not much carbonation.

S: Smells loaded with molasses and jaggery sweetness with none of the spices one would expect from a winter warmer. Sweetness is pretty complex but not necessarily appealing with some peaty, smoked notes

T: Starts off with a watery cola sweetness along with a lot of varied sweetness with molasses, jaggery and cola. Finish is thin, sweet and watery

M: Flat, sweet, thin, watery. Nothing to like here

D: Fuck that, 8 sips is about all i can do.

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Photo of Brad007
3.1/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mild brownish-amber color with a two-finger head that fades down, leaving some lacing in the glass.

Aroma is full of malt that seems quite sweet and perhaps mildly hoppy/aromatic in nature.

Taste is full of sweet, chewy malt with a reminder of molasses and caramel in the middle. Seems quite average.

Mouthfeel is full of the same lingering tastes. Carbonation is rather high. Not quite desirable.

Meh. I've had much better examples of the style. It's not horrible but look elsewhere.

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Photo of Bighuge
3.77/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Turbid and murky brown appearance. Just a collaring of light brown head. Aroma has caramel, wood, toffee, smoke and prunes. Good is a bit of an understatement. The smoke and toffee are the primarys on the buds. Some bitterness enters the equation. Leather as well. Raisins and rumcake. Licorice as well. Decent enough, but nowhere near the class of their Harvest ales.

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Photo of Bung
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cloudy amber pour, very little white head. Nutty, citrus with some malt aroma. Upfront is a little bitter with some citrus, green apple. Mellows out into a real nice maltiness. The fruit continues to fade as the beer warms, the maltiness increases with some toffee and prune like flavors. A solid medium body. The abv isn't exactly strong ale like, but I thought this one was a bit under rated. Would recommend a try to anyone who likes a traditional old ale style brew. For those that prefer a strong ale as basically an Imperial IPA, than this is not for you.

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Photo of stereosforgeeks
2.59/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance – Dark brown with a mild red hue. There was very little carbonation. Nonexistant lacing.

Smell – The aroma is very muffled but from what I can tell there are some caramel malts, with some nuts and fruit (fig or raisin?)

Taste – The caramel malts provide a strong backbone for some sherry and oak notes. This is pretty sugary and while the nuts and dark fruit seem present they are in the background.

Mouthfeel – The full bodied beer was almost sticky in the mouth and there didnt seem to be anything to help light the load on your palate some sort of carbonation would have been nice. Maybe this beer was a little too old?

Drinkability – This one was a bit lackluster. Maybe a fresher bottle will change my mind.

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Photo of glid02
4.1/5  rDev +12%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Porter in Atlanta.

Pours a hazy brown color with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of red wine barrels with dark caramel malts with hints of toastiness. Also present are slight amounts of dark fruit aromas that intensify as the beer warms.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Medium malt flavors with solid amounts of toasted malts kick things off. Joining in shortly thereafter are mildly tart fruit flavors that segue into softer dark fruit flavors. Finally, hints of indistinct spices and cocoa powder come into play before a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is good. It's got a nice thickness with moderate carbonation.

Drinkability is very good. I finished my glass quickly and could easily have a few more.

Overall I didn't know what to expect from this beer and was pleasantly surprised by the complexity. An interesting beer that's well worth a shot.

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Photo of champ103
4.23/5  rDev +15.6%
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.

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Photo of ccrida
4.6/5  rDev +25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Caveat - I really love English barleywines, which is what I considered Moonraker for this review.
550ml poured into an imperial pint, Moonraker is a dark garnet with an off-white head that leaves pretty nice lace for the first inch or two.

Sweet malt, sugary esters, damp leafy hops. Simple but nice.

Taste rich malt and wet, herbal hops. Coconut, pears, cotton-candy, honey, fresh grassy, leafy hops, cedar, clean and sweet, wow! This is a really nice balance of full flavors with a rounded softness.

Mouthfeel is slick, pricky hop oils, some drying alcohol, medium bodied.

Drinkability is exceptional, because this beer is exceptional. We just got a new shipment of a bunch of different J.W. Lee's, before which I'd only had them at festivals. Now that I've worked though what they were offering, they might be one of my favorite breweries period, let alone from the U.K.!

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Photo of ZAP
3.35/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours a deep red with floaties all over the pace....little whisp of a head...Nose is malty...woody....like it was oak aged in bourban barrels almost....low carbonation....relatively smooth and firm mouthfeel....flavors are pretty complext....some berry fruitniess....also the oak/bourban flavor....bitter dark cocoa...pretty malty but finishes on a strong dry note..

Add it all together and it's pretty good....just doesn't blow my socks off...tastes very alcoholic...like drinking bourban....worth trying one bottle...I will not buy this one again....

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.32/5  rDev +18%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Aroma is rich, smoky, with hints of molasses and coffee - what I call "stouty" since I am partial towards porters and stouts. It pours a dark, semi-opaque mahogany with a fine-bubbled and fairly persistent head. Flavor is smoky and malty with a fair amount of sweetness. When it goes down the hatch, it leaves a touch of hoppy bitterness, which complements the sweet rather than clashing. A flavorsome and enjoyable beer, one should sip and savor it, and preferably without a distraction like a party or game.

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Photo of Dogbrick
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of Fatehunter
3.94/5  rDev +7.7%
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.

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Photo of RoyalT
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
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 francisweizen
4/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark plum with a nice tan head of foam that lasted for quite a while. The aroma of this brew was all about the big fruity malts, I got hints of plums, pudding, cranberries, various nuts, and more. Like an excellent winter cake in a bottle. The taste was sweet, fruity, and malty up front, with some complex fruit and nut notes in the middle, and a very smooth finish that left a lingering dark fruit aftertaste on the tongue. The mouthfeel was medium bodied>thick but perfect and the drinkability was good as well. Not as good as their harvest ale, but another winner from Manchester, none-the-less.

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Photo of cokes
3.65/5  rDev -0.3%
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.

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Photo of garymuchow
3.72/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Mark and 3 Corners for this bottle.
Aroma presents witha nice deep rich malt character with fruity tones and hints of alcohol. Nice.
Brownish amber with reds in the light. Smallish brown head that goes to a ring only in time.
Full malty flavors with really nice fruity qualities. A bit of sharpness and finishes with a mild dryness and a mild bitterness. Not particularily complex.
Begins feeling full and rich, but seems to feel thinner in time. Has a bit of viscosity.
Overall just fine. Nothing stands out, but nothing detracts either. Others have noted the price and it is a bit spendy. Probably could do better for less.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.32/5  rDev +18%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Presentation: 9.89 oz bottle. Unknown vintage.

Appearance: Hazy, cararmel brown with light tan (off-white) foam.

Smell: Sweet malt with a hint of fruit (mild banana) and yeast.

Taste: Sweet, malty, yeasty. Hint of oak and musty grapes. Slight hop bitterness in finish.

Mouthfeel: Very smooth, mellow, and creamy. Low carbonation. Full body. Warming, but with a dry finish.

Drinkability: Very good. A ver nice strong ale.

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Photo of mdagnew
3.78/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Half pint sampled at the Belfast Beer Festival, 17th November 2006...

Poured a deep red / brown colour. Creamy tan head poured quite thinly then faded to pretty much nothing... no real carbonation or lacing...

Aroma - Strong maltiness, quite sweet - treacle / brown sugar, dark fruits (figs, plums), toffee hints. some leathery notes, nutty, some pepperiness...

Taste – Lightly roasted caramel maltiness, nice fruitiness (cherry and faint over ripe banana hints, figs), nice light spicy hop bitterness, light ginger, slight vanilla notes, some breadiness, alcohol comes through a little...

Feel - Smooth and quite oily with a slight sharpness coming through.... At 7.5% probably couldn't drink too many of these in one sitting...

Overall - A excellent winter warmer.... Recommended....

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Photo of merlin48
4.15/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark mahogany body that reveals a radiant ruby tone when backlit. Active carbonation is seen when held to a strong light. Sturdy, one inch ecru head is creamy and inviting, having excellent retention. Sticky sheets of lace coat the glass.
Aroma is on the malty side, with notes of brown sugar, toffee, caramel malt, figs, and stewed apples. A floral note of rose water adds some intrigue.
Mouthfeel is almost full bodied, but not quite chewy, with moderate carbonation.
Taste begins sweet, with dark fruits like figs and raisins up front. Some warming alcohol is apparent. Brown sugar and toffee are evident, and some smoky peat adds a nice complexity. Some fruity red apple notes appear in the middle. Earthy and floral hops serve to balance. Roasty malts and mildly bitter hops on the finish.
Very classy Old Ale that is a very nice sipper. Lots of complexity. Another fine English ale from J.W.Lees. Try this with some English sharp cheddar or Cheshire cheese for a real treat.

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Photo of Vancer
3.29/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pour was the downfall of this one – root beer fizz with no head or lacing. But a nice aroma of sour malts in the aroma picked things back up a bit.

Decent tasting brew of caramel, coffee and spices – finishes with a sour mash bourbon kick. Medium bodied brew, has a nice rich malty backbone. Just a tad to tart & sour to make this one a real session drinker – not to mention the 7.5% abv

Saludos to BRoss242 for the sample.

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Photo of Todd
4.38/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 275ml brown bottle. No freshness date. It's got a little "Camra" logo on it -- I guess stating that this is a "real ale."

Appearance: Rich, dark amber, near absolute brown in colour. The off-white head is crazy, thick, foamy, creamy, patchy, sticky and it seems to not want to go away. There's some clumps as this is a bottle-conditioned ale. Pour carefully.

Smell: Huge caramel, toffee, coffee and esters in the aroma.

Taste: Smooth, with some bittiness in the mouthfeel. Body is rich, thick and full. Malt profile is very sweet and robust with toffee, coffee, caramel, honey, chocolate, vanilla, oak/wood, fruity esters and raisin. Toasted and roasted notes tag each other into the tastebud ring as the complex flavours shift around the palate. Bitterness is just enough to balance things out, but not too much as to spoil the malt character -- a sort of semi-herbal, raw hop flavour and feel. Alcohol presence is strong, prickly and warming. Finishes with residual malt flavours, then turns dry.

Notes: This is an insanely delicious ale! A must for big beer lovers, and a fine addition for any beer cellar. Too bad it's so damn expensive at $5.45 a bottle here in the US.

On the back it says it won as a winter ale, and as a barley wine. I'll just call it a strong ale and straighten things out.

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Photo of ummswimmin
4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
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.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.12/5  rDev -14.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice-sized bottle purchased from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
"Award Winning Strong Beer" on the front logo sticker...
A thoroughly aggressive pour resulted in a crisp, clear, lucid coca-cola-colored, dark purple appearance with no head at all or any visible lacing or carbonation...
Strong, alcohol-laden, fruity smell, rather dark, with a noticeable suggestion of dehydrated fruits...
Taste strongly complemented the aroma, with an obvious suggestions of prunes, dates, figs, plums, Sherry, and caramel...
Rich, creamy mouthfeel, with a noticeable suggestion of the 7.5% ABV...
Drinkability was average to say the least due to the presence of powerful alcohol, and the cloying sweet flavors...

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.97/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass crystal clear brown with a low white head that barely formed and disappeared in an instant.

The aroma was low with a slightly acidic overtone and fruity esters that emerged as the beer warmed. Just a hint of roast or perhaps smoke was present.

The flavor was malty with a nice crisp mineral profile and some roast that gave the beer a smoky presence. The bittering was not high, but enough to keep the beer from being overly sweet. The flavor was just a bit vinous and fruity with caramel.

The finish was even with a lasting bit of estery fruity character long into the aftertaste with a presence of smoke. The body was just above medium and the carbonation level was low. A bit more complexity would make this one more interesting. There was also some warming that occurred after consumption due to the alcohol content.

500 ml bottle.

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Photo of macrosmatic
3.56/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

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Moonraker Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
3.66 out of 5 based on 163 ratings.
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