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

BA SCORE
83
good
167 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:
167
Reviews:
122
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: 167 |  Reviews: 122
Photo of BillRoth
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of John_M
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Don't see this on tap too often, so thought I'd give it a whirl at Max's today.

The beer pours a dark ice tea color with fair head retention and some decent lacing. Don't get a great deal on the nose... mabye some brown sugar, cherry and orange citrus. Really, this beer has a bit of a sweet ice tea aroma to it. The flavor profile is a bit more straight forward and one dimensional, but with a fair amount of brown sugar, vanilla and light sherry. Mouthfeel is medium bodied to full, and drinkability is OK. The beer is a bit heavy, and in fact the alcohol feels as if it's a higher than it actually is.

I don't know... nothing wrong with this beer, but it just isn't doing a lot for me today. It's really not much better than a lot of English style brown ales out there, which is what this beer reminds of. Nothing wrong with that, but... just seems like it could be so much more.

 885 characters

Photo of BlackHaddock
3.25/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark brown 500ml bottle, best before Oct 2008, drank May 2008.

Poured into a Westmalle Trappist Chalice glass.

looked fine, tan head on top of a deep ruby red body, clear and seethrough when held up to the light. The head soon turned to a rim and wisp covering, pity.

Aroma was fairly sweet, toffee and caramel, with chocolate malts.

The taste seemed very alcoholic and little else got through. There was some hops and a malt flavour as it warmed in the glass, but a dryness came with it.

Strange but not unpleasant. Too much alcohol for me, in a watery body. The sweetness of the smell doesn't appear in the taste, which detracted me at first.

Not something I'd rush out and buy a crate of, but for a change and a headache it is just the ticket.

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Photo of jdhilt
4.13/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a two-finger light brown head that fades slowly leaving a good lace. Deep clear amber color. Good carbonation. Nose is sweet and raisiny. Medium-heavy bodied. Starts sweet and raisiny and finishes on the dry side. $5.75 for a 500ml bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

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Photo of beerthulhu
3.75/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a dark, cranberry red with a thin, macro-bubbly dirty, beige head that quickly recessed to a sparse layering with no lacing. A slow steady, medium strong carbonation streams upward creating tiny, micro-bubbly eruptions on the surface.

S: caramel, raisins, and cola. The nose is very light and subdued.

T: spicy, dry caramel with some sour malting and ripe fruit (prunes). There was a some spicy alcohol fusels (dark molasses, cinnamon). On the finish was a good dry, whiskey barrel woodiness and alcohol detection after the swallow. Upon warming a syrupy, dark rich caramel dominates the palate.

M: prickly carbonation with a nice syrupy fullness with dry whiskey barrel after thoughts.

D: Drinks bigger then the advertised 7.0%abv. Average drinkability and as per the label pairs nicely with crumbs of strong English cheese, to which I would likely agree.

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Photo of avalon07
4.32/5  rDev +17.7%
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.

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Photo of PEIhop
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of stereosforgeeks
2.59/5  rDev -29.4%
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 wl0307
4.15/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased at the Trafalgar Wines, a pretty good beer shop in Brighton. The bottle is 500ml now, BB 07/01/2011, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: coming in a dark ruby-brown colour, great clarity, gentle yet constant streams of fizz ascending from the bottom to support a 2cm thick creamy beige froth to last throughout the drink.
S: sour-sweet prune-ish fruits and berry fruits (plus jammy sweet cherry liquor) dominate the nose, but not without a good balance from the influence of malts, hinting at creamy toffee, sweet licorice, melted treacle, sweet nutty brown malts... all in all almost like that used in a Scottish Wee Heavy Ale. A good swirl would bring out the really aromatic hoppy (as of Styrian Golding really) and estery elements, while the old-ish woody odour stays in the remote corner. Overall, the complexity does shine through, although the overall balance gives way to a touch of sweetness too much.
T: cleaner and less sweet than the nose, the foretaste hints at liquidy caramely malts, sweet herbs, and a bitter edge of licorice, backed by bitter-sweet maltiness, lightly salty-sweet nuttiness, burned malts, black cherry's aroma, sweet jammy berries, etc., yet turning very quickly into a dry-ish, bitter and semi-rough aftertaste, on a par with a deepening and lingering dry-ish palate presumably rendered by long maturation as well as considerable hop bitterness. In some ways, the finishing touch is reminiscent of a slightly nutty yet old-ish aftertaste as of oloroso sherry - but only just.
M&D: being semi-clean on the palate, or at least "cleaner" than the smell would tend to suggest, coupled with a very mildly carbonated mouthfeel and a refreshingly dry-bitter palate, this med-plus bodied old ale is as well-structured as it is delicious. I would very much like to try the cask-conditioned version of this once Champion Winter Beer of Britain.

 1,893 characters

Photo of rfgetz
4.25/5  rDev +15.8%

Photo of rhoadsrage
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle says 13 Aug 09 (Served in a dimple mug)
A- This beer has a dense opaque brown body with a bubbly porous head that soon fades to a thick bubbly ring and a few tiny bubble that stick to the base of the glass.
S- The woody brown malt and caramel aroma have toffee note to them and some light dry raisins come through as the beer opens up. There is a faint vinous note in the finish and a soft buttery hint to the woody brown malt.
T- There is a light toffee and vinous note with some slightly sweet caramel malt flavor and a very light tartness in the finish. The flavor of apple cider vinegar grows as the beer warms.
M- This beer has a medium-light mouthfeel with a tight fizz and a soft alcohol warmth.
D- This beer is dark and dry with some light sugary notes and soft woody/toffee raisin qualities. The softer characters make this easy to drink and beg for another sip to try and figure it out.

 908 characters

Photo of JamLand
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%

Photo of DefenCorps
2.5/5  rDev -31.9%
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.

 684 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 scruffwhor
4.16/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance- A Deep, dark amber with a very merlot highlight when held to the light. Very little bubbling. Only a small island of foam after the head disappears.

Smell- A lovely fruity aroma. A well developed malt presence with the usual English hop aromas present.

Taste- A pretty good fruity character. Lots of dark fruits like prunes and black cherries. Maybe a hint of dryness here and there. The hops just adds a dash of bitterness to keep the super sweet malts at bay from cloying the palate.

Mouthfeel- A very surprising mix of drynes and fruity sweetness all over my palate. This was a barley wine ith the drinkability of a bitter or pale ale.

 659 characters

Photo of Brad007
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

 496 characters

Photo of Bighuge
3.77/5  rDev +2.7%
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.

 368 characters

Photo of champ103
4.23/5  rDev +15.3%
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.

 1,237 characters

Photo of Bung
4/5  rDev +9%
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 ZAP
3.35/5  rDev -8.7%
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 glid02
4.1/5  rDev +11.7%
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 mrfrancis
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of WOLFGANG
4/5  rDev +9%

Photo of ccrida
4.6/5  rDev +25.3%
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 KarlHungus
4.31/5  rDev +17.4%
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.

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Moonraker Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
3.67 out of 5 based on 167 ratings.
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