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

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BA SCORE
83
good
119 Reviews
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
Reviews:
119
Ratings:
164
Avg:
3.66
pDev:
18.85%
 
 
Wants:
9
Gots:
6
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 119 | Ratings: 164
Photo of jazzyjeff13
4.03/5  rDev +10.1%
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.

 1,224 characters

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

Pours a chestnut brown with some maroon hints. No real head and no real lace.
Aroma of dark tropical fruits, caramel nd toffee with some nuttiness.
Flavor is dark fruits, plums, dates, heavy dark malt, deep nutty notes, brown sugar and some molasses. Some resin and citrus hop notes.
Mouthfeel is super sweet with just a hint of resin and hop oil.
Drinkabilityis very nice, smooth and malty. Love to try on cask.

 416 characters

Photo of kmpitz2
3.68/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This brew pours a ruby color with brown hints. A finger of creamy head sits atop the liquid. The nose is caramel, brown sugar and raisin with a slight spiceyness in there as well. The flavor is pretty nice, with big bit of brown sugary sweetness and a very big spicy raisiney quality to it. I find this to be very enjoyable. The feel is moderate to thick with a light to moderate carbonation. I like it. Its not a fantastic beer, but above average. Everything melds well together and makes a nice brew.

 502 characters

Photo of flyingpig
3.62/5  rDev -1.1%
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 ADR
3.5/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Dark mahogany brown color, appears slightly clearish overall with light transmission at the bottom of the pint glass. Very soft yellow head of about 1/2 inch to start. Laces thickly. Some cocoa to the deep smell, some carob as well. Lighter mouthfeel than I expected but the flavor is decently full, expressing chocolate powder, light coffee tones, and a burnt profile close to the end. Some slight sense of alcohol but relatively smooth and easy drinking. A good enough beer but I have to admit I was expecting better mouthfeel and a little more complexity to write about.

 573 characters

Photo of Crosling
3.31/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Dull brown color with a thin and diminishing white cream. Aromatically gentle, caramel smelling, along with several dark ripe fruits, completely malt-accented. Big, bubbly and heavy feel on the palate, with finely extracted malt tones. Soft caramel and toffee flavors, very sweet and a bit cloying. Brash alcohol as well, which could use a little more hop. Light almond extract flavor as well.

 393 characters

Photo of brewandbbq
4.09/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 1999

Pours murky mahogany with a beige head of pourus density.
An exaggerated pour produced a head of approximately 3/8", which faded to medium and large bubbles barely covering the surface.
Within two minutes, only a few scant bubbles remained around the edge of the glass, with no lacework.
Aromatics are fruity and malty.
Cherries and dried caramel dominate the nose, with figs, raisins, and a hint of wet leather.
Mouthfeel is syrupy and lightly carbonated, tacky.
Pallet is thick and chewy with over-ripe dark fruits and mild sugary notes.
Caramelly malt and toffee are large components, and vineousity is quite apparent.
Bitterness is subdued, and the brew is slightly warming.
Only a slight papery note hints at the age, beyond the complex, mellow character.
More attenuated than the Harvest ale, and holding it's own for a seven + year old brew.

 874 characters

Photo of Offa
4.77/5  rDev +30.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an excellent, flavourful, well-rounded ale with good depth and complexity. Called a winter warmer here, the brewer calls it "strong ale" and it could easily be a lower ABV barleywine, somewhat similar to Young's Old Nick (although I can't currently compare the two side by side since Old Nick hasn't been available 'round these parts for some time). Like many "strong ales" the categorising it is rather vague.

Slightly hazy red-brown amber, it has a big tan head shrinking steadily to a foamy ring and wispy top with a little fleeting lace.

Aroma is strong whole wheat bread, fermented prunes and raisins, sweet flowery tea and leaves, sweet rummy hint.

Taste is spicey raisin & prune, with fermented rich whole wheat bread dough and leafy-woody-peppery-spicey character. On the swet side up front, it becomes drier in the middle before a slightly sweet finish nevertheless backed up by a light spicey bitterness with the hop traits noted above. Aftertaste is initially drier and toasty, leafy and peppery with some caramelised prune, before becoming sweeter. Feel is just right, a slight oiliness is just enough to give it enough body without making it heavy. Drinkability is exceedingly high. This is excellent.

 1,226 characters

Photo of lackenhauser
3.2/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Plain, deep amber sort of color. No real carbonation to it. No real aroma-somewhat sharp and wine like. Deep, sweet malty flavor though not overly impressive. Slight bitterness to it though it seems more from alcohol then hops. Somewhat thin body wise. Overall pretty average all around. No big deal.

 300 characters

Photo of BretSikkink
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
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 TastyTaste
3.58/5  rDev -2.2%
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 clvand0
3.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a brownish red color with a tall head that falls quickly and leaves some lacing on the glass. The aroma seems faint, but there is a little caramel, some slight dark fruits. Lots of flavors. Dark fruits, toffee, caramel, quite a bit of bitterness. Possibly a little coffee and/or chocolate. Thick body and good drinkability. Some slightly odd flavors, possibly spices. Interesting beer.

 391 characters

Photo of Amalak
2.97/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

The beer poured reddish black in color, mainly opaque, and it doesn't have much head to it. Very hoppy scent to it, very nice.

The taste was hops and and berry, actually grape almost. Too grape in fact. It was also mixed with an oak barrel, slightly sweet scot taste to it.

 274 characters

Photo of BeerSox
3.53/5  rDev -3.6%
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 GratefulBeerGuy
4.52/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Strong ale brewed on 8/13/09 and consumed on 12/27/09

A hazy and vibrant amber, deep color and a minimal, off-white head, dissipates quick, gone later on.

Fermented red fruits and candy apples, Port cask like sweetness, more dank fruits, wild yeastie fruitiness in the middle along with some tang. The malt holds a bunch of fruity sweetness with some minor cork-like aroma's that are pretty subtle.

This one has a very aged and complex malt flavor, sweet caramel along with a fruity edge that is sweet and sour. there is a gentle, very subtle hop balance but it's very subtle. the feel is full, smooth, more medium to full and it certainly feels like an aged brew. Huge complexity, fermented dates, sugar coated raisins, and dank bready malt with a rather heat for being 7.5%.

A great brew, huge complexity, thank you J.w lee's for serious quality.

 856 characters

Photo of rajendra82
2.16/5  rDev -41%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Clear, reddish brown body, and a small head, made this beer look stately, but boring. The smell was little too fruity for my liking. Apart from unidentifiable dark skinned dry fruits, this one also smelled woody and sour. The taste was pretty much same as the smell. The mix of sweet, sour, and musty flavors didn’t quite rise to undrinkable standards, but did make me wince every time I took a sip. The body seemed thin at first, but after while it got to be more substantial. Usually that is good, but with this Moonraker, more flavors were not necessarily better. About the only positive was the well hidden 7.5% ABV. Not a beer, I’d care to drink again.

 659 characters

Photo of Budlum
2.55/5  rDev -30.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours with one quarter inch of soda-like foam with even the most aggressive pour. The little amount of head produces leave only a few reminders. Deep brown body displaying red colors when held to light.

Sweet, spicy and soda-like on the nose. This ale starts off with a cigar smoke sweetness before a pepper and cinnamon spice hits. Deeply roasted barley and black licorice precede a long, sugary malt smell. For the moderate ABV, alochol is noticeable.

This ale presents a very sweet ginger and candied yam taste. Slightly peppery with some barley and noticeable anise. Some peaty and strong smoke flavors provide some bold flavors. The finish is long, slightly metallic, and bitter. There is a notable hop flavor on the tongue long after each sip. Soy sauce flavors rise as this beer warms.

Mouthfeel is a little oily and carbonation is practically non-existant.

Drinkability is below average. I can't really picture reaching for another on of these any time soon.

 982 characters

Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.13/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer came a dark brown with faint burgundy highlights. The head was very thick, tan and heavy. Smells of earthy dark fruit’s and caramel. Tastes of a sweet smoky molasses and burnt caramel with a slight touch of sourness that runs nicely into a little nip of earthy hops. The mouth feel is medium bodied with a light carbonation. This beer is quite tasty and easy going down.

 381 characters

Photo of BeerResearcher
4.22/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This dark and inviting ale pours a ruby-tinged mahogany with a smallish off-white head. A resinous hop aroma mingles with a bit of caramel malt and fumy alcohol. The slightly biscuity caramel malt reveals a nice nutty flavor, with a light herbal quality to it. The hops are in abundance. Sharp-edged white grapefruit and lemon zest bitterness mix with hints of a metallic bite. A candy sugar sweetness begins to peek through as it warms. A mild dose of a warming sherry-like alcohol backbone stays throughout. I can only guess that J.W. may have a quality control issue, based on the many high and low ratings it has received. This particular bottle is quite good...good to the point where I can't imagine anyone not liking it.

 727 characters

Photo of AtLagerHeads
4.25/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very smooth and drinkable strong ale from Lees. I liked this beauty very much.

A hazed and deeply bronzed body is crowned by a nice, tightly formed ivory head. The head lingers long and filmy enough to do tight lacing.

The nose is initially fuity and malty and as it warms the maltiness becomes distinctly of a caramel nature, giving deep and rich malt notes. This follows in the flavor that strengthens with warming and builds a very strong sweet maltiness barely in balance with the light hopping. There is no sense of alcohol here, making this a deceptively dangerous brew.

The feel is distinctly smooth and creamy, with no sense of overload from the fullness of the body. This is a delightfully rich and drinkable ale. Very nice.

 744 characters

Photo of putnam
4.35/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful roasted sweetness on the nose is characterised by buttery, sweet, toasted brown bread notes.
Velvety, slightly sweet caramel flavors are lifted by creamy mousse and shaped by tangy, roasted bitterness. White raisins, caramel creme and roasted seeds play supporting roles. AS it warms the roasty element begin to assert a stronger counterbalance to the sweet malt.

Well balanced brown ale... a bit sweet. Nice with pudding.

 437 characters

Photo of JohnQVegas
3.88/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes, January '09.

Pours a very cloudy brown, with a very thin off-white head.

Nose is a bit boozy, with notes of toffee and some over-ripe dark fruits.

Taste is rich with a sweet, bready malt character that sits somewhere between bready and toffee sweet, with a fruitiness like dark fruit that's been lightly soaked in rum, a bit tangy in the finish, with just a bit of yeast in there.

Mouthfeel is smooth, a bit of moderate carbonation - really well done.

 477 characters

Photo of Beertracker
4.04/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

J.W. Lees Moonraker is best served at warmer cellar (50-55°F) temperatures from a brandy snifter or pint glass. This award-winning offering from J.W. Lees from Middleton pours up with ample carbonation followed by a long lasting tannish-white head that engulfs the deep russet-brown body. The sweet, caramel malt aroma is filled with a nice intermingling of fruitiness (candied yams, Shropshire plums, treacle pudding) and spicy (ginger, mace, cinnamon) notes. In addition, there's some notable alcoholic warmth underlying the slightly winy (oxidized) character . The rich, satifying flavor starts off with a wallop of caramel/nougat maltiness which evetually gives way to a light touch of bitterness from continental hops with a light alcoholic warmth to color the cheeks. J.W. Lees Moonraker is a finely crafted example of the style and is the perfect accompaniment to some tangy Stilton cheese. James Bond (007) never had it so good!

CHEERS! Beertracker

 961 characters

Photo of alpinebryant
3.6/5  rDev -1.6%
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 barleywinebrewer
4.07/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - bold reddish purple in color - think dark ripe plum, a touch of off white head ringing the glass that quickly fades to a trickle of bubbles.
S - Huge aromas of ripe dark fruits and rich malts. If you've had the harvest ales this will come across very familiar.
T - similar to the aroma but much deeper in the ripe fruit feel.
M - medium bodied, sweet but not cloying
D - I think I'd prefer this in a 12 oz size. Like the barleywine, this is a sipper. It's great and one I'd have again.

 493 characters

Moonraker Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
3.66 out of 5 based on 164 ratings.
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