J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) | J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)
Liked This Beer
4.06 w/ 508 ratings
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)

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

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Dantes on 05-07-2004

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Ratings: 508 |  Reviews: 259
Photo of jason_nwx
3.52/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of fosters9
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

9.3 FL. OZ. 275 ml. Brewed in 2014. Opened on 7/24/2017.

Pours out with a muddy amber and golden coloration. Thin, swirley white bubbles and foam create mostly a bubbly ring around the edge.

The aroma is most unique, an apricot, dates and maple syrup combo is pretty inticing. Sweet malt, maple syrup and dense fruits all over. A classic English old leather and antique oak furniture aroma comes from the house yeast and cask aging. Grandma's spice racK , smoke and freshly baked dark wheat bread. Cinnemon and black pepper pop out later.

The taste of sugar coated dates with maple syrup dominate the palate. The flavor is intense and very, very sweet. A bitter, earthy and tangy edge rolls in soon from the English hops. Black pepper, oak cask, vanilla, maple syrup and more sweet fruity dates makes this complexity high, but dominated by sweetness. The malt is unique with these flavor's, dense and heady but perhaps....too heady? Is that possible? Perhaps a bit more hop kick to balance the sweetness out?
The light, earthy effect becomes bitter and dry very quickly. ...really the only true balance found with the big and sweet malt. Slightly boozy cask, woody and sweet , adds further depth to an already devilish complexity. 11.5 % with a quick, boozy heat tingle and, ever-so-long Port wine boozy punch with a sicky-sweet dense finish.

The mouthfeel is about as "full" and thick as you can get. Slick, malty, sticky and only slightly dry. It literally feels and tastes like light-golden maple syrup is poured into the liquid at the last minute.

Overall, this one is very difficult to rate by points. Much like the first time you have a 120 Minute IPA by Dogfish Head, your not sure if it really falls into any one style. J.W Lee's Harvest ale on Calvados cask just jumps out of any style, becoming some freak of brewing. Although closely related to the English Barleywine, clearly this one goes off in a strange but interesting direction. As a beer geek that enjoys "out there" and extreme aspects to beer, I must say, this one is pretty far "out there" for any style. I will say, although very deep and complex the malt and sweetness just goes a bit too far off the hindges. With slightly more hop balance I see a classic brew. Perhaps in 10 to 20 years of cellering, this one might hit the palate just right.

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Photo of mcrawford
4.31/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of paulish
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of HopSavant
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of smithj4
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Photo of bshefftz
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

June 23 2017 in an Ommegang glass. This is the kind of beer that should be right up my alley, and I wanted to love it, but it had a stale, papery taste around the edges. Improved somewhat as it warmed, but still disappointing. So, caveat emptor.
Perhaps this beer had grown too old, as I will too someday, when I myself will get poor reviews online for being stale around the edges.

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Photo of cyrushire
4.21/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Sweffin
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.18/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 edition, apple brandy for days! this is great stuff, obviously pretty bulletproof in the cellar, and a really neat little run of barrel treatments they have set up here. this is really interesting, seems like its always stouts or sours in calvados barrels, which i think prevents the spirit from shining through as much with all the other bold flavors going on. this is a robust strong ale, with a lot of caramel malt notes, bready english yeast, and alcohol, but its not so intense that the barrel cant be center stage. bigtime apple note to this in the nose which is great with the malt, very autumnal, almost baked dessert sort of aromatic, mild spice too, peppery wood, booze, brown sugar, and sight oxidation that i always think is good in these types of beers. the flavor lines up with the nose pretty well. the brandy is really forward, slightly sweet, woody, and with a dried apple complexion, raisin and whiskey too though, and then all the malt, which makes this beer what it is. this is a great beer to showcase a barrel like this, and it has aged really well. still hot, but thats the beer in general. of the several of these that i have not had the pleasure of trying, this is among my favorites. there is a natural fit between the barleywine and the apple brandy.

 1,282 characters

Photo of edthehead
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of rypkr
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014. Snifter pour.

L - murky ass off-orange. Frothy head on the edges, little elsewhere. Super sticky lacing.

S - Apples... cider.... apple cider. Brown sugar, toffee, carmel. Candy corn.

T - Sweet cream, vanilla, sugary, apple pie, oaky. Taates like a carmel covered sweet golden delicious apple or even apple pie with vanilla ice cream.

F - Chewy. Dense. Like a slightly carbonated apple cider.

O - It's ridiculously sweet. Probably too much so. I was hoping for more oak, and smoke when I sought this out. Though overall it's pretty true to style and a good example of an English barleywine.

Probably will not buy it again at $9/11oz though.

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Photo of VoxRationis
4.16/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2012; decanted into a conical pint glass. Pours hazy with a medium copper to amber color (similar to unfiltered cider); sediment evident, little head, but substantial legs on swirling. Nose: whisky to sherry; palate: sherry flavor evident with earthy flavor from sediment. Heavy with gritty mouthfeel. Enjoyed it; might make an aperitif or after dinner treat.

 373 characters

Photo of Apellonious
4.13/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 version, 9.3 fl oz. poured into a Wicked Weed tulip glass. Pours a dense, murky brownish red with no head and no lace present. This may be the first time I have drank a five year old beer. The smell is of apple, caramel, brown sugar, and dark fruit/molasses/fig. Initially there was some heat, but that dissipated after the first couple wafts. The first sip brought on ash tray, leather, brown sugar, faint pear and apple. Maybe some cherry? Mild heat notes lurk as the sips continue, with less ash, and more fig. Everything becomes pretty balanced as the drink progresses. Odd that the longer the break is between sips, the more chance of the ash/leather aspect to return. The feel is heavy, the carbonation is low but present, and only a tinge of sticky. Overall, an impressive EB. Of the two I have had so far, I preferred the sherry cask, but this one is enjoyable in a different way.

 901 characters

Photo of citizencane
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Doesn't look impressive- no head or lace. Smell is good- fermented apples, sugar, raisins, barrel. Taste is good but a bit of a letdown from the smell. Tastes of sugar, apple, and a hint of grape and malt. Not bad, and much better than I expected from appearance, but the other reviews and the smell left me wanting a bit more. That said I'll happily enjoy the rest of the glass without complaining.

 404 characters

Photo of Zazzi82
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2012 Vintage

12 characters

Photo of drahodo
3.77/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of msscott1973
4.34/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kvgomps
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of WastingFreetime
4.23/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of sokol_1993
4.1/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had it during a team happy hour at Churchkey, DC in a tulip glass. 2015 Vintage.
It's still an excellent beer, but I prefer its brother in the Sherry cask.

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Photo of JackRWatkins
4.59/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a rich caramel color with a minimal white head (a more prominent head than the other barrel version)
S: Smells like a caramel apple, pure and simple, wonderful
T: A wonderful salted caramel apple with a touch of dry tartness that is a touch unexpected and quite pleasant
M: Dry and surprisingly not all that sticky
O: Wonderful, honestly I would say more, but there's just not that much to explain, there are not that many elements (to me) combined here, but the ones that are present are here in just the right shade and meet at just the right angles, this is not a trip through a maze, it's a (very heavy) walk in the park (perhaps in autumn).

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Photo of cjgiant
4.08/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On cask:
A nice deep copper, maybe with a light rusty hue. Big bubbles join a thin ring of whitish (too thin to tell) head around the rim. Translucent body.

Nose is caramel and brown sugar with Brandy notes. I don't get apple specifically, but an apple crisp can be inferred from the nose.

A quite sweet opening shows an English BW base, but the attention is grabbed by the Brandy in short order. It adds a sugary note to the caramel base, bordering on being too sweet. A green wood flavor kinda saves the day, turning my tongue a little.

There is an alcohol twinge, but it feels muffled. Coming from the cask, this warmer beer flows nicely over the tongue, while the flavors are bold on the palate. I'd expect more stickiness to the feel with the sweetness, but it's not there for me, which is good.

Interesting, for sure. I think the flavors work as well together as can be expected, though they aren't the most normal flavors I am used to.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 83.3% out of 100 with 508 ratings
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