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)
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J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom
English Barleywine
Ranked #143
Ranked #7,526
4.07 | pDev: 12.53%
Aug 29, 2023
May 07, 2004
No description / notes.
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Reviewed by CarolinaCardinals from North Carolina

4.07/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
Picked up a 275 ml 2017 bottle from the Appalachian Vintner in Asheville 12-7-22 for $10.99. Enjoyed 8-29-23.

Beer poured murky brown with an okay off white head.

Nose give notes of brown sugar, dark, and light fruits.

Taste is a large but not heavy malt base in which the cask lends an apple forward flavor along with a heavy oakiness that imparts a bitterness with a hint of almonds. Finishes with a brown sugar and fig flavor and a dose of that oakiness that kind of makes it different in a detrimental way.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very silky smooth.

Overall the cask oak was detrimental in the finish of the beer. Otherwise, the beer itself was spot on the style.
Aug 29, 2023
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Reviewed by ghostfacekilla69 from Virginia

3.08/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.5
2017 bottle. Hazy rust color with a thin ring of clear bubbles around the edge of the glass; Warm and boozy on the nose with a little bit of buttery Granny Smith apple pie; sweet and buttery with a decent amount of what tastes like dust; medium body with mild but tight carbonation; overall the fust is a little off putting — I don’t love it.
Dec 21, 2022
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Reviewed by augustgarage from California

4.41/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
2012 vintage. Poured from a 275mL bottle into a snifter.

Murky rufous to copper gradient with a faint smattering of bubbles that recedes to naught. Little lacing; poor retention; vague legs.

Glorious gentlemanly aroma suffused with stewed prunes, fig jam, leather, wax, pipe tobacco, and apple spirits.

Intensely malty palate entry - burnt sugar, toffee, treacle, raisin, and a hint of peat. Bruising yet sophisticated. Low bitterness. Smooth, earthy, medium-finish. The barrel notes increase as the ale warms, and mainly in the aftertaste. Fine aged apple spirit on top of the immense base beer.

Medium-full bodied, oily, with low carbonation. ABV adds a bit of flavor/heat, but nothing excessive.

Outstanding traditional example of the style - dignified, singular, and perfectly crafted.
Jul 30, 2022
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Reviewed by jkblr from Indiana

4.18/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
275mL bottle with cap code L0648 and 2008 on the front label poured into a snifter glass at just above fridge temp 11.5% ABV. The beer pours a muddy medium brown color only a hint of head that never fully spanned the glass. After two minutes there are a couple handfuls of bubbles around the edge. The aroma is mild with prune juice, old book leather and a hint of oxidation. There's a hint of sweetness and raisin as well. The taste is sweet up front with caramel, boozey apple, dark fruits before a kiss of oak and old leather show up to dry things up a bit and offer balance. Negligible bitterness. The mouthfeel is medium plus bodied with barely any carbonation and a finish that charges to the point of cloying before stopping dead with drying oak. No trace of the ABV in the aroma or taste. Overall, excellent.
Jun 20, 2022
Rated: 4.13 by KevinL from Michigan

Apr 24, 2022
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Reviewed by Rug from Massachusetts

4.28/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2015 vintage

This is the last of the main cask versions of Harvest Ale I have left to review. All the other ones were 2016 vintages so this one is just slightly older. Nothing has topped the Port cask for me yet, but I’m definitely intrigued by this one

Pours a murky brownish orange with a finger of beige head that quickly fades to a ring and leaves minimal lacing

This is very fruity and perfumey in the nose, and quite nice. I’m picking up on aromas of baked apple, fresh oak, sweet toffee, red grape, molasses, old stone, leather, and brown bread

It’s a bit less complex in taste, but I still really like it. On the front end of the sip I’m tasting apple skin, tannic red wine, sweet caramel, peppery alcohol, old oak, and brown sugar. The swallow brings notes of apple skin, brown sugar, toffee, red grape, old oak, and light leather

A medium full body pairs with gentle carbonation, resulting in a slick and thin beer. Finishes neutral and fruity

Well this certainly wasn’t my favorite, but it’s still damn good. Hopefully I can find some of the limited release versions now
Apr 12, 2022
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Reviewed by illtexzona from Illinois

4.61/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Harvest Ale with the addition of apple and oak in the nose and up front, but the back end is dominated with cigar box and black pepper. It's like 2 different beers. Caught me by surprise, but the more I drank and it warmed up, the more I couldn't get enough of it. Great nose, great barleywine body, and super complex on the palate.
Jan 25, 2022
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Reviewed by backblast from Alaska

4.21/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
2015 vintage

Pours a cloudy amber with a medium beige head.

Tastes of a proper barleywine sweetness with some dark fruit and toffee and a bit of fruit skins apple/orange with the alcohol well hidden.
Dec 18, 2021
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Rated by Scotchboy from Idaho

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Sep 09, 2021
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Rated by Phoodcritic from Michigan

3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4
2017 vintage. A substantial amount of sediment was present.
May 30, 2021
Rated: 3.5 by BeerRay from Rhode Island

Apr 10, 2021
Rated: 4.13 by chossboss from Oregon

Apr 09, 2021
Rated: 4 by Prospero from Colorado

Mar 23, 2021
Rated: 4.19 by GregSemenza from Connecticut

Mar 15, 2021
Rated: 4 by Cpmitchno1 from Virginia

Feb 26, 2021
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Reviewed by MNAle from Minnesota

4.41/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
2013 vintage. Virtually no head from a vigorous pour. Dark brown from the front, orange-red with a backlight. No carbonation visible. The thin ring of off-white foam will leave some dots and loops of lacing if you tip the glass.

Aroma takes some drawing out (likely due to the complete lack of head), but is very nice. Molasses, raisins, some alcohol.

Taste is exquisite. Leather, raisins, other fruit flavors (perhaps apple), tannin, brandy, sweet malts, and more. Quite complex. Beers with flavors this complex exceed my ability to parse out all the elements without seeming ridiculous or pretentious. Suffice it to say as at the beginning: exquisite. The finish is semi-sweet, moderated by the tannin.

Mouth feel is substantial - viscous and chewy. The alcohol and tannin add some zip to the feel, which keeps things from feeling flat.

Overall, outstanding.
Jan 31, 2021
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Reviewed by Pinz412 from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
It poured a cloudy plum color with just a fleeting fizzy head atop. There was quite a bit of sediment that floated around my glass before settling to the bottom. The aroma was heavily Calvados(apple and brandy) with some of the traditional dark fruit notes like raisin and date that I expect from an English barley wine. The taste brought together all of those wonderful smells on the nose and then some. In addition to the still quite hot Calvados and dried fruit, there was also a strong component of caramel or butterscotch that I assume came from the oxidation. It added complexity and was a nice break from the sweetness of concentrated apple, raisin, and fig. The feel was a medium/full body with a bit of stickiness from the sugars. Overall, a highly enjoyable barley wine.
Jan 30, 2021
Rated: 4.25 by smartassboiler from Illinois

Jan 23, 2021
Rated: 4.21 by alexsergio from New York

Jan 09, 2021
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Reviewed by SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.41/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
2015 Vintage - 275ml bottle - poured into a snifter at 45°F.

Pours a ruddy, cloudy, rusty scarlet/amber-brown hue, with zero head formation, and just a razor-thin cream trim. Zero sigh of effervescence.

Nose: Instantly, it's very sherry-like. Sweet, rich malty aromas of barley, butterscotch, caramel, toffee, leather, oak, red apple, brown sugar, light treacle, brandy, dried fig, plum, and raisin which lend some fruity tang, old stone cellar, dusty attic, old parchment, baking spice, orange zest, wintergreen, and some woody, musty old barrel. A truly amazing English barleywine aroma.

Palate: This barleywine greets the palate with golden malt sweetness, immediately lending butterscotch, toffee, and caramel, followed by brandy, leather, red apple, white grape, raisin, prune, fig, stewed pear, and some dried cherry tartness. There's a really prominent old, leathery, dusty oak character, and some huge sherry notes - i cannot stress how sherry-like this is. The dark fruit acidity cuts through the malty sweetness just enough to allow the dry, musty oak and leather to overtake and begin to dry this out. The Calvados is there, but knows its place, and lands a character so entirely different from any whiskey. The finish is oaky, with lingering brandy, leather, and some more sherry notes, becoming fairly dry from the barrel, and finally showing a whisper of vanilla and some spice.

Mouthfeel/Body: Full-bodied, rich, malty, slick, and soft, with a bit of chew, but not nearly the viscosity of today's big stouts. The effervescence is almost gone here. There's some very subtle prickle, but for all intents and purposes, it's not far from still. Sweet, sticky, and wet up front, but the oak dries it out very quickly, adding balance.

Overall: An excellent English barleywine. Balanced sweetness with malt complexity, firm, splintery, balanced oakiness, amazing Calvados cask character with lots of brandy and a subtle fruity apple thing (very similar to cognac casks) - not an *apple beer* but subtle, mature, and complex hints of apple, with tons of sherry influence. If you like sherry, get this. If like Calvados, get this. If you like barleywine, get this. In fact, just get this. Stellar.
Nov 29, 2020
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 576 ratings