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

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)

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

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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Reviews: 246 | Ratings: 475
Photo of maximum12
4.25/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to my lovely wife - who I haven’t seen in about thirty weeks, or that’s the message I’m getting from down below - who gives me awesome stuff like this for Christmas. 9.3 oz. bottle, 2006 vintage.

Looks like a ruby glinting in the overhead lights of my basement, with roughly the same amount of carbonation. As the lights, not the ruby. Smells like raisins, butterscotch, & caramel, which sound putrid. Probably is. Nice in the nose, though.

J.W. Lee’s Harvest Ale - Calvados Casks is richer than Donald Trump, & I hope, more popular. Rich, full malts of sweet caramel & unrefined sugar gooses my glucose level right in the prostate. Calvados - which I have never had the pleasure to partake in - is strong, tasty, brandy, & sticky. Mid-palate brings still alcohol, barrel staves, toffee, & flat Coca Cola. Flatness doesn’t hurt this beer for some reason; it’s thick, robust, & sticky (again). Shouldn’t come in sippee-cup size bottles. Wanna more.

The best of the four I’ve had, the Calvados is gorgeous. No apple, but the brandy really shines through. Excellent brew.

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Photo of LloydDobler
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2006 vintage

Murky red/brown color with zero carbonation. Melted down, boozed up raisins. Very smooth. My first vintage, so I will have to try a newer bottle for a base of comparison.

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Photo of chinchill
3.99/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Shared 2008 bottle.
Clear body looks like whisky but with a good light tan head.
Very sweet up front but more moderate by the finish.
Sweet malty aroma with more complexity in the flavor.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.7/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Vintage 2013.
Pours hazy dark rust brown. A fizzy khaki head forms and quickly disappears completely and leaves no lace whatsoever. The smell is of caramel, toffee, vanilla, dates and a hint of booze. The taste follows with sweet caramel, vanilla, raisins, dates, and faint smoky oak. Full, silky smooth texture. Almost too sweet... almost. Glorious.

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Photo of ajm5108
4.02/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber, little head or carbonation. Aroma features some dark toffee & sticky caramel (though not as rich as the standard version) along with a moderate oak tinge. That sweet malt from the standard version is cut down here by the barrel flavors. the apple brandy flavor is nice, but it subsumes the base flavor instead of complimenting it. Maybe needed to age it more, still a great beer but prefer the non barel aged

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Photo of tigg924
3.42/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

2009 version. Pours hazy, orange-brown in color, with heavy sediment and no head. Taste is dried stone fruit, toffee, wood, nut, and perhaps peanut butter. Tasty, different from the other JW Lees beers I have had. Not sure if I would get this one again. Perhaps I would try it with less aging, however this one is still good.

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Photo of cultclassic89
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Small sample at work.

A: Clearish, dark amber, minimal carb.

S: Medium to mild caramel, with some oak and hint of apple.

T: Similar to the nose, a bit more apple here with a faint hint of soy.

F: As expected, low carb here that supports the style.

O: Very solid barleywine. I definitely prefer the Harvest Ale fresh as I feel that soy quality comes out much more as it ages.

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Photo of CoreyC
4.47/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 Vintage
A - Beautiful golden/orange/amber color with a nice head that dissipates quickly
A - Sweet fruity aroma
T - Sweet, as smooth as it gets, with a sweet fruit taste, dried fruits and fresh fruit mix (grape)
M - Nice, smooth
O - Very unique taste and aroma - very good

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Photo of Pencible
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle dated 2012, sampled Dec 2015

A: This poured a cloudy gold with almost no head.
S: It smelled like sherry and raisins, with some golden apples and honey.
T: It tasted like sweet golden raisins and green apples, with some peppers and honey and sherry. It had a clean sweet aftertaste.
M: It was watery with almost no carbonation. Thin body.
D: This was another solid brew from JW Lees. The scent and taste weren't as complex as I hoped, but still rich and enjoyable. The body was a little thin, but the finish was smooth so it was easy to drink. No need to age further.

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Photo of rolltide8425
3.75/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2010 vintage. Pours a buby reddish-brown with floaties. The barrel is very prevalent in the aroma, with some cherry and other dark fruit underneath. Very complex taste with notes of brandy, bark, leather, and various fruits. Definitely a sipper, and surprisingly strong after 5 years.

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Photo of Czequershuus
4.77/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 vintage. This beer pours maple colored with a very small head. The aroma is full of dates, prunes, vanilla, baked apples, cardamom, maple syrup, and candied ginger. The The flavor leads with maple syrup and baked apple, with notes of vanilla, oak, and spices present as well. The mouthfeel is rich and lasting. Overall this is an outstanding contemplative beer.

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Photo of Treyliff
3.57/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage

9.3oz bottle poured into a snifter

A- pours a clear deep ruby-amber with a small foamy off-white head that disappears quickly, leaving nothing behind

S- strong aromas of sandalwood and leather open it up, quickly followed by notes of dried prune & fig, red apple skin, earthy wood, caramel/brown sugar, oak tannins, red cherry & peat moss. Very complex

T- initially sweet with notes of brown sugar & caramel, followed by cherry, raisin, fig & red apple. Earthy/herbal notes kick in mid-palate, with some port-like notes. The finish brings a strange bitterness that resembles strong oak, wet cardboard & walnut

M- medium body with low carbonation leads to a flat but viscous mouthfeel and finish

O- aroma was great, as was the initial taste. But the weird finish kept this from being great. Five years in the bottle, it seems quite oxidized already

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Photo of strohme2
3.94/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Minimal head with zero lacing. Deep golden color with red streaks of red. Smell of apple, caramel, golden raisin. Taste is much of the same, apple, brown sugar, caramel, raisin, pear, sweet. Mouthfeel is rich, coating.

I never knew what the Calvados Cask was. I'm pretty proud of myself for picking out it's prominent flavor. Could this be the perfect cold weather, Autumn beer?

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Photo of rjp217
4.3/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2013 bottle....

A - Murky brown, quarter finger head that disappears. Not much in the way of lace.

S - Lots of caramel and brown sugar. Some oak and booze as well.

T - Complex as hell. Apples, pear, vanilla, raisins, toffee. Pretty sweet but not quite cloying.

M - Low carb, medium body, hidden booze

O - A lot going on here. On one hand you have a great showing of calvados with fruit and slight oak but it's also pretty sweet where it's definitely a sipper to be enjoyed over a bit of time. If there was more oak to balance this baby out it would hit another level. Still worth seeking out otherwise.

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Photo of Hop_God
3.14/5  rDev -23%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A: medium to light murky brown. Amber hues. Almost no head
S: booze. Apples. Slight tartness. Sourdough.
T: just like the sherry. There is an artificial taste that is very unpleasant. It doesn't taste finished. Also some apples and funk.
F: carbonated a good amount. Apple lingers. Otherwise it is gone instantly from the mouth
O: second jw harvest. Had the sherry also. Both huge disappointments

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Photo of Bitterbill
4.19/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2013 Pours a deep copper/gold with some foam. Lacing I can't get even when I swirl the beer in my glass.

Rich caramel malt, wood, and some hints of fruit in the smell.

Taste is like it smells with the addition of vanilla and some toffee. This is sweet but not overly so.

Almost chewy body with light carbonation.

I like.

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Photo of SquidLizard
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This is a 2010 bottle, so it's got 5 years on it. This is my first review, and I likely don't really have a masterful grasp of the language and nuanced palate/nose etc. But here goes.

The look of it is a nice, mildly reddish...deepish brown.

The aroma is just...lovely. I believe I am picking up sort of a wet, kind of dank wood. Raisiny. Something about JW Lees always makes me think of something leathery. This one is no different. The same thing could be said of some sort of nut shell...like pecan shells maybe. Especially pronounced in the regular Harvest Ale, but it is very detectable here.

Ahhh yes...the flavor is much, much closer to the regular Harvest Ale than the Lagavulin aged one. I love the Lagavulin, but this is so much more savory tasting. Much less sweet seeming. The flavors I am getting are very much in tune with the nose. Raisiny, leathery, pecan shells....some sort of other dark fruit in addition to the raisiny-ness.

Mouth feel is quite nice. Slightly thick, and wonderfully coating. It has just a bit of carbonation.

Overall, I am extremely happy with this one. It's rich and sweet, but has more of a dark, savory flavor than the Lagavulin. It's absolutely lovely. I am so pleased I was able to get hold of a bottle of this. JW Lees Harvest Ale remains my favorite (in my somewhat limited experience) in production beer to date.

*extra- this one had a modest amount of sediment. I drank it, like a shot. Wonderfully dank and...smile making

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Photo of spacecake9
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2010, consumed May 2015.
Poured into a snifter.
A - Very small head that disappears almost immediately. Murky brown, looks like prune juice.
S - Aroma is oak and raisins, wonderfully full and dense.
T - Flavor is dark fruit, woody and sweet.
M - Medium thick, no carbonation.
O - This is a rich, complex sipper.

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Photo of cpetrone84
2.85/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

2006 bottle drank Jan of '14. Pour is an extremely murky dark rusted brown with virtually no head. Nose has light hints of oxidation with just a touch if the cask. Very rich malt complexity, brown sugar and a hint of soy with some chocolate malt notes. Taste is more oxidized, a fair bit of cardboard and wet paper. Malt is rich and a bit sweet, some residual sugars. Chocolate and brown sugar mix with notes of the sweet cask. Full bodied and chewy with moderate carbonation and a hint granule.

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Photo of SomethingClever
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

9.3 oz bottle poured into nonic pint

A: very light amber almost soft a slight haze to it very little head

S: my god the barrel is amazing oak, vanilla, toffee, dates, raisins, this nose goes on for days

T: date, fig taste, taste is nowhere near the smell and I caught a little off vegetable taste in it. However it's sweet boozy vanilla and smooth

M: Very syrupy and it lingers a lot on the tongue

O: What a fantastic smell and the taste is nearly there but it's slightly off too I'm wondering if it's light struck or something because it's almost a great beer but the taste is tweaked

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Photo of MacQ32
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

A - pours a mahogany cherry amber with a finger of dense cream colored head. Amazing retention and lacing

S - Tons of cherry, apple, very strong oak, some petey notes

T - wow. Surprisingly sweet. Tons of vanilla, molasses, oak, and pears with a sligjtly bitter finish. dryish cherry sweetness at the finish and through the aftertaste

M - incredibly chewy/thick and smooth. Definitely a big time sipper, a pleasure to drink

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.15/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

2013 edition. The final stop on our tour of the Lees Harvest horizontal. This one pours a clear tawny amber topped by a finger or so of khaki foam. The nose comprises sweet caramel, rich toffee, light fig, and a vague bit of stonefruit. The taste brings in more of the same, the stonefruits now resembling caramelized apples (like those found in pie and strudel). Nice. The body is a hefty medium, with a rather light moderate carbonation and a full feel. Overall, one of the better editions, a nice twist on what could have been a trainwreck (look to the tequila barreled, well, anything...).

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Photo of atone315
4.21/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 bottle, poured extremely carefully into a 10oz tulip

Brilliant deep orange, this beer pours flat as F&@k. No head, no hint of carbonation....I wouldn't want it any other way. Be careful though, pour too quickly and your glass looks like a neglected aquarium. Smells of old leather, for some reason it reminds me of smelling my father's cologne when I was a little kid. The taste is a cross of old oxidized port wine and a barrel aged barley wine....that has sat in my fridge, uncovered, for a week. This sounds bad, but works in a fantastic way. The mouthfeel is somewhat oily, definitely letting you remember that you just took a sip, for the next 20 minutes. Sticky, icky....once again, in a good way. Overall, love this beer and all it's variations but I only partake once or twice a year. Definitely worth the ride!!!

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Photo of Corkpuller
4.68/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Dusty Musty Earth Shroomy Goodness. Like a forest floor with Calvados warmth. Sweet, bready and luxurious. The most interesting of the JW Lees variants.

Just great Tastiness.

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Photo of champ103
4.62/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Original review is almost embarrassing. Though, at one point in time that was my thoughts. So, I think I should keep it as is. Here are my current thoughts as of 2015. This is a 2011 bottle...

A: Pours a beautiful, vibrant copper color. Minimal beige head and no lace. Though the color is stunning if you don't let the floaties invade.
S: Wonderfully warming toasted malts, oak tannins and dark fruits. Caramel covered apples, sweet, and really inviting. I can plant my nose in the glass all day.
T: Like the nose, that beautiful toasted and caramel malt flavor. Certainly sweet, with caramel covered apples. Light white chocolate even. Oak tannins, with a light nutty flavor. Even more so than the nose, just so incredibly inviting. I wish this would never end.
M/O: A full body, that is viscous with low to moderate carbonation. Really not flat at all. Velvety smooth. Incredible to drink, again something that is a great warmer, and one I can sip on all night. Wishing I could have more.

Over the years, I have grown to love this. Even more so than the Sherry and Port versions. Really unique, and it was time to update my old review.

Original review 12/30/2009

A 2007 bottle

A: Pours a very cloudy copper/orange color. A bubbly white head rises to a little over one finger, and recedes in minute. Light lace is left behind,
S: Malty and sweet. Caramel, and light chocolate. Lots of fruity aromas. Melons, pears, and apples. Dry wood lingers.
T: Moldy dry wood is up front and center, and detracts a lot. Some sweet caramel malt flavors. Some fruity flavors that follow the nose.
M/D: A full body that is sticky and syrupy. Low on the carbonation. A little to dry. The alcohol is really strong. Much harder to drink than I would like.

This might be a little young, and did not do it for me. The bottle seems a little off to me for some reason? Worth a try, but not nearly as good as the Harvest Ale.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.08 out of 5 based on 475 ratings.
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