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

253 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 253 | Ratings: 494
Photo of colts9016
2.47/5  rDev -39.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Number 700 beer and I choose to drink a JW Lees Harvest 2006. poured into a Delirium Tremes Glass at 50 degrees.

Appearance: A very hard pour produce a half finger head that has poor retention. The head is ivory in color with some foam. The color of the beer is a deep mahogany color with rusty hues. The clarity of the beer is opaque. A great color to the beer poor retention.

Nose: A very rich malty complex with caramel aromas. There is a slight fruity esters with yeast treacle molasses, and toffee notes. Not much else in the way of aroma.

Taste: A very rich malty complex overtly sweet, caramel, apples, yeast, treacle, molasses and toffee notes. The beer is one dimension.

The mouth feel of the beer is flat, and sweet.

Overall: The body of the beer is medium with a medium finish. This is exactly opposite of what I thought that this beer would be. From a stand point of a BA, this beer lacks so much finesse and carbonation that is makes it worthless to drink. Not a very good showing.

 1,004 characters

Photo of fx20736
2.59/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 9.3 oz bottle into a pint glass,served near room temp.

Bronze Orange, no head, I decanted bottle slowly, leaving maybe 2 oz in the bottle along with alot of sediment which may have reduced head somewhat.

Aroma: A much fainter bouquet than the Port or Sherry versions. I pick up the nuts and toast but obviously no wine. I detect no apple aroma.

mouthfeel: soft and syrupy

taste: Sweet with a warming alcohol vibe. Toasted hazelnuts, burnt toast, woodiness.

Notes: 3 down, 1 to go. These JWL Cask Aged Barleywines are not working for me.

 556 characters

Photo of Brent
2.85/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Finally decided to pull a 2005 vintage from the cellar, and apparently I had waited too long. Good cap seal, but almost no carbonation. A substantial bit of brown sediment decanted even with a careful pour. Very sweet, with caramel and red delicious apple notes. Once the initial sweetness passed, there really seemed nothing of note backing it up, other than a touch of alcohol harshness. Perhaps a more fresh sample would be a better representation, but I can only judge the merit of the beer by what is in my glass at the moment.

 532 characters

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.

 503 characters

Photo of Agold
3.07/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This is the 2006 version of this beer. Even with a very vigorous pour, there is no head on this beer at all. It is a nice mahogany color and is mildly cloudy with a few floaties I could have done without. The aroma has a lot of honey in it and some apple and some sweet caramel. The flavor is nicer, a bit syrupy without the carbonation, but there is a nice floral blend of apple and some wood and malt in the background. The alcohol is very well hidden and it is very smooth. Definitely a sipper because of the sweetness and body. I don't know if the sweetness comes from the base beer or the calvados, either way it is close to being too much. Very heavy beer that is pretty much still. I do not expect a high level of carbonation in a beer like this, but some might have been nice to cut some of the sweetness. An interesting pairing between a barleywine and apple brandy that I think could have gone better.

 911 characters

Photo of Bierguy5
3.1/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

11.5 % ABV, 2004 bottle. Pours a hazy chestnut color, with a thin off white head. The head disappears very quickly. Huge apple, pear, brandy, boozy aroma. Aroma really jumps right out of the glass. Sweet, syrupy and fruity flavor, with notes of apples, oranges and pears. Very thick and coating, with very little carbonation. Maybe a bit of caramel flavors at the end. A bit warming from the alcohol. Somehow this is smooth, but overly sweet. The sweetness was too much for me.

 477 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.12/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Pizza Plant in Buffalo, NY.

Pours flat-looking and still, kind of bright orange-ish, with no head or lacing.

Smells like caramel, brandy, and a good amount of booze and sugar.

Not sure what happened here, but this fell flat literally and figuratively. Not sure the age, but it seems over the hill. The Calvados brandy flavor is overwhelming, with a bit of oxidation, and the slightest bit of caramel flavor. It's very sweet, but flat-tasting.

Absolutely no carbonation, very flat, with a syrupy mouthfeel. Just doesn't feel right going down.

I was excited to try this, but 'twas a fail.

 601 characters

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

 399 characters

Photo of scooter231
3.15/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

This was an interesting treat, to say the least. Poured into a simple wine glass, it looked like cloudy grapefruit juice. No head. No lacing. Just juice. Smelled like balsamic vinegar and lemon zest, with a hint of tart apple. Still not too scary, though.

The taste was something else. Brandy-esque, sweet. Strong. Calvados. This wasn't horrible, didn't taste bad, but boy is this sucker a sipper. I shared, and we had to eventually take turns taking gulps to finish it- and by gulps I mean barely large sips. It just wouldn't end! It felt like it kept re-filling itself. Mouthfeel was kind of blah, watery, thin. I couldn't have too many of these- I couldn't finish ONE- I'd rather have a smaller portion, as a long, long nightcap.

 735 characters

Photo of Etan
3.2/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nip bottle into a snifter. 2006 vintage.

A: Pours a cloudy prunish brown with a pathetic, quick-dying head of coarse white bubbles.

S: Smells heavily of brown sugar and hot figs. Syrupy to say the least.

T: Thick raisin and grape notes dominate the taste, followed by a brief note of earthy stale grain.

M: Thick and almost still, with a tiny gasp of carbonation at the beginning.

O: Not very pleasant to drink. Horrible appearance and mouthfeel and tastes mostly like brandy. Might as well buy a bottle of Calvados.

 521 characters

Photo of Crosling
3.2/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Bright red color. Fairly aromatic, full of deep apple brandy, coconut and vanilla from the wood along with a light aromatic malt presence, with hints of fruits, brown sugar and caramel. The most aromatic of the Harvest cask ales, thus far. Lacking body however, like ever Harvest cask ale. Flavor is very, very sweet, more like a dessert beer and definately more of an after dinner beer. Light apple brandy flavors, caramel and fruit pie with well hidden alcohol. I think these beer need more time in the barrel, perhaps they would take on more depth and body.

 560 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.28/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

vintage 2009 poured into Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: murky brownish orange bodied beer with lots of white floaties. Whispy and thin cap of white head that drops to not head at all.

Smell: malty, boozey, oak, and smokey/salty bacon.

Taste: Brown sugar and grainy malts. Brandy and apples, but this beer is really sweet. Midpalate is salty and bacony smoke, just like the nose. Finish is really sweet and also has a bitter kick that seems to me as an out of place flavor because this beer is so sweet. Doesnt compliment the sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Its a full bodied beer with low carbonation levels. This beer is more like a beer syrup than a beer.

Overall: The beer is just too sweet to me even for an English barleywine.

 727 characters

Photo of nlmartin
3.28/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

The beer was poured from the bottle into a wide mouthed wine goblet.

Apperance: This beer poured a amber to copper coloration with a slightly hazy coloration. The head was very thin and resolved quickly. The head coloration was off honey coloration. Thin specks of lacing left behind on the glass.

Smell: The beer smells very very boozy. Underneath all the boozy smell is a very nice malty bed. There is a smell of caramel and apple goodness.

Taste: Like the smell it taste massively boozy. There was a brief spicyness to the beer. Then the beer went straight to sweet malt bomb. The beer is almost cloyingly sweet with very little relief. I could taste a very subdued woody apple taste. The hops are not even a player in this beer.

Mouthfeel: The beer has a very slick mouth feel. There is practically no carbonation. Taste has a very long lasting sweet malty aftertaste. This beer just totally crushed my palate. I couldnt taste anything else for almost an hour.

Drinkability: Frankly the beer was to boozey and just to dam sweet for my taste. This beer would probably be ok for spliting a couple or three ways. Definately a siping beer. I still have another bottle in the cellar. That is probably where it will remain for a year or ten.

 1,257 characters

Photo of murrayswine
3.28/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

First, I love Barleywines, they're probably my fav style, but if you let the barrel it's casked in become the beer, then it has failed, in my eyes.

The color is beautiful burnt sienna with a slight unfiltered haze. No head whatsoever.

The smell is, well, calvados, which if you havent had is very acrid, yet dark fruit sweet. Prunes, and wheat bread.

The taste is sweet. Too-sweet apples, like granny smith, unbalanced with a very cloying sweetness. Maybe its' just this bottle. The alcohol is numbing, like a spirit would be.

I will try another bottle. I CAN taste the quality in the beer, and I CAN sense the flavors of the barleywine, but the calvados barrel had to have a more than average amount of brandy left in it, because I have a bottle of real Calvados, and it tastes like I just drank it neat.

 819 characters

Photo of akorsak
3.3/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This is a 2005 bottle of Calvados. Previously, I reviewed a 2004 bottle.

A: The barleywine is a amber orange color with no head and little carbonation.

S: The nose is very sweet malts with a hint of buttery oak.

T: The taste is very malty and punctuated by sugary sweetness. It is oaky and chardonnay-like with a very dry appley finish. Hops are an afterthought, as the malts and calvados have done well flavor-wise.

M: The mouthfeel is both sweet and sharp, allowing appley liquor hints to emerge.

D: This ale seems to do a bit better when fresh (vs an '04 that I tried a few weeks back), but you still can only handle one at a time.

 639 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.32/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Reviewed from notes.

Poured into a snifter. The body is a fairly-bright, yet still murky, orangish color with a thin light head that persists for a bit of time before fading. The nose brings a good dose of booze and the brandy comes through quite well. There is a bit of caramel and toffee plus some light fruits. The taste is just a bit boozy and also has a tiny bit of astringency. Feel is a bit boozy with a nice body. Overall, not nearly as good as the original.

 467 characters

Photo of ommegangpbr
3.34/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

On cask at the Hop Devil Grill in NYC; a nice, rare opportunity to try such a thing.
A memorable beverage, to be certain.
Calvados profile through and through.
In my opinion, one would be better off drinking Calvados than this but as far as beer making goes this is an interesting experience.
Looks a little ordinary sitting in a wine glass; no head, no lacing; kinda looks like unfiltered apple juice or cider.
Quite fragrant, nearly inviting but stops short of saying "DRINK ME!"
The taste is very much Calvados. Pretty classy apple brandy stuff going on, though it's love it or hate it. I have no doubt this is exactly as it was designed to be and I give it high credit for that but it was pretty tough SHARING an 8 ounce portion. Smooth and viscous but sometimes it wasn't a good thing. This is a thinky-er fluid. Maple syrup came to mind at times... but stops short of being syrup like.
This is a two or three ounce at a time in a snifter sort of creature. Not really my cup of tea... or beer as it were... but I'd give it another go just to be sure.

 1,062 characters

Photo of laituegonflable
3.36/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a cloudy burnt-orange colour with odd sedimenty chunks. Head is a thin film which disperses, not much lace at all. No real carbonation either. Really quite blah, nothing exciting here.

Smells very, very rich and sweet, with a vinous edge. Lots of complex sugar, jammy, plummy and rich with fruity residuals - apricot and paw-paw, really. But yeah, very sweet. Pretty nice but has a teeth-rotting intensity to its sweetness.

Taste is also very sweet, but somehow more mellow than the nose. Very jammy and fruity with melon and paw-paw on there, yes peach and apricot as well. A slight spicy note, pepper and nutmeg on there and some cloves providing mild touches as well. A touch of fig towards the back, and then finish is just as sweet as the front. It's all just sweet and liqueury with fortified wine notes and complex brown sugar. Tasty, but a bit over-rich and sweet for me.

Syrupy, thick, lots of texture. Quite nice. Good for style.

Yeah, a very heavy beer, thick and rich like Cottee's topping. A bit too much to have one whole bottle, methinks.

 1,063 characters

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.

 330 characters

Photo of JayQue
3.42/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Pours a hazy orange, no head and no lacing. Fairly prominent smell of apples and some alcohol. Taste is apples, caramel malt and alcohol. The alcohol is milld and the overall mouthfeel is rich with no alcohol burn.

The taste is rich and fairly pleasant but too sweet for the long haul. No spices or bitterness to balance the sweetness. 11 oz as a nightcap is pleasant. Wouldn't want much more of this beer. The Port Cask is more balanced and less sweet. A much better choice!!

 477 characters

Photo of Rastacouere
3.44/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Amber, totally clear. Interesting aroma with appealing apple notes, honey and wood. It’s overall quite warming, but bears nowhere the charm of a regular JW Lees, has nowhere near the malt richness, depth. On the palate, it feels thick, buttery with a harsh syrupy apple juice component. Complex notes of honey, earth, peach and a much stronger bitterness than the non-barrel aged version. Medium carbonation level, full bodied, very sweet. Unmemorable, but perhaps the second best of the lot to me.

 499 characters

Photo of BierFan
3.52/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 9.3 ounce bottle into a flute. Brewed in 2007.

Appearance: Small off-white head, about the same color as the tan label. Dull and cloudy apple cider colored body.

Smell: I'll agree with other reviewers on this and say that "caramel apple" is a pretty good way of describing the aroma.

Taste: Very sweet. Brown sugar and apples are present. Little bit of alcohol bite on the finish. Too much apple and not enough barleywine in my opinion.

 453 characters

Photo of cokes
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My starting points here are divergent, and thus my expectations are as well.
In comparison to the Lagavulin cask, this is a triumph of epic proportions. But the original Harvest Ale still fares worse due to cask aging.
Pitches forth a bright and shimmering, deep nectarous golden. Topped with an actual head! One of foamy whitened mauve.
Apples are foremost on the nose, but distilled and full of flame. Honey shoots out around the edges.
Begins sweet, but not titanically so. It's approachably cloying. Full of raw, thick honey, dates, raisins, and brown sugar. Jellied pineapple appears later on. Butter is added in browned form. A big apple tidal wave essentially destroys the maltiness in favor of its own desire for domination. Hot now. Boozy, ferocious, and searing. But reprieve is given at the end. Baked greasy cheese, buttered apple stems, and traces of actual leafy hops.
Full bodied. Fat, portly, and rotund. Levity is hinted at, but never fully achieved. But in comparison to that "other" Barreled Harvest Ale, this is quite potable.
This one is worth aging, as promise oozes slowly outward. It's way too raw and firesome now. But there is hope.

 1,168 characters

Photo of canucklehead
3.53/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark gold colour with orange highlights and no head. The nose was full of apples and vanilla coupled with hops. I felt a little let down by the finish of the beer as it was a little sweet and the apple notes kinda clashed with the hops. I would put this one down for a good 5 years to see what develops as it seems unbalanced right now

 344 characters

Photo of tpd975
3.55/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2005 vintage courtesy of Sudsdog.

A: This one pours a deep nutty amber color, with a rather puny creamy head. Very little retention lets the head die down to a simple collar almost instantly. There is little carbonation when the glass is swirled, no lacing, though there is a nice amount of floaties which I like.

A: Is big bold and sweet. There is a huge malty sweet character to this brew. The nose is very full with numerous aromas coming at you. Tons of apple, along with grape. Toffee and brown sugar hide beneath the fruity esters. There are hints of vanilla and a definite boozy quality to this one.

T: Very sweet from start to finish. Tons of malt smacks you in the face right from the start. What you smell is what you taste with this one. Tons of sweet apple and light winey grape right up front. Very fruity. The sweetness smacks you across the face in the middle and lingers thru the finish. I ope you have a sweet tooth becuase rock candy has nothing on this one. Tons of toffee and caramelized brown sugar come next. Hints of vanilla come thru as this one starts to warm. Chocolate covered rum soaked cherries come thru in the end. Not a single cone of hops were noted.

M: thick, heavy, almost like maple syrup. This one is like drinking a warm gooey honey syrup concoction spiked with rum.

D: Too sweet to have more than one.

Overall: Quite unique and quite sweet. This is not your grandma's barleywine. Very sweet, very fruity, with tons of malt. The hops are no where to be seen in this one so if balance is what your looking for look elsewhere. It is good for what it is though, and rather enjoyable. Would like to try the whole line of J.W. Lee's Barleywines.

 1,684 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.08 out of 5 based on 494 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.