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

BA SCORE
91
outstanding
253 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask)
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
253
Ratings:
494
Avg:
4.08
pDev:
12.75%
 
 
Wants:
31
Gots:
90
For Trade:
4
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 Apellonious
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
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 -3.7%
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 sokol_1993
4.1/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

 155 characters

Photo of JackRWatkins
4.59/5  rDev +12.5%
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).

 654 characters

Photo of cjgiant
4.08/5  rDev 0%
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.

 954 characters

Photo of GuyFawkes
4.77/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2006 vintage; drank 7/8/14 @ Deerfield Elementary.

Poured from the bottle into a glass.

Dark red rust hue; tons of cream flotsam.

Minimal off-white head; no lace.

Dark cherry & burnt sugar nose. Inviting!

Medium thick, sticky mouthfeel.

Dark cherry & burnt sugar are joined by toasted oak on the flavor; sweet cherry settles on the lips. 8 years in; perfection!

 372 characters

Photo of tbryan5
4.13/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A- Little to no head. Pitch black.
S- Peaty. With raisins and toffee.
T- More booze and dark fruits.
M- Full, slick and smooth.
D- Its a sipper but a very nice one that warms you up.

 183 characters

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.

 1,098 characters

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.

 184 characters

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

Shared 2008 bottle. Cask sample in 2017.
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. More boozy and not a good as the sherry version.

 258 characters

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.

 350 characters

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

 428 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 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.

 379 characters

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

 278 characters

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.

 575 characters

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.

 284 characters

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.

 366 characters

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

 872 characters

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

2012
Minimal head with zero lacing. Deep golden color with red streaks. 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?

 387 characters

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.

 608 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 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.

 328 characters

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

 1,476 characters

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.

 324 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.

    Subscribe