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)
BEER INFO

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

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:
246
Ratings:
475
Avg:
4.08
pDev:
17.89%
 
 
Wants:
32
Gots:
85
For Trade:
4
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Reviews: 246 | Ratings: 475
Photo of floridadrift
4.83/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2006 POOF!


Almost tart, perfectly mellow with a back-end of alcohol. When I'm not skiing the Alps, I always try to let it warm. This reminded me of a candied apple; this beer was incredibly good, especially with time. One day, this will come in a bomber for $50 and we will all be pissed.

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Photo of Slack
3.71/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

From a 6 month old bottle...

Pours a dark amber color with a trace amount of head.

Smells like fruit and candy - apples and peaches, brown sugar, with minor amounts of alcohol.

Taste is initially sweetness and fruit. Some malt and oak presented themselves along with the alcohol as the beer warmed.

Body was light with medium carbonation. No discernable after taste.

A very nice after dinner beer that is very drinkable.

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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.

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Photo of ONovoMexicano
4.12/5  rDev +1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the 9.3 ounce bottle into a teku glass. Brewed in 2006

The pour produces absolutely no head, and the liquid flows from the bottle like thick maple syrup, at least in color and appearance. The body is repleted with floating yeast that muddies it's dark copper and brown color. Carbonation bubbles stick to the sides of the glass and occasionally work their way upwards. This is by no means a pretty looking beer.

Oak and sherry dominate the aroma. In a blind test, I'd be forgiven for thinking this was a sherry or port. Beneath the sharp spicy pungent smell lies a sweet, caramel-like character.

My first taste of the beer seems to not offer much in the way of variation from the nose---there's still strong oaken and sherry notes---but the back of my palate gets a blast of caramel and chocolate. The chocolate flavor is rich and lingers on the tongue. Some warming does wonders for this beer too as I start to get a smoky, tobacco-like taste that is quite agreeable.

This drinks like a port or sherry, thick, viscous, almost syrupy. There's not a sign of carbonation and the liquid coats the tongue and seems to stick there. Many of the flavors linger towards the finish.

This is mighty tasty as it warms up. I really enjoyed it and appreciated that I could slowly sip it like a harder liquor, savoring it for over an hour.

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Photo of Bowers-Brew
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Almost no head. Light murky brown

S - Raisins, sour grapes, whiskey, smoke, Carmel.

T - Sweet, smokey, whiskey, sour, vanilla, oak...

O - Great beer. Glad some of my BA friends.got me to start trying more Barleywines and other strong\old ales. Prost!

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Photo of artoolemomo
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- Received with a finger's worth of head which looks to have good retention. The head is a pure cotton white while the body is a hazy (almost chunky) pale to medium amber that appears as a pale amber in the light. No lacing is left behind.

Nose- Started off with a good amount of peaches and other fruit notes (light citrus, other stone fruits) and some white grapes. Not exactly what I expect from an English Barleywine but this was aged on Calvados casks and I certainly get that. Some apple to the nose as well. Some toffee, caramel, and vanilla starts to appear in the background as the fruit esters begin to fade. However, the fruit (especially stone fruits) make a comeback later.

Taste- Starts off with a mouthful of the fruit notes of the nose and moves into caramel and toffee which then transition into pine and resin and hints of smoke. Not your typical English Barleywine but this definitely an interesting beer with a good amount of complexity. Lots of apple that seems to coat the entire flavor profile. Nice oak from the cask on the finish. Not as heavy as a lot of English Barleywines; it seems a bit like a barrel aged quad that doesn't have an over insistence on lemon. The Calvados is definitely a good touch to such an iconic barleywine as it takes it in a different direction that is equally enjoyable. Lots of white grape gives this a vinosity that promotes its accessibility and drinkability. Notes of honey, caramel, and toffee blend in perfectly with the fruit esters and the slight kiss of oak gives a smokiness which is the perfect finish for this beer. I think age has done a lot for this beer as its integration is astounding. I prefer more traditional English Barleywines but this is incredibly enjoyable nonetheless. Really good to great beer with an inclination toward being a great beer. This seems to be worthy of the price that I'm sure its vintage commands. Maybe a little sweet- could be a great desert beer. Has tendencies toward a liqueur. This beer almost cleans up in each department and falls just short of being great in my mind.

Mouthfeel- A little more than medium bodied with light carbonation that makes it seem even thicker. Perfect compliment to the flavor profile.

Drinkability- This is a scary beer. I really don't get any of the 11.5%- maybe a little bit on the finish but not really. 5 bucks for a 6 oz pour might seem steep but the prices in the bottle seem higher. I would get this again at this price.

Overall- Almost a great beer. I love the way the Calvados pervades every aspect of this beer but still allows the subtle complexity of the other notes to come through. Definitely worth a try and something I would buy again.

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Photo of abeeronthebeach
4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage on tap at APEX bar, Portland.

A - Glows golden orange. Could almost be sherry occupying my glass. Head vanishes, leaving no trace.

S - Apple infused brandy on the nose. Apricot and peach accompany. Sweet and surprisingly fruity. Heather honey and a little apple juice sourness.

T - Sweet caramelised apples underpinned by a thin layer of malt. Delicious flavours, if fairly straightforward. Not much dark fruit or wood characteristic.

M - Lightly carbonated. Syrupy but it's not in your face. Dangerously drinkable; 11.5% is nowhere to be seen.

O - This beer comes together excellently and I consider it greater than the sum of its parts. Lovely, sweet and smooth.

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Photo of Samp01
3.86/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

9.3oz bottle. Pours a brownish burnt caramel with a small slowly fading white head with some lacing. Aroma of sweet caramel malt, yeast, light citrus notes up front that give way to a sweet dark fruit and figs and a sweet alcohol essence. Taste is sweet caramel malt, yeast, dark fruit, figs, brown sugar with some barrel aged woody and calvados notes and mild bitterness. A medium bodied. smooth and slightly creamy mouth feel on the palate with light carbonation. Finished with a sweet caramel malt, dark fruits, figs, brown sugar, ending has a lingering sweet caramel, figs and aged woody flavor. This is not an overly sweet and cloying drink.Overall a fairly smooth, flavorful, palatable and enjoyable after dinner drink.

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Photo of Sludgeman
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage. Poured into chalice.

I am a big fan of the Harvest Ales. This is a port disguised as a beer. A big smooth beer with layered flavors. This vintage did not seem to age well as it had some oxidation flavor/cardboard in the finish. Be careful of the bottle sediment. I look forward to having a more recent vintage or trying another 2006 (maybe this was stored improperly). 4.0

A – Poured a clear light amber (I did pour the sediment into the glass). No head. No lacing. No alcohol legs to speak of. 3.75

S – Sweet, dark fruits, molasses, VERY port-like. No hops. Some alcohol but not solventy. Some cardboard. 4.5

T – Rich, sweet and caramel. Port wine like qualities, but not to the extent that one would expect based on the aroma. No apples as might be expected as the nose portends. 3.75

MF – Syrupy, smooth and coating. Full bodied with some brandy bite in the finish. 4.25

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Photo of DIM
4.07/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2011 version

a: Hazy, peachy golden color; served with a small fizzy cap.

s: Sugary, stewed fruit; tart apple; brandy; just a touch of wood.

t: Sweet and boozy overall, with just enough tart fruit and woodiness to keep this from being obnoxious. Mellow brandy blankets everything. The fruit flavors are at once sweet and tea like. Long, lingering sugary brandy booziness.

m: Sticky and syrupy.

o: Easily my favorite J.W. Lees.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.36/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I enjoyed a full pour of this for the Christmas event at Hunger & Thirst, served chilled in a snifter.

the color is cherry red with golden hues with head that comes and recedes to a ring of beads. The smell is very vinous, lots of apple skin tart berry-like fruity yeast esters and mild sweet odors from malt with gentle alcohol in the nose. The feel is great, good body with slight tanginess of yeast and mild malt sweetness with extremely low alcohol influence and the strong ale finishes dry with crisp carbonation level for the high strength.

The flavor of brandy is apparent right away with some woody tannic flavors and light berry-like tangy fruit with a mix of spice and oak adding to the light caramel and malt with slight vanilla earthy character. The vinous flavor is there with subtle alcohol making for a splendid barleywine. Overall I had a hard time keeping myself from downing this it is so flavorful, however it evolves as it warms and opens up to an even more complex strong ale over the course of tasting when it nears cellar temps-worth every cent a truly remarkable beer.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

275mL bottle, 2007 vintage.

pours clear, dark amber color with ruby highlights. no head whatsoever. smells of golden raisins, fermented fruit, berries, vanilla. taste is smooth, no booziness at all. well balanced, yet complex. mouthfeel is oily and coats the tongue, faint carbonation, works for the beer.

overall a great sipper, pour it in a snifter and enjoy.

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Photo of stumac
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled in 2004. Nine year old bottle here. Drinking this thanks to the owners of Craft Pride Beer Bar. Brownish-yellow lacing, murky brown color. Aroma of caramel, musty. Tastes like an amber extract that's been watered down a bit. Very smooth, easy drinking. Can't detect any booze. This beer has definitely held up in age

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Photo of flagmantho
3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Poured from 275mL bottle into a tulip. This is the 2007 vintage.

Appearance: murky brown hue with light effervescence and very little head. Pretty normal for an English barleywine.

Smell: richly malty with a good raisin character and a general dank aspect which I really like.

Taste: raisin, date, tobacco and ash right up front; under this is sort of a bitter green flavor which complements the fruity sweetness and ashy astringence. Nicely complex; Lees does it again.

Mouthfeel: quite thin with little carbonation; there's not much going on here. You really get this beer for the flavor, not the texture.

Overall: tasty, if lacking in some other departments. This beer doesn't hold a candle to the 2008 port cask version, however.

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Photo of superspak
4.17/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

275 ml bottle into tulip glass, 2007 vintage. Pours very cloudy orange copper color with a small off white head with poor retention, that reduces to a thin lace ring. Minimal lacing on the glass. Aromas of big raisin, apple, fig, prune, caramel, toast, toffee, molasses, light pepper, brown bread, brandy, vanilla, oak, and toasted earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of malt, cask, and fruity notes; with good strength. Taste of big raisin, apple, fig, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brandy, brown bread, vanilla, oak, light pepper, and toasted earthiness. Lingering notes of raisin, apple, fig, caramel, toast, toffee, brown sugar, brandy, oak, vanilla, light pepper, brown bread, and toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Fantastic balance and complexity of malt, cask, and fruity flavors; with zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Minimal carbonation and fairly full bodied; with a very slick, creamy, and lightly syrupy mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a really excellent English barelywine style. Great balance and complexity of malt and cask flavors; and very smooth to sip on for the ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of dbrauneis
3.97/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Note: Brewed in 2005

A: Pours a hazy dark orangish amber in color with minimal amounts of visible carbonation and some orange + brown highlights. The beer has a thin (1/8 finger tall) tan head that is comprised of a single layer of medium sized bubbles and reduces to a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Minimal amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Moderate to strong aromas of caramel + toffee sweetness from the malts and moderate aromas of apple brandy + alcohol.

T: Upfront there are strong flavors of sweet malts - toffee, caramel, and brown sugar. There is a moderately strong flavor of Calvados (apple brandy). This beer is fairly sweet and just borders on being cloying.

M: Just shy of medium bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Moderate to strong amounts of alcohol warming in the finish.

O: This is a nice dessert beer and requires slow sipping but is quite enjoyable and the Calvados flavors really come through.

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Photo of Resuin
4.56/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 275 mL bottle into a mini snifter. This is a 2009 version, so has 4 years of age on it.

Appearance: Pours a caramel/dark honey color and leaves just a thread of head which dissipates quickly. Carbonation can be seen flowing up the beer.

Smell: Brandy, caramel apples, figs, plums, dates. A hint of cinnamon as well. Very sweet aroma.

Taste: Caramel and apples again - very interesting. Very sweet, and some smokiness to it as well. Pears, plums, and other sweet fruits. Toffee, oak. Very complex, and quite tasty.

Mouth-feel: Medium body with a light carbonation (but there is enough, which is definitely a positive). Extremely smooth finish - the alcohol is expertly masked.

Overall: This is a very interesting beer, and it is really delicious right now. Caramel apple, brandy, some nice spices and plenty of sweet fruit. I have to guess that the time in the bottle has done great things with this because it is drinking really well right now. This is a really good "desert" type drink.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Bottle that says "Brewed in 2006." Pours brownish reddish toffee color with no head and lots of sediment floating around. Aroma of biscuits, toffee, caramel, vanilla, licorice, some chocolate. Nice. Flavor is sweet up front like whoah, then fades into an intense praline nuttiness and vanilla cream. The nutty flavor lingers a good while and is very pleasant--probably the best part of this beer. The up front super cloying maple sweet makes it tough to drink at start, but otherwise a nicely layered bunch of flavors. Brown sugar, figs, and chocolate begin to show. Calvados and butterscotch come out as it warms. Thick and viscous. Heavy, decadent dessert beer for sure. Maybe a bit much, but definitely had the depth of flavor. The palate improves as I go, and overall one to try for barleywine lovers. One of the most complex flavor profiles I have come across since BB4D.

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Photo of Roman5150
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

bottle into tulip

appearance: murky brown/amber with some sediment on the bottom, very slight white head

smell: calvados casks, dark fruits, figs, nuts, apple/pear, oak, roasted notes, sweet

taste: very sweet, lots of cask flavor, also getting some subtle roasted notes, hazelnut, apple, oak, and vanilla on the backend. Alcohol is pleasantly disguised by the sweetness and smoothness for this beer. Wow the aging really makes this super mellow for the ABV.

mouthfeel: low to medium carbonation, medium-full bodied

overall: This is a special occasion beer given the price, but wow does this impress. So smooth, it's not often you can find beer aged for several years at my local stores. The calvados casks really come through on this one and create a truly flavorful, balanced, amazingly smooth beer. Will buy again, if you like any sort of oak, bourbon, or other barrel aged beer, you will absolutely love this.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.09/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2006 bottling

A: murky brown ale, no head, in a large snifter - sediment slips in quickly, so be careful if you want to avoid - doesn't impact flavor, but looks a little unappealing

S: apples, caramel, toffee

T: caramel apples, some suggestion of spice; very sweet

M: smooth, slight stickiness, no bitterness, no carbonation

O: worth the buy, but not as stunning as I'd hoped - very sweet, very slick, apple predominant on the nose an on the palate - invisible alcohol content

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.03/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 2011 Vintage on tap.

A - Pours a murky amber orange color with a light but heavy looking dark cream colored head.

S - Apples, cinnamon, tart, brandy, slight sugary aroma, brown sugar, light toffee/caramel, and the high ABV is pretty well hidden in the aroma. However, this beer smells nothing like a Barleywine and really takes on the character of the barrel it was aged in (with a vengeance).

T - Apples, pears, apricots, light butterscotch, brandy, figs, raisons, toffee, light oak, and some vanilla.

M - Silky smooth with no carbonation and lightly sticky.

O - I would enjoy it more if it were called something else, resembles the cask it was aged in ather than a barley. However, in it's favor, it's insanely complex.

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Photo of BrownNut
3.8/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

It's flat despite my most aggressive pour ever. Smells and tastes pretty woody and sort of reminiscent of port. It tastes malty and is fine but is missing something, is missing life or soul or body or complexity. The residual warmth at the end is welcome but doesn't save it.

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Photo of MadScientist
4.29/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: A medium amber with a deep orange hue and good clarity. The are only a few bubbles that quickly fade leaving a swirl of tiny, hardly there bubbles floating around the beer.

S: There is that rich malt of a barley wine with a sharp oak and brandy aroma. There is a light bit of an aroma that reminds me of a hard cider. The alcohol is soft and some what floral. There is a light bit of the rasin aroma in a Barleywine but not as much as most usually have.

T: Malty and sweet with a moderate oak flavor that bring a fair amount of vanilla and a touch of cinnamon flavors. The calvados becomes a bit more evident in the finish as the malt goes away leaving the alcohol warmth to mingle with the apple-brandy notes. There isn't much in the the way of hops flavors and just a light hops bitterness. The balance is strong towards the malt sweetness and the finish is sweet as well.

M: Medium-full bodied with moderately-light carbonation. moderate creaminess and moderately-strong alcohol warmth.

O: A strong Barleywine with a lot of sweetness that is checked by the alcohol more than the hops.
Brewed in 2007

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.32/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Mine's a 2004 bottle.

A: Dark brown with a bit of copper, exactly the same colour as the bottle. Absolutely no head but some brown bubbles linger around the sides.

S: Sickly cough medicine smell like all the others from this range.

T: A fruity bitterness like that from grapefruit or orange rind. Cointreau is the predominant flavour (you might even say it tastes of cough syrup, albeit, a damned fine one). Lovely solvent alcohol. Overwhelmingly sweet. A bit of dry, non-spicy woodyness too, which I assume is the flavour of the calvados cask. Unfortunately I've not perceived any of the apple that the other reviewers have noted.

M: Unsurprisingly sticky. Almost no carbonation in this one apart from a small sensation at the back.

O: Classy stuff, not something you'd drink in the pub.

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Photo of Thehuntmaster
4.5/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

275ml bottle 11,5% Abv.
Served lightly chilled in an over sized wine glass.
2003 Vintage

A big thanks to JAXSON for this bottle.

Appearance: The calvados version of JW Lees appears a deep brown in the glass, with a back light showing the beer to in fact be a deep orangey-red with amber highlights and golden edges. A rough pour yields a thin layer of beige foam that lasts reasonably well and a swirl coats the glass in heavy alcohol legs.

Smell: The initial nose is absolutely fantastic, with big buttery caramel notes, brown sugar and sweet fruits (cooked apples, raisins and figs) dominating. The apple brandy is noted, but at this point one needs to strain to tell that it is calvados and not just standard brandy. As the beer begins to warm, the nose makes a swift change, with a fair amount of oxidzation becoming apparent, alongside molasses, dark treacle and even a hint of marmite. The oxidization is no where near as unpleasant as in many other older beers I have had, but it does detract somewhat from the deliciousness of the initial nose.

Taste: Thankfully the oxidization that was present in the nose is almost completely absent in the flavour, making this just about as delicious as I expected. Sweet buttery caramel, brown sugar and brandy soaked raisins dominate the flavour, with cooked apples, figs, toffee, a little molasses, a touch of vanilla and some oak also present. Superb alcohol cover, there is almost no trace of the 11,5%.

Mouthfeel: Perfect - I really wish every brewer who wants to make a barleywine would go out and a buy a bottle of JW Lees and then try to recreate the mouthfeel!
Full bodied, oily and lightly sticky; with a low level of velvety smooth carbonation.

Overall: I wish I could have had this bottle a year or two ago before the oxidization became noticeable in the nose; that said, it is still a fantastic beer and one I hope to have again!

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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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