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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)
513 Ratings
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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 513 |  Reviews: 261
Photo of adrian21
5/5  rDev +22.9%

Photo of DocDownUnder
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Exiled
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of armock
4.17/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from South Bay Drugs in San Diego, Ca 2006 Vintage.

A - Poured a hazy brown color with a thin tan head

S - Has a very sweet nose with some fruit scents

T - Follows the nose with lots of sweet malt upfront with some fruit in the finish

M - This beer has a medium body with lighter carbonation to it

O - This beer was awesome I wish I bought more than just one bottle of this and then didn't share it with a friend as well the taste is very good and very easy to drink if your able to find this grab it up

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Photo of birderbeerer
3.88/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled in 2006.

Almost green, cloudy like apple cider. Minimal head that collects in a ring. If you look carefully, lots of floaties in there (I am now not looking carefully).

Smells like it has turned over. Super sweet. But it still has a little of the hop and heft of a barleywine. There's hope.

Neat taste. Better than I expected from the smell. Like an apple barleywine (presumably the apples come from the Calvados). Good and sweet but some heft does remain. Better body than the head suggests.

I imagine this is a wonderful beer within 1-2 years.

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Photo of Agold
3.07/5  rDev -24.6%
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.

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Photo of mikereaser
3.82/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottled in 2007
pours a dull muddy brown with lots of floaties settling to the bottom of the glass, no foam whatsoever
aroma is caramel apples, woody alcohol aroma
Very unique flavor, candy apple, woody, alot of sweetness with hints of cardboard, I really like this. It just has a really unique flavor.
slightly syrupy, low carbonation, its pretty easy to drink but should remain a sipper.

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Photo of alpineclimber
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to nhindian for this bottle.

Vintage 2009, a 275ml bottle poured into my favourite chalice. A wispy white head forms on an amber colored brew.

Smell is of apples and liqueur, fairly sweet and slightly woody from the cask.

Taste is fairly sweet, the calvados is fairly strong in the taste. This drinks more like a liqueur rather then a barleywine, the cask conditioning has put a great emphasis on this brew. The carbonation is very light and the mouthfeel is thick giving the beer a slightly syrupy quality again something you would expect from a liqueur.

This would be a great beer to be paired with a desert after an awesome meal.

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Photo of Knapp85
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This was the first one of the four that I tried. This brew poured out as a thick looking amberish orange color. The head was only visible for a minute or so. The smell of the beer is full of fresh wooden aromas, sweet malts and booze. The taste of the beer is a little earthy, with plenty of wooden sweetness. The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy. Overall this brew is very big despite the smaller bottle. These could be sold at 8.5oz and they'd be plenty big. Worth trying for sure. Very nice stuff.

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Photo of sm0key
4.65/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Shared a bottle with a friend.

A: looks like a Barleywine, just like you would expect!

S: Apples! some kind of fruity, sweet smell.

T: Like nothing I ever had before! I was amazed at how you can blend the apple brandy and barleywine flavor into one. It was very obvious where this beer was aged, but it's not a fruit beer. This is a barleywine at it's core.

M: Low carbonation, thick, but dry (if that makes sense!)

O: If this wasn't so hard to find, and so expensive, I'd drink it all the time!

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Photo of claytong
4.34/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 bottle
didnt write good enough notes on some aspects and it was at the end of a very long and good tasting this last friday.

appearance - murky burgundy in color. not a big head

smell - apple, port, vanilla, cinnamon, other spices, toffee and oak.

taste - much the same with an earthy follow through

mouthfeel - much more cloying than the sherry cask but a little less than the regular (depending on year). not my favorite of jw's, but also really enjoyable and im sure ill have it again

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Photo of BeerNemesis
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) | 275 ml. | 11.5% ABV | 2009 vintage

Brewer: J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Style: English Barleywine
Glass: snifter

Very similar to the Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)—it has a deep golden color somewhere between the intensity of a fading sunset and the somber brown of brandy.

Barley, honey, raisins, Calvados (apple liqueur) molasses, toffee, fruity esters, and a slightly less prominent floral hoppy tinge then its sherry-matured cousin.

Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) has a richness and complexity on par with Harvest Ale Sherry Cask. Fermented barley and raw honey, sticky caramel, and plump raisins, and ripe tropical fruits on the finish are all their. The main difference stems from the fact that the Calvados gives it a slightly sour, fermented apple background. It's very nice, and carries into the finish (though I think I prefer the sherry). Trying Calvados Cask has also made me realize the pervasive smokiness of this Barleywine that really comes through on the finish. The halva-flavored finish I tasted with Sherry Cask comes through as somehow more chocolatey with Calvados.

Smooth, creamy, smoky, and languid. It's a bit more acidified than its Sherry Cask cousin.

Close to perfection, though I feel J.W. Lees Harvest ale is better suited maturing in Sherry Casks than Calvados Casks. The reason being that the sweetness and complexity of sherry better compliments the thick fruitiness of the Barleywine. To my palate, the Calvados has too much of a bitter/sour influence.

Would I get it again?:
Yes, certainly. I am thinking of buying all four of the J.W. Lees Harvest ales matured in casks to try side by side.

Bottled: 2009
Served: July 17, 2011

Price = $11.99 at Whole Foods NYC

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Photo of CooperEllis
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

9.3 oz bottle, brewed in 2008
from....Montrose79 - hand delivered in a BIF. Thanks!

Great pour (into 6oz tasting glass) with a bright amber color. much like brite maple syrup I would imagine looks. A thick offwhite head stays for a minute and leaves ample lacing.

maple, malt, very faint booze notes. there is a slight citrus in there as well, more lemon rind than anythin else. a bit of muddle spiciness

The mouthfeel is a touch sticky for me, and that I think detracts from the taste here as well as the end is a little syrupy and not as crisp as you'd think from the look of it. It's a brite barleywine.

I don't know that this is a 'dead' period as this was full in the flavor but the booze is gone. That this is 11.5% would catch you wholly offguard if doing a blind tasting.

Overall I've enjoyed it. I don't know that I would care to drink it again if only because of how sweet it is getting at the end of the glass.

There's not a reason for this, but I was expecting there to be a wood note in this. Not overpowering, but at least present. This is not founded on anything, I guess I'll abstractly attribute it to the label.


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Photo of aasher
3.77/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2006 vintage. This beer pours a syrupy dark maple brown in color with no head at all and seemingly little carbonation. A good amount of sediment slipped into my snifter and resembles clumps of cinnamon floating throughout my glass. It is very aromatic and gives of aromas of apples, caramel, oak, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and and maple syrup. The nose is phenomenal and heavy on the caramelized apples. The flavors given are of sweet apples, cinnamon sticks, oak, tree bark, vanilla, and caramel. It is very, very sweet and also quite syrupy. It drinks syrupy and medium in body and has almost lost all of its carbonation. Overall this beer is a sipper or to be shared and could be defined as a dessert beer at this stage in its life. It's a fine drinker and I prefer this to the Sherry Cask version. I'm glad I have another bottle to open again in another couple years. It's a good English Barleywine.

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Photo of Spider889
3.64/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Purchased this bottle at Lizardville.

"Brewed in 2009"
Poured into a Cigar City snifter.

A ruddy orange color that produced a quick head. This did not stick around for very long though.

Ahh, the unmistakable smell of apple brandy barrels. Sweet, fruity, and rich. Pear, apricot, and stewed cinnamon apple are all part of this aroma. A light dusting of oak and alcohol seems to linger long after each whiff.

The taste is a bit more off-putting than I could have ever guessed. I suppose the main issue is that this beer is way too sweet. I can't be certain if it is the calvados barreling, or the base beer, or something else. It's like honeyed apple pie, which sounds good until you apply it to a barleywine. The calvados flavor itself is spot on, but the beer is distractingly sweet, and finishes with an odd bitterness and tons of mucky rotten oak.

For the mouthfeel there's a lot of dry oaky texture. The beer itself is not overly dry, however. Dusty must and weathered wood funk make the mouthfeel unpleasant for me.

Overall this was not nearly as wonderful as I had imagined. After my brief love affair with De Regenborg at Monk's Cafe I assumed calvados could only improve the right beer. In this case, I am wishing I had opted for the whiskey, scotch, or port barrel version of this beer.

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Photo of jamie2dope
4.1/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Lately anything Calvados related intrigues me. This version of JW Lees pours a really pretty rose color, with a quick to fade white head. The nose is very sweet, with lots of apples, alcohol, honeydew and peach nectar. The flavor follows the same example as far as sweetness, almost to the point of being cloying. While this is a boozy beer, the alcohol doesn't necessarily hinder the experience overall. Mouthfeel is a highlight here in that it is very smooth, and not too heavy. This is certainly a sipper, but a light one. While the ten dollar price tag is on the steep side for a bottle of its size, I recommend this beer. I paired some bitter Chimay cheese with it, which helped to cut down on the sweetness. I imagine the salty nature of Stilton would pair nicely as well.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
3.72/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Follow up to the J.W. Lees Harvest 2000 vintage bottle. Poured from 2008 vintage bottle into a snifter glass. Pours a mostly clear medium amber color with a small off-white head. Aroma is sweet caramel malt, calvados, sherry, and spice. Flavor is very sweet with caramel and toffee malt notes, oak, spice, calvados, and sherry-like oxidative notes. Slick on the mouthfeel with medium body and soft carbonation. Overall, I preferred this over the Harvest 2000 vintage I had previously. A definite sipper.

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Photo of stakem
3.92/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to optimator13 for the bottle. 2007 offering poured into a pair of 6oz snifters.

This brew appears a hazes brownish copper color. Some white bubbles appear and quickly dissolve to nothing. A swirl hardly releases more than a pair of bubbles making the appearance of this brew seem still. When held to the light, there is orange and yellow tints of coloration around the edges.

The smell is sweet like caramel candy apples. There is a light citrus element present quite similar to orange rinds but faint. There is a touch of oxidation present but not distracting. It smells faintly like cardboard with some boozy abv that tingles the nose.

The taste is candy caramel sweetness with a touch of the previously mentioned cardboard oxidation. There is a grainy flavor present that melds into a bit if musty character. Big booze flavor is present which lines up with the listed percentage but it is enjoyable and well integrated in the brew. Some faint herbal hops are noted. There is a residual fruity flavor to this brew that lasts into the aftertaste which tastes faintly of apple.

This is a full bodied brew with an acceptably very low level of carbonation. Clingy sweetness sticks to your tongue with this and mixes with lots of oxidative quality. It's a well made old ale/English barleywine with good balance and enjoyable for 11%. I've been on an apple brandy barrel aged beer kick lately and really enjoy the normal harvest offering but this fell a little short for me. I think my expectations were a bit too high considering how much I like the base beer.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.32/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage pours a semi-clear gold color with a thin white head. Not much retention or lacing.

Nose is earthy and fungi-esque with lots of woody undertones. Green apples with a sherry-like alcohol presence. Caramel and toffee malts, this one is uber-complex.

Big icewine sweetness with a major apple component. Alcohol plays a main role, but smooth enough to make it a delectable sipper. Burnt edges like a flaming campfire marshmallow, and the whole sherry/fungus/wood complexities are ridiculous. The alcohol flavors even seem to have various levels of flavor...crazy beer. Definitely malt driven with caramel, simple syrup and toast omnipresent. Nice beer, very fun to drink.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.19/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

446th review on BA
bottle to snifter
9.3 oz
2009 Vintage

App- This poured similar to liquid caramel just a bit lighter. Looked very creamy with no real head, just some bubbles inside the beer and maybe around the edges. No cling just smooth.

Smell- This smells very good. Moderate booze with a lot of apple and malts. Its a bit sweet on the nose and after a sip as flavors meld and move around.

Taste- This was like having a sweeter liquid caramel apple dipped in brandy. A good taste and a bit sweet and bends what I thought a barleywine could taste like. It's a big abv thats well hidden until this small bottle takes hold when you get up. Good beer.

Mouth- This left me with a medium bodied and a slightly higher carbonation and a lot of creamy apple flavors.

Drink- This was a very good barleywine. It was balanced, and creamy and boozy yet at the same time, tame and delicate. I cant wait to have again and try the other variations.

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Photo of nuggetsofnectar
4.64/5  rDev +14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage

finally reviewing these splendid barleywines from j WUBBBB

App: Deep dark caramel brown hue with a small 1/4" head that quickly dissipates to a rim and pondlike fizzle

Smell: Lovely....the brandy is up front with deep caramel laced figs....sweet tones reminiscent to honey suckley....earthy hops....

Taste: oh lord...thick chewy caramel....figs all over it...molasses...and the brandy notes are so smooth and quite dominant (in a good way)...raisins....the heat is their but its so well used that it isn't a deterent...so good

Mouthfeel: near perfect...so thick but smooth....

Overall: I have always enjoyed these barrel agings in this one is tied with the Sherry IMO....cheers

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Photo of Brent
2.85/5  rDev -30%
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.

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Photo of davod23
4.3/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I do love J.W. Lees. Poured from a bottle (2008 vintage) into my Bruery tulip.

Pour is a deep orange color, a faintly off-white head of about 1-2 fingers emerges for a time before settling to a few wisps of clouds. No lacing or anything, but a swirl does show the beer to stick to the sides of the glass.

Smell is really pretty nice. Sugary, cake-like. I had my nose in the glass for about 10 minutes trying to figure out what it was before I decided on pineapple upside-down cake, minus the pineapple. Some apples and apricots make their way through, as does a seemingly unneeded vegetal aroma. Soybean? That's weird.

Taste is great. Sweet, but not overly so considering the style and the size of the bottle. Sugary cake, fruitiness, and a bit of warming alcohol make their presence known.

Mouthfeel is outstanding. Full-bodied, near syrupy. Long finish.

Drinkability is quite good for the style. I think that regular JW Lees is better on this scale, simply because it's not quite as sweet. But this is a great beer.

Highly recommended.

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Photo of tempest
4.04/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On gravity cask at the Ginger Man. As expected it came out a hazy red without a head or carbonation. There was a big caramel apple pie aroma with slight hints of oxidation (not detrimental). The calvados imparts an earthy fruit charcter that blends nicely with the rich caramel malt and hint of peppery hops. My only complaint was that the mouthfeel was a liitle grainy at the end, like there were bits if trub or something from the bottom of the cask.

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Photo of mjn5036
4.35/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Vintage

9.3 oz bottle poured into a large snifter. I have been debating whether to age this or drink it now. I obviously decided on the latter. This one pours hazy amber with a small, half inch white head. Tons of floaties in this one. A lot carbonation bubbles appear after the pour. No visible lacing. The head quickly recedes and what is left looks like a bacteria culture on the surface. Looks like what I would expect from an English Barleywine.

The cask aging dominates the nose on this beer. At first smell I thought I was picking up on apples and thought something was either wrong with my nose or the beer. Apparently I should do my homework first as the casks this was aged in is an apple brandy. Yum. An immense aroma of brandy rushes to my nostrils in the most intriguing manner. This one is very sweet smelling, lots of caramel and sweet malts. Not a hop to be found. Not a whole lot in the nose but God do I love English barley wines.

The taste is a knockout. It is sweet and buttery. So smooth, extremely rich. It is like drinking a stick of butter coated in sugar and toffee. Damn good. It is very fruity and sugary, with a nice dash of the apple brandy which brings flavors of apples, pears, butterscotch and a roasted nuttiness reminiscent of peanut brittle.

This simply glides over the tongue and coats your taste buds in a creamy fashion. The mouthfeel is exceptional. An unexpectedly dry finish. Certainly take your time with this brew and enjoy each sip. Very drinkable and the 11.5abv is certainly unnoticeable in any harsh or derogatory manner. The warmer sensation as you drink is welcoming on such a cold, snowy night. I am not a brandy drinker but I may need to start after this wonder experience!

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.07 out of 5 with 513 ratings
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