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)
524 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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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 524 |  Reviews: 266
Photo of pzymali
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of DaveHS
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2006

A-Pours clear chestnut amber with no head to speak of, just a few tiny bubbles.

S- The nose is much less earthy than the regular Harvest and Sherry versions. The calvados sweetness accentuates aromas of stewed green apples present in the non barrel aged version. Sweet candied fruit and fig jam.

T/M-The flavor profile is significantly sweeter and richer than the sherry two version, with notes of rock candy and rum cake. The finish is dried out a bit by the familiar fresh tilled earth flavors, but still finishes on the verge of cloying. Full bodied with very low carbonation.

O- Time has been good to this one. Still drinking nicely at six years old, but I wouldn’t let it go more than another year or two.

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Photo of rab53
5/5  rDev +23.2%

Photo of Phelps
3.84/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2006, enjoyed at the 2011 RAREaffair. Poured into a tasting glass.

Murky copper, with oodles of floater yeast and a thin ring of tan bubbles.

Smells like canned plums, cooking on the stove. Lots of sugar, skinned plums, red grape — all the best dark fruits. Also get hints of spice: pepper, anise.

Same story in the flavor. Fruity plum/fig sweetness before brown sugar, caramel and molasses. Some herbal notes as well.There’s a lot of sweet stuff before a finish of lingering cardboard — this might be a little oxidized.

Light, electric carbonation inside a creamy medium body. This stuff is literally thick with sugar and dead yeast. Alcohol is very well-hidden.

Good, sugary, old. J.W. Lees is a sweet drink to begin with, and I think the aging in a fruity brandy cask might compound the sugars too much.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
3/5  rDev -26.1%

Photo of bigdaddypolite
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of shufon
5/5  rDev +23.2%

Photo of ej285701
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of bramsdell
4.47/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask into a snifter at The Nook.

Poured a hazy golden red. Zero head. I shook this thing like I was trying to kill it and really kicked up nothing. This is to be expected, obviously, as it is on cask and 11.5%, but just to be clear.

S: All candy and apples. Lots of sugary sweetness and lots of apple.

T: All apple to this guy. Very sweet, almost cider flavor. Not hard cider, but fresh pressed cider. Very sugary, as well, which is nice as it matches the apple very well. Also, the sweetness totally hides the 11.5% abv. Actually, if I were blindfolded, I would not have put this higher than 8%, it is truly that smooth.

M: Thick, syrupy, beautiful. This beer sits wonderfully. It's a dense pour, but in a very good way, and sweet and syrupy without being cloying.

O: I had a 6oz pour, which usually is not enough for me, but it was perfect. The beer was so thick, rich and flavorful that I sipped it the whole way, never wanting to take more than a taste, but enjoying every one.

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Photo of nmann08
2.75/5  rDev -32.3%

Photo of JAHMUR
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of adrian21
5/5  rDev +23.2%

Photo of DocDownUnder
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of Exiled
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of armock
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
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 -4.4%
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 -24.4%
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 -5.9%
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 +3.4%
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 -1.5%
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 +14.5%
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 +6.9%
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 +6.4%
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%
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 -7.1%
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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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.06 out of 5 with 524 ratings