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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)
BA SCORE
4.07/5
Exceptional
513 Ratings
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
Ranking:
#2,744
Reviews:
261
Ratings:
513
pDev:
12.78%
Bros Score:
0
 
 
Wants:
33
Gots:
89
Trade:
4
HISTOGRAM
 
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firstprev| 451-475 | 476-500 | 501-525  | next → last
Ratings: 513 |  Reviews: 261
Photo of MrSeth
4.67/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

From the 2003 bottling.

This ale poured with little carbonation at first. Then as the glass filled, the misty swirls became a thin white head which settled to a thick ring which seems to hold its position on the glass as it is being drunk.

Apple Jolly Ranchers are what the nose reminds me of..
no seriously.. the aroma is like a candied grannysmith, it is quite pleasant.

The taste is a more complex apple, deep and rich, mingling with the malt. A tartness is present, but almost minimal in the profile.

The body is a big, syrupy, sticky one.. with the alcohol starting to show it opens up with huge, rich apple and malt.

This is a perfect winter warmer. But it is on the sweet side so it will make a good digestif.

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Photo of Rastacouere
3.44/5  rDev -15.5%
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.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
3.9/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2003 Vintage, Sampled January 2005
Pours a brilliantly clear full copper color, it is topped by a very thin pale head and is actually fairly well carbonated. The aroma is thick with alcohol as well as notes of thick chewy malt, and perhaps a hint of cidery apple in the finish. Actually the apple aroma slowly builds over time. This is a thick viscous brew, it is lightly sweet up front and almost light as it first hits the tip of my tongue. As it flows across my mouth it becomes quite full and thick. The apple notes from the calvados cask are certainly here, though they are a bit restrained, and really become full in the finish. This beer is quite malty as well, almost caramel-like in its malty sweetness. There is a certain soft butteriness to this beer, perhaps some hints of vanilla, and a soft hop bitterness in the finish, which helps to make the sweetness more palatable. This is a pretty tasty beer, though the Calvados casks are not overwhelming, and if I did not now in advance of it, I would have assumed that the apple notes were just a normal part of this beer.

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Photo of aracauna
3.78/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I’m still not getting much difference between the beers regardless of the type of cask they were aged in. They’re all a beautiful, glowing amber with low carbonation. They’re full of alcohol, sugary sweetness and raisins, but I get little or no difference between the different aged versions. They’re all good, though.

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Photo of xgrigorix
4.25/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Brown 275 ml bottle.

Bright burnished golden hue. A thin cap of white foam completes the picture. Steady slow moving bubbles move through the liquid. Viscous liquid is left clinging to the glass after a swirl.

Distinct apple aromas mix freely with whiffs of alcohol, & hints of honey.

Syrupy sweet, with decent acidity to balance. Fruity throughout, with apples being particularly distinct (due to the Calvados cask aging). Medium body, & subtle carbonation. Young, quite sweet, yet oddly very quaffable.

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Photo of lou91
4/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2003 Calvados – Still and thick like syrup – the pour was so slow that it looked like a still picture. Light clear golden amber color with no bottle conditioning. Huge alcohol nose with hints of honey, malt and apples. Wow this is a huge beer with a unique thickness and a flavor profile. There is a sweet, malty aftertaste that is like rum soaked raisins and candy apples. Not an easy beer to drink but a great beer. 6.99 in NJ.

 431 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

9.3oz bottle from Vienna Whole Foods, Vienna, VA.

Poured into a Rapscallion snifter, formed a 1/8" head over the clear copper brew, with slight lacing. Slightly sweet malt aroma initially, quickly overpowered by alcohol notes. Taste is of sweet malts up front, then the alcohol takes over, seeming to evaporate in the back of your mouth, but in the nicest possible manner. Slight fruit tones, but they do not shine in comparison to the other two powerful aspects of this brew. Mouthfeel and drinkability are great for the style. Way better than that scary Lagavulin cask stuff...

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Photo of TinusTime
4.62/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Holy Calvados Batman...

I bought this exlicer in Richmond a month ago. I picked the Calvados aged one because well I like Calvados and not a big fan of the rest of the spirits that it was aged in.
The colour was the colour of honey. No head to speak of unless you swirled it around for a bit. Aroma as that of Honey, apples, spice cake and a touch of alcohol. The taste is simply yummy. Warm and satisfying honeyed apples and malt. A bit of sweetness as it warms but that wasnt a bad thing. One can taste the Calvados in every sip. This was one of the most complex nightcaps I have ever had. Every sip I took I wished another was added to the glass. Drikability was good even with the high octane nature. It did sweeten as it got warmner, but hell. I might not be able to drink many of them but when my bottle was done I sure wish I had another for tomorrow night. Seriously one of the best barley wine I have ever had. Kinda reminded me of a more refined 120 min DFH. Or rather what DFH 120 will be if you let it sit for 5 years. Highly recommmended. WOW

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Photo of cokes
3.53/5  rDev -13.3%
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.

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

Worty.

Aroma and aftertaste of fresh apple cider spiked with raw alcohol. The apple palate is backed by enormous residual sweetness from the syrupy, caramel storm of the Harvest Ale and an ultimate sustaining finish of green, whole leaf hops. Minutes later I get smooth, vintage Calvados with a spritz of tonic.

Of all the Harvest cask ales, the Calvados cask does most for the barleywine. The natural oxidative notes from the beer pair nicely with the clean, but powerful apple brandy from one of the finest estates in Calvados. And hops are a surprisingly natural match for apple distilate, making for the barleywine's most intoxicating characteristic.

Domaine Dupont has a laundry list of different Calvados and this beer -- despite its exposure only to an empty cask and its own prescence as one of the world most luscious and sweet barleywines -- expresses some of the character that makes Dupont's high-end Calvados so great.

Lees Calvados Cask Harvest Ale's second greatest achievement is its dignified deference to the cask. The original barleywine is unctous almost beyond consumption, but yields here to the subtle albeit dynamic flavor of the apple brandy. And the Calvados does the same, coming in with some alcohol and apple and then giving way to malt and hops. Back and forth, these two are a team.

The beer's greatest achievement is 10 years down the line.

Relax, relax.
ng

 1,412 characters

Photo of meathookjones
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275ml bottle with a green cap. This poured very similar to the standard Harvest Ale. It has a bright amber body with a slight off white head that goes to bubbles shortly after leaving sparse lacing about the glass. The smell is rich and malty with lots of notes of fruit mainly apple being present. Taste reminds me of a caramel apple and alcohol with a slight smokiness to it. There is a lot of malt sweetness going on with this beer. Not much of a brandy drinker I could not specifically discern where the brandy had its effects. It finished smoothly and has quite the warming effect due to the 11.4% alcohol. Mouthfeel is sweet and creamy with good carbonation. This has fairly good drinkability a little less than the standard though. Overall a good beer that I would like to age and see how it turns out. I look forward to trying the other three cask versions for comparison.

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Photo of putnam
4.82/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I remember first tasting Legends' Alba Scots Pine Ale and wondering where the spruce flavor was. Now it is not to be missed.

This beer's Calvados barrel-schooling also results in enigmatic flavor from the bottle. There is no doubt apple brandy left its mark, only it is a transparent, bitter apple flavor - sort of like what cherries are to Luxardo. I find these Lees products hold up very well for several days after opening. Treat it like a good, dry Sack - served after meals, with a blunt. It dries out and smoothes out.

A gutsy, sticky froth occurs when freshly uncapped and poured. The heady aromas are of apple seeds and skins combined with Spanish solera brandy and raw dough notes. On the palate it expands with a molten glacial texture to reveal flavors of charred pineapple, caramel, intensely bitter tannins and gum.

I suspect this, together with the Sherry Barrel selection, will age the longest of the series due to a healthier balance of acidity.

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

Package:275 ml brown, crowned bottle, much like a 7/8ths scale longneck. Parchment-like, cream-colored label with green lettering. Boldly labelled “Harvest Ale 2003" and “Calvados.”

Cost: NA

Presentation: Riedel Port glass at ~50°

Appearance: I think that the Calvados adds little or no extra color to the standard Harvest Ale. Otherwise, the pour yielded the standard J.W. Lees “look:” a tight, creamy, beige head and a russet, tobacco-colored body.

Smell: I had a harder time discerning the Calvados in this brew than I did the other specially casked versions. I think it was subsumed by the natural fruitiness already present in the beer and the more noticeable tobacco, toast, and raisiny elements.

Taste: Not remarkably different than the standard offering, this seemed to exhibit a touch of honey and smoke that wasn’t present in the other versions. In contrast, the nuttiness of the regular offering seems a tad more subdued. However, none of this affects the lengthy, substantial, warming finish.

Mouthfeel: A silky, creamy mouthfeel carries the sweetness and toastiness of this fine ale. Again, the carbonation is exhibited well but not intrusively. I wonder if this will become somewhat more flaccid as it ages.

Drinkability: My least favorite of this series, I still wouldn’t pour it down the drain! I look forward eagerly to trying this in the future, to see how it develops. Might be perfect for a tarte tatin.

Backwash: I think that the Calvados cask version of this beer is the weakest of the lot. While I happen to be a big fan of Calvados, one of the best “brandies” out there and a great value; I don’t find the Calvados as complementary with the rest of the flavors of the beer as I do the Port, Sherry, and whisky (Lagavulin). In fact, I think I’d rank the “regular” vintages of Harvest Ale above this. Perhaps it will improve with age. Only time will tell.

NB: Given the opportunity, I'd probably give this a "taste" rating of 4.25, as I don't think it's substantially worse than the others.

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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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