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

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)
Rate It
Beer Geek Stats | Print Shelf Talker
Barleywine - English
Ranked #36
Ranked #2,301
4.19 | pDev: 13.13%
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)
Notes: This fully fermented ale can be enjoyed now or laid down like a fine wine for enjoyment to come.
View: Beers
Reviews: 245 | Ratings: 474 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

8.4oz can. Brewed in 2016.
Cloudy body with the color of orange apricot amber. Quick off white head, then none. No lacing.
Aroma is port wine, oak, rich toffee, with apple and apricot. Like a crisp apple coated with a port infused caramel.
Taste is fruity with apple, peach and apricot. Rich with oak barrel port, which leads to almond and sweet toffee. Tastes like a spiced sweet fruitbread. Some bitterness towards the end. Aftertaste resides with flavors of sherry, oak, and spiced apple/peach fruit pie.
More than medium mouth, with some syrup. Boozy but not burning. Rather flat after the initial burst of foam head.
Provides a deep and broad palate for smell and flavors. Very much fills the nasal receptors and tickles the taste buds.

Sep 11, 2021
Photo of beergoot
beergoot from Colorado

3.56/5  rDev -15%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Medium-dark honey colored body; murky; no real head per se. Sweet aroma; some red wine and oak noted. A bit of a sour taste overall; cherries and raspberries; tannins. Heavy body; a bit acidic and flat.

This is no where near the quality of the sherry cask version (2016). This one didn't age well (I'm guessing) and seems nothing like a barleywine, more like a oud bruin or even a Flanders red ale.

Poured out at 46 °F from a 8.4 fl. oz. can (2016)

Sep 03, 2021
Photo of stevoj
stevoj from Idaho

4.1/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

.25cl can from Brewers Haven, 2016 vintage. Copper colored pour, flat, still. Strong port aromas, raisins, prunes, fruity, sweet. Taste is sweet, grapes, malty, boozy, warm. A nice edition to the lineup.

Apr 10, 2021
Photo of SierraNevallagash
SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

8oz tinycan - 2016 Vintage - Consumed for the 2021 Online Barleywine Tasting

Pours a pale burnish orange - almost scarlet and pale ale-like. Ultra pale when held to the light. A short tan head quickly recedes to a thin collar - no lacing, but clings to the glass.

Nose: Bright and fruity. Quite pale, avoiding any roast notes, but definitely highlights that malted barley, with HUGE clover honey notes, along with turbinado sugar, light toffee, and a whisp of caramel. Big fruity notes, with apricot, peach, orange pulp, ripe grape, even some mango - with a thin thread of sherry-like nuttiness running through with walnut and almond, and a nice mustiness. Definite white oak, but no char, like bourbon barrel.

Palate: Oh wow, insanely unexpected. I've not had a "fresh one" like this, and this is nuts. Greets the palate with malted barley - but not that caramel/toffee explosion. This is clean, moderately sweet (all honey), with a big fruity pop of acidity. Dried apricots, Turkish fig, those gummy fruity bits in fruitcake, lots of apple, lemon curd, sultanas, white grapes. Some lighter malt notes of panettone and Italian table bread, with some musty leather, and maybe some dates. There's definitely oak, but if this is port, it sure isn't ruby. Much more sherry-like. The musty notes are strong, ushering in some drying white oak, and even an underpinning of bitterness. The finish is basically some bread crust, white oak, cognac, and a lingering fruit cake spice note, with that tannic woody bite.

Mouthfeel/Body: In barleywineland, this is crisp and drinkable. The tiny can helps, but wow, this flies right down. It isn't watery, although its leaning way into medium-bodied territory, with lesser, but nicely fizzy effervescence, and dries out enough to let the sips keep coming. Hypeboiz beware... Everyone else, this is very balanced.

Overall: Unbelievably old world style and classic. This may not be for the Anchorage, Veil, Forger, and Angry Chair barleywine fans. This is rustic, subtle, and the port influence is remarkably sherry-like, even brandy-like, but wow, for a "blonde(r)" oaked barleywine, with some real fruitiness? Don't hesitate. This seems like a fresh one, and I'm sure this will age (especially in that chode can) for a good long way. I like it.

Feb 19, 2021
Photo of Bouleboubier
Bouleboubier from New Jersey

4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(330 ml bottle, 'brewed in 2016'; purchased single off shelf, today at CME... decanted into snifter)

L: somewhat clear, deep tawny-colored liquid; head immediately recoils to the edges in a creamy collar; some chunky sediment snuck in

S: not quite sure the port-derived character are still present on the nose... basically the standard Harvest Ale aromas, with potentially a marginally-accentuated apple-white-grape essence... aromas are pretty mellow; apple-cake base

T: yeeaaah... there is for sure a little bit more leathery, earthen musk on this one, bit more of an herbal, vaguely-vermouth-y bitterness humming in the aftertaste; subtle highlights of dates, spiced cake; soft brandy-like booze lingering in the back... nothing overtly indicates 'port', however, the aging at the very least seems to have enhanced the expressions of the inherent nuances of the base beer; lil more depth, more concentrated wrinkle

F: can't ask for much more with an (aged) English barleywine... wood aging shows in its tapered edges, tamed, refined spirituous-ness... a bit flabby in (resiudal) texture and effect, but begs one to take time and sip slow

O: I've perhaps run out of locally-available crap lager to review; this was on my list of to-do's anyway, and I do love the Harvest Ale; a top-tier, everlasting love... pity I didn't jump on this when it was released; I was preoccupied, I'm sure... I'll revisit this once I've (finally) knocked out the sherry version (1700)

Sep 26, 2020
Photo of Fordcoyote15
Fordcoyote15 from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev +6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Looks murky brown and flat (and feel mostly is too)

Smell is muted and subdued.

Taste is incomprehensible. Literally comparable to nothing. If barleywine is life this is its mother. The depth and richness of toffee, burnt sugar, oak, raisins, earth, smoke, vinous grapes, is not comparable to your everyday barleywine. It's not even comparable to other world class barleywines.

Apr 06, 2020
Photo of Cylinsier
Cylinsier from Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

275 ml bottle

Pours cloudy, ruddy brown. Off-white lacing for a head.

Aroma is of bread, caramel, honey, apple butter, spice, wine grape, and cocoa.

Flavor is very rich. Caramel, maple, molasses, honey, apple, hazelnut, pecan, bready malt, and sweet wine.

Full, viscous body with stinging carbonation on the roof of the mouth. Boozy warmth going down.

Very flavorful and slow-drinking. Taste is excellent. Rich and very enjoyable. Worth a try.

Jan 20, 2020
Photo of LiquidAmber
LiquidAmber from Washington

4.22/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a Fremont small snifter. A side by side tasting of the brewed in 2010 and 2017 editions. Both pour a medium to dark orange amber with the 2010 a bit darker with a slight haze. Very little head on either one. Aroma of caramel malt, dried apricot and peach, raisins and dates; the older one has some red berry character while the 2017 is dominated by the light stone fruit. Flavor is caramel malt, light stone fruit, mild plums, raisins, dates and Port wine. The 2017 tastes brighter, with an emphasis on light stone fruit, like the aroma. The older one has much more Port flavor with darker stone fruit, dried red berries and a woody, lightly oxidized note. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess. A fine, classic English barleywine with leaning overall towards lighter fruit flavors, almost fresh apricot notes in the more recent version. The older one interestingly tastes more like the barrel character with distinct Port and woody barrel notes. I think I would very much like the well aged version standing alone, but next to the recent one, it tastes a little fusty because the 2017 has such bright fruit flavors. The 2010 show little sign of being at its maximum age and I'd suspect this would age quite well for another decade. Due to its somewhat high price point, with a limited budget, I think I'd drink this sooner than later. The Port is an excellent treatment for this nice barleywine.

Nov 08, 2019
Photo of Wolvmar
Wolvmar from Michigan

4.33/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage poured into a tulip glass.

Pour: rust red, very small off white head and thin ring. Not much lacing.

Nose: port. Maybe some biscuit, bread. But port isn’t overdone, just clearly leading. If you didn’t know it was aged in port casks, dark fruit, caramel, chocolate.

Taste: dark fruit, raspberry, blackberry, caramel, dark chocolate. Bready malt backbone. Lots going on with port flavor profile blending well with barleywine profile. Despite fairly high ABV, don’t get much alcohol burn.

Mouthfeel: low carbonation, slightly viscous, smooth.

Overall: I think this is my favorite, just ahead of Laguvalin, of the JW Lee Harvest Ale varieties. The port finish really complements, and enhances, the barleywine flavor profile. Will be buying more.

Sep 29, 2019
Photo of VoxRationis
VoxRationis from New York

4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Decanted from a 9.3 oz (275 ml) bottle into a Weissbier glass; brewed 2015.
A: Pours a cloudy, caramel color (think course apple cider) with brief head formation head with no retention or lacing, but limited legs when swirled.
S: Aromas of caramel/molasses, cocoa, raisin, sherry/port, licorice, and tobacco. Earthy aroma.
T: Sweet. Flavors of molasses>>caramel, cocoa powder, port>>sherry, raisin, fig, licorice, new leather, and tobacco. Bitterness on the back end of consumption.
M: Fairly light-bodied for a British Barleywine with low carbonation. Not quite chewy.
O: I enjoyed it for my birthday. Clearly a celebratory drink.

Jul 28, 2019
Photo of GuyFawkes
GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage; drank 7/22/14 @ the Yarchives.

Red/orange rust murkiness...tons of flotsam!

Cream head; almost no lace.

Raspberry, caramel & oak nose.

Medium thick mouthfeel.

Smoke, oak, caramel, dark cherry & raspberry flavors; oak & raspberry settle on the lips.

A masterpiece.

Jul 22, 2019
BIGPOPPAS from New Jersey

4.8/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Quite possibly one of the most delicious and exceptional ales that I have ever tasted . I had read about JW LEES on here and when it showed up at a specialty store near me I bit the bullet and bought one of each style .
2014 release that sat in my cellar for about 6 months .
I had zero daily fridge beers left and late one night as I felt a cold coming on I said well gotta crack one of these .
Poured at cellar temp in small pours into a small snifter .
Wish I could post pics as it is a gorgeous rose color with some carbonation and barely any head .
The taste was so equisite that I sipped and enjoyed it as long as possible .

Tough to spend $9.99 plus tax for 11.2 Oz , but what an exceptional treat .
Highly recommended as it is something special for sure :)

Jul 31, 2018
Photo of stratusjeans
stratusjeans from Washington

3.78/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I drank a 2003, so 15 years old. It was pretty flat but expected at that age. It smelled and tasted a bit stale, again, not unexpected. But the port flavor was too mild. Ultimately probably a good beer but not with this much age.

Jul 07, 2018
Photo of dcotom
dcotom from Iowa

5/5  rDev +19.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is quite possibly the perfect barleywine. Vintage 2015. Poured cold from a 275-ml bottle into a tulip glass and allowed to come to cellar temperature. Clear, burnt-orange color, with a thin and slightly off-white head that recedes to a thin ring without leaving any lacing. This gives it the appearance of a cordial in the glass, quite pretty. Aromas and flavors of toffee, butterscotch, prune, raisin, tart cherry, and a little molasses and dark bread, with lingering flavors of port wine and just a touch of cask astringence and oxidation. Pleasant alcohol warmth, with the lingering sweet finish you might get if you just ate a piece of toffee. There isn't much carbonation, so I wasn't at all hesitant about recapping this to save a pour for another day. Sipping this is like sipping on a fine cordial. It would make the perfect accompaniment to a nice wood fire on a crisp fall evening. This is a little expensive, but the finer things in life usually are. Well worth seeking out and well worth the occasional splurge.

Jun 25, 2018
Photo of rudzud
rudzud from Massachusetts

3.81/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to JLindros for sharing this bottle. 2011 vintage.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a nice clear brown with a thin white head that fades to leave light wisps and nice legs.

S - Aromas of sweet caramel, generic fruit, little cardboard. Super lackluster.

T - Taste is similar to the nose with sweet caramel, generic fruits, light grapes. Decent amount of cardboard and oxidation.

M - Mouthfeel is lightly carbonated, finish is a little slick.

O - Overall this was a more like the JW Lee's I remember. Oxidized and rather flat on the taste.

Serving Type: bottle

May 25, 2018
Photo of jlindros
jlindros from Massachusetts

3.79/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2011 vintage, shared with rudzud
Light fizzy head fades fairly quickly, nice legs, semi clear iced tea tan brownish color

Nose a bit of oxidation, plenty of sweet candy malts, mild sweet grape wine port notes, little toffee and caramel, sweet fruity

Taste big sweet malts, brown sugar, toffee, little stale malt taste with mild oxidation in the middle, little sweet fruity port wine but much, little bitterness, touch of candy syrup, little sticky finish bit of warming alcohol

Mouth is med bod, alcohol hidden well, a bit of carbonation

Overall not nearly as good as the calvados, port is way too light, this has some oxidation too

May 25, 2018
Photo of ajm5108
ajm5108 from Pennsylvania

4.8/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Darker golden brown color, just the whisper of lacing, no carbonation. Aroma is delectable & sweet (in a good way) - raisin rum cake, sticky toffee puddy, caramel, classic English barleywine goodness, and the port is a great compliment, that muscat grape smell adds a nice fruity bounce to the heavier smells.

Drinking this is almost like eating grape jam straight from the jar, or some kind of fruit cake, but a good one not the kid you get as a bad Christmas present. The port flavor melds wonderfully with those robust barleywine desert flavors - you get sugar plum & treacle and all kinds of sweet goodness. Ends with just a kiss of alcohol burn from the port. I could totally see this being too sweet for some, and I probably couldn't do more than a glass at once, but it still tastes fantastic.

Jan 14, 2018
Photo of puck1225
puck1225 from Texas

4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A very rich tasting beer. Poured from a bottle into a tulip glass. Cloudy dark amber with little head but some light lacing. Brewed in 2012. Sweet smell of port wine. Taste of port, caramel, pears and apples. It is just a bit boozey, reminds you of a liquor. Pleasant after a long week!

Nov 17, 2017
Photo of Eamonn-Cummings3
Eamonn-Cummings3 from New York

4.5/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on draft at the Green Leafe in Williamsburg VA.

Look is an orange amber with no head.

Aroma is a strong malty beer with a definite port aroma.

Taste is straight aroma.

Aug 12, 2017
Photo of StonedTrippin
StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.24/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

probably my favorite of the several harvest cask editions i have had, the port is very strong in this, and its a great fit with the base beer, which i think never quite gets enough credit. this is the 2013 vintage, generously shared by claystation with me. the port has put just a little blush color in this beer, its pretty to look at, and more lively on the head than i remember others in the series being. aroma is strongly woody and mature, with only a little bit of the oxidation i like in these old english barleywines. the malt is sweet and strong in the smell, brown sugar and maple even, with a timeless english yeast strain in behind it. the port is strong as well, lots of oak, dried berries, and tannins that seem to lighten this a little bit. hints of cherry and blackberry on the first sip and a little vanilla, the wood and the port wine have done a lot to this. its bold, but its real compatible with the heavy english grain complexion and the warming alcohol, and this feels very holiday to me, snowy christmas eve sort of beer. more body than i remember the others having too, feels richer. great stuff, thanks for sharing! more port barrel barleywines please!!!

May 02, 2017
Photo of zonker17
zonker17 from Texas

4.63/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage. Brown with a copper tinge, no head, still. Port dominates the nose. Taste is big raisin, port, sugars, wood, a little bitter. Delivers exactly what I hoped for. Heavy body.

Mar 09, 2017
Photo of FBarber
FBarber from Illinois

4.07/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a ruddy orange color - hazy but not opaque. Almost no head when poured, just some fizzy soda like carbonation. Unremarkable in appearance.

Smell has strong notes of port - raisins, dark fruits, grapes, strong wine, and brown sugar.

Taste follows the nose with a strong port presence along with notes of dark fruits, raisins, brown sugar, port wine, oak, brown sugar. Vanilla and toffee on the back end. Strong alcohol burn/flavor on the back end as well. Overall its pretty sweet with the combination of the beer and the port.

Feel is thick and syrupy. Mild to medium carbonation. Strong alcohol burn on the back end with a surprisingly (for how sweet it is) dry finish.

Overall this is a lovely sipper. Not my favorite of the J.W. Lees harvest ale lineup, but its wonderfully crafted nonetheless.

Mar 05, 2017
Photo of Scott17Taylor
Scott17Taylor from Iowa

4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Very winey and raisoney with a strong booziness. It's a very typical English barleywine hidden behind a strong barrel character. I'll buy the regular if I find it but this is over priced.

Mar 05, 2017
Photo of Karibourgeois
Karibourgeois from Texas

3.5/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear light amber pour with a very minimal off-white head. Strong boozy aroma. Taste is very port like and sweet with flavors of brown sugar, molasses and caramel dominating. Apricot and raisin flavors also stand out. Can feel a bit of burn in the back end. Full bodied and slightly sticky mouthfeel with a touch of beery carbonation.

Feb 07, 2017
Photo of JackRWatkins
JackRWatkins from Alabama

3.27/5  rDev -22%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2010 vintage

A: pours a muddy, lighter cola brown with a lot of sediment and a quickly dissipating, thin line of bubbles around the edge, no head to speak of
S: raisin and dark fruit immediately, some of the characteristic butterscotch and toffee are here as well, but quite understated, the port is not heavy, but is present, there is a touch of booziness here as well, the tannic pinch of port is not really here (if it is it gets married and buried with the other notes
T: the port definitely adds some raisin and wine notes which sits on top of the sweetness quite well, however I am kind of surprised that the combined sweetnesses of these two drinks is not more apparent, there is some pruney flavor here as well and dare I say it, some suggestion of green pepper (and pickle) that is not all that pleasing
M: not quite dry, but not overly sticky either
O: honestly, I did not think that the port barrel did this beer any favors, the Lagavulin version was a revelation, but this I could have done without having, it's not awful, but it sacrifices some of the best flavors it has to offer at the expense of some that are not a very good fit, I know I'm going against the grain on this one, but I'm just calling it like I see it. My advice, buy the Lagavulin version instead, not only is it far superior, but it's incredible outright, pass on this one.

Jan 30, 2017
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 474 ratings