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)
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English Barleywine
Ranked #36
Ranked #2,049
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.
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Reviews: 240 | Ratings: 462 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of rypkr
rypkr 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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keithmurray from Connecticut

4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 Vintage

Appearance - orange/crimson body with tan head

Smell - toffee, grape, fig, brown sugar, honey

Taste - toffee, brown sugar, honey, grape, port, fig, raisin

Mouthfeel - full bodied, low level of carbonation, honey sweetness upfront, fruits in the middle, slight booziness on the back side. Flavors linger for a great while.

Overall - nice beer here that serves well as an after dinner drink. Recommended. Pricy, but I dont feel like I wasted my money.

Price Point -$9.99/9.3 oz bottle

Nov 24, 2016
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Furlinator from California

4.59/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 vintage.
Pours hazy dark amber. A fizzy khaki head forms and quickly disappears completely and leaves no lace. The smell is a boozy mix of plum, raisins, pipe tobacco, cherries, oak and burnt sugar. The taste is of brown sugar, vanilla, plums, figs, cherries and port. Full texture, sweet and sticky. Like a booze soaked fruit cake. Awesome.

Sep 08, 2016
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jzeilinger from Pennsylvania

4.34/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Pours an orange amber brown color, nice clarity, micro-thin lacing, no carbonation.

S - Roasted toffee, light molasses, raisins, figs, roasted brown sugar, port cognac. Aroma is thick, boozy, and sweet.

T - Sweet port cognac, raisins, brown sugar, light molasses, figs, dates, roasted toffee and caramel, and the alcohol is fairly well hidden with minor warming on the way down.

M - Thick, silky, sticky, full bodied.

O - Drinks like an after dinner cognac and the best of the series of their cask aged bottles. (IMO)

Jul 28, 2016
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.42/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

If you don't like sweet, don't drink this.
However if you think hops can make sweet better, then you are correct !
Lees has made a very sweet beer and proves that hops, expertly used, can make a great ale.

Against its peers in this style, this Port ale Looks average. But it Smells like Port and with all its barrel-induced subtleties tell me this bottle wants to be a champ in this small world of sweet beers. My bottle of Port has all sorts of dark, dried, sweet fruits... and not a clue that the Taste will find a balance within brewing's overly-stimulated universe (at least here in America.) But Taste does find balance and it carries through to the finish line.

Since I decided I would never be able to understand how or how this balance happens, I gave in and had a nice piece of cheddar. If this match was not made in Heaven, then it will be there soon.
Have this Ale. It is not easy to get closer to God, but Port certainly is way past Good.

Apr 27, 2016
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tigg924 from Massachusetts

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

2014 Vintage. Pours hazy, orange-brown in color with minimal head. Taste is deep caramel, toffee, raisin, port, and alcohol. Sweet and sticky. Really tasty barleywine. My first JW Lees, but I see myself getting several more in the future.

Apr 25, 2016
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 93 out of 100 with 462 ratings