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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From:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
 
England, United Kingdom
Style:
English Barleywine
Ranked #96
ABV:
11.5%
Score:
92
Ranked #4,739
Avg:
4.14 | pDev: 13.29%
Reviews:
252
Ratings:
232
Status:
Active
Rated:
Jan 16, 2023
Added:
May 07, 2004
Wants:
  58
Gots:
  94
SCORE
92
Outstanding
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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Photo of Argail
Rated by Argail from Louisiana

4.07/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
2016 vin, tasty!
Jan 16, 2023
Photo of Ozzylizard
Reviewed by Ozzylizard from Pennsylvania

3.77/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
J. W. Lees Harvest Ale – port casks - 2014 edition from J. W. Lees. (Review 3008) 9.3 oz bottle on room temperature shelf from Spec’s #100, DeZavala, SAT, TX, on 31/10/22. $9.60 (Including tax) = $ 1.03/oz. Stored at home at 42 degrees. Reviewed 09/01/23. Note that I use DD/MM/YY protocol.
On front label “BREWED IN 2014” and the cap is stamped “L 4730 13:42”. Opens with a weak “Pfffft.” Served at 54.1 degrees in a hand washed and dried Jester King snifter. The final temperature was 57.3 degrees.
Appearance – 4.5
First pour – Pale Amber (SRM 9), hazy.
Body – Pale Amber (SRM 9), opaque – looks like a snifter full of caramel! Under direct light, same. When rear-lite, ruby glow and barely transparent.
Head – None, just a couple of errant bubbles which soon wander away and die.
Lacing – None – didn’t really expect any from an eight-year-old 11.5% barleywine.
Aroma – 3 – Weak caramel malt, slightly sweet, no hops, no yeast, no alcohol.
Flavor – 4 – Begins slightly sweet and the flavor follows the nose – weak caramel malt, no hops, no yeast. No ethanol (11.5 % ABV as marked on labels) flavor, but some is present on the exhale. Weak gastric warming occurs. No dimethylsulfide or diacetyl.
Palate – 3.75 – Medium, nudges against the edge of syrupy, soft carbonation.
Final impression and summation: 4 Very smooth English barleywine, nearly flat after eight years in the bottle but the flavor and aroma are delightful if simplistic. For my tastes, you can’t go too far wrong with caramel.
Jan 09, 2023
Photo of elNopalero
Reviewed by elNopalero from California

4.93/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5
JW Lees Harvest Ale matured in port casks 2012
Enjoyed a decade out in November 2022.

The bottle opens with nary a pop, although there’s still some life in the pour. It’s the color of a thin, watery cola-brown. There’s a lot of dried fruit on the nose, figs or plums mostly, with a hit of alcohol at first. Jammy notes dominate the sip, with more raisin and a delicious fig spread. Hints of orange marmalade poke through.
Surprisingly, I don’t get any alcoholic heat on the sip. Sweet finish. Fantastic beer, even at 10 years out. I am hooked.
Dec 30, 2022
Photo of GreesyFizeek
Reviewed by GreesyFizeek from New York

4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
This one pours a murky golden dark orange color, with a small head, and not much lacing.

This smells slightly tart, with dried plum and raisin, oak, vanilla, oak, fruitcake, chocolate, tobacco, and caramel.

This is definitely a challenging barleywine if you’re used to the super boozy caramel bombs that most breweries make. I admit that’s my preference ultimately, but this is still done well. This is just dripping with port, and all the flavors that come along with it – dark fruits, wine, tobacco, even some chocolate. There’s lots of boozy breadiness and just a hint of caramel.

This is medium bodied with very little carbonation. It’s certainly a slow sipper.

These variants are always so fun to try – they are complex and challenging beers, but worth the attempt to unpack them.
Nov 13, 2022
 
Rated: 4.25 by bigred89 from Maryland

Jul 02, 2022
Photo of Brutaltruth
Reviewed by Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
From the bottle in a snifter---2017 vintage. This exceptional ale pours a
muddled burnt auburn brown with a decent head of off white foam that
settles to a thick ring of big bubbles with a thin wafting film and light lacing.
Nose of vinous port, dark berry notes, subtle oak, astringent booze, and
rich caramel and toffee notes. Flavors do not disappoint with dark dried
berries, vinous port, oak, toffee, fig, date, golden raisin, caramel verging on
butterscotch, light leather and tobacco touches, and brandy touches. Nice
mouth feel; medium verging on medium full body, smooth, lightly coating,
rich, faint to none on the carbonation, and a warming port laced finish that
is sweet but not cloying.

Overall----excellent!

Cheers
Jun 26, 2022
Photo of MNAle
Reviewed by MNAle from Minnesota

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5
2016 canning, 8.4 oz. can. Clear amber with sparse tiny bubbles below a quickly disappearing short off-white head. The remaining ring does leave lacing as I tip the glass, but it promptly slides back down into the ring.

The aroma is port front and center, which also lends a ripe fruit aspect as well. Lingering over the aroma also reveals tobacco.

The flavor also has the port wine front and center, rich in tannin and oak. The mix is not at all sweet, but fairly heavy with the tannin astringency. This may sound like a criticism, but no, it is stated with strong appreciation. The overall mix of flavors is excellent, like a fine port, but one of the oak-aged tawny variety rather than a dessert wine. While the port flavors are obvious, as is the tannin, they do not completely hide the underlying barley wine with the dried fruit flavors (raisin, fig) poking though.

The body is medium and the feel is a bit astringent.

Overall, an excellent after dinner beer for a cold evening.
Feb 28, 2022
Photo of HardTarget
Reviewed by HardTarget from Texas

4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2012 bottle, sampled Jan. 2022.
Appearance: Dark brown, murky, no head.

Aroma: Musty books, leather, malt, earthy hop.

Taste: Sweet malt, port wine ribbon, little brown paper.

Mouthfeel: Low carb, flat, medium heavy body, clean finish.

Overall: Held up to 10 years just fine, mature, deep character, big cellar win.
Jan 23, 2022
Photo of Rug
Reviewed by Rug from Massachusetts

4.42/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
2016 vintage

I’m drinking this one side by side with the sherry cask version. I picked both up at OEC a few weeks ago, along with the base beer and a whiskey cask one I had just the other day. So far the original (2020 vintage) is my favorite, but I’m interested to see how 2 different wine casks will influence the beer. Let’s pop them open and find out

Pours a clearish orange/brown with just a finger of off white head that very quickly fades to a thin ring and leaves no lacing. Kinda disappointing compared to the sherry

In the nose, this feels a bit more subdued than the sherry version. I'm picking up on aromas of sweet caramel, toffee, rich port wine, dates, and toasted oak

Holy hell, so far I thought the sherry would take the lead, but the taste here is way more expressive than that. On the front end of the sip I'm tasting black grape, toffee, toasted oak, fig, dark toast, brown sugar, and light funky leather. The swallow brings notes of tart black grape, rich port, brown bread, black cherry, leather, earthy tobacco, chewy fig, and light oak

A medium body pairs with gentle tingling carbonation, resulting in a shockingly crisp beer. Finishes neutral with a slight tart bite that helps it immensely

This was one hell of a comparison. This one was much better in taste and feel, but the overall experience was less consistent. I'm definitely more apt to have this one again over the sherry, but both were great
Jan 09, 2022
 
Rated: 4.39 by SadMachine from New Jersey

Oct 09, 2021
Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
Reviewed by MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev +0.2%
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
Reviewed by beergoot from Colorado

3.56/5  rDev -14%
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
Reviewed by stevoj from Idaho

4.1/5  rDev -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
 
Rated: 3.88 by Cpmitchno1 from Virginia

Mar 14, 2021
 
Rated: 4.4 by msscott1973 from North Carolina

Feb 21, 2021
Photo of SierraNevallagash
Reviewed by SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
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
 
Rated: 3.94 by unclekeith from Alaska

Feb 17, 2021
 
Rated: 4.16 by o29 from Texas

Feb 11, 2021
Photo of Bouleboubier
Reviewed by Bouleboubier from New Jersey

4.26/5  rDev +2.9%
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
 
Rated: 4.35 by Beerbom from California

Aug 29, 2020
 
Rated: 4.51 by deereless from Colorado

Jul 09, 2020
 
Rated: 2.18 by stephenlee93 from England

Jul 08, 2020
Photo of Fordcoyote15
Reviewed by Fordcoyote15 from Pennsylvania

4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
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
Reviewed by Cylinsier from Pennsylvania

4.18/5  rDev +1%
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
 
Rated: 4.25 by eawolff99 from Minnesota

Jan 02, 2020
Photo of LiquidAmber
Reviewed by LiquidAmber from Washington

4.22/5  rDev +1.9%
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
 
Rated: 4.13 by DVMin98 from North Carolina

Oct 18, 2019
Photo of Wolvmar
Reviewed by Wolvmar from Michigan

4.33/5  rDev +4.6%
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
Reviewed by VoxRationis from New York

4.21/5  rDev +1.7%
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
 
Rated: 3.48 by craigdb from Pennsylvania

Jul 26, 2019
Photo of GuyFawkes
Reviewed by GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +8.7%
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
 
Rated: 4.31 by BeerForMuscle from New Jersey

Apr 24, 2019
 
Rated: 4.38 by videofrog from Texas

Mar 25, 2019
 
Rated: 4.42 by stephenlee from England

Nov 17, 2018
 
Rated: 4.02 by crobinso from Colorado

Sep 03, 2018
 
Rated: 4.18 by bigpoppa67 from Wisconsin

Aug 28, 2018
 
Rated: 3.72 by Chuckdiesel24 from Illinois

Aug 12, 2018
 
Rated: 4.17 by TheGent from New Jersey

Aug 02, 2018
Photo of BIGPOPPAS
Reviewed by BIGPOPPAS from New Jersey

4.8/5  rDev +15.9%
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
Reviewed by stratusjeans from Washington

3.78/5  rDev -8.7%
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
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 484 ratings