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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J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom
English Barleywine
Ranked #112
Ranked #4,417
4.15 | pDev: 13.01%
Nov 20, 2023
May 07, 2004
This fully fermented ale can be enjoyed now or laid down like a fine wine for enjoyment to come.
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Ratings by 2beerdogs:
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Reviewed by 2beerdogs from California

4.52/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Celebrating a great negotiations win tonight. Perfect choice.
Pour brown and opaque. Slight head started to form and petered out shortly. Thin off-white ring lazily clings to the glass. Almost zero lacing. A few bubbles to hold on below the surface though.
Nose is glorious. Yes, the usual suspects are present, but they are downright posh in their elegance. Sweet plums, dates, toffee, caramel, and a deep, lush fruity port.
Taste definitely follows the nose. All of the fruit notes, plum, date, fig, raisin, gentle spices, and a warm, round mouthful of port, apple brandy, some brown bread, deep wood, and charred caramel all part of this royal roil.
Mouthfeel is medium, low carbonation, and slightly slick (almost oily). Beautiful. A gentle warm hug.
Overall, a fine, fine barleywine. 11 years out and damn near perfect.
Oct 25, 2023
More User Ratings:
Photo of Sabtos
Reviewed by Sabtos from Ohio

4.37/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5
Clear dark honey to maple syrup brown with a very fine appearance of head that dissipates to nothing instantaneously.

Another 20 year old bottle just after having the Lagavulin, this is both sweeter than that, primarily of dark fruits, but also dichotomously contrastingly more charred and bitter in the finish, and hot.

Despite the watery fluid body, I'm in absolute awe at how incredibly enjoyable these are. What a treat!
Nov 20, 2023
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Reviewed by ElGallo from New Hampshire

4.13/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4
2005 edition found on the shelf at my local this week. Pours a brownish amber. No head because there’s no carbonation. Lots of sediment despite a careful pour. Smells of leather and aged fruit. Taste is sweet caramel with some sweet apple undertones. Soooo smooth. No burn. Some barrel notes and muted sweetness from the port. A bit of off-putting mustard notes in the aftertaste. Not mind-bending but solid considering how old it is.
Oct 26, 2023
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Reviewed by CarolinaCardinals from North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Picked up a 2017 edition 275ml bottle on 12-7-22 from the Appalachian Vintner in Asheville for $10.99. Consumed 8-12-23.

Beer poured reddish brown with an okay head and after the settling there is some sediment. Note to future self, roll the other two variants before cracking.

Nose is classic barleywine with notes of dark fruit opening up strongly the longer it warms even after the initial 45-minute sit at room temperature.

Taste is a larger malt base that with the yeast and hopping is giving notes of plums, baked wheat bread, toasted brown sugar, and some apple in the finish presumably from the hopping. Finishes balanced with a nice touch of residual sweetness appropriate for the style.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and smooth.

Overall a very nice and tasty English Barleywine!
Aug 12, 2023
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Reviewed by jkblr from Indiana

4.39/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
275mL bottle brewed in 2012 and purchased recently at room temp 11.5% ABV per label. The beer pours opaque medium brown resembling ice tea with a khaki head that lasted less than 60 seconds on a pretty hard pour. No lacing. The aroma is mild with old leather bound books, dark dried fruits and sweet caramel. The taste is semisweet with berry jam up front before more leather, burnt sugar caramel, port wine and oak. Mild bitterness. The mouthfeel is thin to medium bodied with minimal carbonation and an undry finish. Overall, excellent.
Jul 20, 2023
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Reviewed by BillRoth from Maryland

4.14/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Had from can/ recent release of 2016 brew. Beautiful rich clear mahogany and ruby pour with very brief white cream head. Still. No lacing
Nose show cased wood, dark fruit, very mild hop notes. Taste mirrored but was a bit overwhelmed by the port wine. Didn’t work for me. Body was essentially still and more wine like. Not bad/not really that good.
Overall disappointing as I had hoped to revisit a good BA English Old Ale but mostly felt it was beer that more came across as port. I love both, but in this instance the merge just didn’t work for me.
Apr 03, 2023
Rated: 4.2 by Gemini6 from Michigan

Mar 25, 2023
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Rated by Argail from Louisiana

4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
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 -9.2%
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
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Reviewed by elNopalero from Michigan

4.93/5  rDev +18.8%
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
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Reviewed by GreesyFizeek from New York

4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
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
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Reviewed by Brutaltruth from Ohio

4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
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.


Jun 26, 2022
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Reviewed by MNAle from Minnesota

4.38/5  rDev +5.5%
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 +5.3%
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 +6.5%
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


2005 vintage, consumed 7/26/23

This one is sitting at a cool 18 years old. It’s one of my favorites to grab, but this is my first time seeing a non-2016 in the wild. Obviously I had to get it because of this. Let’s see how it held up with the additional years

Pours a slightly cloudy light brown with a finger of off white head that quickly fades to a thin ring and leaves minimal lacing. 3.5

The nose is definitely sweeter as it ages, and perhaps even better for it. I’m picking up on aromas of sticky caramel, molasses, port wine, raisin, sweet vanilla, brown sugar, apple skin, apricot, tobacco, and light oak 4.25

In taste there’s more of a difference from the 2016. It’s still sweeter but I wouldn’t call it better. On the front end of the sip I’m tasting molasses, apple skin, brown sugar, pear skin, dark bread, old leather, port wine, red grape, and light oak. The swallow brings notes of burnt caramel, toast oak, brown sugar, black cherry, molasses, apple skin, jammy apricot, dark toast, port wine, smoky tobacco, and toasted oak 4.5

A medium body pairs with gentle carbonation, resulting in a smooth beer. Finishes mostly dry and balanced despite the sweetness 4.5

I’m not changing any of the already established scores, but this is pretty close to the 2016 vintage. I guess these beers are just bulletproof. 4.5
Jan 09, 2022
Rated: 4.39 by SadMachine from New Jersey

Oct 09, 2021
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Reviewed by MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.15/5  rDev 0%
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
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Reviewed by beergoot from Colorado

3.56/5  rDev -14.2%
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 -1.2%
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