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

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask)

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom

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

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Reviews: 225 | Ratings: 423
Photo of laituegonflable
2.51/5  rDev -39.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a burnished amber colour with unfortunate yeast floaties at the bottom. Head is off-white, kind of a swirl on the top more than anything else. Lace is disappointing. Yeah, a bit odd-looking.

Smells pungent and a bit weird. Leathery, with some strong molasses and an odd, nostril chewing menthol hint on the top. Quite boozey and yeah, a little bit chemical. Not a big fan.

Taste is also fairly bizarre. Sticky sweetness upfront with huge caramel malt that develops some really insane flavours - dirt, wet dog and sweaty gym towel among them. Nuts and honey and oats on there as well. It's... look, it's an experience. But it's way too off-the-wall for me and just too sweet. Definitely needs more balance in there.

Sticky, thick and leaves thick and gooey. Decent for the style.

Not my cup of beer. Way sweet, heavy and just some distinctly bizarre characters that I find a bit too much to handle. I can see someone else really enjoying this beer, but it's not for me.

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Photo of CowsandBeer
2.7/5  rDev -35.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

9.3 oz bottle poured into a Tired Hands wine glass. Brewed in 2008 per the label. Lots of chunky sediment at the bottom of the glass.

A: Pours a thin head fizzy head with some bubbles and a ring. Body is a copper/amber brown with lots suspended sediment.

S: Sweet wine, savory sweet malts which brings to mind sticky honey and lots of dried fruits. Think old raisins and honey.

T: So hard to drink. There’s an almost overwhelming taste of cooked vegetables. There is some cloyingly sweet honey in the background but it’s largely overtaken by the gross vegetables.

Mf: Almost no carbonation, slick and smooth. Sticky sweet. Warming.

O: This is the third time I’ve had JW Lees and it’s always the same issue, overwhelming nasty vegetables in the taste. As it warmed it began to smell better, like a liqueur, but the taste was horrendous. Not finishing. Purchase these little bottles at your own risk.

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Photo of Rastacouere
2.79/5  rDev -32.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Light orange color, no head. Strong red wine emanations capture the nostrils. Fruit syrup (apricot, pears) make up for a powerful liquor flavour. Extremely sweet palate, like apricot juice over an oxidized grape liquor. Syrupy medium body contributes to the cloying aspects.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.08/5  rDev -26%
look: 1.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

On cask at Pizza Paradiso in Dupont Circle. Served in a snifter.

Pours an insanely cloudy light turdish color. This seriously looked like dirty dishwater. It was really disgusting looking. After I got past that, it was decent, but not all that good. The nose had some nice port notes along with plenty of oak and a bit of oxidation. The flavor was more port and some sweetness with a bit too much oxidation, leading to a bit of cardboard. Medium body and close to flat. Sweetness and a bit of cardboard dryness. Really disgusting to look at, and an okay beer after that.

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Photo of fx20736
3.11/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 9.3 oz bottle into a pint glass,served at cellar temp.

Clementine Orange, no head or lacing. Beer originally had prodigious sediment which I used a cloth to strain out.

Aroma of of mellow alcohol, plums, burnt toast, walnuts.

mouthfeel: soft and syrupy

taste: port wine, burnt toast, walnuts.

Notes: Interesting but hard to say alot else. Tons of sediment, which I strained out. This is the 1st of 4 of these cask aged JWL Harvests.

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Photo of benmiliron
3.13/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Paid $6.99 for a 9+ oz. bottle.

Ruby-brown color. Smell isn't as strong as I expected, slightly grapy. Taste is had to describe. Very sweet, sticky, syrupy & sugary. Still a beer, but just barely. More like a liqueur. An interesting experience nonetheless. I'll not try it again though.

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Photo of TheViolator666
3.19/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

275 ml bottle poured into pint glass.

2007 Vintage.

A: Not sure, couldn't really see the beer through all the yeast that never quite settled down. Pours golden brown with almost no head at all. No lacing whatsoever.

S: Smells like grapes, huge wine character to this one as expected. Sweet malts as well. Probably the best thing about this beer.

T: Tastes of sweet raisins, but overall pretty subtle and unimpressive. Slight hint of hops in the aftertaste. Not a huge flavor overall.

M/D: Decent mouthfeel, a bit syrupy. Had a hard time finishing this one, way too much yeast and sediment for my liking.

At almost $1/ounce I'll likely be avoiding this one and most other JW Lees, that is unless the price drops. Not nearly as impressive as I had anticipated.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.2/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2009 vintage

J.W. Lees Harvest aged in Port casks has a brownish orange body with a bunch of sediment floating around in it. The head is a thing color of light tan foam that fades quickly.

Lots of dark fruits like prunes and figs. Hints of caramel, toffee and cocoa

Up front is a bunch of caramel and toffee, once again with a touch of cocoa. After that comes all kinds of Port flavor. Grapes, raisins, figs and prunes all make appearances. A solid amount of wood in the background. A little bit of a burnt, rubbery flavor in the background. The aftertaste is very fruity. A little bit of heat from the alcohol lingers throughout.

Surprisingly light bodied with a lot of carbonation.

This one is definitely for sipping.

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Photo of Jonada
3.24/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

9.3oz bottle. Brewed in 2009. Served in a Teku

Appearance: Pours a dark amber color with less than a finger of an eggshell colored head. Head dissipates quickly to a collar of thick bubbles. Body is extremely murky with lots of chunky yeast sediment floating throughout.

Smell: Big port aromas, caramel, raisins, ripe apples. The aroma would rate much higher except for a moderately strong alcohol presence, almost like nail polish remover

Taste: Extremely sweet, overripe fruit, toffee. It has a sort of funky, oaky, smokey aftertaste that's pretty off putting. Alcohol is hidden well in the sense that it's not hot going down.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, syrupy mouthfeel. Carbonation is low. Finishes with a cloying sweetness.

Overall: This was a miss for me. Cloying sweetness and an off putting aftertaste really took away from the good things this had going for it. It's not awful, but I definitely wouldn't have it again.

This one's just not for me I guess

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Photo of JackRWatkins
3.27/5  rDev -21.4%
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.

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Photo of Pencible
3.34/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: This poured an opaque light mahogany, with almost no had and lots of chunky sediment.
S: It smelled like sweet honey wheat bread and toffee and tart apples, with some metallic copper hops and berries.
T: It tasted like sweet honey wheat and moldy blackberries, with some funky oak and earthy toffee. It had a lasting sugary and musty aftertaste.
M: It was oily with a little carbonation. Full body but a little flat.
D: This was not nearly as awesome as I hoped. Only a few years old and already seems ancient. The scent and taste had great elements, but they were canceled out by some undesirable oxidation notes. The body was good, not great. The finish was kind of rough, with some alcohol noticeable, so it was challenging to drink. A shame, this had a lot of potential but ended up being sub-par.

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Photo of Janderson91
3.39/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2005 vintage. Poured the 9.3 oz bottle into a DFH signature glass.

A- Murky amber color. Absolutely no head whatsoever. All kinds of yeast floating around.

S - Smell is the highlight for me. Very sweet with some dark fruits, very little hop presence at all. The port has made its presence known.

T - In the taste, the port cask is extremely evident. Very very sweet with some fruity, grapelike taste. A lot of alcohol present. No hops.

M - Very thick with no carbonation.

D - Sweetness and thickness make this beer a sipper.

A pretty good beer but it's just too expensive for me to revisit again.

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Photo of Karibourgeois
3.5/5  rDev -15.9%
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.

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Photo of dedrinker
3.52/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

For a beer that already has a strong tawny port-like flavor, I found this one to be a bit of overkill. Poured directly from the port cask at Spuyten Duyvel in Brooklyn, I took this one back to my table with trembling fingers. Deep maple syrup-looking color and serious almond/ maple/ port aroma and flavor. There was no head whatsoever. I did enjoy it, but the overall effect was a bit cloying with all that sweetness of the port added to sweet barleywine maltiness. Mouthfeel was somewhat syrupy and almost sticky.

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Photo of taez555
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a thick off-white head that dies almost completely within a minute. Body is a beautiful clear ruby/tan.

Rich malt smell. Almost reminiscent of a German double bock. Mild wine and subtle wood smells. A muted earthy hop smell again gives it a very German bock beer smell.

THICK!!! OMG. This is like drinking beer syrup, or slightly watered down LME. A very sweet and sugary malt taste. Sort of like rock candy with touches of honey. Has a slight toasted flavor in the finish with a mild lingering alcohol burn. Very little bitterness and almost no hop taste. This beer is malt, malt and more malt. You can't really taste the port barrel aging to much. It has a very slight woody flavor with mild hints of an aged sugary port, but it's hard to tell how the port effects it as the port flavors mirror the barleywine.

This is beer is one of the most dangerous beers I've ever had. 11.5% You can't taste it at all. This tastes like liquid malt extract before it's been brewed with. You really can't taste the port barrel aging. Although I think it would be interesting to taste the other 3 beers side by side.

Overall a nice traditional English Style Barleywine. Big, Huge and malty with very little hop taste.

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Photo of maximum12
3.53/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to my lovely wife who gave this to me for Christmas over a year ago, along with two others from this series. This is the last, saved because I adore a good port. Short, slender 9.3 oz. bottle, 2007 vintage.

Pop the cap: if there was a whisper, I'd have needed to turn up my hearing aids to detect it. Pours a lovely copper piping into the glass, hypnotizing me so that I react an instant too late, & wind up with fist-sized yeast glaciers hovering in the now much darker liquid. Carbonation between non-existent & barely-imagined. After a puff of aroma after its release, the nose settles right where the head is, hard to detect. Straining, one might find sweet malts & a port bottle left open two doors down. Not much.

Harvest Ale (Port Cask) hides the port - but how? After hiding out from the nose, the port is the overwhelming taste here. Port/sherry/mild oxidation melt together into a tasty after-dinner treat. Brown sugar, white sugar, enveloping sweetness, candied caramel. Flatness is somewhat distracting, but this small bottle won't be any problem at all, thank you.

Taste is definitely the high point, but this scarcely tastes like beer at all, more like a port cut with brown sugar & water. But hey, I like port. I like brown sugar. Ergo, this is a good beer. 'Beer'.

UPDATE: just cracked open a 2008 & whether this was a better year or simply good younger, it's a good .25 points improved upon the older vintage. Everything: port, caramel, sweetness, unrefined sugar, are all brighter & stronger. Up to 'very good' territory.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
3.55/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2005 bottle.
Pours a reddish brown in color. No head to be found, probably due to the high ABV and the aging. Smell is all JW Lees Harvest Ale. Not a lot of port in the nose. It's nothing like the Sherry cask version which has one of the best nose's of any beer that I've had.
Taste is a bit of a letdown. There's no sign of the Port cask at all. You're still left with some nice vintage JW Lees Harvest Ale, but the influence from the cask is not to be found. The alcohol is very well hidden in this beer. Plenty of toffee and is very subdued and smooth from the aging. Good beer, but nowhere could I find any influence from the Port cask.

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Photo of cbutova
3.62/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Randomly picked this up for the tasting with Chico1985 last night.

A- Disturbing yeast chunks plop out of the bottle in an amber colored beer. Small frothy pillow but no head or lace. The ring at least stays around so it doesn't end up looking like juice.

S- Honey and dark fruit are astronomical in the aroma but as it warms the port and wine fruit notes really come out. Stale bread and brown sugar come to mind.

T- Very honey and sweet caramel forward with that stale Old Ale feel. Dried dark fruit, stale bread and raisin come into play. With warmth comes some oak and port wine notes.

MF- Oily thick body with light carbonation. Some alcohol warmth and a sludgy sweet feel.

Wine notes come out with warmth and make it a good beer, without them it would have been way too extremely sweet and honey forward. The yeast floaties are amongst the scariest I have ever seen.

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Photo of akorsak
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The ale is a deep red, almost plum-like purple. Let's settle on cranberry-esque. The hear is small and does not retain for long.

S: The aroma is a strong yet very sweet maltiness. There are definite hints of something sweet and sugary here, beyond the normal concentrated sweet malts of an EBW.

T: The taste is very much in line with the rest of the JW Lee's, sweet and strong in malty toffee and nuts. The port is not as intense as the calvados or sherry. Here the port adds a bit of distinct sweetness at the end of the sip. The finish is sweet malts and a hint of port's sugary strength.

M: The mouthfeel is good, providing mere hints of the port without going overboard.

D: The 11.5% is well hidden, completely overshadowed by the sweetness of the malts. I could drink two or so and really regret it in the morning.

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Photo of meathookjones
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

275ml bottle with black text and a black cap. This one pours a clear deep amber orange color with a decent off white head that quickly falls to a collar. Leaves a sparse lacing around the glass as it is consumed. The aroma had a nice fruity sweetness and a bit of alcohol with the Port flavors present as well. There was also a buttery biscuit and yeasty notes mingling with the sweetness. The taste starts of with a bit of an alcohol bite that is quickly overcome by a huge sweetness, a little too much so in my opinion. There is also a strong buttery flavor to this with a slight nuttiness as well. Mouthfeel is very full and heavy with good carbonation. I feel the drinkability was hurt as the sweetness became too much even with the smaller sized bottle. Overall a good beer though and I shall pick another one up to lay down for a few years.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.65/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From 03/25/11 notes.

a - Pours a clear amber color with less than one inch of off white head and low carbonation evident.

s - Smells of sweet fruit, grain, bready malts, oak, and wine.

t - Tastes of sweet fruit, molasses, light wine, and alcohol.

m - Medium body and low carbonation.

o - A pretty good variation of JW Lees, but not my favorite. A sipper for sure and one to share with some friends.

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Photo of shapudding
3.66/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Beautifully golden-honeyed and clear. Carbonation seen rising in nice straight streams. Not much head, just slight bubbly white foam and then a bit of a ring and just clear. Clean aroma, cannot smell anything at all really. Bit of smooth carbonation, silky and smooth. Fresh and nice, juicy flavors, apricot, orange zest maybe, and hoppiness. Honey sweetness and darkened caramel, yet not cloying. Nice sipper, great flavor with a lot to think about and enjoy. The flavors expand through your mouth and are so enjoyable. Shared this one with my parents who I recently went to a port tasting with, they both really enjoyed it with Mom commenting that she got apricot on the nose with bitter on the tongue.

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Photo of Sammy
3.67/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Very nice aroma of a barleywine, pleasant appearance with lace. Alcohol, sweetish, some Rum, figs, Vanilla.Full mouthfeel. Would go well late in a meal. I am encouraged to try the other barrels. Thanks Tim (IPFreely) for sharing. I am still tasting it a day later.

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Photo of dgallina
3.67/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Vintage 2003. Sampled 1/2005.

Pours a translucent golden copper with non-existent head and very minimal lace. Smells very much like the regular Harvest Ale 2003; syrupy sweet and port-like with wood and alcohol undertones. Flavors begin slightly sour and acidic, gradually developing very sweet sherry tones and finishing with alcohol spice and huge alcohol warming. The aftertaste is nicely drying and has good port notes which are lacking in the regular version. Body is quite rich (nearly syrupy really) and somewhat oily. Surprisingly well carbonated for a barley wine, however.

A more interesting drink than the regular Harvest Ale 2003. The port-aged variant is a bit rounder, with less sharp initial bitter notes and a *much* better aftertaste. Not the best barley wine I've had, but significantly more palatable than the "plain" Harvest Ale 2003.

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Photo of claspada
3.67/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of brystmar, 2008 bottle

Pours a hazy amber color with a small off-white head that coats the glass with lace. Nice yeast "floaties" despite an extremely careful pour.

Aromas begin with a ton of caramel maltiness backed with copious amount of dried golden raisins and dried cherry tones with a touch of wood. A great deal of cardboard oxidation and sherry notes continue to emerge as it warms.

The tastes begin with a toffee flavor that builds into rich, rich butterscotch, coupled with lighter vinous grape and cherry tones; after the swallow the wood and port flavors kick in to mellow out the sweet flavors. There are wet cardboard and iodine flavors that I get with these J.W. Lees aged beers that is always slightly off-putting but is manageable here.

The mouthfeel is super bodied with low carbonation and some warmth down the gullet. Cloying in the finish to be honest and becomes less drinkable as it warms.

Overall I love quality Old Ales and English Barleywines but I am fed up with these J.W. Lees expensive syrupy disasters. They are all too sweet and just too much in the malt department. More like a cordial than a beer. I have tried several examples, but never again.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.16 out of 5 based on 423 ratings.
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