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: 222 | Ratings: 420
Photo of DougT
4.19/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Brewed in 2010 on label. Decanted into a Rochefort challis.

No head to speak of, no lace. No legs like a good wine or cognac might have. A hazy nice dark brown color but lots of flotsam. I tried to decant, but still got a fair amount of yeast sediment. The glass has a nucleation point so there is a very small patch of lingering foam, but it's basically flat. By the end of the glass even that patch was gone.

Smell is not too strong, but sweet. Very fruity. Dates, Plumbs, dark bread, and red wine. Smells delicious. A lot of the characteristics of a Trappist quad, but even more fruity.

Taste is wonderful. It's quite sweet, flavors of port, prunes, a little bitter hops, yeast. Pretty complex. Involving. Very well balanced. Bottle says 11.5% but I can't taste it.

Mouthfeel lacks any fizz. It's medium body, and full flavor, but there needs to be some effervescence. It's almost flat.

The lack of bubbles and the high amount of sediment detract from an otherwise complex, flavorful, well balanced, and interesting brew. I'm glad I tried it, and it would make a great conversation piece, but it's hard to justify the high price.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.08/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 bottle from my visit to Jersey. Poured to a generic tulip glass. Pour is murky amber orange colored with a small ring of yellowish khaki head. Sweet caramel brown sugar, oak, vanilla, toffee, brandy, nuts, but of a vinous note but more of the brandy fortification here. Flavor follows with a malty caramel vanilla port wine, a bit of marshmallow, brandy, some pecans. Sone alcohol heat with a nutty vanilla finish. Yum. Mouthfeel is full bodied with low carbonation.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.03/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

2007 vintage 275mL bottle

medium brown in color. clear, with yeast floaties. no head at all, looks like iced tea. rich boozy complex aroma - tobacco, leather, honey. taste is more brown sugar and tobacco, but not overly sweet as those flavors normally are if that makes rest. a bit of fig and grape flavors as well. just a touch of carbonation, almost flat, and fairly thin, body could be better.

overall - not quite as good as the normal version, but definitely different - less sweet certainly so check it out if you don't like that characteristic of the base beer.

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Photo of Sludgeman
4.58/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a tulip. 2011 vintage. Started a little cold but let the beer warm to proper temperature.

This is a very good barley wine. Complex. Nicely balanced. Drinks like a port, but not boozy. – 4.5

A – Pours a cloudy (maybe some chill haze) orange amber with almost no head. Zero lacing. – 3.75

S – Vinous, port, some alcohol, dark fruit – 4.5

T – Malty goodness, huge port notes, raisins, some sweetness but cloying, slight bitterness, a touch of spicy pepperiness. – 4.75

MF – Smooth even a bit velvety. Medium-heavy bodied. Not a dry finish but not overly sweet. – 4.75

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Photo of flagmantho
4.78/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from 275mL bottle into a pint glass. This is the 2008 vintage, so it's got a cool 5 years of age on it.

Appearance: murky medium brown with lots of haze and an indistinguishable effervescence. Head pours a finger of frothy tan foam which subsides somewhat slowly. Pretty good indeed.

Smell: involuntarily, I uttered "oh yeah, holy shit" upon my first smell of this brew. Rich, sumptuous malt, with an amazingly enticing and complex aroma of raisin, raw tobacco, dates, cherries, vanilla and excellence. Buh.

Taste: mother of God. I don't know if it is the aging or what, but twelve bucks for 275mL almost seems too cheap for this stuff. Complex and challenging flavors of dates, tobacco and perhaps a lapsang souchong smoke-like character. This beer is amazing. I'm gobsmacked.

Mouthfeel: pretty rich body with a decent creaminess. Listen, I try to gauge mouthfeel separate from flavor on beers which I think are pretty non-tasty, so I have to do it here too. It's not brilliantly creamy, just appropriate and enjoyable for the style.

Overall: I would like three cases of this and a deserted island, please.

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Photo of Jonada
3.24/5  rDev -21.9%
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 jrenihan
4.11/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2010 Vintage

The beer is dark amber in colour. Lots and lots of floaties. Almost no head- just a bit of off-white bubble.

Smell contains toffee, caramel, oak and, yes, port. Smells a bit sweet, quite rich.

Taste is similar to the nose. Port, caramel, toffee, oak. Fairly sweet, quite malty. The port nicely complements the base beer, and is at the right level of strength: clearly present but not overpowering.

Full bodied but not heavy, Low to moderate carbonation level. Slick.

Overall, very nice flavour. A bit on the sweet side, but very good stuff.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.47/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz bottle poured into a snifter.
Vintage 2007.

Oops...I poured it too quickly. Tons of yeast just plopped in there. Other than that it's a nice burgundy color with no head and very little carbonation.

Rum raisin, caramel, butterscotch, vanilla and overwhelming malty goodness.

Rum raisin and syrupy sweetness. Very vinous. Caramel loaded with notes of butterscotch and vanilla. Some musty basement and a hint of oak. Hints of fig. Malty, malty, malty, malty.

Full bodied, lush, syrupy, smooth and warming.

An excellent night cap. Put on your smoking jacket and bust out the pipe. This will turn you into a fancy pants! Pinky out.

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Photo of Higy
4.02/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

Vintage 2004. Enjoyed in a wine glass @ about cellar temperature.

appearance: very low carbonation. Head, only a slight dusting. Murky leather brown color.
Aroma: sherry & port, umami or a light soy sauce, vanilla & whiskey, MUSTY, earthy & slight oak. I thought the bottle was soured when I smelled it.
Taste: tart cherries, plum, hugh brown sugar & slightly smokey @ the finish
mouthful: SWEET! Cloying & coating
Overall:I expectrd there to be residual sugar, but mistakenly thought that the sweetness would have died back. Was I wrong to think this?

Definitely glad I enjoyed after dinner. Still wanting to try the others. Cheers.

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Photo of Pencible
3.34/5  rDev -19.5%
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 maximum12
3.53/5  rDev -14.9%
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 Zraly
4.2/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2010.

Chunky, tawny ale poured into my CCB snifter. Lots of sediment: no head and ugly as hell. Sounds like the makings of a good aged barleywine.

Smells like a good bottle of booze -- maybe the trub of a bottle of dessert wine. A bit of earth and dead, dried flowers. A touch of must. Something comforting about the combination of these things. I feel like putting on my slippers and lighting a fire. Maybe.

Sweet and earthy in flavor. Alcohol is buried so I fully expect to stumble when I get out of my chair. It's a sipper, but it goes down smooth. But she ain't cheap! $9 to make you holler.

A sweet, full-bodied mistress. She and blue cheese will make you swoon.

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Photo of dmattern
4.06/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage, $10.80 for 9.3oz bottle

Pours with basically no head, then come the chunks. You can avoid the majority of them, but either way some will find their way into your glass.

Smells like port, and a slight hint of malt.

Taste is quite good. Very sweet, its like someone blended a good barleywine with a little bit of port. After a few drinks, the alcohol becomes prevalent, but only as a warming sensation in your throat.

Mouthfeel is interesting, initially feels carbonated, then lays down to practically a syrup.

Overall an awesome beer, I would buy again, but not something you can drink more than one of. Actually, finishing the undersized bottle is a little much as it is so rich.

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Photo of BrownNut
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2005. Served nearly room temp in a tulip.

A - 3.75 - Rosy amber, dense off white head with a very aggressive pour, dissipates quickly. Tons of sediment.

S - 4 - Definitely smells of its port barrel. Hard to smell much else, but certainly malty.

T - 4 - Porty, sweet, malty, fruity. Surprisingly mellow for 11.5%, or perhaps not surprising given its age. The warmth doesn't appear until a while after you swallow - mild pleasant fumes coming up the throat.

M - 4 - Medium heavy, sticky

O - 4 - Overall not as complex as I'd hoped. The sweetness, port flavor, and mouthfeel make it slow sipper, which is always a welcome change. I feel like I'm drinking something more than a beer. It's nice enough and wins some originality points, but it's not interesting enough to buy again.

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Photo of BEERMILER12
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 1.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in 2005, 275 mL bottle. Consumed on 01/24/13

A: Pours a murky brown color with huge yeast particles that both sink to the bottom and remain in suspension... One of the grossest looking beers I've ever seen (although I guess it's expected as this bottle is 7-8 years old)

S: Huge notes of sweet malts, along with definite port notes and some fruitiness. Alcohol come out quite a bit, but it goes nicely with the sweetness and port cask notes. Pretty damn complex

T: Don't even know where to start because this is so complex... Starts off with the usual sweet maltiness and slowly moves into a very pleasant fruitiness along with port cask notes, which adds a great depth. From there, some of the alcohol can be detected, but it doesn't taste anywhere near 11.5%. Finishes with more malty sweetness and a hint of port

M: Medium-full bodied with low carbonation. Very smooth

O: One damn fine English barleywine that only gets better with the port cask. Hugely complex and definitely a sipper. The only drawback is the appearance... GROSS. I can definitely look past that because of the complexity, though. Very pricey at nearly $1 an ounce, but worth it every once in a while

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
3.83/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

I've got a 2004 bottle.

A: Cloudy dark ruby brown with a small off-white head of large bubbles. Some sediment.

S: Strong soy sauce and some port.

T: Flip me, it's sweeter than cherry pie. Poignant port, lots of soy sauce, dates & prunes and mountains upon mountains of sugar. Tastes a heck of a lot like cough syrup. It's a sipper, not because of the ABV but because of the outrageous levels of sugar. I cannot emphasis enough how sweet it is.

M: Very soft and juicy. Five for the mouthfeel.

O: Quality but not my cup of tea. I almost couldn't finish it.

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Photo of fdig23
4.12/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Tiny bottle.

Appearance: Cloudy copper with a tiny head.

Nose: Interesting blend of port and barleywine aromas. A bit of apple and smoky peat are present along with an intense almond paste aroma. Really nice combination.

Taste: Sweet sugary raisins, smoky campfire, almond paste, and apples. A bit of the barleywine's natural bready caramel notes are hiding behind the port characteristics.

Overall: Very nice pairing of barrel-aging and base beer. Preferred this version to the Calvados cask version.

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Photo of Brandywine
3.99/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2010 vintage poured into a tulip.
Appearance: Dark orange, super cloudy with some yeast flocculence. No head. Tons of alcohol legs.
Smell: Port, brandy, peach, pear, rum soaked fruits, caramel, wood, syrupy sweetness, candied apples, toffee.
Taste: Wood, brandy, apple juice. It's very smooth for 11.5%
Mouthfeel: Full and syrupy. Coats the tongue.
Overall: The nose shows up the taste on this one. There is a disappointing lack of complexity. It makes for a sweet, pleasant sipper but nothing exceptional. The tannic wood flavor also seems to dominate along with the sweetness.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.89/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a Hunahpu snifter. 2005 bottle.

Appearance - The darkest of the Harvests that I've had. Mahogany with a few bubbles as I pour. They fade quickly as the chunks start to stream in.

Smell - Raisins and sweet dark fruits. Deep brown sugar and a nice red wine aroma keeps it from being too sweet.

Taste - Well, it's still really sweet. Raisins and brown sugar. Like brown sugar dissolved in the water. The port is not very prominent, but it seems to have tempered the sweetness. A little drier and a touch of red wine in the finish. Really, the port just gives a depth to the fruit flavors.

Mouthfeel - Still ungodly sweet, but it doesn't seem as oppressive here. Low carbonation.

Overall - The best barrel treatment I've had so far. The only one worth the money, I'd say.

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Photo of Dope
4.07/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle

A: Muddy red-brown pour with a tiny tan head. Almost no lacing. Lots of floaties.

S: Nice smooth fruity port. Melds nicely with the typical huge molasses and toffee that comes a JW Lees Harvest ale.

T: Hmm not bad. There is loads of syrupy sweet molasses and toffee still. Wonderfully smooth and fruity port melds perfectly with it though. Balances out the sweetness and smooths the flavors. Oaky on the finish.

M: Heavy and syrupy.

O: By far the best Harvest ale barrel treatment. Great balance of flavors. Still stupidly sweet but so much smoother and drinkable.

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Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a cloudy brown-orange with practically no head. The head fades down right away leaving behind no lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of rich sweet caramel malts and toffee, with some dark grape port, oak, brown sugar, caramelized sugars, and booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of sweet dark grape and other dark fruit with sweet caramel malts and some caramelized sugars, brown sugar, and a bit of vanilla. Through the middle, some oak comes through with more port flavor alongside some more caramelized sugars. The finish is a mix of rich sweet caramel malts with oak and port, other dark fruit, brown sugar, a touch of sourness, and booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with mild carbonation. Feels smooth and a bit thick with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. The port adds some nice complexity to the base beer. Good overall balance.

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Photo of Jamesthebrit
4.62/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 Version

A: Nice red orange color. Hazy, hints of brown. A little bit too many bubbles on this on.

S: A great balance on this one. Some good sweetness that compliments the oaky finish.

T: Wow. Much better than the other Harvest ales I've had. This one has some good earth notes. Pine. Wood really hits precisely. Alcohol is not very present. A great sweetness that maybe dominates a bit. Sharp finish.

M: Sits a little sour but otherwise thick and and perfect carbonation.

Overall a very solid beer. There are a lot of nice flavors but the sweetness overpowers a little.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.09/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: no head on a deep brown murky body with lots of debris/precipitate floating in it.

S: port and red wine, sour cherry, tart fruit, and yes, A1 sauce.

T: very very sweet. I was expected sour or tart and though this one has a subtle tartness, it is mostly cherry and strawberry fruit sweetness. This one really took on the character of the port. It is the lead flavor as oppose to a "note". caramel and brown sugar notes.

M: light to medium body and very light carbonation.

Overall: all of these are hard to drink for me. Either too sweet or strong. This is a "sipping" beer and definitley worth a try.

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Photo of axeman9182
4.24/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

275 mL bottle of the 2009 vintage. It was allowed to warm before being poured into my Cigar City snifter.

Port Cask aged JW Lees pours an opaque mahogany. There's about half a finger of khaki colored foam topping the beer, and flashing just a little bit of head retention and lacing. There's a ton of sediment settling towards the bottom of the glass, more than I'd expect to come from such a small bottle. The port cask aging is very evident in the nose, lots of potent dark fruits like one would expect from port. There's just a hint of oxidation present, and some caramel aroma as well. The base barleywine shines through a little more in the flavor profile, balancing well against the port influence. Oxidation remains very much secondary/in the background. The body, while firmly malty, is miles away from syrupy, thanks in part to a spot on, mild carbonation. This iteration of JW Lees marries one of my favorite styles to one of my favorite barrel treatments, with predictably great results. I can't wait to try my hand at brewing something in this vein over the summer.

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Photo of Satchboogie
4.27/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'05 vintage carefully decanted into a snifter

A: Pours dark caramel, very few floaties after decanting into a second glass, very little head that quickly dissipates. Looks very thick and sweet.

S: Very sweet, caramel apples and plums soaked in port wine. Not nearly as sweet nor oxidized as the regular '01 Vintage Ale I've had.

T: Overload of caramel, brown sugar, dark fruits, candied apple, and port wine. Big, bold flavor with a very long, sweet finish. There's still a little bit of a boozy bite up front with just a little burn in the back of the throat. Very malty with sweet breads, though you can definitely tell oxidation is starting to hollow out the malt backbone.

M: Very thick and smooth, silky sweet texture that coates the mouth extremely well to leave a very long finish. Little carbonation, just a touch more might make it more drinkable.

O: A fantastic desert beer that I enjoyed more than the '01 Harvest Ale I had last year. Seems to have just the right amount of time on it.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.15 out of 5 based on 420 ratings.
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