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: 427
Photo of kylehay2004
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
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 +1.9%
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 +2.6%
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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Photo of kspongeworthy
4.09/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle

Appearance: Half inch of foamy head dissapears in seconds. Murky dirty copper liquid that looks very thick. Lots of floaties. I would compare it with a tamarind based drink.

Aroma: Prunes and grapes soaked in red wine. Caramel and vanilla notes also. Very lovely.

Taste: Wine soaked wood chips with caramel, bitterness that stays for a while. More wood with faint vanilla and some kind of dark pitted fruit. Lots of things going on here.

Mouthfeel: Not much carbonation. Medium to high thickness. Not as viscous as it looks.

Overall: The aroma is fantastic, the taste complex and robust. It can be a little woodsy, but still drinkable. I have other bottles so I'll let them sit for a while and see how they change.

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Brewed in 2010

A: Pours a cloudy golden orange in color with significant amounts of visible sediment (yeast) in suspension. The beer has a half finger tall beige head that quickly reduces to a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Very light lacing is observed.

S: Some brown sugar malt sweetness, dark fruits - raisins and figs, and finally some port aroma as well. The beer has quite a sweet aroma and a slight hint of the oak.

T: The flavor of this beer is quite interesting... The beer starts out very sweet, almost cloying so with lots of malt sweetness including tastes of caramel and brown sugar. That is followed by the flavors from the port, sweet dark fruit. The finish of this beer is quite bitter and oaky with a much too dominant wood flavor (in my opinion).

M: Medium bodied with low to moderate amounts of carbonation.

O: Like the port whose casks this beer was aged in, this beer would be best served in a very small glass after dinner for sipping. I like the taste of this beer but it is a little too sweet and too high in ABV to be a beer that you could have multiple in a session.

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Photo of Cyberkedi
4.15/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark, slightly hazy cola brown with a decent light tan head. Aroma has a strong overtone of miso plus a firm note of port and hints of malt and caramel. Malty, fruity flavor has an overtone of miso and an underpinning of wood - plus quite a bite from the alcohol and some woody bitterness. Texture is thick and smooth, not quite syrupy, a little lacking in fizz.

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Photo of harrymel
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2010

Pours a near still appearing copper ale with some floaties that I saw come out of the bottle. I can smell the port from two feet away, really pleasant nose with figs, caramels, rich warm malts and the smell of something aged on lees with just an accent of alcohol. One of the better noses I've smelled. Only opens and gets better with temp. Flavor is a bit smoky with a little vegetal tone and some of the classic JW maltiness. The cask really didn't do the beer too much benefit flavor wise, there is a cheap, ruby porto quality to the finish. The body is syrupy with low carb and a long finish - spot on for the beer with just slightly too much viscosity.

Really a pleasant beer, but the flavor is not up to par with what I expect from this brewery.

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Photo of beerman240
4.54/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 batch..

A. Roughly same color as.bottle..molasses,a strong sweet tea.

Smell. Smells great..vanilla,grapey,maybe some earthy mushrooms.

Taste.. I really enjoy the sweetness with the alcohol. Reminds me of strong Bourbon or whiskey with big splash of Pepsi. Grilled plums.maybe over baked sweet potato with brown sugar.Would go great with cigar.

Mouthfeel.. not alot of fizz. Thick,juicey..enjoy!

Overall.. bought one in Birmingham Alabama..my home town..tomorrow I'm going back to buy all they have and ask them to buy more.. will take this punkin next hunting trip with cigar.. Cheers!

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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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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 mdvatab
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in '05.
Took 11.2oz bottle from cellar, and placed in the fridge for ~10 min., then poured into large red wine glass.

A: Sweet caramel, freshly-squeezed apple juice (not cidery, though), and a flash of booze. Lip-smackingly sweet.

A: Pours a clear light brown, between weak iced tea and apple juice. A slightly-over zealous pour sends chunks of yeast into the glass. I simply waited for the yeast to settle to the bottom of the glass. Next time, I'll be more careful when decanting, though. No head, but thick, clear legs drip down the inside of the glass.

F: Fruity, sugary sweetness with a touch of booze. Delicious caramel and vanilla through the middle, and an interesting candied yam note on the finish, with a touch of smoke. (I believe this is the port.) More than one bottle would become cloying quickly, but that initial glass is heavenly.

M: Medium-full, syrupy body. Low carbonation, but does not fall flat.

Overall: Again-- delicious! I will definitely be keeping a bottle of this on-hand for when I have the taste for a sure-fire winner. Highly-recommended for someone who likes their barleywines on the sweeter side! Cheers!

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Photo of beesy
4.17/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 edition. Poured from a 11.2oz bottle into a pint glass.

a - pours a medium copper with a half finger off white head that dissipates quickly.
Learned my lesson on the amount of yeast trub in these and poured it easy and left enough in the bottle to avoid the yeast mishap with the 08 standard I reviewed a few weeks ago.

s - lots sweetness but not as sweet as the 08 standard. Malt. A noticeable sweet grape/wine aroma. Some oxidation type aromas typical of aged beers - not as stale smelling as the 2008 standard recently reviewed.

t - caramel sweetness mixed with lots of toffee and ULTRA malty with a very strong wheat flavor on the end. The port taste is fairly subtle, leaving some red wine flavors on your lips and showing up in the late palate. No hops or bitteness to speak of. A slight yeast profile in the latter palate. Alcohol detected but very subdued.

m - full bodied, but not as thick as I was expecting.

d - low for me, a tad too sweet but doesn't seem as sweet as the 2008 recently reviewed.

Overall, an interesting beer that has held up well - its seems 3 years might be the peak before it starts to fall off as compared to the 08, this was significantly less oxidized. A malt and wheat bomb with small amounts of the aging barrels present.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: hazy amber.
Smell: oaky and sweet. Picking up something else, maybe imparted by the port. I'm a big port fan but this reminds without being obvious.
Taste: complex, full and much like the nose. Something a little odd in the finish I can't out my finger on.
Mouthfell: full and creamy.
Overall: have a few things I'm aging. Just had a 2002 harvest that was just awesome. I imagine some age will do the same for this.

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Photo of Reason2B
3.9/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A – Opaque bronze in color, with sediment. Very thin white head, with nice white lacing.

S – Strong port smell dominates, with a complex sweet fruit smell that I can’t make out.

T – Sweet, a little too sweet for my liking. Very complex in flavor. Caramel, plum and infusions from the port barrel are prevalent.

M – Nearly no carbonation. Heavy in body. This is very much a sipping drink.

O – I was a little disappointed. I really wanted this to be my benchmark, but it is just too sweet. I do find that I am enjoying it a lot more has it warms up. I think I’m going to try some of the other varsities. The sherry, or even better, the whisky may cut the edge a little better than the port adding to the sweetness.

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Photo of Scrumtralecent
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2008. Poured from a bottle into a snifter.

A - Very hazy copper with a white head. Some little yeast chunks, but nothing disheartening.

S - Caramel, dark fruit, plum, and they do a good job of getting the aroma out of whatever barrel they put this beer in to. And this is no different, plenty of port aroma coming through, adding a candied sweetness.

T - Blast of candied sweetness, with an oak and peat coming through behind that. The port imparts plenty of sweetness into that Harvest ale, making it very good. I really enjoy that aftertaste, letting the barrel itself get into this beer and not just allowing the port take over.

M - Quite a bit of carbonation to this one, not terribly distracting, but I would want it down a smidge. Otherwise this is a little bit of a sipper, plenty of bold and sweet flavors.

O - I enjoyed this beer. The taste is a little different than what I expected from the smell, but it was good. I've been impressed with JW Lees' barrel aging, I can tell they take their time with it and get it right. I'll be seeking out the other variations.

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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 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 ficknish
4.39/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5


A - A beautiful copper color. Weak head.

S - Figs. Musky wood. Faint grapes. Molasses. Cookies.

T - Sweet dark fruit. Fig newton cookies. Some Alcohol. Raisins.

M - Thick. Sweet. Slight alcohol.

O - I like the port version much more than the Lagavulin. The fig cookie flavors went great with the alcohol and muskiness. Would drink again.

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Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.8/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a very fine orange colour, with a filmy, but incredibly fine head of pure white. Bubbles form on the top, giving a limpid appearance to the very thick body. Powdery fine carbonation through the body, along with some disturbed floating sediment.

Nose is sweet and rich, cut with pleasant bright characters of peach and oak. The barrels give it a lovely decadence—a refined quality to go along with the heavy sweetness. Hints of greenness, dust and a touch of pepper work really nicely too. It's very complex, and rich but very refined and sophisticated.

Taste is gorgeous and very different. Instead of the bold sweetness, it has a bright acidity through the centre, giving more of those peachskin characters, and a brightness much like a really nice dessert wine. On the back, however, comes through a slightly brassy, almost vegetative character like fresh celery. This mingles pleasantly with the oak and the sweet, fruity dried apricot flavours and cleanses the palate ready for the next sip. Wow, what a great beer.

So smooth, so sweet, and so perfectly cut with freshness to balance. It's gooey, luscious, exciting and dangerously drinkable. Lovely brew.

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Photo of scottyshades
5/5  rDev +20.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2005 Vintage

A: Pours a semi-opaque toffee/mahogany color with a tiny white cap. Much lighter than I expected. Floaties in the snifter

S: Heavy and rich port wine right off the bat. Plums, cherry, white grape juice, toffee, caramel, leather. Overall very dark fruity and sweet. Unfathomably complex. Impossible to summarize.

T: "Wow" was the first thing that I said. Much richer and sweeter than expected. The beer obviously soaked up that port in the casks. Toffee, butter, honey, tons of candy caramel. To sum it up: port wine, sweetness, delicious

MF/O: Thick, velvety, flat carbonation. Plummy/port wine finish. A masterpiece.

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Photo of drpimento
4.44/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very good beer. Courtesy of Pat n Karen. Poured with a tiny bit of off white head, no lace. Color is a brown amber. Aroma is figs, dates, malt, caramel, wine, sherry, yeast. Flavor is like nose, quite sweet, with just a little carbonic tang to cut it all. Body is excellent; ditto carbonation. Finish is like flavor, longish and a bit of alcohol warmth at the very end. Excellent stuff!

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Photo of DaveHS
4.2/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2010

A-Pours rusty orange/amber with a few suspended chunks of yeast and a bubbly, eggshell white head. Traces of spotty lacing.

S-Pale malts,stale fruitcake,a light vegetal note, like broccoli water, tawny port. Interesting. I've found some of the best English barleywines have unusual vegetal aromas. Not sure why.

T/M-Really earthy and vegetal. Dirt, broccoli, stony minerality. The port sweetness is subtle but significant. A very different barleywine, with a flavor profile unlike anything I've had before. Tastes very strongly of freshly tilled earth, but somehow it works. Medium to full bodied with low carbonation.

O-Another fascinating barleywine from England's top producer.

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Photo of Draughtsman
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 Harvest in port casks. A good beer all around. Pours a maple syrup/dark honey color, cloudy and fairly flat. Dried dark fruit, licorice and banana on the nose. I tasted heavy sweetness in the front: port (obviously) with other nuances, perhaps caramel, toffee and vanilla, but a bitter middle to end. Oak throughout. Good, heavy mouthfeel, what I look forward to in the bigger beers, without too much of an alcohol burn. Overall a thoroughly enjoyable beer.

Thank you, J.W. Lees, for a job well done.

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Photo of olympuszymurgus
4.18/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Smells of deep fruits, sweet tropical sugar, herbs, dirt, banana. Pours a slightly cloudy amber honey, white head that drops fast and leaves a nearly still looking glass. Taste is light and sweet, some oxidation and sherry notes, a bit of vanilla and a cinnamon spice. The port and oak are coming across as a light vinous flavor and a bright sweetness. Over all a sprightly but low carbonation in the thick body, damn fine.

I dig it. A fine brew from the fine folks of Manchester.

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Photo of birderbeerer
4.32/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 2009.

Looks like cider, solid head that rings with a cloud in the center.

Interesting note about the aroma: smell while in the bottle is heavy port, but in the glass it's much more like a typical big barleywine. Very sweet.

Taste is a super sweet barleywine. Not cloying but I wonder how it would be fresh. Good body to it and still good carbonation too. Oak, rich flavor. Good complexity. Apples, caramel, toffee. Very good.

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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 427 ratings.
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