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

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)
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Barleywine - English
Ranked #52
Ranked #3,256
4.14 | pDev: 13.77%
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)
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Reviews: 215 | Ratings: 390 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
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DefenCorps from Oregon

4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Can, 2016 vintage from the Beermongers.

A mildly murky amber with a thin, beige head that falls off leaving little lacing, this looks solid. The nose is rich and oxidized, with a lot of sherry present, so much so that it reminds me of 10+ year old bottles of the base JW Lees. Nutty with almonds and a little walnuts. Rich dark fruit. The palate opens sweet with lots of sherry, oxidation, dark fruit, toffee, butterscotch, buckwheat honey. Lovely integration and balance. Sweet on the finish with a lingering sherry and nutty character. Full in body, softly carbonated and with a rich, lush finish, this is excellent.

Mar 14, 2021
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Bouleboubier from New Jersey

4.37/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(275 ml bottle, brewed in 2015... poured into a fat tulip)

L: cloudy, med-dark amber liquid; bit of bubbly, white foam on pour, immediately pulling back to a comb-y collar... looks like crap, as expected; no lace

S: familiar Harvest Ale aromas: apple cake, fresh fig, overripe pear; perhaps a subtly-extra caramel musk... dried fruit, earthy-floral all day; excellent potency overall; alcohol prickly, fragrant

T: stewed pear, grassy yeast, bitter apple peel; toasty-nutty highlight to the moderate, rolled-off, apple brandy-ish booze in the aftertaste... compared to the other barrel-aged versions of this - yes, there's a richer, more leathery color to the magnificent malts; thicker layers

F: nectar, naturally; booze still ignites a moderate heat/glow... mildly lip-smacky viscosity... could probably swill a pint in short order... seductively smooth, but perhaps in need of a soft boost in sizzle; near flat?

O: hmm... could this be my favorite of the BA Harvest Ale line (gotta compare/contrast with the Calvados version... oh wait! how did I forget the Lagavulin smear)?; seems like the sherry is a natural companion to the base beer... sure, this is one bottle, 5+ years out, but the subtle nuances seem noticeable (had enough of these HAs by now; I do pick up marginal differences, I think!) (1713)

Nov 13, 2020
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StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.71/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

9.3 oz. bottle - 2015 vintage

Pours cloudy opaque amber dark tan brown with a clingy off-white foam head. Smells rich, malty, sweet, vinous, oxidized, nutty, toasty, oaky, with sherry wine cask, fruity esters, dried pineapple, dates, prunes, apricot, cherry, apple, toasted bread, dry caramel, English toffee, cookie malt, some yeast, wildflowers, and fresh earthy herbal piney hops. Tastes like a buttered raisin roll, krimpets, toffee, malty caramel, toasted bread, roasted nuts, cookies, oaky sweet fruity sherry wine cask, dried fruits, vanilla, hint of dark chocolate, char, vinous notes of dried cherry, apricot, prunes, dates, mild pineapple, red apple, almond, English toffee, some yeast, wildflowers, with earthy herbal floral piney hops. Feels medium bodied, slick and smooth with low carbonation. Overall a really great sherry wine cask aged English barleywine.

Jun 15, 2020
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LiquidAmber from Washington

4.24/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A side by side tasting of the brewed in 2010 and 2017 editions. Poured into Fremont and Reuben's Brew small snifters. Both pour a medium to dark orange amber with the 2010 a more orange and with a slight haze. Very little head on either one. Aroma of caramel malt, dried light stone fruit, raisins and dates; the older one has some oxidation notes while the 2017 is dominated by the light stone fruit and Sherry. Flavor is caramel malt, apricot, citron, raisins, fortified wine. The 2017 tastes brighter, with an emphasis on light stone fruit, like the aroma, but with a light medicinal finish. Both have a somewhat mellow, light flavor with Sherry being the dominate flavor; moder oxidized in the older version. Medium bodied with light to moderate creaminess. A fine, classic English barleywine with lighter fruit flavors than the plums and dates typical of this style, bright apricot flavor vying with the Sherry. The newer one tastes more like the barrel character with distinct Sherry 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 shows little sign of being at its maximum age and I'd guess that this will not change much into the future. As with the other versions, I think I'd drink this sooner than later because of the brighter flavors and although the older one is mellow and has aged well, isn't quite as interesting.. The Sherry is an excellent treatment for this nice barleywine.

May 19, 2020
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Harrison8 from Missouri

4.06/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours lightly murky burgundy-brown that has a lake water color to it. Head is null, but this bottle has also been well aged. Will update here if there is a chance to review this beer closer to fresh. Aroma is sherry, strong as an ox, pulling along notes of raisins, fig, toffee, molasses and brown sugar. It's a sugar dump with caramely, toasty malts reigning it in slightly. Flavor profile is raisins, fig, toffee, molasses, brown sugar and sherry. After the initial sweet characteristics, the focus diverts towards peat moss. Caramely, bready and toasty malts all add a little support. Mouth feel is still with a medium-thick consistency. Overall, aroma has held up well to the years, but the flavor profile itself has not. That said, can't fault the brewer, as it's still a quality barleywine example.

Served in a 15.5oz Speigalau tulip from a 9.3 fl oz bottle. Brewed in 2008, reviewed in 2020. Will update if a more fresh example presents itself.

Apr 02, 2020
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Sabtos from Ohio

3.93/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy reddish-brown with a short khaki head settling to a fuzzy collar.

Smooth and syrupy but not too sticky, notes of honey that almost emulate maple preface a finely carbonated body with an ever present heat that brings up a touch of nutty nougat, as a little tobacco and even black tea emerge on the exhale.

Feb 18, 2020
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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, honey, apple butter, spice, citrus, and licorice.

Flavor is rich. Caramel, honey, molasses, honey, apple, walnut, pecan, bready malt, and fig.

Full, viscous body with stinging carbonation on the tongue. Boozy warmth going down.

Very flavorful and slow-drinking. Taste is very good. Second one of this series for me after the port version and this one feels a tad more balanced. Worth a try.

Jan 20, 2020
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Wolvmar from Michigan

3.91/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2015 vintage poured into a kitchen tumbler at Dave and Donna’s post Katherine wedding.

Pour: Golden red, small one finger head with a little lacing.

Nose: definite sherry aroma, some floral and fruit.

Taste: pretty big sherry sweet/tart upfront with plenty of malt in the background. Boozy, dried dark fruit, rich toasted malt. Slight bitterness on backend.

Mouthfeel: moderate carbonation. Fairly viscous, some oiliness.

Overall: I like this but the sherry punch upfront could be off putting. Definitely a sipper that would be best enjoyed by a fire or on a cold evening.

Aug 11, 2019
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MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

4.2/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

275ml bottle. Cap is stamped 'L6938 15:28'. Label has 'Brewed in 2017'.
Medium amber colored body, which lacks clarity. Not much of a foam head, just a partial bubble fed ring. Leaves behind an oily sheen.
Aroma is caramel, dark fruit, and sherry barrel.
Taste is caramel and toffee, apple first and then dark cherry. Sherry barrel from the middle onward. Aftertaste is creamy toffee.
Thicker mouth feel, with a syrupy texture. Some alcohol vapors and burn. Lower carbonation.
Enjoyable sipper barleywine. The sherry barrel adds a touch of additional sweetness that goes well with the malts.

Jul 23, 2019
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Beginner2 from Illinois

4.16/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I've now reviewed all 4 of their barrel-aged and if the Sherry is the best.... another is close behind it.
All are masterful... unique to my experience that one house has figured out its niche this well. Their results make it seem simple, but I cannot imagine what goes into an ale this precious.

This 4 year old Sherry Looks a pretty reddish-amber (but I'd like some foam, even given its age and style.) Smells are mostly malt, well-blended. Tastes make me moan for more. Yes, this is sweet; but there is always a touch of bitter to make right the sensation. The mouth is full, rich and luxuriously soft.

I know that there has to be an end to this bottle. But, I do not look forward to it.

I'm glad I went on Lees' website after all these years and bottles. I just learned that only 15% of their employees make ale and that the rest make pubs and hotels run. A sixth generation family business started by a successful cotton manufacturer who sold it all and decided to make people happy instead. Noble. Also skilled after all these years. These barleywines set the standard in my book.

11/26/20 Had again with pecan and pumpkin pie on a particularly grateful Thanksgiving. I've edited this review and am satisfied with it. Hence, I'm keeping count over at UnTappd.

Jul 07, 2019
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Jugs_McGhee from Colorado

2.4/5  rDev -42%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5

2010 vintage courtesy of Schlimenhaumer:

Leather, caramel, cooking wine.

Plasticky, caramel, sludgy lees, ugly brown malt, cardboard, vegemite.

Dry. Viscous. Off-putting. Unrefreshing.


Dec 24, 2018
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GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2010 vintage; drank 7/3/14 @ the Yarchives.

Orange/red murkiness; plenty of off-white flotsam floating around.

Off-white head; almost no head.

Maple syrup, caramel nose; slight cinnamon & raspberry notes as well. Bodes well!

Medium thick, sticky mouthfeel.

Burnt oak, brown sugar, apple cider, mild campfire & freshly fallen leaves...I'm lost in autumnal reverie.


Oct 03, 2018
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stratusjeans from Washington

3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I drank a 2003, so 15 years old. It was pretty flat but expected at that age. The flavor held up really well and the Sherry married very nicely in the beer.

Jul 07, 2018
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BenHoppy from Michigan

5/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 vintage @ cellar temp poured into snifter:

This amazingly caramelly reddish brown whiskey port wine looking barleywine smells of bourbon barrels, dark dried fruit, roasted malts, and caramelly vanilla toffee. The flavors is what makes this a real treat though with its raspberry maple cherry whiskey toffee that finishes with tobacco. But it's not usual tobacco no it's like smoking a cigar in the finish and a good cigar like a light to medium Monte cristo. In which case it would pair nicely with a cigar. Mouthfeel is creamy, thin barleywine slow sipper. Alcohol well hidden. Could go another year but afraid it would lose that cigar finish and that's the kicker to make this the real treat that it is.

Jan 04, 2018
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This one pours a slightly opaque dark red, with a small head, and no lacing.

This is sweet and decadent, with cherry and plum, toffee and nougat, sherry and wet oak.

This is my first JW Lee's variant, and it's decadent. It's a '13, with lots of dark fruit, super sweet caramel and toffee, sweet vinous sherry, and a thick simple sugar character. There's a little oak, and a slight bitterness on the finish.

This is thick and quite syrupy, but with a normal enough level of carbonation.

#BIL. Enough said, this is a classic.

Sep 09, 2017
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Lone_Freighter from Vermont

4/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 bottle. This was poured into a tulip. The appearance was a nice looking hazy burnt brown color with no head or lacing. Don’t let the appearance fool you, as the smell takes in the normal qualities of an English Barleywine. Tobacco, vanilla, caramel, toffee and cocoa blend to be a really nice sweet and dry aromatic quality. The flavor is sticky sweet carrying it into the finish. Less vanilla displays all around. On the palate, this one sat about a medium on the body with a fairly decent sipping quality about it. Carbonation runs extremely light but I’m guessing that’s due to the age of the beer, so no hit from me. Overall, as an aged barleywine, this is absolutely awesome and would love to have again.

Jun 24, 2017
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VoxRationis from New York

4.12/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted into a conical pint; brewed in 2012. Pours a cloudy copper color with clearing a edges, no significant head, but limited legs when swirled; identical in appearance to apple cider. Nose: initially apples, with bourbon and earthy notes as oxidized; palate: medium malts, with little hoppiness, a notable sherry flavor, and an earthy, vegetable overrtone. Fairly light-bodied for a barley-wine. I enjoyed it, but am not sure in which context it makes sense to serve.

Mar 30, 2017
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hman43 from North Carolina

4.44/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Look: It pours a cloudy medium brown with little head retention. There is a slight tan head. Smell: It has aromas of toasted and breaded malts along with a strong sherry smell. It also has a nut aroma mixed in as well. There are hints of floral and spice hops. There are also hints of plums.

Taste: There sherry flavor is clearly present in the initial flavor with a sweetness to it and some wood flavors with toast and bready malts. There are nuts in the background. The hops are barely noticeable with some low fruit.

Feel: It has a full body, but not quite chewy. There is very low carbonation with alcohol warmth that is pleasant.

Overall this is a delightful barleywine that has a complex mixture of flavors.

Feb 26, 2017
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Apellonious from North Carolina

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2013 version poured into a Wicked Weed tulip. A murky, dense brown, with absolutely no head and only a moment or two of a thin lace. Aroma sensory overload commences. Heavy sherry, plum , nuts, cherry. The taste is heavy on fruity nougat, molasses, with hints of vanilla. It seems to change a little bit on every sip before settling in as it gets to room temp. The heat is well masked/non existent. Full heft, very low carbonation, with a chewy mouthfeel. Overall, a delicious EB, especially if you don't mind a little extra sweetness.

Feb 23, 2017
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sokol_1993 from California

4.19/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

A bottle of 2010 vintage into a Duvel Tulip glass.

Smell: sweet molasses, herbal smells.
Taste: Somehow very herbal tasting, with a taste of Chinese herbal medicine (I'm a Vietnamese, I know). Dark fruits: Cherry, peach, raisin. Molasses. Some bitterness, licorice taste.
Feel: chewy, full body.

A beer of extreme complexity. Would recommend it to anyone, and would have it again.

Feb 02, 2017
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chinchill from South Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Cask pour at the 2017 ACAF.
Clear dark brown with a minimal bubbly head.
Fantastic aroma with toffee, bread and sherry. The flavor follows. Superb creamy smooth mouthfeel.
Perhaps a touch too sweet.

Jan 21, 2017
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The_Kriek_Freak from Pennsylvania

4.47/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in 2012. Pours a hazy maroon/brown with absolutely no head or carbonation. Smells amazing. Sweet with definite sherry notes and some honey. Lots and lots of plum and some cherry notes too. Tastes very sweet upfront, followed by some teasing bitterness. Very viscous and smooth. Absolutely delicious!

Jan 07, 2017
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Furlinator from California

4.39/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2013.
Pours translucent rust copper. A fizzy khaki head forms then quickly disappears completely and leaves no lace. The smell is of caramel and burnt sugar with dark fruit, pipe tobacco and vanilla accents. The taste follows with sweet and sticky caramel, toffee, raisins, cherries and faint vanilla. Full texture with low carbonation. Delicious.

Sep 03, 2016
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superspak from Ohio

4.1/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

275 ml bottle into tulip glass; 2012 vintage, bottled on 5/23/2013. Pours lightly hazy deep orange/copper color with a 1 finger fairly dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of big caramel, brown sugar, golden raisin, plum, fig, apricot, apple, white grape, toasted biscuit, and oak; with lighter notes of leather, tobacco, nuttiness, vanilla, herbal, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of bready malt, fruity yeast, sherry barrel, and light-moderate earthy hop notes; with great strength. Taste of big caramel, brown sugar, golden raisin, plum, fig, apricot, apple, white grape, toasted biscuit, and oak; with lighter notes of leather, tobacco, nuttiness, vanilla, herbal, light pepper, and yeast/toasted earthiness. Light herbal bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of caramel, brown sugar, golden raisin, plum, fig, apricot, apple, white grape, toasted biscuit, oak, leather, tobacco, and yeast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Damn nice complexity, robustness, and balance of bready malt, fruity yeast, sherry barrel, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; with a nice malt/bitterness balance, and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light carbonation and full bodied; with a very smooth, creamy/slick, and lightly syrupy/grainy/sticky balanced mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden minimal warmth lingering after the finish. Overall this is an excellent English barleywine. All around great complexity, robustness, and balance of bready malt, fruity yeast, sherry barrel, and light-moderate earthy hop flavors; very smooth and easy to sip on for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

Sep 01, 2016
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Immortale25 from North Carolina

4.62/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a teku pint. Label says Brewed in 2013.

A- Pours a dark amber color with a 1/8 tan head that soon becomes a paper-thin ring around the edge of the glass and a small wisp of sheer surface foam. Minimal lacing with sticky alcohol legs.

S- Lots of dark fruit emanates from the glass along with a noticeable booze fume. Notes of vanilla, coconut and raisin all blanketed by a biscuity malt overtone.

T- Raisin. Pure, sweet, delectable raisin. Also some brown sugar and maple but mainly just raisin oozing forth and I love it. There's some mild oxidation which actually complements the big sweetness and the alcohol is barely noticeable.

M- Slick and syrupy with medium-low carbonation and a body leaning toward the fuller side.

O- A slow sipper just because of how rich the flavor is, but the flavor is so nice. I wouldn't sit on this vintage very much longer though since the oxidation is slowly but surely creeping in. Still, quite divine.

Jul 20, 2016
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 390 ratings