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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J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom
Barleywine - English
Ranked #99
Ranked #7,059
4.08 | pDev: 13.97%
Apr 09, 2022
May 07, 2004
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)
Notes: None
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Photo of trevormajor
4.31/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by trevormajor from Ohio

2016 vintage:
8.4 oz can poured into a snifter at 55 degrees F:
L - a murky copper with a tan head that quickly disappeared
S - a bit of funk
T - sweetness of sherry, notes of toffee, butterscotch, caramel, a bit of leather, the , slightest bit of funk
F - thick mouthfeel and no carbonation
O - very nice and interesting, 5.5 years in, it still has strong barley wine and sherry characteristics. Next tasting of this vintage in about a year

Apr 09, 2022
4.21 by Ox8840bo from Illinois on Mar 20, 2022
Photo of MNAle
4.34/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5
by MNAle from Minnesota

2016 canning 8.4 oz. can. Strong aroma of ripe fruit, apple, woody tannins, toffee, leather.

Murky orange-red body. Active carbonation visible with a backlight. Short off-white head that recedes fairly quickly to a thin ring with scattered slight bubble islands.

Flavor has a wine-like (sherry) character, relatively complex with tannin sharpness. Ripe stone fruit, tart apple, wood, leather. There is a lot going on with the flavors so I'm sure I'm missing describing some. The dominant flavors are ripe tending toward over-ripe stone fruit, tart apple, and woody tannins.

The mouth feel is also wine-like, if slightly thicker and more substantial. Sharp tannins.

Overall, an excellent sipping beer.

Feb 28, 2022
Photo of snaotheus
4.05/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by snaotheus from Washington

8.4oz can served in a small plastic hotel cup. Brewed in 2016.

Pours a murky amber with a small head, despite the fizzy hiss emitted when the can was popped. Smell is fruity, sherry is coming through strongly, cherries and maybe stonefruit.

Taste is oaky and sherry, very prominent. Cherry flavor is there, very noticeably boozy.

Mouthfeel is thick, heavy, chewy. Overall, very good.

Feb 26, 2022
Photo of Lucular
2.68/5  rDev -34.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.25
by Lucular from Maryland

2016 vintage from a can. Pours a muddy reddish orange with a large head. Aroma features date, fig, funky leather, highly oxidized caramel malt, tannins, and a vestige of earthy hops. Flavor is similar but oddly sour, somewhat astringent, and off-putting. Not much of the sweet sherry I was anticipating; it seems to have turned to vinegar. Honestly it was not pleasant to finish my half of the mini-can. One of the most disappointing beers I've had in a long time, and I have 3 more cans to go of this not-cheap beer (I paid just over $30 for the 4-pack including shipping).

Feb 14, 2022
Photo of Rug
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Rug from Massachusetts

2016 vintage

I’m drinking this one side by side with the port cask version. I picked both up at OEC a few weeks ago, along with the base beer and a whiskey cask one I had just the other day. So far the original (2020 vintage) is my favorite, but I’m interested to see how 2 different wine casks will influence the beer. Let’s pop them open and find out

Pours a cloudy burnt orange with 2 fingers of fluffy off white head that slowly fades to a thin cap and leaves decent lacing. Much better looking than the port

It's also much more spirit driven in the nose than the port version. I'm picking up on aromas of sweet sherry, orange marmalade, white grape, sweet toffee, biscuity malt, toasted oak, golden raisin, and light caramel

Taste-wise they're totally different, and this one actually falls a bit short of the port, though it's good for what it is. On the front end of the sip I'm tasting chewy toffee, orange marmalade, sherry, brown sugar, and apple skin. The swallow brings notes of super sweet sherry (almost to an oxidized point), golden raisin, toasted oak, brown sugar, apple skin, caramel, and biscuity malt

A medium full body pairs with gentle carbonation, resulting in a very rich beer. Finishes slightly sticky and quite sweet

This was one hell of a comparison. This one was more even while the quality of the port one fluctuated. However, the taste on the port version was borderline mind blowing, while this one was sweet and contemplative. Both great beers, but the port takes the cake

Jan 09, 2022
4.04 by SFHbeerME from Maine on Oct 30, 2021
3.96 by Beerbom from California on Sep 09, 2021
4.25 by atlbravsrno1 from New Hampshire on Sep 05, 2021
Photo of beergoot
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by beergoot from Colorado

Hazy, brownish-red body; nice head, soft and creamy. Light maltiness with a dominating sherry overtone. Nice caramel malt base; toffee; fairly big sherry notes; very little hop bitterness noted. Heavy body; slick; dense residual sugar presence.

At five years plus of age, I'm sure the beer has lost some of its original character, yet the sherry aspect still rings strong and true, and the barleywine malt dominance is quite apparent.

Poured at 56 F; 2016 brewing year.

Sep 03, 2021
4.34 by mike22ne from Massachusetts on Jun 20, 2021
4.13 by GregSemenza from Connecticut on Apr 17, 2021
Photo of DefenCorps
4.35/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
by DefenCorps from Oregon

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
Photo of Bouleboubier
4.37/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
by Bouleboubier from New Jersey

(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
4.29 by BeardedWalrus from North Carolina on Aug 15, 2020
Photo of StoutElk_92
4.71/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
by StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

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
Photo of LiquidAmber
4.24/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by LiquidAmber from Washington

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
4.5 by TylerJ from Iowa on Apr 18, 2020
Photo of Harrison8
4.06/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Harrison8 from Missouri

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
Photo of Sabtos
3.93/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
by Sabtos from Ohio

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
Photo of Cylinsier
4.18/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Cylinsier from Pennsylvania

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
4.25 by eawolff99 from Minnesota on Jan 02, 2020
4.45 by tobelerone from New Jersey on Jan 01, 2020
4.31 by Gemini6 from Michigan on Oct 07, 2019
Photo of Wolvmar
3.91/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75
by Wolvmar from Michigan

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
3.58 by craigdb from Pennsylvania on Jul 26, 2019
Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
4.2/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
by MonDak_Joe1953 from Minnesota

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
Photo of Beginner2
4.16/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
by Beginner2 from Illinois

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
3.75 by jschott75 from Illinois on May 11, 2019
4.36 by stephenlee from England on Mar 21, 2019
Photo of Jugs_McGhee
2.4/5  rDev -41.2%
look: 2.25 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.5
by Jugs_McGhee from Texas

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
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.75/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75
by GuyFawkes from Illinois

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
4 by mattmarka1 from Minnesota on Oct 01, 2018
4.25 by bigred89 from Maryland on Sep 12, 2018
Photo of stratusjeans
3.99/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4
by stratusjeans from Washington

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
4.03 by shelby415 from Oregon on Jun 23, 2018
4.24 by dannycohen62 from Illinois on Apr 25, 2018
3.96 by _nickg_ from New Jersey on Feb 28, 2018
4.45 by Tigerbrau from Louisiana on Feb 19, 2018
4.17 by ppavlick from New Jersey on Feb 03, 2018
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 91 out of 100 with 400 ratings