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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Style:
Barleywine - English
Ranked #51
ABV:
11.5%
Score:
92
Ranked #3,297
Avg:
4.14 | pDev: 13.77%
Reviews:
216
Ratings:
393
From:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
 
England, United Kingdom
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  40
Gots
  66
SCORE
92
Outstanding
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)
Notes:
View: Beers
Reviews: 216 | Ratings: 393 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by superspak:
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superspak from North Carolina

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
More User Reviews:
Photo of Rutager
Rutager from Canada (BC)

4.56/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

'05 bottle from the pimp daddy bruh that is steasy66. Thanks man! Into the prairie 2nd anniversary stem.

Appearance. Pours a lovely clear burnt orange with some slight rooby tonez. There was a faint skim of a bubbly head right after the pour but it immediately disappeared.

Smell. Nice smooth dry sherry, brown sugar, very light notes of cardboard-like oxidation, dry old wood. Very nice. I just keep going back for more.

Taste. Honey and light smooth sherry, brown sugar, soft barrel notes. Unbelievably smooth and integrated. Light oxidation notes that just add to the flavour. Simple and easy on the palate but many subtle complexities.

Mouthfeel. Pretty full body, a bit syrupy and lightly sticky on the lips. Very low carbonation, just a trace but enough. Everything works well with the flavours.

Overall. Insanely good as I was told it would be. As the bruh that gave it to me will point out, I'm very open to suggestion when it come to beer, but this really is great tasting stuff.

Dec 07, 2014
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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
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BuckeyeNation from Iowa

4.38/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 vintage. Brassy orange with sunny Sunkist trim. The upper half of the snifter is filled with a lovely looking chunk of manila colored creaminess that is depositing thin sheets of delicate lace as it slowly deflates. This is a wonderful looking English barleywine if you have a crystal snifter and bright sunlight handy.

The aroma is apricot fruity with a little ripe banana thrown in for good measure. On the positive side, very little alcohol is noted. At more than five years of age, that isn't really surprising. On the negative side, sherry is hard to appreciate.

Thankfully, the cask-aging makes an appearance where it matters most... on the palate. I don't love sherry, but it is an integral part (and a delicious part) of The Macallan, one of my three favorite Scotch whiskies. For whatever reason, this offering is tastier than the standard Harvest Ale. Of course, it's nearly impossible to compare two beers that were reviewed so far apart.

The sherry influence probably has a lot to do with what makes this big brew so complex. Sugar syrup sweetened orchard fruit (apricots, peaches, pears) contrasts exceptionally well with the white grape vibe from the wine. There's also a considerable amount of oak present, although the beer doesn't taste the least bit woody.

Given how much aging has already occured, it isn't surprising how beautifully melded the various flavors are. This bottle has another five years on it with no trouble at all. What a glorious, supremely sippable concoction this is.

The mouthfeel is heavenly as well. What could have easily been overly full, sappy and sticky is leavened by a perfect amount of carbonation. A crushed velvet plushness pampers the mouth with each and every sip.

J. W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale was reviewed first because I wanted to have a baseline with which to appreciate the cask-aged versions. These special release Harvest Ales will be reviewed in reverse order of my preference for the wine or liquor: Sherry Cask, Port Cask, Calvados Cask, and Lagavulin Whisky Cask. Is it possible that the other are this amazing?

Jul 31, 2008
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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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Kuaff from Alaska

4.54/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Cellar temperature in my snifter.

What amounts to no more than a thin, fleeting sheet of fizz soon vanishes almost completely over a rich amber-orange barleywine. Its appearance probably has more in common with wine than the typical ale.

It smells delightful. Like maple, brown sugar, brandy, cherry liqueur, caramel, apples, and a hint of orange zest. And the aroma has a little pleasantly musty earthiness to it, like something that's been buried underground for a long time. I don't mean that to sound bad, haha.

Much more of the maple comes through in the flavor, with booze-soaked rasinins, red apples, leathery vanilla (yes the vanilla is leathery), and a finish of caramel-coated, toasted pecans and more earth. It tastes... cozy. If cozy has a taste, it is this.

I really like the body. The carbonation is totally lax, the feel is thick but slick, and everything is just incredibly smooth for a barleywine of such strength.

This is what you sip in the middle of winter nestled in a huge, cozy chair in front of the hearth... or spazzing out to your favorite metal band at bone-rattling volume. It will serve both purposes equally well.

Mar 18, 2015
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KForlino from Washington

4.4/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

'08 vintage

A- Deep apricot / vermillion. Absolutely no head whatsoever, as expected for brew with this abv and aged 5 years. Poured this one about as slow as possible but still wound up with a couple little floaters.

S- Oak and sherry. Very woody, sweet, caramel, alcohol.

T- Oh boy. Just like the nose, but, even sweeter than I expected. Caramel, molasses, brandy. Just wonderful. Heat isn't very strong. Leaves a bit of the barrel taste behind.

M- Heavy, sticky, not much carb to speak of.

O- Excellent barleywine, At 11.5 %, I'm glad I had this 5 year old one instead of fresh. Only aged barley wine I've had and liked more was an '04 Stone Old Guardian tapped at the brewery new years eve 2010.

Jun 06, 2013
Photo of seand
seand from California

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

2005 vintage.

A: Pours a clear amber with red highlights, slightly deeper in color than the regular '08 harvest ale. Hardly any head, and what does show up dissipates fairly quickly.

S: Rich honey, and raisins, with a slightly vinous backdrop.

T: Extremely well balanced rich sweetness. Strong honey, along with molasses and dried fruit. No bitterness.

M: Fully body, very little carbonation.

Fantastic; possibly the best I've tried in the style, though I've yet to try any of the other barrel aged versions of this beer.

Jan 23, 2012
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brokenleadedcask from Ohio

4.67/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Found a 2004 vintage at a store I don't go to very often. Poured into snifter. Reviewed from notes

Surprising that this one still poured with a 1 inch head that lasted the whole time. Under the head, a deep amber brown body. Complex aromas include vanilla, leather, dark grapes and unlit tobacco. Not sure if I could pick it out in a blind tasting but I pick up some sherry in the taste. More dark fruits and some molasses are present but not overboard. Since it's been aged about 5 years, I can't tell it's almost 12 percent. No ABV is noticeable is the mouth, not even a tingle. Thick and creamy coating on the tongue. This beer is an explosion of complex flavors, every sip is a taste bud orgasm.

Jul 15, 2009
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kinmundy77 from Illinois

4.96/5  rDev +19.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Mar 24, 2016
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DucksFan16 from Alaska

3.31/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

2010 vintage, enjoyed on 05/19/2017.

May 20, 2017
Photo of flagmantho
flagmantho from Washington

4.35/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 275mL bottle into a pint glass. This is the 2008 vintage.

Appearance: medium brown with a thick haze and light effervescence. Head is virtually nonexistent. Nice color; appropriate for the style.

Smell: outstanding. Raisin, tobacco, toffee, vanilla, cherry, dates, brown sugar ... complex, sweet and extremely enticing.

Taste: sweet, musty, dank and delicious. Plums, toffee, caramel, wood, and a delicious dusty-basement kind of character that I find irresistible. Wonderful.

Mouthfeel: plenty of body, next to no carbonation. I guess this is normal for the style; not much to recommend this otherwise.

Overall: tasty and extremely drinkable. Bam!

Jan 09, 2014
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PicoPapa from Connecticut

3.22/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2005 Vintage. 9.3oz bottle. Pours a rusty brown color with tons of sediment floating around. Thin layer of head that dissipates rapidly. Kind of smells like a boozey caramel apple. Strong alcohol aroma. Flavors of caramel, sherry, alcohol, apple, and slightly bready. Pretty boozey tasting. Even with this beer being less than 12oz the booziness make this a sipper for certain. Overall it is an alright brew but the price helps make this time probably the only time I will drink it.

Mar 07, 2011
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fx20736 from New York

2.71/5  rDev -34.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

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

Bronze Orange, small head, signs of decent carbonation. Beer was strained prior to serving which may have reduced head somewhat.

Aroma: I smell mellow alcohol which must be the sherry cask.

mouthfeel: soft and syrupy

taste: cloyingly sweet with a warming alcohol vibe. Like a plum flavored syrup.

Notes: Darker, sweeter with less sediment than the Port version of cask aged JWL Harvest. This is simply too sweet to enjoy.

Jan 01, 2012
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sweemzander from Illinois

3.99/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

9.3oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2007 Vintage.

(A)- Pours a cloudy caramel color. Produced some white to transparent bottles.

(S)- Lots of sweetness. Fig, toffee, subtle cherry, caramel, and oak.

(T)- Similar to the smell. Lots of toffee, fig, cherry, caramel, and oak. Some subtle funk in the barrel character, though very subtle.

(M)- Not completely flat, but just enough to hold this up well enough. Sweet and rich, though very smooth and an expertly integrated 11.5%ABV leve; zero burn on this.

(D)- Another interesting take on the JW Lee's Harvest. Perhaps a tad richer than usual, though very smooth and drinkable for the style.

Nov 26, 2011
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beergoot from Colorado

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

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
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MbpBugeye from Ohio

4.32/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 edition, brewed in 2007

A- Ruby red, bordering on pink. THe head never really is there. But that is expected from a beer of this age and ABV. Despite trying to decant I still got lots of floaty chunks. Other than that the beer is fairly clear. Resembles a blush wine.

S- Very good smelling. Sweet berries, red grapes and red wine. This is very complex. Oak and vanilla, lots of alcohol hints of wood, earth, bark, etc.

T- Sweet and wine like. The sherry really imparted lots of berries and red grape. There is some vanilla, spicy alcohol. The harvest ale itself is notable in this one but much less that in the other two versions I have had recently (whiskey cask and port cask).

M- This has been in the casks for a while and it shows. Brewed in 07, the carbonation is very very low. Nearly nonexistent. Medium body.

D- Strong. A good sipper. I like this one much more than the whiskey and port cask versions.

Mar 16, 2010
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Auztan from Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +14.7%

Nov 06, 2012
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woosterbill from Kentucky

4.52/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from '03 into a medium-sized Duvel tulip. Big thanks to Matt for sharing this one.

A: Clear orange body with a few stray tan bubbles on top. A swirl brings more to view, showing that the beer still has real life. Impressive.

S: Yup. Sherry. Rich, candied, slightly oxidized sherry. It's impossible to tell where the barrel ends and the age begins. Some strong, pure brown sugar sweetness backs up all the nutty, fruity sherry goodness. Wow.

T: Creamy, rich, sweet, and simple: sugar, sherry, toffee, vanilla, and more sherry. So, so good. No booze at all. Again, wow.

M: Full, sticky, creamy, and amazingly lively. I honestly couldn't imagine a better-feeling Barleywine.

O: Incredible beer. I feel like we really hit the nail on the head with this one's age, as the fresher bottle of the Port version I tried was (while equally delicious) significantly boozier. The '03 Sherry could not have been smoother. If I happen to run into any from this year, I'll buy them without hesitation. You should, too.

Cheers!

Feb 14, 2012
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wrightst from Maryland

3/5  rDev -27.5%

Aug 12, 2014
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TMoney2591 from Illinois

3.9/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

2012 edition. The third stop on our trip through the Lees Harvest horizontal, following the standard and Lagavulin editions. This one pours a hazy amber topped by a finger of bone foam. The nose comprises rich caramel, sweet Riesling, mild wood, and honey. The taste brings in more of the same, the wood coming through as a slight vein of balsa forming the floor of the proceedings. The body is a hefty medium, with a rather light moderate carbonation and a full feel. Overall, I didn't get quite as much sherry as preferred, but this is still some solid stuff.

Apr 25, 2015
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drummermattie02 from Texas

3.5/5  rDev -15.5%

Jan 09, 2012
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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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abuliarose from New Hampshire

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

2008 vintage, poured into a snifter. Body is a clear rich gold with a slight foam at the surface and some bubbly spritz. Very pretty. Smells sweet and warm with an excellent caramel malt presence and a little apple. Luscious velvety sherry on the nose. Very nice smells.

Tastes sweet and lighter with a distinct fruitiness. Very smooth signature J.W. Lees malt backbone as usual highlighted by the ever so slightest of bitterness flavors heavily laced with raw honey. Mouthfeel is light-bodied and thin, tiny tickling of carbonation but alcohol is not noticeable except for a lingering warmth after some sips. Extraordinarily drinkable for a barleywine.

Overall I like it quite a bit. Not my favorite of the Lees cask flavors, but not my least favorite for sure.

Jan 04, 2011
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xnicknj from Pennsylvania

4.25/5  rDev +2.7%

Dec 16, 2013
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 393 ratings