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

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask)J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry 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: 193 | Ratings: 341
Photo of Sammy
2.74/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Disapointing version of something I normally like. Big full mouthfeel, but sourish aroma and only average taste. I cellared with for about 20 months and it has a long shelflife. A bit of sherry, but not too complex. Sorry, not finishable. I guess I am not a sherry fan.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to barfdiggs for sharing this one at NoSignsOfPain's birthday bottleshare hosted by mrbubbler.

2009 vintage.

Pours a murky honey orange with a foamy orange-tan head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, honey, brown sugar, wood, and sherry/alcohol. Taste is much the same with a nice sherry and woody aftertaste. There is a medium amount of bitterness on the palate after each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp and medium bodied mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that features a nice barrel aged treatment.

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Photo of t0rin0
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Found this quite by accident after leaving stones winter storm on sunday. I stopped by the Holiday Wine Cellar as I always do after leaving stone. Found a 2004 bottle of this sitting on the shelf next to Abyss and the new Bigfoot.

This beer was too much like a really sweet wine to enjoy as much as I would have if there were still some hops to it. That being said I still really enjoyed this beer.

It poured a nice ruby red color and produced little to no foam and was fairly flat. But the color was pretty cool.

The aroma was of sweet redwine as well as some cherry. There was a number of smells underneath that were hidden by the cherry and the aged malt smells. The flavor was real sweet with no hop bitterness or flavor left. Thats the only downside. Everything else, the sweetness, the wine, and the various fruits present made this a really good beer to sip on. Due to the intense sweetness I am not sure that I could enjoy much more than a glass at a time.

The body was a little on the thin side but it had an oily texture. Very drinkable beer in reasonable amounts. Don't see this beer aging much more than it already has though.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.22/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

thanks to claystation for sharing this 2010 edition on our road trip. i have been drinking a ton of old beer lately, like three or four or more years old, cleaning out my and some friends' cellars. lots of beer we had high hopes for has not held up all that well, but this beer, and this series more generally, continues to be one of the best beers to age in existence. this is really amazing stuff, maybe my favorite barrel treatment of the beer yet. its hazy and just red, woody cloudy, pulpy looking almost, would be ugly in any other style. holds a decent head too for its age and strength. smells great, the wood and the sherry are both prominent up front, but so is the yeast, which now seems tired and mature in a good way, and the english sweet grain that makes this beer what it is. the flavor is a lot like the nose, sherry blended in better than it does in the smell, less foody, more beery. woody though to the max, wet oak, great mellowing effect on the toffee and brown sugar notes of the base beer. it surprises me every time too how hoppy this beer is, grassy and straw-like in flavor, dried and mild, but dosed pretty hard, and always more bitterness as it finishes than it seems like it should have until that point. the sweet sherry loves this aspect, and the union is brilliant. constantly improving as it warms, this is special beer without a doubt. one of my favorites from a weekend full of excellent brews.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.2/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got a pretty nice sample of this one not too long ago at the Bethlehem Speakeasy. They had just gotten a shipment in and the bartenders were trying it and offered some to me and another gentlemen who was sitting at the bar at the time. The beer was poured into a sampling snifter. The beer looked like I remembered it when I had it a few years ago. The smell was very sweet and quite inviting. The taste is also sweet with plenty of flavorful malts and some sherry hints in there. The mouthfeel of this brew is just like the others. Minimal carbonation but had a great thick feel to it. Overall this one's my favorite out of all four. I don't really know what it is but I really enjoy this one.

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Photo of metter98
4.07/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is very hazy amber orange in color and has some large particles of yeast visible that are floating in suspension. It poured with a quarter finger high dense beige head that gradually died down, leaving a thin film on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: There are sweet aromas of caramel, grapes and toffee in the nose; these become stronger as the beer warms up.
T: Like the smell, the taste is sweet and has an interesting mix of butterscotch, caramel,
sherry and toffee flavors.
M: It feels a bit shy of full-bodied on the palate and has a low to moderate amount of carbonation with some warming from the alcohol.
O: This is a very nice dessert beer to sip. Although it tastes a bit strong, any flavors of alcohol are surprisingly well masked from the taste considering its strength. I thought it could use a slightly stronger body and a bit more carbonation.

Note: 2010 vintage

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.45/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Like all other J.W. Lee's Harevest Ales, this one is also a joy and privilage to drink. On a lazy Saturday night, reading some homebrew books and sipping on this English Barleywine -- It's a good night. The beer begins with the expected malty-sweet aroma with slight hints of hops, ripe (or over-rippened) fruits, and a light peppery / alcohol note in the nose. Aromas are quite similar to 1-year standard Harvest Ales. The flavors follow up on the heavy sweetness, but a tawny port wine-like woodyness, booziness, and mustiness soon follows. None of these sherry notes dominate the beer, but add just a hint of added variety. The hops are still young and over-bearing and will need some time to simmer, but the beer is still sublime. The feel is a weighted sweetness that, at times show syrupy textures, and at others a rich maltiness. The hops add a distracting bitterness, metalic, and bitey feel that will fall out over the next year or so. Overall, the beer is terrific but is still quite young and has some maturing to do.

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Photo of brentk56
4.54/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brewed in 2004; tasted in 2010

Appearance: Pours a caramel color with a thin film of a head that neither lasts nor laces, but who would have expected that from a six year old barleywine?

Smell: Dark fruit (raisins and prune) but so much more, as it reeks of an Oloroso sherry, with fortified grape and oak character

Taste: From the start, the rich caramel English barleywine flavors merge with the Oloroso sherry and blend perfectly throughout, with the grape and sugar sweetness never becoming cloying though maintaining a rich complexity

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with low to moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Just a superb English barleywine with incredible complexity

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.34/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a deep cloudy amber color ale with a small foamy head with minimal retention and not much lacing. Aroma consists of sweet malt with some distinctive sherry notes. Taste is a mix between some sherry and sweet English barley. Body is full with some average carbonation and no discernable alcohol which is always welcome for those barrel-aged beers. Well balance overall with not too much Sherry and the base beer is not too sweet - well done.

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Photo of superspak
4.1/5  rDev +1.2%
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.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.7/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This specially casked Harvest ale pours a deep auburn body with amber and gold highlights beneath an average sized head of creamy off-white froth. The head retention is limited, but at 11.5% that's to be expected - and it still keeps a decent collar which is unusual for such a high alcohol beer! The nose is loaded with sweet, delicately caramelized malt and notes of sticky-sweet dried dark fruit as well as some leafy and almost herbal hops. There's no particular evidence of either sherry or wood, but it is somehow lighter or less malty than the regular version. In the mouth it's full bodied almost to the point of being syrupy; smooth; and quite creamy. It's rich maltiness dominates the flavor with a sticky, honey-like character that's balanced by herbal, leafy and grassy hops. The sherry comes through midway across the palate with a spritz of fruit-juice and alcohol. The bitterness is low-key, but has enough ballast enough to balance it. The sherry comes through again in the finish, lending it just a little more complexity than the original; but of the four specially "casked" versions, this is one of the less interesting (with port being the other - the clavados and Lagavulin were actually interesting).

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
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?

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.72/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2005 Vintage

Ok, so I have never really had much luck at all with the JW Lee's but I figure maybe this three-year-old sherry cask version might bring me some better luck. The pour, again was rather unremarkable. A nice reddish amber tinted liquid lay before me. Somewhat cloudy, it was a little bit darker then I was expecting. A small, thin white foam head formed on the top, and was quick to fall away, leaving behind a rather flat looking light orange liquid. No carbonation to speak of, no side glass lace. I am not so sure about this one, but I will press on.

The aroma was light and full of alcohol, well at first at least. Nothing terribly overpowering, but that was the dominant aroma here for sure. Some nice light earthy and oak like aromas coming off of it too, as well as that sweet sherry like smell. The flavor followed closely along the same lines. The first thing to hit was a candy sweetened alcohol taste that was out in front of a very nice light cereal like flavor. Some nice light fresh grass like flavors way in the back and a good hint of woody flavors as well. Overall not bad, but not nearly as complex as I would have hoped for. As it warmed, it mellow drastically. With the alcohol, flavors all but disappearing and a grainy, malt like flavor starting to really push through. The finish was rather weak, with no long lingering flavor around to really set it off.

Overall, I felt this was average or a bit above for me. I don't know what it is, but I am just not overwhelmed by the JW Lee's selections. Personal preference I guess, but this one just falls back with the others for me at least. Not bad if its your thing I guess.

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Photo of russpowell
4.06/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours amber to orange with a minmal white head. Some lacing & no head retention

SmeLL; Huge oaky & sherry notes

Taste: Super sweet up front, followed by raisin, vanilla, treacle/honey and tangerine notes. Very complex, but a little too sweet for my tastes

MF: Syruppy, oily, undercarbonated, & slightly out of balance. A little more hops or gas needed.

Okay drinkabilty for the strength, but a few more years of aging are in order IMHO

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Photo of TMoney2591
3.9/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Photo of mdfb79
3.18/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2008 vintage, 9.3 oz. bottle poured into a taster glass. Tried side by side with a 2008 Calvados version.

a - Pours a dark reddish amber color with a few bubbles of off white head and light carbonation evident. Darker then the Calvados, and with less carbonation and head.

s - Smells of sherry, oak, clay, light fruity malts, dark fruits, sugar, and molasses. Not bad, but the clay smell is a littl weird. I think I like the Calvados smell a little better as it is a little sweeter and doesn't have that clay smell to it.

t - Tastes of sherry, sweet dark fruits, fruity malts, molasses, sugar, clay, light smoke, and toasted malts. Again decent, but I think I like Calvados better again.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Thick and some alcohol to it.

o - Overall a decent beer but my least favorite of the variants so far. I like the normal Harvest Ale, and love English barleywine's in general, but for some reason can't get into the variants at all; I really don't think they add anything good to the base beer. This one had some weird clay-like smells and tastes to it. I'd personally rank them the normal Harvest Ale, Calvados, Port, and then Sherry. Wouldn't seek it out again.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
3.88/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clouded orange/copper hue. The flavor profile on this was nice and sweet with a touch of spice, but there was just no complexity to things here really. It's just a straight-forward sweet tone that delivers no real character. Feel is smooth. It certainly is drinkable, but I remember the port cask version being a much more interesting beer than this. Nice to drink, but lacking some finesse.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.16/5  rDev -22%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

275 mL bottle poured into a Hunahpu snifter. 2009 vintage.

Appearance - Just a hint of a head that got me so excited that I forgot that the chunks would soon start to flow. Sadly, a giant lump of something gross fell into my glass. It burst into smaller chunks and suspended itself into the murky amber liquid. Like a water sample from Lake Erie. Yum.

Smell - Huge sherry aroma. Like an oxidized barleywine, but without some of that cardboard. Harsh alcohol in the back of the aroma. Lots of raisins and sugars.

Taste - Intense sherry flavor up front that fades to raisins and brown sugar. Then the back end kicks in. Bitter cardboard. Rather unpleasant.

Mouthfeel - Syrupy as every other Harvest Ale. The sherry does nothing to cut the sweetness. Definitely a rough finish with the bitterness and the cardboard. Almost a burnt oak flavor.

Overall - Big beer. A sipper. A sugary sipper. It's complex, though. It's one of those beers you can ponder for a while. Maybe the result of the pondering isn't the best, but the activity of drinking it is nice.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.49/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from 2010 shared tonight at the cookout.
Slightly hazy deep brown color with a minimal bubbly off white head. Aromas of caramel and brown sugar with bits of fruity esters and a touch of earthy and sherry. The flavor is rich and sweet with caramel maltiness offset with some fruity vinous notes. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation. Decent beer, my first time having the sherry version. I think its either inferior to the regular harvest ale or in a weird aging stage that leaves a bit to be desired before its a stellar brew again. I'm hoping for the later and an opportunity to try this again with some more age.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.61/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass. Vintage 2010.

Deep red and orange body, slight bright copper with some brassy haze color. Head is big bubbled but very fleeting and manages a big bubbled collar that does stay. Airy and fine whispy top on the puck like a fine cloud streaking across the sky. Neat looking brew.

Big fruit notes galore. Huge notes of thick dried apricot, marmalade and dried orange peel. Spiced nutmeg and hints of milky caramel cut in with some real good quality. Slight hints of fruited brandy quality and a touch of alcohol heat but not too much. Real impressive.

The palate is fruit huge, without being overbearing, and diverse. Sugared marmalade, and large apricot chewy flavors. A wooden splintered oak and almost cloved spiced and balsam woody character really comes out in the mid palate. Finishes light and clean, mildly sticky fruit like toffee. Large hints of chewy citrus brown sugared rind fruit all over, as if picked from a tree. Not a touch of heat or alcohol on this at all.

Stunning stuff, the sherry has worked incredible natural fruit tones out of this brew. Fantastic.

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Photo of Billolick
4.29/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the funky old wooden cask, dark and muddy, no head nor lace, seems to have very minimal carbonation. Nose is funky, musty, fruity, wine like. Notes here of figs and raisins, bold and deep, flavorful and complex. World class after dinner or desert sipper. Wine sherry notes present here but team players. Whenever you see a wooden cask on the bar or fest table, get on line and get you sample or two.

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Photo of GClarkage
4.55/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

03/21/09- Purchased at Holiday Wine and Spirits in Escondido, CA.

Presentation- Vintage 2004 11.2oz bottle pourd into my JW Lees glass.

Appearance- Dark brown burnt caramel colored pour. Good 1/4 inch head on a medium pour. Light rim remains for most of the beer with some light lace sheeting left behind.

Smell- Lots of caramel, some dark fruit, some tropical fruits, sugar and some alcohol.

Taste- Full flavored caramel explosion. Lots of mild dark fruit including raisins and dates, also some warm tropical flavors...maybe some apples as well. Alcohol burn is there, but melds in well with the rest of the flavors. Good sherry notes and even some hops!

Mouthfeel- Super smooth and creamy. Thick and viscous with a low carbonation level. Cask-like, Sweet lasting caramel flavor in the aftertaste.

Drinkability- A bit too sweet, this could have been a 6 or 8oz beer and satisfied me just as much. Huge flavors, a dessert in it's own.

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Photo of aasher
4.5/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage

Appearance: poured a ruby/dark raspberry color, slight foam that laced the glass, a good amount of sediment

Smell: a mixture of candied fruits and cognac, raisins/plum, decent alcohol aroma

Taste: sweet and liquor like, very complex, woody, raisin/plum/vanilla in flavor

Mouthfeel: full bodied and very smooth, little carbonation

Drinkability: is very sweet yet has excellent flavor and continues to give off flavor in the after taste, was very drinkable and had good alcohol content

Delicious beer yet too expensive. Good for a special occasion.

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Photo of Wasatch
4.47/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz. Bottle
2007 Vintage

Poured into a chalice a cloudy light brown/pink color, nice carbonation, nice little fizzy off-white head, minimal sticky lacing left behind. The nose is very nice, malty, with some sheery/oak notes, slight bourbon, and caramel. The taste is awesome, malty, sweet, very nice woodsy/sherry/oak/bourbon notes, with some nice caramel thrown in. Medium body, the ABV is hidden very well with this brew. Very drinkable, what an awesome brew, highly recommended.

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Photo of Gueuzedude
4.32/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled February 2005
Pours with a frothy light tan head that is fairly thick, and held up by a persistently beading carbonation. The beer itself is brilliantly clear rich copper color. The aroma is a heady mix of concentrated malt, alcohol, and surprisingly, it smells of sherry. I also pick up some notes of soft vanilla. The taste is quite viscous and has a strong malty sweetness to it. The sweetness is accentuated by notes of nutty sherry, and a rich fig-like fruitiness. This beer finishes with a lingering hop bitterness that is not overwhelming but provides a nice counterpoint to the sweetness found up front.

The mix of nuttiness from the Sherry and vanilla notes is really quite nice. This beer is a nice dessert beer, and even reminds me of a liquor with its alcohol notes in the finish. This beer has some serious malt notes as well, it tastes of toasted malt, caramel, and toffee. This beer, as one would expect is rich and filling, it is quite thick and almost coats my mouth. I really like the extra dimension that the sherry adds to this beer.

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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.05 out of 5 based on 341 ratings.
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