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

355 Ratings
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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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Ratings: 355 |  Reviews: 200
Photo of jrpapajcik
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Alx99
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of metter98
4.07/5  rDev +0.2%
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 wd40
3.93/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage.

Pours a nice hazy orange/reddish colour. I love the aspects of the Harvest Ale base that are present in the smell and taste. There was a really nice amount of carbonation that balances out the sweetness of the base nicely. The sherry cask's contribution to the taste is actually pretty well integrated and pleasant, but I don't love the contribution to the nose. It's just a little overwhelming for me. Everything else about the beer is really enjoyable and I look forward to trying the other versions of this beer.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4.09/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a snifter; 2008 Vintage

Shared side by side with the Lagavulin 2008

A murky, iced tea brown color with no head or lacing. A thin collar surrounds the glass. The nose is full of sweet sherry, tobacco, raisins, cocoa, brown sugar, and molasses. This versions tends to enhance the sweeter characteristics of the base beer. On the palate, raisins and cocoa hit you up front, then a wave of sweet sherry, with molasses, brown sugar, and dry tobacco in tow. The finish is sweet and boozy. Full body, low carbonation. High complexity. This varietal was more enjoyable than the Lagavulin. The sherry flavors/aromas imparted by the aging process seemed much better incorporated and really enhanced some of the other flavors that weren't present in the other version.

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Photo of patjohnfive
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of Dope
3.87/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 bottle

A: Murky rusty brown with just a tiny tan head. Almost no lacing.

S: Lots of molasses, toffee and fig. Sherry is there but milder than the other barrel-aged versions I've had. Smell isn't nearly as overpowering either, it's actually quite nice.

T: Syrupy sweet molasses and toffee just like all of the variants. Sherry adds a decent fruitiness without being overpowering AND it covers a bit of that ridiculous molasses.

M: Super heavy, syrupy, blah blah blah.

O: Honestly not a bad variant. The sherry is very mild but it helps ease some of the ridiculously cloyingly sweet molasses. Not to say that it's NOT ridiculously cloyingly and syrupy sweet, just less so.

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Photo of jrenihan
3.82/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2005 Vintage.

Beer is a murky toffee colour. A vigorous pour results in a bit of bubbly off-white head.

Lots of sweet caramel malt in the nose. Sherry, apple, brown sugar, raisin.

Taste is like the smell, but the sherry flavour is stronger. Caramel malt, brown sugar, oak, apple, cherry. Very sweet. Alcohol is noticeable, even seven years after bottling. Finish has an odd flavour that I can't place, makes me think of leather.

Full bodied, but with a low carbonation that makes it feel quite thin. Syrupy sticky.

Overall, too sweet for me. Some very nice flavours, but too sweet and sherry is not one of my favourite flavours. Worth checking out but I don't expect I would buy this again.

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Photo of Rick760Sd
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%

Photo of mrfrancis
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Pours a hazy, ruddy amber with no head.

S: Aromas of sherry, apple, caramel, toffee, milk chocolate, and brown sugar fill the nose.

T: Notes of sherry, apple, milk chocolate, toffee, caramel, brown sugar, vanilla bean, black currant, plums, raisins, figs, and Medjool dates. The finish is sweet and long with plenty of port, chocolate, and dark fruit notes.

M: Full in body, sticky, and syrupy. Carbonation is very gentle, but even after eight years in the bottle, is still present. Alcohol presence is decidedly restrained.

O: This is a fantastic English barleywine, and may very well be my favorite of J.W. Lees' cask-aged ales. Definitely worth a try.

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Photo of ajs4bd
3.75/5  rDev -7.6%

Photo of ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a cloudy brown-orange color with a bit of bubbly white head. The head fades away fairly quickly leaving behind barely any lacing.

S - Aroma is a mix of rich sweet caramel malts with some white grape, dark fruits, some oak, brown and caramelized sugars, a bit of vanilla, and some booze.

T - Starts off with a mix of rich sweet caramel malts, caramelized sugars, grape, and some raisin and other dark fruits. Through the middle, some oak comes through with some more sherry flavor alongside some vanilla and a bit of brown sugar. The finish is a mix of sherry, sweet caramel malts, brown sugar, oak, and some booze.

M - Medium-full bodied with mild carbonation. Feels smooth and syrupy with a sweet and warming finish.

D - Very drinkable. The Sherry adds a nice complexity to the base beer. Overall nicely bold and fairly balanced.

 844 characters

Photo of bmur112
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev -3.4%
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.

 641 characters

Photo of tylermains
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of BostonHops
4.11/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

9.3oz bottle served in a snifter.
2006 vintage.

pours a murky russet brown tone with a fair amount of flakes/sediment; no head whatsoever. not entirely unexpected so i'll keep style in mind but, judging solely on appearance, this is one unappealing looking beer! good thing appearance is the least important judging criteria. nose is sweet and malty with notes of caramel/toffee, brown sugar, sherry, and some dark fruit-like qualities.

taste follows the nose, very rich and buttery with a tasty range of flavors, from the toffee and brown sugar to the sherry and fruity notes. medium-full bodied mouthfeel with below average carbonation, the latter being (beside the appearance) one of my few criticisms.

overall a tasty, tasty beer; while far from flawless - or cheap - it's rich and complex. worth the occasional splurge.

(originally reviewed: 08-23-2011)

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Photo of MystikCelt
4.25/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of RebornStussy
3.5/5  rDev -13.8%

Photo of Archemedies
1/5  rDev -75.4%

Photo of mdfb79
3.18/5  rDev -21.7%
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 TubbyDullard
4/5  rDev -1.5%

Photo of UnknownKoger
3.97/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Last reviewed a year ago. Scores reflect the latest tasting. 2005 vintage poured into Bruery tulip glass

Appearance is a hazy brown color. Virtually no carbonation. It's pretty flat

Smells delicious. The sherry is very apparent in the nose. There are also notes of fig and other dark fruits. Some smoke. Malt sweetness. Smells good

The taste is pretty good. The sherry notes give this barleywine a pleasant sweetness. Even though it's lacking carbonation, it's still pleasant to drink. No hop presence.

Mouthfeel is very smooth. Goes down nicely.

Overall I'm giving the 2005 a better score than the 2007 I reviewed a year ago. Perhaps the vintage is different or perhaps my tastes have changed. Cheers


Bottled in 2007, consumed now. Purchased from K&L Wines in Hollywood and poured into my New Belgium tulip glass.

A: After pouring, I was afraid I'd screwed something and would have to strain the beer or chew it. The floaties others have mentioned I think are congealed bits of liquid because I tried smashing some against the side of the glass with my finger. I suppose the lesson learned here is don't pour it too cold. Otherwise it poured a hazy brown with very light carbonation

S: Smells like it was made in a sherry cask. Very sweet and malty. It made my mouth water

T: Granted, this is my first English barleywine, it's definitely a sipper in my opinion. Whereas in American barleywines it's a hopfest, this brew is all about the sweet sherry notes mixing with the caramel malty goodness. First drink I was kind of put off, but it started to warm up to me.

M: Like gold, this is super smooth and light on the tongue and goes down smooth. It's weird; you can taste the alcohol, but it's not overwhelming. Given that it's 11.5% it goes down a lot smoother than others near this level and in this style.

D: As I mentioned earlier, it's definitely a sipper. Others have mentioned it's a good nightcap, and that's exactly how I'm drinking it. Not sure if I'm entirely sold on English barleywines, but it's definitely a good beer...just not my particular style of choice

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Photo of jdprmd
4.59/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2005 Vintage, pored in oversized snifter.

A - ruby red, very little head that disappears quickly.

S - Wow, sherry, and so many dark fruits, peat and sweetness... sublime

T - Damn this is sweet, tastes more like a grand crue than a barleywine. It has some smokiness and peaty notes that make it interesting. This taste is really complex, if you like sweeter beers this is a home run. Lots of dark fruits: grape, cherry, plum... and so on... and of course sherry! The only thing not giving this a 5 on taste is the high sweetness.

M - very velvety, I had the lagavulin version the other night and it was perfect, this one not as good but very close... super smooth going down the hatch.

O - damn J.W... the whole series is great from what I have had... if you find any of them do your self a favor and make the purchase! This as well as the others are very complex... a bit pricy but well worth it. What is even greater is that you can find bottles as far back as 2005! I will be seeking bottles of this out for years to come.

 1,033 characters

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.29/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage
appearance: Amber, slightly hazy, not so much as I recall of the Port version. Slight wisp of a head.
smell: Sherry much more prominent than Port was in that version. Sweet fruit and caramel.
taste: Rich and full with all the characteristics of the nose.
overall: Very nice. Better at this age than the Port version I recently had, but also has 2 years age on the 2010 Port version. We'll see what happens as this ages further.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.52/5  rDev +11.3%
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.


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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.06 out of 5 based on 355 ratings.
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