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
United Kingdom (England) | website

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: 192 | Ratings: 339
Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.46/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

For purposes of the review, the 2008 and 2010 editions were sampled for the review.

Appearance - The beer was a nice golden color copper color. There was some lacing along the sides of the glass.

Smell - The sherry added a mediciny sweetness. The beer certainly smelled like sherry with an added dimension.

Taste - As an aged English barleywine, the beer had a syrupy sweetness. The 2010 had more of a raw nutty backbone which is right up my alley. Notes of sweet fruit that turned slightly sour were also present with the sherry lingering in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - The beer coats the tongue nicely. One might have to scrub their tongue to get the thick coat off.

Overall - I liked this beer a lot, but it really needs to be shared with a friend or two. Verticals make for interesting comparisons.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 dated bottle from a trip to Hoboken. Pours a deep orange red hue with a tiny ring of white head that fizzes off very quickly. Aroma is big sweetness with lots of sherry, toffee, molasses, maple syrup, and a little hint of fruits. Flavor is surprisingly similar to the Calvados cask. A good bit of bitter hazelnut alongside leather, sweet caramel maple and brown sugar. Sweet but this had a nice balanced bitter and medium level sherry booze and the sherry really accents this nicely. Sweet heavy mouthfeel but with adequate carbonation to keep this from being syrupy. Overall a really nice treatment on this that makes for a beautiful after dinner drink with a nicely complex flavor profile.

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Photo of flagmantho
4.35/5  rDev +7.4%
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!

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Photo of OWSLEY069
4.09/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Limited Edition 2011

Pours a hazy orange-ish to amber color with a light tan head. In the aroma, dark fruits, small hop presence, and an alcohol presence. In the taste, dark fruits, caramel like malt and a small alcohol presence. A small bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a dry caramel and alcohol like aftertaste. Big dark fruits, caramel malts, a small hop and a nice amount of alcohol in the flavor.

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Photo of KFBR392
3.7/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Pours with a light to medium body. Zero head on pour or retained while drinking. Brownish color with some orange brightness to it. Looks like a barleywine that has aged gracefully.

Smell: There is a caramel and molasses sweetness on the front of the aroma. The sherry casks add some unique tangy tones. Some earthy and leafy tones are found on the undertones.

Taste: The front is an incredibly sweet sherry, caramel, and butterscotch feeling. The body rounds out with some earthy tones and tobacco leaves. The back end is some bright barley and a slight alcohol dryness left on the palate. The earthy tones are stick out and are the most memorable.

Mouthfeel: Dry with a grainy texture.

Overall: An interesting brew. The years have taken well to this beer, making in a unique journey for the palate. I was really surprised how pronounced the earthy tones were, a lot of maple, leafy greens, and tobacco.

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Photo of KForlino
4.4/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

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Photo of Greywulfken
4.24/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2011 bottling

A: center-poured into a snifter, hazy deep amber body with orange accents, off-white big-bubbled head that slimmed quickly into a collar

S: sherry and fruit, caramel and toffee

T: follows nose - sherry and wood, orchard fruit-like suggestions, delicate malt sweetness akin to toffee and chewy caramels

M: light bodied, slick, faint stickiness, no notable carbonation, smooth and airy

O: another fantastic ale, similar to some old ales I've had, and not a typical barleywine - thinner, lighter, more refined - excellent, almost cordial-like ale

2007 bottling

A: into snifter - poured carefully so as not to dump the dark sediment into the glass - amber brown beer with no head

S: notes of the original sherry, but lots of sweet aromas, reminiscent of candied fruit

T: very sweet and fruity, accents of sherry still evident

M: smooth, slick, light-medium body

O: this aged better than the Lagavulin cask edition, retaining some of the barrel flavors and aromas; I knew to be more watchful of the sediment, although I don't know if that matters in any way that affects the flavor/aroma - whatever the sediment was going to impart has been long imparted. A fine drink.

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Photo of jmdrpi
4.51/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage, 275mL bottle. poured into snifter

appears a dark chestnut brown color, kinda murky. no head whatsoever. rich sweet aroma of caramel with dark fruits - figs, black cherry, raisin. taste is not as sweet as the smell. complex. brown sugar, tobacco, boozy fruity finish.

overall - you can taste the contribution of the grapes from the sherry. fruit notes added. great, but just not as good as the normal version when aged.

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Photo of Kooz
3.41/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque orane color with a creamy, tight-packed head. Not too much of a nose, but a bit boozy and warm. Tastes sweet with caramel hints. The boozyness continues throughout, but it gives it warmth and isn't unpleasant. The beer isn't over-carbonated, and is nice. It's really smooth and I'd enjoy drinking this again. It's a pretty good beer overall.

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Photo of nemetz
4.6/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

To start off - I live in Hawaii and it is hot! plus I have no cellar. So it was served well beyond the recommended temperature. About 70F.
The glassware was on the spot though.

A Dark honey color, no head

S. amazing aroma of sweetness.

T. Sweet then instantly strong. rich with warm

M. Very rich and smooth

O. Despite being 11.5% its very pleasant. After half glass it just runs smooth and rich

P.S. My first review - Please message me if I did something wrong.

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Photo of Hoppsbabo
4.38/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Dated 2004.

A: Rich dark amber. Large pieces of sediment suspended within the brew. Has a thin but beautiful off-white head of large bubbles mortared together with cream.

S: Strong impression of sherry. Honey, dried figs, soy sauce. Very similar to the nose on the port version.

T: Very sweet. Strong overall sherry flavour. Dried figs. Very lovely solvent alcohol at the back before swallowing. Very refined aftertaste - a nice balance of sherry and hoppy bitterness to remind you it's still an English ale. Perfectly balanced.

M: Sticky and jelly-like but juicy enough at the same time. Very little carbonation.

O: Very similar to the port version only this is slightly less sweet and syrupy and far more palatable. It's very nice but not something I'd drink often.

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Photo of herman77
2.75/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2008 vintage

A: Clear orange amber with a small off white head. No lacing.

S: Lots of honey, molasses, sugar, raisins. Sherry, candied sherry. A tiny bit of oak

T: Wholly hell is this sweet. Just when you think it can't get any sweeter, it does. Pretty much tastes like complex simple syrup. Has a slight oaky, wet tobacco, wet cardboard taste in the finish that isn't pleasant.

M: Fuller body, low carbonation, but there is some left for sure. Sticky.

O: It's just way too damn sweet for me. I would have liked to try the others, not sure if I want to now. But maybe this is just so sweet from the sherry?

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Photo of maximum12
3.82/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Part of a three-bottle J.W. Lees experience my wife bought me last Christmas, & here it is almost this Christmas, & hey, I don't want her to think I don't appreciate it! So here goes the second, 9.3 ounce bottle, 2007 vintage, popped while pecking away at the Great American Novel.

Pour is smooth amber silk until the last ounce or so disgorges dozens of solids, & the liquid turns to a sludgefest; guess I'm going to have a late snack with my beer! Little if any carbonation survived the brewing & bottling process. Nose is whack sherry, along with a heavy yoke of sweetness. Like the Lagavulin Whiskey, the barrel drowns the beer in its infancy. But that's OK.

J.W. Lees Harvest (Sherry Cask) could be reviewed in two words: sweet sherry. But I'll waste a few more. It's sweet, & the sherry is strong. Really? OK, so there's a ton of caramel, sticky sugar-water, honey, touch of raisin. Consistency is thick, strong, & edging towards boozy. When I poured I cursed the midget bottle, but now, I'm appreciative of the brewer's restraint in portion control.

Overall? Good, solid, unique beer. I couldn't name another sherry-aged beer. Now just the Port version to go, & looking forward to it.

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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 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 wd40
3.93/5  rDev -3%
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 +1%
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 Dope
3.87/5  rDev -4.4%
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 -5.7%
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 mrfrancis
4.25/5  rDev +4.9%
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 ngeunit1
4.42/5  rDev +9.1%
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.

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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 BostonHops
4.11/5  rDev +1.5%
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 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 UnknownKoger
3.97/5  rDev -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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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
90 out of 100 based on 192 ratings.
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