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: 196 | Ratings: 347
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.

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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.

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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 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 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.

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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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Photo of seand
4.62/5  rDev +13.8%
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.

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Photo of jsanford
3.67/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

04 Vintage. 12oz bottle poured into a Snifter.

Pours a hazy mahogany with a thin white head that settles to a slight haze and ring. Moderately sweet aromas of caramel, ripe pear, and toffee with a ton of oak and Sherry character. Taste is right in-line with the nose, the oaky Sherry character definitely overpowers the rest of the beer, and I'm getting a decent amount of oxidation. Mouthfeel is smooth and sticky, with a medium-full body and low carbonation. Overall a decent treatment of J.W. Lees, but Sherry already isn't my preferred taste, so I didn't enjoy this as much as the "regular" or Calvados versions I had alongside it.

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Photo of fx20736
2.71/5  rDev -33.3%
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.

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Photo of champ103
4.39/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a 2008 bottle.

A: Initially this pours a clear ruby red color. Be careful because lots of suspended yeast is sitting on the bottom. Definitely bottle conditioned. A bubbly two finger white head forms that recedes to a ring. Some lace is left behind.
S: Toasted malts, chocolate, wood aromas. The sherry is very apparent with a great fruit medley. Apples, pears, cherries. Excellent.
T: Again a great warm toasted malt flavor that follows the nose. Chocolate, caramel, lots of wood flavors. Big on the apples and cherries. Awesome.
M/D: A full body that is slightly sticky. Very smooth though. So easy to sip on. The huge alcohol is nowhere to be seen, and very enjoyable.

Yep this is a good one. J.W. Lees makes the definitive Barleywines. I really like what the Sherry casks add. Something I would highly recommend.

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Photo of beerandcycling88
4.17/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at brouwers.

A pours a kind of orange color with no head to speak of.

S very fruity with lots of apple, some berries, and booze. The sherry definitely is present.

T again very fruity with a very strong berry taste, that is accompenied by a nice earthy flavor. The ABV is very well hidden.

M thick yet smooth with little carbonation and no alcohol burn.

Overall this is a great beer to spend an evening sipping on and enjoying its nuances.

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

Vintage 2005

A-Pours a bit darker than the regular harvest ale. When held up the light, the sherry red highlights reflect the time this beer has spent in casks. A few fat chunks of yeast settle at the bottom of the glass. Let this one settle for a while before you open it, and pour with care.

S-Like the non barrel aged harvest ale, earthy aromas of dirt and molasses are right up front. However,they are muted, more rounded and soft. Barely perceptible dark berry sweetness peeks through, on the heels of a slightly dry boozy sharpness.

T/M-The time this one spent in the barrel (and the bottle) has rounded off some of the edges that made the straight harvest ale so dynamic. This one is all about elegance. The body is thinner, with an undernote of vinous acidity playing against musty sherry soaked wood. The sweetness of this version is more sugary and straightforward, accentuated by the thinner, sharper mouth feel, with tart grape juice acidity on the back end.

O-An excellent example of how barrel aging can add a new layer to a beer without disrupting its true character.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.99/5  rDev -1.7%
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.

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Photo of rudzud
3.8/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed this bottle at a Julio's weekly tasting.

A - Pours a deep copper hue with a thin off white head that faded rather quickly to leave a slight halo.

S - A few steps back from the regular harvest line. The sweet carmel/toffee malts are there with the addition of barrel and well, sherry. A bit too vinuos for me.

T - This is where it really steps back. The sweet carmel/toffee malts are there but I think the sherry adds something not too good to this. It just gets a bit too muddled for me, and too vinuos.

M - Still nice and smooth with enough carbonation to keep it up off the tongue.

O - Overall this beer wasnt that bad. Nice appearance, aroma, and mouthfeel. The sherry just doesnt work for me, I prefer the original harvest line.

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Photo of Arbitrator
3.55/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. 2009 vintage.

A: Pours a clear, reddish chestnut body with a finger of beige head that retains a little longer than expected, collapsing into the hint of a thin film on top of the beer. It actually maintains a collar, too. Nice.

S: This has a remarkably meaty, red-bean like aroma to it up front. Very odd. The sherry cask is noticeable as a concentrated grape aroma. The base beer's sugar content wafts to the nose as toffee, caramel, dark fruit. Even a touch of earthy hops in there.

T: I'm not sure if this is an off flavor or if it's characteristic of the sherry casks used here, but this beer has a dominant meaty, beany nose as I mentioned in the aroma notes. I don't really know how to react. I don't HATE it... But I don't like it, either. Truthfully, I was hoping this would pass for an approximation of aged J.W. Lees, which takes on a strong sherry note from the oxidation. I taste some sherry here, but it's another flavor component and not a well-integrated accent on the rest of the taste. Some interesting fruitiness is noted (apricot, bananas) along with fig and oak. Quite complex in the finish; if it weren't for that odd beginning, I'd be much more impressed.

M: Great mouthfeel on this one. Very smooth, nearly velvety. Medium-plus bodied.

O: This is enjoyable, but I'd still give the nod to the Port and Calvados versions out of all the cask treatments.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.2/5  rDev +3.4%
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 perrymarcus
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!

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, i tasty, tasty beer; rich and complex, yet not flawless.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.35/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours copper red with virtually no head and large chunks of floating sediment.

Aroma rich and malty with generous toffee and dark fruit notes. Alcohol is strong and hot with a brandy-like character.

Taste is initially sweet malty goodness. Plenty of brown sugar and dark fruit - notably raisin and date. Then a pleasant toffee and chocolate quality appears. Mild oak notes. Finishes sweet with plenty of alcohol warmth. Lingering brandy alcohol character and dark fruit.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, quite viscous.

Overall a great maltbomb. Very fruity and sweet. Intense brown sugar and dark fruit; along with a pleasant woody quality.

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Photo of bashiba
4.33/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This was from a 2005 bottle.

Poured a dirty cloudy brown with lots of sediment and a light soap ring of a head.

Has a big sweet brown sugar malty and syrupy sweet lots of brig bready malts.

Wow the flavor is huge, a big giant sherry and brown sugar sweet malt blast with hints of caramel and toffee and light notes of chocolate. So sweet and malty, great sherry flavors, no hops to speak of left.

The mouthfeel is thick and chewy with heavy lingering finish.

Quite and experiance, a monster of a barleywine, very desert like. Almost like drinking actual sherry.

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Photo of claytong
4.5/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 bottle
appearance- small tan head off a dark ruby color. hazy

smell - sherry and cherry. brown sugar and caramel. a bit of toffee and plum. beautiful, didnt expect so much out of this.

taste - follows the smell to a tee with a bit of molasses added to it

mouthfeel - had this the same night as a 98-00 vertical of the regular harvest ale and while the mouthfeel is much nicer and much less cloying its still in the same boat, something id be more than happy to have every night in the winter

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Photo of BlackWednesday
3.57/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottle: Pours an amber color with some red color on the outside with a thin off-white head. Aroma is of sherry, caramel, dark fruits, cherry, and some alcohol. Flavor is basically the same with sherry, cherry, dark fruits and plenty of caramel and sweet malts. Very delicious, but I think I still liked the aged Harvest Ale better.

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Photo of BeerNemesis
4.82/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale (Sherry Cask) | 275 ml. | 11.5% ABV | 2009 vintage

Brewer: J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Style: English Barleywine
Glass: snifter

Golden like the barley it was brewed with. And though there is no head to speak of, a ring of sediment hangs suspended midway through the glass.

Wow. Barley, honey, raisins, molasses, gobs of toffee, fruity esters, and a heavy, floral hoppy tinge.

Harvest Ale has an incredible richness to it that should challenge any reviewer's palate. Fermented barley and raw honey hit first, followed by waves of sherry (remember it's been aged in sherry casks for two years), sticky caramel, and plump raisins. Ripe tropical fruits, like pineapple, and floral hops balance out the otherwise excessive orgy of sweet flavors. The finish tastes to me just like halva (made with tahini).

So gracefully smooth and creamy with some gentle carbonation. It is as if a magical shawl of ale had been draped over the sinews of my tongue. Does that give you an idea of how good it feels?

Perfection. Or close too it. To be honest, I have been wary of Barleywines for a while. I don't particularly like excessive honey-sweetness paired with hard liquor. It seems ungraceful for lack of a better word. However, J.W. Lees Harvest ale is a masterpiece of a beverage. It makes me want to take bad all the bad things I've ever said about Barlywines as a style.

Would I get it again?:
Yes. In fact, I'm about to go out and get a few more right now.

Bottled: 2009
Served: July 16, 2011

Price = $11.99 at Whole Foods NYC

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Photo of FosterJM
3.68/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

449th review on BA
Bottle to snifter
9.3oz 2009

App- A very dark creamy orange with some intermixed soft peach highlights. This poured with a minimal 1/4 in head that quickly faded to a ring of very small bubbles at the edges.

Smell- The booze is upfront from the cap coming off. Very unique scents. I'll admit I've never had a sherry so this is all new to me. Sweet, boozy with the oak as well.

Taste- This is very creamy for a beer that's not a creamy stout or a malt bomb. The Sherry is quite overpowering for me and the normal barley wine flavors just get lost in this one.

Mouth- Medium bodied with a medium carbonation and it feels more like a creamy distilled spirit than a beer with the sherry notes and residual sweetness.

Drink- The cask versions are very nice and quite different from a lot of things I have had. I was particularly fond of this blend and I'm hoping the whiskey and port will come through as the best two so far.

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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 347 ratings.
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