Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
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From:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
 
England, United Kingdom
Style:
English Barleywine
Ranked #49
ABV:
11.5%
Score:
94
Ranked #2,133
Avg:
4.24 | pDev: 13.21%
Reviews:
917
Ratings:
738
Status:
Active
Rated:
Oct 26, 2022
Added:
Dec 18, 2000
Wants:
  277
Gots:
  230
SCORE
94
Outstanding
Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
Notes: Our limited edition vintage barley wine is made but once a year. It's brewed with the first hops to be harvested, and then we add the very finest British malt. Each vintage brings different flavours, which then evolve as they age, so it's no wonder it's gained a cult following among ale enthusiasts. Pop the date in your calendar.
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Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of DrDemento456
Reviewed by DrDemento456 from Pennsylvania

4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25
Bottle of 2011 vintage Pours a very deep brown some sediment floaties that settle to the bottom and just a bit of carbonation that settles to a ring. Initial smells of brandy and booze repeated smells of apple cider vinegar and some wood. Taste is much sweeter than the smell very fruity barleywine mostly apricot and stone fruit slight wood and a bready finish. Very surprised by this. Smooth ABV at 11.5% its worth sipping to unlock more subtle notes of tobacco and leather.

While I wouldn't run out and get more I wouldn't mind trying a fresher vintage to see how it stacks up. Cheers!
Oct 26, 2022
Photo of ghostfacekilla69
Reviewed by ghostfacekilla69 from Virginia

4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
20 year old 2002 harvest ale from bottle. Very smooth and mellow with lightly burnt butterscotch notes. I’m a big harvest ale fan and think if you’re lucky enough to see it, you should snag it.
Oct 25, 2022
 
Rated: 4.07 by travolta from California

Oct 09, 2022
 
Rated: 4.15 by Gkruszewski from New York

Sep 26, 2022
Photo of AirBob
Rated by AirBob from Massachusetts

4.44/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
2020
Aug 26, 2022
 
Rated: 4.25 by bigred89 from Maryland

Aug 17, 2022
Photo of RobertDunn
Reviewed by RobertDunn from England

5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5
They've upped the ABV in my bottle of 750mls.
Now at 12.5%.
Typical barley wine smell, heady, funky.
Quite sharp at first, then mouthfeel is excellent, crisp, but also rounded.
I am quite sorry that I opened this yet.
Can only get better.
Have another bottle.....gonna save it.
Jun 18, 2022
 
Rated: 4.25 by Hawkfish from Washington

Jun 05, 2022
Photo of NCSapiens
Reviewed by NCSapiens from Indiana

4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
On tap 2011 vintage, so quite aged. Pours a tawny golden brown color. Head dissipated after a couple minutes. Smells like apple cider and brandy. Tastes like apple, caramel sweetness, brandy, tobacco, hints of tawny port, toffee, raisins, fig, and plum. Really mellowed out after a decade, it isn’t harsh at all.
May 12, 2022
 
Rated: 4.5 by micada from New York

Apr 03, 2022
Photo of MNAle
Reviewed by MNAle from Minnesota

3.62/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5
2015 canning (8.4 oz can). Consumed at cellar temperature (~55° - guesstimate only, but a bit warmer if anything).

Appearance is dark orange, toward brown, slightly hazy with sparse carbonation. Very short off-white fizzy head with near zero retention; the head is completely gone with just a thin ring before I can put the camera down, and even this ring is gone before I can take a sip, leaving a tea-like appearance. No lacing.

Fruity aroma. Apple. Caramel. Toffee. Figs. Brandy. Quite nice.

The taste is a bit harsh. (Perhaps a 2015 is too young?) Citrus rind. Alcohol. Tobacco. Leather. Boozy. The citrus rind harshness lends a bit of bitterness and the tobacco earthiness is not a good counterbalance. The fruitiness (other than the rind) has not made an appearance. The alcohol warms my mouth and throat in the finish and aftertaste, with the tobacco/rind lingering.

Mouth feel has a moderate body and flat feel (no carbonation).

Overall, vastly disappointing, especially given the reputation and price at just under $1/oz. As I noted above, perhaps more age will mellow out the harshness. I regret buying two. The other one WILL remain in the cellar for more years, both to allow it to hopefully mellow out and because it will not be at the top of my list to try again.
Feb 28, 2022
Photo of Lucular
Reviewed by Lucular from Maryland

4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5
I've wanted to try this beer for many years, but they are a.) hard to find, and b.) expensive. I finally bit the bullet and had two of these shipped from CA, along with more recent vintages of the Lagavulin and Sherry versions and a variety of other beers. $17.36 per bottle + tax and shipping.

Anyhow, on to my review. 9.3 oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2002 vintage. Slight hiss as the cap pops off - a welcome sign that there is still some life in this beer. Pours a muddy brown with a hint of red. Small amount of sediment. A hard pour yields a tiny head that quickly fades away. Aroma and flavor (which is very similar, but not as intense as the aroma) feature a complex blend of dark fruit, toffee, rich chocolate, Café con Leche, and bready malt. This is probably the smoothest 10%+ abv beer I've had, although you can still tell it's on the strong side. No hop presence, which is unsurprising given the age of this beer. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with maybe 10% of the original carbonation. Hint of slick viscosity, or maybe I'm imagining that because of how much this reminds me of aged tawny port. Overall, it's a tasty beer at 20 years and I'm looking forward to trying a more recent vintage to compare. I suspect that an example in the 5-10 year range would have a similar aroma/flavor profile with improved appearance and mouthfeel.
Jan 22, 2022
Photo of illtexzona
Reviewed by illtexzona from Illinois

4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5
Vintage 2002 in 2022.

POURS cloudy, no carb,
AROMAS of caramelized sugar, rye wheat, fresh baked bread, leather, warm paper, toasted wood, burned pipe tobacco, and prunes
FLAVORS of toffee, raisin, green apple, red wine, grape jelly, rock candy
FEELS syrupy, flat, medium body, light alcohol burn on the finish
OVERALL an immaculate beer after sitting for twenty years.
Jan 20, 2022
Photo of kodt
Reviewed by kodt from Illinois

4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25
Toffee and caramel apple on the nose. Taste reflects that giving way to a tannic almost umami finish. Raisins and nuts. Comparisons to Sherry are accurate.
Jan 12, 2022
Photo of 2beerdogs
Reviewed by 2beerdogs from California

4.45/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
On tap at Windsor Brewing Supply in Anaheim, CA.
2012
Pours a slightly burnished gold to orange. Slight, sandy head starts off and quickly dissipates. Barely discernible lacing rolls down into the miniature ring.
Nose is lush. Caramel, toffee, apple brandy, orange marmalade, Tawny port, fig, and date.
Flavor washes all of the above listed notes around in a merry-go-round, slowly, musically, almost whimsically. Some of the notes show more complexity. The orange marmalade note really plays well with the Tawny port and fig. This really pulls me in.
Mouthfeel is medium in weight, low carbonation, and finishes slightly warm and generously sweet.
Overall, phenomenal. I've had it before, remembered it fondly, but I'm really happy to have taken the time to sit down, focus, and enjoy it deeply.
Jan 07, 2022
Photo of Rug
Reviewed by Rug from Massachusetts

4.49/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
Here we are, the legendary JW Lees Harvest Ale. Huge shoutout to OEC for carrying this beer and a few variants of it. I’m not sure I would’ve found it anywhere else if they didn’t import it and bottle it. Anyhow, I have a 2 year vertical going with this one, between a 2020 can and a 2002 bottle. Holy hell, that’s the oldest beer I’ve ever had at nearly 20 years. Let’s get into it

2020: Pours a murky orangish brown with a finger of off white head that fades to a thin cap and leaves minimal lacing
2002: Pours a murky deep brown with just a thin brown ring that leaves no lacing

Ok, in the nose alone, these are 2 completely different beers. Expected, but still kinda wild
2020: Sticky toffee, orange marmalade, biscuity malt, toast, wood, light piney hops, and a touch of general funk. It's surprisingly bright in aroma
2002: Super sweet caramel, chocolate covered raisin, brown bread, molasses, burnt sugar, and light whiskey. Super old but in a charming way

Just as the aroma suggested, these are totally different in taste. In a blind test I would never guess they are the same beer. The 2002 shows a bit of oxidation but not awful
2020: On the front end of the sip I'm tasting toffee, orange rind, bready malt, caramel, herbal hops, and a touch of lemon. The swallow brings notes of orange rind, sweet caramel, herbal hops, beechwood, toffee, and brown bread. Again, super bright
2002: On the front end of the sip I'm tasting medjool dates, caramel, brown sugar, brown bread, and light cocoa. The swallow brings notes of medjool dates, fusel alcohol, sticky caramel, fig, old leather, molasses, burnt sugar, and light amaro. Crazy complex at this age, but I'm surprised there's some alcoholic heat to this one

2020: A medium body pairs with very gentle carbonation, resulting in a shockingly easy drinking beer. Finishes off dry with a great balance between sweetness and light earthy bitterness
2002: A medium body pairs with very gentle carbonation, resulting in a super smooth beer. Finishes neutral and super sweet

This was a wild vertical. Personally the 2002 was a little too sweet for my taste, but it likely didn't have the best conditions for aging over the past 20 or so years. For an English Barleywine the fresh-ish 2020 is superbly balanced, honestly a perfect blend of English and American versions of the style. So yeah, my ratings are for the 2020, but the 2002 wouldn't be all that much lower since it still held up very well
Dec 27, 2021
 
Rated: 4.5 by jkermitj from Mississippi

Dec 26, 2021
 
Rated: 4.25 by atlbravsrno1 from New Hampshire

Nov 14, 2021
Photo of keithmurray
Reviewed by keithmurray from Connecticut

4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
2017 vintage poured into a tulip

Appearance - light brown colour with tan head

Smell - orange marmalade, caramel, tobacco

Taste - candied orange peel, caramel, orange marmalade, tobacco, apricot, fig, booze

Mouthfeel - full bodied, lower level of carbonation, upfront is the orange sweetness, sticky, boozy on the back end

Overall - nice barleywine here, nice flavors of orange marmalade dominate, its a sipper for sure. Try it.

Price point - $9.99/ 9.3 oz bottle
Nov 06, 2021
Photo of hman43
Reviewed by hman43 from North Carolina

4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25
Look: It pours a caramel brown that is quite cloud with a tan head. Head retention is very good.

Smell: It has toffee aromas with some dried cherries in support. It has some orange notes with some vinous qualities to it.

Taste: It has bread and toffee flavors with orange and cherry like pipe tobacco notes. There are some low vinous qualities to it with some floral notes.

Feel: It has a full and somewhat chewy body. There is smooth alcohol warming in the finish.

Overall, a well done barleywine with plenty of flavor and it packs a punch.
Oct 29, 2021
 
Rated: 4.68 by BMBCLT from South Carolina

Oct 21, 2021
 
Rated: 4.19 by ElGallo from New Hampshire

Sep 17, 2021
 
Rated: 4.35 by carolinabeerguy from North Carolina

Sep 12, 2021
 
Rated: 4.3 by paresis from Massachusetts

Sep 10, 2021
 
Rated: 4.4 by brureview from Massachusetts

Aug 06, 2021
 
Rated: 3.75 by NickMunford from Wyoming

Jul 18, 2021
 
Rated: 4.99 by Ox8840bo from Illinois

Jun 26, 2021
Photo of Phoodcritic
Rated by Phoodcritic from Michigan

4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
2014 vintage.
Jun 04, 2021
 
Rated: 4.18 by Cpmitchno1 from Virginia

Apr 02, 2021
 
Rated: 4.5 by Rothobinide from California

Mar 22, 2021
 
Rated: 4.46 by chossboss from Oregon

Mar 22, 2021
 
Rated: 4 by Argento from Rhode Island

Mar 20, 2021
 
Rated: 4.48 by Mikexw from New York

Mar 12, 2021
Photo of backblast
Reviewed by backblast from Alaska

4.43/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
2015 vintage. Rich sweet malt and caramel up front with fresh fruit - especially apple following. Has an alcohol taste but not boozy, fig and a very nice herbal hop bitter finish that's a bit spicy too. A real treat.
Feb 21, 2021
Photo of SpeedwayJim
Reviewed by SpeedwayJim from New York

4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5
275ml bottle into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter. 2013 vintage.

Pours completely flat. Nose is classic for the style. Hints of green raisin, green grape, brown sugar, molasses, and maple syrup. Robust, rich, fruity, and very aromatic. Beer opens brown sugar, molasses, and maple syrup. Huge malt backbone. A hint of booziness in the back. I also get raisin, other dried dark fruit, and a touch of tobacco and wood at the finish. Big brown sugar on the finish. This is exactly what I want. Body is full with low carbonation. Thick, oily, and slick on the palate and goes down warm and slick with a long, lingering sticky aftertaste.

The classic brewer of the English Barleywine style does not dissapoint. A great beer worth trying.
Feb 20, 2021
 
Rated: 4 by mrmsmith from District of Columbia

Feb 10, 2021
 
Rated: 4.82 by Specules from California

Jan 31, 2021
Photo of adrock314
Reviewed by adrock314 from Pennsylvania

4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
2017 edition. 275ml bottle.

L: Pours a hazy golden brown. Similar to unfiltered apple cider. Short-lived ivory colored head retreats to a thin ring. This is basically the prototype for what a proper Barleywine should look like.

S: Sweet malt and rich fruit aromas. Red apple, plum, & Luxardo cherries. Vanilla, tobacco, and some leather floating around as well. Waves of cocoa, caramel, and burnt sugar.

T: Big sweetness up front. Dark fruit. Flashes of red wine. Chocolate, caramel, and hints of vanilla. Almost savory at times, but I can't really put my finger on it. Tobacco & leather make appearances late on. Finally finishes with a hint of tannic bitterness - just enough to keep some balance and avoid cloying territory. No real indication of 11.5% abv - no heat whatsoever. Really wonderful and complex.

F: Carbonation is minimal, but present. Mouthfeel is viscous and coating.

O: Really just fantastic all around. This is one of the standards in the category for a reason. Excellent stuff. Absolutely worth the occasional, or better yet frequent, splurge at ~$10/btl.
Jan 29, 2021
Photo of EmperorBevis
Reviewed by EmperorBevis from England

4.41/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2019 vintage so just over a year old
Bottled, bottle conditioned and poured into a Westvleteren XII gold rimmed chalice
Pours a solid gold looking ale
Aroma is good sugar cane & fruit esters
Flavour is sugary sherry, pure booze and a little bitter kick
So moreish
Jan 13, 2021
Photo of Storm_Rryder
Reviewed by Storm_Rryder from Iowa

4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4
This looks a lot like the winter warmer I recently had. Same dark brown color with floating bits ! Some resemblance in taste too but this definitely has a wine like feel but not as fruity as real wine, obviously. Low bitterness. This is a 2016 bottle, drinking it in jan 2021, so it is roughly 4 yrs old. It is interesting, in a good way. Not an every day beer, but once in a blue moon, yea sure !
Jan 09, 2021
Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 94 out of 100 with 1655 ratings