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

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
Liked This Beer
4.23 w/ 1,522 Ratings
Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 12-18-2000

View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,522 |  Reviews: 864
Photo of brystmar
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage. Pours a hazy caramel color with sediment and almost zero head. Beady, clear lace (similar to port or even Utopias) streams down the glass.

Sweet malts are out in force! Also caramel, candied sugars, some fruit, and hints of aged booze.

Not super complex, but what's here is excellent. Sweet/malty with oak, vanilla, burnt / candied sugar, and alcoholic warmth to finish things off. Really reminds me of good flan. The sweetness turns bitter as it goes down and the warmth sets in. Supremely enjoyable.

Full-bodied w/mild carbonation; syrupy, sticky, and perfect. Far too easy to drink given its serving size and ABV. Glad my brother shared this 275mL bottle with me, but now I need one of my own...

 715 characters

Photo of IMFletcher
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2006 edition. Super sweet and wonderful. I am really learning to appreciate barleywines.

88 characters

Photo of stakem
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes taken 4/8/10

Vintage 1998

Poured into a goblet, it appears a very dark amber brown color with some redish hues. A finger of yellowish tan foam for a head appears quite silky in appearance and receeds to just a thin film across the top of the beer. Spotty amounts of lace cling all around the glass. Aroma of this beer opens up big and boozy like sherry but eventually gives way to notes of molasses, brown sugar, oak-like woodsyness and some raisins soaked in alcohol. Taste is an impressive display of how a beer can fight the ages. For nearly 12 years old this beer has really held it's own. A slight touch of oxidation is present but adds to the complex monster of malt characteristics. My mouth is on sensory overload with this beer. Flavors of oak and smoke showcase the toasty side of the malt profile whereas flavors of prunes and raisins balance out the sweeter side before the hops bring in the bitterness. Feel of this beer boarderlines being syrupy but still very smooth and lightly carbonated. The aftertaste includes some flavors similar to coffee, chocolate, spice like cinamon and toffee. Masterfully done, this is a must-try for anyone serious about barleywine.

 1,197 characters

Photo of RblWthACoz
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Pours a foggy brown with a very thin creme head. Nose is very sugary sweet. Masked alcohol and caramel tones. Flavor is sweet as well. Lots of sugars. Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be much complexity beyond that. It's sweet. It's slightly earthy. But it's still nice. Smooth liquid feel and a smooth lower carbonation as well. Very easy to drink. But oddly enough this still could use a good bit more time on it to even it out. You'd think after 7 years it'd be good to go, but I think at least another 2 or 3 (or more) would do it good.

 550 characters

Photo of bigone4
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage offered up from a friend. This is a great tasting Barley wine. Very different in its flavor compared to most I have had. Many do not have the same protruding sweetness. Poured a amber brownish hue with a thin off-white head. Subtle lace not much left behind in the glass. Smells of sweetness and malt. Almost like a grade A amber maple syrup. Tastes like maple butter. Smooth, sweet and creamy in the mouth. It really did remind me of maple sugar candy. Very easy to drink and it certainly packed a punch. This is a great barley wine that stands up to aging extremely well. I was quite glad to be given a chance to sample such a delectable treat. Thanks Steve!

 673 characters

Photo of AGB
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2000.

A: The beer pours a reddish brown with a nice head and lingering lace. It appears to be going strong after ten years.

S: Sweet malt, raisins, alcohol, buttery toffee

T: A splendid example of English Barleywine. This beer is still sweet, but ten years has mellowed this beer out quite nicely. There is a buttery, caramel sweetness that could become cloying, but for now it's delicious. There is definitely an alcohol presence that I'm guessing will not go away regardless of how long the beer is aged.

M: Low carbonation, sweet, sticky, alcohol finish. Pleasant lingering aftertaste of caramels, dark fruit, toffee.

D: A small serving is plenty for me. If I'm in the mood for an English Barleywine, this is the first beer that comes to mind.

 760 characters

Photo of gonzo138
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

1997 edition, cracked open after thanksgiving dinner

A- pours a very deep brownish red, has a cream colored head that doesnt retain exceptionally well, but laces greatly

S-super rich sweet malts, nice chocolate aroma, also has hints of raisin fruitiness, a little anise smell was present, also had a very strong alcohol smell

T-complements smell, rich and chocoaltey sweet, fruity taste is present in the taste as well, alcohol becomes more pronounced towards bottom of glass

M- very thick and sticky, full body, low carbonation

D- wow, this was one monster beer, glad I found it, it has inspired me to age more beer, absolutely great

 649 characters

Photo of everetends
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up this bottle at Five Points Bottle Shop in Athens, GA. Served up in my new Terrapin snifter.

A: Pours nice cola dark brown, almost black. Pretty clear. Very little hint of carbonation. Poured a thin wispy head that recedes to a ring and some swirls at the top of the liquid. This lasts the entire beer. Lots of sheeting on the glass as you work your way down.

S: Smell is of some serious caramel goodness. Lots of malt. Sweet, buttery bread as well. Then you get the fruit: dates, prunes, raisin, figs. The fruit is almost candied. There is a bit of heavy booze in the nose that is touch off putting, but still overall very nice.

T: Taste is serious malty goodness. So much caramel flavor it is ridiculous. Sweet but not crazy. The fruit is yet again candied but not overly sweet, with dates, cherries, prunes and raisins. There is a touch of brown sugar in here. Also some oak is poking through. So nice and tasty. Touch of boozy goodness on the finish.

M: This is a ful bodied brew. Really creamy in the feel. Coats incredibly well. There is a touch of cherry syrup on the aftertaste but it is mostlly caramel. ABV is here but there is zero burn. The creaminess is what sells this brew.

D: This brew is damned good. So subtle and creamy. Lots of caramel makes this just fantastic. I really enjoyed this beer and glad that Frank suggested it. Will definitely get this one again.

 1,395 characters

Photo of adamdescott
4.35/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Bunuelian
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Lnedrive14
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1997 Vintage.

A: Deep brown with a small twn head. Leaves a nice ring around my Caracole snifter. Holding it up to the light reveals a tinge of amber/redness. A nice looking brew.

N: Oh man. This is how a beer should smell. Full and rich, with dried fruits overtaking the nose. Lots of vanilla in here, as well as some caramel and licorice.

T: Quite a lot going on in this brew. Tons of syrupy sweetness and vanilla. Papaya, figs, apricot, and licorice are also present. I will say this - definitely let this brew warm up. When I first began drinking, it was probably still a bit too cold and it made the brew much too sweet. Allowing it to sit brings the alcohol out a bit more, which contrasts nicely to the sweetness.

M: Much thinner than I expected. The sticky syrup penetrates every crevice of your moth. Nothing too special here.

D: So scarily drinkable. At 11.5%, I feel that I could sip this all night. Definitely a sipping brew, but one that you don't want to end. Much like a great brandy.

Well, this beer waited 8 years to be drank, and I think I gave it a good home. It was a damn fine beer, but I think it maybe was a few years past its prime? The hop character seemed to have faded, which made the brew a bit one-dimensional.

 1,258 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2006 bottling

A: murky brown ale with no head at all in a stout flute glass

S: toffee, molasses, caramel, suggestions of booze-soaked orchard fruits

T: following nose, a very sweet drink - lots of fruity, sugary treats, no trace of the alcohol; vague allusions to spices common to fall/winter holiday meals, and dark, wet fruits soaked in bourbon

M: no palpable carbonation, very smooth and slick, touch of stickiness, light-to-medium body- feel

O: perhaps just as good as the cask-aged editions, but I have only had this (and them) after some aging - not sure how this would taste fresh - I enjoyed it as much as the aforementioned versions (having sampled the Lagavulin cask 2011 and 2007, Calvados cask version 2006, and Sherry edition 2011 and 2007) - perhaps I expected less, or perhaps the aging wore away the casks' flavorings. This was a very elegant drink.

 870 characters

Photo of CHickman
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Harvest Ale 2000 review: pours cloudy mahogany reddish in color with a small beige head; spotty lacing on the snifter. Flat looking, as to be expected after sitting a decade.

Smells like raisin, rum, syrup, molasses and some sweet malts; quite pungent and very fruity. Wow, smells like a box of raisins or a port wine. The aging brought out more sweetness.

Tastes like raisins, rum, sweet malt, caramel, syrup, molasses, brown sugar, honey, a hint of cinnamon and the alcohol esters that are not offensive but rather quite tasty. Considering how strong the raisin and rum-like sweetness is present, this is reasonably well balanced and got better as it warmed.

Mouthfeel is silky smooth and creamy, with an overall sweet taste, zero carbonation and a medium body. The alcohol presence is there throughout this beer, and while it has kick to it, it is not overpowering or offensive. This is a definite slow sipper.

A little too sweet for my liking, but a very interesting and tasty beer. Steep price tag at $19 per bottle at Blue Smoke in NYC, but there was a level of sophistication achieved while savoring this beer. Quite fantastic what aging can do to a brew, the sweetness from the sugar conversions made this that much more complex and for that I'm appreciative of the brewing craftsmanship.

 1,302 characters

Photo of lloydboss
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottled November 2012, enjoyed March 2016

41 characters

Photo of bort11
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2001 edition I had been eying at Bubbles for some time now.

A- Poured into a tulip glass. About a 20 second head only a 1/4 inch high. A ring of lace around the edge. It has the color of dark maple syrup.

S- Coffee, chocolate, toffee, molasses rotate in the nose. It smells heavy and sweet.

T- the flavors melt onto the tongue. Toffee comes out on top. It feels like it is soaking into my mouth. Very Very sweet. Almost too sweet for me, but very mellow.

M- Pretty heavy body. It has the consistancy of Maple syrup, so it is thick and sticky, but also very fluid. I enjoyed the feeling of just holding it in my mouth and let it soak in. Almost no carbonation, I think the alcohol is creating more of a tingle.

D- This is a powerful beer. I would like to try other editions to compare. I am going to get more of these, but only to pull out for special occasions. This is not a casual beer, something you couldn't drink on a whim, or should you.

 958 characters

Photo of BARFLYB
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter. 1999 vintage out of the cellar. I've had a few versions of this and 99 was my favorite so it's time for a review.

A- 1999 J.W. Lees pours out extremely thick. Not thick like a stout but thick enough for an over the top barleywine almost resembling syrup. A very dark tan to brown out of the bottle while in the glass it appears a dark mahogany. No head whatsoever leaving no lace presumably. Some bubbles are seen popping up at the surface. A few twirls of the glass, this looks like a watered down syrup.

S- The smells on this are out of this world unique. The only brew comparable to this is thomas hardy and even at that they are different. Every smell from this is strong with nothing holding back leaving as bold aroma. The main factors include raisins, caramel malt, molasses, maple syrup and on the lighter side chocolate. A lot of alcohol is packed in the smell as well. I enjoyed smelling this so much I almost did not want to drink it.

T- I'm so glad that I decided to drink this instead of smell it all night. The taste is just as bold as the smell coating my palette with English barleywine goodness. Up front a lot of that maple syrup, molasses and caramel malts make this quite sweet. This is also joined by some raisins at some point. Figs and dark cherries come to mind. A bunch of dry fruits in the middle with some chocolate sneaking through. the alcohol comes out in the finish and is ever present even after 10 years in the bottle.

M- extremely thick and heavy handed. The sweetness coats the mouth and ligers for quite some time while the alcohol creates a overall warming effect. Not much in terms of carbonation which is fine with this old of a bottle. Not bitter in the least bit and I wonder if a fresh bottle would show some hop bite as there is non in this. Why would there be any hops this is 10 years old, they are long gone.

D- The only way I can drink this is in very small sips over a lot of time. Everytime I have a JW I have no desire for anything else be it beer or water or whatever. In other words I am spent after the 10oz or so and ready for bed. This is the best night cap beer ever in my eyes. I can see how the sweetness of this could be off putting for others and it is slighty for me after time. I still love this stuff though and want to try a 20 year old bottle.

 2,350 characters

Photo of sacfly
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 vintage, reviewed in October of 2005 275 ml bottle

100th review!

Pours a dark red color. Slightly hazy. Thin head- almost nothing there. Aroma is off the charts sweet. Honey and malt.

Taste is very honey like. Viscous and sweet, but not nearly as sweet as expected from the pancake syrup like mouth feel. Aftertaste is more of the lingering honey sweetness.

You would be wise to keep a stock of these vintage ales in your cellar. I could see even wine geeks getting a rise off of this one.

 508 characters

Photo of thampel09
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Roze
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of ElGuapo
4.34/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1988 vintage.

A very chunky pour of deep brown amber with a tiny little bit of head on top. The floaties are large in quantity and size, but that doesn't bother me. The aroma is big, sweet, and malty. Rich aromas of dark fruits hit the air as well as touches of alcohol.

It is very smooth, and the carbonation is almost not there at all. I usually like atleast a little bit of bubbles, but this one didn't need them at all. The thick beer must have had plenty of time to mature. It still had loads of flavor. Sweet malts, dark fruit, hints of caramel. There were also mild spicy flavors, and little bits of alcohol. It was complex and heavy, yet very drinkable. This is a treat, and I sure can not wait to try the other vintages I have sitting around.
Thanks to IrishRedRock for this oldie but goodie!

 810 characters

Photo of mondegreen
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage into a Samichlaus Tulip.

A: Deep copper with ruby hues. Even after 11 years, this beer puts up a thick 1 finger head. It recedes after a minute leaving a ring of foam around the glass. No lacing.

S: Dense sweet malts. The layers of sweet malt are enticing and complex. This beer isn't a one trick pony.

T: Much like the nose, there is a deep sweetness. There is nothing fake or artificial about this brew. The sweetness grows into a slighty spicy aftertaste, making this the epitome of English Barleywines.

M: Very thick, borderline creamy. The heaviness helps to carry the complex sweet character of the beer. Superb.

D: Again, the epitome of an English Barleywine. After 11 years, this beer begs to be sipped and explored for hours on end. Thourghly impressive.

 786 characters

Photo of CanuckRover
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours a murky brown. It's not pretty, but it's on style, so can't be too hard on it. Thin film, showing some carbonation, which is promising.

Sweet nose. Aroma of apple pie, honey.

As expected from the nose. Calvados flavours, dates, and just a bit of spice, cinnamon-like. Slightly woody. Alcohol is nowhere to be seen, just a tingle in the finish.

A classic for a reason.

 378 characters

Photo of beerogre
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001 Vintage sampled Nov 2006.

Another very special sipping beer, which I purchased along with a Thomas Hardy Ale last weekend. Visually both are really quite ghastly, in my opinion!

For me, this had the beating of the Thomas Hardy. Both were excellent little treats, but the Harvest Ale just seemed to have that extra touch of class, which is the difference between finishing in the last 8 of the World Cup like England, or going all the way to the final like Italy or France. Sad but true!

Again, not too hard to believe if someone offered you a glass and told you it was a sherry and when I offered my wife a taste, (as I often do when I believe I'm sampling an exceptional beer) she was reluctant to return it and wanted to down the whole thing. That's usually the sign of a really good beer, as she's normally content with just a little sip.

A rare treat, and worth sampling as a one off, but I'll take my value for money Ommegangs anyday thank you very much.

 976 characters

Photo of emyers
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

2002 edition poured into Founders snifter.

Appearance: pours a deep amber-brown with a thin off-white lacing.

Smell: a potent bouquet of raisin covered in molasses. Tons of caramel malt. Maybe a bit of vanilla, but the raisin-molasses thing really overpowers everything else. Very, very potent aroma.

Taste: just as the nose advertised. Tons of raisin with quite a bit of caramel, mocha, just a touch of oak. Very, very sweet. Extreme richness and depth of flavor.

Mouthfeel: thick, sweet, fairly low carbonation barely keeps it from getting unpleasantly syrupy.

Overall: this is a slow sipping beer in its most pure form. The sweetness can get overbearing in a hurry if you drink this too quickly, but damn it has a lot of flavor.

 739 characters

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 87.9% out of 100 with 1,522 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.