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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
861 Reviews
Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
861
Ratings:
1,513
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.88%
 
 
Wants:
265
Gots:
226
For Trade:
14
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Reviews: 861 | Ratings: 1,513
Photo of megahurts4
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

JW Lees Harvest Ale 2009

Appearance: reddish, small head, and a little lacing.

Smell: malty caramel and toffee.

Taste: malty caramel-honey, spices, some fruit, and an earthy-wood flavor.

Mouthfeel: malty and heavy.

Overall:
This is a very malty and flavorful brew. It starts with a thick spicy caramel blast. There is an odd earthy-wood flavor at the end.

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.77/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 1.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

9.3 oz bottle into a snifter. 2009 vintage.

A: Pours a rather murky dark brown color. Very little head is featured here, just a thin collar that's white with big bubbles. Not to mention, further examination reveals some huge white-colored chunks of sediment. This is what we in the business call "ass-ugly".

S: Wow. This is hugely sweet - almost like a barleywine that's been distilled even further. Huge dark fruit and caramel sweetness abounds, with plenty of underlying chocolate. I also detect some toffee and some mellow earthiness. Fascinatingly rich, if perhaps a touch too sweet.

T: Indeed, this is one sweet bitch. It opens with plenty of caramel maltiness and dark fruit esters. After the midpoint, the focus switches more to toffee, vanilla, tobacco, and chocolate. Alcohol is mildly prevalent on the back end, but takes on an excellent character, more similar to rum than vodka. After about 3 oz, it does transcend into the realm of "too sweet", with its strong toffee notes ultimately becoming the dominant flavor. There's good depth and complexity to compensate somewhat.

M: The body does a decent job of keeping the sugary sweetness in check by slightly drying out on the finish, which has a side effect of intruding on the softness of the texture somewhat. Even with that, it's a heavy, smack-your-lips sweet brew, with almost no carbonation.

O: Well, it's everything a dessert barleywine should be - big, rich, complex, and decadent. However, even at 9.3 oz, this is best split between two people due to how cloying it is. Compare that to, say, Sucaba, which I can finish a 750ml bottle of with little trouble. Absolutely worth trying...just don't drink it before dinner.

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Photo of throwitallaway
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to roymunson for this brew! This is the from the 2001 vintage. Decanted from the bottle into a snifter. Pours a quite dark amber color with zero head as expected. Smells of huge malts, cherries, toffee, and alcohol. I've had very few barleywines, so this aroma is quite unique and interesting. The taste is sweet, with raisins, cherries, toffee, and booze all making an appearance. This is so sweet I should have definitely waited to try it later in the day, like after dinner, as opposed to 2 pm. Mouthfeel is quite thick. Drinkability is extremely low as it would take me forever to even finish one of these. I'm conflicted with this beer. It's obviously an excellent beer, but it's so far out of any style I enjoy, that it's hard for me to get too into it.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. 2008 vintage.

Appearance - Pours with no head and no lacing. Sticky legs down the side, but not much else redeeming. Looks syrupy in the glass. Huge chunks of sediment come out of the bottom. Suspending in my maple-syrup looking beer. Kinda gross.

Smell - Oh wow. Raisiny goodness. Like a dense fruitcake. Definitely booze to it. Some caramel behind all of it, but it's all about the fruits.

Taste - And it's sweet as hell. Like a dense fruitcake. Deep raisin and dark fruit flavors. Quite a nice taste, but golly it's sweet.

Mouthfeel - Did I mention the sweetness? Thick and syrupy. Took me a really long time to finish this bottle. Low carbonation.

Overall - I can only hope some more years of aging will do this nicely. Maybe dry it out a bit. I love the flavors, but they get masked by the sugars.

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Photo of aracauna
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

This is a great, deep amber colored body, althoug there's little to no head, it's still a beautiful beer. The aroma is mainly walnuts and honey. The flavor is just a little too sweet. This is very mead-like. A little syrupy. It would be best as an after-dinner sipper, I think.

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Photo of Zadok
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Vintage 2000

Poured a deep hazy amber with no head or lacing to speak of.

Smell is unbelievable, strong aroma of many dark fruits to include raisins, dates, figs, and cherries. Faint malts and hops in the background with alcohol mixed ever so slightly.

Wow, dark fruits abound in a syrupy mix of caramel and sweet malts. Raisins, cherries and figs are on the border of overpowering but still slight enough to make an unbelievable elixir. Alcohol definitely has a warming presence and only increases as it warms.

Very smooth and syrupy with low carbonation.

Although the quality and time invested is evident, the high ABV and insane amount of sweetness make this a once in a year brew for me personally. Even with the small (9.4 I believe) I could only really see splitting with someone else if I ever happened across another. Maybe a different year would have a little less sweetness...time will tell.

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Photo of shleepy
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

2011 vintage:
Small head. A murky light brown color. Caramel, plum/prune in smell. Quite pleasant. Taste is completely different - extremely toasty, with a burnt sunflower seed kind of taste. Quite intense, all around.

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Photo of Samp01
3.74/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

9.3oz bottle. Pours a dark reddish brown with a small quickly fading cream colored head. Aroma is sweet caramel malt, very fruity esters, a bit of banana note up front, yeast and dark fruit notes. Taste is of sweet caramel and toffee, mild chocolate malt, very fruity with some dark dried fruit, a kind of fermented grapes flavor, yeast, almost brandy like with some cask and wood flavor. Palate is a medium to full body, smooth and creamy, slightly sweet cloying mouth feel. Finish is same as Taste no need to repeat it all, with a lingering sweet caramel and mild sweet alcohol flavors. Overall a good yet complex nose and flavored brew, has a nice after taste, good after dinner brew with a sweet dessert

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1998 Vintage

This beer pours a glassy brown amber that fades to copper near the edges with no head at all.

Smells of gooey barley, marshmallows and honey with a smooth oak and an over powering alcohol.

Tastes a lot like Southern Comfort with a corn syrup sweetness and a slight orange citrus sting along the sides of my tongue. I’m also getting hints of cocoa and charcoal in the finish with a slight woody oak.

The mouth feel is medium bodied and smooth. It was also a lot cleaner (not sticky) that I anticipated. Can’t say much for the carbonation, sadly.

This one was just too smoky in the flavor and hot in the nose for me. Not my favorite vintage by far. Maybe I missed something, but this wasn’t all that great.

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Photo of BirdFlu
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark amber, cloudy with little head, good for a barleywine. Smell is very yeasty and sweet, very much like apple cider. Taste is quite sweet and odd, very raisiny as you would expect to find in an eisbock or such. Also fruity and estery. Mouth is medium-bodied with low to medium carb. Fairly straight forward with that strong sweetness having a presence in the feel. The flavor is honestly a bit off-putting (maybe the bottle I had was a bit off after its aging?) Very swwet and malty to an unbalanced extent. That said, its certainly not bad, but a bit syrupy.

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Photo of OddNotion
3.72/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

9.3 oz bottle
Brewed in 2009
Poured into my Delirium Tremens Bulb Glass

Appearance: Pours a deep brown body topped off with a half a finger off white head. Some floaties are visible in the beer even with my careful transport from my cellar to my fridge and my fridge to my glass.

Smell: Very sweet. Some breadiness. With an extremely light inhalation I smell a lit cigar (new one to me).

Taste: Interesting. A little piney, not like the nice hop pine but legitimately like pine needles at the beginning of the sip. Later on I get some maple syrup that quickly turns to molases. Brown sugar. Ends with that same cigar I noticed in the nose. The 11.5% alcohol is not noticable what-so-ever. Unlike any other beer I have ever had.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel lacks carbonation and it is very thick. I think it either needs to be a little thinner for the beer to taste better OR the beer needs to have less residual sweetness to match the viscosity OR the carbonation needs to be higher. For the first time ever, I can now point to a beer that I think has a cloying sweetness.

Overall: A little expensive for the bottle at about $7 for the 9.3 oz. This beer has such a high average but feels subpar to me, little bit of a let down. However, I may buy another one and let it age longer to see if it improves.

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Photo of carln26
3.72/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Medium copper color, mildly hazy and topped by a thin off white head, the beer settled quickly into the glass, as did the head. The nose is very sweet. Some mild yeast, a little dark caramel, sweet date, and a light touch of citrus hops. The flavor is rich and sweet. There are hints of dark fruit, toffee, dates, and a mild yeast note. The hops have run away to hind. There is a subtle bitterness, and maybe, just maybe some orange character. The mouth feel is slick and smooth, and there is surprisingly little alcohol on the finish. Oh, it's there, but at 11.5, I expect a lot more. Surprisingly drinkable.

 609 characters

Photo of MbpBugeye
3.72/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2006. Really glad to be reviewing this beer. It seems to be one of the standard, traditional English Barleywines. Im making this my 200th review!

A- Nearly flat. A rough pour got barely any head. Some air bubbles but thats just because I started pouring so roughly. I decanted so all those big chunks of sediment I saw in the other cask aged versions stayed in the bottle. The result is a clear deep amber beer. It looks like a spirit more than a beer. No head, no carbonation, no lacing.

S- Very powerful scent. Vanilla extract, darker fruits like prunes and lots of alcohol. Its a spicy alcohol like that of a spiced rum or a scotch.

T- Very deep and caramel-y. Some oak, vanilla, toasted malts and nuttiness. Lots of alcohol, no hops in the taste at all. This is a very sweet beer. Nearly cloying at times.

M- Like the apperance would suggest there is next to no carbonation. The beer is thick as hell and chewy. Not really all that sticky but it remains on the palate because of its sheer thickness.

D- Big, powerful, sweet and almost cloying. A real sipper. This is a good ale, but I dont think it quite lives up to its name.

 1,143 characters

Photo of chinchill
3.71/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Cask of 2015 vintage.
Sweet and near cloying but acceptable given style and ABV.
High abv is not hidden but the ale is not hot.
Complex aroma is better than the flavor which would probably benefit from some aging.

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Photo of stevoj
3.71/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

2015 vintage on tap at Churchkey. Dark copper with small airy head. Malt with tons of brown sugar sweetness, maple, caramel, toffee. Sweetness distracts from the 11.5% ABV, which delivers some latent heat. Like a big alcoholic Sugar Daddy. (I love Sugar Daddies)

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Photo of StonedTrippin
3.71/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2008 vintage. not sure what the big deal is here. this is just a really sweet, yeasty, alcoholic monster. pouring a glittery golden color with a ton of coagulated yeast sediment and a minimal white head. the nose is very sugary, honey sweet, sticky, and yeasty. some fruit notes up front in the taste. alcohol wipes out any other potential subtleties, all i taste is booze and sugar, maybe a hint of vanilla from mid sip onwards. really syrupy in feel, not much carbonation, and more residual sugar that i can handle without turning diabetic. long teeth coating finish. overall not my favorite stuff here, not worth the price or the hype, maybe another decade would make this a star, but im just not feeling it here.

 716 characters

Photo of meeekyh
3.71/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2002 vintage

From a 275 ml bottle marked Harvest Ale 2002 into a St. Bernardus chalice.

Upon opening the bottle I was met with a nosefull of dark, dried fruits. A good pour revealed very little tan head and a full brown opaque beer.

Smalls are strong dried fig and currant along with crusty bread.

Taste is full, sweet and complexly layered. An initial sweetness and tang are followed by a woody taste and an alcoholic wafting dissolving into maple sugar.

Mouthfeel is full and a bit surypy though not as coating as could be with almost no carbonation.

This beer has characteristics of many of the fine liquors and liqueurs I have had. There is a distinct caramelization and dark dried fruit flavour that comes through in these elixirs.

A fine once in awhile sipper with little allure to me personally.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.7/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-cask 2/17/2012 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep coppery brown color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves very little lace on the glass which is expected from a cask beer.

S: The aroma contains brown sugar, bourbon, caramelized malts, alcohol and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a burnt malt flavor followed by sweet flavors of caramel, brown sugar and bourbon. The hops presence is mild but complementary and the malt character is hearty but there isn’t much balance. The after-taste is slightly smoky and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, very strong kick, good representation of style, I can appreciate the smokiness and aging of the beer but the flavors just didn’t seem to come together well for me. There are several less-expensive alternatives in the style that I enjoy a lot more.

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Photo of charlzm
3.69/5  rDev -13.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Bottle labeled December 1st, 2001 - consumed October 26th, 2008.

Beverage poured a cloudy, sediment-laden orange/brown into "special" Samuel Adams Boston lager glass. Minimal carbonation, but more than I would have expected from a seven year old barleywine. A thin skin of off-white foam does not quite cover the surface of the beer, but the small ring around the edges performs some minimal lacing duties.

Aroma is strong and sweet; brown sugar and dates, raisins and prunes. Is that a whiff of cinnamon? Bready, too, like a fresh golden fruitcake hot from the oven. A trace of booze, like dark rum as well.

Very thick in the mouth, which was not surprising. The surprise was that the finish was very clean for a beer of this heft.

Flavor: strong and intensely sweet. Alcohol presence. Pitted fruits as in the nose. A bit bready. A slight wood character. But really, the sweetness is overwhelming, making the flavor cloying.

With a bit less sweetness, this would have been awesome. As it was, I still finished the glass, but I did not particularly enjoy it.

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Photo of nriech
3.68/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2000 Edition enjoyed on 11/11/2006

Appearance: Mahogany colored, darker than any regular ale but not quite porter colored either. (I'm a guy, I dont know any color thats not in the 10 color crayon box)

Smell: Oaky oaky oaky. Very nice, almost more enjoyable than a bourbon. A little fruity and more oak, aged nicely.

Taste: Very smooth and sweet. You have to know going into this its going to be sweet and expect it otherwise youll be heading towards the drain with a very expensive pour. A bit of alcohol but not overpowering, nice actually. Not entirely complex though as I would have liked but a nice depart from the usual. Stickeyness at the end which I actually enjoy and get even more flavor from.

Drinkability: Not entirely high due to the sweetness, one bottle once in a while. A great brew to share during a tasting session though.

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Photo of nick76
3.68/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

1997, 1999, 2005. The aroma is very sweet but not cloying. It's got dark fruit, caramel, vinous qualities, oak, and rum. The appearance is nice too with some haze to a dark copper gold. The flavor is like the aroma but a little bit astringent. The palate is smooth and thick as heck. Overall a nice beer. The 97 had a bit of coffee and the 99 was the sweetest.

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Photo of Onenote81
3.67/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2000. Sampled on 2/15/10.

Bottle received from BDLbrewster in a trade awhile back. Thanks!

Poured into a snifter. Pours a thick, syrupy mahogany with a thin tan head on top. This disappears to just a ring around the edge. Little spotty lace. Scents of toffee, molasses, syrup, and wet wood.

The body still retains a good amount of carbonation, but the finish is extremely smooth and warming. This is a very sweet beer after all these years. Big toffee and caramel notes. Sugary syrup finish. Sort of a chalky mouth on the back end. This is almost too sweet for me. It's definitely a slow-sipper. Not a bad bottle to split among friends, and enjoy by the fire.

 671 characters

Photo of thebigredone
3.66/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage. Great sweet toffee and caramel upfront, but then a weird plasticy (perhaps slightly oxidized) taste dominates the back end. Wish the beer would have finished better.

 179 characters

Photo of Antilochus
3.65/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 2006 - reviewed July 2008. 11.5% abv, 275mL bottle. Room temp. Served with Stilton.

Clear dark copper body under a thin cap of bubbles - tiny bubbles stick to the side of the glass. If this isn't a barleywine, what is?

Aromas of toffee, dark fruits, burnt sugar. Yum... dark, sweet grains... rye, nuts. Raisins. Superb.

Feel is remarkably thin, but lots of flavour - raisins, molasses, peaches, prunes, cake mix, rotten apples, burnt sugar. Finish is on mincemeat pie, a hint of astringency. Gigantic malt presence.

A bit young yet, but some things about this 06er are to be greatly admired.

 603 characters

Photo of desertbronze
3.65/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

9.3 oz. bottle - 2001 vintage.

Copper color in the glass - thin head fades almost immediately.

Smells extremely sweet - oxidation notes in the background.

One dimensional sweet taste with some oxidation noted. Not surprising given the age of the beer.

Cloying on the tongue - sweet taste lingers after the swallow. Oxidation in the aftertaste.

Too sweet to be drinkable in any quantity - I split this bottle with a friend - could have split it four ways without cheating anybody.

I bought 2 of these in 2003 - drank one in 2006 - thought it was good but too sweet. Saved this one - still too sweet and starting to oxidize as well. Seems like laying this down for 2-3 years is about right.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,513 ratings.
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