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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
862 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:
862
Ratings:
1,515
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.88%
 
 
Wants:
265
Gots:
226
For Trade:
15
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 862 | Ratings: 1,515
Photo of yelterdow
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1997 Vintage.

Label says "best before Nov. 2002"... jeez, it's March '06! 250 ml. bottle. Let's see if this $5.99 was well spent or just thrown away.

Served in a grossly oversize brandy snifter at cellar temperature. Paired with Rogue Creamery's Smoky Blue Cheese. Mmmm.

Appearance- Pours a clear dark ruby, garnishing a one finger light tan head... damn impressive for a nine year old barleywine! Island-like lacing clings to the sides of the glass, as the weighty liquid mass beckons me to sip from its royal goodness.

Smell- Holy crap... nine years later, this beer is ready to unfurl. Huger than huge vanilla, old wood, sweet dark figs and dates drenched in aged port wine. Smooth with no alcohol burn in the nose whatsoever.

Taste- Instantly sweet on the tip of the tongue, displaying a gigantic malt character that showcases meat and molasses as the backbone... some vanilla and possibly oak barrels come forth and carry through the finish.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Almost syrupy in the mouth... smooth but thick and viscous. Carbonation levels are tuned down way low, letting the saturation of flavor flow abundantly. Heavy, yet easy drinking. What a fantastic nightcap, paired with a big blue cheese like this one... who needs dinner when you got this to wind down your day?

 1,301 characters

Photo of TastyTaste
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1997 Vintage. 8 years old at time of sampling.

Appearance: Deep scarlet colored on the pour, 3/4" good retention, visible carbonation through the depths of the beer.

Smell: Sweet toffee, figs, raisins, and honey.

Taste: Very sweet, rich, with honey, lots of coffee, and chocolate, also slightly smokey. Rich, with many different flavors that nake this a complex beer. My only complaint is the intensely sweet taste.

Mouthfeel: Slick then sticky, good.

Drinkability: Very interesting, a unique and sippable English barleywine, not my favorite, but very good.

 572 characters

Photo of nlmartin
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer was the 2000 vintage. The beer was poured into a wide mouthed wine goblet.

Appearance: The beer poured a very lovely ruby coppery coloration. The head was about a finger thick off honey coloration. The head quickly resolved into a ring of foam. Specks of lacing remained on the glass.

Smell: The beer smelled of fresh doughnuts very fruity and sweet. Honey nutty cloves swam in the smell. There is no trace of the alcohol in the smell.

Taste: This is just a wonderful beer drinking experience. The beer is way malty sweet; however, the beer doesnt even come close to being cloyingly oversweet. The beer taste bready with a malty wheat taste. THe beer taste of nutty honey combinations. There is not trace of the alcohol in the taste.

Mouthfeel: This beer is just simply the master of the palate. The beer is supper full bodied. The beer has a very silky buttery mouthfeel. If I did not know this beer was 11.5% I wouldnt be able to tell in the consumption.

Drinkability: This beer is a very dangerous drinking experience. It is the kind of beer that should be a savor and sip beer. I just couldnt keep my hands off of the beer. I am not a religious man in any since of the word. I think I know at last what a religious experience feels like. I dont believe in God but I believe in the Beer Gods.

 1,320 characters

Photo of timtheenchanta
4.6/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Vintage 2001

Orangish brown color with a slightly off white head. To my surprise, this beer has a thin lacing.

Raisins molasses and alcohol.

Lots of flavor in this one. Slight coffee with some honey. Lots of alcohol and raisins. Very rich flavor. Tons of carbonation and creamy smooth feel. An enjoyable beer. One that I would love to get my hands on again.

 366 characters

Photo of Sephiroth
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled in 1988: Cap is quite rusty, the foil covering has seemingly melded with the bottle. Cap pops with no sound. Almost no carbonation, but the one I drank with a buddy three days ago actually had a half inch head, which quickly disappeared. Slight oxidation in the nose, maple syrup, molasses.

Again, slight oxidation in the taste. If you've ever had a more recent vintage, say 98 or more recently, you know how sweet this beer can be. That sweetness has dried out completely I think. I won't insult this beer by listing flavors, I'll just say that it is a great lesson in what age can do for this barleywine. Mouthfeel is silky smooth, lusciously thick. Drinkability is unquestionable.

When I had this a few days ago, it was hands down the best beer I've ever had. This bottle obviously didn't age quite as well, but hopefully my other two will have fared better.

 877 characters

Photo of BillyB
3.85/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 Vintage in a 9.3 oz. bottle.

Pours a clear orange/copper color with a slight tan head. A little bit of sediment left in the bottle.

Very sweet dark fruit smell of plums, raisins, black cherry and a woody, port type smell.

Intense malt flavor with strong caramel sweetness. A bit dry after the swallow. Slightly bitter aftertaste and a very strong alcohol warming effect.

 384 characters

Photo of Manosbeeroffate
1.4/5  rDev -67.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

1998 Vintage.

Ok, I'm gonna be the weirdo here. I don't like this. I don't know if it's a bad bottle or if it's because I don't like this style. Pours a dark brown, slight reddish tone. Smell is extremly sweet smell. Taste? Way beyond too sweet, like if I was drinking straight malt syrup with a bit of alcohol. Mouthfeel is syrupy. Drinkability is horrid. Spent $6.99 on a 9.6 oz. bottle so I was not going to drainpour, but I was damn close. It may just be me and I do understand if other people do like it but this was just horrible. It only looked nice and that was it.

 577 characters

Photo of OldFrothingSlosh
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1997 vintage.

The color is a murky, syrupy reddish-hued brown. Somewhat aggressive pour still leaves just a trace layer of paper-thin tan head. Zero lacing on the glass. Aromas are loaded with port and sherry notes, swirling with dark and "estery" fruit notes. Modest tone of a leafy-grassy hop note as well. Flavor is wonderful. Loaded with sweet honey and caramel, sweet port notes, alcohol-soaked fruit flavor. Finish sees a kick of the port aftertaste, with a bit of bitterness from the hops. Thick, thick mouthfeel and so very easy to drink. Nothing out of whack at all. Simply superb.

Best by date of 11/2002. I scoffed. I must get more.

 650 characters

Photo of Prufrock
3.89/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

9.3 oz. bottle, 2002, poured into a tulip.

clear orange amber with a thin layer of off-white head and a touch of dark sediment.

powerfully sweet smell. molasses, raisins, caramel, and sherry.

syrupy mouthfeel with a medium carbonation. sherry-like sweetness with a strong kick of alcohol in the aftertaste. vinous, malty and honey-sweet. very close to being cloying and overly sweet.

 392 characters

Photo of silver0rlead
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

99 vintage: Pours a hazy copper color with a thin tan head (looks good for a 6 year old barleywine). The aroma leaps out of the glass, with a huge malt presence of molasses, dark fruits (plum, fig, blackberry, grape), toasted breadm, some floral and citrus hops, fruity esters and a not overwhelming alcohol. The flavor starts out with an intense molasses sweetness, followed by a big malt character, with notes of toasted bread, almonds, dark fruits (fig, plum, grape), some light citrusy hops, fruity esters, and ethanol. The mouthfeel is chewy and thick, with light carbonation and drinkability is good . A nice barleywine for sure, but a bit sweet for my taste (reminded me a bit of eku28).

 694 characters

Photo of numenor1
3.57/5  rDev -16%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2

'98 bottling

Pours a hazy opaque garnet hued brown. And even a modest head! Shocking for its gravity and age. Smell is malty sweetness incarnate. Molasses, honey, very slight roast, typical old beer smell and a very slight metallic hint. Taste is sweeett. Too sweet for my tastes. Incredible malt depth. Slight alcohol up front, then a wave of molasses, brown sugar, candied currants, dried prunes, and slight chocolate through the finish. Alcohol is unnoticeable..so long as sips are small. A very very very slow sipper. Syrupy. Overly cloying. Reminiscent of port, which is something I still haven't developed a taste for. Body is incredibly full with lush soft carbonation. A very slow sipper. I said it twice. Impressive, but still not what i want in a beer.

 765 characters

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

Brewed in 2004.

The beer poured into the chalice clear deep golden amber with a low and wispy off-white head that formed slowly and never grew.

The aroma was malty with an intense caramel and old ale characteristic of ruby port. The aroma was fruity and contained a sherry presence. The aroma was also strongly sweet like a freshly cut juicy apple.

The flavor was malty with a strong caramel sweetness and an intense caramel presence. The sweetness the attacked the palate at first swallow begins to dry as the beer lingers on the palate. The bittering, while in the background, was strong enough to lend a drying character to the beer.

The finish was even, oh heck, just a bit on the not dry side with lasting caramel and malt long and pleasantly into the aftertaste. The body was full and viscous. The alcohol was mainly present in the warming that occurred after consumption. A very nice beer, but could have used a bit more head retention.

9.3 ounce bottle.

 976 characters

Photo of BeerBuilder
4.44/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 Vintage

Pours to a reddish-brown color with a thin off-white head that leaves spotty lacing. The aroma is semi-sweet, malty, toffee, molasass and honey. Very nice.

The flavor is malty, honey-like, with toffee and a bit of chocolate. It is a bit vinous as well. It is full bodied and smooth drinking for it strength. It has a nice creamy texture as well. A very nice brew. Thanks to Jimmy.

 399 characters

Photo of luvND
4.9/5  rDev +15.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999

I have had this case for nearly a year now and only break one out on special occasions, have also given a few as gifts to those I deem worthy.

Bottle: Nice fallish label, 1999 gold embossed

Appearance: In a brandy snifter, it can only be described as perfect. Thick, small bubbled head. Swirls beautifully. Deep amber color.

Smell: Sweet, molasses, bready, licorice, candied raisons.

Taste: Beautiful. Sweet, black licorice, very reminiscent of a brandy or port.

Mouthfeel: So creamy and slick, flavors linger pleasantly and your tongue actually feels coated with the stuff for a few minutes after the swallow.

Drinkability: About one an hour I'd say to properly enjoy this through a range of temperatures, it really does change as it warms a bit.

Notes: It is not an exaduration to say that this is the BEST beer that I have ever tasted. I would love to try some of the other vintages as this is the only year that was available at the time.

 971 characters

Photo of akorsak
4.8/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is a 1998 vintage, purchased today from Wells Discount Liquors (n.b. they have an impressive selection of vintage JW Lees, 1998 through 2001 at least, as well as the 2004 vintage). I am drinking it from my Devil's Milk snifter, served cold.

Appearance: Dark ruby red in color, lighter colors emerge when held up to light. The ale poured with a decent head (1 finger's worth) that dissapated quickly and left no lace.

Smell: A veritable malt bomb here. The malt aroma make themselves abundantly known. I also see an undercurrent of licorice (albeit slight).

Taste: The ale is seven years old. In that time, the heady malt in the aroma has mellowed dramatically in the taste. Malt is still the predominant flavor, but it does not numb the mouth. Instead, it leaves a light refreshing taste in the mouth that is very well balanced.

Mouthfeel: Exquisite! The ale has aged so well that the alcohol does not overpower, nor do the malts used.

Drinkability: I need to make a return trip to Wells to purchase this vintage as well as those before (and after) that they stock. I'm gonna age a few of these up to 10+ years, they are that drinkable.

In my opinion, this is the standardbearer for vintage/cellared ales.

 1,228 characters

Photo of DrJay
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 1997:
This beer poured a deep ruby red, mostly clear, and was topped by a thin reddish brown head made up of extremely fine bubbles that produced tiny dots of lace throughout. It was intensely malty, with plum and raisin balancing sweet toffee and caramel, all very English in character. Hints of molasses and vanilla crept in as well. The first flavour that hit me was chocolate covered figs, followed by malty sweet toffee and caramel with some nuttiness. Tobacco, plum and raisin character all appeared, creating a very complex flavour. There was even a bit of bitterness left to balance the overall sweet flavour. The very low carbonation was incredibly fine and completely integrated into the body and texture, which was incredibly smooth. Just a bit of stickiness remained. Drinking this beer was an incredible experience. It felt incredibly light on the palate, almost like there was nothing there, and the flavours were amazing.

 945 characters

Photo of EStreet20
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1998 vintage poured into an oversized wine glass.

A - pours a very dark brown, approacching black with a one finger off white head.

S - A big toffee aroma with some brown sugar smells in there too. Perhaps some raisins/dates and a bit of spice.

T - A ton of sweetness up front. Some caramel and molasses as well as a toasted flavor. A bit of alcohol and some huge fruit flavors meld with with a honey like finish.

M - A very smooth and creamy feel.

D- Interesting to say the least. Not my favorite style but for someone who likes a ton of malt sweetness this is the way to go.

 591 characters

Photo of Lnedrive14
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
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 Viggo
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Vintage 1997. The most spectacular beer I've ever had the pleasure of trying. Pours a pretty clear mahogany brown, with a small thick tan head, spotty lace and plenty of legs. Smell is mollasses, vanilla, super malty, grape, plum/raisin, little bit of alcohol, very vinous. Taste is bitter chocolate/coffee, raisins, plums, dates, spice, figs. Mouthfeel is very full bodied, low carbonation. Fucking amazing, and bottled the same year i graduated elementary school! Thanks DrJay!

 479 characters

Photo of UncleFlip
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000

Healthy tan cascading two and a half finger head falls at medium pace. No lace appears left behind as it falls, but maybe it;s my glass. Liquid is murky reddish dark honey colour. More orange when held to the light.

Smeel is very thick and malty- pungent with a sharp point. I'm feeling papaya, fresh orange, black licoride, and ample spice. Very nice.

Right off the top, the licorice is there...but it's dry and woody...there's some covert smokiness and pepper here as well, and some sort of burned chocolate that's very pleasant. A wonderful barley wine.

Thick liquid hits up front, and a medium carbonation builds behind. It's a very good balance.

For such a strong and assertive brew, this is remarkably drinakable. Nicely done.

Be well
-UF

 768 characters

Photo of Derek
4.2/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2003.

A: Orangy-brown with a white head. Not much retention, clings to the glass more like a leg than a lace. The Burgundy of Britain?

S: Nice British fruityness.

T: Wow. Very sherry-like, some nice apricot fruit flavour. Balance is slightly tipped to the sweet side. Quality British pale malt in the background, but the yeast really produces the flavours here. I'm not always a fan of the fruity British ales, but this is REALLY nice.

M: Moderate body and carbonation. Very light for its strength (well attenuated).

D: This is a very nice sipper. At 11.5%, you're not looking at a session brew. The taste is easily approachable.

Thanks Kevin... Really, thanks a lot!

 695 characters

Photo of Beersignal
4.79/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I got two bottles of this J.W.Lees Harvest Ale 1997 vintage from my uncle who purchased them in Boston at Charles Street Liquors... I owe him a solid.

Dark brown with burnt caramel highlights underneath a slim head of evanescent foam that is tan in colour. After 8 years in the bottle I wouldn't expect a gigantic and billowy cap, nor would it be very fitting for the style. A rich and attractive looking brew.

The aromas are tremendously complex and I, once again, fear that I will be at a loss to do them justice but... here it goes. Very harmonious and rounded notes of malt and dried fruit blast out of the glass right up front. Sweetness of sultanas seems to dominate the initial aromas but are certainly not limited to this alone. A slight tartness creeps in, reminescent of sour cherries and is closely followed by faint hints of black olives. A mild aroma of pralines keeps returning at every whiff followed by sweet tobacco leaves and traces of milk chocolate. The finish is slightly sherried and as rounded and complex as the front.

This is a big, bold, and rounded brew of colossal proportions. Extremely full bodied but by no means cloying, it has a subtle and balancing bitterness derived from the alcohol and hops which renders this brew surprisingly drinkable for such a heady drink. The flavours are easily as complex as the aromas. Long notes of chocolatey maltiness develop initially and are followed by a mix of toffee, dark fruits like black cherries, currants, plums and raisins. Once again, as in the aromas, a distinct sweet tobacco flavour permeates and gives the impression that I had been sucking on a Partagas Mille Fleurs. The aftertaste is long and mild with a gentle replay of the sweetness and roundedness experienced throughout the tasting.

This is without a doubt a nightcap brew but, due to its smaller than average format I could easily see myself polishing a few bottles of this off after dinner or before bed. Has become my new favourite barleywine hands down.

Santé

SMD

 2,026 characters

Photo of maggotbrain
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 bottle:

The beer pours a murky, reddish brown color with a thin tan head. The head has receded to a thin layer of film and little to no lace is forming on the glass.

The odor is rich and reminiscent of overripe fruit.

The taste is full and complex, very sweet—maple syrup, toffee, apricots are standouts for me.

The mouthfeel is thick with little carbonation. For a beer as sweet and thick as this is, it isn’t syrupy at all, which is pretty remarkable. Very good.

The drinkabiliy is good; it’s defiantly a slow sipper, very appropriate for the style.

 574 characters

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

This is the 2004 edition drank on 11/17/2005
(Served in a snifter)

A- This beer has a nice warm deep coppery brown body that is crystal clear with a nice thin wispy film of bubble on to that loosely form a head.

S- This beer has a nice vinous, sweet caramel nose that has hints of pear and brown sugar.

T- A smooth sweet sugary toasted caramel malt flavor hits at first and then it finishes with a nice warm alcohol taste in the finish. A slight hint of cherries or dried fruit is noticed in the finish aswell. A nice vanilla oaky quality add another layer to the complexity.

M- A medium-full body with some slippery texture in the finish. The alcohol is a smooth note in the finish, not harsh and no hot.

D- This beer has nice sweet complexity with a nice balance of alcohol to balance the malt sweetness. The tastes of dried fruit and toasted malt really meld nicely.

1999 Vintage drank on 2/14/2010
(Served in a sifter)
A- This beer pours a deep dense brown body with a glow of soft auburn at the base. There is a light bubbly beige head that turns to a thick ring after a bit.

S- A soft tart hint gives way to sherry like sweet malt with some caramel malt sweetness that grows as the beer opens up. There is a soft hop hint in the background.

T- This beer has a rich caramel flavor with a mellow dark toffee note and hints of dark roasted malt buried underneath. There is a nice malt bitter note at the finish that takes on more sherry qualities as the beer opens up.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel with no alcohol heat until the beer is pretty warm and a soft fizz note. There is a slight watery texture when the beer is pretty warm but the alcohol warmth is good.

D- Great rich caramel flavor with a good depth and some nice age characteristics.

 1,773 characters

Photo of KarlHungus
4.48/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1999 Vintage. This brew pours a cloudy dark amber color. The head is large, creamy and off-white. The lacing is thorough. The aroma is very hoppy. The taste is a bit more balanced than the aroma. It is still hoppy, and there is a distinguishable malt backbone. The mouthfeel full bodied with nice carbonation. Overall, this is a fine barleywine; one of the best I have had to date.

 381 characters

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,515 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

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

    Subscribe