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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,520 Ratings
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
Ratings:
1,520
Reviews:
863
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.65%
 
 
Wants:
267
Gots:
227
For Trade:
15
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,520 |  Reviews: 863
Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of superspak
4.82/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

700th review! 275 ml bottle into tulip glass, 2002 vintage(12/1/2002). Pours a murky dark brown color with a small dark khaki head with decent retention that reduces to a ring of lace as expected. Some slight bits of lacing on the glass. Aromas of huge caramel, molasses, biscuit, wood, toffee, raisin, earth, whiskey, chocolate, and light herbal. Damn nice aromas with good strength and complexity. Taste of HUGE caramel, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, wood, raisin, butterscotch, chocolate, biscuit, honey, and slight herbal hops. Lingering notes of molasses, caramel, toffee, raisin, honey, and butterscotch on the finish for a good while. Insane complexity, balance, and smoothness; with no cloying sweetness at all; despite this being a 100% malty beer. Light carbonation and full bodied; with an absolutely beautiful creamy, slick, and thick mouthfeel. Alcohol is insanely well hidden with no warming noticed at all. Definitely a sipper, but I can’t even consider drinking this fast at all. Overall this is an absolutely mind blowing barely wine that was pushing 10 years old. I will not turn down purchasing older vintages of this in the future. Absolutely fantastic.

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Photo of olradetbalder
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of mothman
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1999 Vintage.

Poured into a taster pint glass.

Pours a small off white head. Decent retention thought. Leaves some splattered lace. Color is a very hazed dark caramel brown.

Aroma: Brown sugar, toffee, caramel, grassy hops, and a slight amount of hops.

Taste: Liquid brown sugar, toffee, and caramel. Tons of malt flavors. Some cookies. It has a very sweet taste to it.

Mouthfeel: A little hot, sweet, and smooth. Medium to full bodied with a lower amount of carbonation. Ends full of sweet malts.

Overall, this is a very good for an English B-wine. Very sweet, but still holding up well. Not something I would want a lot of though.

 638 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage. Consumed in May 2009.

A: Medium reddish brown with plenty of creamy head.

S: Lots of sweet malts and some fruitiness as well; slight earthy/woodiness.

T: Very, very sweet. The malts had blended perfectly together and there was the tiniest bit of tartness to it, in a good way.

M: Pretty full with moderate carbonation.

D: Definitely a sipper, but one I was very glad to enjoy.

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Photo of nickfl
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1998 Vintage

A - Half finger of light brown head quickly dissipates and leaves minor lace. The body is dark brown and opaque.

S - Very unusual musty, toasted oak/ dark caramel aroma. Spicy notes and some vanilla as well.

T - Very smooth milk chocolate like flavor up front along with big, creamy caramel apple character. Spicy, slightly woody notes follow, ginger and cinnamon as well as some roasty toffee notes. Some very rounded bitterness asserts itself towards the end, but fades into a lingering alcohol warmth and amazingly rich caramel notes in the finish.

M - Thick, syrupy body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Keeping in mind that this is far from a session beer, it is an extraordinarily sippable sipping beer. Other vintage English beers I have had showed a similar complexity, but never seemed as drinkable as this. The caramel character is nothing short of spectacular and even though it is a very sweet beer it somehow avoids becoming cloying. Despite nearly 10 years in the bottle it shows no signs of oxidation, and has very little of the sherry character that one might expect of a beer this age. Overall, this is a really excellent vintage beer to enjoy on a cold winter night.

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Photo of oberon
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 vintage,I opened a 2003 bottle a few months back and it was just a bit much so I picked this one seeing it was aged already seven years.Pours a deep chesnut brown with just a slight ruby hue with one finger head wich honestly I didnt expect,aromas are incredible walnut and raisin stick out most with a touch of orange,rich and robust flavors but are much more in tune with each other than the 2003 big raisin/prune up front with a roasted nut and maple finish.Thick but not quite syrupy mouthfeel glides down easy,cant think of a better nighttime sipper,just awseome.

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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 NeroFiddled
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage, enjoyed straight from the cellar at 55F. A very deep copper-brown body with amber highlights rests gently beneath an average sized head of creamy off-white froth. The head retention is limited, but at 11.5% that's to be expected - and it still keeps a decent collar which is unusual for such a high alcohol beer! The nose is loaded with sweet, caramelized malt and notes of sticky-sweet dried dark fruit as well as some leafy and almost herbal hops. In the mouth it's full bodied to the point of being syrupy; smooth; and quite creamy. The massive flavor assault that J.W. Lees delivers is quite astounding! It's beyond wort-like in its rich maltiness, dripping with sticky sweetness that's like a combination of honey and port wine. The Kent Goldings come through however, and help to dry it with their leafy and grassy character. The bitterness is noticeably limited, but it's there; and there's a mineral-like edge to it as well that helps keep its toffee/caramel/molasses and dark-fruit maltiness in-check. This is an exceptional Barleywine that's not to be missed!

 1,083 characters

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.35/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

18 years old and still going strong!! Pour is murky brown, slight reddish orange hints, not much head but still sufficiently carbonated. Looks ... old. Smell is still lively though; leathery, dark fruit, caramel / toffee / golden syrup, musty sherry / nutty notes (pretty slight oxidization, adds depth rather than detracting), savory back note. Flavor delivers. Bursts with plum / raisin / toffee sweetness, leather / smoke and a finish of slight soy that gives a balancing savory impression to keep it from going cloying. Thick without being too coating. Compellingly drinkable ... not so heavy you have to nurse it for days. Really a spectacular beer ... a subtle carboard note in the middle and the murky looks is all that keeps this from perfection of the style.

 767 characters

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.

 1,020 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.91/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma if raisins, molasses, toffee, honey. Taste sweet honey, toffee, burnt smokey caramel.

91 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Brewed in 2008

A: Pours a hazy medium reddish brown in color with light amounts of visible carbonation and some significant amounts of dark yeast sediment in the bottom of the glass and some faint apricot + orange highlights. The beer has a thin (less than 1/4 finger tall) light beige head that quickly reduces to a medium sized patch of very thin film and a thin ring at the edges of the glass. Light amounts of lacing are observed.

S: Strong aromas of dark fruits (raisin), toffee, caramel, brown sugar, and a brandy-like liquor smell.

T: Upfront there is a strong flavor of sweet malts with dark fruit (raisin), toffee, caramel, and brown sugar all present. There is also a moderate amount of alcohol that is reminiscent of brandy/cognac. Moderate to strong amounts of sweetness are present and linger through the finish.

M: Full bodied with light to moderate amounts of carbonation. Smooth with some sticky sweetness and moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol warming.

O: This is a very sweet and intense English Barleywine and is definitely one that needs to be sipped slowly considering the high ABV and the not all that well hidden alcohol.

 1,151 characters

Photo of Kegatron
4.36/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask, via hand pump, @ the Mad Fox Brewing Company (Falls Church, VA) on 2/11/12 during their 2nd Annual Barleywine Festival. Served in a small footed Pils glass. 2010 Edition.

Pours a clear coppery gold, with a thin covering of off-white head. This fizzles out pretty quickly, leaving nothing back in terms of retention or lacing. The aroma smells woody and herbal, with some earthy hops and alcohol up front. This works into sweeter notes of toffee, sugary dough, brown sugars, and dark fruit. The fruit and brown sugar elements are standing out to me the most here, as the nose on the whole here is very rich feeling.

The taste is quite similar, with notes of caramel, dough, brown sugar, dark fruit, vanilla, and herbal hops along the back. The finish is woody feeling and very dry, with an almost parching quality to it. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a slick firm creaminess that glides along quite easily for the size. Some alcohol does start to emerge as this warms but the overall robustness of the flavors do their best to overcome its overall heady presence here.

Wow, this was good. Maybe the quintessential English Barleywine here, this just brings in droves of complex flavor to the senses, with a heavy yet still approachable alcohol presence to it. I think that I tend to enjoy this bear a little fresher before too much heavy sweetness sets in. Having this on cask was a real treat and one of the true highlights of the fest for me.

 1,462 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.24/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours a clear copper with only a trace of thin white cap. Aroma of malts, alcohol and a bit of smoke. Sweet caramel and smoky flavor on warming. Full body. A slow sipper.

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Photo of nathanmiller
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of XmnwildX12
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of mendvicdog
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of billab914
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 vintage picked up at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo during my trip back there for the holidays. Poured from a 275 ml bottle into my Dogfish snifter. Pours dark brown with a very thin white ring around the outside edge of the glass. There was a moderate amount of carbonation bubbles and sediment visible from the outside of the glass.

Aroma has some brown sugar sweetness to it as well as some dark rich fruit flavors and a hint of alcohol. There are notes of figs, raisins, and cherries in the complex fruitiness of the nose. Taste is very sweet with some malt, raisins, and figs. There is a lot of dark fruit flavors that make it very complex. it's also a lot sweeter then I expected.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side with low carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good for the abv%. it's a little too sweet for me to want to drink any more then 1 bottle in a sitting though. It's very good though for a 9 year old beer, and very complex. I'd love to try other vintages.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a chestnut brown body topped with a half inch of creamy-looking, beige head, though admittedly, it's a bit short-lived. Hey, but check out those legs!

Smell: Plump, juicy raisins swimming in sherry and tawny port with gobs of earthy caramel and toffee maltiness.

Taste: Ultra sweet, babies! Smooth, blended flavors of concentrated caramel, treacle, toffee, and simple syrup. Some woody hints. Small pinch of herbal hops but at this point they only present a mild bitterness. Rich raisiny fruitiness washed down with a sip of fine aged sherry and port. Soothing, warming alcohol presence, particularly on the smooth, malty finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium carbonation. Sticky mouthfeel.

Drinkability: J.W. Lees, you've been charged with rampant deliciousness! A perfect late-night, after dinner sipper. Skip the dessert and head straight for a bottle of Harvest Ale instead.

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Photo of russpowell
4.46/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999 vintage pours a reddish caramel with a 1/2" offwhite head. No head retention or lacing

Huge oaky, fruitty boozey nose, beautiful

T: Dryness, raisins, dates, & breadyness with a slight booze presence up front. Caramel & rummy flavors follow. Huge praline profile & little vanilla as it warms. Finishes plummy, dry & sweet, extemely complex

MF: Vinous, syruppy, rich & failry low in carbonation

This is a sipper, the overwhelming sweetness/dryness slows you down a little. A nice, if expensive indulgence that went down smoothly, if not so quick this boxing day

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

Harvest Ale 1999. Murky raspberry caramel with a butter toffee colored cap that is currently filling most of the snifter. The foam, while not exactly creamy, has a tight-bubbled texture that allows it to linger for quite some time. The look is classic English barleywine.

The nose reminds me of autumn, the season of harvest. Whether that's intentional on the part of the brewers (or whether it's simply my imagination run amok) is anyone's guess. The major characteristics include caramel, dried fruits and an earthiness that puts me in mind of fallen leaves. There's also a refined, tawny port-like quality that should be tremendous on the palate.

Why did it take me so long to drink such a time-honored beer like Vintage Harvest Ale? This bottle has been next-to-forgotten in the back of my beer fridge for too long now. I've decided that I have to see what the original, classic barleywine tastes like before I drink and review the bottles aged in brandy, whiskey, port and sherry casks.

This is surprisingly sweet beer that ventures dangerously close to cloying. It's probably too much to expect a balancing hoppiness, especially in a beer that has seen seven long winters (almost eight) come and go. Even though the tidal wave of malt sugars are threatening to gum up the works, I can still appreciate a fair amount of complexity. Not as much as in the nose, however.

Sticky caramel is the centerpiece around which the rest of the cornucopia is arranged. The fruitiness is on the order of dates, figs and cherries soaking in toffee pudding sauce. It might even be dark enough to include raisins. Also... brown sugar syrup, sweetened pipe tobacco and a hint of molasses. I have a sweet tooth, but man oh man!

Alcohol is barely noticed, other than a spreading warmth that makes me wish it was drinking this bottle during a raging blizzard rather than a crisp autumn morning. The mouthfeel might have been a thick, gooey mess if it wasn't for the beer's age. As it happens, it's a near perfect combination of clinginess and light-medium silkiness.

I have no idea if I'm drinking Harvest Ale 1999 too early, too late or at the exact right time. It's definitely enjoyable beer, but it isn't the world-beater than was expected. Perhaps the 2003 that is resting comfortably in my cellar will define the style like I thought this iteration would.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage.

A: Pours an orange/red/ruby color with a small white head that has very little retention and no lacing. A little bit of sediment.

A: A little bit of alcohol right off the bat, some candied dark fruit - raisins and a bit of prunes, some white grapes. It almost has a liquor/sherry aroma to it.

T: Rather sweet, with some raisins, grape, caramel, and honey, there is almost a mead like character to this beer. Again, reminds me of sherry.

M: Rather syrupy, medium bodied, with low to medium carbonation. Extremely drinkable.

O: Quite good, a very nice sipper that was a perfect end to the evening. I can see why people like to sit on these, I can see this beer mellowing a bit over time, not that the alcohol was a problem on the flavor profile.

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Photo of smcolw
4.19/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1997 version of the Harvest Ale. This one pours a muddy, dark brown. Good initial head that dies to a ring of bubbles on the side of the glass. No permanent lace.

Very strong aromas of brown sugar, some raw bread and nearly burnt toffee.

Molasses is the first flavor I taste. This is a very sweet beer up front and in the swallow. Nice hop bitterness in the middle. The aftertaste has strong mocha notes. The alcohol is very strong--it doesn't dominate, but it certainly warms. The body is expectedly thick like heavy cream. Good strong carbonation to balance the body.

This is not a very "drinkable" beer, but it is an excellent single winter warmer for slow sipping. No one will ever accuse this beer of blandness. More than two of them, you might not taste anything.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,520 ratings.
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