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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,523 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:
1,523
Reviews:
864
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.65%
 
 
Wants:
268
Gots:
225
For Trade:
14
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,523 |  Reviews: 864
Photo of neonbrown82
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had been eyeing this at my local grocers for quite some time now. They (John's Grocery) have a vertical progression from 1997-2003, several from each year. I chose the 1997 for myself. It seems to have aged quite nicely, though I have never had a "fresher" one to compare.

It pours to a very thick dark brown color with a plum/amber colored hue. Leaves no head, though none was expected. I've only had the oportunity to try very few barleywines due to the 5% ABV laws in Iowa, but even though I am somewhat naive about them, I would say this is what a barley wine should be like, and what I will judge other beers of the style upon.

There is a heavy smell and taste of plum, raisin, barley malt, and alcohol. Definitely not for the weak spirited drinker of BMC. The alcohol level seems slightly subdued, though, most likely from the aging. I can taste the wood from cask conditioning. It has developed a very interesting flavor. Leaves a very dry finish with a surprisingly subtle aftertaste. What little aftertaste remains tastes like a smokey/woody casked wine.

The mouthfeel is very thick. I can do little more than sip this intense beverage, nor would I want to simply chug down a vintage ale I paid nearly six bucks for. I will not be buying more, but it was a worthwhile experience until I move to a state with a more abundant supply of less high-end vintage barley wine. I still prefer a nice pale ale, though, or something equally quaffable as opposed to a sipper.

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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.52/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2004 Harvest Ale

A - A relatively clear brown thick syrup with no head. The beer displays some viscous action when swirled.

S - Red grapes, blackberries and faint brown sugar. Smells a bit like some better port wines or a brandy (without the alcohol).

T - Sweet - very sweet. There is some strong brown sugar and extremely strong toffee flavor with some maple syrup underneath and even under that, a the very faint, there is some dark red fruit (blackberries). The flavor is, though very sweet, very good. The first sips are amazing, but ti can be a tad cloying.

M - Smooth, thick, pretty refreshing.

D - Though a good beer, I have to dock it here. I will definitely have this, or one of its casked varieties again. It is basically the gold standard of the english barley wine. Honestly thuogh, it isn't easy to drink, just too sweet. Maybe with some years under its belt it would be a bit better. Would be fantastic on pancakes (not that I'd ever waste it).

 973 characters

Photo of rrski198
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of HopsHopenstein
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of BierFan
4.49/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 9.3 ounce bottle into a cervoise. 2008 vintage.

Appearance: Very thin off-white head. Hazy amber body and good looking carbonation.

Smell: Very rich. Dark sweet figs steeped in rum. Almost smells musty.

Taste: So much going on. Figs, buttered popcorn, toffee. Some hard to describe vague fruitiness. Little bit of alcohol in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Velvety smooth.

I wish this beer wasn't so damn expensive. I'd love to set aside a case or two.

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

1998 vintage

I found 2 of these bottles tucked away in a specialty beer store corner. I was actually looking for a totally different beer when I found this. Amazing sometimes what you find when you aren't looking!

A - Beautiful deep burgundy. Nice tan head, light lacing.

S - Wow, rich malty smell. Hints of port, definitely vinous in character.

T - This is a classic example of what I love about english barleywines. Rich malt taste, not cloying sweet. Raisin / plum / toffee swirling around. Hops are enough to keep this balanced but definitely take a way back seat to the experience.

M - Rich, full bodied. This one is a perfect example in my book of a rich strong beer that drinks clean.

D - I had to have one as soon as I got home. Drinks wonderfully smooth. For an 11.5% ABV, this gives no hint that it is that potent. I'm keeping the other one for a special occasion as well as keeping an eye out for any more 98's floating around.

 958 characters

Photo of martyl1000
4.97/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap (actually a bottle, but I had to review this again) at Amsterdam Cafe, SF. A beautiful pour into a goblet, with a barely discernible white head. The delicate lacing is wiped clean from the glass by the high abv. The aroma is all sweetness, with a shag carpet of roasty malt.

The most feel is what's most immediately remarkable in the mouth. A slippery, syrupy viscosity hugs the tongue like that of an ice wine. Creamy, God! And a light fizzy carbonation.

The full body is a precursor to the port wine sweetness. Mild molasses. Cotton candy. Ripe Fuji apple. Toffee. Surprisingly floral hop flavor keeps the package from sickening territory. Expanded by the baked-bread toastiness.

I haven't enjoyed a sweetness like this since the last Sauterne I had with a Danish blue cheese and white grapes.

 807 characters

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

Enjoying a 1999 vintage on New Year's Eve 2010, right around 11 years old. Review and score of previous 1997 vintage pretty much holds true for this one. A massively rich and complex brew. Fantastic.

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1997 vintage, enjoyed at about 12 1/2 years old. Served cool room temp into a Duvel tulip.

Pours brown with a small light brown head, reduces to a ring and leaves some spots of lacing. Appearance is spot-on for the style.

The aroma hit me before even pouring the beer with a hefty dose of booze, but does settle down to reveal a rich aroma of molasses, brown sugar, dark fruits, raisins, figs, plums, some nice chocolate, spice, and I am getting some oxidation on the nose. Doesn't really detract and I was kind of expecting some of that.

The flavor on this is so incredibly rich and strong and complex, a treat. Starts with the absolute best dark fruit flavors I've encountered in a beer, raisins, figs, and plums showcased at their best. A supporting cast of chocolate, molasses, grapes, brown sugar, very malty and sweet. Tastes a lot like Raisinettes, and I love me some Raisinettes. Yum.

Mouthfeel is full and sticky, low carbonation, one to sip and savor.

My 2nd JW Lees Harvest, had a '98 on its 10th birthday and it blew me away, this '97 follows that trend. Got a '99 on deck very, very soon, and there will be many more to come. One of my all-time favorites, a masterful creation.

 1,485 characters

Photo of axeman9182
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle of the 1999 vintage, glad to find this buried on the shelf at New Beer Distributor, poured into my Duvel tulip.

The beer pours a rich murky brown. A minimal toffee crown forms, maybe a finger or so in height, before dissipating quickly without leaving any lacing behind. I can't fault the beer too much for that though, it is eleven years old after all. The nose is great, toffee and alcohol soaked fruits and a hint of wet cardboard from the inevitable oxidation. The flavor is an exact duplicate, with a slight warming sensation from the alcohol. I've never had a fresh Harvest Ale, but it's beautiful with a decade plus of age on it. The body on this is incredibly rich and full, and the lessened carbonation leads to ultimately a very smooth and velvety mouthfeel. A phenomenal flavor and solid mouthfeel make this vintage gem very drinkable. I'm just cringing now at the thought that I only bought two bottles of this magic elixer

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Photo of meathookjones
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage bottle

When poured the appearance was a dark reddish/brown color with a slight tan head that didn’t stick around too long. It also was quite cloudy and never really settled. Right after pouring the scent was overpoweringly alcoholic. I let this one settle a bit and the dark fruit and sugary smells crept through, making for a much more pleasing aroma. The taste starts off very sweetly with signs of various fruits and some malt. It has a slight alcohol after taste but a pleasant one. The mouthfeel is quite think and full and very smooth. A very drinkable brew for its high ABV, I will defiantly be picking up more of these to age for a few years.

 667 characters

Photo of Dougwillhike
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of IBUnit63
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999 vintage

Hazy oak barrel color with tight, dense yeasty head. Nice amount of carbonation.

Syrupy, copious malt and slight ginger beer spice. Almost toffee-like. Excellent.

Wow - doesn't get much better than that. HUGE sweet, deep malt with big alcohol. Strong vanilla and oak backbone. Well-aged; nicely mellowed.

Extra deep start and finish. Excellent warm, oak feel.

A sipper by nature but an incredibly enjoyable one.

Edit: Also sampled 2005 vintage - great stuff with a little more alcohol burn - the 2005 rolls hot and could definitely use a few years in the basement to calm down. Notes for 2005 say A/S/T/M/D = 4/4.5/4.5/3.5/4 = 4.25

 650 characters

Photo of joepais
4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I can't believe this brew is 11 years old. A 1998 bottle poured into a dogfish head snifter produced a light wisp of a tan head that went to a thin lace. The body of the brew was dark amber to brown in color.

I am talking big ass dark fruit aroma, rum raisin is the first thing that comes to mind. The next thing that hits you is the sweet caramel, toffee syrup, cherries and plums flavors hitting your tongue. There is absolutely no carbonation and it is thick and syrupy in the mouthfeel department.

This brew is incredible in its complexity,and a great sippable brew, with absolutely no hint of 11.5% alcohol in it at all. Defiantly a fine experience that I will do again

 676 characters

Photo of BYOFB
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of mattsmith413
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

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

1999 Vintage.

Pours a clear, rich ruby hue with a tight tan head. A thin layer retains.

The aroma is incredibly malty, with notes of dark fruit and leather. Bit of alcohol, but not very much.

The flavor is astounding. This is such a rich, succulent malt bomb that is also incredibly drinkable and smooth. Almost syrupy, but in the best possible way, that is, with no cloying character. There are fat notes of molasses, caramel, fig and tobacco. Very layered and deep. Not bitter whatsoever, with a lingering woodiness on the palate. The alcohol is beautifully integrated and incredibly mellow. The mouthfeel is weighty and velvety, with low carbonation that cascades over the palate. Absolutely pleasurable, with no overpowering alcohol flavor.

The oldest beer I've ever sampled, and also one of the best. Fantastic.

 820 characters

Photo of strohme2
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of seangibbs60
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of laxer8811
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of beergeek279
4.85/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage, served in a 275 mL bottle, into a goblet. The color is a dark amber-brown, with a wispy beige head. The smell is a nice porty malt/alcohol. The taste is very flowery malt sweet, with a good mellow hop in the taste and a slightly bitter finish. Mouthfeel is syrupy thick. As for drinkability, if I could find em and afford em, I'd drink these till I fell flat on my face.

Thank you to mydeadguy for the beer for my 500th Karma Point. A simply fantastic barleywine, easily one of the world's best, smooth like a port wine yet with a nice but not harsh alcohol and hop kick to it. Definitely one I'd look for in the future!!

 638 characters

Photo of GPHarris
4.87/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage from The Brick Store.

a - poured a one finger creamy light tan head into a snifter. the body was brown with some reddish hints. the head billowed nicely with each swirl and stayed throughout the beer, very impressive for a 14 year old beer.
s - raisins, figs, caramel, molasses.
t - same as above with some tobacco. incredibly complex and tasty.
m - silky smooth.
d - definitely a sipper but only b/c you want to savor a vintage like this as long as possible. it goes down smooth.

 494 characters

Photo of BillHilly
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of Tballz420
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

1999 reviewed april 2004

This is a murky brown colored brew, small tan head on top. Scent is woody, alcoholic, and malty. The taste is really sweet up front, and has some raison/plum tones, alcohol is felt but tastewise it is blended well. Syrupy feel, sticks all the way down. Hops are there but the malts keep them from making a big scene. Excellent brew.

 360 characters

Photo of BostonHops
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage bottle served in an oversized wineglass.

pours a hazy amber/copper tone reminiscent of a belgian quad. some sediment; a finger and a half of head with middling retention and some lacing.

nose is both bold and complex. a sweet bouquet of dark fruits, molasses, malts, caramel, honey, alcohol, and a touch of something else i can't quite pin down... cognac maybe? taste follows the aroma. tons going on. booze is more subdued than i'd have thought going off the nose. lot of dark fruits and malt sweetness. very tasty; nice, smooth finish.

mouthfeel is chewy, syrupy - brings to mind the dfh 120. drinkability is solid. i would welcome another. this hasn't been one of my preferred styles but the best i've had to date; in fact it's offerings like this that show you how good the style can be. fantastic EBW.

original review on: 08-19-2010

 855 characters

Photo of Archemedies
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,523 ratings.
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