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

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
BA SCORE
87.9%
Liked This Beer
4.23 w/ 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
Ranking:
#902
Reviews:
864
Ratings:
1,523
Liked:
1,339
Avg:
4.23/5
pDev:
13.71%
Alströms:
4.6
 
 
Wants:
269
Gots:
225
Trade:
14
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,523 |  Reviews: 864
Photo of bobhits
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Interesting to try this again. Last time I had one it was a good bit older, I'm hoping there's a bit more bite and maybe some hop presence in this younger version. If not odds are I'll be wishing I let it age more. 2008 vintage.

Poured into a sifter.

Thick, cloudy, full of yeast, a dark copper oranage body. You really can't see through this and that's pretty special for something that isn't brown/black in color. Creates a half finger of head that goes away in less than a minute.

The nose is an assault of fruits. Raises, sweet sugary malt, and lots of other fruity sweet aromas that I can't fully place.

First thoughts, a bit too much alcohol in this far too young bottle. Hops aren't kicking in so what to say about this. Raises, plums, sugary rum like flavors, Carmel. There's an off putting bitter/funky flavor at the end. I have a feeling if this were isolated it would be that earthy flavor that many English beers have, but mixed in this sweet assault it's somewhat off putting. This beer was reasonably warm to start but as it reaches room temp the mix is getting better. Sweeter and far more interesting. This is a great beer to show a wine lover a spin on beer that they may get into.

A wonderful sipper. Smooth, thick, sticky, and well just done flawlessly.

It's amazing to say a 2 year old beer is still a baby and this review may be a bit unfair, but it is what it is as they say. A very english barely wine and a true classic. I think there are some more interesting examples

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Photo of cnbrown313
4/5  rDev -5.4%

Photo of Tertullian007
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

Photo of ryanflc
4.05/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Photo of straightlambic
4.2/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Photo of Sigmund
4.22/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2003. 275 ml bottle at the White Horse at Parsons Green, London. Unusual, overwhelming and lovely aroma of port wine, raisins and dried figs, hints of barnyard. Very sweet, like drinking a sweet sherry with carbonation. Warming mouthfeel, as expected from an 11.5% beer. It’s definitely not a beer I’d drink every day, but it sure was an interesting experience. The sweetness makes this an alternative to sherry or port, rather than another beer. 275 ml is definitely enough for one sitting. I understand that some people find it cloying, but with a beer this rich in aroma and flavour, I accept the sweetness.

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Photo of fx20736
4.26/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Edition. Bought at Premier Gourmet on 11/19/14. Poured into a Chimay chalice, served cool.

Look: Bronze, minimal head.

Smell: butterscotch, vanilla, pecans

Taste: grape skin, smoke, tannins, rich, nutty malts.

Feel: good

Overall: rich, complex, smoky

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Photo of TKEbeerman
3.97/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2001:

A: Poured into my sniftner this brew pours a murky brown with little to no head.

S: The aroma is heavy in caramel, dark dry fruits with hints of nuts, some candy sugar, and an all around earthiness.

T: 10 years of age have turned this brew into something truly unique. Hints of chocolate, heavy sweet caramel (maybe a little too sweet), and a lack of a dangerous alcohol burn. The sweetness really cuts this brew down a notch.

MF: The mouthfeel is silky, but a little less than medium, and is lacking carbonation.

D: Because of the sweetness, this brew is a little tough to drink.

Overall, it's the sweetness that kills this brew. It is a great ale to age, and is definitely unique. The nose is it's strong point, a shame the rest of the beer doesn't follow.

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

1999 Vintage poured into a snifter

Pours murky mahogany with frothy light khaki colored head that will NOT disappear.

Aroma is like brandied cherries or plum. Lots of big caramel notes, but the fruity notes (above along with figs or dates) dominate. This is just fantastic.

Taste is similar to the aroma. No huge surprises. Tons of sweet caramel and fermented fruits. This drinks almost like a brandy or even a fruit liqueur. However, it is not cloyingly sweet. There is a great bitter finish that helps maintain some semblance of balance.

Mouthfeel is incredibly full-bodied with some big buttery coating left on the roof of the mouth. Light carbonation, but expected for the style and age.

Overall, this is certainly a sipper, but an incredibly complex sipper. So many different fruit and sweet flavors come out as it warms. Fantastic beer.

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Photo of edchicma
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000 Vintage broken open in honor of Red Sox as World champs. This is the type of beer for a special occasion. Pours a dark cherry amber with a light head that laces on the tulip glass I am drinking from. Smell is caramel, malt, acohol, cherry, molasses..very complex. Taste is equally complex. While high in abv, the alcohol is there but does not dominate. Molasses, caramel, burnt sugar, plums...probably a few more I will notice after a few more sips. Mouthfeel is exceptional. This is a strong brew, but the smooth quality is exceptional also. Extremely drinkable due to smoothness and understated alcohol presence. A must drink for real beer lovers. Go Sox!!!!

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Photo of ArchEnemyBrew
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of captaincoffee
4.32/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Doing three reviews on the 2015, 2011, and 2008 vintages over the next three days, and I'll be updating my scores with each.

Starting with the 2015, it pours a very pretty mahogany with a dense half-inch head, tiny packed bubbles, and ultimately leaves a ring around the beer glass but only spotting lacing. Nose is boozy, rich malt, and some earthiness from the EKG that makes it past the malt overtones. Not very complex, but this vintage is very young (just released last month). Taste is sweet, malty, boozy. A bit more bitterness on the finish than anticipated helps it from being too cloying. Brown bread and honey. Mouthfeel is full and thick...about what you'd expect from an 11.5% barleywine, but the higher-than-expected carbonation also helps keep it from being cloying. Overall, a good beer that should improve with time. Fingers crossed on the next one. Look 4.25, Smell 3.75, Taste 4, Feel 4.25, Overall 4. Total 3.98 at this point.

Next is the 2011. The appearance seems lighter in color with some orange. In fact, the JW Lees website notes the 2015 is darker than most previous years. The nose is still malty and earthy, but less boozy. I'm not going to change my scores for either of these categories. The taste has evolved, however. Richer caramelized sugars. Still lots of brown bread and honey. Worth an extra .25 in my opinion in both the taste and overall scores. Look 4.25, Smell 3.75, Taste 4.25, Feel 4.25, Overall 4.25. Total 4.13 at this point.

Finally, the 2008. Pour is darker again, more like the 2015, but there is very little head anymore. Some bits of stuff in the bottom. Nose has really changed; it is very raisin/prune and sweet. Taste is also like liquid raisins. Port/sherry comparisons now obvious. Worth an extra .5 on the nose and .25 taste, with a minus .5 on look. If this beer was a little less over-the-top sweet, I could give even higher scores. Look 3.75, Smell 4.25, Taste 4.5, Feel 4.25, Overall 4.25. Total 4.32.

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Photo of Lochnessmonster
3.08/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Heard a lot of hype on this one, had a 2008 bottle and just felt that I've had much better barleywines. No disrespect to J.W.

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Photo of Goliath
4.27/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2004 vintage

Pours a rather hazy dark brown color. A very thin light tan head forms and quickly dissipates.

Aroma is ok, very familiar to the other harvest ales by J.W. Lees. Raisins, plums, figs, caramel, syrup, oak, and just a bit boozy.

Taste is pretty good. Raisins and figs, caramel, and a bit of chocolate. Molases and brown sugar as well. Really quite delicious once it opens up. Little alcohol warmth as well.

Mouthfeel is thick, syrupy, and full bodied. Very lightly carbonated. Really my ideal mouthfeel for such a beer.

Drinkability is moderate. The flavor is great, but the high alcohol will get to you. not to mention, it is a bit cloying. Really a phenomenal brew any way you look at it though.

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Photo of SilentSabre
4.97/5  rDev +17.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Oh my. This is absolutely incredible. In fact, I have never before tasted its equal. I went into this not knowing what to expect. I will, however, most assuredly be purchasing more of this.
The pour was a slightly cloudy dark red amber colour with a bit of debris floating about. It had a sand coloured head about 15mm thick that remained for several minutes. It was beautiful. The smell was delicious, consisting of sweet grasses such as sugar cane, sorghum syrum, brown sugar, faint spices. Oh my, this just heavenly. The taste is much, much more of the same with sweet malts dominating. The decadent tastes wash gently over your tongue with each sip. Its mouthfeel is smooth and there is nothing about it I can find that needs adjusting. If I were to taste this blindly, I would guess it to be around 7,5% or so. Certainly not 11,5%. I am stunned by the inconceivable greatness of this ale. I will definately buy this again. A far, far cry different than its U.S. counterparts, which don't even come close to this.
*Note: This was the 2002 vintage. For some strange reason, the cap was exceptionally difficult to remove.

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Photo of Strix
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

1998 bottle - a 10-year old brew!

Pours a thick, murky orange-brown, with a very nice head.

Smells rich, caramel and syrupy.

Taste does all sorts of things. Sweet and ripe overall, with a caramel/maple syrup flavor. Tastes a heck of a lot like raisin bread as well. Some alcohol in the background somewhere. Very complex and dynamic.

Mouthfeel smooth and viscous.

Definitely one to be slipped slowly. Drinkability hampered a bit due to sweetness and thickness, I wouldn't want any more than they put in the small bottle. This was quite the experience though. I won't be buying another one soon due to the price (almost a dollar an ounce!), but certainly a very nice English barleywine here.

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Photo of zenithberwyn
4.25/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of patm1986
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Beersnake1
4.33/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.71/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Anno 1999.

Appearance -- Pours a deep dark brown, nearly aubergine, with golden highlights and a slim fizzy head upon the hard pour. A bit still.

Smell -- Lots of fig, brandy-soaked prunes, raisin, toffee, bread pudding. Sweet, syrupy, and decadent; on par for the style.

Taste -- An abundance of figs, raisin, prune, light molasses, and brandy. Well-basted bread pudding and challah. Gentle spiciness. Mild herbal bitterness in the finish along with a little bit of mustiness. Alcohol is perceptible, but not remotely sharp and stands as a nice contrast to the rich malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel -- Very full body, quite slick, with a very mild carbonation lending to a very sm.oth feel. In a word: decadent.

Drinkability -- This is incredible, probably the best English Barleywine I've had to date. This truly is the standard bearer of the style. So rich, and with such depth of flavor and velvety body it's hard to see how people could find error in this beer. While not a beer for all occasions, I can't think of a better after-dinner beer. An incredible pleasure to drink, strongly suggested.

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Photo of mitch3114
3.75/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of dcisco44
4/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Winter
3.9/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2000 Vintage

9.3 oz bottle. Pours an unfiltered tawny red with a thin light brown head. Aroma of malt, raisins, dark rum ascend from my snifter. Full-bodied mouthfeel. Strong carbonation attacks the tongue upfront then disappears quickly. Flavors of dark fruit, malt and oak are noticed first. Then a feint cherry sweetness emerges for a second and is gone. There's a light punch of alcohol right before just before flavors of caramel and toffee round out the finish. Very smooth for a 11.5% abv.

Even sitting at three years old this barley wine seems young. Not quite raw, but just seems to still be blending its flavors together. I'd let this one sit and continue to mature for a few more years and see what amazing complexities continue to develop. I'd like to shelve some more of these and seek out an older vintage to sample.

 836 characters

Photo of GreatStoutman
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of Korbynlehr
1.27/5  rDev -70%
look: 4.5 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

That is the worst tasting thing since scrapple

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 87.9% out of 100 with 1,523 ratings
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