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:
268
Gots:
227
For Trade:
15
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Ratings: 1,520 |  Reviews: 863
Photo of PartyBear
4.13/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I bought four 2008 vintage a couple of weeks back, with the intention of cellaring them, so I figured I should try one fresh first.

Poured from a cellar temperature 275ml bottle into a chalice (Bush brand).

A - Amber in colour. Pours with a small head that completely vanishes after a couple of minutes. Carbonation seems very lively. Looks almost like brandy after it has settled.

S - The first thing that hits you is a bourbon alcohol smell, which is quite potent. There is a clear sweetness, maple syrup, toffee, butterscotch, caramel, you get the idea. There is a hint of apple in there, and maybe plum. The aromas are incredibly complex, I've never smelt anything like it.

T - The taste is sweet at first, with a syrupy honey taste, which has a slight vanilla quality to it. This makes way for an earthy bitterness in the finish, with a hint of green vegetables.

M - It feels very thick and syrupy. No real carbonation in the mouth.

D - Probably the biggest aromas and flavours I have experienced in a Barleywine. It is incredibly sweet, it makes your teeth ache just at the thought of it; maybe this will lessen with cellaring. Can't wait to taste it again in a few years after it has had chance to mature.

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Photo of TheFightfan1
4.04/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I found this douzy at Thr Iron Abbey in Hatboro PA.Vintage 2007.

Poured into a snifter.Pours a darker copper color with a insane chunky sediment in the bottom of the glass. Very little heading that dissolves to nothing at all. Very thick and syrupy looking with an oil coating that looks like a big puddle in the city.

Smell is very boozy with a maltiness. Raisiny and molasses. I get a tequila aroma towards the end.

Chew ... I mean taste is all the above and then some. Extremely heavy syrup taste with a sweet and roasted malt blend that tastes amazing. Slight hoppiness that kind of takes over then is replaced by an extreme fruitiness. Some chocolate is tasted as well.

Mouth is full bodied with NO carbonation but once you swoosh it around foams up very nicely with a prickley bitterness on the tongue. Very heavy syrup finish.

Drink is good but a little to heavy for a session beer but with that said it is easy to go down for such a high ABV. I was a little disappointed in the looks of this beer being thick and flat but it makes up for it in the taste.

Amazing tasting beer and definite must try for everyone who drinks.

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Photo of tr4nc3d
2.67/5  rDev -37.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

1999 vintage

Poured into my snifter from a 12floz bottle

Pours a dirty light to medium brown color with a slightly off white one finger head. Below average head retention that when fades leaves a small ring on the outside edges of my beer.

Smell is heavy on the bourbon, some vanilla, toffee, sugar, and malts.

Very sweet upfront with hints of dark candied sugar, vanilla, honey, prunes, caramel, toffee, and a slight bourbon heat. Very malty beer and no hop presence whatsoever(no surprise here for a 10 year old beer).

Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied with pretty active carbonation. Very sugary sweet malty beer, its so sugary it leaves it on your lips.

Overall my opinion is that this is one way to sugary beer(kind of reminds me of DFH 120min)except more drinkable. I would never seek out this beer again, but its tolerable.

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Photo of callmemickey
3.79/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2002 bottle into a tulip

A: Muddy brown body... one finger light head... little lacing.. quick recession ... lots of floating shit

S: Caramel... dark fruits.. candied sugar.. honey.. floral notes

T: Much of the same... decently complex... high malt content, notably dark fruits.. figs, raisins etc... caramel and candied sugar sweetness.. floral bitterness

M: Medium-full bodied... thick and chewy.. the damn floating shit didn't help here

D: Notsure how well this one was cared for ... the flavor and smell was pretty solid, but the other factors were not impressive

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Photo of PerzentRizen
4.68/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is a 1999 vintage limited edition!

Poured into a brandy snifter this beer is extremely rich looking with a powdery tan to off-white head that quickly forms. To accentuate the nuances of this ale I have decided to consume it at room temperature. This day is officially special!

The aromas are of fine aged scotch, fruity sherry and age port come together in the nose with plenty of malt. Toffee, burnt sugar, alcohol, and tropical fruit esters are all here and dancing playfully in my nostrils.

The first taste is smooth, rich, and sweet. There is not even a touch of hops detected (as I expected for a 10 year old english barleywine). There is white chocolate, cinnamon, spices, ripe fruit, and the richness of a fine artesian dessert.

Mouthfeel is really rich and velvety until the finish. The finish is really dry. I can tell that before this beer was bottled there was plenty of sugar left over for secondary fermentation in the bottle. The 11.5% alcohol content is probably low, but who knows. Perhaps this "vintage limited edition" bottling has taken into account this extra alcohol.

Drinkablity is great for the style. Usually barleywines take me an hour to finish (with few exceptions). I could easily drink this down in a few minutes, but I choose to savor the flavors in this grand beer.

If you find this on the shelves you'd be wise to pick one up. This is one tasty beverage!

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Photo of fff
4.74/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Cracked open a 1999 today.

A- Deep amber, more ruby tones when held against the light. No head to speak of.

S- Vanilla, malt, honey, toffee, caramel.

T- Roasted caramel. Molasses. Liqud God. Best malty beer I've ever had.

M- Syrupy, sticky. Lingering taste in my mouth. Delicious.

D- It's too sweet to drink a lot of, and the high ABV makes it hard to drink much of it and be coherent. It's a pretty good end to a malty beer tasting session.

All in all, I am well satisfied with this beer.

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

Polled some BA's on what I should review for my 200th review. J.W. Lees won a close race over several other stellar beers. It was suggested I do a vertical, but now is not the time. Instead, I will try one of my oldest vintages, a 1999.

1999 Vintage. Cracked open with a hiss. Good to know that it was sealed properly. After ten years, you never know. Served just above room temperature. Poured a small amount into a tulip, leaving most in the bottle. Pours a deep ruby, mahogany color. It looks mahogany-brown until you hold it into the light, which reveals it's ruby hues. A very small layer of foam is produced, but dissipates quickly to a small ring around the outside of the glass. A small column of carbonation is rising from the middle of the tulip. Another good sign, it's still carbonated. There is some nice lacing, but nothing excellent.

The first whiff I get is intense. I get dried dark fruit, sweet malts and liqueurs, pollen and toffee. This might be the sweetest smelling beer I've ever had the pleasure of smelling. I also get a slight vanilla scent that reminds me of Bourbon, but it's more of a liqueur than a Bourbon smell.

Liquid gold touches lips, dances on tough and opens eyes to entirely different world. I honestly didn't know a beer could taste like this. If this doesn't define complexity, than I don't know what does. The other night I had a GI BCS, and I thought that was the most complex beer I've ever had. J.W. Lees just left BCS in the dust, turned around and flicked it off. I get vanilla, toffee, sweet malts, dark fruits, liqueur and caramel. How could I forget about the caramel. So intense and sweet is the caramel aftertaste that it begs you to drink more. Did I forget to mention the alcohol? Oh, yes. Thats because it is non existent.

Mouthfeel is creamy and smooth. No carbonation bite, no hop bitterness. Just pure malt sweetness. Thick and creamy, it coats your mouth. No sign of the 11.5% ABV anywhere. Drinkability is perfect. I could imagine downing way to many of these. Dangerous drinkability.

I had my doubts. How well could a beer 10 years old hold up? Apparently better than I had ever imagined. I know of the benefits of a cellar, and how brews change, but I had no idea what it could do. I had a fresher bottle (2006 I believe) maybe 7 months ago, and I didn't like it. Granted, my palate has changed quite a bit, but I can definitely see how this has changed for the better.

Needless to say I am infinitely impressed. If this wasn't so damned expensive I would do verticals of this every single night! Couldn't have asked for a better brew to do my 200th review on!

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

I've had the privilege of having the 1999 and 2006 versions of the J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale, a beer recommended highly by a close friend of mine, that seemed to appear out of nowhere. I didn't really know what to expect, but as soon as I cracked the cap off of the bottle, I was overcome by the sweet aroma of fermented apples. Then I partook and was completely blown away. Halfway through the bottle, I turned to my friend and told him with all seriousness that the J.W, Lees Vintage Harvest Ale was the best beer I have ever tasted, and this is coming from someone who has indulged in the pleasures of the Westvleteren 12. If this isn't enough reason to pick this beauty up next time you visit your local bottleshop, I'll do my best to describe its components:

My original thought when drinking the J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale was it tastes like a more realized (and better carbonated) Lost Abbey Angel Share. This is primarily due to its pervasive caramel taste, and its syrupy consistency.

A: reddish, golden brown.

S: sweet, fermented fruit, namely apples. spices.

T: perfect balance of caramel, honey, dark fruits, apples, a hint of cinnamon, very much a barleywine.

M: HUGE presence, due to the viscous, syrupy honey nature of the beer.

D: it's delicious, sweet, well-balanced, and complex, but it'd be difficult to drink more than one of these in one sitting.

I recommend this beer highly, and predict that it will soon rapidly climb to at least the top 20 of the Best of BA, so if you're looking for a delicious beer to meet your every expectation, look no further beer enthusiasts, the J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale has arrived!

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Photo of HamFon
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I organized a vertical tasting of JW Lees Harvest Ale for 1998 through 2008 (missing 2003) on 11 July 2009. We also tasted a few of the wood aged JW Lees Harvest Ale (not listed here). One participant also brought a 1986 bottle. All bottles (except the 1986) were purchased from the same location, and so presumably had been treated and stored in similar conditions. Overall, the 1986, 1999, and 2001 stood out as exceptional. Recent years, particularly 2006 and newer, were somewhat disappointing (maybe a different brewer, crop issues?) and lacking complexity. All were listed as 11.5% abv, except the 1986, which did not list an alcohol level on the label. All tasters were BJCP, including two national level. Although other tasters had different notes, we pretty much agreed as to overall ratings.

My rating system (which I use on my personal BuildABeer.org) is a scale from 1 (low) to 5 (high). Each year has ratings, as well as tasting notes. Ratings are Overall (subjective), followed by objective levels of Malt, Hops, Sweetness, Bitter, and Body. Note that the objective levels are not necessarily better as they get higher; it's just a measure of the level.

1986: 5- (overall rating), 4 (malt level), 1 (hops level), 2 (sweetness level), 1 (bitterness level), 4 (body) : slight roast; burnt notes as it warms up; sherry; smooth; caramel; toffee

1998: 4+,5,2,3,2,4 : molasses; treacle; pipe tobacco; some roast; caramel

1999: 5-,4,3,2,3,4 : caramel; floral hops; bittering balances nicely

2000: 4-,4,3,2,2,3 : slight DMS; floral; slight cheesy; prickly

2001: 5-,4,2,4,2,4 : slight bready; port wine; figs; honey; dark raisins; slight floral

2002: 4+,4,3,2,2,4 : bready; honey; floral

2004: 4, 4,2,2,1,3 : caramel; honey; floral; slight metallic; orange; dirt

2005: 4+,3,3,2,2,3 : big floral; slight orange; tabacco

2006: 4-,3,2,2,2,3 : cedar; tabacco; slight burnt; vanilla; slight sherry

2007: 4, 3,3,2,2,3 : salty clams; slight wood; tabacco

2008: 4, 3,3,2,3,3 : bread dough; slight metallic; floral

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Photo of wl0307
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

* 2007 Vintage
Served cool in Gulden Draak's tulip-shaped bowl sniffer; the ingredients for this vintage include Maris Otter malts and East Kent Goldings hops.
A: slightly cloudy dark amber in colour, coming with very soft carbonation, lots of cottony yeast sediments, and a thin sheet of off-white foamy cap settling to a rim.
S: densely sweet, like honey-drink infused with Chinese pale prunes, sour pears, figs and Aiyu herbal jelly; a swirl brings up a more pronounced theme of stale-sourness as of a well-aged ale.
T: a lubricating, semi-oily swallow of honey-ish and toffee-ish pale malts, estery elements of pale dates and prunes, lightly phenolic yeastiness and semi-sweet longan-fruit tea leads towards a most exciting aftertaste of green asparagus juice with a touch of mashed green beans that concludes the whole palate effortlessly with so much aroma to savour... Also lingering in the end is a chewy palate of hop bitterness that helps result in a harmonious balance with the slightly nutty edge of lingering maltiness.
M&D: it's hard to believe that simple ingredients could result in such a heavenly-tasted ale, an art in a glass, with melting beauty and a slightly down-to-earth approach on the palate. Yeasts and ageing have contributed lots of nice complications to the overall drinking experience, which is different from the Belgian way but all the same enticing. A must-try English Barley Wine for any beer lover, regardless of the vintage!

* 2000 Vintage - Tasting Date: 28/08/07
Served cool in a large tulip-shaped wine glass.
4 A: black-tea-ish dark brown hue, with a light beige head that settles fast to a rim of foam, on top of light and gentle carbonation.
3.5 S: perfumy fruit-esters (full of pineapples and bananas) lie on top of dried plums, prune-ish honey, and mead, while the overall aroma is mainly astringently fruity, thickly malty (hints of caramelised sugar), laced with a touch of smoked wood-chips.
4.5 T: thick longan-flower honey, light roast coffee beans, black prunes, over-ripe pineapples come upfront; gradually brown sugar, a soothingly bitter-sweet taste of tea-smoked longan-fruits (on shells) and toffee develop, backed by a delicate touch of herbal bitterness of hops, roasted malts, quietly spicy hints of yeastiness and phenol. Almost in parallel and more subtly, the mildly coffee-ish and nutty aftertaste also lends some complexity, leading to a sherry-like finish.
5 M&5 D: creamy in fizziness, lubricating (not syrupy at all), full-bodied yet still mellow; this ale shows a lovely contrast b/w the sweet nose and superbly-balanced flavour full of 3-D hop bitterness to balance out the heavily malty body, while the finishing dryish palate makes the beer lighter than it actually tastes. All in all, this vintage ages simply too well; a truly sensational nectar to savour, IMO.

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Photo of DefenCorps
3.98/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2008 vintage on tap at Max's. I've never had a JW this fresh, I'm curious to see what it's like.

A: Clear amber with a thick white head. Retention is excellent, and the lace, spectacular

S: Big, syrupy sweetness with honey, sugar, mild jasmine and floral character. Earthy hop character is present, something I've never noticed in this beer. I miss the age and oxidation, but it's revealing, what time can do for this beer.

T: Very big and sweet with honey, jasmine, rose and sugar. Mild hop character on the finish, along with the syrupy sweetness. Again, significantly less complex than older vintages.

M: Incredibly big, though the sweetness is a little simple in character. Good carbonation, nice finish

D: A sipper for sure.

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Photo of BarrelO
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

275ml bottle poured into a goblet.

2009 vintage, reviewed on 1/3/11.

A: Ruby red body. Head recedes to a thin film and leaves no lacing.

S: Tons of caramel, a hint of alcohol.

T: Big time caramel with plenty of earthy hoppiness. Some smoky notes. No alcohol. Impressively complex and balanced.

M: Thick and syrupy.

D: I liked this much more than the older bottle. I guess I like my barleywines young.

4/4/4/4/4.5=4.05

1999 vintage, reviewed on 6/25/09.

A: Dark mahogany body. Suprisingly robust head for a beer nearly a decade old. Also good lacing.

S: Huge malt bomb. Also some alcohol.

T: Overpowering cloying sweetness. No trace of hops or any other balancing flavor. It's like drinking sugar syrup. On the plus side, the alcohol is undetectable.

M: Acceptably rich and smooth.

D: This was a chore to slog through. The fact that it was less than 10 ounces was the only thing keeping it from being a drain pour. Was the beer past its prime? Did I pick up a bad bottle? Or do I just not like this beer? It'll be a while before I know for sure, because I'm not spending 7+$ on another vintage anytime soon.

4/3/2.5/4/2.5=3.05

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

2007 vintage.
Pour is a light honey brown with a foamy white head that build quickly but gradually disappears as it warms. Aroma is distinctly a British barley wine, somewhat boozy, but very malty with some grapefruit and a touch of bourbon and whiskey giving it a sharp edge. Almost cloying in its sweetness. Taste is surprisingly sweet, honey is very distinct, syrupy; lots of butter rum and brandy with a distinct alcohol warming; a very big brew, but very drinkable for a sipper of this strength. Bitter aftertaste is noticeable at the very end keeping this brew from being too sweet.

A very unique brew not to be missed, though I would like it to be a little less sweet.

2008 vintage
Appearance is same as the 2007 except a billowy white head resembling an IPA is constant throughout. Aroma has a lot more sweetness to it, like bourbon-soaked bread dipped in brown sugar. This version has less bitterness at the end as the sweetness is front, center and all other directions. A sipper to be sure, but the cloying sweetness makes this a little too big. I have a 2001 stashed away and am hoping this brew gets better over time.

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Photo of HopHead84
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A generous extra from rsquared618. 1998 vintage. The beer appears dark copper with a light beige head.

The aroma is of toffee, dates, figs, and dried fruits. It smells very sweet and sugary, with some notes of oxidization and alcohol. Hops are nowhere to be found.

The taste is very sugary sweet, reminiscent of dates and toffee, with a strong alcohol presence. Other flavors are of candied sugar and dried fruits. This is a classic English Barleywine that's mellowed with age. The finish is sugary sweet, almost cloyingly so, with toffee and alcohol.

The beer is medium-full bodied with low carbonation.

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

2001 vintage poured from a 9.6 oz. bottle into my HopCat Snifter on 6/6/09.

Beer pours a dark amber color with one finger of head that hangs around for about 20 minutes until my 4th drink. The carbonation is very light and appropriate for the style. The smell of this beer is amazingly complex with smells of sweet fruits like rasians and prunes, also smells of sweet malt and toffee. Oddly enough the smell really has an acid charactor that hangs around in my nose well after the sip, which I really love because I believe that it enhances the flavor of the beer. The flavor is much like the smell, very sweet malt with tastes of prunes and sweet apples along with hints of toffee and carmel throughout the drink. First sip has an amazing buttery creaminess that I'm still loving. I will say that as the beer warms to room temp the sweetness isn't as over powering and it becomes much more of a social style ale for me. Basically, no noticable hop profile at all in the beer and the alcohol in this beer is disguised very well by the maltiness sweetness and creaminess.

Admittedly, I am new to lovely barleywines and old ales and I credit a few beer with really getting me into the style such as Thomas Hardy 2002, Kuhnhenn 4th Dementia and Kuhnhenn Bourban Barrel Barleywine, but this one exceeds those beers on the levels of mouthfeel and smell for me. Not as balanced and drinkable as some of the others that I've had, but I could definetely sip and enjoy this one all day on a cold winters day or a rainy fall day. Absolute heaven in a bottle....I wanna swim in it.

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

2000 Vintage.

A- An absolutely clear, deep ruby red with some orange highlights. The off-white head is thin but craggy with some decent retention.

S- Astoundingly strong smelling with some vinegar, rotten fruit, cherries, and acidic orange juice. At first I thought it was kind of gross and overwhelming, but it really grew on me.

T- Less harsh, but just as flavorful as the aroma led me to believe. Some caramel, cotton candy, fermented fruit, and vanilla. The alcohol is barely noticeable.

M- This is slightly warming, but overall smooth.

D- A thoroughly enjoyable, nicely aged barleywine. Goes down smooth.

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Photo of theghost3
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 Vintage, poured into a snifter.

The appearance is cloudy copper, iced tea-like with lots of sediment. The head is very minimal, white. Little lacing.

The smell is strongly brandy, scotch, dark dried fruits & alcohol esters. Taste is brandy, whiskey, oaky wood with plums, vanilla, & caramel malts. The mouthfeel is acidic & there's a fair amount of alcohol warmth.

This is a drinkable beer, although it is more like a liquor than beer in a lot of ways. I would recommend cellaring this for a few years to bring out the varied qualities.

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

Re-review. Original posted below.

Poured from a 9.3 oz bottle into oversized snifter. 1999 Vingate.

A - Dark, molasses-like brown, almost completely opaque with the tiniest bit of light coming through. Large 2 finger, light tan head rises. Retention is moderate, moderate lacing as well. Good looking for a 10 year old brew.

S - Literally this stuff smells like a cross between a gingerbread and chocolate chip cookie. Lots of dark bread with massively sweet overtones. Bananas, vanilla, and almonds are all prevelant with moderate doses of brown sugar and spice. Slight sourish aroma of prunes/plums hiding in the background, but much lower levels of dark fruit aromas than expected.

T - Starts off like a scoop of ridiculously vanilla vanilla ice-cream. Brown sugar and bread hit next. Sweet dark bread covered with caramel; residual vanilla and hints of chocolate pull through. Slight nuttiness. Sweet bread leads into slight fruitiness, though indistinct. The beer dries out by about half late palate with low to moderate levels of oxidation and a slight bitterness. Finish is slightly peppery (from the masked alcohol I presume) with hints of cinnamon and wood.

M - Full-bodied and syrupy with just a touch of carbonation. Smooth as can be and the perfect vehicle for this liquid desert.

D - All around amazing stuff. What I found most interesting between this brew and the 2 year old beer I previously reviewed is the relative lack of dark fruit flavors. The dessert qualities of vanilla and brown sugar override the ciderish, apple, and overripe dark fruits found in the younger brew. Alcohol is also much more masked and mellowed in the senior beer, hence a total lack of rum/brandy flavors mentioned in the original review. All things said, I'm convinced the more age on this beer the better; at least up to 10 years because this is fantastic stuff.

---

Original Review from 06.23.08

Poured from a 9.3 oz bottle into oversized snifter; 2006 Vintage.

My first thought: wow, this is beer??!!

A - 4.0 - Murky brown with big chunks floating around. No head or lacing, expected with the ABV and the age.

S - 5.0 - Rich dark rum, somewhat brandy-like. Apple cider comes to mind as well with other over-ripe stone fruit. Cola and darker fruits make their way in as well. Wonderful.

T - 5.0 - Rum like flavors abound, with a very molasses/brown sugar sweetness. Vanilla and rotten apples work their way in mid palate and begin mingling with oak and charred wood. A subtle but obvious charred flavor wraps up the taste with huge residual sweetness. Very slight bitterness and a smokey BBQ flavor make for the long, sweet aftertaste. It's really hard to believe this came from barley.

M - 4.5 - Smooth, and rich, with only the tiniest suggestion of carbonation.

D - 4.5 - For such a huge beer, it drinks very well. I wouldn't pound these down in an evening with friends, but I could probably make it through quite a few just sipping it away. The alcohol is very well hidden, even moreso than a lot of average session beers. A delicious beer and something that should be experienced by all. To hell with the price tag though!

Overall: 4.7, A+

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.62/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 45 degrees
VINTAGE 2005

Pours a dark, golden amber color. Minimal head forms and quickly disipates. No lacing. Several decent size yeast chunks settle to the bottom of the liquid.

Huge nose full of sweet malt notes. Big Port-like notes. Vanilla caramels with brown sugar and raisins. Hints of dried apricots and Medjool dates. Definite booziness.

Like a very nice port wine with a big malty backbone. Caramelized bananas and apricots. Golden brown sugar and honey. Big presence of raisins and moderate notes of dates. Nice presence of pie spices. Quite warming alcohol notes and esters. Good sweet finish that just goes on and on. No hop presence to speak of, which I think is a great thing, in this one.
I don't know that the Barleywine style could be done any better than this. Excellent!

Body is just barely what I'd call 'full'. It's just got a slight amount of viscous character coming into it. Nicely oily, though. Very low carbonation, which serves it well. Nice and smooth, with a light touch of creaminess.

Very drinkable, despite it's 11.5%ABV. It is warming but not overpowering. An excellent dessert beer. Would be wonderful on a cool night.

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Photo of ToasterChef
4.92/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Served in my Uprising Chalice at Novare Res' First Anniversary Party. Reviewed from my tasting notes. The keg this was served from did not have any marking to indicate what year vintage this harvest ale is. It's also possible that this was aged at some point in port casks, as port flavors and aromas were all over this beer, but because it was advertised as J.W. Lees Harvest Vintage, I'm reviewing it here.

It has an opaque golden/orange/copper color with a thick white, soapy head. There is a port-like aroma that is very sweet and slightly alcoholic. The taste is mostly of port, but also some malt. It has a thick full-bodied mouthfeel that I rather enjoyed. The alcohol lingers in your mouth after you swallow, letting you know this is complex, finely crafted beer that demands your respect. I know it is strong and expensive, but I could drink this beer all night. After great beer, port is my next favorite beverage of choice, and this harvest ale combined them in a way that I love. This beer has become one of my favorites.

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Photo of pershan
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD. It was a bit pricey ($9 for a chalice), but was well worth it, IMHO.

A: Poured a brackish-amber with virtually no head into a chalice.

S: The aroma was of caramel, brown sugar, and alcoholic esters. No discernable hop aroma, so I could tell right away that this way going to be a fairly sweet barleywine.

T: A very sweet profile, as expected, with caramel, toffee, and brown sugar dominating. Big-time alcoholic esters, but really no discernable hop component - not a complaint, just an observation - I thoroughly enjoyed this beer even though I enjoy a nice hoppy brew.

M: Fairly syrupy and thick.

D: A hefty, albeit sweet, barleywine. I would have liked more of a hop component in the aroma and flavor, but still a very enjoyable sipping beer.

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Photo of Brew33
3.63/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Received as an extra in a trade, thanks Travis! 2007 Vintage. The color was a muted peach/amber. The aroma was brown sugar, ethyl alcohol, and sweet fruit. The taste was sweet, VERY sweet. Syrupy sweetness. I get a lot of brown sugar and raisin. Slight spicyness. An almost Brandy like finish. Little to no hop character. Completely unbalanced but that is somehow okay here. The alcohol was disguised well but the warming effects were evident. I felt like I'd just had 3 highballs.

This is a good beer. I'm glad I had the pleasure of trying it. It is ridiculously sweet though. Be prepared for a sipper. It gets better the closer it gets to room temperature too.

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.67/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 bottle, poured in a big wine glass at 57 F/ 14 C.

Deep rosewood color, hardly concealed by a mere smattering of froth. Attractive intricately patterned lace.

Mellow malty aroma, with earthy forest floor, berries, melon, and a hint of gasoline in a good way. No alcohol at all. The aroma is somewhat soft, but nonetheless great. The fruity freshness really complements the deep, earthy, aged character.

Tastes big and sweet, complex, and incredibly smooth. The sweet fruity malt grows in intensity and complexity for several seconds, with melon and gentle 'petrol' coming in. Very long finish, fresh fruity malt with a touch of earthy bitterness finally revealing itself. Very tasty indeed.

Lightly carbonated, just enough to keep it from being cloying, and low enough to let the flavor seep into every nerve ending in the entire mouth. Perfectly smooth and easy to drink, too bad the bottle's so small.

Great beer. Pure expression of Maris Otter malt, at its very best.

After reviewing, the rest of the glass paired perfectly with Neal's Yard Stichelton, unsurprisingly.

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Photo of alcstradamus
3.1/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

1999 vintage

A--Pours a deep mahogany/brown with about a finger of head using a fairly hard pour into a pint glass. The head recedes quickly and leaves no lacing

S--I could smell this one as I poured it. Very fruity, dark fruits mostly. Raisins, figs, bourbon soaked cherries, this is a powerful liquid.

T--Lots of dark fruits on the palate, banana bread-like malts, light maple syrup flavor, wood. This is very complex but EXTREMELY sweet, far more so than any other English Barleywine I've had. Notes of lip gloss and acetone.

M--Medium bodied yet has a weird thickness to the consistency like pureed raisins.

D--This is a slow sipper for sure. I have also had a 2007 vintage which was an unbearably sweet drain pour. Overall this beer is just not my cup of tea. I like the style, but something isn't working here.

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Photo of spointon
4.7/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on cask at FFF Dark Lord Day 2009.

A= This ale poured a cloudy orange-gold color with just a 1/4" white head. The head disappeared in about 5 minutes, but did leave a few rings of stickage on my glass.

S= A lot of hot alcohol in the aroma, but also present was a complex array of oak, vanilla, malt sweetness, ripe fruits, treacle, and some wonderfully fruity esters.

T= Very much similar to the aroma. The sweet malt base was huge and delicious. Lots of candy-like sweetness (caramel, toffee, treacle, molasses, etc). Ripe fruits added a lot of depth. The oak barrel provided a dryness in th emiddle as well as a mild vanilla note. The finish dried considerably and exhibited lots of warming alcohols.

MF= Heavy side of medium bodied with a soft low carbonation feel.

D= A big, delicious, ballsy ale made even more interesting by its time in the cask. Truly a sipper and the very definition of World-Class.

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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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