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

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
1,540 Ratings
Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)

Brewed by:
J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
England, United Kingdom

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

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Ratings: 1,540 |  Reviews: 872
Photo of SaucyA
4.26/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4


A - Into a snifter. No noticeable carbonation, aside from a scant bubbly head that quickly dissapeared to nothing. Body is murky brown, with quite a bit of random floaties. There's no yeast in here so I'm a little bothered. Rather unappealing.

S - Takes a turn for the good here. Caramel, toffee, alcohol, plum/prune, malty, Kraft carmels.

T - Here goes. Nearly what I expected, and hoped. Sweeet... but, good. Caramel, toffee, slight oxidation. Incredibly complex, yet nothing smacking me around. Not at all hoppy, and has the finish of 2007 Short's Anniversary part 1 that I love so much. Alcohol burn only noted in the tummy.

M - Syrupy, little to no carbonation, sugary.

D - Quite frankly, it's a little cloying, but anticipated. The alcohol is surprisingly not noted much aside from the buzz that seems to come on like a freight train.

Notes: My first TRUE english barleywine. For what it's worth, I'll definitely buy another bottle or two for the cellar. I can see this only getting better, and I'm curious to try the barrel-aged versions.

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Photo of changeup45
4.39/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2006 vintage. Pours out a brown/amber color with no head at all. Aroma is very nice; roasted malts, tree bark, plums, molasses and a little bit of alcohol. The flavor is sweet and sugary with a lot of dark fruits, particularly raisins with some roasted malt. Silky smooth. The most amazing part about this beer is that the 11.5% is hardly noticed. If any alcohol shows at all it is a little in the finish. Way better than the Thomas Hardy 2005 I sampled recently. This really is impressive.

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Photo of Zadok
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Vintage 2000

Poured a deep hazy amber with no head or lacing to speak of.

Smell is unbelievable, strong aroma of many dark fruits to include raisins, dates, figs, and cherries. Faint malts and hops in the background with alcohol mixed ever so slightly.

Wow, dark fruits abound in a syrupy mix of caramel and sweet malts. Raisins, cherries and figs are on the border of overpowering but still slight enough to make an unbelievable elixir. Alcohol definitely has a warming presence and only increases as it warms.

Very smooth and syrupy with low carbonation.

Although the quality and time invested is evident, the high ABV and insane amount of sweetness make this a once in a year brew for me personally. Even with the small (9.4 I believe) I could only really see splitting with someone else if I ever happened across another. Maybe a different year would have a little less sweetness...time will tell.

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Photo of Andbrew
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

1999 vintage

Poured strong head and nutty brown color
Strong alcohol aroma right off the bat, rasin, plum,

No carbonation to speak of. Tasted light of alcohol, but syrupy, what I would expect from this type of barleywine.

As the beer warms it gets more of a bite and you can taste more plum and esters.

Fantastic sipping beer, but share with a friend as it will overwhelm your palate after a quarter of a bottle. Pair with a strong caramel dessert or vanilla ice cream.

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Photo of daftafne
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

2003 vintage

Poured with great force into my tulip and yielded a scant, transient head. The color reminds me of a dark mahogany. Most obviously to me, smells sweet and bread-like. Also smells of raisins, caramel, oak, and plums.

Wow, this beer has a unique flavor profile. There is quite a bit going on and it is hard to place my finger (tongue more precisely) on each taste. It begins with sweet raisens, rum and plum, then some spice (clove and perhaps a little cinnamon) and then a minor pop of hops and finishes a little smokey. Each sip gives me a different iteration of the same story. Sticky on the tongue and very low carbonation. Overall, a great aged-beer.

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Photo of Goliath
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
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 BeerIsland
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I got a taste of the '99 at Max's a few weeks back, this was quite a brew. Even though it was on the handpump, it poured very flat and brown to garnet in color. There were some nice honey smells that got a little sweeter as I progressed. The '99 is a rich, deeply flavored beer with butterscotch and toffee flavors all the way through. I'm not sure about the drinkability since it took me 45 minutes to do 5 oz and a companion 5 oz of the 2004 Lagavulin. But who's in a hurry ??

A Very Neat beer drinking experience!

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Photo of Dizzy
4.52/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2000 bottle

A-Pours a slightly hazy brown. Ring of foam. I'm surprised I don't see any chunks floating in it.

S-Dark fruits, carmel and alcohol is noticeable.

T-Complex taste matching aroma. The dark fruits and carmel flavors are there, a little bitter in the finish. I'm pleasantly surprised that I don't notice oxidation.

M- Very thick, full bodied. Light carbonation left.

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Photo of Strix
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%
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 FtownThrowDown
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 Vintage
Pours a ruby brown in color with absolutely no head to be found. Some sediment "chunkies" floating in the beer. Smell is dark fruits, figs, very port-like. Taste is very much the same. Very smooth and creamy. Some leather tannins coming through as well. This is over seven years old and has aged gracefully. Have some more left, so I'll check back with those at a later point.

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Photo of sholland119
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage, reviewed July 2008

A-Pours a clear deep amber color with honey brown highlights. Nice lacing.

S-Sweet dark fruits, toffee and caramel. Hint of alcohol but not overwhelming. Wonderful.

T-Following the nose, a creamy caramel, maple and raisin taste with a moderate alcohol warmth in the finish. Very complex and delicious.

M-Rather thick and syrupy, in a good way.

D-Very nice, but I rarely want more than one barleywine.

An excellent beer, holding up very well at 9 years.


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Photo of Antilochus
3.65/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Vintage 2006 - reviewed July 2008. 11.5% abv, 275mL bottle. Room temp. Served with Stilton.

Clear dark copper body under a thin cap of bubbles - tiny bubbles stick to the side of the glass. If this isn't a barleywine, what is?

Aromas of toffee, dark fruits, burnt sugar. Yum... dark, sweet grains... rye, nuts. Raisins. Superb.

Feel is remarkably thin, but lots of flavour - raisins, molasses, peaches, prunes, cake mix, rotten apples, burnt sugar. Finish is on mincemeat pie, a hint of astringency. Gigantic malt presence.

A bit young yet, but some things about this 06er are to be greatly admired.

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Photo of jjayjaye
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Harvest Ale 2000 purchased from Knightly Spirits, Orlando FL.

Pours a clear deep dark red amber color with a full finger foamy light tan head that fades to surface fairly quickly but is kept alive by visible effervescence. Sheets of Belgian lacing trail behind. The smell is really rich fruity and sweet. Big dark fruit figs and molasses. The mouth feel is medium-full bodied. Full flavored, the fig brown sugar molasses taste is really rich. It coats the tongue nicely and leaves a n after taste that lingers nicely. A real easy drinker, the 11.5% ABV is well integrated. Highly recommended.

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Photo of cvstrickland
4.54/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

1998 Bottling; BA review number 300.

I'm excited about drinking a ten years-aged beer, and am amused by the cute little 275 ml bottle. Poured into a snifter, the miniature vessel yields a deep ruddy brown body capped with a sticky finger of foam the color of raw wheat bread dough that recedes quickly, leaving very little lacing behind.

The smell is unbelievable! Layer upon layer of caramel and dark fruit, rich notes of fine port wine and juicy red apples, an edge of spiciness that almost comes off piney...holy cow! There's fine molasses with a floral note of honey, with zippy pepper and lemon peel. I swirl it for another snort, and out comes a bready note.

Taste is sticky-sweet, reminiscent of honeysuckle nectar, with a flavor of orange juice that fades quickly. Caramel and honey pay their respects, as does a warming alcohol that never manifests itself as a true flavor, but is definitely part of the equation. Lots of flavors-- some out-front, some lurking-- almost all of them sweet. An earthy flavor of damp black loam soil and maraschino cherries emerges as the drink warms.

The feel of this drink seems something like the "Syrup of the Gods", uh, in my little mortal opinion. Thick, sweet, and rich, the drink could have just as easily come from a Mrs. Butterworth's bottle, if only she made syrup so good as this. Definitely a sipper, 1998 Lees is proof-in-the-bottle that good things come in small packages... very good things!

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Photo of flexabull
4.29/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottle courtesy of leftmindedrighty, thanks again!

Pours a dark gold color, hazy and cloudy, with a pretty nice white head.

Aromas are cider like, there is a very strong apple aroma. A bit boozy, and some oak as well.

Taste is very cider like as well. Some very boozy apple flavors. Creamy and sweet malts, very well balanced tasting beer. Finish is crisp, with a nice brandy like bite from the alcohol. This is holding up quite well even at 5 years old.

Mouthfeel is very full, and is quite nice.

Drinkability is very good. A very unique tasting beer to me that is quite easy to drink, and very enjoyable to sip.

Side note : I really like that this is put in a 275 ml bottle. It's a perfect size for one person.

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Photo of thickerfreakness
3.39/5  rDev -20%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

1998 bottle purchased from Sam's in Chicago.

Rich amber brown color. Pours with more head than expected but it fades to a ring of foam around the glass.

Smells really sweet off the bat. Rich toffee, candy, doughy malts, creamy vanilla caramels. Very, very sweet.

Really similar to the smell with the caramels becoming the main flavor component for me followed by other things from the smell and then some really rich overripe fruits like strawberries and cherries. Sweetness just gets to me as it lingers for quite a while after drinking.

A creamy medium bodied beer with more carbonation than expected for a 10 year old beer.

Just gets way too sweet. I don't think I can finish the end of this glass. Really high ABV as well.

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Photo of soupyman10
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well this monster (in both price and - or so I'm told - flavor) was supposed to be review #500, but goddamn did I have to go and screw that up. Well, #501's just as good. I really wasn't sure what to expect, but was told by Tim the beer guy at Wine Specialist that he'd had an '01 a bit back and it was amazing. So I followed his advice. This one pours a deep opaque amber brown color with a nice dark middle. A thin half-inch of tan head on top dissolves down to a fan lace fairly quickly. Looks pretty nice. Aromas you can smell all the way across the room. Incredible spicy, caramel malt, with huge swirling dried fruits in there, also cherries and a dose of vinous wine-iness. A touch of alcohol, mixed in with solid breadiness. Huge delicious aroma (although not a hop in sight. Flavor is...oh good Christ this is something. Hugely bready and full; the body is incredibly creamy and syrupy, clinging to your mouth for a minute. Very mildly carbonated (possibly cause of the age), but it works perfectly for that syrupy sweet flavor (and I mean that in a good way). Other flavors are tons of maple syrup, tons of sweet caramel malt, lightly spiced. Cookies, chocolate...the flavors are innumerable. Really outstanding. Not sure what more I can say. Delicious, and an amazing dessert beer (not one I'd recommend for slamming with the boys, both cause of the price and cause you'd die). Absolutely excellent.

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Photo of callmescraps
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Just feeling lucky to get a bottle of the 1997 classic. I am really looking forward to this one.

Appearance - Very dark reddish brown. Almost no head after all these years. Pours slowly, looks lovely.

Smell - An explosion of dried fruit. Cherries, prunes, almost a hint of brandy. There is the alcohol smell. There is a lot going on here, including a red-wine sort of smell, but mostly the dried fruit. Not like a typical beer at all. Except, there's a sort of Guinness-like maltiness. Unexpected.

Taste - Starts with some serious caramel, then a little coffee bitterness. Finally followed by all the fruit. Some cranberry, the aforementioned cherries and prunes. Very complex. Lots of caramelized sugars.

Mouthfeel - Dreamy. Thick and buttery smooth. Coats the tongue. It just lingers.

Drinkability - Hard to gauge. It's not like I'd want another, but there is just so much going on.

Overall I'm glad I tried this baby. It's not really a "beer" in the way that I imagine beer. More like a port than anything. Including the thick port mouthfeel. A very different beer experience. That being said, I'm looking forward to a saison or belgian golden ale tomorrow.

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Photo of Donnie2112
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

bottle of 2K6 in an oversized wine glass

appearance: dark brownish with a bunch of tiny little bubbles and tons of chunks of lees that inevitably get spilled into the bottle

smell: rummy molasses, incredibly rich

taste: rich dark malts, tons of carmelized sugars in this one. a bit of alcohol burn in there but it's subtle

mouthfeel: this is the interesting part, it's thick and oily, so incredibly full bodied, the carbonation is smooth and extremely light but still there

drinkability: it's drinkable but you're not going to drink any more then say two? I mean I can't imagine drinking a four or sixer of this stuff it's just too rich. Granted that's not the usual drinkability standard that I would apply to a barleywine, so I'll say. It's certainly not offensive but it doesn't really snap either. Maybe I just need to start drinking older barleywines.

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Photo of Floydster
2.34/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

2002 vintage, 9.3 ounce bottle purchased at Holiday Wine Cellar for $6.99 some time last year, put in the fridge for about forty minutes before cracking, split with my dad about an hour ago, poured into the new Sam Adams glass

A-Light to medium brown with an orange tint, 3/4 inch creamy off white head, suprisingly stuck around for a while which I did not expect because it is six years old, decent retention, no lacing

S-Huge amounts of caramel, toffee, butter, brown sugar, cognac, salt, soy sauce, vanilla, milk chocolate, plums, dates, figs, grainy bread, hint of brandy, aroma was so complex but it almost made me sick to my stomach due to its sweetness

T-I would hope that this beer gets better with even more age because I could barely handle it but then again it could have just been my palate, started off with a big caramel sweetness, along with strong dark fruits and toffee in the middle, finish was hot and burned a little going down, some serious booze here with an aftertaste that just does not want to leave, did not expect hoppiness after this long of an aging period but it needed some kind of dryness to balance out all the sweet accents, each sip made me cringe a little

M-Super sweet, boozy, and pungent mouthfeel, really could have used some carbonation, body was medium to full and very hazy in appearance, taste lingered far too long, also spicy and warming later

D-Could barely get through four ounces of this stuff, extremely heavy on the stomach, way too sweet in my opinion, alcohol is very present and is hotter than it even smells, not smooth, just flat out strong

Alcohol by volume was what it is listed at here but seemed like much more, one of the older beers I have tried at six years, to be honest this was a big let down for me and you can probably see that with the scores, far from a barleywine that I am used to, I would not drink this again, not recommended mainly because it is not my thing

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
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

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Photo of letsgopens
4.62/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage '98, this little bottle of heaven pours a cloudy, rusty amber with some thin, golden highlights. The milky tan head remains frothy and full for a very respectable period of time. Some very fine rising carbonation is visible as well.

Huge, intense, and tongue numbingly complex. Smooth caramel, toffee covered dark fruit, candied dates and sweet sticky vanilla. Tons of heavily fermented fruit throughout. A hint of brandy and sun warmed black cherries. Buttery dark bread and a subtle hint of sour apple. Simply unbelievably fragrant. I can think of only one, maybe two, beers that can rival in aromatic complexity.

Buttery smooth, burnt toffee and a ton of heavily caramelized sugar character and fermented fruit. Juicy dark fruit (berry, raisin, date, fig) and very toasty brown bread. A superb lingering aftertaste. Velvety smooth, warm, toasty, and very sweet. Initially there is a hint of brandy that mellows and becomes more smooth yet still bold throughout. Again, just fantastically complex.

Soft, buttery velvet yet a bit bitey near the beginning with a suppressed, underlying booze warmth. A great sipper; certainly something to be appreciated. This is one of those selections where all aspects of the brew (apart from appearance) are very much dependent on one another. Definitely a full-on beer experience.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled Sept. of 1998 and aged 9 years before sampling. 11% abv.

A: Pours a very dark burgundy red with a light thin tan head with some reddish hues.

S: Spicy alcohol, sweet raisins are on the nose. There is also a slight detection of smokiness.

T: The beer starts out with a massive malting and dried fruit smack in the face. Appears to be very rough around the edges malt wise with a dry bitterness and dried raisins for flavor. There is also a big burnt brown sugar flavor with an overpowering sugary sweetness. Thankfully the beer fades beautifully with some pears, apples, cinnamon and a light brown sugar coating that is very smooth leaving a sweet malt residue fade on the tongue.

M: syrupy with some light molasses.

D: Overall there was an overpowering brown sugary sweetness that is sweet making this a sipper. very good.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


Pours a foggy brown with a very thin creme head. Nose is very sugary sweet. Masked alcohol and caramel tones. Flavor is sweet as well. Lots of sugars. Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be much complexity beyond that. It's sweet. It's slightly earthy. But it's still nice. Smooth liquid feel and a smooth lower carbonation as well. Very easy to drink. But oddly enough this still could use a good bit more time on it to even it out. You'd think after 7 years it'd be good to go, but I think at least another 2 or 3 (or more) would do it good.

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Photo of marksto
4.48/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage. Pours a deep amber color with garnet highlights and a thin head that falls quickly. Aroma is big and vinous, with lots of fruit - apricot, cherry, and raisins. Very sweet smelling, with alcohol noticible. Flavor shows lots of depth. Mouthfeel has major body and thickness. Very sweet with lots of fruitness mixed in with carmel and a hint of brown sugar. Very rum-like, with alcohol warmth noticible at finish.

All the samples I've had of this one before were the ones aged in various barrels - sherry, calvados, etc.. I prefer this one much better. The complexity shows much more when there's not all that barrel/liquor essence to hide it behind. This is one to enjoy on a cold evening by the fire, or after a good meal. Recommended.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 1,540 ratings