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

1,518 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: 1,518 |  Reviews: 862
Photo of beerthulhu
4.23/5  rDev -0.5%
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 +2.4%
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 +5.4%
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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Photo of throwitallaway
3.76/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to roymunson for this brew! This is the from the 2001 vintage. Decanted from the bottle into a snifter. Pours a quite dark amber color with zero head as expected. Smells of huge malts, cherries, toffee, and alcohol. I've had very few barleywines, so this aroma is quite unique and interesting. The taste is sweet, with raisins, cherries, toffee, and booze all making an appearance. This is so sweet I should have definitely waited to try it later in the day, like after dinner, as opposed to 2 pm. Mouthfeel is quite thick. Drinkability is extremely low as it would take me forever to even finish one of these. I'm conflicted with this beer. It's obviously an excellent beer, but it's so far out of any style I enjoy, that it's hard for me to get too into it.

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Photo of Ian
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage bottle, courtesy of Mahar's Public Bar, Albany, NY.

A - Pours a cloudy brown with reddish hues. Barely a pinky finger head in a chalice. Sipped slowly over the course of 45 minutes.

S - Simply put - delicious. Boozy, sweet and malty as can be. What a whiff.

T - Wheeww! Huge...Sweet as honey, hints of fruit, mighty yeasty. Intense maltiness completely overpowers the hops.

F - Thick and heavy...great slow drink - perfect for the occasion. However, it did leave me with a slight headache...

Overall, superbly done - I look forward to trying the 2000 Harvest.

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Photo of DmanGTR
4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one last night after my undergrad graduation ceremony :)

Vintage 2001 - Dec 1

A - poured cloudy, burgundy brown with a small bubble ring in my tulip chalice. No lacing.

S - very, very malty sweet, at first I was caught off guard and thought of sweet soy sauce, but I let it sink into me and realized I was detecting the beautiful aromas of dark fruits: figs and dates, mixed with a slight rum-like alcohol, a light yeastiness, and holiday spiciness. Complex, rich, and satisfying.

T - good golly... molasses sweetness, very malty, bready, a slight hint of cocoa, and deep, deep fruits. Dates, figs, and spice, nearly no hops. Alcohol is very well hidden until you feel it warming your throat.

M - medium/heavy bodied, very light/nearly non existent carbonation. Sticky and syrupy. Coats your palate nicely.

D - this is most definitely a sipper. Not only is it somewhat costly, but the alcohol is quite high (11.5%). It will sneak up on you. This is a beer you want to enjoy for a while.

Overall - I was a little scared to buy this but I'm glad I did. Extremely sweet, almost like a port or a dessert beer but still quite excellent. For the price, I would probably only drink this on special occasions. I opened this one on May 18, 2008. It is quite amazing how well it aged in 7 years. This is excellent as a dessert beer, served by itself, or shared in small quantities as an appetizer beer. Cheers to this great brew. I am eager to try the other years as well.

I will update as I try the other years. This review is of the 2001 edition.

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

Re-review on 11/20/08. Sampled at cellar temp. 1998 vintage

A- Very nice thick 1 finger head with some nice clinging lace. Dark maroon/brown color with some suspended sediment. After a bit, the foam recedes to a thin cap.

S- Initially I get a huge fresh flour component and sweet brown sugary goodness. I also get some nice cherry and chocolate, with some plum or fig. I also get some nice peppermint aromas.

T- Sweet plum, cherries, maple syrup, brown sugary smoothness. with a very smooth dryness in the fining. Very sweet malt as well. This is outstanding.

M- this thing is the definition of smooth. It has basically no carbonation but is very well balanced and sweet. It's amazing what 10 years on a beer can do for smoothness.

D- 11.5% is pretty high, but it's hidden VERY well. I am Very glad I have 3 more of these.

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Photo of dmamiano
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Really excited to drink this one..2002 vintage shared by fellow BA aherberger...thanks.
This beer looked good, dark and tawney with a small head and lacing to beat the band.
Smell was one that made the eyes roll back in my head. Heavy malt sweetness, very fruity and deep.
Taste was big, no, make that huge on malt sweetness, thick and heavy with a very big mouthfeel. This was a real sipper, reminding me of almost drinking liquid candy.
I cant believe that body from this beer.
A real enjoyable treat to have during a "brew" session.

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

Vintage 1998

Appearance: It's very cloudy with minute sediment particles swimming about. It's dark and reddish brown in color. Head is about a finger deep and an off-white color. It receded very quickly and left little to no lace behind. Very nice looking color nonetheless.

Smell: This is a very complex scent that is bursting at the seams with loads of aromatic goodness. It's a strong mix of figs, dates, and dark fruits up front. Dark fruit aroma consists of plum, raisin, and prune. Smells malty and sweet. It has notes of brown sugar and molasses. Alcohol is a little noticeable, but not overly so. Damn fine smelling beer.

Taste: It's very sugary sweet, bordering on too sweet. But, it's not quite there. It has a nice caramel malt base that adds some more sweetness. But, it works and works very well. Dark fruits and fig work wonders with the other flavors. It tastes extremely well balanced and the vast array of flavors have an excellent synergistic effect on the palate. There's a slight alcohol taste that warms a little on the way down. Finishes sweet and dry.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: It feels medium bodied and has an excellent smooth quality to it. I was expecting a heavier feel, but color me surprised. It's very drinkable. It's strong at 11.5%, which limits drinkability just a tad. Nonetheless, it's smooth and easy drinking.

The '98 Vintage release is impressive. I didn't quite know what to expect considering I'm drinking it in 2008. But, it's aged well and is a very nice beer. I'd be very interested to pick other releases for a comparison. In any event, it's an easy recommendation from me.

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

2001 Limited Edition

WOW. First impression came from the dark reddish color. No head at all. Held it up to the light, just a beautiful red.

Then I smelled it and I knew I was going to be in for a treat. It smelled sweet and a bit spicy.

Then I took a sip. It took me a second to realize that I wasn't drinking a sherry. I really had to do a double take. It was a bit syrupy and very sweet. Absolutely amazing.

I split the bottle with my cousin, who was kind enough to bring it for sampling. Let's just say I owe him big.

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Photo of Natural510
4.57/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1999 First Batch, 275ml bottle.
Pours a transparent bright-red color with tan overtones; little-to-none carbonation and no lacing.
Smells of sweet malts, honey & molasses, and orange citrus. Alcohol very strong to the nose as well.
A beer very sweet with flavors of honey & brown sugar, backed by a strong fruit presence of orange & cherries. A slight oak note is detected as well. Deeply malty with a subtle but ever-present hop character.
Stays tangy & syrupy in the mouth. Malts, hops & alcohol content vibrate throughout.
This drinks like a liqueur...definitely a sipper. Ideal as an appertief, dessert beer or nightcap before bedtime. Very enjoyable.

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Photo of bilyboy65
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Will eventually have reviews for 3 different vintages. 1997, 1998 and 1999.

1st Dec 1999 - Reviewed 4/26/08

All from a 275 ml bottle.

A: 1999 - Poured a thick creamy dark copper color beer. Head was 1 finger and dissipated pretty fast. Leaves very little residue on the glass.

S: 1999 - Very complex smell. Scent of raisins, molasses, honey, fruity esters. There is an alcohol bitter scent that mixes itself in as well.

T: 1999 - There are even more flavors in the taste then the smell. There are a complex combination of toffee, caramel, honey, fruits (raisins, apples, prunes) and molasses. Roasted malts start to make an appearance towards the end and it finishes with a nice bitter hop and alcohol to balance everything off.

M: 1999 - Full bodied beer with very light carbonation. Silky smooth and very creamy.

D: 1999 - This is a fantastic beer. You may finish the entire glass reviewing it. Try and remind yourself to just enjoy it. Can easily drink a multitude of these in one sitting. Goes down very smooth.

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Photo of TasteTester
3.18/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Bottle from 2000. I had really high hopes for this beer, my first real vintage experience, but I was rather let down. It tasted like sour grapes and malt, almost wine-like. Had the grape flavor been more subtle, I may have enjoyed it more. I also got a bad headache from drinking this beer, which kept me from trying anything else this evening.

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

Thanks to RoyMunson for the wondrous extra. A 2001 bottle ... he is truly a beacon of light amongst the darkness of the series of tubes that is the interwebs.

Pours a dark amber/orange with some reddish hues. Some bubbling, but just a thin tan head and a bit of remaining crust on the sides of the glass. Basically, almost no head.

The smell is sweet malt. Tons of it. And maybe some rum and dark fruits. The label says hops, but I can't detect much, if any. This is a sweet beer. I'm surprised again at the dark fruit, figs/raisins, and rum notes. I guess I'm used to barleywines being uberhopped here in the States. Syrupy thick mouthfeel. This is somewhat less sugary than the sherry aged version, but to be quite frank, I don't taste much of a difference. This is probably slightly more drinkable.

This reminds me of a port ... or a rum soaked dark fruit dessert ... moreso than most beers I've had. If I had ready access, I might buy one now and then to lay down for later.

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

Vintage 1998.
From a 9.6 ounce bottle into a snifter. Pours an opaque mahogony with a thin tan head that lines the edge of the glass but otherwise dissipates into a fairy nonexistent covering. Little lacing is left behind, which makes sense to the 11.5% ABV. Unbelievably rich, malty aroma of sweet pumpernickel, rum soaked dark fruits (dates?), rising dough, and an alcohol note that is reminiscent of tripel sec, sweet cognacs. Taste of sweet doughy bread, with rum soaked raisins and oak chips and a lingering brown sugar and molasses finish. It tastes like a holiday bread...with booze. You can smell the alcohol in the air, but is it entirely undistinguishable in the taste. This is most definitely a long sipper, not because of the booziness but because of how rich the malt profile is. I now know what a true english barleywine is, and I'm not going to say I dislike, but its quite a different exercise for the palette. A very interesting beer, and I can clearly see how the aging process works after this brew

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Photo of tpd975
3.6/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2001 Vintage purchased at Whole Foods Columbus Circle in NYC.

A: Clear nutty brown color with red highlights with a small tight creamy off-white head. The lacing is minimal.

S: Tons of sweentess, this one may be cloying. Sweet aromas waft from the glass. Tons of toffee, caramel and molasses. This one is all about the malt. Very malty no matter how you look at it. Besides the sugar there are some dark fruits.

T: Malty, Sweet, downright cloying. Wow the sweetness of this beer. Fresh honey and brown sugar right from the start. Tinges of sweetned milky caramel and rich molasses. There are some massivly ripe fruits beneath. The finish tastes like you just popped a handfull of sunsweet raisins in your mouth. Wow there is a lot of raisin in the finish.

M: Big bold and thick. Very smooth in a syrupy sort of way.

D: Not really. Beers this sweet are hard for me to finish.

Overall: This is one big rich bold full bodied barleywine. It is off the scale when it comes to malt and sweetness. It is a bit overthetop for me, but very unique nonetheless.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

9.6 ounce bottle, 1999 vintage (1st December 1999 it says on the back label of the bottle). Served in a pint glass, the beer pours a dark amber/red color with a 1/4 inch off-white head. Not much head retention or lacing. It smells like prunes, sherry/port, brown sugar and molasses. It's a very sweet aroma. Taste is exactly like the aroma, fruity and sweet, very nice. Alcohol isn't as hot in the aroma or taste as I'd thought it would be, it's pretty mellow. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's rich, slick and a bit syrupy. Drinkability is pretty good, it's very smooth and goes down easy. It's a sipping beer, but it's pretty easy to drink it quicker than I should! I could drink 2 or 3 (at most) of these in a sitting. I think this is a very good beer, no wonder it's on the BA Top 100. If you get the chance to get one of these (the older the better), you definitely should!

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

December 1st 1999 vintage. consumed on 3/25/08
11.2 oz bottle> Chimay goblet

This is a very vibrant ruby red-hued amber color with struggling bubbles and mild carbonation that is able to create a one-finger, bubbly but thick looking dark-tan head that dissipates quick, which is no suprise, this stuff looks very hefty. There is still plenty of thin lacing around the edge of the glass for the duration.

The aroma is very pungent with honey-soaked, freshly baked multi grain bread in the malt scent. Candied prunes, molasses, sweet, wet wheat and grains.

The flavor is comparable to a port wine-like sweetness upfront. A sweet fruity edge to the malt hits first with honey-glazed prunes and sugar covered raisins. Intense Sweetness, even sweeter than the DFH 120 Min IPA or Samichluas. Eventhough the malt is VERY complex and sweet it also features a roastie, oak-aged flavor with a mild current of chocolate. for balance we've got a nice earthy, fresh garden green's hop edge that is mild but pops out right at the end which is very effective. The yeast gives further balance with a slightly earthy-tang effect and the high ABV is very well hidden and has obviously mellowed over the last nine years! Compare this to an American Barleywine and you've got two totally different animals especially in the balance and hop impact.Personally, I find these extra sweet malt bombs a real nice "desert" beer. complexity is huge, I can only admire the Brewer for creating this stuff.

The feel is as full bodied, heavy and slick as you could possiblt achieve, it's kinda like drinking a mellow maple syrup. some would call this "flat"...this actually has plenty of life for a nine year old brew.

A true sipper, savor slowly and with your mind WIDE OPEN.

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

Vintage year: 1999

A- Thick, dark amber body with minimal cream color head and almost no lacing

S- Malt and apples, like if you were home brewing & baking a pie at the same time.

T- Molassas right up front with malt, dates & apples. Slight booze finish.

M- Thick & syrupy. This one coats the mouth and each sip stays with you for a while.

D- Nice & slow. It may not be a big bottle, but its still a good one to share. Pleased to have more in the cellar.

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

Split a 1999 vintage

A: Super dark copper color with white head.

S: Malt bomb plus. Apples and molasses were in there as well.

T: Sweet. Really sweet. Dates molasses, malt, some dark fruit, sugar and hints of tea. One of the most complex beers I have ever had.

M:Med body with the typical Brit low BW carbonation.

D:Super easy drinking. Have a 1997-1999 mini vertical in the cellar and cannot wait for that. Definitely grab a few of these if you see them.

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

'98 vintage.

Appearance - Oily and thick, mahogany in color, hazy but still transparent. Pours with a small, short-lived head.

Smell - Earthy and sweet. Caramel and raisins with woody undertones. Very bold, similar to a nice port or sherry.

Taste and mouthfeel - Layers of flavor unfold with each sip. Strawberries, followed by caramel, wood, iron and raisins. Bitter earthy hops provide a necessary touch of dryness in the finish that prevent this from being cloying. Very full-bodied, almost syrupy, with just enough carbonation to keep the mouthfeel lively. Very drinkable despite the syrupy texture and sweetness.

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

1998 Vintage

This pours a dark mahogany into the glass. From the pour, it looks thick as it dollops out into the glass. Little head is present.

I take a sniff. Sweet Jesus.

This has to be the thickest caramel and molasses aroma I've had off of a beer. I can practically smell how oily it will be on the tongue. Stewed figs linger in the background along with a port-like fruitiness.

On sipping, there are thick, viscous layers of brown sugar, light anise, plums, caramel, toffee, black mission figs, pineapple, scotch whiskey, dark rum and fruitcake (and I don't even like fruitcake!). Estery vinous notes are also present. The aging seems to have folded the alcohol into this barleywine and given it enough burn to keep the sweetness from giving the imbiber a toothache. It also helps to taper off the velvety oily body.

This may have the most complex flavor profile of all the barleywines I've had. I'm still detecting different flavors as the sipping goes on and had to re-edit this review twice. It is definitely worth it to seek out the aged versions of this brew.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.35/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Single, slim, slender 11.2 oz bottle copped from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield...
"Limited Edition Brewed in 2005"...
Pours a hazy, cloudy, very murky, dark-amber color with a nicely-sized foamy and frothy head that included a slight bit of carbonation before receding and leaving a fair amount of lacing...
The aroma was very rich and sweet, bursting with strong candied sugars, sweet caramel, vanilla, and cream...
The taste was way too sweet to be truly enjoyable... The flavor was literally bursting with candied sugars and ultra-sweet caramel that made this beer near impossible to drink, even after already downing a few...
Mouthfeel was thick, rich, and creamy, and extremely sweet...
Overall drinkability was rather poor due to the excessive sweetness associated with this brew as well as the cloying, ultra-sugar-laden flavor...
Not my favorite Barleywine for sure...

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

1999 Vintage.

Pours a ruby red with a slight head. Smell is very sweet. Alot of plums and alcohol in the nose. Taste is very complex. Hard to pick out everything. Sugar, malts, alcohol, and fruit comes out. Not sure how drinkable this would be since it really packs a punch. Definitely an outstanding beer though. Glad I picked it up.

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Photo of aforbes10
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had the 1998, and felt it had gotten a little too old (oxidized, cardboardy, etc), but i felt i should go for the 2000 to give it another shot. Pours an extremely dark red. Short ring of a tan head. Lazy slow lacing. I can smell it from several feet away. metallic fruitiness, very pungent. malt underneath, ethanol. very much the odor of a beer liquor. Taste is strong and aggressive. cherries and malts mixed in with warm alcohol, quickly mellowing and transitioning to a warming, biscuity and chocolate/nougat flavor. Some roastiness. a decadent taste experience. Full bodied and heavy. Yeah, this is a great drinking experience. very nice. Like i said, i thought the 1998 had gone over the hump, age-wise, so it was nice to have one that tasted as i expected it would.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,518 ratings.
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