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

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
BA SCORE
4.24/5
Exceptional
1,531 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:
#869
Reviews:
865
Ratings:
1,531
pDev:
13.68%
Bros Score:
4.6
 
 
Wants:
268
Gots:
227
Trade:
14
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Ratings: 1,531 |  Reviews: 865
Photo of scottum
4.85/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle of the 1997 vintage.

Pours out a hazy brown with a very small quick fading head. Wow! wow! wow! This is not an overrated brew. So damn good on so many levels. Huge malts are so complex. If only all six year old beers were to be this good! I wish I could drink this liquid gold every day. Certainly one of the best barleywines I've ever sampled. Gots to try me some other years.

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Photo of roguetester
4.77/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I recieved two bottles of the '99 vintage in a barleywine sample case.

I had never had it before, but when I poured the first bottle out, I new I was in for a treat...

A small amount of head formed in the glass, but this dissapeared rather quickly. For a beer that had been in the bottle for ~4 years I was surprised that almost no residue was left in the bottle.

The aroma was not unlike that of a fine brandy. Alcohol was quite obvious as were other deep aromas.

The taste was exceptional. Very rich in flavor. All sorts of complex notes going on. You know the alcohol was there, but it ducked in and out of the other flavors the whole time.

This stuff is wicked expensive. There are very few cases that are north of $100 that I'll even entertain. This is one of them. This is a brew that I'd be proud to share with people the same way some share a fine cognac. If you decide to try this, get your hads on a few bottles so that you can enjoy it over a few years.

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Photo of Indybeer
3.23/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Part of Vintage beer Tasting
Vintage 1998 & 1999. Both poured a deep dark amber, with a moderate head that didn't stick around very long, and left no lacing on the glass. Aroma is caramel malt and alcohol. Taste is thick, chewy, and very sweet. After a couple of minutes, I got really tired of it. I gave it a low drinkability score because it was like drinking a glass of syrup, laced with alcohol.

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Photo of ADR
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999 edition...

Dark copper-tinted brown with shiny red highlights. Head is thinnish, vaguely yellow/tan and laces simple in a couple of rings. Big nose, alcohol, cask bourbon, sherry and woody musk. Whew. Rolling and coating mouthfeel, senses of of very sharp and hot nutmeg and a triple shot of fortified wine, diacetyl, and candied fruit (very candyish profile overall) in a solidly consistent statement. Less hop sizzle than most American Barleywines, lays back more like a Fuller's Vintage but with stronger fruit. Masterful finish -- some fruitcake with rum and a bit of unsurprisingly and not-that-subtle alcoholic heat. Great drinkability per style. Simply an outstanding example of a big beer and one well worth stocking in the closet for over a year.

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Photo of TheDM
1.78/5  rDev -58%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

This was a bottle Harvest ale 2001 sample. This brew poured a small head of fine to medium sized light brown bubbles that as it receded left very little lacing. Its body was a cloudy dark brown color. It has an aroma of cinnamon and spice with some fruity notes. It had a burnt taste that was awful. Yuck what a drain pour. Was this sample bad? Maybe I'll have to sample another one if I can brave myself to try it again.

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Photo of UncleJimbo
4.49/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampled at The Moan and Dove in Amherst, MA. This was 1996 vintage, aged in a 100 year old wooden port wine barrel.

This ale poured a clear, golden amber color with no foam or carbonation apparent. The smell was wonderful: smooth caramel, figs, raisins, alcohol. The taste was moderately sweet malt with figs, raisin, molasses, alcohol and a hint of butter. A very complex and exquisite flavor. The mouthfeel was warming. It was light on the tongue but left a residual thick, sweet taste. The body was medium and the carbonation was nonexistent. This was an incredibly awesome barley wine, but due to the strength and fullness, I really cannot say that I want to drink many at one sitting.

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Photo of brakspear
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage.

Appearance is a brownish amber, no head to speak of, but I would not expect much of one for the style. The aroma contains an immediate blast of alcohol, followed by a malty caramel and toasted sweetness, little hop bite of smells. The taste....wow! Thick chewy sweetness, caramels, port or brandy qualities in finish...exceptional. This beer is deceptively easy to drink given the high alcohol content. Sublime joy in the glass.

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Photo of jcalabre
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1988 Vintage. Originally rated on 22 November 2002. I'm writing this review from my notes.
Poured a deep brown/red with a small head, that lasted quite a long time. Aroma was sweet with raisin and caramel.
The flavor was definitely sweet, perhaps a bit too sweet for me.

This beer is a bit different, but I could see why many like it. It's a must-try for any serious beer drinker.

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Photo of faernt
4.97/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I tried some of the 1980's vintages and was disappointed. This is 2000 and it's wonderful. It smells good from two feet away. It's huge! Al K Hall (we all know him) aroma is attractive. I get raisins and caramel ( again from two feet away) The mouthfeel is velvet. This is the nightcap beer! Stock up.

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

1989 Vintage.

After 13+ years of aging, almost all carbonation has gone. Pours a tea brown with no head and no bubbles rising from the beer - almost still, with only a slight tingling of the tongue disclosing any carbonation.

Aroma is sugary, over the top with maple syrup. Flavor is also sweet, almost candy-like. Maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar - the malt has surrendered and the hops are nowhere to be found. Borders on cloying, but holds back, just barely. The 11.5% alcohol is also surpisingly absent from the flavor profile (or was it the alcohol that caused my tongue to tingle, and not carbonation?).

The final pour of the last few oz. is a murky prune juice with a few sediment chunks. Bolstering my courage, I down this and find it to be a good finish to the beer, a bit softer than the rest.

I think this beer has reached the end of the road and wonder if further aging will be beneficial. If it gets any sweeter it will be undrinkable, but perhaps the malt has broken down as far as it will. I plan to hang on to another bottle and try it in a few years, just out of curiosity.

2000 Vintage, sampled 2004

In comparison with the 13 year old vintage, this relatively younger vintage is much brighter in carbonation and flavor profile. As with the older version, tons of sweet maple syrup, prunes, dates and overripe orchard fruit dominate the flavor profile. More hops are evident, not yet having faded away. The alcohol seems a bit more prominent. At 3-4 years old, this beer still seems a bit young, and would benefit from a couple of years of mellowing. Hmm - 13 years seemed a bit too long, 4 years not quite enough. I'll just have to keep sampling to determine the magic number.

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Photo of 86MonteSS
3.9/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

1998 vintage. By the sip, not the gulp. Heavy molasses and heavy alcohol. Definitely a dessert drink. The taste is quite overwhelming. Drinkability is saved only by the sweetness. Flavorful, but I could probably drink a worldwide stout (23% abv) twice as fast. Thick, sweet, very alcoholic. Tastey, but it's kind of like putting a little too much sugar in the Kool Aid.

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Photo of Dogbrick
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

December 2001 Bottle (Sampled 5/1/03 - 4.15): Pours a dark copper color with a medium and dense beige head. Aroma is very sweet malt and caramel, and the alcohol is well masked. Full-bodied and chewy with flavors of caramel and rum, along with some malt. As with the aroma, you don't really get a sense of the alcohol level in the flavor. Finish is long and sweet (borderline cloying). $4 for a 9.6oz seems a little high but it was worth it.

1999 Bottle (Sampled 9/23/03 - 4.35): This vintage is a ruddy dark amber color with a medium beige head. Thin lacing. Aroma is very sweet, mostly caramel with some malt as well. The richness of body is similar to the 2001 vintage. Very rich and chewy. The flavor is very sweet caramel and malt along with some plum. Alcohol is well hidden. The finish is full and sweet. I am giving this vintage a slightly higher score.

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Photo of fattyre
4.27/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This was a 1997 vintage 275ml 9.6 fluid oz. bottle that was enjoyed on 10-9-02.
This beer pours a slightly hazy very slightly brownish red color with a smallish creamy brownish tan clingy head. The mouthfeel is resiny/oily. The smell is of port wine and RAISINS. The taste is plumlike, portlike , raisiny and alcohol with a mild hoppy finish. Portlike barleywine that is not for beginers-quite tasty.

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Photo of cokes
4.92/5  rDev +16%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

1 December 1999.

A fuzzy ambered fluid underneath a pale yellow cap.
A nostril enlarging, mind boggling aroma of figs and pineapples, covered in butter toffee, carried within a supple leather basket. I'd like to pour this over my head just to savor the aroma for awhile.

The mouth is raided with candied figs looting tobacco stores. Mangoes toss earthy clumps of sod through the windows. Raisins and plums look on in awe. The Butter police arrives, sirens blaring. A sugary toffee ruffian flips the bird to the Pigs, and steals a leathery baseball mitt and a few bottles of white wine.
This is an immensely intense fracas, of which I only caught a snapshot.

Luxuriously ample and silken within the mouth. World class, without a doubt.
Smooth criminal.

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Photo of Bunnyhop
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 1997 (1st December 1997). A slightly hazy, very slightly brownish red Barley Wine with a smallish, creamy, brownish-tan, clingy head. The smell is nutty, oaky, and raisin-like. The smell continues when the alcohol kicks in, ironically reminding me of Worcestershire sauce. The taste is a mix of raisin and plum, along with an oakness. The sweetness remains on the back of my tongue, and a pepperiness lingers in the middle. The body is resiny and oily in my mouth. Overall, a very tasty Barley Wine, but not for the faint of heart.

(source: PremierGourmet; Buffalo, NY)

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Photo of Wildman
4.42/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1999 Bottling: This version has many of the same qualities I listed in the previous 2001 review. I do believe the alcohol presence is more apparent in both the aroma and the taste. A very good beer that obviously ages quite well, but definately a sipping beer.

2001 Bottling: I realize I may be reviewing this one too soon, but I couldn't wait. This beer poured a dark reddish amber color and formed a small off white head that left some circular lace as it subsided. A medium amount of carbonation is present. A heavy aroma of malt, caramel, raisins and other dark fruit. A slight hint of the alcohol is also present. A flavor of malt, caramel and raisins/plums with a slight vinous quality, but without leaning too much into wine or hard liquor as some others do. A slightly syrupy finish, but not enough to damage it, just push it into more of a sipping style, with at this alcohol level, it should be. Would make a fine after dinner beer and will no likely improve with age.

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Photo of feloniousmonk
4.75/5  rDev +12%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The creamy tan head doesn't stay long in the glass, but the color beneath is a gorgeous deep, dark plum. Aroma is potent and vinous, giving off great reminiscences of port wine, sherry, cognac, even as it sits on the table, before I even bring it to my nose. On closer inspection, we get a full, thick, lush feel of black licorice, a profound winey flavor. Thick texture, like raisinbread, or plum pudding! A slow sippin' beer, with a slightly oily mouthfeel. At 11%, it's a whopper, but the alcohol sits behind the profound, commanding flavors, and only later does it slowly emerge.
Perfect thing to put in your hand and slide down the lips on cold-as-bejeezus days like things..
I was supremely satisfied with this one.
1997 vintage

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Photo of zerk
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on cask at Chalkies. Clear deep copper with no head. Has a very strong alcohol aroma, with notes of smoke, scotch, and sweet malt. Flavor is very sweet, but not what I'd call cloying. Very complex... begins with very sweet caramel and butterscotch, then some smokey, peat-like flavors, finishing a little bit spicey. Had no carbonation to speak of, but had a very full and smooth mouthfeel. A wonderful sipping beer.

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Photo of purplehops
4.44/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1992 Vintage
The 92' pours a sparkly red-orange (pms 1675c) with very fine particles of yeast in suspension. There is no head to speak of and no lacing on the glass. The aroma is honey and orange with alcohol and prunes/raisin smells. There are also some floral notes like those from a Belgian Triple yeast. The taste starts off very very malty with a mead like alcohol kick and lots of effervescence on the tongue. The finish is dry with alcohol being the main player here. There are some notes of citrus and very faint bitter hop flavors. The aftertaste is alcohol warmth and sweet. Some hints of corriander like spice flavors and hops float in and out of the alcohol glow. You can feel the alcohol in your esophagus long after the last sip. The mouthfeel is full with tongue tingling and a hint of syrupy, but not in an unpleasant way.
Overall a very nice and complex winter sippen' ale. Full of alcohol warmth with lots of malty, citrus, and spice flavors. The 92' may be starting to go. There were a few medicine and metallic flavors trying to get out as if the yeast was done and the malt was ready to start breaking down.

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Photo of maxpower
2.86/5  rDev -32.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

1988 must have not been stored right, flat no carbonation, sweet sugary caramel aroma, tasted like maple syrup, too sweet two sips and dumped the rest.1997 was much better, very small head, strong caramel aroma, smooth, sweet caramel- toffee flavor, this is what I will rate, the 1988 was ruined.

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Photo of Suds
4.82/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage. A very dense, thin, tan head sits atop this dark-ruby beer. The smell is fantastic...a woody, complex, malt and grain aroma. Big on the malt sweetness, but also considerable butterscotch and toffee tastes. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. Exceptionally complex. Simply outstanding: a beer to be enjoyed slowly and deliberately.

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Photo of Shiredave
4.72/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2000 vintage. Not bottle conditioned, (ie no yeast )but cellarable, I'm sure the 11.5% alc / vol ensures it's longevity, but I question whether the flavors change.We will see in time. The condition of this bottle was near perfect. Dense and clingy, slighlty off white head, mega malt to start but fresh earthy hop aroma fights it's way through around the alcohol notes. Label states only "the choicest East Kent Goldings" hops are used. This Brarley wine is as close to a US / W. coast barleywine
( more malt than Ol Crusty, more Hop than Ol Foghorn..)as I've ever tasted from the UK. This beer explodes w/ hopflavor and bitterness - all EK Golding grassiness and fruity pine. Massive amounts of malt must be used in this brew and much remains in the sweet, honey like , full bodied flavors that stack up to the uncommonly strong hop presence. As this beer warmed the alcohol notes came through a bit more ; but only a bit as the thickness and hoppiness hide the alcohol very well. If there were dyacitals and funky alcohol flavors, I couldnt find them. The warmth down the throat and into your veins keeps you aware of the Hugeness of what your sipping. This is without a doubt the best British barleywine Ive ever had and quite possibly one of the best made beers. Aged before release, exceptionally well balanced, Humongously Massive in every way... as the bottle states this beer is brewed " as a Celebration of the Brewers Art". IMHO, I think JW Lees has done just that.

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Photo of ZAP
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

F#@ck Yeah!!! I love drinking a GREAT beer for the first time...OUTSTANDING....High in alcohol...the type you want to sip, but the type you can't keep your hands away from grabbing the minute you put it down..fascinating drinking experience....I get a sweet fruity nose with some hints of brown sugar and molasses....the taste is incredible...huge dark fruits...definitely plum...maybe some prunes...dark cherries...the brown sugar is there...as is the molassis....and dare I say some odd hints of coconut....the nose immediately reminded me of a champagne or wine or something...the flavor though is more like a port...or Brandy with a nice hit of brown sugar...this is one of those beers that transcendes the entire beer drinking experience....there is no Barley Wine finer..

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Photo of marc77
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

1997. Hazy chestnut hue, topped by a thin, but persistant tan head. Intensely aromatic-- a waft of oaky vanilla is followed by darkly caramelized fruit & carob. The complex flavor profile is comprised of diacetyl butterscotch, nutty, almost peanut - brittle like caramel notes, mellow banana & plenty of residual sweetness. Hop bitterness asserts itself welcomely in the pleasantly bittersweet finish. A soothing alcohol warmth rounds everything out.

1998. Beautiful clear deep ruby hue w/ flecks of suspended yeast aggregates. The head settles into a tight ring. Vinous, intensely caramelly sweet, buttery, toffeeish aroma, w/ hints of caramelized fruit & licorice. Mild, but heaty fusels round out the aroma. The malt profile is quite deep. Residual unfermented sugar and caramel malt sweetness provide the foundation for subtle vanilla notes, date - like fruitiness & carob. The body is rich, dextrinous & almost viscous. Although faded, hop bitterness eeks its way towards the end, preventing syrupy sweetness. Finishes bittersweet & fruity, w/ sugary sweetness on the lips.

1999. Hazy deep garnet hue, w/ a beige head quickly receding into a glass coating ring. Assertive dark caramel malt and nutty biscuit malt lend an upfront toffeeish sweetness in aroma, then notes of prune like dark fruity esters follow. Trace heaty, solventy fusels prevent the aroma from reaching perfection. Syrupy, molasses like sweetness hits the palate at first, then is ensued by a deep, dark fruity melange of figs, dried dates and raisins. Hop bitterness is muted, and is overpowered by malt sweetness. Moderate to full in body, w/ plenty of residual dextrins for a smooth, rich mouthfeel. Finishes w/ a snap of sugary sweetness, but otherwise clean. Mellow alcohol warmth emerges slowly.

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Photo of Bighuge
4.85/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000 vintage. This beer is a murky looking deep scarlet color. A slight brown head edges the glass. Very sweet caramel candy aroma. Also get cherry and wood on the nose. These Harvest Ales never cease to amaze me. This is the third vintage I've tried over the past month and they were all wonderful. This beer is so damn smooth for 11.5 a/v. These Harvest ales are truly works of art. This beer is vinous and heavy on the fruits and sweet characteristics. Dark cherry and plum. Vanilla extract. Candied apple. Dry cedar. The more I sip this the more I feel the dominant taste here is cherry-vanilla. Wow. It's great. The mouthfeel is a titch syrupy and almost a full bodied brew. But this is a highly drinkable beer given it's a/v. Another winner from JW LEES.

1998. Appearance is dark burgandy. Thin laced off-white head. The nose is piney, malty and perfumey. And oh yeah, alcohol is there too. My oh my is all I can say when this beer hits the palate. Beautiful. Surprisingly, I get no sign of alcohol whatsoever. And this is 11.5 a/v. This is an incredibly smooth and easy drinking barleywine. This is my first experience with JW LEES and it is very positive. I seem to get some spicing on the palate. Sweet spices like cinamon. This beer has a really nice sweet taste to it. Fairly low on bitterness. Very little aftertaste. This beer is almost a Masterpiece of the Brewing Art.

1997. The beer pours a deep garnet with a decent head. Unbelievable sweet fruity tones on the nose. And some alcohol and brown sugar. The taste is very sherry like. Very nice. Residual sugars are evident. Tastes of brown sugar and candied apple. Very nice taste. A little bitterness perceived. Alcohol is present but not overbearing. This is very good, but the '98 vintage I had a couple nights ago was better.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 1,531 ratings
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