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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
859 Reviews
J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest AleJ.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale
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
Reviews:
859
Ratings:
1,509
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.88%
 
 
Wants:
267
Gots:
226
For Trade:
14
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Reviews: 859 | Ratings: 1,509
Photo of mynie
3.86/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2001.

Pours dark red and hazy like blood or a Fruit Roll Up.

Smells like very, very intense sweet yeast fruit, molasses, and hops. Good god, this has been aged for five years?

Tastes grainy, very sweet. Candy sweet. Belgian yeast sweet, only sweeter. Brown sugar molasses white can sugar sunshine sweet. Intense, to say the least...a bit too overwhelming to describe.

Too intense to enjoy it as you would a normal beer, but the pure splendor of the whole thing makes this beer more than worthwhile.

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

2000 vintage enjoyed at home in a Duvel glass. Faintest hiss of air as I popped the cap. Tiny bubbles rush to the top in a futile attemp to form a head. They're persistant. I'll give them that.

What an aroma! Candied fruits, caramel, chocolate covered cherries, raisons, and a strong rush of auslese or eiswine. This is the most amazing beer I have smelled yet. The bubbles are still fizzing. Just an awesome appearence.

Taste is very smooth. Carob, not chocolate. Rich and creamy with a full and coating mouthfeel. Almost cloying in the sweetness, so small sips will benefit. The only taste of alcohol is the aforementioned auslese, but it does assert itself.

Halfway through the glass, there is just a touch of bitterness on the roof of my mouth vainly fighting against the sweet caramel maltiness.

This was a super experience. A 12 oz bottle is perfect. Would even be a great beer to share with someone. Would I want another. No, not tonight. But I have a 1998 that I will be eying greedily in a few months. Seek this out.

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Photo of lpayette
4.82/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1988 Vintage - Enjoyed at Trias Bar, Philadelphia, June 2006. Yeah baby, 17.5 years old. The oldest beer I've ever had and perhaps the best too. $10 per bottle, and well, well worth it. I wasn't able to write down a complete review at the time, but I was able to jot down some notes and scores.

Sweet and malty flavors... nutty, buttery, fruity, smell of brandy-like alcohol. Grapes, muscot??? Strong malty flavors, musty notes, hidden honey, and strong alcohol.

Simply amazing in the complexity. I'd like to have a a case of this stuff from each year it's been made.

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

2003 vintage, consumed in fall of 2006.

Appearance is standard English Barley Wine, deep, coppery brown with a light white ring on top, not much head but exceptionally heavy lacing. Smell is a left hook, carmel, dates, malts, other dark fruits, and a soft alcohol / white wine aspect as well. Really good.

Taste is extremely depthy...the initial flavour of malts segues into brown sugar and caramel. A sweet, sugary aspect sits in the background during this, and a strong dark fruit presence of dates is present throughout. The sweetness peaks on the swallow, which leaves a slight alcohol presence behind. Exceptional.

The mouthfeel on this is right up there with the best, extremely thick and wonderful. Drinkability, there is nothing to complain about here, a very tasty beer that I have no problem drinking.

Overall: the Harvest Ale series is very expensive when you can find it (about $1 per ounce of beer) but the flavour makes it a semi-regular in my rotation. It is an English Barley Wine, so people who are hop heads will probably think this beer is bland or not interesting enough, but for people who like malt dominance this is one of the absolute gold standards. The other, special barrel aged harvest ales are slightly better than this (if you can find them...the lagavulin one is particularly tasty) but I would never turn down a bottle of anything out of this line. Truly one of the best in its style.

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Photo of mjc410
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 vintage

My pour into a snifter leaves a half inch of beer in the bottle, to save the dregs for last. There are a few sparse bubbles forming a ring around the glass, which are a middling tan. The beer's body is a hazy copper, with vivid crimson highlights at the glass's stem. The nose runs the myriad of peppery alcohol, strong molasses, sweet cherries, and wheat toast. There's also a lot of caramel about, and caramel notes too. Very nice. Taste is very sweet, cloying if taken too quickly, with a very distinct coffee flavor. Very sweet like honey, with a slight ending bitterness that is over almost before I notice. Very fruity from the alcoholic esters, and incredibly malty, like sweet bread. Mouth is thick and syrupy, with no carbonation. This is a very drinkable BW, because the alcohol burn is hidden so well. It paired marvelously with my girlfriend's apple strudel!

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Photo of BlackJeremiah
4.18/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2000 vintage, poured into a snifter. That makes this one at roughly 5 years, 9 months old. This is the oldest beer in my cellar, and the longest I've ever managed to age something without breaking down and drinking it.

A: I have to adjust the temperature of my cellar a bit, since I see a little chill haze here. Not much, so I'm not too concerned. Color is like iced tea, a mahogany with a burnt red undertone. This is more evident when it is held up to the light. Very little head; dissipates quickly.

S: This smells almost liquorish, like whiskey or tequila. Definite oaky and raisiney characteristics. Smells STRONG, even more than the 11.5% ABV might lead one to believe.

T: A lot of sweetness up front, with powerful prune/raisin characteristics to it. Alcohol is present, but more than balanced, unlike the aroma suggested. Little to no hop character detected, but it might just be completely overwhelmed (or the more likely--my palate is not yet discerning enough). Smooth, but the dried-fruit flavors are downright cloying after a few sips. However, it is truly different than any other barleywine I've tried, and its flavors provide something really interesting. No matter its cloying effect on me, it is an EXCEPTIONAL flavor, and I've ranked it as such.

M: A bit thick for my tastes. That, combined with the raisin and prune flavors, make me feel like I'm drinking a very thin jam.

D: There is no scenario I can imagine in which I would be able to consume more than one bottle of this. It is a remarkable beer, in that it has many excellent and well-balanced characteristics. But I just can't deal with the thick sweetness of this sucker for more than 12 ounces. One I'll break out every so often, just to check on its maturation. This one also brought on some serious heartburn, so those of you prone to gastric mischief should be prepared with the antacids.

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

1998 vintage poured a muddy brown color. Had only a minimal off white head. Very few carbonation bubbles can be seen in the murky color.

Very rich aroma blends a very nice scent of chocolate with the bitterness of coffee grounds. Rich plum scent helps this finish sweeter in the nose. Additional malt scent reminds me of caramel. The high alcohol content also comes through in the aroma, and highlights the rest of the scent by comparison.

Very sweet taste is a mixture of chocoalte and caramel with a fruity finish. The taste of plums and raisins hang on the back the tongue. As the taste lingers it takes on a slightly nutty flavor. The alcohol content is played down to the other flavors, and doesn't have the burn effect I was expecting. great flavor, but can use a hint more bitterness.

A very thick syrupy body. Decent amount of carbonation pops along the sides of the mouth and on the tongue.

A decent offering in the style. To sweet for my taste but Would pair well with nice sharp cheese, such as chedder or pecorino romano. If you like a sweeter beer, with a high alcohol content, this is a winner for you.

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Photo of kpantz
3.88/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Review is for the 2000 edition.

Executive Summary: Took a chance on this one, and while it's not all I had hoped for, it's still worth it. This has aged very well. Makes me want to hold on to the 2004 bottle I just grabbed.

Appearance: Pours a deep, murky mahogany into my snifter with a thin off-white head that reduces to little more than a film. Lacing is moderate.

Smell: Would be fantastic if it weren't for this hint of staleness I'm sensing. Wish I could tie it to something. Perhaps musty is the best way I can describe it. Otherwise, raisins and dates are evident.

Taste: Wow. Just wow. I thought I had tasted barleywines before. This is incredible. Sticky-sweet, but not cloying up front and finishes clean, with only a slight alcoholic twinge to it. A very well balanced experience.

Mouthfeel: Candy. My teeth are squeaking. Nice for the style.

Drinkability: Price, intensity of flavor and ABV make this a one-time sipper. Doesn't mean I won't go back and grab a couple more, though ;)

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Photo of marcobrau
3.99/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This review is for the 1998 limited edition.

This J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale pours with a medium brown color with good amount of carbonation that creates a brief flourish of foam that settles to a nice collar. The aroma of this beer reminds me of what the bowl of mixed nuts my grandmother used to put out during the holidays smelled like, mixed with fruitcakiness and a hint of leather. (Wow.) I swirl the glass and the aroma changes to that of a frosted vanilla bundt cake laced with rum.

This ale starts out with sugary sweetness that mixes with some extremely wonderful caramel notes, some bitter molasses and then finishes alcoholic and rather sweet. A nutty taste lingers on the palate for a really long finish.

The mouthfeel is a bit viscous, but not cloying, and very, very smooth. The bitter molasses flavor towards the finish is just a touch off-putting, but doesn't undermine the overall enjoyment of this fine ale.

This isn't the most drinkable beer, due to its strength, but more than one could be had. A slightly drier finish could make this beer a bit more pleasant for me, but this is a darn good vintage brew.

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Photo of kmcnair
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

1997 Vintage, 12oz bottle.

Pours a cloudy darkened garnet to brown tone and makes a thin halo of slightly offwhite head.

Aromas of burnt caramel and molasses, caramelized dark fruits, figs, dates, raisins.

Chewy sweet apples, raisins and dates, syrupy caramel, deliciously sweet. Hop bitterness blends well with this very sweet beer. High alcohol blends well with the sweetness.

Full bodied, with medium to light cabonation. A syrupy, viscious texture coats the tongue and palate.

Very nice beer, this vintage the best that I have tried. Highly recommended.

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Photo of EPICAC
4.64/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was purchased several weeks ago at Downtown Wine & Spirits. I was debating whether to cellar this or not, but in the end I decided to drink it now and buy another bottle or two for cellaring if I enjoyed it. I let this warm to around 45º F before serving it in one of my New Belgium glasses.

Appearance: Pours a hazy ruby-brown, with a faint, wispy, beige head that forms a thin ring around the glass.

Smell: Very rich, malty and sweet. There are notes of burnt sugar, maple syrup, molasses, raisins, figs and a tart alcoholic aroma.

Taste: Multi-layered. Sweet all the way through. Upfront are notes of brown sugar and fruit. There's a little bit of tartness that makes me think cherries. The finish is sweet with some burnt sugar bitterness, notes of fig and a light alcoholic spice.

Mouthfeel: Low-carbonation, thick and full-bodied, with a thick syrupy feel, though not unpleasant.

Drinkability: Alcohol is very well-hidden, rich flavors make this a nice sipping beer.

Overall: Very good, malty and rich. I'll buy a couple more bottles to cellar for a few years.

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Photo of klewis
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2003 edition

A: Pours a deep golden color with a small, quickly disappearing head and a bit of fine sediment. Specks of lacing slide down the glass after each sip.

S: Strong, thick smell with aromas of maple syrup, molasses, brown sugar, and caramel.

T: Huge, sweet malty taste with an incredibly complex flavor. Tastes like it smells. Little to no alcohol or hops flavor, a good thing in this case, I think. Take small sips and savor.

M: Full-bodied, thick, sticky, smooth, and syrupy with just the perfect amount of fine cabronation. One of the best textures of any of the beers taht I've tried. Amazing.

D: A damn fine beer. Truly a work of art. I need more.

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

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

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Photo of assurbanipaul
4.74/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark mahogany with a small head that settles easily into a ring. Aroma is very strong: deep, rich malts, flush with sweet raisins and figs. The nose is almost syrupy.

Taste mirrors a lot of the smell but that's like saying an object mirrors the photograph of it. Very rich malts, thoroughly caramelized, peat, brown sugar, hints of faraway smoke and a sad tale of melancholy. A whiskey fruitiness, maple syrup, something akin to that gained from whatever lives on the inside surface of oak barrels. Alcohol is barely noticeable but it's there, with the sweetness doing a lot to keep it in check. This is deep.

Mouthfeel is heavy, slick and velvety smooth. This beverage really pushes the envelope between beer and a distilled spirit. Built to age and I imagine that the years may take down a bit of the sweetness, only improving this beer.

1999 Vintage. Heaviest bottle I've ever held.

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Photo of phisig137
4.84/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1998 Vintage poured vigarously into a tulip, produces a thin 1/2 finger head on top of a murky reddish brown body. Head falls quickly, and doesn't leave any lacing.

Aroma is massive. Burnt sugar, caramel, dark fruit, chocolate, figs, alcohol, and tobacco are present in abundance.

The flavor is simply incredible here. One of the most complex beers that I have ever tasted, hands down. Huge notes of vanilla, cherries, caramel, toasted grain, wood, raw sugar, honey, and others fill your mouth, and change as you drink it. Everything in there is incredibly concentrated, to the point that this tastes like a "beer reduction". I can't even begin to pick out everything in there... the complexity and concentration are making my head spin. Alcohol is present, but not overwhelmingly. Mouthfeel is very thick, heavy, and syrupy. Drinkability is pretty good, but I wish that it were not... this is meant to be savored for a couple of hours.

I paid $7.99 for this bottle, and now that I've tasted it, I would gladly pay double that. I really find it interesting how this changes the more you drink, and are able to pick up on more and more subtle nuances. Despite the fact that this is already 8 years old, I could easily see this going for at least another five years.

Without a doubt, one of the 5 best beers that I have ever had.

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Photo of kaimcm
4.54/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Lees Vintage 2001, reviewed 8/06. poured into a wide St. Berny chalice. served slightly chilled.

A: dark maple, looks like very thin syrup. no head, but no surprise as well. just kinda sits in the glass, body projects a nice color but not much to look at. though with aged beer I tend to cut some slack.

S: huge maple, brown sugar nose. rich malt, some smokiness and even some barbeque qualities. toffee, caramel, loads of sugar. very nutty, almonds and hazlenut essence mostly. creaminess followed and closed by total decadence. some booze, though surprisinly not much. huge.

T: not that different than nose. the caramel, toffee, nutty sugaryness is the first and largest wave. extremely oily and slick, coats the mouth. a light dryness, almost astringency follows and persists through the finish, which is admittedly not that long for such a complex brew. some wood, bourbon, and even light apple qualities pull through near the end before the whole thing finishes. the mouth is left dry on the tongue, but with sugar stuck to the teeth. a slight alcohol warmth rises just as the swallow disappears. five minutes later you feel it all over your head.

M: as mentioned, oily, slick, coating, full bodied, viscous and dense.

D: doesnt count. a pure joy. expensive, high abv, hard to get. who cares. like I said, this doesnt apply to this beer in my opinion. takes all night though, thats for sure.

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

2000 vintage... Poured vigorously into a tulip.
Medium amber in color, this ale poured with very little head.
Smell is sweet with notes of bourbon, caramel, raisins, vanilla, molasses and butter. The taste brings all of the bouquet to the fore and it's rich without being cloying really. I'm getting a heavy dose of cherry too. Mouthfeel is full and syrupy and quite satisfying. This is so tasty that i need to slow down... i'm drinking it too fast.
Drinkibility is surprisingly good for the ABV and alcohol is only minimally perceptible; i could drink two bottles easy (before lights out) but like a fine port i'll savor one as something special.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 Harvest Ale (tried on 8/3/06)

Presentation: 275ml bottle, 11.5% Alc/Vol. Single obverse cream label with a picture down the left hand side depicting a hop harvest. Black crown cap.

Appearance: Dark ruby body with a polished mahogany firmed up six-pack stomach that is tight. Tan head rises on the pour and seemingly pulls the finely dissolved carbonation out of solution and into the underside of the cap like a vacuum. Finishes with a classy poise, the head breaks eventually but there is some fine lacing.

Nose: Melodious nose that has a sweet edge but it is gentle. Warm and cuddly, the aromas have an inviting dark fruit consistency with a rich range of odors.

Taste: Dark toffee, boiled raisin juice and brown sugars dominate the middle. Entrance has a little liquorice, but not much, finish rises with an ember like warmth and has a lot of plums and figs with a lingering squashed date after taste.

Mouthfeel: Treacle like texture allows this one to ooze into every nook and cranny. Soothing alcohol warmth portrays the strength but this is more than balanced by the dissolved malt sugars.

Drinkability: The sweetness takes the edge off the long term partnership, but it is a solid night cap brew that certainly makes up for this aspect with a plethora of dark fruits and complexity to have this one remain a favorite.

Overall 1998: Much sweeter than the previous years (1997) sample that I tried a few days ago. At almost 8 years old, time has certainly softened the syrup texture but it still has a residual sweetness that takes a little getting used to. I think that the Harvest Ale is best sampled at 5 years plus, but I think the 1998 will keep for several years yet whilst still improving.

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Photo of crwills
2.6/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

WARNING: This may have been a spoiled bottle, as my rating is significantly lower than the average.

Vintage 1998 bottle.

Poured a muddy brown with a small fizzy head into an oversized wine glass. Doesn't look too bad, although there are some particles in there which make it less appealing than it could be.

Aroma is brown sugar, cake or doughy bread, with alcohol in the forefront. Some mild milk chocolate notes and dark, overripe or rotting fruits. A little bit of a sour, off aroma concerns me...

Taste is... ridiculously sweet. I think this is what happens when an eight year old barley wine doesn't get taken care of. Overwhelming sugary cotton candy and candied prune/date flavours make this impossible to enjoy for me, although it does overwhelm the high alcohol. Aftertaste is terribly sweet, and I had to eat something to get rid of it. Any hops that were in there are long gone... all malt, all the time.

Mouthfeel is still OK, if a bit sticky. I got about 2/3 of the way through this before I had to stop.

I hope this was a bad sample... I've had several other aged barleywines that didn't end up like this. Most of the reviews indicate that it should be very sweet, but this was just unbearable. If given the opportunity, I will grab another bottle (maybe not quite so old) and re-review.

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

1999 Vintage this time for me.

Just as I remember the 98 vintage from earlier this year. Huge malt profile- flavors of sherry, vanilla, molasses, and roasted chocolate. Incredible.

I'm glad I have another 99 in the cellar. I wonder how it will taste at 10 years plus. I would reccomend everyone to start cellaring some of this stuff ASAP. It's almost perfection for it's style.

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

Vintage 2001

This poured into a snifter with little head that disappeared within a few seconds of the pour. The color is a hazy, thick dull amber-copper. The aroma is oak, maple, plum, and vanilla. The taste is very complex a mix of all sorts of flavors: maple syrup, vanilla extract, tart and sour like an old ale, and the presence alcohol is very apparent. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy with a big thick body. I can't say that I want one than one of these a week, but it is a nice treat for a good occasion. A sipping brew and one that can't be too warm as the alcohol and body get in the way at a higher temp.

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

Bought from Once Upon a Vine in Richmond in July, 2006 and poured into a large wine glass. Vintage Dec. 1, 1998.

Deep brown in appearance with a modest beige head, which disipates rather quickly. Doesn't appear to be a very active beer, but the colour is quite nice.

Huge scents of whiskey and other alcohol. You can certainly tell that this champ bring a big abv bat to the game. Beyond that, however, is a myriad of complex aromas: plum, dark cherries, vinous fruit, and a hefty amount of yeast. There is also a certain light nuttiness to it. Fantastic.

The age has done wonders to this brew. Plum and fig and a much more pronounced nuttiness. The hops have all but disappeared unfortunately, and the alcohol flavour have been subdued by the years. It is almost difficult to compare this to a new vintage due to the severity of the difference between the two. Decent flavour, but I think if I had gotten to this one 3 years sooner I would have liked it more. As it warms a bit, some caramel qualities come out, but still a bit subdued for me.

Thick and chewy with minimal carbonation... exactly as this beer should be.

Drinkable for a brew this big, but still not exactly drinkable... I wouldn't want to have more than one or two. Still.... if you can find it, search it out just to appease your curiousity... its certainly different and won't be around for much longer.

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Photo of TheBungyo
4.47/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

'99 vintage at The Stumbling Monk.
Body was mahogany mingled with orange. Miniscule head. Nose was sweet berries like Strawberry, cherry and syrup. I got more red berries in the taste with strong maple syrup in the finish. The alcohol was well hidden though still present. I really enjoyed this, especially at $9 which in my mind is very affordable for a beer of this age. Mouth was decadently creamy. I would love to have this again and hopefully will be able to justify the price the next time I visit The Stumbling Monk.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.73/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

1998 Vintage

This beer pours a glassy brown amber that fades to copper near the edges with no head at all.

Smells of gooey barley, marshmallows and honey with a smooth oak and an over powering alcohol.

Tastes a lot like Southern Comfort with a corn syrup sweetness and a slight orange citrus sting along the sides of my tongue. I’m also getting hints of cocoa and charcoal in the finish with a slight woody oak.

The mouth feel is medium bodied and smooth. It was also a lot cleaner (not sticky) that I anticipated. Can’t say much for the carbonation, sadly.

This one was just too smoky in the flavor and hot in the nose for me. Not my favorite vintage by far. Maybe I missed something, but this wasn’t all that great.

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

This is an amazing beer. Cloudy, rich orange-brown in appearance with an aroma of deep and smoky sweetness. Perhaps the best, cool-and-pearly-caramel-smooth mouthfeel of any beer I've ever had. Literally, a stunning beer -- you sip it, and stop, and regard it and your response to it, marveling that something this good can be had so relatively cheaply (over $8 a bottle in my city, but my God, who cares). If you have an affection for barleywines, this cannot be allowed to pass you by. To me, the alcohol was wonderfully hidden, and I could have sipped it for hours.

NOTE: 1998 Vintage.

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J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,509 ratings.
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