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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,518 Ratings
Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
BEER INFO

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

Style: English Barleywine

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 11.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Todd on 12-18-2000

BEER STATS
Ratings:
1,518
Reviews:
862
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.65%
 
 
Wants:
265
Gots:
227
For Trade:
15
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,518 |  Reviews: 862
Photo of vandemonian
2.9/5  rDev -31.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale 2006 is a sweet barleywine with some odd flavours. In particular, I don't like the Vegemite flavour resulting from yeast autolysis.

A: Red brown colour and almost no head. I guess that's to be expected after sitting in the bottle for 6 years. 3.5

S: Sweet toffee and alcohol. Some definite Vegemite aroma from the yeast autolysis. 3.5

T: Sweet malt and umami from yeast autolysis. Bleh. I don't like the flavour at all. Very grainy. 2.5

M: Flat. 2.5

O: 3

 490 characters

Photo of budare
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of sukwonee
4.02/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2008 vintage - purchased on 10/4/2012 at a local bottle shop. Pretty cool find I guess.

A: looks ugly - reminds me a bit of BB4D but lighter in color. No head.

S: Smells like apple juice, brown sugar, booze, some dark fruits. Mostly, apple juice.

T: Apple, raisin, dark fruits. Very boozy still. Quite good, but very sweet. Edit: I cheated and read other's reviews and they mention honey and maple syrup and I totally agree.

M: Thick, chewy, and hot from the alcohol.

O: I think this could have used even more years in the cellar. It was quite good but too sweet, imo.

 577 characters

Photo of freewill35
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of enelson
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

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

1999 Vintage.

Nose is musty with loads of sherry, oak, wood notes, alcohol. Amazing mouth with prunes, raisins, brown sugar, brandy, and a maple finish. Smooth as velvet in the mouth, and despite drinking like a dessert beer, there isn't a cloying sweetness.

This would be perfect with a creme boule or fine dessert. Amazing beer through and through.

 352 characters

Photo of WDJersey
4/5  rDev -5.9%

Photo of AdamP
4.25/5  rDev 0%

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

I had this at the Ginger Man. The review is taken from notes.

This beer had a pretty brown color with minimal head. The head was just scum when it got to my table. They poured this in a small snifter glass which worked perfectly for a stong, fragrant beer.

There was minimal smell here. I picked up brown suger and general sweetness. You can pick up the alcohol when you provide movement to the glass.

The flavor is incredibly rich and very complex. The taste is strong, but the balance works really well. There is a ton of alcohol notes.

This is an awesome barleywine. I recommend it to sip by the fire while narrorating a classic english novel. Just be careful because this beer is still very smoothe.

 707 characters

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

Poured into a perfect pint. 1999 vintage. The older beer I've had.

4.0 A: Deep amber color with good clarity. Maybe a 1/8 inch head forms, but that's not too bad given the elderly status of this.

4.5 S: This smells absolutely wonderful! Big aggressive caramel and toffee. Minerally earthiness. Lots of honey and a light sherry. This is oxidized surprisingly little. Plum, prune, and date fruitiness with a slight grape and raisin combo. Moderately sweet and quite clean. Very well rounded.

4.5 T: Taste is even bolder than the nose. Big syruppy sweetness to kick things off. Loads of caramel, toffee, and brown sugar. Even more honey in the taste. I don't know if they even used honey in this. Again just a slight sherry. Plum galore with nearly as much prune and date. Fig, raisin, and tobacco underneath. Earthy mineral. Still has a mild alcoholic tinge. Quite pleasant and shockingly bold after all these years.

4.0 M: Heavy body. Very good carbonation for the age. A little overly syruppy, but otherwise creamy and smooth.

4.5 D: Really enjoyed this. I'm going to have to pick up a few to age.

 1,103 characters

Photo of beerpadawan
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of wd40
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2006 Vintage sampled in 2012.

Opaque orange/brown appearance with absolutely no head. The smell is reminiscent of raisins, hints of coffee and chocolate. The taste is quite fruity with a bit of coffee in the aftertaste. The mouthfeel is the only thing lacking in this beer since it has nearly zero carbonation right out of the bottle. Doesn't bother me too much since it should only have a little to begin with. Overall a great beer. I'll be getting a few more of these to age.

 478 characters

Photo of closisinthehouse
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of slowdaddy
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of ObiWanKushnobi
4.25/5  rDev 0%

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

Bottle, poured into a snifter

I had the 1998 and 1999 side by side. They were practically identical, with the 1998 being a little bolder.

The body sits a rather clear, mahogany color, with some darker brown in the depths of the glass. No head or lacing, just a thin collar of white foam around the edges.

Broad and deep nose. Sherry, lemon, honey, cabernet, sweet toffee, cocoa powder, and a huge layer of booze. Crazy levels of complexity.

Sweet, and not as boozy as the nose let on. I kept coming back to describing this as similar to a Luden's Golden Honey cough drop dipped in sherry, and then mixed with cocoa and toffee.

The feel was syrupy, lending even more credence to the cough syrup/drop comparison. Full, rich body and flavors. The finish is sweet and boozy, but no real warming getting in the way.

These were two of the most complex beers I have come across. Equally delicious, with the 1998 edging the 1999 by a thin margin. Smooth, complex, rich, sweet....simply incredible. Seek out the older vintages.

 1,024 characters

Photo of jrenihan
4/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Ginger Man in NYC. 2011 Vintage.

Beer is a deep copper/caramel colour. Small white head. The head that does exist stays a long time.

Smell is big. Lots of caramel malt, quite boozy. Wood.

Taste is malty, lots of caramel. Bready and heavy. Very rich. Caramel is pretty dominant, but a bit of fruit is there as well. Surprisingly simple, but huge and good.

Full bodied, moderate carbonation. Bready and thick.

Overall, good but a disappointment. Perhaps tap is not the way to have this beer, but I found it was all power and no subtlety.

 551 characters

Photo of Keith_R
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of beerFool28607
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.41/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

275 mL bottle of the 2005 vintage pours a limpid, fairly clear brown color with a few bubbles around the collar.

Nose is very sweet and caramely. Bread and toffee play a supporting role and there is an earthy-alcohol thing going on in here too.

Taste is a delicious blend of various malt flavors...from caramel to toast to honey to even a little hint of chocolate. Thick, sweet and syrupy but strangely never gets cloying as the alcohol dries things out nicely on the finish. I did the JW Lees thing a little different as I have had two of the flavored cask versions prior to the regular. I think I enjoyed the cask ones slightly better, but not by much. This is a real treat, I wish this was sold in TX; I'd love to have a case or two of these to drink over the next few years.

 780 characters

Photo of BarryMFBurton
3.92/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This will be my first side-by-side vertical tasting, and with a beer that I’ve been desperately wanting to try: J.W. Lees Harvest Ale. I’ll be tasting a 2004 bottle alongside a 2008 bottle, separating out experiences by vintage, then averaging the scores for the final grade.

A (2004): Pours a thick, translucent caramel color with a ton of bubbles clinging to the side of the glass – looks like the carbonation is more in the body than in the head. What’s left above is a small crescent of shining bubbles on a thin strip around the glass. Slight bubbly lacing with a bit of sediment floating in the body.

A (2008): Pours the same color, but this one has much less sediment in the body – it’s not hazy at all. Plus, this vintage actually has a head, showing a moment stark white foaminess before quickly subsiding. Similar lacing, but this one actually sticks around instead of sliding back.

S (2004): Phenomenally rich, with big scents of buttered raisin bread, thick caramel, butterscotch, and black cherry. A solid base of thick malt, of course, but with alcohol constantly peeking from beneath to show a peppery, slightly oaky underbelly. A nose of sweet and buttery malt in strong, boozy fashion.

S (2008): Oh damn, that is much different. It has a vegetal character – dark caramel is strong, thick, and so cloying that it seems to come out with a moderate vegetable aroma. Other than that, it’s all malt; very caramelly, very buttery (even more so than the 2004). Much less alcohol.

T (2004): Damn sweet: covers every inch of the tongue with thick cherry syrup, caramel, maple syrup, and raisin tastes. Imagine Dr. Pepper syrup that hasn’t been mixed with the soda water yet – yeah, it’s thick. Not cloying, though, which is surprising. Plum, buttered pumpernickel, and honey have a slight moment to shine, as well as a touch of baked apple. Finishes with cedar wood tastes, toasted caramel malts, and sweet, mead-like alcohol.

T (2008): Upon first sip, it’s all dust, cardboard, and corn tastes: nearly unbearable. What the hell? A few more sips and the caramel notes come out, but it’s not enough to overshadow the off-flavors. Underneath, it’s just like the 2004 bottle with more peppery flavors – raisin and toffee are big and beautiful – but nothing is getting over those initial setbacks.

M (2004): Thick – unbelievably syrupy. Feels like what I’d imagine pure wort would be like. Funny thing is, I like it for this style; the beer becomes more of a liqueur. It works well for a traditional barleywine, which is often missing a certain fullness in the body.

M (2008): Identical to the 2004, only with a bit more fizzing carbonation to it.

O: Something’s wrong here. A quick look at the bottles shows that the yeast in the 2008 bottle was chunky, muddy-looking...and with those DMS and oxidation tastes, it’s pretty clear that this bottle was infected. Fortunately, though, the 2004 was damn good – a model barleywine. And even with that bad experience with the 2008 bottle, I’ll definitely try another vintage in the near future.

Note: since the 2004 seemed to be more of what this beer is really about, I weighted the final score based on that experience more than the 2008.

 3,242 characters

Photo of DarthGuitarHero
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of MattyG85
4.77/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2006 Vintage 12 oz. bottle Poured into a Surly Darkness Chalice.

Appearance: Pours a deep and very hazy brownish amber orange. Moderate amount of bubbles. Virtually no head to speak of, but a decent amount of lace sticks to the glass.

Smell: A big sweet malty aroma with lots of caramel and dark fruits. Sweet, slightly roasted malts with big hints of caramel and toffee. Hints of maple syrup, vanilla, and oak. Big dark fruit presence with lots of prunes, figs, dates, and raisin. Also some brown sugar, molasses, and apple hints. Smells pretty boozy. Quite interesting.

Taste: Wow. Quite a rush of strong flavors as soon as it hits the mouth, its almost overwhelming. Really big taste of caramel and toffee from some lightly roasted malts. A little bit of chocolate comes in along with some dark bread. A sweet kick from some maple syrup, molasses, and brown sugar. Some vanilla and oak. Big taste of dark fruits with notes of prunes, figs, raisins, and a lot of dates. Light hop bitterness. Also a taste of booze. Really robust flavors considering this is six years old.

Mouthfeel: Heavy body with a fairly low level of carbonation. Very thick and syrupy. Smooths out a bit midway through the mouth. Definitely a sipper and not a easy drinker, but its well worth the effort. Alcohol heat is actually kind of hidden by the heavy sweetness.

Overall: A really great take on the Barleywine. Very thick and sweet but not cloying. Great mix of flavors.

 1,458 characters

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

The beer is a murky amber color with a small off-white head. A bit oxidized, but a really nice caramel and dark fruit aroma. Good brown sugar and maybe a hint of vanilla. The flavor is also slightly oxidized with a hint of alcohol. Great brown sugar, caramel, and toffee flavors. A nice bit of cherry and plum to go with raisins.

 329 characters

Photo of kaips1
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

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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