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
View: Beers | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,518 |  Reviews: 862
Photo of Mag00n
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of Marko
3.04/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

For all the hype this seems like it should be a great beer, and I think it possibly is, but there was something off about mine.

I purchased the 2007 vintage and upon pouring it I noticed all sorts of particles in it. I'm guessing it was just the yeast, and just not a very flocculent strain of it, as I don't see any remaining in the bottle. From some of the other reviews it seems like this may be normal, but still it was a little off-putting.

The bigger issue was the flavor. There was a distinct "dirty snow" taste masking the raisiny, nutty, malty sweetness that you would expect. I saw another reviewer here saying that their 2010 version tasted like an ashtray. I would agree, definite ashtray flavor in mine. I'm guessing most of the bottles aren't like this, but it seems like there must be something causing this every so often. Maybe bad oxidation?

Besides that, it smells great, raisins and nuts. When the particles settle, it has a great clear copper/brown color. Behind the ashtray flavor there's definitely a warm, malty, nutty and honey sweetness.

If not for the dirt/ashtray taste, it would have lived up to its hype... who knows, maybe one of the brewers ashed their cigar in my beer.

 1,206 characters

Photo of Scout11
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of superspak
4.82/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

700th review! 275 ml bottle into tulip glass, 2002 vintage(12/1/2002). Pours a murky dark brown color with a small dark khaki head with decent retention that reduces to a ring of lace as expected. Some slight bits of lacing on the glass. Aromas of huge caramel, molasses, biscuit, wood, toffee, raisin, earth, whiskey, chocolate, and light herbal. Damn nice aromas with good strength and complexity. Taste of HUGE caramel, toffee, molasses, brown sugar, wood, raisin, butterscotch, chocolate, biscuit, honey, and slight herbal hops. Lingering notes of molasses, caramel, toffee, raisin, honey, and butterscotch on the finish for a good while. Insane complexity, balance, and smoothness; with no cloying sweetness at all; despite this being a 100% malty beer. Light carbonation and full bodied; with an absolutely beautiful creamy, slick, and thick mouthfeel. Alcohol is insanely well hidden with no warming noticed at all. Definitely a sipper, but I can’t even consider drinking this fast at all. Overall this is an absolutely mind blowing barely wine that was pushing 10 years old. I will not turn down purchasing older vintages of this in the future. Absolutely fantastic.

 1,176 characters

Photo of Texasfan549
2.75/5  rDev -35.3%

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

1987 Vintage, enjoyed on 4/10/12 at Monk's Cafe Beers of the Cellar event. I was born in 1988, so this is pretty cool.

It's a beautiful, very deep dark ruby pour that is completely clear and devout of head. 5

I was just bombarded by the aroma at first. This is a big change from the sours we've been working on. It smells very roasty and velvety smooth. Caramel, molasses, and a blend I only expect from perfectly aged beers. Is this melted toffee or is it alcoholic? 5

Guys this is, wow, a completely new experience with beer. I'm just, blown away. Toffee, caramel, butter, slight roast, melted candy-like taste that stands on its own. A 25 year old beer that is just out of this world. I can't believe it. 5+

It feels like velvety chocolate on the palate. Absolutely sweet, drinkable, and delicious. For the first time tonight I'm getting hints of booze. 5

Paired with a steak culotte, my drinking buddy noted he's getting a balsamic vinegar type taste here, sweet and dark, and I don't disagree. The steak and leaks have a great flavor and pair wonderfully. Apparently steak culotte is a very difficult meat to cook, and I’ve never had it. Still rare in the middle, this meat is really melt in your mouth good. The food has been out of this world do far. Ladies and gentlemen here you have it, my first and probably only perfect 5. Perfect pairing, setting, look, aroma, taste, and feel. It's like I've reached a plateau. I hope I'm wrong. 5

 1,451 characters

Photo of Firkin-Bunghole
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is the "beer" that both inspired my user name and converted me into the world of craft beer. Here's my story if anyone cares to read. Time to spread the Karma around.
Back in May 2009 an ignorant 33 year old man (ME) thought craft beer was buying Guinness, Harp & Heineken. His friend "the Enlightened One" told him of a Craft Beer Fest. Fortunately, the ignorant one was smart enough to purchase a ticket and despite his ignorance was allowed entry through the door.

During the week before, the ignorant one started to read Beer Advocate and learned this event would have a firkin of a 12 year old JW Lees (1999). The ignorance permeated my brain: Beer that is 12 years old would be bad. Only when I started to read the reviews of BA here did I start to understand my ignorance.

On the day of 10 tasting tickets were provided to sample and luckily for me the "Enlightened One" guided me and I went to the firkin first. At this time the epiphany happened. I had 3 samples from the Firkin and my eyes started to open to the amazing world of craft beer.

This beer was perfect in every way. From the hammering of the wooden firkin to the cask pour to the smell of dark fruits/caramelized sugars to the syrupy full mouthfeel without any unnecessary head or carbonation. My words can't even begin to describe the depth of my experience. Heck I'm not a writer and only starting to learn how to be a BeerAdvocate.

Lastly, I can't even begin to thank JW Lees enough. Maybe 1 person will read this or the other reviews here and pick up a bottle of this. This beer is special! At $9.99 bottle its bargain priced. If ever in my life a firkin comes near Albany, NY again I'll be there. Cheers to all.

 1,701 characters

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

Here is a bottle from 2000. Thanks to Matt for giving me a bottle from his cellar!

It appears to be a very dark colored amber with bright ruby red highlights and a thick tan head that leave a small amount of lacing on the side of the glass. Not perfectly clear, but that is no matter.

Served at room temp, this beer has a very strong aroma that wafts out of the glass immediately and continuously. Powerful aroma, with notes of sweet raw honey, caramel sauce, cherries, and an honest amount of sherry-like aromas. Hops? Not much, if any....mostly sweet.

The flavor is just perfect for an English Barleywine. Very full-flavored, leaning heavily on juicy malt. Very minimal bitterness. Remarkably, this 11.5% ABV beer tastes more like a 5% ABV beer. There is no heat, and very little else that would indicate a heavy-hitting beer. Although, this is definitely a BIG beer, with enormous flavor impacts from the vinous, port-like malt bomb.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, with enough carbonation to not feel syrupy though there is a slight oily texture.

This is a great example of an aged English Barleywine. It is not my favorite style, but I can see this potentially really enhancing a dessert or maybe helping with a tough cheese. I recommend trying this if you are looking for authentic styles.

 1,296 characters

Photo of TrickkyGangsta
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of daveytheformer
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%

Photo of jsurfs82
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of muchloveforhops3
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of kayrex
3/5  rDev -29.4%

Photo of mikehblack
2.7/5  rDev -36.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

2008 bottle. 275ml

A- Slightly hazy orange. Fluffy white head dissipating quickly to a few big bubbles and a ring. Thick alcohol legs.

S- Massive sweet malt aroma and alcohol. Bready, sticky, caramel, toffee, marshmallow.

T- Smoky, fruity, sickly sweet, some burnt aspect I can't put a finger on, bready, toffee, boozy. Middle of the mouth is like drinking honey, molasses and malt extract. The finish is cloying and slight burn from the alcohol.

M- Full bodied, low carbonation. Coats the mouth with sugary syrup.

O- This is not a beer for me. At least not now. Way too sweet and malty for my tastes. I'll finish the bottle because it is small and was expensive.

 668 characters

Photo of jpajpajeff
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of TimPell
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of kojevergas
2.29/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2010 vintage 275 ml brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a nonical Guinness pint glass in me gaff in low altitude Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live, because it fell out of me fridge and foam started building so I knew I had to open it.

Bottle acquired at Hi Time Liquor in Costa Mesa, California.

Served refrigerator cold and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured lightly given extra caronbation was expected.

A: Pours a half finger head of bad thickness, no real cream, and bad retention (maybe 20 seconds). Murky copper-brown colour. Floating yeast particles are certainly visible, with strange white floaters present. Not at all appealing.

Sm: Malty and yeasty. Malt dominates - a mixture of mildly dark malt and bright barley methinks. No roasting or toasting comes through. A mild strength aroma.

T: Heavy on the lees - sweet jaysus. Toffee is also a big element here. A sort of raisiny grapey fruit tone dominates the finish, with a hint of apple. I don't like the third act at all as a result; it feels really awkward and off. The remainder of the beer is merely clean malts. Lees were a bad call for this beer; even after two years of aging they're still quite dominant. It's a lot like drinking pure malt syrup to a degree. No alcohol comes through, which is impressive given the ABV. Overall, it's horribly balanced and badly built for the style.

Mf: Smooth and wet, suiting the flavours of the body nicely I suppose. Adequately carbonated. Thick enough but not quite ideal. It dries on the finish due to the lees, which is pretty nasty.

Dr: Very drinkable for the high ABV - perhaps its best trait. It was nowhere near as good as expected, and I wouldn't have it again unless a friend recommended it and it had a few years on it. The malts make it feel like a base for a better beer. A bastardization of barleywines as a style. Incredibly disappointing.

Overpriced, at least in the U.S.A.

I'll try the cask aged versions in the hope that they're better than this. I don't recommend this for aging or food pairing. A poor example of the style.

D

 2,123 characters

Photo of TubbyDullard
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of vkv822
1.29/5  rDev -69.6%
look: 1 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

9.3oz bottle into tulip snifter.
2010 vintage.

Pours a red orange with a ton of large pieces of yeast sediment floating throughout and a thin off white head.

The aroma is quite malty. Very doughy and biscuity upfront, with some caramel as well.

Something has to be wrong with this beer. Tastes like an ashtray mixed with some bread dough and caramel malt.

Medium-thin mouthfeel with no carbonation.

Absolute drain pour, I have to think there was something seriously wrong with this bottle.

 494 characters

Photo of 2378GCGTG
4.58/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was a 275 mL bottle aging since 1999, opened 25 Feb 2012.

Appearance: Brown murky body with bubbles dancing up to a small white lacey head that clings to the glass.

Nose: Fresh bread and grains, caramel, sweet golden raisins and grapes

Taste: Very malty, caramel, toffee, and hazelnut flavors are very present giving way to hints of light fruits like the raisins in the nose. It's very complex in the middle body, fading into a burnt malt taste with just the slightest well balanced smoke and a warming alcohol finish, the finish is excellent.

Mouthfeel: Velvetty and flowing with perfect hints of carbonation, still present after this long, and a slightly bitter finish... this body is simply exquisite in itself not to mention the fact that its 13 years old, very impressive.

Overall: An excellent aged English barley wine, a rare treat that should be enjoyed. I was planning to do a vertical from 1999 to 2011 but now think the beers should be enjoyed in smaller groups over longer periods of time. This is truly excellent.

 1,036 characters

Photo of Casterbridge
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of GrindFatherBob
5/5  rDev +17.6%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.7/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-cask 2/17/2012 at Doherty’s East Ave Irish Pub in Pawtucket, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep coppery brown color with a thin off-white head that fades quickly and leaves very little lace on the glass which is expected from a cask beer.

S: The aroma contains brown sugar, bourbon, caramelized malts, alcohol and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with a burnt malt flavor followed by sweet flavors of caramel, brown sugar and bourbon. The hops presence is mild but complementary and the malt character is hearty but there isn’t much balance. The after-taste is slightly smoky and slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and a little crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

O: A little tasty, goes down ok, not too filling, very strong kick, good representation of style, I can appreciate the smokiness and aging of the beer but the flavors just didn’t seem to come together well for me. There are several less-expensive alternatives in the style that I enjoy a lot more.

 1,020 characters

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

2002 Vintage

Pours a murky amber, brown with almost no head, just a slight ring of tan.

Smells of sweetness, toffee, port wine, booze, earthy/leaf character, some oxidized cherry/sherry notes.

Taste is sweet caramel like malt that goes into a plum/sherry/honey middle and ends on an earthy sweet note that lasts and lasts. The alcohol warms right at the end and is nice lingering. Reminds me of a malty/tawny port in the best ways. Big, heavy, and thick. Pushing the line beyond beer.

Heavy body due to the residual sweetness and alcohol and veryyy little carbonation. Works like a charm.

I'd have to do a vertical to get more perspective, but this is fantastic. Like a fine porto.

 686 characters

Photo of BEERMILER12
4.14/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle, brewed in 2010

A: Pours a murky brown color with an abundance of yeasty sediment chunks

S: Very doughy and sweet with notes of dark fruits and molasses

T: Follows the nose with a candy sweetness. Chock full of malty sweetness, dark fruits, molasses, and some alcohol. Also getting an odd green pepper taste in there, possibly from the alcohol as well

M: Medium-full bodied with moderate carbonation

O: I certainly had higher expectations for this, but that odd green pepper taste really threw things off for me. I'll definitely have to grab another bottle and see if it is consistent throughout batches or just this bottle

 642 characters

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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