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

Your Rating: None
Want it   Got it 
Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
1,538 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

Bros Score:
View: Beers
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,538 |  Reviews: 870
Photo of harrymel
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Vintage 2002

A: Pours a deep chestnut brown with reddened hues. Little to no head formation. Scant foam formation. Rimmed edge with burnt cream. Lacing scant. Clarity is near excellent. Flecks of yeast in suspension.

S: Waffles with maple syrup, real maple syrup. Brown sugar, malt. The smell is quite sweet. Evident plums, dark fruits, nuances of hazelnut and praline.

T: Toasted graham, mallows, oral sex - this is that good. Dry, bready malt tones with exceptional weaving of the, once again, waffles with (real) maple syrup. Outstanding. My wife is next to me and I don't really want to share. Oh yeah, praline and nougats.

M: medium to full bodied with medium carbonation. I've likely shaken all the carb out of this. Slicks and numbs my palate - resonating the flavors.

D: If I had another one in the fridge, I would be getting ready to pour it into another glass so it was the right temp when I moved onto it.

 922 characters

Photo of jjanega08
4.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2002

A= Pours a dark brown color with a finger of head! I didn't expect much head at all if any here but I got a finger that sticks around as a thin skin on the top of the beer for a while and even leaves some lacing.

S= Big sweetness on this one. There's a slight booze note. Tons of toffee. Maple syrup comes to mind as well. I get a bit of nuttyness from it in the nose as well if that makes sense. I feel like a get a bit of woodyness as well... I dunno if this has any wood in it?

T= Big on sweetness again. Loads of tobacco in the taste. Toffee and tobacco. A sweet leathery taste and any wood that I smelled is gone. Just leathery tobaccoy sweetness.

M= Slick and smooth. Low carbonation and not nearly as thick as I expected without being thin either.

D= Wonderful beer. Worth checking out and pairing with a nice cigar. I see why this is so highly regarded and sort of ask myself why it took me so long to try it.

 935 characters

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

I've had various vintages of this through the years, but thought I should finally review one. 2001 vintage.

A: A warm copper and auburn body, slightly murky, with no head or lacing. Just the way a barleywine should look.

S: A delightful aroma greets my nostirls whenever my nose gets anywhere near the glass. Rum raisins, brandy, and various dessert breads soaked in alcohol. The alcohol is not hot or unpleasant in any way, it just enriches the other flavors, much as it does in deserts.

T: Much like the aroma. I can also now pick up a bit of sherry, cherries, and almonds. Not a terribly strong aftertaste, but it lingers in small doses for quite awhile in my mouth. Very rich and tasty.

M: A good amount of carbonation that doesn't overwhelm the flavors but keeps the body from being too heavy. It's not particularly smooth or silky though.

D: Despite the rich flavors, I think I could enjoy a second one of these, as it's so smooth and warming.

A world-class brew right here folks. If you like malts at all, you need to try this one. I've had one that was only a few years old and didn't think it was so great, but once you get 5+ years on it, it's a champ.

 1,171 characters

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

A beautiful beer. At least the 1999 guy I had this year. I might get some more recent guys and save them for a while if I don't get too tempted.
The smell was almost like being in a alcohol candy shop.
The beer had so much toffee, cream, malt, a slight hint of chocolate and the best taste of barley I could imagine and so well blended.
It's sweet, so don't expect anything else. Drink it as a desert to finish a meal or as a night cap. Or a celebration beer at a picnic with kids playing soccer around you.

 507 characters

Photo of Vierenner
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2000 Vintage, poured into a snifter
A: beautiful copper color, foam sustained around edges
S: strong, sweet smell, like golden raiisans
T; quite un-beer like
M: smooth
D: too swet for more than a glass
The bottle says "Ale" but it's significantly different from any other ale I've had.

 285 characters

Photo of mrbeermug
4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 Vintage (4-5 yrs old)

A - Characteristic amber hue of a barleywine, while still being see-through. Noticeable sediment particles suspended in the beer. Almost no head pours, just a few air bubbles from my vigorous pour into the bottle.

S - Sweet bright honey, lots of bready yeast, raisin, a touch of vermouth smell from the lingering alcohol.

T - Dates, raisin, light smoky/woody bitterness, still tasting a bit of sweet vermouth as well. Flavors are well integrated thanks to its age, but nothing really stands out too strongly.

M - Soft and delicate, definitely a bit thinner than your usual barleywine, thanks to its age. Nice lingering flavors that don't overwhelm the senses. Really like how it feels.

D - About as quaffable as a barleywine can be, since you never want more than one anyway and this won't weigh you down. The age has made the beer much more drinkable and pleasant than a young, strong, syrupy barleywine that punches you with a brass knuckle-heavy alcohol content.

Overall, I'm still getting over a cold from the previous week so perhaps my smell/taste isn't fully back. This is a great brew, but I've enjoyed prior tasting of the different J.W. Lees Harvest series (specifically the Sherry and Calvados casks) more than this one tonight.

 1,272 characters

Photo of JC5886
5/5  rDev +17.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

One of my favorite beers of all time. Got the 2006 bottle. Looks syrupy, thick, sugary with specks in it. Amber darker brown color. Smell is on point, like dark fruits. Taste is Incredibly. Sugary, dark fruits, light alcohol, oily, malty with nice hop aftertaste. Mouthfeel is thick and warming. Drinkability is very high for the high Alcohol level. In my top 10 beer list.

 373 characters

Photo of kirkpjr
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2002 vintage poured into a tulip.

A: Pours a deep, murky, copper brown with almost 1 finger of khaki head. A thin ring of head remains as the beer drinks down.

S: Raisins, figs, and toasted caramel. Really sweet malts with maybe a touch of chocolate. A sweet booziness and a touch of oxidation rounds this one out.

T: Raisins and figs make this one sweet off the bat. Thick caramel malts add to the body. You can feel the heat in your stomach, but 8 years has seemed to treat this one well - sweetness overtakes any bite the heat may have given off.

M: The body is thick and almost syrupy. Moderate to low carbonation.

D: This one is a fine sipper that gets better as it warms.

 682 characters

Photo of thstevens12
3.99/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2001 vintage, split with my wife.

Appearance: Murky brown-lots of suspended yeast and sediment in spite of a careful pour. Head recedes to thin wisps almost instantaneously. Not the most impressive.

Smell: Reminds me of angels share. Boost nose-huge amounts of oxidized caramel sweetness. Alcohol soaked raisins and rich loaminess come to mind.

Taste: Candied fruit and caramel up front. Warming booziness and an earthy dryness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Thin, oily mouthfeel. Coats the tongue and lingers for an impressively long finish.

Drinkability: My 6 oz pour was about as much of this beer that I could handle. However, as this beer drinks more like a port, I wouldn't consider that to be a low level of drinkability.

 744 characters

Photo of ToasterFork
2.35/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5


A: Nice rich brown Amber, no head, sediment

S: Fruit first and foremost, rum raisin, liquory, caramel, very complex nose. Smelled like Grandma's minced meat pie.

T: Strong Sherry taste, rum raisin, sugar, I fear this BW is past it's prime

M: Heavy body, Warming

D: Couldn't finish it.

 294 characters

Photo of THECPJ
4/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes 2/16/2011

A: copper-orange with just a nice layer on top for the head, stuck to the edge of the glass, not exactly lacing, just a stickiness

S: tons of brown sugar and caramel and a hint of booze

T: brown sugar, you could definitely taste the alcohol in it , and a noticable nutty aftertaste

M: very mild carbonation, very smooth, syrupy/sticky

D: typical for the style, it went down easy, very warming


 444 characters

Photo of BigTomZ
1.76/5  rDev -58.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

2006 vintage.

A - Pours a nice copper color with a thin head that leaves a ring around the glass.

S: The aroma is pretty much what I expect from the style. Raisins, caramel, molasses.I detect a bit of an earthy aroma hidden away also.

T: This is where I was totally disappointed. The raisins, caramel, and molasses from the nose were in the taste. There was also a bit of toffee and brown sugar. The problem was this underlying taste of an uncooked potato. It was like biting into a raw potato. I found it unpleasant and it had enough of a presence that I couldn't finish this beer. This was a drain pour after only a few sips.

M: This was thick, sticky, and sweet, more so than I expect even for this style.

D: Obviously the underlying taste of a spud was off-putting for me. The thickness and sweetness definitely didn't help. In order to ensure it wasn't a bad bottle, I later picked up 2007 and 2009 vintages from different locations. It seems that something in this beer isn't sitting well on my palate.

 1,014 characters

Photo of surlytheduff
3.92/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2002 bottle. Drank from a snifter. The barleywine poured a dark tawny brown, with just a thin film of a head. The liquid clung like a viscous oil to the sides of the glass after swishing it around. The smell was focused sweetness. Brown sugar, molasses, little bit of cola, plum, raisen, fig.

The taste was a very slight letdown. It was good, but my points of reference are a 2000 and 2001 that I've had recently. The sweetness just was just a bit much. There was caramel, vanilla, some leather, a little astringency from the alcohol and the dark fruit flavors. The mothfeel was thick and syrupy. The liquid coated my mouth - very much a sipper.

 646 characters

Photo of woosterbill
3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

275ml bottle of the 1999 vintage into a Duvel tulip.

A: A slow, steady pour produces a lovely finger of tight off-white head atop a dark, slightly murky reddish-brown body. The head is particularly impressive for such an old, strong beer, displaying great retention and even leaving a decent amount of fine lace. Anyone who claims that decade-old beers are supposed to be flat and ugly obviously hasn't had a 1999 Lees. Excellent.

S: Hugely sweet, with sherry, raisins, brown sugar, treacle, and toffee. Wave after wave of sugary malts wafts out of the tulip, followed by some faint hints of leather, spice, and alcohol. There's a touch of oxidation for sure, but not to the point of being dirty and cardboardy. Excellent, if a bit over the top with sweetness.

T: Not nearly as complex as nose: this is just a straight sugar explosion. Brown sugar and toffee are the only flavors at first, and a sizable dose of oxidation and ethanol finishes things off. It's enjoyable in a decadent, desert-like way, but lacks the depth of the aroma.

M: Syrupy and smooth at first, with some soft carbonation showing up upon agitation. Pretty solid for the style, if almost unbearably sticky.

D: While I fully expected this beer to deliver an unadulterated barrage of malty sweetness, I guess I wasn't quite prepared for just how cloying that could become. The small bottle is more than appropriate.

Notes: This was delicious, and I fully intend to sample a more recent vintage to compare, I really found it to be too one-dimensional in its flavor profile. I've had the 06 Port and Lagavulin versions of this brew, and they were both far superior to this. This was totally worth the steep per-ounce price tag, but it's not something I'll be stockpiling in large amounts.


 1,771 characters

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

1997 bottle, consumed on 2/5/11, split 3-4 ways. At 13-14 years old, this is the oldest beer I've consumed (surpassing the Millenium Chimay Blue I had on 12/30/10 by about 3 years).

A: Body is coppery-amber with reddish tints. No real head - not surprising after 13+ years in the bottle.

S: Pleasant - dried fruit (raisiny), toffee, molasses and a waft of booze.

T: Like a licquor - booze is a dominant characteristic, providing heat over sweet malt (think toffee, caramel and brown sugar). Faint touch of peat smoke.

M: Thick and oily in feel, close to full-bodied in heft. Carbonation is long gone.

D: A sipper, but a tasty one. Paired amazingly well with an almond-crusted bear claw-type pastry, making it taste like Amaretto.

Notes: Had this one immediately after a bottle of the 2006, which by comparison tasted like an Imperial Rauchbier (it was heavy on the peat smoke and even more boozy). I've got a 1999 in the cellar; looking forward to it after this positive experience. . ..

 996 characters

Photo of GPHarris
4.87/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage from The Brick Store.

a - poured a one finger creamy light tan head into a snifter. the body was brown with some reddish hints. the head billowed nicely with each swirl and stayed throughout the beer, very impressive for a 14 year old beer.
s - raisins, figs, caramel, molasses.
t - same as above with some tobacco. incredibly complex and tasty.
m - silky smooth.
d - definitely a sipper but only b/c you want to savor a vintage like this as long as possible. it goes down smooth.

 494 characters

Photo of Elendinn
4.78/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2002 vintage, poured into a tulip glass, and raised in praise of Don Younger.

Wow, this beer looks beautiful! It pours a dark, leathery, bronze-tinged mahogany; so dark that it's practically opaque, though, when held to the light, becomes a slightly more translucent copper, with bits of yeast floating around, possibly from a novice pour. It's got no head, save for a thin ring of caramel-colored effervescence around the circumference of the glass. It looks like an eleagant, refined liquor -- brandy or cognac.

Smells like it looks: a spicy, refined liqour. Cinnamon, chocolate, and lots of dark fruits (figs, raisins, port-like grapes) are all extremely prominent. There is a very discernable aroma of rubbing alcohol that permeates the nose, which is a bit of a distraction, but, ultimately, it coalesces into something very sweet and pleasing.

The taste is immediately reminiscent of port, primarily featuring the dark fruits present in the nose. There are some very earthy elements in there, as well, like a decades-old red wine. It's a little boozey in the finish, but a very noticeable chocolate flavor interjects itself and lingers long after everything else, rounding the experience out nicely. Not too sweet, not too hot.

Like a port, the body on this is quite thick, practically syrupy. Fortunately, the moderate amount of carbonation makes for a pleasurable stay on the tongue.

J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale is everything I expect from a traditional barleywine and more. Deep, rich, and as complex as a fine port -- eleagant, nuanced, and spectacular. It transcends what one would typically define as beer. Yes, it's drinkable, despite the abv., but should be savored, fully and completely. Buy these, age them for as long as you can, and open them on special occasions when reflection and contemplation are paramount!

For Don Younger. A perfect beer to honor you with.


 1,891 characters

Photo of dogfishandi
2.41/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

2001 vintage (a little over 9 years of age)

275ml bottle from the cellar poured into a bulb style glass.

pours out a murky dark brownish red with a layer of bubbly off white head that slowly faded to a thick ring. lots and lots of big chunky sediment visible even after decanting and a careful pour. some spotty lace and some nice legs.

a powerful aroma mostly of almonds and other such nuts. almost a little off putting. behind that theres a lot of toffee, burnt caramel, a bit of chocolate.

again with this overpowering oily almond flavor, overly sweet. lots of caramel, toffee, buttery, a bit of chocolate. hardly any alcohol. my palate just cant get over that burnt nutty taste, a bit disgusting.

pretty decent mouthfeel for such a big beer. hardly any alcohol noticable. slick creamy oily feel.

terrible drinkability, after a few ounces this was sadly a drain pour. id be interested to try other vintages, but this was a turn off.

 942 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
3.05/5  rDev -28.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to sweemzander fro sharing this one with me. Another top 100 I've been meaning to get to.

2006 Vintage

A: Golden amber, no head no lace. Pretty much where I expected a 5 year old barley wine to be.

S: Tons of caramel, toffee, faded hops, buttery bread, dark fruit, brown sugar. Quite complex and interesting.

T: This is where things start to fall short for me. The flavors are simply not there from the nose. The buttered bread seems to be the biggest flavor I can pick out. Age seems to have been hard on this one. Maybe it's just at an awkward phase.

M: Medium to light body. Seems rather thin and lifeless.

D: I don't have much experience with English barley wines so I hope this isn't what they turn into when aged. Glad I was able to sample this one.

 769 characters

Photo of hoser
3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 1999 Harvest Ale was sacrificed this evening. It is really hard to rate a beer this old and be fair to the brewers intentions.
Huge vino and port notes and this fucker could have used another ten years in the cellar. One of the few times I wish I had more patience with some older bottles.

Always love the JW Lees stuff.

 325 characters

Photo of glazeman
3.84/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

2002 edition, poured into a snifter

A: Dark, dark amber in color with a small ½ finger white head that quickly fades into a crown. There is minimal lacing and modest retention.

S: The smell is definitely the best aspect of this beer for me. Truly a celebration of malts, there is caramel, toffee, syrup, and brown sugar on the nose.

T: This is a very sweet beer. There is root beer, caramel, and brown sugar as the dominant flavors with a tad of alcohol burn. To me though this is overly sweet and lacks balance.

M: Pretty good feel, although for an 11.5% beer this one is a little thin for my liking.

D: For the ABV the drinkability is pretty good, but is limited by the near cloying sweetness of this beer.

 714 characters

Photo of TKEbeerman
3.97/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage 2001:

A: Poured into my sniftner this brew pours a murky brown with little to no head.

S: The aroma is heavy in caramel, dark dry fruits with hints of nuts, some candy sugar, and an all around earthiness.

T: 10 years of age have turned this brew into something truly unique. Hints of chocolate, heavy sweet caramel (maybe a little too sweet), and a lack of a dangerous alcohol burn. The sweetness really cuts this brew down a notch.

MF: The mouthfeel is silky, but a little less than medium, and is lacking carbonation.

D: Because of the sweetness, this brew is a little tough to drink.

Overall, it's the sweetness that kills this brew. It is a great ale to age, and is definitely unique. The nose is it's strong point, a shame the rest of the beer doesn't follow.

 779 characters

Photo of Cheesemoose
4.39/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2006 poured into a brandy snifter.

No head, or carbonation for that matter. The color of unfiltered maple syrup. Dark brown, but when shown from like, it is near ruby in the body with yellow edges. I forgot to leave the sediment out, but I do not feel it complimented more than hindered the overall experience.

Wow. Simply gorgeous bouquet. Maple syrup, toffee, port, candied apples, vanilla notes all pair with a pepper/alcohol finish. All well balanced. A charred oak and maple character is the overall character.

A slow coursing beer, open that starts slow but finishes strong. Vanilla notes to begin, then moves into a oak, maple syrup, and touch more vanilla. Finishes with a nice pepper touch and an appreciated warming alcohol. Very port like.

Carbonation is non-existant, but that is to be expected. Creamy, lingering flavors. Makes for a great sipper. Given that the alcohol is rather well masked, and at 5 years, it is near gone from the profile. Yet, it does still give the great warmth you would want in a fine aged Barleywine.

 1,047 characters

Photo of SammyDavisJrJrJr
4.11/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage bottle, poured at cellar temperature, into the GLCB snifter. Sampled while trying not to hear anything from the next room, where my wife is watching The Bachelor...

A - Really dark copper colored body with a surprising amount of tanish head. No head retention or lacing.

S - Lots of dark fruit here, with plenty of alcoholic sweetness. I almost feel warmed up smelling it. I'm getting some butterscotch sweetness which actually works in this beer, complimenting the sweet vanilla and oak-like flavors.

T - Dense is the first word that comes to mind with this beer. Dense cherry & figs, vanilla, butterscotch and almond sweetness, with just enough roast and hop bitterness to keep it palatable. The alcohol adds to the flavor, making it seem more robust, but the burn is not out of control, particularly at 11.5% ABV.

M - Coating, with just a slight amount of carbonation and prickle from the alcohol. The body does not seem quite as viscus as expected, but the residual sugars seem to provide a sticky body that just coats the whole mouth.

D - Everything about this beer seems to be in place. Just a fantastic way to spend a night cap. Not sure there is a whole lot more to say, other than this is a great beer to keep in the cellar for cold nights like tonight (-20F windchill).

 1,300 characters

Photo of DelMontiac
3.99/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Goebel Liquor in Wichita, KS has a wide selection of vintage J.W. Lees Harvest Ale. I selected a 2001 vintage (275 ml bottle). I figure 10 years should be a good measuring stick.

I used a New Belgium globe glass for this as they are great for trapping the aroma. Poured a murky dark brown with orange highlights and no head at all. Not the prettiest thing I've ever seen in a glass.

Aroma is quite nice. Super sweet molasses, sugary prune, raisin bread, cherry pipe tobacco, both wine and boozelike.

Flavor is unlike anything I've ever had before. Uber sweet here - molasses, maple, simmering candied fruits (cherries, plums, rum-raisins). Also a woody, sweet, smokey character appears and then fades. The alcohol is well hidden here. Reminds me a lot of the elderberry wine my father has which he bottled himself in 1969.

The feel is sticky, velvety, and really smooth. No alcohol burn at all. This is like satin sheets for the tongue.

Barley wines aren't something I seek out very often. This has given me a better appreciation for them. I don't feel the need for a second glass here. Besides I just bought the one bottle. I would like to revisit with a new bottle.

 1,172 characters

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 1,538 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.