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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
1,530 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:
#864
Reviews:
865
Ratings:
1,530
pDev:
13.68%
Bros Score:
4.6
 
 
Wants:
269
Gots:
226
Trade:
14
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,530 |  Reviews: 865
Photo of atsprings
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

1999 edition 275mL bottle into a DFH Signature glass pours a crisp deep copper almost brown with a thin light tan head that diminishes to a ring. Aroma is very sweet and almost Sherry-like with some noticeable booze. The taste is a very sweet blend of ripe fruits and syrupy caramel, this has a load of complexity that reminds me of some of the best Belgian quads that I've had. This beer is certainly a sipper, very sweet with a decent amount of booze but not enough to be overbearing. This is certainly a great beer for any special occasion.

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Photo of captaincoffee
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Doing three reviews on the 2015, 2011, and 2008 vintages over the next three days, and I'll be updating my scores with each.

Starting with the 2015, it pours a very pretty mahogany with a dense half-inch head, tiny packed bubbles, and ultimately leaves a ring around the beer glass but only spotting lacing. Nose is boozy, rich malt, and some earthiness from the EKG that makes it past the malt overtones. Not very complex, but this vintage is very young (just released last month). Taste is sweet, malty, boozy. A bit more bitterness on the finish than anticipated helps it from being too cloying. Brown bread and honey. Mouthfeel is full and thick...about what you'd expect from an 11.5% barleywine, but the higher-than-expected carbonation also helps keep it from being cloying. Overall, a good beer that should improve with time. Fingers crossed on the next one. Look 4.25, Smell 3.75, Taste 4, Feel 4.25, Overall 4. Total 3.98 at this point.

Next is the 2011. The appearance seems lighter in color with some orange. In fact, the JW Lees website notes the 2015 is darker than most previous years. The nose is still malty and earthy, but less boozy. I'm not going to change my scores for either of these categories. The taste has evolved, however. Richer caramelized sugars. Still lots of brown bread and honey. Worth an extra .25 in my opinion in both the taste and overall scores. Look 4.25, Smell 3.75, Taste 4.25, Feel 4.25, Overall 4.25. Total 4.13 at this point.

Finally, the 2008. Pour is darker again, more like the 2015, but there is very little head anymore. Some bits of stuff in the bottom. Nose has really changed; it is very raisin/prune and sweet. Taste is also like liquid raisins. Port/sherry comparisons now obvious. Worth an extra .5 on the nose and .25 taste, with a minus .5 on look. If this beer was a little less over-the-top sweet, I could give even higher scores. Look 3.75, Smell 4.25, Taste 4.5, Feel 4.25, Overall 4.25. Total 4.32.

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

1997 into a snifter at cellar temperature.

Dark brown with a light tan head. Dissipates to just a 1cm ring around the edge of the glass.

Immediately the aroma fills the air: raisins and prunes everywhere. Like a wonderful sweet port.

The flavor is much less ripe fruity and more overripe fruity: old prunes. Extreme complexity here - the fruit is very good. Caramel, some smokiness almost. A little mineral in the burp. Still pretty hot. Just a touch of bitterness to round out the flavor. Super sweet, very rich, deep flavor. You can tell this one is more than 10 years old.

The mouthfeel is very smooth. A very small amount of carbonation remaining.

This is a dessert sipper. Drinkable, but not one you'd drink too much of.

Very good overall.

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Photo of billab914
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2001 vintage picked up at Premier Gourmet in Buffalo during my trip back there for the holidays. Poured from a 275 ml bottle into my Dogfish snifter. Pours dark brown with a very thin white ring around the outside edge of the glass. There was a moderate amount of carbonation bubbles and sediment visible from the outside of the glass.

Aroma has some brown sugar sweetness to it as well as some dark rich fruit flavors and a hint of alcohol. There are notes of figs, raisins, and cherries in the complex fruitiness of the nose. Taste is very sweet with some malt, raisins, and figs. There is a lot of dark fruit flavors that make it very complex. it's also a lot sweeter then I expected.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side with low carbonation. Drinkability is pretty good for the abv%. it's a little too sweet for me to want to drink any more then 1 bottle in a sitting though. It's very good though for a 9 year old beer, and very complex. I'd love to try other vintages.

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Photo of jeffdr123
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Fascinating. As complex as it gets. Sweet fruit, malt, and the right amount of bitter after taste. Warm going down, like Scotch. Sip by sip at the Hay Merchant in Houston.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Served in a Lexington Bourbon Barrel Ale snifter.

2012 edition. The first stop of our trip through the Lees Harvest horizontal. This stuff pours a clear sunshine tawny topped by a finger or so (at best) of khaki foam. The nose comprises sweet caramel and toffee, white grapes, light stonefruits, mild vanilla, and a bit of booze tossed in for good measure. The taste brings in more of the same, the robust sweetness shining through, not unlike a sherry or even a tokaji. The body is a hefty medium, with a rather light moderate carbonation and a full feel. Overall, a damn fine beer, straight up. I remember thoroughly enjoying the 1999 vintage I had in 2010, and even this much fresher this stuff comes charging through. It's definitely sweet, but never comes across as cloying. I wish it were cheaper, just so I could drink and age as many as possible (and I don't age many beers, mind you).

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Photo of Warren2621
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of kwjd
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of akk14
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Johnct
4.31/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Beejay
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Harvest Ale 2002 Limited Edition

A: A very murky deep brown with a little bit of ruby in the edges. Not a lot of head, but what is there is tan with large bubbles.

S: Huge caramel sweetness. A bit cloying with a syrupy malty scent. There is a bit of roasting in this, as well as a very strong caramelized aroma.

T: Holy cloying barleywine batman! Sweet with notes of caramel, oak, toffee, and burnt sugar. This walks up to the line of 'too sweet' but only puts a toe across the border. Very enjoyable, though in small sips.

M: Thick and oily. Very little carbonation at all. Almost a pillowy feel after you have swallowed. One hell of a sipper.

D: Overall a very enjoyable beer. Rich caramelized flavors, and a wonderful boldness that hides the considerable amount of booze.

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Photo of VirginiaBeerMan
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 bottle aged 3 years, cloudy pour, excellent flavor, shared 9 oz bottle with three others, an enjoyable tasting, wish I had more.

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Photo of mjc410
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
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 neonbrown82
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had been eyeing this at my local grocers for quite some time now. They (John's Grocery) have a vertical progression from 1997-2003, several from each year. I chose the 1997 for myself. It seems to have aged quite nicely, though I have never had a "fresher" one to compare.

It pours to a very thick dark brown color with a plum/amber colored hue. Leaves no head, though none was expected. I've only had the oportunity to try very few barleywines due to the 5% ABV laws in Iowa, but even though I am somewhat naive about them, I would say this is what a barley wine should be like, and what I will judge other beers of the style upon.

There is a heavy smell and taste of plum, raisin, barley malt, and alcohol. Definitely not for the weak spirited drinker of BMC. The alcohol level seems slightly subdued, though, most likely from the aging. I can taste the wood from cask conditioning. It has developed a very interesting flavor. Leaves a very dry finish with a surprisingly subtle aftertaste. What little aftertaste remains tastes like a smokey/woody casked wine.

The mouthfeel is very thick. I can do little more than sip this intense beverage, nor would I want to simply chug down a vintage ale I paid nearly six bucks for. I will not be buying more, but it was a worthwhile experience until I move to a state with a more abundant supply of less high-end vintage barley wine. I still prefer a nice pale ale, though, or something equally quaffable as opposed to a sipper.

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Photo of DerekMorgan
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%

Photo of dpnelson1978
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

9.3 oz. bottle into Duvel tulip.
2000 Vintage

$7.99 / ea.

55°F

S: Maple syrup. Extremely sweet caramel, and a bit of roasted barley. Hints of oak peek through.

A: Opaque dark brown body, tight medium head, with nice retention, and good lacing leading to a light creamy cover.

T: Very sweet. Strong maple character, with a hint of caramel and malt, with a smooth booze finish, and low bitterness. Well balanced, but perhaps a little too sweet.

M: Smooth heavy body with low carbonation.

D: Strong tasting beer that should be savored rather than sessioned. Excellent beer and this score should not be interpreted as a weakness. Sweetness is a bit cloying.

O: My first J.W. Lees Harvest Ale was delicious. Would be a great after dinner drink due to its massive sweet maple flavor.

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Photo of Klym
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into an oversized wine glass. Shared with Cavery. 2006 vintage.

A: Pours a hazy raisin brown with almost no head besides a patch of clear bubbles that dissipate into a microfoam ring around the top of the beer. Looks flat and honestly unappealing. Still, can't knock it since it's quite an old barleywine.

S: A little heat sets on top of a raisin, oregano, cardimom, black pepper and general spicy kick. Spicy dark fruits run the show here but especially raisin.

T: Wow. Kicks in with truckloads of flavor. Very deep and complex spiciness with far more aspects than I could identify or name. Strong dark fruit/raisin sweetness, leather, deep resin. Balanced, deep, almost jam packed sweetness and flavor. Really, unbelievable taste

M: Watery mouthfeel but it's not unexpected of this old of a barleywine. A little bit thicker of a viscosity, which helps support the sweetness/flavors.

O: Really tasty beer. I can see why people age this for long periods. Glad I have some 2010s to age. Definitely have to try this if you like barleywines.

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Photo of ccrida
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage poured into my Meantime Snifter, J.W. Lees Harvest Ale is a dark, murky bronze with very small, large bubbled collar of off-white bubbles leaving on a few flecks of lace. Served at 60F.

Smell is vinous and sweet, caramel malt, butter and boozy vapors.

Taste is robust, intense sweet honey maltiness with an ashy, woody bite, almost smokey. At first it was to much but as I adjust to it I appreciate the nice counter-balance it provides to the sugars. . It is hard to describe the distinct malt taste of the harvest ale, perhaps nutty, maple syrup.

Mouthfeel is on the sticky viscous side, but it's not as sugary and thick as it could be, in spite of leaving a nice coating on the lips. No rough edges either, it's really quick nice, especially for being on the young side.

Drinkability is good, this is a world classic and great example of the style. A quintessential cellar brew, even at only 2+ years old, it's drinking pretty nicely. Overall it's intense but smooth, and while it is made for contemplative sipping, when my enthusiasm results in to large a sip, it still goes down easily.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1999 vintage, big thanks to kecarl7 for this amazing extra!
Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a Alesmith Horny Devil snifter.

A- Pours a thick dark amber, brown with a thin beige minimal head. Lacing on the edge of glass resides almost immediately.

S- sweet dark fruits, caramel, toffee, leather and tobacco.

T- crazy sweetness, dark fruits, maple syrup, molasses, some leather as well.

M- full bodied not said lightly, medium carbonation. Thick syrup feel with a smooth finish.

O- a little overly sweet but the body and falvors in this beer is like no other barlewine I have ever had. Believe I have a 2002 which I hope is near as amazing as the 1999!

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Photo of genaro
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A review of the Vintage Harvest Ale 2000. This is a great beer to wind down with on a cold winter night. It has a nice, sweet malty aroma with traces of alcohol and fruit. This cloudy amber/copper beer is capped with a good sustaining head. It has a doughy mouthfeel and I found the taste to be brandy-like with caramel, figs, and oak. The lace is good and it finishes with a slight bittersweet taste. It is a bit pricey, but well worth it. It's potency became apparent as I wrote my original notes.

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Photo of Overlord
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to RoyMunson for the wondrous extra. A 2001 bottle ... he is truly a beacon of light amongst the darkness of the series of tubes that is the interwebs.

Pours a dark amber/orange with some reddish hues. Some bubbling, but just a thin tan head and a bit of remaining crust on the sides of the glass. Basically, almost no head.

The smell is sweet malt. Tons of it. And maybe some rum and dark fruits. The label says hops, but I can't detect much, if any. This is a sweet beer. I'm surprised again at the dark fruit, figs/raisins, and rum notes. I guess I'm used to barleywines being uberhopped here in the States. Syrupy thick mouthfeel. This is somewhat less sugary than the sherry aged version, but to be quite frank, I don't taste much of a difference. This is probably slightly more drinkable.

This reminds me of a port ... or a rum soaked dark fruit dessert ... moreso than most beers I've had. If I had ready access, I might buy one now and then to lay down for later.

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Photo of yelterdow
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1997 Vintage.

Label says "best before Nov. 2002"... jeez, it's March '06! 250 ml. bottle. Let's see if this $5.99 was well spent or just thrown away.

Served in a grossly oversize brandy snifter at cellar temperature. Paired with Rogue Creamery's Smoky Blue Cheese. Mmmm.

Appearance- Pours a clear dark ruby, garnishing a one finger light tan head... damn impressive for a nine year old barleywine! Island-like lacing clings to the sides of the glass, as the weighty liquid mass beckons me to sip from its royal goodness.

Smell- Holy crap... nine years later, this beer is ready to unfurl. Huger than huge vanilla, old wood, sweet dark figs and dates drenched in aged port wine. Smooth with no alcohol burn in the nose whatsoever.

Taste- Instantly sweet on the tip of the tongue, displaying a gigantic malt character that showcases meat and molasses as the backbone... some vanilla and possibly oak barrels come forth and carry through the finish.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Almost syrupy in the mouth... smooth but thick and viscous. Carbonation levels are tuned down way low, letting the saturation of flavor flow abundantly. Heavy, yet easy drinking. What a fantastic nightcap, paired with a big blue cheese like this one... who needs dinner when you got this to wind down your day?

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Photo of Atron67
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 2001 bottle thats been aging for awhile

A- poured a dark reddish amber with a thin tan head that lasted a little while and didn't leave much head. Foggy with little bit of particulate visible
S- Very malty, little syrupy notes, dark fruits, some figs not much notes of hops, interesting and complex smelling
T- this is dangerous for its alcohol, smooth malty layers with the dark fruits providing complements to the malty character, low hops. a little syrupy but still exceptional
M- a little syruppy, heavy body, light carbonation
D- its very good, its smoothness and body provide a really nice barelywine which goes down really smoothly

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Photo of pershan
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD. It was a bit pricey ($9 for a chalice), but was well worth it, IMHO.

A: Poured a brackish-amber with virtually no head into a chalice.

S: The aroma was of caramel, brown sugar, and alcoholic esters. No discernable hop aroma, so I could tell right away that this way going to be a fairly sweet barleywine.

T: A very sweet profile, as expected, with caramel, toffee, and brown sugar dominating. Big-time alcoholic esters, but really no discernable hop component - not a complaint, just an observation - I thoroughly enjoyed this beer even though I enjoy a nice hoppy brew.

M: Fairly syrupy and thick.

D: A hefty, albeit sweet, barleywine. I would have liked more of a hop component in the aroma and flavor, but still a very enjoyable sipping beer.

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Photo of reebtaerG
4.3/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Had on draft at Columbia Ale House in a tulip

A-Pour was cloudy orange/brown with LOTS of sediment. Thin head that stayed thought drinking. Decent lacing.

S-Aroma of brown sugar, dark fruit, raisin, caramel.

T-Taste started sweet and transitioned to tart.

M-Mouthfeel was buttery/oily and full with a lively subtle carbonation.

O-Overall a great barleywine a must get.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 1,530 ratings
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