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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,523 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:
1,523
Reviews:
864
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.65%
 
 
Wants:
268
Gots:
225
For Trade:
14
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Ratings: 1,523 |  Reviews: 864
Photo of Daniellobo
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Beautiful cask serving, 2009 vintage.

Presentation: 10 oz cask serving. Menu notes offers a succinct description of the brew, and Alc. by Vol. (11.5%) Served into a snifter.

A - Rich deep amber to amber brown pour with a nice frothy head, good retention and fair lacing.

S - Sweet malt caramel nose with faint notes of dark dried fruits with a light earthy sense.

T - Caramel, caramel, with a nicely integrated earthy sense, musty even that works in great sync. Classic syrupy range over its malty base. The long sweetness is broken by a dash that feels a bit more musty than earthy, compared to the 99 vintage, but working again very well.

M - Medium to full body with small but fair carbonation, light stickiness over the syrupy memory.

D - Nice sipper rich without a dash of boredom. The highlight of the day.

Notes: Remembers me of some nuances of the 99 vintage that I had bottled not too long ago, and compares very well to the 06 vintage I´ve tried on tap before. All in all the J.W. Lees Harvest Ale remains a classic work trying, comparing and enjoying.

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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.

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Photo of badbeer
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 Vintage.

Poured a nice brown/red color with a white head that left some lacing. Smell was heavenly, super sweet, slightly burnt caramel, raison, cherry, plum, hard to fully describe. Taste was almost as good as the smell, but was a bit overly sweet, not as balanced as the nose was, became a bit cloying even. Sticky on the tongue, low carbonation, full bodied. A sipper for sure, damn glad I got to try this, hopefully some of the other vintages are even better. This one was holding up like a champ, even after 8 years.

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Photo of Rutager
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

'11 bottle, thanks rodkin!!

Appearance. Pours a very hazy, dark amber-gold with half a finger of (nearly) white head.

Smell. Wow! Caramel, candied cherries and raisins, oaky red wine, bready yeast. Complex for sure.

Taste. Raisins, tobacco, caramel, a drop of sherry, some fresh wood, even a little orange rind. Again, very complex (and quite sweet but it works well). Alcohol is dangerously well hidden.

Mouthfeel. Fairly full body, low+ carbonation.

Overall. I haven't had anything like this before. A really nice and unique barleywine. Thanks again rodkin, I've been wanting to try this one for a while now.

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Photo of flexabull
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2003 bottle courtesy of leftmindedrighty, thanks again!

Pours a dark gold color, hazy and cloudy, with a pretty nice white head.

Aromas are cider like, there is a very strong apple aroma. A bit boozy, and some oak as well.

Taste is very cider like as well. Some very boozy apple flavors. Creamy and sweet malts, very well balanced tasting beer. Finish is crisp, with a nice brandy like bite from the alcohol. This is holding up quite well even at 5 years old.

Mouthfeel is very full, and is quite nice.

Drinkability is very good. A very unique tasting beer to me that is quite easy to drink, and very enjoyable to sip.

Side note : I really like that this is put in a 275 ml bottle. It's a perfect size for one person.

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Photo of strohme2
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of HappyBivouac
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage. 9.3oz bottle into an Ommegang Chalice.

a- pours an amber orange with a minimal off-white head that goes away fast. very little lacing on the glass.

s- deep, rich caramel, a heavy done of bready, sweet malts, prunes, figs, tart cherries, and honey all fill the nose. A very sweet, caramelly, bright, and fruity aroma.

t- The first impression is an extremely sweet beer, very much like this was actually brewed with thick caramel. It's almost hard to get past this sweetness as it really dominates, but it's so damn delicious. Whole wheat bread comes though, and a faint tartness like cherries enters in late along with the unexpected but distinct taste of florida oranges, lingering on in the finish. Heat is there to a perfect level; I suspect being masked by the intense sweetness. There is but a faint grapefruit bitterness throughout that intensifies long after the beer goes down. Will the sweetness of this beer be tamed in several years? I have no idea, but I'd like to grab a couple more bottles and find out.

m- Thick, syrupy, chewy. Carbonation is just a faint tickle on the center of the tongue.

d- My overall impression is this is a great, complex beer. There are a lot of flavors in there, but it can be hard to find them underneath the cloying, overpowering caramel sweetness. I have to sip this one really slowly, which is I guess what was intended. Very high quality stuff, and this fresh bottle just screams that it was meant to be aged a long time.

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Photo of jale
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2008 bottle.

A: Pours a cloudy amber with bits of stuff in it. Spotty lacing

S: Sweet, slightly burnt raisins and smoky malt.

T: Quite sweet to start followed by some earthiness and some alcohol heat. A little burnt sugar, raisins, leather and maybe some tea. Tobacco finish. Very complex beer.

M: A little grainy with medium body. Sweet yet not cloying.

O: I really enjoyed this and will have more.

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Photo of dmamiano
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Really excited to drink this one..2002 vintage shared by fellow BA aherberger...thanks.
This beer looked good, dark and tawney with a small head and lacing to beat the band.
Smell was one that made the eyes roll back in my head. Heavy malt sweetness, very fruity and deep.
Taste was big, no, make that huge on malt sweetness, thick and heavy with a very big mouthfeel. This was a real sipper, reminding me of almost drinking liquid candy.
I cant believe that body from this beer.
A real enjoyable treat to have during a "brew" session.

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Photo of pkalix
4.29/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

no head whatsoever, in contradiction to others' reviews.... looks like a pear cider but contains a lovely sweet, malty base aroma ....
sweet caramel. brown sugar. raisin. smooth, no abv discernible.
a little thin. English barleywine vs American barleywine? so far the winner is American.... but this is okay. they could have used a 12 oz bottle, though.... and a little overpriced.

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Photo of BKotch
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of goochpunch
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

2004 Vintage

Pours out a viscous maple syrup with just a touch of haze (although I poured very carefully). Head is pretty non-existent but makes a thin ring of bubbles around the sides of the glass. Aroma is very worty with a wealth of plums, sherry, and alcohol. Taste has some of that wortiness up front, but it really works as it smoothly morphs into loads of caramel, toffee, honey, maple syrup, oranges, almonds, plums, raisins, dates, and crusty, rustic bread. Finishes extremely sweet with a return of the grainy wort flavor, a touch of tartness and some roasted malt, which continues to linger on. There is really no hop bitterness here, rather just a slight hint of tea-like hops in the middle to end. Mouthfeel is full, thick, viscous, sticky, and hardly carbonated. This is absolutely delicious, but the sweetness really gets to be a bit much. Really glad that they don't bottle this in larger sizes as the 9.something ouncer will be more than enough.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2009, on cask at Blind Tiger, New York, on June 15 2011. Outrageously priced at $12 per mug (about 12 ounces, so you do the math). $11 at happy hour, but still... I foresee this beer lasting on the line for a long while.

Appearance: Totally differet from any J.W. ale I have ever had before. Almost a whole finger of foamy bubbly head, good retention, some thick lacing... yeah! Color is a murky orange, like diseased horse piss and expired warm orange juice. Love it!

Smell: Funk, a bit of sour, also clear hops, which I would have never expected in this beer. Lactic acid, wet grass. Very rural! A tad of caramel sweetness/crystallized sugar at the end. Citrus, orange juice, and a whole lot of fruit-flavored soft drink (Fanta, mostly)!

Taste: In the mouth it is much more sweet and less balanced than in the nose, but still delicious. Very flat, again- like a soft drink, Sunkist or the likes. Very bright and citrusy. Barnyard all over! Dirty cow pen, and I suspect even the mythical and elusive horse blanket is present. Funk for sure! A tad of tangy hops at the very end of the sip. Mushroom, umami, earth. "Live cultures". Real ale, baby!

Mouthfeel: Well balanced and beautiful, with full body, flavor and low-but-perfect carbonation. This is a pretty perfect, ideal cask, wet and funky.

Overall: Top rating, because it is so drinkable it is ridiculous. Chuggable, actually! Absolutely no trace of that 11.5% ABV! Wow. Were it not for the nasty price, I would gladly have a TON of this. Much, much more enjoyable than the bottled version.

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Photo of CharlesK
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Photo of MSchae1017
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998: Very fruity with raisins in the aroma. The taste is also very sweet with just enough bitterness to keep this from being unbalanced. The mouthfeel is incredibly creamy and it is amazing that the subtle carbonation has held up this well over the years.

1999: Decidedly hotter and more bitter than the 1998. The mouthfeel is also not quite as smooth and the carbonation is more prevalent.

2000: Smoother like the 1998, but in addition to the hotness of the 1999, there is a spicy and minty character present in the finish.

2001: Very mellow like the 1998, but not quite as creamy of a mouthfeel. The second best of the bunch.

2002: Significantly hotter and more bitter than the any of the previous. The fruity characteristics just have not quite developed.

2003: The color on this one is not quite the amber hue that the rest exhibit. It is more pale and hazy for some reason. The complexity on these newer ones just have not developed to the level of the older ones.

2004: Smoother than the previous ones but still hot and bitter in comparison. It is surprisingly drinkable given its relatively young age.

J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale is a classic example of the difference between an American and English Barleywine. You will not find any intense citrusy hop profiles in this beer, but rather an enjoyable balance between fruity malts and Golding hops that exhibits new dimensions of flavor as the beer ages.

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Photo of egajdzis
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999... Poured a bubbly ruby red color with a thick and creamy off white head that left nice lacing. Sweet (caramel) and spicy (clove, cardamom). Sweet taste, some chocolate, fruits (raisins, plums) and a nice alcohol finish. Sweet and sticky. A nice vintage.

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

This was a 1997 vintage 275ml 9.6 fluid oz. bottle that was enjoyed on 10-9-02.
This beer pours a slightly hazy very slightly brownish red color with a smallish creamy brownish tan clingy head. The mouthfeel is resiny/oily. The smell is of port wine and RAISINS. The taste is plumlike, portlike , raisiny and alcohol with a mild hoppy finish. Portlike barleywine that is not for beginers-quite tasty.

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

2001 vintage bottle served in an oversized wineglass.

pours a hazy amber/copper tone reminiscent of a belgian quad. some sediment; a finger and a half of head with middling retention and some lacing.

nose is both bold and complex. a sweet bouquet of dark fruits, molasses, malts, caramel, honey, alcohol, and a touch of something else i can't quite pin down... cognac maybe? taste follows the aroma. tons going on. booze is more subdued than i'd have thought going off the nose. lot of dark fruits and malt sweetness. very tasty; nice, smooth finish.

mouthfeel is chewy, syrupy - brings to mind the dfh 120. drinkability is solid. i would welcome another. this hasn't been one of my preferred styles but the best i've had to date; in fact it's offerings like this that show you how good the style can be. fantastic EBW.

original review on: 08-19-2010

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

2007 vintage. Pours a murky golden orange with the slightest amount of an off white head that dissolves quickly into a thin ring around the glass. The smell is great- a mixture of sweetnesses that include caramel, toffee, brown sugar, apricot, figs, and even some citrusy orange. No trace of hops left in the aroma after 3 years.

Wow. This is a really good beer that I quite difficult to figure out. Like the smell, the flavor is basically a mixture of miscellaneous sweetnesses, not all of which I can put my finger on. All of those mentioned above are present, with an emphasis on the brown sugar. The first sip is very hot with the 11.5% abv, but it calms down after the palate is subdued by the sugars.

The mouthfeel is a near perfect blend of carbonation and a full body, though it's a little thinner than I would like it to be. The drinkability is limited by the abv and the overall sweetness. This one would probably be better fresh, with a little hoppiness to complement the sugars.

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

taste- roasted malt, licorice, molasses, prunes, coffee and a hint of eucalyptus in the finish

color- garnet/brown

clarity- clear with little to no sediment at the end of the pour

smell- brown sugar, syrup, oak, toffee, spice

body- light-medium weight, syrupy on the palate, quiet, slow finish

appearance- dark, flat, no lace, oily

overall impression- it still blows me away that some beers hold up after 21 years! granted, the experience is totally different than a fresh beer but there is a group of us loyals that treasure the liqueur-like qualities of the likes of lees and hardy's after a deep nights sleep.

notes- this review is for a 1988 vintage

glassware: tulip

serving temp.- 52.9 degrees

song- "harvest moon"

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

The appearance was cloudy brown with a small tan head, a pretty good ammount of sediment that was suspended in the almost viscous body.
The smell was tons of honey and brown sugar, some chocolate, caramel and maybe some dark fruits. Very complex.
The taste was a punch of sweetness; burnt brown sugar, molasses, alcohol, sweet malts, wood, raisin, prune. I'm sure there is more there but theres so much going on its hard to really decipher.
The motuhfeel is sweet. And I mean sweet. Begninning, middle and end, and leaves your tongue coated and feeling smooth.
I think I could do only one of these at a time, as you might go into diabetic shock. Very complex, smooth and interesting, though.

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Photo of Can_has_beer
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2001 Vintage, poured from the bottle into a rinsed glass tulip.

This poured dark brown with no head and a slight murky edge. Not bad looking at all, for a 15 yr old. The aroma is very complex. It is an amalgam of tobacco, toffee, honey and candied almonds. The prominent flavor is honey, lots of sweet honey tones. The mouthfeel is very appropriate, as its viscous and syrupy. Upon a few imbibes, the taste has quite a long finish that keeps radiating flavors of black tea leaves. It's surprising for how sweet the beer tastes, it is not cloying and I think it's because it's supported by those dark tea-like tannins.

This was very interesting. Its quite amazing when you get to drink a perfectly cellared vintage beer. This is definitely a dessert sipper, not a post-workout or shower beer. A nice splurge.

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

2001 vintage, my first time drinking a JW Lees...

A: A very dark ruby red pour. Thick and syrupy pour. Tiny little offwhite head that fades almost instantly, leaving just a scant little ring around the glass. No lacing.

S: Can smell this before I even bring the glass near my face. Big, sweet caramel with little bit of toffee and maybe molasses? Super strong, sweet and boozy dark fruits. Raisin, cherries, fig primarily I would say. Maybe even some honey? There's a lot going on here.

T: Super sweet and cloying. Like drinking watered down caramel (almost the same consistency too). Molasses, toffee and honey from the nose join in. Dark fruits are there a bit as well, figs mainly but I'm getting a touch of cherry in the aftertaste. Almost no alcohol except for the warming sensation in your belly.

M: Wow, thick and syrupy. It's 75% of the way to maple syrup, no joke. Low carbonation.

O: Wow (I've used this word twice in a review), this is a sipper for sure. Sweet and decadent syrup. It's got to be the top of the style for me. If you like ridiculously syrupy and sweet beers this one is for you.

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

2004 vintage

Pours a rather hazy dark brown color. A very thin light tan head forms and quickly dissipates.

Aroma is ok, very familiar to the other harvest ales by J.W. Lees. Raisins, plums, figs, caramel, syrup, oak, and just a bit boozy.

Taste is pretty good. Raisins and figs, caramel, and a bit of chocolate. Molases and brown sugar as well. Really quite delicious once it opens up. Little alcohol warmth as well.

Mouthfeel is thick, syrupy, and full bodied. Very lightly carbonated. Really my ideal mouthfeel for such a beer.

Drinkability is moderate. The flavor is great, but the high alcohol will get to you. not to mention, it is a bit cloying. Really a phenomenal brew any way you look at it though.

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Photo of Jwale73
4.27/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2002 vintage served in my Old Stock snifter. Pours a semi-hazy mahogany with a slick of a head that quickly dissipates into broken spots and a thin, bubbly band around the edges. Some light, spots and strands of lacing revealed during the tasting. Nose is sweet - maple syrup, toffee, prunes, figs and a slightly boozy quality on a malty/bready backbone. Taste consistent with nose - wow this is amazing. Sweet and fruity and the alcohol all but disappears; dangerous for an 11.5% brew. The distinctive aromas in the nose really coalesce nicely in the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied with a light carbonation and a slightly oily quality to the texture. What an amazing barelywine. The price is a little steep at $8.00 a bottle but what an exceptional treat. I will need to pick up some more of these over time and stagger their openings.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,523 ratings.
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