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)
BA SCORE
4.24/5
Exceptional
1,538 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:
#868
Reviews:
870
Ratings:
1,538
pDev:
13.68%
Bros Score:
4.6
 
 
Wants:
271
Gots:
226
Trade:
15
HISTOGRAM
 
View: Beers
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,538 |  Reviews: 870
Photo of russwbeck
5/5  rDev +17.9%
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 +17.9%
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 +7.3%
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 +17.9%

Photo of daveytheformer
4.75/5  rDev +12%

Photo of jsurfs82
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of muchloveforhops3
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of kayrex
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of mikehblack
2.7/5  rDev -36.3%
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 +17.9%

Photo of TimPell
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of kojevergas
2.29/5  rDev -46%
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 +17.9%

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 +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 +6.1%

Photo of GrindFatherBob
5/5  rDev +17.9%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.7/5  rDev -12.7%
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 +4.2%
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 -2.4%
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

Photo of mpyle
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 Vintage provided by my coworker Tom.

App - Didn't recognize that it was bottle conditioned, so clouded it up with the yeast. Poured a tiny head that didn't last. Moderate amber color.

Aroma - Buttery alcohol and malt. Some taffy. Almost like a slightly medicinal malt aroma.

Taste - Huge malt flavor tempered just barely by the alcohol. Definitely sweet, and verging on overly so, but retains a semblance of balance. Hints of bread and wood - some earthiness. Transition to the finish is smooth, and maltiness carries into the finish, but the alcohol helps to dry it out a bit.

MF - Fully body, and low carbonation. Very smooth mouthfeel. Alcohol warming is evident, but is smooth and pleasant.

Overall - A true malt bomb. The flavor and mouthfeel are superb. Definitely one to enjoy slowly in front of a fire.

 822 characters

Photo of clarkw42
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of jfcaa193
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of mdaschaf
4.22/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Vintage.

A: Pours an orange/red/ruby color with a small white head that has very little retention and no lacing. A little bit of sediment.

A: A little bit of alcohol right off the bat, some candied dark fruit - raisins and a bit of prunes, some white grapes. It almost has a liquor/sherry aroma to it.

T: Rather sweet, with some raisins, grape, caramel, and honey, there is almost a mead like character to this beer. Again, reminds me of sherry.

M: Rather syrupy, medium bodied, with low to medium carbonation. Extremely drinkable.

O: Quite good, a very nice sipper that was a perfect end to the evening. I can see why people like to sit on these, I can see this beer mellowing a bit over time, not that the alcohol was a problem on the flavor profile.

 766 characters

Photo of Kegatron
4.36/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On cask, via hand pump, @ the Mad Fox Brewing Company (Falls Church, VA) on 2/11/12 during their 2nd Annual Barleywine Festival. Served in a small footed Pils glass. 2010 Edition.

Pours a clear coppery gold, with a thin covering of off-white head. This fizzles out pretty quickly, leaving nothing back in terms of retention or lacing. The aroma smells woody and herbal, with some earthy hops and alcohol up front. This works into sweeter notes of toffee, sugary dough, brown sugars, and dark fruit. The fruit and brown sugar elements are standing out to me the most here, as the nose on the whole here is very rich feeling.

The taste is quite similar, with notes of caramel, dough, brown sugar, dark fruit, vanilla, and herbal hops along the back. The finish is woody feeling and very dry, with an almost parching quality to it. The mouthfeel is full bodied, with a slick firm creaminess that glides along quite easily for the size. Some alcohol does start to emerge as this warms but the overall robustness of the flavors do their best to overcome its overall heady presence here.

Wow, this was good. Maybe the quintessential English Barleywine here, this just brings in droves of complex flavor to the senses, with a heavy yet still approachable alcohol presence to it. I think that I tend to enjoy this bear a little fresher before too much heavy sweetness sets in. Having this on cask was a real treat and one of the true highlights of the fest for me.

 1,462 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.