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

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
1,526 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 | Events
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 1,526 |  Reviews: 864
Photo of gford217
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

275mL bottle, 1997 vintage, poured into a snifter.

Pours an opaque dark brown with a small creamy off-white head that recedes slowly to a healthy collar and leaves some legs on the sides after each sip.

The aroma is huge. It's got the sweet caramel malts with tons of toffee and dark fruits as well. I get a bit of chocolate as well, especially as it warms and there is a pronounced sherry character in the nose overall. Boozy and powerful nose.

The taste is much of the same and maybe bigger. The underlying caramel malt backbone is still dominant with lots of sweet booze-soaked fruits, raisins and plums especially. Molasses, caramel, chocolate, just tons of flavors on the palate. Tough to exaggerate how wonderful this taste is.

The mouthfeel is medium to full-bodied and very smooth with a perfectly soft carbonation. The alcohol does start to burn a bit, but it's not overly distracting.

I've been sitting on this bottle for a while and was worried it might be headed downhill. As far as I can tell, this one has never been better. Complex, rich, smooth...exceptional beer.

 1,085 characters

Photo of spointon
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on cask at FFF Dark Lord Day 2009.

A= This ale poured a cloudy orange-gold color with just a 1/4" white head. The head disappeared in about 5 minutes, but did leave a few rings of stickage on my glass.

S= A lot of hot alcohol in the aroma, but also present was a complex array of oak, vanilla, malt sweetness, ripe fruits, treacle, and some wonderfully fruity esters.

T= Very much similar to the aroma. The sweet malt base was huge and delicious. Lots of candy-like sweetness (caramel, toffee, treacle, molasses, etc). Ripe fruits added a lot of depth. The oak barrel provided a dryness in th emiddle as well as a mild vanilla note. The finish dried considerably and exhibited lots of warming alcohols.

MF= Heavy side of medium bodied with a soft low carbonation feel.

D= A big, delicious, ballsy ale made even more interesting by its time in the cask. Truly a sipper and the very definition of World-Class.

 927 characters

Photo of canucklehead
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It is so nice to find a 1999 bottle of this great beer at Archers Ale house in Bellingham. The bottle opened to produce a tawny brown that looks like heaven in a glass. Nose was malts, old fruit and remnants of hops. The taste was sublime, very big yet smooth as silk. Not as complex as Thomas Hardy but the sum of the parts make this a world class beer. A great reminder why I love beer.

 388 characters

Photo of mlazzaro
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000 11.2ml bottle
I'm into the well aged barleywines, and this is just a great example of a traditional recipe, aged to perfection. I was worried the bottle was over-aged.
Light brown beer, off white head. Not overly sweet nor dry. Reasonable head retention for a barley wine. Smooth malty caramel toffee notes. Alcohol is warming not burning. I might be able to taste a bit of oak. Mild but apparent bitterness. Very slight yeast character. It seems like a very simple recipe. Nice grain flavor mixed with Kent golding and an English yeast. Satisfying A.B.V.- I caught a slight buzz off a 4 oz sample. Wish I had more. Nice experience.

 638 characters

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.7/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A 1998 vintage bottle thanks to onix1agr and his amazing will power not to drink his cellar.

A- deep brown with an orange red glow. No head from this 12 year old bottle.

S- amazing depth of toffee, caramel, raisins, dates, and dried figs. Toasted dark bread and brown sugar.

T- rich creamy toffee and caramel with brandy soaked dates and figs. Brown sugar bruleed honey wheat bread.

M- on the side of full bodied with a slightly chewy mouth feel. The light carb does just the right amount of lifting to keep things lively. Very smooth.

D- if I had an unlimited supply I'd be a happy man. This is one of the best beers I've ever had.

 642 characters

Photo of Stefko
4.71/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.71/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Anno 1999.

Appearance -- Pours a deep dark brown, nearly aubergine, with golden highlights and a slim fizzy head upon the hard pour. A bit still.

Smell -- Lots of fig, brandy-soaked prunes, raisin, toffee, bread pudding. Sweet, syrupy, and decadent; on par for the style.

Taste -- An abundance of figs, raisin, prune, light molasses, and brandy. Well-basted bread pudding and challah. Gentle spiciness. Mild herbal bitterness in the finish along with a little bit of mustiness. Alcohol is perceptible, but not remotely sharp and stands as a nice contrast to the rich malt sweetness.

Mouthfeel -- Very full body, quite slick, with a very mild carbonation lending to a very sm.oth feel. In a word: decadent.

Drinkability -- This is incredible, probably the best English Barleywine I've had to date. This truly is the standard bearer of the style. So rich, and with such depth of flavor and velvety body it's hard to see how people could find error in this beer. While not a beer for all occasions, I can't think of a better after-dinner beer. An incredible pleasure to drink, strongly suggested.

 1,098 characters

Photo of Mesa512
4.71/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of GilGarp
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2000 vintage. Easily the oldest beer I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying.

275mL brown bottle with golden-yellow label and black cap.

Served cool into a Belgian globe, Vintage Harvest Ale has a deep redish brown color with good clarity when held to the light. The head is creamy and dense but pretty short-lived.

Aroma is sweet and pungent. It's so full of greatness here - all sort of dark and dried fruits - raisins, plums, prunes, figs, cherries, and so on. The alcohol is evident here too but it's pleasant like a port wine.

Flavor is equally amazing and really strengthens the port similarities. Strong in the dark fruits again, especially cherries and figs. There is a hint of toasted malts and some gentle bitterness but any bit of sharpness has been rounded off over the past 10+ years. Raisins, caramel, chocolate... the depth of flavor is amazing.

Mouthfeel is medium-full in body with soft carbonation that just keeps it above being flat.

What a beer. This isn't what I was prepared for but I'm so glad I finally got to try it. Just fantastic from start to finish.

 1,084 characters

Photo of GregBarleycorn13
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 vintage. Pours a murky mahogany brown with no head. As soon as you bring it to your nose you Know your in for an excellent beer. Taste reminds me of a port. So delicious. For me there was an aftertaste of a bitterness just like Campari. Never had that taste in a beer and enjoyed that , too.

 296 characters

Photo of kmo1030
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999 edition

mostly clear brown with a faint tan head. i couldn't coax much out of the bottle.
the aroma is made up of a lot of dry powery brown sugar, a big aged malt background, and a lot of interesting fruit. the fruit is mostly a soft pear like quality with some caramel/buttery notes and then some fig. cocoa powder comes out with warmth. a whisp of alcohol here and there.
the taste is brown sugar disolved in a pot of caramel, and then liberally drizzled over soft roasted pears and apples. some fig and faint soft unacidic cherry weave in and out. like in all previous incarnation of this beer i've had, there is a really pleasant sort of powdered cocoa aspect towards the back of the mouth.
full bodied and mildly carbonated. again, absolutely silky, and a pleasure to drink.
a real masterpiece. seek this beer out, no matter what vintage. one of the finest crafted beers i've had the opportunity to try.

 920 characters

Photo of Vodokhan
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Photo of notchucknorris
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2001 Vintage, purchased at Toronados

A: Deep, murky brown color with no head whatsoever. Leaves some faint tracks of lace when swirled in the glass.

S: Holy schnikes! Loads of dark fruit here. Rich raisin aroma with lots of concord grapes, figs, fruitcake and some fermented barley notes. So rich and smooth. Really fantastic.

T: Tons of honey right off the bat. A lot of dark fruit mixed in with the honey flavor that reminds me of fig jam and grape jelly. Mouthfeel is honey-like as well. Super thick without really feeling heavy. I don't know if that makes sense, but that's the best I can put it. This is one of the better beers I've ever had.

 651 characters

Photo of Afterburner
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Note: This was a 1998 vintage.

Appearance: Hazy reddish brown, with a moderate beige head that retired slowly.

Smell: The predominant note here was almost teriyaki in its bouquet. When I worked in the restaurant biz, a common "oriental" marinade was created by mixing soy sauce and pineapple. This beer has that aroma. In addition, there's a ton of malt, a hint of molasses, and a faint alcohol tinge.

Taste: Forceful malt character in the early stages, followed by maple syrup, hints of green apple, and more malt. Finish is strongly flavored of toffee. There's also a faint character at the end that reminds me of nothing so much as a gooey cinnamon roll with lots of butter. It's not a strong flavor, but it's there.

Mouthfeel: My personal preference for beers of this nature is for a thick, viscous mouthfeel with light, small-bead carbonation so as not to combat the flavor. This brew has that in spades.

Drinkability: I found this to be an exceptionally flavorful beer, easy to drink, and I certainly would have enjoyed another.

 1,049 characters

Photo of Shiredave
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2000 vintage. Not bottle conditioned, (ie no yeast )but cellarable, I'm sure the 11.5% alc / vol ensures it's longevity, but I question whether the flavors change.We will see in time. The condition of this bottle was near perfect. Dense and clingy, slighlty off white head, mega malt to start but fresh earthy hop aroma fights it's way through around the alcohol notes. Label states only "the choicest East Kent Goldings" hops are used. This Brarley wine is as close to a US / W. coast barleywine
( more malt than Ol Crusty, more Hop than Ol Foghorn..)as I've ever tasted from the UK. This beer explodes w/ hopflavor and bitterness - all EK Golding grassiness and fruity pine. Massive amounts of malt must be used in this brew and much remains in the sweet, honey like , full bodied flavors that stack up to the uncommonly strong hop presence. As this beer warmed the alcohol notes came through a bit more ; but only a bit as the thickness and hoppiness hide the alcohol very well. If there were dyacitals and funky alcohol flavors, I couldnt find them. The warmth down the throat and into your veins keeps you aware of the Hugeness of what your sipping. This is without a doubt the best British barleywine Ive ever had and quite possibly one of the best made beers. Aged before release, exceptionally well balanced, Humongously Massive in every way... as the bottle states this beer is brewed " as a Celebration of the Brewers Art". IMHO, I think JW Lees has done just that.

 1,485 characters

Photo of track1646
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage poured into a Stone Pairing glass

A - this beer pours a beautiful mahogany color..very red when the light shines through it. Not much head created during pouring.

S - Smells amazing! Dark fruit (raisins and figs) oozes out of the glass with hints of vanilla and chocolate.

T - The taste mimics the nose to a T. Huge dark fruit flavors backed up with chocolate and vanilla. No hops to balance this out...it is a malt bomb. Lingering flavors of vanilla and a mild roast in the finish. No alcohol what so ever...this beers weight is completely masked. Age does wonderful things ..i cant wait to taste some with some more time spent in the cellar.

M - Silky smooth,from front to back this beer is smooth and round.

D - The lack of alcohol burn makes this beer want to fly down your throat..but the weight can be felt (not tasted). Overall drinkability is good for a Barleywine, but it lets you know that its a sipper!

 931 characters

Photo of DmanGTR
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this one last night after my undergrad graduation ceremony :)

Vintage 2001 - Dec 1

A - poured cloudy, burgundy brown with a small bubble ring in my tulip chalice. No lacing.

S - very, very malty sweet, at first I was caught off guard and thought of sweet soy sauce, but I let it sink into me and realized I was detecting the beautiful aromas of dark fruits: figs and dates, mixed with a slight rum-like alcohol, a light yeastiness, and holiday spiciness. Complex, rich, and satisfying.

T - good golly... molasses sweetness, very malty, bready, a slight hint of cocoa, and deep, deep fruits. Dates, figs, and spice, nearly no hops. Alcohol is very well hidden until you feel it warming your throat.

M - medium/heavy bodied, very light/nearly non existent carbonation. Sticky and syrupy. Coats your palate nicely.

D - this is most definitely a sipper. Not only is it somewhat costly, but the alcohol is quite high (11.5%). It will sneak up on you. This is a beer you want to enjoy for a while.

Overall - I was a little scared to buy this but I'm glad I did. Extremely sweet, almost like a port or a dessert beer but still quite excellent. For the price, I would probably only drink this on special occasions. I opened this one on May 18, 2008. It is quite amazing how well it aged in 7 years. This is excellent as a dessert beer, served by itself, or shared in small quantities as an appetizer beer. Cheers to this great brew. I am eager to try the other years as well.

I will update as I try the other years. This review is of the 2001 edition.

 1,555 characters

Photo of tavernjef
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1999 Vintage - Color sits as a hazy ruddy brownish orange, a finger high dark ivory head foamed up as very loosely formed bubbles and popped down quickly to a whispy haze and a micro thin ring clinging to the edge of the liquid, lace appears from off the thin ringed edge and drips right back in super fast.

Smell is malty sweet, strong amounts of caramel and lots of dullish dark fruit overlays with a mix of banana and raisin, fig and plum. Strong warming alcohol, noting ethanol-like, seeps into the nose and opening up your sinuses like a minty strong tea. A potently strong boozy nose...whew!

Taste is malty thick and sweet with a great melty-like smooth caramel, great thick feel and flavor of super fresh sweet caramel, stupendously yummy with some notes of dulled dark fruityness of raisin, plum, light orange and banana. Toffee notes mix in with a fresh claro-like tobacco leafyness. Hops show through very easy in a calmly light pineyness and bitterness. The alcohol floats in and out finding areas to sneak in and warm you up. The caramel malts are amazingly candyish and chewy thick.

A wondefully full malty mouthful of creamy thick smoothness, oh my...its nice! The finish creeps along with a nice malty sweetness of very dulled orange and caramel hugging your tongue like a big fleece blanket on a chilly evening. Goes down with an incredible ease and soothing creamy smoothness, only the warming alcohol keeps you from bigger swigs, which really wasn't all that hard to do, just that the warming hits you faster. A great sipper which didn't last long in my glass during this years first snow storm, its so damn good!

 1,643 characters

Photo of LAp
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Sampled as a vertical in tasters at a barleywine tasting event. 2014 tried alongside 2001.
The 2014 barleywine was delicious - a bright, young barleywine that was not overly saccharine despite having the classic robust malt presence. Trace hints of hop, and a less heavy mouthfeel contributed to an autumnal palate. Excellent.
The 2001 extraordinary. An incredible window into what can happen within the confines of a bottle over a decade and a half. Gone were the light, youthful notes of trace hop and sugars. They were instead replaced with a toffee, caramel syrup. Notes of dates and figs more prominent than in almost any bottle I've tried before. A true treat to try 15 years aged.

This is absolutely a standout barleywine. One of my favorite instantiations of one of my favorite styles.

 803 characters

Photo of trumpetego
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1998 Vintage opened on 1/1/08, ten years to the day after it was bottled.

The beer pours a dark brown, with a head that disappears quickly.

The smell is incredible, and much like a vintage port. Dark fruit, molasses, maple syrup, and a hint of alchohol.

Taste is more of the same. Very smooth and malty, still reminiscent of port. Dark fruit, particularly prunes, and just a hint of alchohol. No hops to speak of, but I expect this from English Barley Wines. Very sweet, but not overpoweringly so.

Mouthfeel is surprisingly light with very little carbonation.

Drinkability is good for what it is: just as I wouldn't be able to drink more than 9.6oz of port in a sitting, I wouldn't be able to have more that one of these at a time. Very tasty though, and an excellent New Years evening treat.

 801 characters

Photo of neorunner
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

First blind beer from nlmartin in Round #2 of the Blind Beer BIF. 2000 Vintage.

12oz bottle poured into a Samuel Adams' perfect pint glass. Color is opaque dark brown with a tiny oil slick of head. Carbonation is present but hard to pick out. Aroma is amazing. Malt abound and a very strong alcohol aroma. Mellow dark fruit and a bit of cardboard in the aroma (oxidation?). Raisins and nearly no hops that I can pick out. I know Nate mentioned some of these beers were vintage and this smells the part completely. Flavor is mellow chocolate malts and a nice strong alcohol taste. Very similar to a blend of milk and bitter chocolate with a hint of almond or . I'm having to resist inhaling this beer, its great. Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, it has a flavor feel that I tend to associate with oak aging of some form.

 819 characters

Photo of mattcrill
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Happy Father's Day to me...2006.

Bottle inspection: looks exactly like the bottle pictured here on the website. States that it is limited edition and bottled on 1st Dec 1998.

Aroma: A wonderful blend of fig newtons, grape jelly, brown sugar, grape juice, and raisins. The grape jelly keeps coming back to the nose.

Appearance: Dense and cloudy deep amber pour with a thin tan cap. Beautiful streaming lace.

Flavor: Molasses, grapes, raisins, carmel malts, vanilla, and maple syrup. A dopplebock-like sweetness dominates. It is very sweet.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied...coats the palate and the back of the throat. A touch of drying alcohol finishes it up.

Overall impression: One to be sipped and appreciated. Top notch in my book. Glad I had the chance to try this one. Strongly recommended.

 806 characters

Photo of boudeysbigbrew
4.72/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of Todd
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Presentation: 275ml brown bottle. Limited Edition - 1st December 2000. No sediment in the bottle.

Appearance: A rich, slightly hazy, copper coloured beer with a magnificent foamy, creamy head. Initial pour is about 3-4 fingers thick! Head retention is outstanding -- seems to last forever.

Smell: Raisins, molasses, raw honey, buttery toffee, rich fruity esters and an almost pungent raw hop aroma.

Taste: This is a huge beer! Silky smooth and ultra-creamy with a gentle carbonation that attempts to break through a thick syrupy malt profile of rich caramel, toffee, molasses, coffee and chocolate milk, honey and raisin. All sorts of toasted malt flavours play the palate, with baked sweet bread flavours. Alcohol notes follow, and try to hide in a cornucopia of big sweet ripe fruit flavours (pineapple and sweet honey dew melon come to mind). Bitterness is just enough to tame the malt from dominating 100%, with light citrus notes. The ale finishes with a touch of buttery diacetyl, toasted malts, coffee, milk and a bit of grain flavour.

Notes: Last time a tried one of these it was a bottle of the 1986, I believe. It was staggering. For being around a year and a half old at the time of this review, the 2000 is simply to die for. There's so much complexity of flavour going on that you almost need to stop analyzing and simply enjoy it before the glass is empty.

 1,382 characters

Photo of Manoftyr
4.73/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1999 vintage

Apperance-Pours a rich, dark and cloudy amber-red with resplendent ruby highlights, no real head or lace but hard to detract for that when it's 11.5%abv and over ten years old. Looks lovely to me.

Aroma-Wow, what an overpoweringly tangy aroma; I smell a load of dried and candied syrup-drenched fruits all mingling together in a single aroma making it difficult to pick out individual smells. I definitely smell dates in there though. Some toffee.

Taste-The taste is rather more complex than the aroma and the aforementioned candied fruits are more apparent and distinct. I get dates, plums and raisins most prominently, maybe some figs in there too; extremely sweet. Maybe the faintest hint of chocolate and winter spices towards the back of the middle and some alcohol way, way, WAAAAY in the back end and so faint it's barely worth noting. Delicious.

Mouthfeel-Low-carbonation, thick, syrupy-smooth; perfect for an English Barleywine.

Drinkability-Although this beer has no real alcohol presence it has no shortage of enormous flavors and alcoholic 'weight.' It's a sipper, but not necessarily a very slow one and at this ABV I've gotta rank that high.

Notes/final thoughts-This beer is awesome, didn't expect to like it so much and I'm beginning to suspect I strongly prefer the English interpretations of Barleywines to the hoppy DIPA-like American ones I've been mostly exposed to.

 1,406 characters

Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.23 out of 5 with 1,526 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston 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.