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

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)Harvest Ale (Limited Edition)
1,547 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

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Ratings: 1,547 |  Reviews: 875
Photo of brewcrew76
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2000 Vintage

A - Dark brown cola color with crimson highlights, a tan head and a few spots of lacing.

S - Caramel, raisins, dried fruits, figs, molasses, honey and brown sugar.

T - Very sweet caramel and toffee but not cloying, tobacco, brown sugar, maple syrup and molasses. It has a port like quality. Some dark fruits, raisins and figs but they are not as apparent as in the aroma.

M - Medium body, smooth and silky. Alcohol warming but not as noticeable in the taste as I expected. If this was any heavier it might make the beer to cloying.

D - A great sipper that has held up nicely after 7 years. I am wondering if it might be slightly sweet and sticky fresh.

1999 Vintage - 8/27/08 - not reflected in score since can only review a serving type once

A - Dark brown cola with ruby highlights and 1 finger of tan head.

S - Dark fruits galore, rum soaked raisins, figs, prunes, carmalized brown sugar, old overripe blackberries, leather, tobacco and black licorice.

T - Sweet caramel, brown sugar and molasses with some leather and old dried fruits of raisin, prune, fig and some type of berry I can't place. Somewhat earthy as it warms.

M - Medium bodied with low carbonation. Smooth with the lightest hint of sticky barleywine. Very nice.

D - I am guessing this one is past its prime but it is amazing what type of nice flavors develop as these beers get older. A highly enjoyable sipper. Hopefully I can find more vintages.

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Photo of mickeymac
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1998 vintage enjoyed at the October 2003 BA gathering at Lucky Baldwin's. The head was almost non-existent. What did appear on pouring disappeared almost immediately. What remains is sort of a swampy brown. Its appearance does not do justice to what follows. The smell is a wonderful mix of ripe fruit: raisins, dates, hints of cherry, and a nice molasses smell. Hops are barely detectable. The taste is reminiscent of a vintage port and provides the same warming experience found in a fine port. Although some alcohol smell and taste is present, it blends very well and doesn't hint at 11.5%. I'm glad I tried this one early in the evening before my taste buds were shot. It's truly a classic.

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Photo of chinabeergeek
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 (bottled in december)

deep slightly hazy amber, with lots of sediment chunks floating around. decent head that reduces and maintains a thin layer, then just a ring on the surface. splotchy lacing down the glass.

fortified wine aromas, dried fruit (figs and dates), woody (oak?) characteristics.

sweet and robust like maple syrup at first, then the dried fruits (soaked in spiced rum, like in a fruitcake), finishing into that "oaky", almost medicinal note, with gentle bitterness that peaks then as well. fruity, faintly bitter aftertaste.

feel isn't thin, but like a light, thin syrup. touch of carbonation at the start, but quickly backs off.

can't wait to try the 1999 vintage many years from now, or even the 2001 and 2002 in a few.

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Photo of edchicma
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2000 Vintage broken open in honor of Red Sox as World champs. This is the type of beer for a special occasion. Pours a dark cherry amber with a light head that laces on the tulip glass I am drinking from. Smell is caramel, malt, acohol, cherry, molasses..very complex. Taste is equally complex. While high in abv, the alcohol is there but does not dominate. Molasses, caramel, burnt sugar, plums...probably a few more I will notice after a few more sips. Mouthfeel is exceptional. This is a strong brew, but the smooth quality is exceptional also. Extremely drinkable due to smoothness and understated alcohol presence. A must drink for real beer lovers. Go Sox!!!!

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Photo of mig100
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Photo of PerzentRizen
4.68/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This is a 1999 vintage limited edition!

Poured into a brandy snifter this beer is extremely rich looking with a powdery tan to off-white head that quickly forms. To accentuate the nuances of this ale I have decided to consume it at room temperature. This day is officially special!

The aromas are of fine aged scotch, fruity sherry and age port come together in the nose with plenty of malt. Toffee, burnt sugar, alcohol, and tropical fruit esters are all here and dancing playfully in my nostrils.

The first taste is smooth, rich, and sweet. There is not even a touch of hops detected (as I expected for a 10 year old english barleywine). There is white chocolate, cinnamon, spices, ripe fruit, and the richness of a fine artesian dessert.

Mouthfeel is really rich and velvety until the finish. The finish is really dry. I can tell that before this beer was bottled there was plenty of sugar left over for secondary fermentation in the bottle. The 11.5% alcohol content is probably low, but who knows. Perhaps this "vintage limited edition" bottling has taken into account this extra alcohol.

Drinkablity is great for the style. Usually barleywines take me an hour to finish (with few exceptions). I could easily drink this down in a few minutes, but I choose to savor the flavors in this grand beer.

If you find this on the shelves you'd be wise to pick one up. This is one tasty beverage!

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cask conditioned, served in a 10 ounce goblet at Buffalo Wild Wings in Indy. Lighter mohogany color, with some ruby edges. Not much head at all on this monster. Huge oaky, coconut aroma. Also seems slightly somkey. Very sweet, fruity and oaky. Alcohol is not hidden, it is certainly there. Full body, low carbonation. This is outstanding. Not the most drinkable, but complex. A definite sipping beer.

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Photo of kinmundy77
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2001 Vintage. My son shared a bottle with me while here on vacation. It has been over 2 years since he was here last. Poured into snifters it appears deep dark mahogany in color. Very little head. Small amount of sediment. Aroma is rich molasses, vanilla, figs, raisins and maybe a slight hint of tobacco. Alcohol is there but not strong. Taste follows and reminds me of a hard candy my grandmother made when I was very young (over 50 years ago). Nice smooth mouthfeel to it. I enjoyed this one very much and I have purchased another bottle. I'll save it until he can visit again.

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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.

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Photo of Viking
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I must say my first experience with JW Lees Harvest Ale was a great one! This beer is dark reddish-brown, yet not cloudy. The head was a bit weak, and dissolved quickly. The aroma was rich and saturated with molasses. The beer is thick, but not overly surypy. It has a strong, sweet, buttery caramel flavor with some odd fruit flavor hiding away inside. Damn good at nearly 3 and a half years old!

I might have to pick up a couple more bottles and save them for next fall.

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Photo of IceAce
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Harvest Ale 2000 enjoyed on 1-24-2007 (275 ml bottle)

Pours ruddy brown with two full fingers of creamy, dense tan foam. The aroma reaches from two feet away, causing instant salivation. The nose is rich with sugary, complex malts...alcoholic and approaching solvent level. Mmmm...

Calling the entry of this beer into one's oral cavity silky smooth would be a total insult ...it quite literally makes silk seem a rough as 100 grit sandpaper. There really aren't enough o's in smoooth to describe this barleywine.

Midtaste is rich, deep malt...fathoms, no leagues deep. Rum-soaked cherries and Grandma's fruitcake couldn't compare to the marriage of flavors expreienced as this warms past cellar temperature. The finish is a long slow throat-warming fade of rummy pineapple, cherry, and lip-licking sweetness.

Best when shared with a loved one on a bear-skin rug in front of an open fire in a mountain cabin...

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Photo of Faxmesomehalibut
4.69/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of alovesupreme
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1999 and 2000

Poured both with a friend.
Beautiful dark scarlet color with good head retention. Pretty sticky.
Maple syrup, honey, molasses, a hint of citrus. So much complexity.
Oh my! This is the epitome of an English Barley wine. Lots of caramel sweetness, with a sherry like finish. Nutty and rich with the perfect amount of alcohol.
Full bodied, and very chewy.
An absolutely fabulous beer. One of my favorites.

The 2000 was the agreed favorite between my friend and I, with a slightly sweeter, bigger body. The vintage was responsible however and not the age IMO.

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Photo of NeroFiddled
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2001 vintage, enjoyed straight from the cellar at 55F. A very deep copper-brown body with amber highlights rests gently beneath an average sized head of creamy off-white froth. The head retention is limited, but at 11.5% that's to be expected - and it still keeps a decent collar which is unusual for such a high alcohol beer! The nose is loaded with sweet, caramelized malt and notes of sticky-sweet dried dark fruit as well as some leafy and almost herbal hops. In the mouth it's full bodied to the point of being syrupy; smooth; and quite creamy. The massive flavor assault that J.W. Lees delivers is quite astounding! It's beyond wort-like in its rich maltiness, dripping with sticky sweetness that's like a combination of honey and port wine. The Kent Goldings come through however, and help to dry it with their leafy and grassy character. The bitterness is noticeably limited, but it's there; and there's a mineral-like edge to it as well that helps keep its toffee/caramel/molasses and dark-fruit maltiness in-check. This is an exceptional Barleywine that's not to be missed!

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Photo of HonestWeightBeer
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1999 vintage. 4.5

Poured a deep ruby brown with an inch of sticky patchy off white head with plenty of bubbles to begin but dropping rather quickly, though at 11.5% that is to be expected. The aroma is strongly malt sweet with fruit and heady alcoholic esters. Taste is sweet with fruity plum and raisin hints, sweet earthy tobacco, healthy malt profile...barely a hop presence, though slightly bitter.
An exceptionally smooth and warming ale.. alcohol from the back of the throat to the belly. The mouth is round and slick, opening up on swirling, the body is then lightened a bit and slightly chewy to fluffy, with decent amounts of carbonation. This brew is truly a gift from on high, my first non-U.S. barleywine, and amazing at that... impressive.
I look forward to more this coming winter..

1998 vintage. 4.7

Pours a deep woody garnet, with an old newspaper tan yellow, patchy loose head, starting at a couple fingers, then disappearing fairly quickly.

Scent is of caramel, over-ripe apple, and overwhelmingly, sweet malt. the alcohol is more muted than the '99, with a deep woody sweetness apparent.

The taste is so good, where to begin? Butterscotch, toffee, caramel and raisins with a slight alchol warming in the belly that mellows from the first sip. Exquisite.
Like burnt apple pie with raisins, sweet, warm, bready, malty and more sweet. I can see people who don't like barleywines not liking this beer, but i love it. Quite beautiful, over the top + mind bendingly strong, don't kid yourself that you're having anything else after this.

Mouthfeel leans towards oil-slick, but also has some strong grip on the tongue, like eating a caramel apple in September. sweet and refreshing, but in an "it's about time to go home" way. a real great beer that knows just how great.

I have to bump the taste up to 5, because its december.
every once in a while, decide that this will be your last two beers of the night, do it, you'll thank me..


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Photo of badboyrsl84
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 1999 bottle

Pours reddish brown with a small fizzy head

Smell - caramel, alcohol, wine barrels, figs. Overall its smell is appealing.

Taste - its sooo smooth and very tasty. Caramel, figs, cocoa, sugar sweetness and some alcohol.

Overall - its now one of my favorites in the barleywine line up

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Photo of Traquairlover
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2002 Vintage, 275ml poured into a pint glass.

A = Dark, murly orange brown, more floaties than I expected (though my pour was not as delicate as it should have been either). Almost no head, no lacing, but does coat the side of the glass nicely.

S = Sweet molasses, prunes, raisins, yeasty undertones, although there is some hint of alcohol, the aging seems to have helped this quite a bit.

T = Maple syrup, molasses, honey are the first things to arrive, then some fruits, cooked apples, prunes all eventually flowing into a good barley grain taste of dense homemade bread. Long sweet finish.

M = Thick body, coats mouth and won't let go, next to no carbonation, as high as the ABV is the alcohol is not too strong in the mouth.

D = A sipping beer but one for the ages. This is a great drinking beer!

I have updated this review after a review of one of my bottles of the 1999 (and frankly, the 1998 was even better but I did not take notes). The only real change to the description is that with a better pour I had clear beer, no floaties. The original score was a 4.6/A+. I now think it is better than that and appproaches perfection.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Chilled 275mL bottle, 2000 vintage, poured into a glass. Appropriate for review #200...

A: Pours a dark mahogany color with ruby tint when held to the light. Slow bubbles give it a viscous appearance, and they serve to keep a half-finger off-white head on top of the brew. A generous collar leaves nice washes of lacing down the glass.

S: Smells like a port... Rich notes of dark grapes/raisins, sherry, figs, dates, and cherry. Has some brown sugar in there too, and a light caramel aroma. Very, very sweet.

T: And has that sweet port taste too! Younger vintages have a sweet caramel / brown sugar / toffee / peanut brittle thing going on, but this one has attenuated much of that sweetness out. I still pick up brown sugar and a light caramel, but the centerpiece is a series of complex fruit flavors. Grape (specifically, sherry-like oxidation) is strong. Toward the end of the flavor, dates, figs and cherries become noticeable. The finish is malty, but not sugary. It has a light boozy warmth, but it's not hot. The flavors are mature, but not dropping in intensity. This description comes to you from a blond woman and three bears.

M: Full-bodied, with medium carbonation that accentuates the taste. Has a sweet and lightly warm finish that hints at the ABV without spilling into a full-on burn.

D: A textbook example of how aging improves beers -- 9 years seems to have done a lot for this bad boy. I've tried fresh vintages; they're a little too sweet and boozy when young, but they really pull together as they age. Great stuff. I will definitely buy more, but only older ones.

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Photo of gford217
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of spointon
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of canucklehead
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of mlazzaro
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of oglmcdgl
4.7/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

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Photo of Stefko
4.71/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.71/5  rDev +11.1%
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.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
Beer rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 1,547 ratings