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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:
#861
Reviews:
865
Ratings:
1,530
pDev:
13.68%
Bros Score:
4.6
 
 
Wants:
269
Gots:
226
Trade:
14
HISTOGRAM
 
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Ratings: 1,530 |  Reviews: 865
Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2004 vintage.

Appearance: Pours a chestnut brown body topped with a half inch of creamy-looking, beige head, though admittedly, it's a bit short-lived. Hey, but check out those legs!

Smell: Plump, juicy raisins swimming in sherry and tawny port with gobs of earthy caramel and toffee maltiness.

Taste: Ultra sweet, babies! Smooth, blended flavors of concentrated caramel, treacle, toffee, and simple syrup. Some woody hints. Small pinch of herbal hops but at this point they only present a mild bitterness. Rich raisiny fruitiness washed down with a sip of fine aged sherry and port. Soothing, warming alcohol presence, particularly on the smooth, malty finish.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied. Medium carbonation. Sticky mouthfeel.

Drinkability: J.W. Lees, you've been charged with rampant deliciousness! A perfect late-night, after dinner sipper. Skip the dessert and head straight for a bottle of Harvest Ale instead.

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Photo of woodychandler
4.67/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

This will mark the occasion of my 2,200th review on this site and I figured that it should be something worthy of the milestone. I was at the Knickerbocker Hotel in Altoona following the Pints for Pets fest when I spotted this beauty in the cooler. I was pulling beers out left and right when I noticed a small sign on the right-hand side of the cooler advising me to ask my server/bartender/waitstaff for assistance in gathering beers from said cooler. Whoops! In my defense, although I am right-handed, I like to work from left to right and simply glossed over their note. It did not matter to them as I was summarily dragged into the courtyard, pilloried and accordingly whipped by a buxom central-PA beauty while still wearing my infamous monk's robe. Admission was charged for the sight and I was comped the beer, so it all worked out. Except for the fact that I am still unable to sit down comfortably. Ah well, c'est la guerre.

From the bottle: "This fully fermented strong ale has been brewed as a celebration of the brewer's art. It can be enjoyed now or laid down like a vintage wine for enjoyment in years to come. [undersigned] Head Brewer".

I initially employed a gentle pour so as not to disturb the (potential) lees, but to no avail. I was still getting a murkiness with floaties so I went back to the drawing board and used a heavier hand, resulting in a quickly disappearing finger of light-tan head and a LOT of floaties. It really depends on how much such things bother you as far as which style of pour to utilize, I suppose. Color was a murky, deep-amber with loads of evident floaties. Nose was enough to make me want to pay homage to my sinuses for finally clearing up. Holy dried dark fruit, Batman! This smelled of raisins, prunes, worn leather, tobacco, a newspaper mustiness and alcohol heat. Jeezus. My first sip was thick and viscous and sat on my tongue like a big glob of something that I might not want to swallow. The taste was sweet and smoky and my first thought was "S. Clyde Weaver's Sweet Lebanon Bologna". Finish was still sweet and smoky, but now with a tobacco-like smokiness, like I had partaken of a stogie. Double Jeezus. I almost wish that I had purchased more than one, but how many of these types of beers do I have left in me?

I picked up the 2010 vintage while at Hunger 'n' Thirst's bottle shop a while back and it has now surfaced as part of the Bottle Backlog eradication here at Chez Woody.

From the bottle: "This fully fermented barley wine style ale has been brewed as a celebration of the brewer's art. It can be enjoyed now or laid down like a fine wine for enjoyment in years to come. [undersigned] Head Brewer".

I Pop!ped the cap & began a VERY gentle pour since I could see a layer of lees on the punt. Once a sufficient amount had been decanted, I gave it a vigorous in-glass swirl to raise a brief finger of foamy, tawny head with limited retention that quickly fell away to wisps. Color was a lightly-hazy Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22), although closer to 22 and it may have been a chill haze due to the interior temperature of my reefer. Nose had a smoky, sweetish odor, kind of like locally-produced Seltzer's Sweet Lebanon Bologna. Mouthfeel was full & thick, like a dollop had been scooped out & onto my tongue. I let it just sit there and roll around, contemplating its taste. It was sweet, smoky, meaty and VERY reminiscent of sweet Lebanon bologna. It strikes me (sometimes) as passing strange that as a self-described, self-avowed hophead, there are those styles that I actually enjoy more with less hops, an English Barleywine as opposed to an American Barleywine, for instance. Warming, the clarity increased slightly, while the tastes became more pronounced, even taking on a slight drying tobacco flavor. My my. Finish was dry, proof that its aging process was working. It was quite a treat to have another vintage bottle. (F, 24 Mar 2017).

I also picked up the 2012 vintage while at Hunger 'n' Thirst's bottle shop a while back and it has now surfaced as part of the Bottle Backlog eradication here at Chez Woody.

From the bottle: "This fully fermented robust ale has been brewed as a celebration of the brewer's art. It can be enjoyed now or laid down like a vintage wine for enjoyment in years to come. Cellar Release[:] 11-2012 [undersigned] Head Brewer".

Following the Pop! of the cap and a gentle decanting, I attempted an in-glass swirl, but I could not achieve any head. Color was a Coppery-Brown (SRM = > 17, < 22) with better clarity than in the earlier vintages, but still lightly hazy. The nose still held that smoky, meaty, Sweet Lebanon Bologna quality, but here, it was offset by a caramel sweetness. Mouthfeel was medium, less full, suggesting that it comes with age. The taste was sharper than the others, sweet & smoky, evidence of what would come with age, but even five years in, it still showed its coming promise. It finished sweeter than the others. (F, 24 Mar 2017).

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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.

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Photo of duceswild
3/5  rDev -29.2%

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.2/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Harvest Ale 1999. Murky raspberry caramel with a butter toffee colored cap that is currently filling most of the snifter. The foam, while not exactly creamy, has a tight-bubbled texture that allows it to linger for quite some time. The look is classic English barleywine.

The nose reminds me of autumn, the season of harvest. Whether that's intentional on the part of the brewers (or whether it's simply my imagination run amok) is anyone's guess. The major characteristics include caramel, dried fruits and an earthiness that puts me in mind of fallen leaves. There's also a refined, tawny port-like quality that should be tremendous on the palate.

Why did it take me so long to drink such a time-honored beer like Vintage Harvest Ale? This bottle has been next-to-forgotten in the back of my beer fridge for too long now. I've decided that I have to see what the original, classic barleywine tastes like before I drink and review the bottles aged in brandy, whiskey, port and sherry casks.

This is surprisingly sweet beer that ventures dangerously close to cloying. It's probably too much to expect a balancing hoppiness, especially in a beer that has seen seven long winters (almost eight) come and go. Even though the tidal wave of malt sugars are threatening to gum up the works, I can still appreciate a fair amount of complexity. Not as much as in the nose, however.

Sticky caramel is the centerpiece around which the rest of the cornucopia is arranged. The fruitiness is on the order of dates, figs and cherries soaking in toffee pudding sauce. It might even be dark enough to include raisins. Also... brown sugar syrup, sweetened pipe tobacco and a hint of molasses. I have a sweet tooth, but man oh man!

Alcohol is barely noticed, other than a spreading warmth that makes me wish it was drinking this bottle during a raging blizzard rather than a crisp autumn morning. The mouthfeel might have been a thick, gooey mess if it wasn't for the beer's age. As it happens, it's a near perfect combination of clinginess and light-medium silkiness.

I have no idea if I'm drinking Harvest Ale 1999 too early, too late or at the exact right time. It's definitely enjoyable beer, but it isn't the world-beater than was expected. Perhaps the 2003 that is resting comfortably in my cellar will define the style like I thought this iteration would.

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Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of Jason
4.47/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Alcohol is still a bit boisterous as well as the forceful fruitiness. Jam packed with flavour with a similarity to a port or sherry minus the carbonation. I preferred this year over 1997 due to it being a bit more robust and over the top for a barley wine.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From 6/6/10 notes. Had on tap at Max's in Baltimore. 2006 vintage.

a - Pours an amber-golden color with light carb and a little biit of white head.

s - Ssmells of sweet sticky dark fruits, sugar, and wheat.

t - Tastes a bit syrupy, and also of sweet fruit and malts, sugar, and dark fruits.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Very smooth and very sweet.

d - A nice barleywine but very very sweet, If you like sweet fruity barelywines this is for you. Would like to try another vintage of this.

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Photo of mikesgroove
2.46/5  rDev -42%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2003 poured from a bottle

Poured a cloudy brown with no head at all. Smell was total alcohol, really over powered it and the taste was pretty much the same. There was a bit of a caramel, nutty, sugary taste in there but the alcohol far over powered this. I expected this one to be a bit more rounded out then it was, maybe I am just more of a fan of American Barleywines. Overall it was not bad, but I would pass on a second.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
3.75/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 2 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

275 mL bottle poured into a CCB snifter. 2008 vintage.

Appearance - Pours with no head and no lacing. Sticky legs down the side, but not much else redeeming. Looks syrupy in the glass. Huge chunks of sediment come out of the bottom. Suspending in my maple-syrup looking beer. Kinda gross.

Smell - Oh wow. Raisiny goodness. Like a dense fruitcake. Definitely booze to it. Some caramel behind all of it, but it's all about the fruits.

Taste - And it's sweet as hell. Like a dense fruitcake. Deep raisin and dark fruit flavors. Quite a nice taste, but golly it's sweet.

Mouthfeel - Did I mention the sweetness? Thick and syrupy. Took me a really long time to finish this bottle. Low carbonation.

Overall - I can only hope some more years of aging will do this nicely. Maybe dry it out a bit. I love the flavors, but they get masked by the sugars.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of orangesol
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of womencantsail
4.1/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

The beer is a murky amber color with a small off-white head. A bit oxidized, but a really nice caramel and dark fruit aroma. Good brown sugar and maybe a hint of vanilla. The flavor is also slightly oxidized with a hint of alcohol. Great brown sugar, caramel, and toffee flavors. A nice bit of cherry and plum to go with raisins.

 329 characters

Photo of dfhhead25
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of Huhzubendah
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Vintage 2000.

A: The beer pours a reddish brown with a nice head and lingering lace. It appears to be going strong after ten years.

S: Sweet malt, raisins, alcohol, buttery toffee

T: A splendid example of English Barleywine. This beer is still sweet, but ten years has mellowed this beer out quite nicely. There is a buttery, caramel sweetness that could become cloying, but for now it's delicious. There is definitely an alcohol presence that I'm guessing will not go away regardless of how long the beer is aged.

M: Low carbonation, sweet, sticky, alcohol finish. Pleasant lingering aftertaste of caramels, dark fruit, toffee.

D: A small serving is plenty for me. If I'm in the mood for an English Barleywine, this is the first beer that comes to mind.

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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 BeerForMuscle
4.44/5  rDev +4.7%

Note - Having the 2011 version in November 2014, on tap at UNO in Hamilton NJ.

A - Unfiltered and hazy looking orangey glowing body.

S - Honey coated apricots, marmalade. Candied tropical fruit, light caramel and malt. Fruit jam.

T - Oak barrel aged fruit spread. Sweet, fruit meat and fruit skin, dry wood, farm honey, smooth silky booze. Booze soaked fruit, rum cake, hint of biscuit. I've named mostly sweet flavors but it's never at all cloying.

M - Soft, warming medium body with light carbonation.

O - Amazing. So far this one has trumped all other barley wines that I've had.

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.54/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2001
A few months back this bottle mysteriously appeared on the shelf and found its way home with me. Pours a muddy brown color with a minimal tan head that forms a ring on the top. This smells great! Sherry and toffee mixed with some brown sugar and a touch of alcohol to keep it from smelling too sweet. Caramel and dark dried fruit with a slightly earthy aroma round out the nose quite nicely. Taste is sweet up front with brown sugar and dark fruit coming in first. Hints of sherry and earthiness hit before the palette goes almost completely dry. Finish leaves a long lingering molasses prune sweetness that is offset nicely with a touch of alcohol. Big thick body with a surprisingly dry finish. Light level of bubbles, sweet almost syrupy mouthfeel. I am a sucker for an aged barleywine, and this one really impressed me, this is a beautifully aged beer. Now the regret sets in when I realize that I only bought one bottle.

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Photo of thatoneguymike
3.59/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Photo of stakem
4.35/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Review from notes taken 4/8/10

Vintage 1998

Poured into a goblet, it appears a very dark amber brown color with some redish hues. A finger of yellowish tan foam for a head appears quite silky in appearance and receeds to just a thin film across the top of the beer. Spotty amounts of lace cling all around the glass. Aroma of this beer opens up big and boozy like sherry but eventually gives way to notes of molasses, brown sugar, oak-like woodsyness and some raisins soaked in alcohol. Taste is an impressive display of how a beer can fight the ages. For nearly 12 years old this beer has really held it's own. A slight touch of oxidation is present but adds to the complex monster of malt characteristics. My mouth is on sensory overload with this beer. Flavors of oak and smoke showcase the toasty side of the malt profile whereas flavors of prunes and raisins balance out the sweeter side before the hops bring in the bitterness. Feel of this beer boarderlines being syrupy but still very smooth and lightly carbonated. The aftertaste includes some flavors similar to coffee, chocolate, spice like cinamon and toffee. Masterfully done, this is a must-try for anyone serious about barleywine.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.65/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

The 1999 vintage ale, appearance: Ruby tone with a semi hazy coat on, cream head forms rather thin head leaves behind even layers of lacing nice. Aroma: Rich sugary sweetness with nutty toasted caramel malt character, extremely complex layer of hops East Kent Goldings according to the label very piney in nature. Taste: Sugary complex layers of malt and bitter hop finish seems very smooth for 11.5 abv but wow what a barleywine could be the most interesting one to cross my palate yet. Mouthfeel: Full bodied brew syrupy like texture nice and sticky wow even reserved carbonation butterscotch like. Drinkability: A special occasion once in awhile experience not a beer I would buy a case of but it's so damn tasty the one thing is the sugar sweetness can be a bit overbearing. All in all it's incredible I am wowed.

 817 characters

Photo of tdm168
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of BMart
3.5/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of InspectorBob
4.25/5  rDev +0.2%

Photo of chippo33
4/5  rDev -5.7%

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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