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

BA SCORE
94
outstanding
1,522 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:
1,522
Reviews:
864
Avg:
4.25
pDev:
13.65%
 
 
Wants:
266
Gots:
225
For Trade:
14
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,522 |  Reviews: 864
Photo of AKBelgianBeast
4.87/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Wow! This is an intense brew.

Vintage 2001.

Pours a deep brown with ruby red haziness through the light. appears very thick and has little head. The nose is a glorious mix of dark fruits with raisins and dates. Caramely and sugary with some slight smoke taste. liquid candy. mouthfeel is very, very thick and creamy as hell. goes down smooth and is very drinkable for its 11.5 abv. The finish lingers forever and leaves a sugary residue on the lips that takes a while to lick off. An excellent offer from JW Lees. Much better than any of the recent cask aged lees brews. I would say this is my favorite english barleywine behind arctic devil. Great brew.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Another from augustgarage. Thanks! I was tempted to sit on this one, but screw it, 9 years is enough!

A- Fizzy on the pour, cap gave a little 'pfft'. 12oz into flute, by the way. Appearance... zero head, but active carbonation. Thin, tiny bubbles are cropping up on the sides. Beer is a ruby/chestnut color, almost a zesty pumpkin when held up to the light.

S- Honey, maple sugar (??) or brown sugar and a very fruity, berry-juice sweetness. Pretty inviting.

T- Whoa. A big rush of flavors... floral, almost. Caramelized sugar. Candied plums. Overpowering, oppressing (in a good way) malt. Rasins, dried cranberries. Hints of chocolate, coffee bean, and sweet cream.

M- Smooth as all hell, no sign of ABV... so this is what a good aged beer tastes like. Fantastic mouthfeel, incredible flavor, yet so smooth and mellow. Wow.

D- Surprisingly high for +11%. Prob. the smoothest beer I've ever had... incredible. I would say this is drinking pretty damn good 9 years in. I'll have to see if I can pick up some other vintages. A wonderful beer.

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Photo of Dewey0603
4.32/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The 2005 edition pours a honey amber with a smallish white head. The smell has a very strong alcohol, dark fruit,prune or raisin, aroma with some wood and wine like scents. The taste is much smoother than I expected. This is creamy with no harsh alcohol flavors,just a whiskey barrel aged smoothness with some sweet malt and fruit flavors. This is very good. indeed. The m/f is heavy and very well balanced. This is one of the most drinkable barleywines on the market and I would buy this again in a second.

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Photo of Tom-Peters
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%

Photo of stevec32
3.5/5  rDev -17.6%

Photo of Pahn
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

275ml bottle into Duvel tulip. 2002 vintage. Picked up as a reward to myself for quitting smoking.

Appearance: Moderately strong pour surprises me by yielding a couple millimeters of fizzy, off-white head that dissipates quickly and leaves a ring of bubbly lace for about a minute. Pours an almost fully opaque brownish amber. Sporadic, short-lived lacing and nice legs.

Smell: Big, pungent aroma of raisin and fig, with some caramel and alcohol. Faintly suggests some other fruits and malt. Strong, inviting smell that I can't stop breathing in and enjoying.

Taste: Smooth, vibrant, and spicy. There's a thick hit of fig and raisin, so particular it tastes like biting into the flesh of a really fat raisin; it's not a note of raisin, it's all the sensory qualities of a fat, juicy and gritty raisin along with more (again, fig, alcohol, brown sugar, molasses). The taste is insistently deep and sugary, but not overwhelmingly sweet as the robust dark fruit and malt flavors dominate the sweetness away. Each sip is an exploration, starting with that syrupy dark fruit goodness, moving into spice and alcohol with gradual hits of chocolate, caramel, other random flavors, then ending in a long, pleasantly burning aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Slick and medium- to full-bodied. More carbonation than I expected, but not much. Hot finish. Carries the huge, lingering flavors perfectly.

Drinkability: If you're buying an aged J.W. Lee's Harvest Ale, you probably know what you want from it. It delivers. It's difficult to drink this beer slowly enough.

Just a perfect English barleywine. Endlessly deep and stimulating. The kind of beer where no matter how much I try to get words down to describe its flavor or aroma, I can't do it justice.

 1,742 characters

Photo of n2pux
4.59/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of DruC4
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of Joecaddie
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1999 vintage bottle served in Weyerbacher tulip.

A - Reddish brown with very little head when poured out of the bottle.

S - Sweetness with caramel and alcohol tones.

T - Very well balanced, malt, caramel with hidden alcohol taste.

M - Perfect carbonation for this style, thick and malty but extremely smooth.

D - This is a very easy beer to drink and must hold back to take small sips of it. Truly one of the best barleywines that I have ever had.

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Photo of touchmeimsac
2/5  rDev -52.9%

Photo of MaltyGoodness
4.94/5  rDev +16.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

275ml bottle, 1998 vintage

Pours a murky chestnut brown with a very thin tan head that fades. Very slight lacing on the glass.

Aroma is bursting with malt, caramel, dark fruits, and even a hint of toffee. A treat for the olfactory senses.

Sweet upfront, with incredibly rich malt and caramel flavors. A plethora of dark fruit flavors add to the mix and just a slight bit of buttery toffee sneaks in. Finishes sweet as it began with a pleasant lingering caramel malt flavor. Alcohol not really detectable in the flavor, but definitely warms as it travels.

Full body, creamy texture. Mild carbonation.

Regardless of the ABV, this is immensely drinkable. I can't stop smelling it, which leads to another sip with each smell. The complexity of this beer is truly a rare treat.

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Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2002 bottle poured into a New Belgium globe. Most of the yeast sediment was kept in the bottle for the most part.

Appearance: Deep mahogany body turns bright crimson when held to light. Great clarity! A nice column of carbonation can be seen within. Not much head to speak of: just a small, khaki ring.

Smell: Molasses, brown sugar, and other sugary notes. Moist pine, rum, and rust lurk in the background. Very sweet on the whole; smells like candy.

Taste: This tastes like candy, and not in a necessarily good way. The overall flavor - comprised mainly of brown sugar, molasses, and overripe green grapes (much like a dessert wine) - is very sweet and syrupy, with very light toastiness and bitterness coming through on the back end. Alcohol is hidden very well, but it comes at a price.

Mouthfeel: Thick, syrupy, sugary, and a little gritty. Hardly any warmth or dryness for such a high ABV beer. Nice mouth coating. Low bitterness.

Drinkability: The sweetness of this beer is far too high for me to call it drinkable. I suggest splitting a 12oz. bottle amongst two people.

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Photo of KG710
3.75/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of aforbes10
4.37/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had the 1998, and felt it had gotten a little too old (oxidized, cardboardy, etc), but i felt i should go for the 2000 to give it another shot. Pours an extremely dark red. Short ring of a tan head. Lazy slow lacing. I can smell it from several feet away. metallic fruitiness, very pungent. malt underneath, ethanol. very much the odor of a beer liquor. Taste is strong and aggressive. cherries and malts mixed in with warm alcohol, quickly mellowing and transitioning to a warming, biscuity and chocolate/nougat flavor. Some roastiness. a decadent taste experience. Full bodied and heavy. Yeah, this is a great drinking experience. very nice. Like i said, i thought the 1998 had gone over the hump, age-wise, so it was nice to have one that tasted as i expected it would.

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Photo of dnb128
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of birdsellam
4.25/5  rDev 0%

Photo of Tim725
4.43/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of ViveLaChouffe
4.12/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2003. Sampled 12/2004.

Pours a hazy gold with a thin ivory head. Smells of caramel, sherry, vanilla, raisin and sweet cream.

Tastes like it smells. Caramel, sherry and vanilla. Finish is sticky sweet cream. Big bodied and bold. Very flavorful and sweet, sweet, sweet. Lots of complexity in the flavor but very difficult to drink from the alcohol and the sweetness. It is young and good but hopefully my other bottle will get better with age.

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Photo of webmanspidey
4.42/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is the vintage 2006 edition.. a 9.3 oz bottle poured into chalice.

This is a dark thick reddish brown color. Some crumbles of sediment lie at the bottom.

The smell is intense and powerful: vinegar, cider, sour apples, pears, sweet caramel, and loads of alcohol.

Taste is not what I expected at all.. this is very sweet and subtle. A mixture of sweet fruits, honey, and something darker (cocoa?) it hits quickly and fades fairly fast. Carbonation is virtually nonexistent here.. alcohol is masked amazingly well, other than the smell it is barely there.

This is one of the more unique beers I've tried. Very liqueur-like: subtle, mellow and for enjoying slowly.

 669 characters

Photo of mwilbur
4.65/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Side-by-side comparison of 2005 and 2006 vintages poured (from 275 mL bottles) into snifters.
A: 2005-Pours a medium-dark caramel with chunks of sediment at the end. No carbonation and no head. 2006-Pours an extremely dark brown (much darker than 2005) with loads of sediment. No carbonation and no head.
S: 2005--Caramel, bourbon, whiskey...heavy with sweet alcohol. 2006-Caramel, brown sugar, bourbon, vanilla (sweeter, less dense, and less alcohol than 2005).
T: 2005-Sweet caramel malt, hint of sweet bourbon. I was cringing in preparation for the alcohol wallop...it never came. 2006-Vanilla, soft bourbon, sweet caramel malt, the faintest hint of herbal/medicinal hops, tobacco, dark fruit. More deeper, darker, and complex than 2005.
M: 2005-Medium (and maybe even light-medium) body...much less than anticipated. Smooth, sweet, and slightly oily. Leaves a very pleasant sweet coating on the palate that lingers beautifully. 2006-Medium-heavy body. Chewy, soft, smooth, and slightly oily. Again the pleasant sweet coating on the palate. Heavier and more dense than 2005.
D: OK. This deserves the hype and praise. A truly transcendent beer. You honestly can not tell this is 11.5%...crazy good. Sweet nectar of the gods. Damn near perfection. Not enough words to laud this brew.
Hard to pick a winner between 2005 and 2006. Both are quality, distinct, and different brews.

 1,378 characters

Photo of HappyHourHero
3.97/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vintage: 1997

Potent, sweet, malty caramel and lightly alcoholic aroma. Dark burgundy colored beer. Tan head composed of fine bubbles that fades to a thin film. Hints of toffee, chocolate, and burnt malt in the flavor. Slick sweet aftertaste that is a bit overpowering. A strong, flavorful beer that is best sipped on a cool winter evening.

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Photo of bort11
4.34/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2001 edition I had been eying at Bubbles for some time now.

A- Poured into a tulip glass. About a 20 second head only a 1/4 inch high. A ring of lace around the edge. It has the color of dark maple syrup.

S- Coffee, chocolate, toffee, molasses rotate in the nose. It smells heavy and sweet.

T- the flavors melt onto the tongue. Toffee comes out on top. It feels like it is soaking into my mouth. Very Very sweet. Almost too sweet for me, but very mellow.

M- Pretty heavy body. It has the consistancy of Maple syrup, so it is thick and sticky, but also very fluid. I enjoyed the feeling of just holding it in my mouth and let it soak in. Almost no carbonation, I think the alcohol is creating more of a tingle.

D- This is a powerful beer. I would like to try other editions to compare. I am going to get more of these, but only to pull out for special occasions. This is not a casual beer, something you couldn't drink on a whim, or should you.

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Photo of KeefD
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Back of the bottle lists this vintage as 1st December, 1998. Today is 1st December, 2008. Ten year anniversary of this vintage.

Into an oversized brandy snifter. Pours a dark brown with barely any light shining through. Small tan head that recedes quickly leaving behind some spotty lacing. Aroma is of some light chocolate, nuttiness, brown sugar, molasses, burnt caramel, toffee, woody, earthy and a light underlying sourness that disappears as it warms. Extremely complex nose. Taste is very sweet upfront, maple syrup, dark fruits galore of the rum-soaked variety, raisins, brown sugar, light chocolate and very light coffee. So sweet, thick and syrupy, with just slightest hint of carbonation bubbles. Alcohol is completely well hidden in the nose, the taste, and on the tongue. Malty, complex and delicious. A little too syrupy and sweet to be completely drinkable, but it's great one bottle at a time.

I am very much considering purchasing several more bottles of this to age even longer. I wonder what this will taste like in 2018?

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Photo of ritzkiss
4.05/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottles provided by bobsy at his great barleywine tasting, there was a 5 yr. vertical going but the ones I got to try were the '99 and the '01.

Both pour a rich amber with about a finger of bone head, pretty good for about 10yrs old!

'99 - Sweet but not too much so, balanced with a light nuttiness and rich toffee flavours. Hints of candied sugar, ginger cookies, faint herbal/grassy hops, light alcohol still in the finish - this one drank really nice.

'01 - Whoa man, this one is way too sweet for me! Same as above but with more emphasis on the sweetness (less balanced), way boozier in the finish, brown sugar dominating, bready. This one just didn't do it for me, even a 12oz bottle of this might be too much!

Lesson of this all: age these for at least 10 yrs! My score reflects the '99 with a slight downgrade on the drinkability for the '01.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.3/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I had been eyeing this at my local grocers for quite some time now. They (John's Grocery) have a vertical progression from 1997-2003, several from each year. I chose the 1997 for myself. It seems to have aged quite nicely, though I have never had a "fresher" one to compare.

It pours to a very thick dark brown color with a plum/amber colored hue. Leaves no head, though none was expected. I've only had the oportunity to try very few barleywines due to the 5% ABV laws in Iowa, but even though I am somewhat naive about them, I would say this is what a barley wine should be like, and what I will judge other beers of the style upon.

There is a heavy smell and taste of plum, raisin, barley malt, and alcohol. Definitely not for the weak spirited drinker of BMC. The alcohol level seems slightly subdued, though, most likely from the aging. I can taste the wood from cask conditioning. It has developed a very interesting flavor. Leaves a very dry finish with a surprisingly subtle aftertaste. What little aftertaste remains tastes like a smokey/woody casked wine.

The mouthfeel is very thick. I can do little more than sip this intense beverage, nor would I want to simply chug down a vintage ale I paid nearly six bucks for. I will not be buying more, but it was a worthwhile experience until I move to a state with a more abundant supply of less high-end vintage barley wine. I still prefer a nice pale ale, though, or something equally quaffable as opposed to a sipper.

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Harvest Ale (Limited Edition) from J.W. Lees & Co (Brewers) Ltd
4.25 out of 5 based on 1,522 ratings.
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