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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:
#864
Reviews:
865
Ratings:
1,530
pDev:
13.68%
Bros Score:
4.6
 
 
Wants:
269
Gots:
226
Trade:
14
HISTOGRAM
 
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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,530 |  Reviews: 865
Photo of bort11
4.34/5  rDev +2.4%
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 +6.6%
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 -4.5%
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 +1.4%
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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Photo of mrasskicktastic
3.52/5  rDev -17%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

2004 Harvest Ale

A - A relatively clear brown thick syrup with no head. The beer displays some viscous action when swirled.

S - Red grapes, blackberries and faint brown sugar. Smells a bit like some better port wines or a brandy (without the alcohol).

T - Sweet - very sweet. There is some strong brown sugar and extremely strong toffee flavor with some maple syrup underneath and even under that, a the very faint, there is some dark red fruit (blackberries). The flavor is, though very sweet, very good. The first sips are amazing, but ti can be a tad cloying.

M - Smooth, thick, pretty refreshing.

D - Though a good beer, I have to dock it here. I will definitely have this, or one of its casked varieties again. It is basically the gold standard of the english barley wine. Honestly thuogh, it isn't easy to drink, just too sweet. Maybe with some years under its belt it would be a bit better. Would be fantastic on pancakes (not that I'd ever waste it).

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Photo of rrski198
5/5  rDev +17.9%

Photo of HopsHopenstein
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of BierFan
4.49/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 9.3 ounce bottle into a cervoise. 2008 vintage.

Appearance: Very thin off-white head. Hazy amber body and good looking carbonation.

Smell: Very rich. Dark sweet figs steeped in rum. Almost smells musty.

Taste: So much going on. Figs, buttered popcorn, toffee. Some hard to describe vague fruitiness. Little bit of alcohol in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Velvety smooth.

I wish this beer wasn't so damn expensive. I'd love to set aside a case or two.

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Photo of barleywinebrewer
4.82/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1998 vintage

I found 2 of these bottles tucked away in a specialty beer store corner. I was actually looking for a totally different beer when I found this. Amazing sometimes what you find when you aren't looking!

A - Beautiful deep burgundy. Nice tan head, light lacing.

S - Wow, rich malty smell. Hints of port, definitely vinous in character.

T - This is a classic example of what I love about english barleywines. Rich malt taste, not cloying sweet. Raisin / plum / toffee swirling around. Hops are enough to keep this balanced but definitely take a way back seat to the experience.

M - Rich, full bodied. This one is a perfect example in my book of a rich strong beer that drinks clean.

D - I had to have one as soon as I got home. Drinks wonderfully smooth. For an 11.5% ABV, this gives no hint that it is that potent. I'm keeping the other one for a special occasion as well as keeping an eye out for any more 98's floating around.

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Photo of martyl1000
4.97/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap (actually a bottle, but I had to review this again) at Amsterdam Cafe, SF. A beautiful pour into a goblet, with a barely discernible white head. The delicate lacing is wiped clean from the glass by the high abv. The aroma is all sweetness, with a shag carpet of roasty malt.

The most feel is what's most immediately remarkable in the mouth. A slippery, syrupy viscosity hugs the tongue like that of an ice wine. Creamy, God! And a light fizzy carbonation.

The full body is a precursor to the port wine sweetness. Mild molasses. Cotton candy. Ripe Fuji apple. Toffee. Surprisingly floral hop flavor keeps the package from sickening territory. Expanded by the baked-bread toastiness.

I haven't enjoyed a sweetness like this since the last Sauterne I had with a Danish blue cheese and white grapes.

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Photo of elgiacomo
4.77/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Enjoying a 1999 vintage on New Year's Eve 2010, right around 11 years old. Review and score of previous 1997 vintage pretty much holds true for this one. A massively rich and complex brew. Fantastic.

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1997 vintage, enjoyed at about 12 1/2 years old. Served cool room temp into a Duvel tulip.

Pours brown with a small light brown head, reduces to a ring and leaves some spots of lacing. Appearance is spot-on for the style.

The aroma hit me before even pouring the beer with a hefty dose of booze, but does settle down to reveal a rich aroma of molasses, brown sugar, dark fruits, raisins, figs, plums, some nice chocolate, spice, and I am getting some oxidation on the nose. Doesn't really detract and I was kind of expecting some of that.

The flavor on this is so incredibly rich and strong and complex, a treat. Starts with the absolute best dark fruit flavors I've encountered in a beer, raisins, figs, and plums showcased at their best. A supporting cast of chocolate, molasses, grapes, brown sugar, very malty and sweet. Tastes a lot like Raisinettes, and I love me some Raisinettes. Yum.

Mouthfeel is full and sticky, low carbonation, one to sip and savor.

My 2nd JW Lees Harvest, had a '98 on its 10th birthday and it blew me away, this '97 follows that trend. Got a '99 on deck very, very soon, and there will be many more to come. One of my all-time favorites, a masterful creation.

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Photo of mattsmith413
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of axeman9182
4.62/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle of the 1999 vintage, glad to find this buried on the shelf at New Beer Distributor, poured into my Duvel tulip.

The beer pours a rich murky brown. A minimal toffee crown forms, maybe a finger or so in height, before dissipating quickly without leaving any lacing behind. I can't fault the beer too much for that though, it is eleven years old after all. The nose is great, toffee and alcohol soaked fruits and a hint of wet cardboard from the inevitable oxidation. The flavor is an exact duplicate, with a slight warming sensation from the alcohol. I've never had a fresh Harvest Ale, but it's beautiful with a decade plus of age on it. The body on this is incredibly rich and full, and the lessened carbonation leads to ultimately a very smooth and velvety mouthfeel. A phenomenal flavor and solid mouthfeel make this vintage gem very drinkable. I'm just cringing now at the thought that I only bought two bottles of this magic elixer

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Photo of meathookjones
4.13/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999 Vintage bottle

When poured the appearance was a dark reddish/brown color with a slight tan head that didn’t stick around too long. It also was quite cloudy and never really settled. Right after pouring the scent was overpoweringly alcoholic. I let this one settle a bit and the dark fruit and sugary smells crept through, making for a much more pleasing aroma. The taste starts off very sweetly with signs of various fruits and some malt. It has a slight alcohol after taste but a pleasant one. The mouthfeel is quite think and full and very smooth. A very drinkable brew for its high ABV, I will defiantly be picking up more of these to age for a few years.

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Photo of IBUnit63
4.37/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

1999 vintage

Hazy oak barrel color with tight, dense yeasty head. Nice amount of carbonation.

Syrupy, copious malt and slight ginger beer spice. Almost toffee-like. Excellent.

Wow - doesn't get much better than that. HUGE sweet, deep malt with big alcohol. Strong vanilla and oak backbone. Well-aged; nicely mellowed.

Extra deep start and finish. Excellent warm, oak feel.

A sipper by nature but an incredibly enjoyable one.

Edit: Also sampled 2005 vintage - great stuff with a little more alcohol burn - the 2005 rolls hot and could definitely use a few years in the basement to calm down. Notes for 2005 say A/S/T/M/D = 4/4.5/4.5/3.5/4 = 4.25

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Photo of joepais
4.64/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I can't believe this brew is 11 years old. A 1998 bottle poured into a dogfish head snifter produced a light wisp of a tan head that went to a thin lace. The body of the brew was dark amber to brown in color.

I am talking big ass dark fruit aroma, rum raisin is the first thing that comes to mind. The next thing that hits you is the sweet caramel, toffee syrup, cherries and plums flavors hitting your tongue. There is absolutely no carbonation and it is thick and syrupy in the mouthfeel department.

This brew is incredible in its complexity,and a great sippable brew, with absolutely no hint of 11.5% alcohol in it at all. Defiantly a fine experience that I will do again

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Photo of BYOFB
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of seangibbs60
4.5/5  rDev +6.1%

Photo of dasenebler
4.82/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

1999 Vintage.

Pours a clear, rich ruby hue with a tight tan head. A thin layer retains.

The aroma is incredibly malty, with notes of dark fruit and leather. Bit of alcohol, but not very much.

The flavor is astounding. This is such a rich, succulent malt bomb that is also incredibly drinkable and smooth. Almost syrupy, but in the best possible way, that is, with no cloying character. There are fat notes of molasses, caramel, fig and tobacco. Very layered and deep. Not bitter whatsoever, with a lingering woodiness on the palate. The alcohol is beautifully integrated and incredibly mellow. The mouthfeel is weighty and velvety, with low carbonation that cascades over the palate. Absolutely pleasurable, with no overpowering alcohol flavor.

The oldest beer I've ever sampled, and also one of the best. Fantastic.

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Photo of captaincoffee
4.32/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Doing three reviews on the 2015, 2011, and 2008 vintages over the next three days, and I'll be updating my scores with each.

Starting with the 2015, it pours a very pretty mahogany with a dense half-inch head, tiny packed bubbles, and ultimately leaves a ring around the beer glass but only spotting lacing. Nose is boozy, rich malt, and some earthiness from the EKG that makes it past the malt overtones. Not very complex, but this vintage is very young (just released last month). Taste is sweet, malty, boozy. A bit more bitterness on the finish than anticipated helps it from being too cloying. Brown bread and honey. Mouthfeel is full and thick...about what you'd expect from an 11.5% barleywine, but the higher-than-expected carbonation also helps keep it from being cloying. Overall, a good beer that should improve with time. Fingers crossed on the next one. Look 4.25, Smell 3.75, Taste 4, Feel 4.25, Overall 4. Total 3.98 at this point.

Next is the 2011. The appearance seems lighter in color with some orange. In fact, the JW Lees website notes the 2015 is darker than most previous years. The nose is still malty and earthy, but less boozy. I'm not going to change my scores for either of these categories. The taste has evolved, however. Richer caramelized sugars. Still lots of brown bread and honey. Worth an extra .25 in my opinion in both the taste and overall scores. Look 4.25, Smell 3.75, Taste 4.25, Feel 4.25, Overall 4.25. Total 4.13 at this point.

Finally, the 2008. Pour is darker again, more like the 2015, but there is very little head anymore. Some bits of stuff in the bottom. Nose has really changed; it is very raisin/prune and sweet. Taste is also like liquid raisins. Port/sherry comparisons now obvious. Worth an extra .5 on the nose and .25 taste, with a minus .5 on look. If this beer was a little less over-the-top sweet, I could give even higher scores. Look 3.75, Smell 4.25, Taste 4.5, Feel 4.25, Overall 4.25. Total 4.32.

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Photo of laxer8811
4/5  rDev -5.7%

Photo of Beersnake1
4.33/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Photo of beergeek279
4.85/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage, served in a 275 mL bottle, into a goblet. The color is a dark amber-brown, with a wispy beige head. The smell is a nice porty malt/alcohol. The taste is very flowery malt sweet, with a good mellow hop in the taste and a slightly bitter finish. Mouthfeel is syrupy thick. As for drinkability, if I could find em and afford em, I'd drink these till I fell flat on my face.

Thank you to mydeadguy for the beer for my 500th Karma Point. A simply fantastic barleywine, easily one of the world's best, smooth like a port wine yet with a nice but not harsh alcohol and hop kick to it. Definitely one I'd look for in the future!!

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Photo of fx20736
4.26/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2012 Edition. Bought at Premier Gourmet on 11/19/14. Poured into a Chimay chalice, served cool.

Look: Bronze, minimal head.

Smell: butterscotch, vanilla, pecans

Taste: grape skin, smoke, tannins, rich, nutty malts.

Feel: good

Overall: rich, complex, smoky

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Photo of GPHarris
4.87/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

1997 vintage from The Brick Store.

a - poured a one finger creamy light tan head into a snifter. the body was brown with some reddish hints. the head billowed nicely with each swirl and stayed throughout the beer, very impressive for a 14 year old beer.
s - raisins, figs, caramel, molasses.
t - same as above with some tobacco. incredibly complex and tasty.
m - silky smooth.
d - definitely a sipper but only b/c you want to savor a vintage like this as long as possible. it goes down smooth.

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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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