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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados)

Formerly brewed at J.W. Lees
Style: Barley Wine
Middleton, England
Serve in Snifter


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 434   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.78   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
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Only available filtered and pasteurised in bottles.
Matured in wooden Etienne Dupont Calvados casks from the end of October until mid March.
This fully fermented ale has been brewed by JW Lees as a celebration of the brewers’ art. Harvest Ale can be enjoyed now or laid down like a fine wine for enjoyment to come.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
blutt59 (6019) - Dallas, Texas, USA - MAY 20, 2013
2003 bottled, thanks to brewtopia, whiskey color with no head, thick viscous body , lots of butterscotch and brandy note, fruity pineapple upside down cake, lasting dense finish

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Fritz123 (1013) - Boca Raton, Florida, USA - MAY 3, 2013
Bottle at Sybarite Pig in Boca Raton. Small snifter. A beautiful crystal clear pour of slighty dark orange. Very thin head, no lacing throughout. Also looked like almost no carbonation. Aroma of apples, appricots, peaches, and alcohol. The taste was mostly very very sweet fruit like apple juice, peach juice, cantaloupe juice. The only way I could tell it was a beer was a slight grain taste and very light hops that put just a very slight bitterness to it. Mouth was very smooth and pleasing. The final result however was it is too sweet for me. The cost and sweetness doesn’t add up for a very expensive bottle of beer.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
JohnnyJ (4359) - San Diego, California, USA - APR 28, 2013
Draft at stone bistro. Clear amber pour, thin off white head. Super sugary, calvados, fruit, apple, brown sugar, and a bit boozy. Too sweet for my liking.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
brokensail (10935) - Orange County, California, USA - APR 9, 2013
Draft @ Oakquinox 2013. Hazy orange pour with a white head. Nice fruity aroma from the Calvados. Big apricot, some apple, and citrus. Sweet caramel malt, brown sugar, wood, and a hint of straw. There’s a strong Calvados flavor, as well. Fruity apricot and citrus. Caramel and brown sugar sweetness, hints of vanilla, straw, wood, apple, and a touch of alcohol.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
knickskicks (725) - - APR 2, 2013
2011 on draft. Orange, white head. Nose is big port and sherry, sweet malts, apple. Taste is near spoiled fruit, banana, port, sherry, rotten apple, barrel. Medium, sticky mouthfeel.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Glouglouburp (6022) - Montreal, Quebec, CANADA - APR 2, 2013
Common rating for all four Lees Harvest barrel variations. Fun side-by-side comparison I did with all four Lees Harvest barrel variants as well as regular base beer. Separate rating for regular version because just too different from the barrel variations.
In short: Rich, sweet and woody amber ales and a pleasant fruitiness that was the main variable. Mostly good beers.
How: Bottle 275ml, side-by-side comparison of Lees Harvest and all 4 barrel variants. All bottle aged a couple of years.
The look: Mostly clear dark amber body topped by a small beige head. All four variants had sediments. Calvados version had a little more head. Lagavulin version was a little darker.
In long: Nose has plenty of wood barrels (old wet wood sensation) and fruity esters. Taste is very rich, plenty of caramel, sweet apple pie, pastry, wood barrels, light nutty notes. All barrel variants were very sweet but less sticky-syrupy than the regular base beer. The alcohol was a bit apparent in all four barrel version while it has plenty of places to hide in the uber-thick body of the base beer. Carbonation was on the soft side in all barrel variations. All four beers proposed a very sweet attack leading to a somewhat astringent woody finish.
Calvados barrel (8-4-8-4-16 = 4.0): Somehow the most richly caramelized of the bunch. Rich maltiness more prominent but still some refreshing fruity notes. Wood barrels better integrated. Less astringent finish. My favourite of the bunch.
Lagavulin barrel (6-3-6-4-13 = 3.2): More woody and therefore a bit more astringent. More earthy/peaty, borderline smoky. Presence of phenols phenolic I didn’t get from other barrel variations and alcohol a bit more apparent than in other variations. Might be something wrong with this particular bottle but it was my least favorite bar far.
Port barrel (7-3-8-4-14 = 3.6): More of a fruity dessert character. Somewhat similar to Sherry variant but with fruity flavors less of the “refreshing” kind.
Sherry barrel (8-3-8-4-15 = 3.8): More refreshing fruity flavors (light color tropical fruits and others..) and a mild tartness. Somewhat very similar to Port version except with more refreshing fruitiness.
Bottom line: I was surprised at how similar all four barrel variants were, there are obviously some differences but less than I expected. The Lagavulin had a few off flavors but I a bottle in poor shape. Also I just couldn’t recognize the regular Lees Harvest in any of them, all four barrel variations were totally different from the regular Lees Harvest but similar to each other. A comparison between the four barrel variations is a fun thing to do but adding the base beer to this experience is useless and will just get you more drunk, like I did. Doing this side-by-side comparison was a fun scientific experiment, and my only real regret in donating my body to science is I won’t be there to see the doctor exclaims “what the fuck is that?!?” when he sees my liver.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
callmemickey (2779) - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA - MAR 28, 2013
2011. Dark amber body, thin pale tan head, minimal lacing. Caramel, apple, booze, toffee. A bit sweet. Medium bodied, soft carbonation, a little heat. A bit much for my liking.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
arone12 (919) - Maryland, USA - MAR 25, 2013
Beer smells like lucky charms and frozen yogurt! Weird, I know. Also has some wood in the flavor. Kinda oaky. Very good beer. Probably my favorite of the night.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
conway (1430) - - MAR 18, 2013
Uploading old ratings that were missing comments. Delicious caramel and toffee malt notes with a lot apple coming from the Calvados. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
mnoud (279) - Martinsburg, West Virginia, USA - MAR 11, 2013
2013.03.11 - J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Calvados) - 9.3oz bottle in mini goblet glass. 2006 Vintage. Aroma: very similar to North Coast Old Stock Ale; a bit raisiny fruit, a bit candy sugar or caramel sweetness, starchiness. Appearance: Pours around 20 on SRM scale. A very nice caramel brown. Pretty much no head/carbonation at this point, not sure if that’s normal or down to abv and age. Taste: Pretty much follows nose, similar to many barley wines and Old Stock Ale in particular. Sweetness dominates. This has a bit of heat on the back end. Not alcohol warmth but like pepper heat almost. Less vanilla oaky taste, and more this pepper spice heat. Palate/Mouthfeel: Very clear and fairly light but there’s a good bit of sweetness so it is a bit creamy and full. Aroma 8/10, Appearance 4/5, Taste 7/10, Palate 4/5, Overall 16/20

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