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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin)

 (RETIRED)
overall
98
93
style
Formerly brewed at J.W. Lees
Style: Barley Wine
Middleton, England
Serve in Snifter

bottled
available

on tap
available

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 465   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.75   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
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COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Only available filtered and pasteurised in bottles.
Matured in wooden casks of Lagavulin Malt Whiskey, one of the most distinctive malt whisky from the island of Islay, characterized by the strong peaty notes which should blend with the Harvest Ale to give an explosion of flavors.
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.


3.2
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
Glouglouburp (5938) - 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.
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.

3
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
Miked1687 (608) - Buffalo, New York, USA - MAR 30, 2013
On tap at blue monk. Pours a hazy orange with little to no head. Smells heavy on peat,berries, fruit. A little sour? Tastes smooth. Sweet, smokey peaty, sweet. Very sweet. Interesting idea. I love lagavulin, but it should probably stay away from beer. Beef jerky beer. Good idea, poor execution

3.9
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Iphonephan (3028) - McLean, Virginia, USA - FEB 7, 2013
From a bottle enjoyed in Key Largo FL. 2005 vintage. Pours a murky brown with a feint off white head. Caramel and a hint of smoke in the nose. Molasses, raisins, dark cherries, vanilla, and a hint of peat wisky. Medium smooth mouthfeel. Lingering boozy finish. Quite nice.

3.6
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
maxwelldeux (3466) - Everett, Washington, USA - JAN 30, 2013
Draught. Pours an orange-copper color with a moderate white head. Nose is rather woody and peaty. Taste has some smoked elements to it. Vastly different from the original version.

2.5
   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 1/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
bytemesis (2952) - Sunnyvale, California, USA - JAN 24, 2013
Bottle. I like scotch, I like harvest ale, whats not to like about the two of them together? Plenty. Instead of a match made in heaven, their offspring is more like a deformed leper than anything else. Turns out I should have been able to figure that out for myself. What goes will with a nice peaty scotch? Oh yes - a super sweet desert! Not. The flavors don’t mix, and should never have been asked to. Miss. Oh, and chock full of floaties. I thought this was filtered and pasteurized?

3.6
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
barn0216 (395) - California, USA - JAN 22, 2013
Cloudy hazelnut brown, some floaties from the bottle, zero foam or lacing. Not very pleasant to look at to be honest. Aroma is much better - rich fig, almond, vanilla, molasses, mixed with peatiness and alcohol from the lagavulin. A bit heavy but interesting. Flavor is somewhat sweet, similar notes as the aroma, but with the sharp smokiness of the lagavulin featured more prominently. This is a sipper, certainly not something i would drink regularly, but it is unique and interesting in its own right.

3.8
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
vickvega82 (35) - Maine, USA - JAN 5, 2013
Pours a beautiful golden color with no head at all. It smells fruity like apples, figs, and maybe prunes with a hint of caramel from the cask. The taste of the casking is the predominant taste and the fruity taste is quite subtle but is so subtle you miss it. Very smooth with a sweat and crisp after taste.

3.8
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Mora2000 (5530) - McKinney, Texas, USA - DEC 30, 2012
Drank in August 2012 alongside each of the other four variants. 2008 vintage. The beer pours an orange-amber color with a white head. The aroma has a lot of peat smoke in it, as well as some Scotch notes, brown sugar and toffee. The flavor is also heavy on the peaty Scotch notes. I also get some brown sugar, toffee, caramel, oak and vanilla. Medium mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Of all five variants, this is the one that was the most distinct and unlike the others. As a fan of Scotch, Scotch Ales and smoked beers, it was also my favorite.

4.1
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
ryanfolty (1829) - Bourbon County, Minnesota, USA - DEC 24, 2012
December 24, 2012 bottle from Blue Max. Light brown pour with some head and quite a bit of sediment. Caramel, dark fruit, strong smokey whiskey and little bit of wood in the aroma. Noticeable smokiness, but balanced by the sweetness. Little bit of ash in the finish. Super smooth and medium to thick bodied (slightly thicker than regular). 2008 vintage.

2.7
   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 10/20
mnurda (1106) - Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA - NOV 22, 2012
Cask sample from the public house in Las Vegas. Bourbon like taste. I like the bubble do this was not my fave but I can appreciate this beer. Well done. ---Rated via Beer Buddy for iPhone


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