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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin)

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


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 498   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.74/5   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
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 brewersí 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 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
ClarkVV (5238) - Allston, Massachusetts, USA - MAY 20, 2004
UPDATED: FEB 23, 2006 AOBF 04, Lagavulin Cask aged. This is the best example Iíve tried of using whiskey cask aging to improve a beer. The naturally highly sweet nature of this beer is cut perfectly by the rich, smokey, dry, alcoholic single malt. Complex and stupendous tasting. Pours a lovely amber-auburn with some darker mahogany tinges, smaller head than the regular version due to the single malt no doubt, but still good looking. I just canít say enough about this one. Itís like milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, thelma and louise, etc. . . Perfect match that seems made for each other. Wonderfully complex, powerful and has the typical leeís harvest ale smooth, creamy mouthfeel. This is pretty close to perfect, but I want to try a larger sample again and then rerate. I think the small sample size may have contributed to my very high rating, as I think this beer may get very overpowering in large quantities. Big downside is that these are highly pasteurised; there is no sediment whatsoever in the bottle. Rerate, finally. The finish is still divine, with a perfect lagavulin flavor rounding it out, but the problem (and the problem with the regular Leeís Harvest, IMHO) is that it is just too damned sweet, cloying, and a bit too lacking in complexities due to the heavy filtration and pasteurisation. A wonderful combo here, though, I just wish you could taste the lagavulin more throughout the body, not just on the end. I canít say I find this beer to be a worldbeater; the lagavulin is spectacular, but the beer, not so much.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 13/20
JoeMcPhee (9169) - Toronto, ON, Ontario, CANADA - FEB 24, 2007
Served on gravity cask at Spuytin Duyvil. Deep dark garnet colour, completely still. Aroma is intensely oaky and smokey with more whisky character than Iíve ever tasted in any barrel-aged beer. Smells very alcoholic, but the flavour is sweet and soft. Caramel malt, honeyed sweetness and loads of sweet peaty and heathery character. Rich caramel butter sauce, demerara sugar and smokiness. Retronasally, there is still more smokiness, but this is cut short by a vineous sweetness. Itís a tasty brew, but it tends to get treacly sweet, even in this 4 oz sample.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 14/20
jimhilt (2541) - Bow, New Hampshire, USA - APR 4, 2007
Pours a two finger cream head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving a little lace. Cloudy amber color. Light carbonation and very heavy bodied. Raisin/rummy nose. Flavor is sweet rum with alcohol overtones sweet cough syrup finish, cloying. Pricey - $6.99 for a 275ml bottle from Johnís Grocery Iowa City, Ia.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
pineypower (2980) - Ocean County, New Jersey, USA - JAN 6, 2008
Thanks to Santa for this one. Pours out a mahogany/brown color with no real head. Consistency of syrup. Aroma is of sweet malts, sweet fruit, slight oak and some alcohol. Taste is just a smack in the face sweet, sweet fruits, caramel syrup. Beer is just over the top sweet lacking any kind of balance, the whiskey was pushed so far in the background by the sweetness that it almost wasnít there. Probably needs some time to age, but not really my thing.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 12/20
BREWMUSKCLES (2516) - New Jersey, USA - JUN 15, 2008
great as a port. not so great when re-created as a beer. looks and tastes so much like a fine 15 year old port that to describe it further would be disingenuious of me. buttery velvety and caramel so smooth and good. well refined alcohol. from the cask at mugs ale house "happy Fathers day Poppa wherever you are"!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 13/20
That1Guy (2191) - Colorado, USA - OCT 1, 2008
Jakebra crush. Smoky sweet nose. A little too much molasses in the flavor, little too sweet for me, but the finish doesn’t last long, so that helps.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Oakes (14844) - Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA - MAY 14, 2009
2004 bottle. Muddy looking, flat, light chestnut. Sweet brown sugar nose but a little oxidized with peat smoke accents. Burly peat up front, then rich brown sugary decadence. Finishes peaty, sweet, alcoholic and a little woody. Lots of fun, but not much nuance. The two characters are not as cohesive as Iíd like them to be.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20
yemenmocha (659) - Glendale, Arizona, USA - SEP 18, 2009
gavulin cask bottling, vintage 2004. Tasted July 2006. Pours a slightly hazy amber orange. Minimal head that dissipated quickly. Nose is very lambic like with wild fruity aromas. Almost raspberryish. On the palate I find the distinctive smoky/peatyness that is no doubt from the Islay malt casks, however they do not define the beer exclusively. Thereís a pleasant maple syrup sweetness and thickness of body that is noticed at the same time. Late palate into the finish is very malty sweet, some honey as well, with some tartness/bitterness that balances well. For me this is a dessert beer and unfortunately itís my first pour of the evening. When the lambic mood strikes, reach for a curious alternative.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 12/20
50belair (3253) - Florida, USA - AUG 17, 2010
A lot of buzz around this bottle at the tasting. I think everybody was pretty much shocked at had bad it was. Nice scotch nose, but the taste, on man the taste, crazy smoked caramel followed by sweet carmel??

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 2/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
Beerman6686 (6053) - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA - FEB 29, 2012
This poured a straight flat medium brown color with no head at all. Aroma was very sweet malts, lots of caramel and toffee. Flavor was overly sweet, like these usually are. Probably needs more age on it. A bit more complex than the regular version but the lack of carb and the overly sweetness kills me.

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