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J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Port)

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


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 406   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.72   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
Only available filtered and pasteurised in bottles.
Matured in wooden casks of Willoughbys Crusted Port to impart sweetness and a heavy vinous characteristic. The tradition of port is very English and many of the port houses proudly trace their ancestry back to the U.K. Portuguese wines were fortified with brandy to improve their keeping properties during shipment.
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 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
Nuffield (3835) - Roseville, Minnesota, USA - OCT 19, 2013
Pours nut brown and not all that syrupy in appearance, though I did get a decent amount of sludge at the bottom. The nose and flavor are both spectacular, with plenty of port, raisin, nuts, dark fruit, and pleasantly woody/oxidized notes. Not a super rich palate, but well enough. I had this when my boy had planned a special tea party of sorts with china dishes he had bought at a church sale. It paired really very well with all sorts of food, including nachos with homemade guacamole and homemade molasses cookies. The alcohol level in this didn’t detract in any way from the flavor here. Tremendous beer--and I’m sorry that many raters haven’t enjoyed this as much as I would assume that everyone would. Bottle, 2008 vintage.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 20/20
S_Side_Smitty (591) - Lakeland, Florida, USA - SEP 23, 2013
2005. Pours brown with almost no head and a substantial amount of sediment (due to age, I’m sure). Aroma is a nice blend of port wine and heavy malts. Taste is off the charts! Initially you taste the port, then it goes quickly to an Alvear Solera "Raisin Wine" magnificence with some dried black mission fig. The finish is more of the fig with some faint bitter chocolate. This one is absolutely beautiful, especially if you love port wine. These don’t come cheap, but they are definitely worth it.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Steasy66 (1086) - Minnesota, USA - AUG 18, 2013
2005 bottle. Fantastic BW as always. Port adds a raisin and resinous character. Sweet caramel, alcohol, and tons of dark fruit.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
cards04 (2341) - Steinbach, Manitoba, CANADA - JUL 11, 2013
Pours a murky light brown with lots of sediment. Smells strongly of port. Vinous qualities. Dark fruit and lots of vanilla too. Very sweet tasting. Port flavours. Molasses and brown sugar. Earthy finish with some booze as well. Wow.. This one will creep up on you if you’re not careful.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
Drake (10498) - Free Union, Virginia, USA - JUN 16, 2013
2009 bottle from Beer Run. Pours a murky brown-amber color with large floating particles. Thin creamy tan head. Good head retention. Aroma of raisin, wood, grapes, mild brandy, heavy oxidation. The taste is very sweet malts, brown sugar, raisin, wood, peppery hops, booze. Medium bodied, very sweet, fairly hot.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
illidurit (2243) - San Francisco, California, USA - JUN 11, 2013
2010 vintage poured into snifter. Pours a sort of dingy brownish orange with a small tan head. Musty caramel aroma, stale toffee, overripe grapes. Sounds gross but is actually pretty solid. Flavor is a bit worse, just like the Calvados version. I get some nice sweet and rustic malt notes but there’s a lingering vegetal character -- maybe snap peas.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 10/20
keanex (1629) - Atco, New Jersey, USA - MAY 8, 2013
Brewed in 2009.
Appearance: The body is a dark rose in color with a slight haze and a lot of sediment not only at the bottom of the glass, but in suspension. The head is thin and light tan with poor retention, quickly settling into a foamy ring.
Aroma: The aroma is fruity of port wine, which is great. There’s also this very perfume heavy aroma that reminds me of artificial air scents.
Taste: Deep intense fruity notes are immediately on the intro, what a wonderful intro, but quickly the air fresher taste appears and throws me off. The finish is very fruity, lots of port wine, it’s a shame there’s this very odd flavor in it.
Palate: Thick and moderately syrupy.
Overall: This starts and ends good, but something that the brewery uses in this beer is a complete turn off for me. I’m not buying any more variations.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
mikedR (1562) - Gilbert, Arizona, USA - APR 7, 2013
Nice. Malty sweet; the port casking really imparts a nice touch. A somewhat dry finish surprisingly and completely unexpected.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Glouglouburp (6103) - 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.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
beerbaaron (1675) - Arizona, USA - MAR 20, 2013
UPDATED: AUG 25, 2014 2005 Vintage. Rated 3/20/2013. Appearance is muddy ruby brown - viscous. Virtually no head. Aroma is very boozy, over-ripe dark fruity, malty, caramel. Medium to full body, Full mouthfeel, syrupy. Very sweet, malty, caramel, overripe fruit, plum, raisin, mild alcohol. Flavor not nearly as boozy as aroma. Smooth and complex. Very nice. - re-rate - 2005 vintage. Rated 8/25/14. Almost clear dark ruby amber. Aroma shows no booze. Rich port. Dark fruit. Toffee. Bread crust. Flavor follows. Warming but no booze. Sweet. Slick. Syrupy. No carbonation. Fat medium body. Improved with even more age in my opinion.

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