RateBeer
overall
99
97
style
Brewed by J.W. Lees
Style: Barley Wine
Middleton, England
Serve in Snifter

bottled
available

on tap
common

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 1034   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.88   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
COMMERCIAL DESCRIPTION
Available filtered and pasteurised in 275ml dark glass bottles. Has appeared occasionally in cask.
This fully fermented strong ale has been brewed by J.W. Lees as a celebration of the brewers art since 1985. Harvest Ale can be enjoyed now or laid down like a vintage wine for enjoyment in years to come.


3.8
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Zach Diesel (906) - Sisters, Oregon, USA - AUG 18, 2002
wine candy, alcohol from the very start, this one’s rough on your palate but worth it

4.4
   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
Gusler (2653) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - AUG 5, 2002
UPDATED: JUL 2, 2005 “1997 Vintage”: Been quite sometime since I broke into my stash of J. W. Lees, stash hell I’m down to just a 1988 plus some 4 bottles of 2004, well I guess its what happens, can’t keep them forever. Once liberated from its nine-year incarceration in the 275ml brown bottle, it appears in the glass to be a deep ruby color with a diminutive frothy light tan head that evaporates quickly leaving a velum like coating of lace on the glass. Nose “Woo Hoo”, fusel alcohol dominates with a strong sweet maple sugar sweetness to back it up, a presage of what’s to come at the start, sweet with a modest grain profile, the top fair to middling in feel. Finish is benign in its acidity, the hops present, but totally overwhelmed by the alcohol, vinous, dry and lingering aftertaste, the beer certainly warms the tummy, but after 9 years of setting on a shelf, its still “Magnificent”, damn I love these monsters.

On a personal note, drinking one of these beers, once a year makes all the other “Over The Top Bad Boys and Girls “ seem tame by comparison, but if the occasion arises, don’t pass it up, these beers are a major league “Hoot”!

“1988 Vintage”: Decanted before decocting to get all the “dregs” that coated the bottom of the bottle, much to the chagrin of many beer purists, I like all the little “strange particles” that inhabit the bottom of a vintage beer such as this one. The decanted color a cloudless walnut brown, the decocted color, something akin to a rusty nail. The pour produced little head, and less lace. Nose “Whoa Nellie”, fusel alcohol, sweet, five star brandy, bubble gum, over ripe pineapple, what a treat for this old schnozzle. Start is maple sugar sweet, top is middling in its feel to the palate, finish negligible on the carbonation, hops I’m sure I taste them, but the big alcohol bite just overwhelms all your olfactory and gustatory senses, and the “tummy warming” sensation quit noticeable, one spectacular beer, but most certainly something that is not meant for those persons weak of heart and or any other body part and or function, “Whew”!

“1986 Vintage”: Deep muddy brown color, No Head and No Lace. The nose, where the "Hell" do I begin, Strong alcohol, brandy, vinous, fresh plowed "Midwest" dirt. (A smell I love) Front is all malt, the middle full, the finish, "Alcohol" dominates, spicy hop bite, under the lingering alcohol dry long lasting aftertaste. "Robust" more like ZAP, ZONK, ZOW, POWIE, Batman, this beer isn’t for the weak hearted, or anyone who wants to keep their taste buds. “God” I loved it! But then I’m quite strange.

“1998 Vintage”: The beer pours a thick cloudy Brownish-Copper, the head profuse, and the lace lavish sheets to coat the glass. Nose is deep roasted malt, caramel, and bittersweet chocolate, somewhat smoky and yes even a bit "Brandy like. Front is sweet, the top "Thick", the finish is mildly acidic with a bounty of hops and the long lasting alcohol bitter aftertaste to end a magnificent beer. I need to find a source for these beers those ships to Arizona, as I must sample more.

4.2
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
joet (2385) - Santa Rosa, California, USA - JUL 28, 2002
Vintage 1997: Softer, similar. 2000 Vintage: Rich and creamy, strong malt aroma character. The taste is strong and sweet but not cloying. This is Hair Of The Dog Adam if it were a Plush Puppy -- soft and understated. The texture is very nice and makes for a good medium for getting at the sawdust, plum and vinous qualities.

3.9
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
raindog (560) - Evansville, Indiana, USA - JUL 21, 2002
UPDATED: JAN 22, 2004 88': Floaties half way up the bottle.Cap still had life opening.Aromas of alcohol,grapes,caramel. No head whatsoever but still a little carbonation.Aromas are intense in a glass. Smells like scothch. Intense syrup like palate with flavors of stale hops,caramel malts,and strong medicinal flavors.I had a bottle a year ago when I bought these that was just past its prime but a little better than this. I will get fresher bottles of this and age myself to relive this experience again.

2.9
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 11/20
MaxPower (961) - St. Louis, Missouri, USA - JUL 6, 2002
1988 must have not been stored right, flat caramel aroma, tasted like maple syrup, too sweet two sips and dumped the rest.1997 was much better, strong caramel aroma, sweet caramel- toffee flavor, this is what I will rate, the 1988 was ruined.

3.5
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
jaymobrown (1734) - Chicago, Illinois, USA - JUN 9, 2002
2000 edition. Good, thick head but recedes quickly. An amber color. A very sweet and dense beer. Tastes of burnt sugar, caramel, toffee, and honey. Almost no hops present. A hint of alcohol in the aftertaste. Rather smooth, but drink slowly.

3.8
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
estoppel (1028) - Buffalo, New York, USA - JUN 7, 2002
(1997 bottle sampled 6/7/02) Liquid fruitcake with a serious kick behind it.

4
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
JoeM500 (1907) - Crown Point, Indiana, USA - JUN 5, 2002
UPDATED: JUL 11, 2003 1998 edition(rated 6/02)- Wafer thin head over a very dark orange, almost brown and ever-so-slightly cloudy ale. First aroma is sour, rubbery, and I clearly get maple syrup notes. Sip lightly...take babysteps, this is thick and syrupy with a consistancy of whole milk. Way too sweet (can I use the word 'syrup' 3 times?)!! A larger sip started my gag reflex. This tastes so close to corn syrup that I poured the rest down the drain. The alcohol was undetectable and the hops was only present after the gritty-sweet taste wore off. ew! 2001 edition is rich and nutty with aromas of bubblegum, playdoh, peach, mixed nuts and warm breads. Rich and smooth palate pleaser, like a rich, sweet pecan pie with carmelized whole pecans. Peach fuzz dryness is quick and masks the alcohol. Very satisfying.

3.8
   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
brewbandit (312) - Marietta, Georgia, USA - JUN 1, 2002
Little carbonation on this alcoholic brew. Fruity yet vinous. Too complex for this simple palate. But a brew I do enjoy.

4.5
   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
MilkmanDan (1943) - Eagan, Minnesota, USA - MAY 28, 2002
UPDATED: JAN 17, 2003 2000 varietal sampled in mid-2002. Lovely. Deep opaque red with no red. Very rich, woody nose, with noticeable port, ginger, and brandy. Flavor is akin to a huge butterscotch candy with maybe a bit more butterscotch behind it. Smoky, with some milk chocolate. Alcohol more noticeable as it warms--prefered this one a little cooler than recommended temperature, as it got a mite harsher once it warmed. Good rich, creamy texture. Looking forward to sampling my "97 in four or five years from now. 1/16/2002. 1999, On cask, aged in a single malt scotch barrel. Spectacular. Maple and strong vanilla, like raw vanilla beans. Incredibly rich. Smoky and powerful, the bourbon and scotch are palpatable. Upgrading the rating based on this lovely experience.


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