Brewed by J.W. Lees
Style: Barley Wine
Middleton, England
Serve in Snifter


on tap

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RATINGS: 1020   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.87   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
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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.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
austinpowers (2826) - New York, New York, USA - APR 15, 2002
1997 Vintage: Good barleywine effort from Lees. Not up to the level of an Old Horizontal or Anchor Foghorn, but solid nonetheless.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
npdempse (934) - St. Petersburg, Florida, USA - APR 10, 2002
UPDATED: AUG 30, 2007 2000 vintage: Really odd nose--strong alcohol presence almost gives it the scent of a whisky; something like smelly sox going on in there too. Fortunately, this is not present in the flavor. Extreme sweetness suggests that this could stand a few more years of laying down, but it’s not bad at all right now. In addition to the caramel-like sweetness, there are various cereal notes and tart flavors of black cherries or cranberries. Really nice; wish I had the cellar and the $$ to lay some down. Additional note: Tried a 1986 vintage in 2003. Still extremely sweet, but it has adopted an incredibly complex array of flavors, from toffee, chocolate, and vanilla, to pipe tobacco. Kind of a mindfuck on the palate.
Add’l: 1998 vintage in 2003-- OK, I’m totally convinced now by this beer--complex of nuts, tobacco, Irish whisky, licorice and sooo many other things blend perfectly in this manna.
1988 Bottle, in 2007: Mahogony hued, with only a slight hint of carbonation. Preposterously alluring nose, with almonds, toffee, caramel, red wine, and maple syrup. Soft, sweet flavor, with incredible depth--raisins, caramel, tobacco, hardwood smoke, maple syrup, walnuts, and some slight red wine astringency. This beer has held up magnificently, and could likely go another 20 years.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
PhillyBeer2112 (2544) - Oviedo, Florida, USA - APR 9, 2002
Addition 2000 bottle sampled in April 2002: Very rich fruity malty aroma, with fig, raisin, and vanilla as primary notes. Cloudy amber-brown with small head and minimal lacing, lightly carb’d. Full rich, sweet malty flavor, full of esters. Alcohol presence is clearly there, but it doesn’t whop you like a 12% might. Med bitterness keeps things in check, but this beer is all about malt, alcohol, and esters. Exceptionally drinkable for what it is, too. 1998 brew (sampled June 2001): Amazing beer. Strong, dark-fruit almost overwhelming aroma made me cautious - but such amazing balance in the flavor was a big surprise! Very flavorful but not overwhelming - excellent hop presence for a classic British barleywine. Exceedingly quaffable for its strength - kinda dangerous. Smooooth. Cloudy (bottle-conditioned) copper-brown, even head with good retention. Thick solid lacing.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
TAR (2518) - Lafayette, Colorado, USA - APR 7, 2002
1988: Huge, candied apple aroma with notes of sherry and alcolhol. Pours with no head and copper color and tons of dust-like chunks of yeast particles. Much different looking than the ’97. Flavors are very well blended; notes ofgreen apple, almonds, vanilla, and harsh alcohol which makes this a bit tougher to drink than years’ past. This has held on extremely well and I could see it doing the same for ten more years. Delightful! 1997: This beer has a tiny-bubble, huge, swirly, and tan head that clings nicely. Appearance is a very hazy, deep ruby. Prunes, ripe fruit, dark grapes, perfumey hops (reminiscent of a le coq?) and sweet potatoes in the aroma. Some flavors that come to mind are meaty, figs, fruit cake, and alcohol. This beer has a very full mouthfeel and a smooth, silky characteristic tha always has me yearning for more. Subtle bitterness. This has so much life in it. It is far too young, but is still enjoyable. Which makes me glad I have another ’97 in the cellar. 1998 Vintage: Yes indeed a very authentic, english style barley wine. Almonds, raisins, sherry, oak, and alcohol all come to mind in drinking this fine, warming ale. Still a bit young. I can see why some would say this beers complex flavors dominate. This beer needs more time to meld together.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 13/20
argo0 (11636) - Washington DC, USA - APR 5, 2002
UPDATED: JAN 17, 2003 1999 Vintage (Oak Cask): Think port and you"re much of the way there. Very sweet, nothing like an American "Harvest Ale." minimal head atop a deep brown body, very sweet and malty. Alcohol flavor apparent ininitally, and dominant in the aftertaste. Overall, it"s OK for a sip or two, but I couldn"t imagine drinking much more. 1999 Vintage (Oak cask previously used for Single-malt scotch): Opaque mud brown, no head. Aroma is maple, vanilla and definitely some scotch. The taste is brown-sugar sweet, maple too, and finishess with some good smokiness. Unlike most beers, the absence of carbonation isn"t much of a big deal here -- the richness works well even without the carbonation. (Rating of this version (not reflected in my ratings) -- Ar-9, Ap-3, F-8, Pa-4, Ov-17 (4.1))

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
jayme9874 (756) - Hamburg, New York, USA - MAR 26, 2002
UPDATED: JUL 20, 2003 Update. 1986 Vintage. Oldest beer I have had up to date. I almost creamed when i saw it:) Dull red/copper with alot of floaties once you get the bottom of bottle. No head at all. Huge nose malt,nuts wood, raisons and others. Honestly, reminds of Westy 12 in nose. Boatloads of thick malt flavor, raisens,brown sugar and suggestions of dark fruits throughout. Feels like liquid silk in your mouth....sooo soft...breathtaking. Very mellow and smooth, alcohol is there in full effect but is hardly noticeable (not harsh or offensive) and its actually incredibly easy to drink. Its almost too mellow! The character this posseses is uncanny and is a must try if you can find it. I will come back to it. Outstanding! 1988 VINTAGE: Deep brown/red. No head. Huge nose of raisons, alcohol, doughy malt, brown sugar and others. Thick bodied, sweet, vinous, malty as hell with flavors of rasions, figs, maple, brown sugar and alcohol. Flavors are melded very nicely, alcohol is a compliment to the beer and warms the gullet like a champ but make no mistake, this is BIG stuff so use caution. This has night cap written all over it. A beer to savor in front of a fire. Outstanding barleywine. 8/4/9/4/18 (1999 Edition, todays date 8/2/01)Amber, very short lived head, clear...expected some cloudiness for a bottle conditioned ale?? Aroma of alcohol, maybe some faint smoke. Pretty gasy in the pour and then settled down to low carbonation. Starts out thick,fruity,sweet..dark fruity undertomes all the way through along with maple syrup flavor..dates, raisens,pretty complex finished smooth with a nice warming alcohol kick. The balance is pretty good..too thick for me and i like thicker beers. Had problems finishing the glass. Definitley worth the try, not my favorite style but have to give it the credit it deserves. (15/20)

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
leaparsons (8311) - Leicester, Leicestershire, ENGLAND - MAR 25, 2002
I had the ’97 vintage. This was a very deep red beer, almost like a claret. It had a rich Xmas pudding taste along with a syrupy mouthfeel. I’m not sure that I could lay this down for 5 years - I bought mine ready matured!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
erway (1004) - Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA - MAR 17, 2002
’92 one of my least favorite barley wines. It fizzed to no head and was very dark like mollasses. Little hop bitteness even for this style. Would recommend Thomas Hardy’s over it but hurry cause they’re discontinuing it. Re-rate 3/17/02 Just had a 1997 and liked it much better. I think the ’92 was just too mild for my taste. The ’97 had much more character and a hop prescence. So spend less and buy a more rescent vintage.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Ringo (963) - Loveland, Colorado, USA - FEB 4, 2002
1998 vintage. Reminds me a lot of Thomas Hardy’s Ale. It seems to be a little thicker and creamier, though. Not much head. In a blind taste test I would name this to be Thomas Hardy’s, which is not a bad thing.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
legion242 (2267) - Richardson, Texas, USA - FEB 2, 2002
1986 bottle: Beautiful muddy brown; No head what so ever. Brandy, grapes, port, alcohol, caramel in the nose. Another beer that I could sit and smell for hours. Sit on the tongue very strangely. Complex as hell but nothing stands out. Nothing is melding. Alcoholic warmth is heavy in back. Sour on the sides. Chocolate notes becoming heavy. Has a ton of port notes in the nose just like a Sam Adams Triple Bock. Slightly sharp on the tonge. Mouthfeel dominated by the alcohol. As it warms your belly, it starts to come together. I would guess 10-12% abv. I can’t stress enough the cognag characters, very eerie. Hops don’t exist in this one. It’s amazing to think that this beer waited 15years to be drunk by little ole me. Amazing.

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