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


on tap

Regional Distribution

Add Distribution Data
RATINGS: 1041   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.88   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
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 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
beerguy101 (5338) - Newark, California, USA - SEP 25, 2002
2000 vintage. Medium brown color, small head. Very deep malt flavor, rich and robust, toffeeish. There is a nice hoppyness to this beer as well. Intense malts are balanced by a sharp, subtle and spicy hoppyness. Mouthfeel is very full and round. Finish is clean and smooth. Aftertaste is malty. Interesting beer. High alcohol content 11.5% is evident, a slightly oiliness, not much of an alcohol bite.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Racegoer (353) - Indiana, Indiana, USA - SEP 24, 2002
1998 Version, smell immediately grabs you and says alcohol, damn strong alcohol. Color is that of Chestnut and Brown with a medium head.I have poured this into the glass to let it warm, waiting for the first sip.Taste the licorice, dark cherry, and raisins. This is one fine beverage on a cool clear night it warms me, after this long HOT terrible Summer it is time for this type of beer, it tells me that Summer has broken its grip on us and Fall has begun. Sip, enjoy and if you prefer as I do light up a fine Cuban Cigar.I will be getting a few botles of this for the beer cellar. Highly Recommended !

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 11/20
crdic (105) - California, USA - SEP 22, 2002
I had two bottles of this side by side: one of the 1988 vintage, and one from 1998. Even the ’98 bottle by itself would have been the oldest bottle of beer I’d ever had. These bottles were an interesting experience that I will probably never repeat. They are the closest thing to cognac that I’ve ever found in a beer, and pretty good cognac at that; the problem is that I don’t much like cognac, or, for that matter, any hard liquor, as it always reminds me unpleasantly of paint thinner. The ’98 bottle was more obviously a beer than the ’88; it had a nice head, and the cognac-like qualities hadn’t fully developed yet, allowing the rougher beer flavors to show more clearly. The ’88 had no head at all, and age had precipitated a fair amount of sediment to the bottom of the bottle, leaving a smooth beverage that came across as a slightly beer-flavored cognac, albeit with considerably less alcohol than the real thing. This is a very well-made ale, and beer drinkers with a taste for hard liquor will probably love it, but it’s not for me.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
DaSilky1 (2606) - San Diego, California, USA - SEP 6, 2002
UPDATED: JAN 14, 2005 1997 edition sampled Sep 2002: it poured a beautiful deep gleam of rubiness with a generous amount of tan foam shrinking to swirling lace..Aroma was a schizophrenic mix of alcohol and cherry twizlerz..WOOAH!!!!!
Re-rate 1989 edition sampled Feb 2003!: WTF..this is a 14 year old beer..deeper flavors of wood, vanilla, licorice, alcohol, and smoke..it poured with no head but still had a trace or more of carbination..its warming...its still lovely with its aged complexity..but about a tad past its prime i suspect..

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
Drinkingdan (375) - East Norriton, Pennsylvania, USA - SEP 2, 2002
I had the 2000. Nice deep color. Rich and creamy with alcohol present. A caramel finish.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
P-tor44 (886) - Anchorage, Alaska, USA - AUG 25, 2002
Last beer I had before leaving to Utah. That kind of distorted my feel for this one.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
herbjones (742) - Orange, California, USA - AUG 18, 2002
1998 vintage. Thick chestnut brown color with a huge tan head. Nose has malt coming from every direction. Alcohol is very evident in a fine cognac type of way. If this beer was broken down by vintage like Fullers this could be a top 50 IMHO.Palate is like thick velvet going across your tongue. Flavor is to complex for my humble vocabulary. Your just gonna have to try this yourself.

   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

   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.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
joet (2424) - 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.

We Want To Hear From You

Join us! RateBeer is made by beer enthusiasts for the craft beer community. Your basic membership is free and allows you to read all beer ratings. Click here to create your account... and give your opinion!

Join Us »

Page  1 « 98 99 100  101  102 103 104

Tick this beer

for your profile
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Copyright © 2000-2015,
RateBeer LLC. All rights
about us
About RateBeer
New Beers
Advanced Search
Add A Beer
Add A Brewer
Add A Place
Log In
Edit Personal Info
Buy Premium Membership
Your Messages
the best
RateBeer Best
100 Beer Club
The Top 50