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


on tap

Broad Distribution

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RATINGS: 1025   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 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.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Volgon (2763) - Manchester, New Hampshire, USA - MAY 14, 2002
UPDATED: JAN 6, 2004 1997 vintage drank in 2003: Big molasses, sherry aroma with a touch of tobacco. Better than younger versions that I have had. +0.3. Caramel, alcohol and brown sugar in the nose. Ends drier than I remember last time. 2001 vintage on cask Boston Beer Summit '02: This was served out of an oak cask that was used to make apple brandy. They said it was also 17%ABV. Intense apple/cider overtones, almost a maple aroma. While it was an intense brew the whole wasn't as good as the some of the parts. First rating: 1998 bottle drank in 2002: Huge alcohol, fig, molasses aroma, big thick sherry, raison taste. The flavors meld well together, but I get the feeling that even 4 years is a little young for this beer. A slow sipper for sure. Rating 3.3

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
DougShoemaker (3147) - Toronto, Ontario, CANADA - MAY 13, 2002
(1998)Plums, wine and figs scent. Hazy peach colour, toffee head. Caramel, raisins, port, butterscotch and molasses taste. Acidic, warming finish. Complex. Wonderful! Thanks Austin Powers.

   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 2/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 6/20
Ernest (6540) - Boulder, Colorado, USA - MAY 11, 2002
UPDATED: APR 16, 2012 Bottle (2010 vintage). Head is initially small, frothy, off-white, mostly diminishing. Body is hazy light amber. Aroma is moderately malty (caramel, malt syrup), lightly hoppy (apricot), with notes of alcohol, cardboard, bile, dried mango, paint. Flavor is heavily sweet, moderately acidic, lightly bitter. Finish is moderately sweet, moderately acidic, moderately bitter, very unclean/vegetal/husky. Medium to full body, syrupy texture, soft carbonation, moderately alcoholic. Repulsive. The aroma has some nice elements but has a lot of icky things as well...vomit, paint, etc. Where it really falls off the edge is in the mouth...thereís this dirty, vegetal, sour twang that is truly disgusting...one of the worst aftertastes Iíve experienced in a long time, to be honest. Hard to know if itís just this vintage or if the brewery has gone to shit.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
hackleo (11) - Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, USA - MAY 6, 2002
1987 Vintage is a close to a perfect beer as Iíve ever had. Too many flavors to describe - maple, oak, raisin, plum, chocolate, toffee, on and on...Canít remember everything...During the hour or so we took to savor this beer, it opened up and changed from great to out-of-this world. 1994 Vintage was a bit thinner, lighter in color and body, but quite impressive in its own right. Maple and oak mostly, with a hint of chocolate and more drinkable than the 1987. Iíd give this one about a 17/20.

   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 itís 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.
Addíl: 1998 vintage in 2003-- OK, Iím 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 (2595) - 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 carbíd. Full rich, sweet malty flavor, full of esters. Alcohol presence is clearly there, but it doesnít 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 í97. Flavors are very well blended; notes ofgreen apple, almonds, vanilla, and harsh alcohol which makes this a bit tougher to drink than yearsí 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 í97 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 (11888) - 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))

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