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


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 1042   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 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
hopscotch (10215) - Vero Beach, Florida, USA - SEP 19, 2003
1997 Vintage. Sampled at Eric & Wendy's "Go to Hell, Isabel" Party 2003. This beer rocks! Extremely murky, orange/red ale. Very small, creamy, beige head. Thick, weeping lacework with the thin remnants of head forever floating atop the brew. The aroma is pure bliss! It screams BARLEY WINE! Smokey, very rich and alcoholic. Notes of prune, must, earth, caramel, toffee, butterscotch, apricot and even citrus... hints of pineapple, dates and bread dough. The flavor is mainly of prune juice, burnt toffee, toasted marshmallows, alcohol and light molasses. Full-bodied with a syrupy mouthfeel and medium carbonation. Remarkably dry finish. Malt and alcohol heaven! Awesome brew!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
bender (293) - Reynoldsburg, Ohio, USA - SEP 7, 2003
UPDATED: OCT 18, 2003 1998
Leather brown body with a thin, tan head that everlastingly rings the side of the glass. No lacing.
Huge malt, plum, raisin aroma. Alcohol is evident. There's some molasses hidden in the aroma too.
Complex malt, molasses, alcohol and raisin that comes together nicely. Hops try to make a show in the flavor but the sweet malt and warming of the cheeks quickly overpowers the hops.
Full bodied. Big. Thick mouthfeel with a pleasent, lingering aftertaste.
7/10, 5/5, 8/10, 4/5, 17/20 = 4.1
Red to dark copper body with no head. No lacing.
Smoke, plums, raisins and toffee. Fruity and maybe slightly oxidized.
Tobacco? Sweet and smokey (malt not tobacco) with a still present hop flavor. Malt and alcohol lingers nicely. Alcohol is invisible and dangerous.
Smooth, port-like body. Thick, warming mouthfeel.
7/10, 5/5, 9/10, 4/5, 17/20 = 4.2

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
IPFreely (1470) - Sanborn, New York, USA - SEP 2, 2003
1997 vintage. Deep reddish brown color with a fair amount of a cream colored head. Awesome aroma of caramel, sweet malt and brandy. Sweet malty flavor. Full bodied, rich, and very mellow for 11.5% abv. Boy oh boy was it good.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
jskendzel (602) - Washington DC, USA - AUG 12, 2003
1989 Vintage at Brickskeller: Brown, dark oaky appearance with moderate carbonation. Served at perfect temperature for the beer, which was nice. Notes of caramel, molasses, licorice, brandy, and vanilla are abundant. Very earthy and still thick after all these years. One of the finest aged beers I've tried--I want to go back and sample their other vintages as well.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
JorisPPattyn (8660) - Ursel, BELGIUM - AUG 11, 2003
(2002 Vintage) Amber, deep, clear. Virtually no head. Raisins, vinous, portwine, in the nose, as well as some rich rum-sugarcane destillate. Unbelievably rich malt-vinous taste, like a vintage wine where somehow the grain shines through. There's bitterish tinges framing a mostly sweet, vanilla, fresh oakwood barrel taste. Oily, slick mouthfeel, full in an outstanding measure. Long rich, sweet, but not cloying aftertaste, yielding raisins, prunes and other alcohol-drenched fruit. This brings out the best in British brewing. Better is hard to come by - anywhere. The epitomizing of Barley Wine, however amber.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
lunaticharness (183) - Torrance, California, USA - AUG 3, 2003
1998 vintage - a confusing aroma - smoky, chocolate malts, and a tad of hops trying to climb out, dark brown gray color with diminishing creamy head, very sweet, a chalky chocolate flavor, molasses, and some ending spices,lot of earthy tones in this, really hard to put your finger on with the flavor, this is very syrupy but carbonated a bit, the 11.5% alcohol is completely hidden, i was sitting here thinking of what else to write about and just realized how strong this bad boy is!! well done!

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 10/20
bigrich (1) - ENGLAND - JUL 31, 2003 does not count
2002 vintage. Brewed 5 minutes walk from my home, served in a pub 10 minutes walk away. Very strong treacle aroma. Got to admit it, it smells great. Extremely sweet taste, strong dried fruit overtones. Finish of fruit and spices. I wasn't sure about this beer. A few more years of ageing and it would improve, I'd wager, but still too sugary for my tastes.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
maltdog (621) - Colorado, USA - JUL 24, 2003
1999 vintage. Deep russet/ruby-orangey color. Cream colored head dissipated quickly. Minimal carbonation. Aroma like cherry lifesavers, tobacco, leather, floral. Initially tastes further of cherry, with dried apricots, bitter orange,licorice, chocolate. Subsequent sips also revealed hints of fig newton cookies, dark rum/molasses, mint(!). Sweet, but not sticky. Full-bodied with a long bittersweet finish of herbal hops, apricot, cherry, orange. Filling and satisfying. Fruitcake in a bottle! All from barley and yeast, hops and water. Fascinating!

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 12/20
dberger624 (1028) - Phila, Pennsylvania, USA - JUL 14, 2003
Sampled from bottle at Monks Cafe in Philly. 1988 Vintage. Nice dark beer. Had a good mix of spice and some kind of fruit which I couldn't put my finger on.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
ericnixon (742) - Portland, Oregon, USA - JUL 6, 2003
UPDATED: SEP 21, 2003 9/20/2003 - 1996 vintage oak cask - I was at the Moan And Dove in Amherst with BTownBrewer and TogBean when i looked up on the beer board and saw "JW Lees 1996 Barleywine Ale - cask 16% - holy shit!" I had to have some. The bartender said that only two casks of that vintage made it into the United States (I kinda doubt that, but hey, you never know). The 6-oz glass poured from the oak cask at the end of the bar reminded me of a strong port. Strong alcohol aroma with a beautiful deep ruby color. Went down very very smoothly. Well worth it. (NOTE: my score for this beer is based on the 1997 vintage). - Rerate 8/11/2003 - 1997 Vintage again. Frickin' amazing stuff. this is simply wow. it is perfectly smooth with light alcohol hints that are so barely there that they are almost nonexistant. wonderful moleassassy (sp-1) and oaky flavor with fruity tones. perfection in a bottle. First rating 7/6/2003 - 1997 vintage quaffed in 2003. Interestingly packed aroma that reminds me of molasses and some fruitness. A somewhat spicy, earthy, mainly fruity flavor pervades the mouth.

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