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


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 1052   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.87/5   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 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
EddieG (169) - Palos Heights, Illinois, USA - NOV 5, 2003
2002 Vontage...Too sweet for my taste. Thoughts of sweet vermouth ran through my head as I drank the sweet syrupy concoction. Just not my bag of tea

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
igneous1 (1528) - Davenport, Iowa, USA - NOV 1, 2003
UPDATED: NOV 2, 2003 1997 Vintage...color is like a deep amber/brown mixture with a thin tan head that leaves behind the most interesting pattern on the sides of the glass. looks like pointillism in a Seurat painting..i swear it. alcohol is definitely detectable, loads of caramel and prune. extremely viscous, very sweet with lots of fruit, and a big raisin finish. this very much has a port-like character. 2000 Vintage...color is the same as the '97, but with a little thicker head. aroma is strong on 3 things, raisins, caramel, and alcohol. flavor is cloyingly sweet, sugars are very concentrated. 10-5-6-3-15

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
BBB63 (6507) - La Porte, Indiana, USA - NOV 1, 2003
UPDATED: NOV 21, 2009 RERATE 1998 Bottle I shared with Shawn: Mahogany hued with good head and oily legs. the aroma has a lovely old bready malts and marzipan. flowery peat, juniper berry and mint, some fruity components of apricot and melon, slight pepper and smoke. The taste displays a lush malt profile backed by spice. The mouth feel is oily and thick. Ah, like is quite good. The flavor and palate is not quite as powerful as that of the 1988 bottle of my first rating but the appearance and overall impression is better. Still, this is the standard for which all English Barleywines are compared.

Original Rating (4.5) Bottle shared with Kinz at the Capital Ale House in Richmond VA: 1988 Vintage. Nice orange and brown multicolored hue with no head but oily tears. As Brian stated "floaties thanks to an overzealous pour by the waitress" which then proceeded to a lesson on pouring old bottle conditioned brews. What a wonderful aroma! Toasted malt, sweet fruit, molasses, dates, honey, vanilla, cassis, minor alcohol and bourbon tones were very welcoming to my senses. Sweet and smooth malt taste with a big bourbon like quality as well, vinous. The finish allowed me to savor some twangy fruit and caramel, hint of some salt as well. The alcohol was hidden very well. Full-bodied and sticky beer had aged gracefully. A knockout sippin’ beer. This beer was worth the $18 price tag, YUMMY!

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
Kinz (3622) - Glen Allen, Virginia, USA - OCT 29, 2003
UPDATED: JAN 8, 2005 Thanks to BB3 for letting me have a shot of this. Normally I wouldn’t rate from a small sample, but the flavors were so well developed it was more like a liquor than a beer, so I felt I had a more than adequate idea of the beer. 1988 baby, oldest beer I’ve ever sampled by about 10 years. Coppery brown color, no head, floaties thanks to an overzealous pour by the waitress. Massive aroma of vanilla, molasses, oak and alcohol. Very reminiscent of a good bourbon. Silky smooth palate despite the evident alcohol. I didn’t even miss the carbonation. Flavors revolved around bourbon, vanilla, and caramel. Astonishing. 2002 - Just a tad over 2 years old, continuing what looks to be a streak of English barley wines for me. Medium copper amber with slight head that faded completely. Aroma pure sweet caramel malt. Flavor also a deep, rich, totally fulfilling caramel. Just so nice. I’ll leave up my rating of the old bottle, but this 2 year old would get a 8/4/9/5/18 - 4.4.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 15/20
Crit (3656) - Surrey, British Columbia, CANADA - OCT 26, 2003
99 version:Hazy amber, lasting beige head.Great complex brandy malt nose. Good sweet chewy molasses flavor with medium alcohol heat

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
Hildigöltur (5105) - København, DENMARK - OCT 25, 2003
[2002 vintage at The White Horse, Parson's Green, London] Beutiful deep reddish colour. Powerful honeyish mead aroma. The flavours explode in you mouth. Strong, sweet and full bodied. This truly is a complete brew.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
ClarkVV (4841) - Allston, Massachusetts, USA - OCT 18, 2003
UPDATED: DEC 1, 2005 1999 Vintage, drank 10/18/2003. One of the best looking barleys Ive ever seen (except that it’s filtered!). Definitely the best head. Creamy, lasting and a nice off white cream color. Aroma is great as well. Lots of cherries with some alcohol and dark malt notes. Very inviting. Amazing amount of sweet cherry malt up front, with good vinous hoppy flavors lingering in the back. Full body. After the huge cherry malt flavor, there is a nice balanced lightly acidic, dry hops flavor that begins to add needed balance. The finish has much lingering malt but has a nice soft mildly bitter hops flavor to balance things. I almost think this is too sweet. . .almost. Reminds me much of Bells Old Ale, but this has a truer more full flavor without the overly dry alcohol flavor. Granted, this has 4 years of cellaring. Hopefully Bells Old ale will be as good after 4 years. I had a hard time deciding if I should cellar this longer or drink it, was a bit worried it might still be too young ( if you try thomas hardys 97 after 6 years you will see what Im talking about, it still is young). It delivered though. I could barely taste any alcohol, that was impressive, the body just melded together, good carbonation as well, not syrupy, has a nice chewy malty mouthfeel. Lots of caramel malt towards the finish. Overall, a bit too sweet, but it is not cloying, just could use some more hops. I guess I demand alot from barleywines.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 13/20
thehoff (596) - Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA - SEP 22, 2003
1999 Vintage, drank 9/22/03 Red brown body, no head. Smells like dried fruits, prunes, raisins, etc. You can definitely smell the alcohol in the beer. the first taste hits you like a shot. Tastes like burnt marshmallows carmelized and sweet. Right now at this sitting it's a little too much. Sharing would be good. Very sweet and strong. It's like syrup. Nice but too much.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
edden (925) - cow- lumbus, Ohio, USA - SEP 21, 2003
UPDATED: MAY 16, 2005 9/7/03:
1998 vintage bottle.
strong alcohol nose with other evidence of raisins, plums and malt. deep red-brown body with a tan-almond head. sweet malt flavor with other notes of alcohol, raisins and candi sugar. a very smooth and pleasant mouth feel but the nose gives off an alcohol aroma which is almost too overwhelming for me.
1999 vintage bottle.
10/18/03: brown to crimson body. very smoky and very alcoholic in aroma. to taste; lots of smoke, bacon, sweet, malt and some fruit. mouth feel is somewhat oily. once again the nose is a bit overly potent in the alcohol area. 5,4,8,4,17 = 3.8
2000 vintage Bottle.
5/16/05: Tiger-burnt orange body. Nose of alcohol, more alcohol and raisin. Sweet malt flavor with sweet and sour plums. This BW has nicely mellowed out, alcohol taste is present but not overpowering. Don’t let the mellow flavor fool you… this brew still packs a punch. 7,4,8,4,17

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Syd (921) - Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA - SEP 20, 2003
UPDATED: FEB 6, 2008 1998 Vintage. Smells like brandy. Pours a deep red with very little head. The taste is of a thick, sweet, and strong Port. I’ve never tasted a beer so similar to Port! This is so wild... The hops are totally covered up by the sweetness. Yes, this is a keeper. Not for a hot day - it is 68F and breezy and I’m feeling the heat of this ale.

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