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


on tap

Broad Distribution

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RATINGS: 1010   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 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
omnivore (270) - San Francisco, California, USA - MAR 3, 2003
Overall... DAMN!
2000: Musky and sweet... it smelled like sex. Topaz in color. The flavor was just brilliant on the tongue.
1999: much sweeter, more buttery and woody
1996: even sweeter, stronger finish with overtones of toffee and fruit
1991: much more mature, confident not as sweet as future years
1988: much sweeter, and very rummy flavored
1986: this is undenyably paramount, it vanshes off the tongue almost too quickly, leaving you to wonder at the flavors you just tasted. This stuff ages phenomenally. Everyone who tried it was floored at what great things happened to it.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 19/20
notalush (4833) - Denver, Colorado, USA - MAR 3, 2003
2001 bottle. What an odd barley wine. Cloudy ruby appearance. Aroma like brown sugar and cookie dough, that makes you think back to your mother's kitchen at Christmas time when you were a child. The first sip is disturbingly sweet and syrupy. "Ick," you think. But then your tongue gets used to the idea. There is a tapestry of flavors in this beer that not many beers come close to. Carmelized brown sugar, molassas, plums, roasted oats, cherries, oak, maple syrup, and many other flavors I can't identify. This beer does the tango with your tongue and leaves if gasping in a puddle of its own sweat. The thick, sticky body of it coats your mouth and throat. I can compare it to Samichlaus and WWS, but as a barley wine. An outstanding and original beer experience.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
SilkTork (5216) - Rochester, Kent, United Kingdom, Kent, ENGLAND - FEB 27, 2003
First sip is orgasmic - a pornographic sweetness wraps around the tongue while a seductive rush of flavours ooze around the mouth. The second sip is calmer - almost sedate. The oak, the wine, and some of the fruits come through. By the third sip the alcohol is coming through, along with the tangy, bitter tree bark. By the fourth sip the intensity of the flavours and the strength of the alcohol is becoming overbearing, almost nauseating. There is a lot happening here, and not all of it is good. Then the flavours integrate in a wonderful labyrinthine journey through a malt palace complete with grand halls named Autumn, Treacle and Damp Forest. Unusual for such a malt intensive beer the hops come surging through at the finish to provide an orchestral display of stinging bark dust. Each sip is a story of its own, and no two sips are alike. The sips that are good are like The Beatles on acid playing Rubber Soul live in your mouth; but the sips that are bad are like a pirate copy of Suicidal Tendencies playing Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells over and over again. A most stunning and extraordinary beer.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 3/10   PALATE 1/5   OVERALL 11/20
redlem (1301) - Ohio, USA - FEB 22, 2003
Rated 2000 vintage: What a mix I loved the aroma of this beer but hated the taste. Pours a oily dark ruby. Aroma is a wonderful oak cask/ sherry. However this was way too sweet and syrupy for me, your typical childhood cough syrup taste where you make the scrunched up face and go Bleech! after swallowing and you ahve that taste for half a day. That is what this stuff is, why punish yourself some childhood memories are best left in the past.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
CaptainCougar (7130) - Columbia, Maryland, USA - FEB 6, 2003
UPDATED: DEC 20, 2006 1988 Vintage sampled in mid-June 2006: Pours a hazy copper mahogany with a thin ring of off-white head, otherwise still. Big complex, light fruity strawberry complexity and lots of sticky caramel toffee maltiness and a touch of medicinal alcohol in the warming finish. Body had thinned some but has good comlpexity and I’d say has aged quite well.

1999 Vintage sampled on 4/13/06: Pours with a good amount of carbonation, leading to a thin-lacing, frothy tan head. This is just as sweet as ever and is borderlined cloying. Still has a ton of complexity and pleasant dark fruity notes. You gotta have a sweet tooth to be in the mood for this, but when you do, it really hits the spot.

1998 Vintage rerate, sampled on 8/2/05: The sweetness is still rich with dark sugars and caramel toffee. Very complex and has a great viscous, silky mouthfeel. This stuff will age a long time.

1989 Vintage sampled on 3/5/05: This is the best sample I have had yet! Pours a cloudy muddy dark copper mahogany with a thin coating of bubbles. Aroma is rich sweet and complex with lots of caramel maltiness and some butterscotch. Very rich, sweet, and malty with good aged complexity and some dark fruits. This has aged magnificently and still hides the abv well.

1999 Vintage sampled on 3/1/04: Still very caramely sweet, but a little more tolerable than the last. Aroma of toffee and oxidized old ale with plenty of malt. Body is very one-sided and sweet, but has some nice fruity complexities to it.

1998 Vintage sampled on 2/6/03: Could smell the sweet malt before I even got the cap all the way off. Pours a viscous dark ruby with a thin ring of bubbles. Nose of caramel, sugar, alcohol, plums, and raisins. Very syrupy mouthfeel with a little alcohol burn, but for the most part the abv is well hidden. There is a good amount of complexity, but it tends to get masked by the tremendous sweetness present. If there were ever any hop presense, it has long since faded. This would make a good dessert and is best enjoyed in small sips. Definite warming effect after a few ounces. Five years of aging, and could probably use another five. Had to use water to wash the sticky sweetness out of my mouth and finish this.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
mickblueeyes (106) - Knoxville, Tennessee, USA - JAN 28, 2003
UPDATED: FEB 2, 2004 89 vintage: This caramel-colored beer is heavily clouded (almost clumpy) from the yeast presence and forms a rich white head that quickly dissipates. The nose is intense with strong tawny port-like, doughy and raisiny hints, on a background of rich, toasted grains and maltiness. The palate is a meal unto itself. It is easily one of the yeastiest I have ever tasted—honey, rich bread and malty sweetness predominate. The finish is sweet, but not cloyingly so—there is a light nuance of hops that balances the medium-length finish. 99 vintage: A deep chestnut hued beer with a small, fizzy white head. The nose is heavy and sweet with notes of raisins, pears, dough and nutty malt. The palate is sweet unlike other beers I have tried with honeyed bread, heavy malt, unroasted barley a dry tannic structure that pops in toward the finish. The finish is drier than the palate, but still retains extreme honeyed qualities, rich yeastiness and light tannins. Needs age.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Schroppfy (2360) - Łódż, Warsaw, Poland; Michigan, Ohio, USA - JAN 27, 2003
2001 vintage. Sweet is what I get. Alcohol burn sweet. Malt sweet. Thick sweet. Sweet. Nice body and looks.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
DallasBryan (111) - Dallas, Texas, USA - JAN 24, 2003

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
jazz88 (2551) - San Francisco, California, USA - JAN 21, 2003
UPDATED: FEB 13, 2003 Bottle of the 1999 vintage. A delicious looking reddish brown color with a thin laced tan head. The aroma is first class all the way with apple, plums, raisins, caramel, toffee and sweet malts. A plush, smooth, rich and creamy feel with maple, molasses, caramel and earthy tones which bring this beer to life and deliver all that is asked. Rating #800. Re-Review of the 2000 and 2001 vintages: The 2001 is much worse than the 2000 and 1999 vintages at this point. A heavy biscut and rasin flavor in the 2001 vintage.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 17/20
Suttree (5130) - Knoxville, Tennessee, USA - JAN 19, 2003
UPDATED: JAN 24, 2003 Tasted 1997 and 2000 back to back - numerical rating for 1997. 2000: Orange colored, Fruity, peppery, lighter on the tongue than the 1997, much more carbonation. Alcohol is much more noticeable. 1997: Almost delicate. Much darker in color, almost brown, no head. Notes of vanilla, butterscotch, very smooth. Maybe some oak comes out in the finish, as well as some nuttiness. Finishes a winey aftertaste.

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