J.W. Lees Harvest Ale (Lagavulin)

Formerly brewed at J.W. Lees
Style: Barley Wine
Middleton, England
Serve in Snifter


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 508   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.75/5   SEASONAL: Special   EST. CALORIES: 345   ABV: 11.5%
Only available filtered and pasteurised in bottles.
Matured in wooden casks of Lagavulin Malt Whiskey, one of the most distinctive malt whisky from the island of Islay, characterized by the strong peaty notes which should blend with the Harvest Ale to give an explosion of flavors.
This fully fermented ale has been brewed by JW Lees as a celebration of the brewers’ art. Harvest Ale can be enjoyed now or laid down like a fine wine for enjoyment to come.

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chriso (7533) - London, Greater London, ENGLAND - DEC 1, 2005
Bottle (courtesy Duff) at St Albans Beer Festival, October 2005. Silk seems to have got in all the ranting before me so I’ll largely confine myself to saying this is an ill-judged, gimmicky nonsense of a beer. Reddish colour. Medicinal, phenolic, loads of burnt rubber in the aroma. I love Lagavulin, but the combination here does nothing for either component and the integration is not harmonious at all.. Very sweet, with an unpleasant alcohol burn. Crude and borderline unpleasant. Not my thing at all. Its giving me indigestion.

TAR (2761) - Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina, USA - NOV 30, 2005
Bronzed peach. Retentive collar of foam takes shape as tiny bubbles struggle to find the surface. Heavily aromatic notes of peat smoke, honey, black pepper, and fresh cut wood. Slightly crunchy bubbles gently scrub the palate. Syrupy consistency. Lagavulin immediately inundates the palate with a peat-smoke blanket and tangy medicinal twinge. Vivid woodiness briefly underlines the fat malt structure, though the malt definition slowly succumbs to the heightening sweetness. Alcohol shows no “off” flavors, admittedly, and does offer a glimpse of brightness. But it’s all downhill from there, as the cloying sweetness eventually overrides everything. Finishes smoky and salty with peat, but mostly mushy and under-attenuated with an unrelenting blast of melted rubber and medicine. How can something with such a promising nose be so offensive in all other aspects? Three ounces of this was too much.

Pinnhead (93) - New Jersey, USA - NOV 26, 2005
musky and port like though not sweet. an excellent sipping brew in place of port, sherry or other. a bit overpowering with a meal but as a lead in or after it’s on the mark.

goldtwins (4320) - Nesconset, New York, USA - NOV 24, 2005
UPDATED: FEB 16, 2007 Poured a clear orange-copper color with a thin off-white head. Looks thick and oily with nice legs. Aroma is full of the Lagavulin. A good bit of smoke and peat. Some whiskey and alcohol. Sweet malt hides underneath. Flavors starts with caramel malt sweetness and turns peaty and smokey. Finishes with some sweetness and bitterness twisted together. Very warming but overall alcohol flavor is hidden well. 8/4/6/4/14

1998 Wooden Cask Release: This blew away the bottled version. Poured a clear very dark chestnut color with no head. The aroma was sweet and smokey. Notes of vanilla, peat, whiskey, dried dark fruits, chocolate and brown sugar. The flavor was still very sweet with nice complex notes of aged malt, vanilla, dark fruits, whiskey, and smoke. Bitter semi-dry finish. Silky and creamy mouthfeel. Full bodied. I can’t believe how big this beer still is. It will last forever. Very warming.

shadey (2135) - Nashville, Tennessee, USA - NOV 20, 2005
UPDATED: JUN 5, 2010 Amber color with no real head. Aroma is strong sweetness and alcohol. Flavor is carmel sweetness and maple syrup. Very easy to drink for the big 11.5%. 7/3/7/4/16

2006 bottle rated in 2010. Pours a deep amber with only a ring of large white bubbles around the edge of the glass. Aroma is sweet and caramelly, with some toffee and a real richness. The flavor is really something special, with smokiness and sweetness that is excitingly well developed and smooth. I think this only gets better with age, as there is no hint of oxidation. The body is chewy and smooth with a mouth-filling quality that lets you know you are drinking something substantial. I don’t remember this being this good. I absolutely love the smokiness to the finish. 7/3/9/5/19

bigrond (1499) - factoryville, Pennsylvania, USA - NOV 13, 2005
this was a shot of whiskey - wasn’t like a beer at all. It wasn’t good at all. To bitter and to strong

Dough77 (821) - Aurora, Illinois, USA - OCT 31, 2005
Up til this one, this JW Lees harves ale collection has been quite pleasent, then comes this junk. Aroma not so bad to start out, caramel, malts, pretty sweet. Taste is too sweet, with a funky wine like flavor. This was a very expensive drainpour.

IMtheOptimator (1169) - Brookfield, Connecticut, USA - OCT 27, 2005
Poured an almost still clear (clear? this is filtered?) amber with a small semi-creamy off-white head. Aroma of caramel, cherries, brown sugar, red wine, whiskey, peppery alcohol. Flavor is sweet and strong with intense notes of smokey maple syrup, grapes, apples with a sweet alcoholic finish. The sweetness and smoke are almost too much, which is saying something for me, because I prefer sweeter barley wines. Maybe because the alcohol is still hot, the sweetness just seems slightly unbalanced. Of course, I’m not sitting here saying I don’t enjoy the beer, because I do. Just not as smooth as the 1997 regular Harvest Ale I enjoyed some time ago.

ehhdayton (1188) - USA - OCT 20, 2005
A sweet winelike aroma is present in Lagavulin. The color is a deep golden with no head. The flavor of alcohol is clearly present along with a winelike sweetness.

dwyerpg (6180) - Las Vegas, Nevada, USA - OCT 18, 2005
UPDATED: MAR 30, 2006 Hopefully the one I bought to age turns out better. A fine smelling barley wine, like they all are, and full of alcohol. Pretty headless, but a good cloudy color. First taste is very very sweet. Sugar and molasses, with the wood obvious and maybe the whiskey. A good brew, but too sugary to be truly great.

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