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: 506   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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   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
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 its on the mark.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 18/20
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 cant believe how big this beer still is. It will last forever. Very warming.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
shadey (2100) - 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 dont remember this being this good. I absolutely love the smokiness to the finish. 7/3/9/5/19

   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 8/20
bigrond (1499) - factoryville, Pennsylvania, USA - NOV 13, 2005
this was a shot of whiskey - wasnt like a beer at all. It wasnt good at all. To bitter and to strong

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 2/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 5/20
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.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
IMtheOptimator (1167) - 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, Im not sitting here saying I dont enjoy the beer, because I do. Just not as smooth as the 1997 regular Harvest Ale I enjoyed some time ago.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
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.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
dwyerpg (5946) - 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.

   AROMA 5/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 12/20
duff (5484) - Copenhagen, DENMARK - OCT 18, 2005
Bottle. Very sweet aroma/flavour. Theres a fair bit going on here, but silks right, it does come across as a bit stale and sticky. Fairly straight forward sticky raisin, and smoky malt characters. Hints of sweaty socks, rubber and even some garbage juice in the finish. I actually prefer the regulat Harvest Ale to this one, which is a surprise, coz im partial to a bit of Lagavulin every now and then. This was dissapointing.

   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 4/10   PALATE 2/5   OVERALL 10/20
SilkTork (5691) - Southampton, United Kingdom, Hampshire, ENGLAND - OCT 3, 2005
Duff kept me waiting for this one. Bastard. Hed shown it to me earlier in the day and was dismayed by my lack of enthusiasm for a pasteurised beer which had been left to go stale in a cask washed out with a few bottles of whiskey. But he knew I had to try it. I had fussed and moaned about this beer so much in the past that I was actually very curious to try it. The history is that the American importer B. United tried selling batches of Lees Harvest Ale infused with Port back in 2001. This is occasionally done with some strong British winter ales. The experiment was not popular. In 2003, B. United shipped a large quantity of pasteurised Harvest Ale to Duponts facility in Normandy where Dupont stored them for 6 months in wooden casks which had previously held whiskey, or port or sherry. When they were released in the spring of 2004 they came out at the height of the oak-aged fashion. People fell over themselves to get hold of the bottles. And people fell over themselves in praising the beers. B. United have commissioned more. This time J.W. Lees have made up the storage barrels themselves, seasoning the wood with a few bottles of port or whiskey swirled around for a few weeks. My unhappiness with the beers stems from the obvious falseness of the approach. A pasteurised beer will not "mature". The casks are not Lagavulin casks, but casks in which a few bottles of Langavulin have been poured to season the oak. I dont mind the experiment, but I do mind the deceit that has accompanied it. Expressions such as "fully fermented" to conceal the fact that this is a filtered and pasteurised beer makes me angry. And a 11.5% beer does not need filtering! It is one of the daftest things a brewery can do. Gods teeth - it makes me mad that brewers are allowed to get away with such behaviour - and WORSE - that supposedly knowledgeable drinkers fall over themselves to buy the beer, thus encouraging brewers to filter and boil other strong beers rather than leave them to mature and develop naturally. Just imagine what these beers would have tasted had they not been killed. So, we have pasteurised beers slowly going stale in oak barrels. Big deal. And the taste of this one? Well, the strength of the alcohol provides most of the flavour - ugly burnt rubber from the fusel alcohol; and smokey bacon and a dead quality. A lifelessness in the mouthfeel. It tastes like stale beer. (What a surprise!). Its a heavy unpleasant beer. I had found the standard Harvest Ale to have provided sufficient interest in its very strength and clarity of malt to overcome some of the obvious faults from its crude, undeveloped strength (let the bloody beer develop on the yeast!) - but this stuff just offends me.

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