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


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 1090   WEIGHTED AVG: 3.86/5   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.

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   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
vtmobile (43) - Alabama, USA - JUN 29, 2003
Obviously divergent opinions on this one. I had the 2001 Vintage. Mahogany brown, cloudy with small white head that disappears quickly with little lace. Fruity , pleasant aroma. Explosive palate dominated by licorice and sugar. High alcohol content. Judge it as a Barleywine, not an ale. drinkable, complex but in small sips. I liked it.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 16/20
MrRomero (1976) - Nolanville, USA - JUN 9, 2003
Cask (calvados primed) sampled from Rich O's, New Albany, IN. This 8 oz sample took me almost 2 hours to drink. A huge beer full of flavor but soooo sweet. Big malty aroma, hints of maple, no head and virtually no carbonation.

   AROMA 4/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 17/20
TheBeerGod (6168) - Newport News, Virginia, USA - JUN 7, 2003
UPDATED: JUN 8, 2003 Had this at Capital Ale House in Richmond, VA on 6-7-03. 1997 vintage. Odd aroma. Not very pleasant on the nose. Weak alcohol notes along with a medicinal or "hospital" smell. Add faint chocolate and "wet dog" and it made for a lacking aroma. It was definitely made up for in the taste, however. Nice dark, rum soaked chcoclate notes. Similar to Samichlaus in many ways, to me at least. Smooth velvety mouthfeel. Attractive lacing on this deep brown bodied beauty. Great beer despite the nose. Recommended!

   AROMA 1/10   APPEARANCE 1/5   TASTE 1/10   PALATE 1/5   OVERALL 1/20
I.C.suds (189) - Da U.P. eh?, Michigan, USA - MAY 30, 2003
1999 tasted like alcoholy buffalo piss. I suspect my bottle was bad. I love other j.w.lees brews. I hate to bring the rating down but my $5.42 was wasted!

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
BeerLimey (2154) - California, USA - MAY 23, 2003
1999 Nose is deep and aromatic, sstrong frutiy aroma, heavy malt and alcohol emphasis. Smooth and thick palate, slightly syrupy. Rich in flavor, extremely sweet with lots of malt, bready, burnt toffee and dark fruits and berries. Dries moderately in the finish but remains predomiantly sweet throughout. Alcohol doesn't really get in the way. Seems like it would age well, so I'm going to wait a while before I hit the 2000 bottle.

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
loweredsixth (946) - Clovis, California, USA - MAY 15, 2003
UPDATED: JUN 19, 2004 1997 Vintage:
Sampled in 2004. Very dark ruby color with a large, long-lasting beige head. My notes for the 1998 version apply to this vintage, but there is a very strong brown sugar/molasses character in the flavor here. My numbers are for this vintage.

1998 Vintage:
Sampled in 2003. Deep ruby/brown color with a large off-white head that quickly diminished. The aroma had strong alcohol notes with a dominant plum character. Sweet malty, earthy flavor with an alcohol kick. A quick subtle hint of toffee rounded out the taste. Very soft carbonation...wet finish. Awesome English barley wine.

2000 Vintage:
Sampled in 2004. The color is much lighter here...still deep ruby/brown. Nice long-lasting off-white head. The aroma is much sharper in this vintage...sugar, spices, with a slight rotting garbage tone...you can tell this needs ageing. The flavor was extremely sweet...much more than the other vintages...sugary feel. This is my least favorite of the vintages I've tried.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
kujo9 (1095) - North Ridgeville, Ohio, USA - MAY 12, 2003
UPDATED: FEB 13, 2004 Vintage 1999: Nice medium copper color w/ a lasting beige head. First whiff is intensely malty and sherry like, lightly musty and cidery, also caramel and fruity(raisins). Alcohol becomes more noticeable in aroma as it warms almost to the point of solventy. It's also a little bready when it gets warm. Very intensely malty at first sip, caramelly sweet not quite to the point of cloying, but very close. Fruitiness (raisiny)and alcohol also adds to the sweetness with a hop flavor finish. There does seem to be a light roasty character as well. Overall could be more balanced for my taste, and finishes malty sweet for the aftertaste, although it does become a little drier about midway through my sample. Moderate carbonation and a very full body make this smooth sipper nice on a cold rainy day, but I couldn't drink more than one in a sitting, but I really like the complexities this beer offers. 2001 Version samples 2/13/04: Pretty much the same, but slightly cloying caramelly sweetness.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Darkover (1535) - Columbus, Ohio, USA - MAY 11, 2003
2001 vintage: Cloudy amber color with a small head. Aroma of caramel and alcohol. Flavor is very sweet with caramel, toffee. Long sweet finish. Very smooth and drinkable considering the high abv.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
21iceman40 (1735) - Grafton, Wisconsin, USA - MAY 11, 2003
Number 800, what can i say, it feels likes i'm graduating to a new level of appreciation. Smells very liqourice, black /red-who even cares. The aroma of a fucking black liqourice jelly bean. Tastes like liqourice straigth up, it is five years old. very elegant, very nice, what can i say,its a damn fine barley.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 5/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
thedm (6046) - Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA - MAY 5, 2003
UPDATED: JUL 7, 2004 Originally rated 5-4-1-1-1: This was a bottle of 2001 Harvest ale. This brew poured a small head of fine to medium sized light brown bubbles that, as it receded, left very little lacing. Its body was a cloudy dark brown color. It has an aroma of cinnamon and spice with some fruity notes. It had a burnt taste that was awful. Yuck what a drain pour. Was this sample bad? Maybe I'll have to sample another one if I can brave myself to try it again. Well, I finally braved this one again. This time it was a 1997 version and wow what a difference a few years make! This sample was much much better. Maybe the 2001 bottle was bad or it had not aged enough. So I will over-write my previous 5-4-1-1-1 rating with this new rating of 6-5-7-4-15 on the average of the two brews. This time the brew poured a large head of fine to medium sized light brown colored mostly lasting bubbles. The body was hazy softly carbonated dark brown colored and had a vinuous caramel malty aroma. The mouth feel was mildly vinous smooth thick and chewy. It had a strong deep rich caramel flavor. Much much better than the 2001. Age definitely does it justice. It has the most caramel flavor of any of my last 1100 ratings. Third bottle previous average was 6-5-7-4-15. This bottle was a 16 year old 1988 vintage bottle. Its cap was rusted, but the retailer told me it was still good. OK, time to put that to the test. 16 year old beer! Here we go! The rusted cap was rusted only on the outside. The inside cap was clean. This brew poured a very small head of clear medium sized mostly diminishing bubbles that left behind no lacing. The body was very hazy with a few small chunks of yeast, or other matter, in it. The aroma was vinous with a mild caramel note. The mouth feel was smooth with a mildly burning sensation of port like wine. The flavor contained notes of malt vinous alcohol, port like wine and was quite tasty for a 16 year old beer. The alcohol content was subdued but very noticeable. This beers ratings were 7-4-7-5-16 for an average of 6-5-7-5-15. Moving up just a hair on my ratings list.

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