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


on tap

Regional Distribution

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RATINGS: 1087   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 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 (5952) - Fredonia, New York, 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.

   AROMA 6/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 16/20
pivo (2672) - GERMANY - MAY 3, 2003
2002: This is a pretty frickin good beer. Potent nose of dough - like a big prezel. Not convinced if it was a good aroma though. Lush, reddish-amber color and a low tight lathery head. Big rich sweet malt body with hints of honey and plums. Complex spiciness towards the end with a peppery finish. This all gets a kick from the perceivable alcohol. Very thick and syrupy. Interesting for sure.

   AROMA 10/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 10/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 19/20
Cobra (1100) - - MAY 1, 2003
Had this on tap at RFD in Washington, D.C. It came from a hand pulled keg in a big glass door cooler. No added carbonation to this beer, only natural residual carbonation from the keg itself. Pours out a deep copper color, some chill haze. Maybe it was shivering in that big cooler, huh? Nice rosy head on it, aromas were all over the place. This beer reminds me of a Samichlaus because of the complexity of the aromas and tastes. Every kind of fruit you can imagine was present in the nose of this beer. Kiwi, strawberry, pineapple, and I smelled the mint notes as well. Mesmerising just to look at, because as it settles down, it changes colors as well. Unbelieveable tastes here. Caramel, dried fruit, new leather wallet, malts, and of course, alcohol. Vineous, warming burn as it goes down. You owe it to yourself to find this beer on tap, if you can.

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 16/20
Dogbrick (12252) - Columbus, Ohio, USA - MAY 1, 2003
UPDATED: SEP 24, 2003 December 2001 Bottle (Sampled 5/1/03 - 4.0): Pours a dark copper color with a medium and dense beige head. Aroma is very sweet malt and caramel, and the alcohol is well masked. Full-bodied and chewy with flavors of caramel and rum, along with some malt. As with the aroma, you don't really get a sense of the alcohol level in the flavor. Finish is long and sweet (borderline cloying). $4 for a 9.6oz seems a little high but it was worth it.
1999 Bottle (Sampled 9/23/03 - 4.1): This vintage is a ruddy dark amber color with a medium beige head. Thin lacing. Aroma is very sweet, mostly caramel with some malt as well. The richness of body is similar to the 2001 vintage. Very rich and chewy. The flavor is very sweet caramel and malt along with some plum. Alcohol is well hidden. The finish is full and sweet. I am giving this vintage a slightly higher score.

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