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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ericnixon (746) - Portland, Oregon, USA - JUL 6, 2003
UPDATED: SEP 21, 2003 9/20/2003 - 1996 vintage oak cask - I was at the Moan And Dove in Amherst with BTownBrewer and TogBean when i looked up on the beer board and saw "JW Lees 1996 Barleywine Ale - cask 16% - holy shit!" I had to have some. The bartender said that only two casks of that vintage made it into the United States (I kinda doubt that, but hey, you never know). The 6-oz glass poured from the oak cask at the end of the bar reminded me of a strong port. Strong alcohol aroma with a beautiful deep ruby color. Went down very very smoothly. Well worth it. (NOTE: my score for this beer is based on the 1997 vintage). - Rerate 8/11/2003 - 1997 Vintage again. Frickin' amazing stuff. this is simply wow. it is perfectly smooth with light alcohol hints that are so barely there that they are almost nonexistant. wonderful moleassassy (sp-1) and oaky flavor with fruity tones. perfection in a bottle. First rating 7/6/2003 - 1997 vintage quaffed in 2003. Interestingly packed aroma that reminds me of molasses and some fruitness. A somewhat spicy, earthy, mainly fruity flavor pervades the mouth.

duff (5484) - Copenhagen, DENMARK - JUL 3, 2003
2002 Vintage (quite young):Beautiful stuff. Really dessert wine-ish, lots of raisins and marmalade, with a long sweet finish. NOt cloying at all like i was expecting, really well balannced, and would really go well with some sort of sweet dessert, delicious.

Ni209 (67) - Tennessee, USA - JUN 30, 2003
1999: very winey (???) taste but started to expand as it warmed up. tasted kinda like sweet bread. do not attempt this beer if you are allergic to wheat.

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.

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.

TheBeerGod (6224) - 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!

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!

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.

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.

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.

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