Review of J.W. Lees Limited Edition 2006 Harvest Ale

20 Feb
For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be reverting back to one of my favorite beers.  The J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ale Series produced by the J.W. Lees & Co. Ltd. Brewery (Greengate Brewery) in Middleton Junction, Manchester, United Kingdom.

This is the 2006 version and I’m sure it’s going to be just as tasty as the others I’ve had.

From the website,, we find this description of the Harvest Ale.

Released in limited quantities in December, Harvest Ale gives a rich, strong flavour, beloved by beer connoisseurs.  It can be laid down like a vintage wine for enjoying in later years.

I can’t wait to try this.

Like all J.W. Lees Harvest Ales, this one comes in a 9.3 oz. bottle and has an ABV of 11.5%

The brew poured a murky brown to caramel color.  I could see quite a bit of sediment floating about in the snifter.  The head was tan in color, small and petite from a very gentle pour.  The retention time was subpar (that was to be expected) and the lacing was slight, but I received a very nice coating of clear alcohol on the sides of the glass. 

The nose was very rich and sweet.  Hints of caramel and sugary molasses really take hold as scents of toasted biscuits, booze soaked raisins, raisin bread, prunes and dates only add to the depth of this brew.  Additional essences of buttered batter and leather.  It kind of smelled like a freshly oiled baseball glove.  Outstanding well balanced, congruent and bodacious.  These are some of the best smelling beers on the planet in my opinion.

The flavor was a superbly harmonized and complex concoction of sweet caramel and toffee with more of the aforementioned baked breads, alcohol infused dark fruits, molasses, toasted bread crusts and biscuits.  Further savors of dried tobacco gave the flavor a very earthy tone that was quite well received.  Like the aroma, the taste was very rich, bold and sweet.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  It was also very dry, smooth and slick.  This particular vintage didn’t seem to provide as much warmth as previous versions I’ve had, however I still found a little bit deep within the chest.  The palate was completely drenched with flavor and left with plenty to ponder long after the sip was gone too.

Like all J.W. Lees Vintage Harvest Ales, the 2006 is one very, very good beer.  Gargantuan amounts of aroma and flavor.  One thing however… even though the flavor was immense, I didn’t find that it was quite as “big” as the ’01 or the ’02.  No matter because it was still great.  Sure this beer is a sipper, but it is still a relatively easy drink considering the higher than normal ABV.  As I’ve mentioned before, if you can get your hands on any vintage of this particular brew, grab it and enjoy.  Each one is a work of art.  Every time I sample one it reminds me of why it is that I love craft beer so much.

Thanks for reading and commenting guys.  I really appreciate all of the support.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.3 out of 5
Grade:  A 

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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Country: England, J.W. Lees


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