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Review of J.W. Lees Limited Edition 2006 Harvest Ale (Sherry Casks)

Hello everyone.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be trying another J.W. Lees Harvest Ale produced by the J.W. Lees & Co. Ltd. Brewery (Greengate Brewery) in Middleton Junction, Manchester, United Kingdom.  This particular brew is a 2006 version aged in Sherry Casks.

Let’s revisit the website, jwlees.co.uk, for the commercial description of these tasty brews.

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 don’t know about you, but I’m ready for a sip.

This brew, like all other J.W. Lees Harvest Ales, comes in a 9.3 oz. bottle with an ABV of 11.5%.

It poured a surprisingly clear, brown caramel color.  It formed a very, very small off white head.  Literally, no size at all from a most gentle pour.  A thin circumference of foam was left around the top of the liquid, but no lacing was to be found.  A prevalent film of clear alcohol was left on the sides of the snifter when tilted however.

The aroma was incredible!!!  Beautiful, robust, rich tones of wood and oak along with a very well blended and balanced sherry note.  Further hints of sweet caramel sugars with undertones of toasted wheat bread.  The sherry pulled the most subtle wine aroma through while tender hints of dark fruit (fig mostly) add even more intricacy.  An awesome bouquet to say the least.

Within the taste I found some sweet caramel sugars and more of the nice, round wood and oak.  Savors of deep, dark breads soaked in wine, but without the sharp sourness that accompanies some wines.  Dark fruity fig and raisins complete this well balanced, harmonized and complex brew.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  Dry, very smooth and kind of chewy with a very low carbonation.  A soothing warmth was felt at the back end as it slipped down into the belly.  A very good deal of flavor was left behind long after each sip.

Well, this is another outstanding beer by J.W. Lees.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but if you love big, malty Barleywines you need to try a few of the Harvest Ales no matter the vintage.  They are all top of the line products in my opinion.  They are chocked full of flavor and aroma.  Not to mention that each have varying subtleties that arise with age and from the different barrels from which they are matured.  They are geared more as a slow sipper during the cooler months, however one could also imbibe gently during warmer weather as well.  If you guys happen to have the opportunity to try, or if you have already tried, the J.W. Lees Limited Edition 2006 Harvest Ale (Sherry Casks) let me know what you thought of it.  I would be interested in your opinions.

Thanks for reading everyone.  I really appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.25 out of 5
Grade:  A-

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Review of J.W. Lees Limited Edition 2007 Harvest Ale (Calvados Casks)

Hi guys.  For today’s craft beer review I’m going to be cracking open another J.W. Lees brew from the J.W. Lees & Co. Ltd. Brewery (Greengate Brewery) in Middleton Junction, Manchester, United Kingdom.  This one is the 2007 Harvest Ale matured in Calvados Casks.

Let’s refresh our memory of what the website, jwlees.co.uk, has to say about these brews.

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 also found this Calvados description from ratebeer.com:

Matured in wooden Etienne Dupont Calvados casks from the end of October until mid March.  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.

After that description I’m ready to drink.  How ’bout you?

This brew comes in a 9.3 oz. bottle and it has an ABV of 11.5%.

It poured a muddy, amber to burgundy color with quite a bit of sediment accidentally deposited from an aggressive pour on my part.  The head was meager and light tan in color.  The retention was ok as was the lacing, but the alcohol legs were very prevalent and attractive.

The nose…..  Wow!!!  Right off the bat I got some of that expectant J.W. Lees goodness.  Very malty with hints of caramel and toffee sweetness.  Toasted breads, biscuits, oak, syrup and booze (Brandy).  As I studied the aroma a bit more I began to pick up tones of apples and other light fruits.  Awesome!!!  A truly outstanding and beautiful aroma.  It was balanced and blended so well.  I just kept sticking my nose in the snifter to take it all in.

As I was anticipating, I got tons of malt in the taste as well.  Savors of caramel and apples.  It was very similar to caramel apple dip.  Tasty!!!  Some toasted bread and biscuit aspects, however they seemed a touch more relaxed than they were in the bouquet.  The alcohol was definitely noticeable, but it was quickly covered and harmonized by the other characteristics.  Most notably the light fruits (apples).  Flavors of oak and wood played a supporting role at the back end to give it that earthy/round taste.  It was of medium strength on the sugary sweetness, which, in turn, let those malts really stand out.

The mouthfeel was medium bodied.  Incredibly smooth, slick and nicely dry.  Quite possibly the smoothest J.W. Lees Harvest Ale I’ve had to date.  Very little carbonation was to be had, but a small dab of warmth and an excellent dose of flavor was left covering the palate long after each sip.

There was a ton going on with this beer.  Outstanding to say the least.  I absolutely loved the apple relishes combined with the malt, booze and wood.  It’s most definitely a sipper, however that’s how I like it because it forces me to take my time and really digest all that this beer has to offer.  All this beer does is just reaffirm my love for J.W. Lees Harvest Ales.  That’s about all that needs to be said really.  If you guys have yet to try a one, I’d suggest picking one up of any vintage and of any variation.  They are all incredible in my opinion, but this 2007 version matured in Calvados Casks is really something.  Be sure to let me know what you think if you have the opportunity to sample it.  I would love to hear if you have the same affection for them that I do.

Thanks for reading and commenting guys.  I really appreciate it.

Until next time.  Cheers.

Score:  4.6 out of 5
Grade:  A+         

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Country: England, J.W. Lees

 

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

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, jwlees.co.uk, 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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