Welcome to my beer blog. Here I'll post some of my thoughts on and reviews of craft brewed beer. Follow me on Twitter @AleThoughts

Monday, May 2, 2011

Beer Review: JW Lees Harvest Ale 1999 Vintage

12 years have done you odd
To me J.W. Lees Harvest Ale is the gold standard for English barley wines. Between my buddy Greg and I we've got several vintages in our collections. Up to this point my favorite has been the 2002 vintage. For this special occasion Greg brought over his oldest bottle, 1999. Hell yeah. Nothing like drinking a fine beverage that was brewed before I was of legal drinking age. Let's see what a 12 year nap has done. By the way, I need to say that I hate that American brewers have to label their versions as "barley-wine style ales". Dumb laws.

It pours deep ruby red and very murky. It's got a light tan head and thin lacing that hangs around for a while. It smells of peppermint. Wait, what? Yeah, peppermint. I was certainly not expecting that. In addition to the mint it smells mildly earthy with a menthol/alcohol black licorice aura.

Tastes of rooty mint, anise and mild chewy fruity juicy goodness. Some malty fruit and black licorice through the finish. It's feels medium in body and lacks the warmth that usually accompanies a brew of more than 11% alcohol content

The '99 Lees is a very enjoyable and unique beer. This vintage is quite different than the others I've had. The peppermint and menthol notes set it apart from the rest. This experience makes me want to try barley wines of older vintages and from other makers. 

I had the pleasure of attending a vintage barley wine dinner back in February for my birthday. Tasting over 20 fine brews, but I did not take notes. Some of the brews I apparently sampled that day included a '98 & '99 Thomas Hardy and '93 & '96 Lees. That was a fine evening. 

So, cheers to a cellar filled with some choice old brews!

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