Sunday, January 17, 2010

Barley wine: the beer you can drink when it's 10 years old

Having a bit of post New Year clearout I came across a bottle of J W Lees Harvest Ale 2000 that I must have been given to celebrate the millennium. It's what's known as a 'barley wine' - a strong sweet beer, in this instance made by the J W Lees brewery in Manchester.

Most beers would have been as dead as a dodo 10 years on but at 11.5% ABV, Harvest Ale is clearly built to last. Still, it was a big ask to expect it to be drinkable after all this time and I was amazed how good it was.

It was so rich, sweet and dark (see below) it was more like a sherry or madeira, mind you. Only a background note of maltiness reminds you that this is beer but I suggest you drink it like a fortified wine with blue cheese, dark chocolate or a slice of dark sticky fruitcake. (In my view cheese is the best of all three, but then I'm one of the rare mortals who likes cheese more than chocolate.)

It's a shame in a way the weather has warmed up. It's the perfect beer to sip on a cold winter's night. Not that I'm tempting fate . . .



  1. Don't think I've ever had a barley wine before... it's something I definitely need to check out soon.

  2. Oh, you should Joshua. They're amazing. The ports of the beer world!

  3. Fascinating, never heard of barley wine before. Would obviously try it with a mouthful of blue cheese, chocolate AND sticky fruitcake LOL ;)

  4. I whole heartedly agree, barley wine is delicious stuff. And yes, i'm sure we are going to get plenty of cold nights before spring appears. lol.