Sunday, 1 April 2012

J.W. Lees Harvest Ale 2000

Limited edition 1 December 2000.

11.5% 275 ml bottle, crown corked.

I am celebrating the completion of the Poppyland Brewery drain. There were 5 days of traffic lights and delays in central Cromer but in the end it all went very smoothly. Tomorrow the new floor screed goes down.

I bought this little bottle of J.W. Lee's Harvest 2000 Ale, bottle conditioned, for £3.00 at a sale in Southrepps Village Hall (North Norfolk) last summer so I thought it was time for a libation in celebration and to placate the Trade Effluent Gods. As I poured this unctuous ale into a small stemmed glass it built a nice creamy head, then subsided to a ring in a minute or so. Thrusting in a nose there was a powerful, strange aroma of very aged malt. Against the light it looks dark red but it is very dark in the glass. The first taste was very sweet but malty (it was the first of the 2000 harvest of Maris Otter). Those East Kent Goldings died away years ago, so it had no real bitterness. The powerful greeting on the nose was not evident on the tongue. The flavour was dominated by cloying sweetness; so sweet in fact it that made my lips sticky. But the malt flavour lasted long after the sweetness has gone down the throat.  Considering how much alcohol there was it was very well behaved.

Has it been worth the wait – after 11 years and 4 months? Well, no not really. It was OK, but I wouldn’t rave about it. It’s certainly better than Gold Label barley wine, but not as much as it should have been. I can’t think there was much development after the first month or two. Why was it not drier after all this time? Either J.W. Lees’ ‘excellent Cervisiae’ yeast had given up the ghost in all that alcohol or the sweetness was down to dextrins, which cannot be fermented by ordinary yeast. So this beer has been in a state of suspended animation for over a decade and not getting any better. There's a lesson then.

I'll have another tipple now but the next one will be Humpty Dumpty's Christmas Crack 7%. We had a firkin of it last Saturday (a 60th birthday present from Mark and Neil - brill and thanks you guys). I bottled some off, just in case we didn't drink it all (and we didn't!). I'll tell you about the Humpty Dumpty Experience one day soon.

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