Often, one finds themselves lost in a sea of beer sites and blogs. Sometimes I wonder, “are there too many of them?” No, absolutely not—as long as they all are not saying the same thing. Thus said, the content of this site is carefully chosen, especially when it comes to beer reviews. The honest truth is, the authors of this site collectively drink too many varieties off beers than could be reviewed by this site. In fact, if a review were written per beer consumed by both Mike and I, we would indeed have to quit our jobs to keep up, and/or readers would become tired of simply reading beer reviews. The bottom line is: beer reviews are posted on this site because we felt the need to highlight something in particular. Either the beer is fitting to the season, was horrible, was outstanding, contained a flavor nuance we had never encountered, or any number of reasons and combination of reasons.

So the reason for posting this review and the subsequent love sonnet, is because I felt these beers must be tasted by you, simply because they are exceptional…

The first of these two beers to review is J.W. Lees’ Harvest Ale Matured In Calvados Casks. You may remember a future article in which Mike review the 1999 Harvest Ale. This beer is of the same recipe, only it was brewed in 2007, and was aged in Casks that were once used to age Calvados.

Calvados is a unique French Brandy that is made form apples.  Don’t feel bad if you have not heard of Caovados, as only 200,000 bottles are sold in the United States each year.  Calvados is said to taste of apples, cinnamon, and vanilla, amongst other spiced flavors.  Inevitably, as per the intent of the brewer, a beer aged in a cask used by another liquor/alcohol picks up residual flavor.

Before opening up a bottle of this beer or others in the series (port, whiskey, or sherry cask matured), one must prepared themselves…they are not about to drink a session beer; that is, block out an hour of time for this beer.  Do not expect it to quench your thirst or wash down your meal.  It a sipping beer that I would recommend as a dessert following a meal or night cap.

The Pour:

I’ll be honest:  Usually I neglect the ‘pour’ portion of a beer review.  I mean, how different can a pour be across the IPA spectrum?  But this beer is notable.  It does not pour like your stereotypical “beer.”  There is prctivcaly no head, little to no carbonation, and looks to be of the same consistency as a liquor, maybe a Disarno or Franjelico.  There were considerable amounts of remnants of the brewing process in the bottom of the glass, even after allowing this beer to sit motionless for 48 hours prior to drinking.

The Aroma:

Holy nuts!  The powerful malt aroma smell aroma is chock full of nutty scents.  The Clavodos aroma does not appear to be present in the boutique of this beer, but sweet molasses and sugary candy sweetness hit the nose.  Toasted malts are abundantly present.  There all sorts of spiced notes.  Not “spiced” like a Belgian or Heffeweizen, but spiced like the smell of a Rhubarb Pie.  Wonderfully complex!

The Taste:

This is wonderful.  I mean, I could drink this every night, were it not $7.99 per 12 ounce bottle!  The sweet nut flavor is actually does taste a bit like a nutty liquor such as Franjelico, but there is a very unique nuance to this beer.  Coconut.  Sip after sip, I tested my taste buds but could not shake a powerful coconut flavor.  The calvados comes off very balanced in the flavor.  I would say that while there extremely minimal traces of apple, the characteristics come through as cinnamon, spice, and vanilla.  The toasted nature of the malt makes combines with all of these flavors to result in the illusion that you are drinking a dessert, like a macaroon:  except this dessert has an ABV of 11.5%  that warms the body and eases the mind.

Nate’s Rating:

Overall Satisfaction: ★★★★★ 

Among other Vintage Ales: ★★★★★