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Portsmouth Kate The Great - Portsmouth Brewery

Not Rated.
Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

891 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 891
Reviews: 485
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 10.55%
Wants: 2,691
Gots: 171 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: bewareOFpenguin on 04-07-2005)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 891 | Reviews: 485 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by mtbdonn:
Photo of mtbdonn
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

mtbdonn, Feb 17, 2014
More User Reviews:
Photo of ryan1788a5
4.54/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

11.2oz bottle poured into a snifter. 2012 vintage.

A: Beautiful black pour, it sheens like an opal. Coffee colored head settles after a moment, but this is no surprise given the strength. Spotty lacing.

S: Chocolate chews, fudge sauce, chocolate cake. Waft of leather and smoke. Various stone fruits (mostly plum and currant) and red berry scents. Port wine. Perhaps the faintest pull of oak.

T: Fudge sauce, chocolate chews, German chocolate cake, cocoa, brownie batter. These flavors are pervasive and provide a solid anchor. Hints of smoke and espresso. Sherry. Plum and a burst of vinous red berries. Brush of alcohol. Spicy herbal/tobacco hops were not perceptible until the beer warmed to near room temperature. Sherry and lingering fudgey flavors on the finish.

M: Slick in texture, but not weighty or sludgey. It glides effortlessly over the tongue. Little to no carbonation. Mild astringency seems vinous in nature. Slight tingle of alcohol is all that alludes to its potency. Delightfully silky and smooth.

O: A marvelous interplay of vinous fruity flavors and fudgey malt tastes. Perfect in body and texture. Complex, refined, and an absolute pleasure to sip. Wine-lovers will appreciate it, as the vinous nature of it pulls through significantly. If Todd Mott brews anything like this when Tributary gets off the ground, the world will be a much better place for it.

ryan1788a5, Apr 20, 2014
Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.22/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bomber from Jamie2Dope. Thanks for the trade man.

Appearance: Black coffee body with a persistent tan lacing.

Aroma: Spicy, smoky, beefy, meaty, sweet booze, bittersweet coffee, tootsie rolls, and molasses.

Taste: I'm instantly impressed by the meaty, smoky notes and then the spicy/herbal, tobacco flavors. Yummy. Peppery. Boozy. Molasses. Prunes and plums.

Mouthfeel: fairly sweet but in a pleasant way. Rich and smooth. Nicely carbonated. Spicy/bittersweet finish.

Drinkability: It gets a bit syrupy after a while and the booze becomes more filling and pronounced so KTG takes a small hit int his category.

Excellent beer.

DaPeculierDane, Feb 23, 2008
Photo of ricke
4.38/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Not sure what vintage this was, the bottle lacked marking.

A: Black with a small beige head that settles fast into a small ring of lacings.

S: Roasted malts, molasses, chocolate and a hint of soy. Perhaps a hint of toffee. Very balanced, not overly powerful but very pleasant. No sign of the alcohol.

T: The taste is somewhat sweet with lots of roasted malts, hints of dark fruits and pleasant chocolate flavors. Molasses. The finish is somewhat bitter with a hint of alcohol and lingering notes of licorice. Very well balanced composition.

M: Not overly full-bodied. Mild carbonation. Surprisingly easy to drink.

D: This is definitely not the biggest imperial stout I've come across. It doesn't display any overpowering in-your-face flavors. Instead, it comes out as really balanced, very tasty and very easy to drink. I was actually a bit surprised that its character was so ordinary. But after thinking about if for a while, I think this is what makes it stand out - it's just a top example of how a plain old imperial stout should taste like.

ricke, Oct 19, 2009
Photo of Someguy1989
4.33/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Kate Day 2011, was really really looking forward to trying this one. The real question is, did it live up to the hype?

A- Black color, light brown head. Not the darkest beer I've ever seen. Head retention was medium.

S- Huge amounts of chocolate, with dark fruit, and a slight woody flavor from the oak. Its how I kind of envisioned it to smell. Its got a big aroma that is strong yet nice and subtle.

T- More sweet chocolate that mingles greatly with the taste of dark fruit that enters in midway. Lots of raisins here, you really can taste the port that's added to this beer. The roasted malt here is predominately chocolate and I don't get much in the way of bitter chocolate or coffee here. Instead, I get some balance from the oak, which helps form this almost tobacco like flavor. It blends well and it works. I feel like this beer could be pondered over and explored for a very long time.

M/D: Mouthfeel is full bodied, not as thick as I had envisioned but still a very hefty beer. It was not the silkiest beer I've ever had but the mouthfeel still provided a positive influence on the experience. As for drinkability, its a delicious beer and had I not been the one driving home I would have gone for one more. That being said, it was quite boozy once it warmed and I couldn't drink this beer all night.

In conclusion: I'm glad I took the day off from class and got myself up to Portsmouth to finally get a glass of this. It is an incredible beer, one worth every beer advocates time, effort, and money. Was it my favorite beer of all time? Not really, there are many others out there I would prefer that I don't have to stand in line in the cold for three hours for. That being said I would love to get my hands on a bottle, and age it for a while. I'm sure in a couple years time, it would be absolutely incredible

Someguy1989, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of SkiBum22
4.98/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Poured a deep black with with one finger head that descended into a thin frothy lacing, slight webbing as it lowered.

S - Smelled of dark fruits and chocolate, and almost a bit of a red wine scent in there.

T - Chocolate, espresso flavors/bitterness, oak, some alcohol in the finish, anise, molasses, some port flavors as well. Smooth finish.

M - A nice thick heavy mouthfeel, low to medium carbonation.

O - This is a top 10 beer for me. Absolutely lives up to the hype and then some. I've had a lot of great beers in my life but this one stands out. I will be trying to get a bottle every year from here on out.

SkiBum22, May 18, 2012
Photo of readicculus
5/5  rDev +9.9%

readicculus, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.97/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue I:

Dense, opaque, black--like motor oil-- with a rich coffee-colored head that eventually drops to a ringed lace. Gorgeous. Big, bold nose full of molasses and chocolate cake with a glass of milk on the side. Spicy hops blended with sherry and a tease of anise and char in the back. Tobacco, too. ("So ... damn ... complex," said like Shatner.) Smooth, full-bodied and viscous in the feel. Quite spicy up front, with an herbal, lightly citric hop smack steeping in a borderline boozy, peppery and warming alcohol--a chop to the throat that burns just a bit. Malt characters run deep with tangy blackstrap molasses, honey, treacle syrup, char, brownie/chocolate, burnt coffee and an interesting dark fruitiness that's akin to prunes. Finish is quite tame with powdery sweet chocolate. More hop spice, fumy alcohol (not too hot) and a hint of smoke in the linger.

Kate is indeed great. Balanced (for what it is), insanely complex and ranking right up there with the best of its style. In fact, it recently scored the best beer in America in our December issue of BeerAdvocate magazine. Big-ups to brewmaster Tod Mott and crew.

BeerAdvocate, Nov 13, 2009
Photo of newk340
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

newk340, Feb 04, 2012
Photo of orbitalr0x
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage bomber. Pours into my glass a deep charcoal black with an inch of dark tan foam on top that leaves spotty lacing on the side of the glass. Rather viscous. Aromas start off with rich dark malts and big bittersweet chocolate. Molasses, dark fruits and somewhat of a spicy aroma as well. Hints of anise and vanilla bean with a touch of alcohol as well. Big, dense and layered.

First sip is big and rich bringing lots of dark roasty malts along with bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder. It melds in with a mix of molasses, dark fruits, licorice and light coffee flavors. Flows down with a bit of a spicy sweet accent and a bit of vanilla flavor as well. Rich chocolate malt aftertaste with a touch of alcohol on the finish as well. This one is big on all accounts and flavor packed. Yum.

Mouthfeel is rich and chewy with a big malt body. Really smooth with a good, more mellow carbonation. Goes down smooth given the ABV. Overall, a tasty, rich imperial stout the brings a great depth of flavor as well. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to try this many time on tap and now finally in the bottle. I'll look forward to having it again sometime too!

orbitalr0x, Oct 22, 2008
Photo of blitz134
4.3/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Lots of new beer tasted over the past month or so, but only two reviews. I managed to pick this one up New Years Eve at the brewery, I was pretty happy to find it still on tap and I gladly took 64 oz home to have all to myself, mwuhahaha!

I really liked this beer, don't get me wrong. Appearance, aroma, and taste were all really good, something I'd rank between a 4 and 4.5. Its a solid beer no doubt, but I wasn't floored by those three. The thing that made this one for me was the mouthfeel and just overall drinkability.

Basically poured bitch black, small 1/2" dark brown head. Not really any lacing. Might have been better on draft.

Dark roasted aromas, brownie hints. Alcohol is evident after warming. Flavors of dark chocolate and brownie, once again. Some day old, cold black coffee in there. Alcohol flavors once its warmed a bit, but not harsh though, it works in nicely. Nice roasty finish.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Low carbonation lends to an incredible full body and smoothness. Not really any lingering bitterness.

This is a beer with good aroma and flavor that just goes down so damn smooth. You really could drink it all the time.

blitz134, Jan 12, 2008
Photo of lordofthewiens
4.83/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Wow! What a beautiful beer! Dark, dark black with a thick coffee-colored head and impressive lacing. It had a wonderful chocolate odor with a hint of cherry. It had a smooth, sweet, chocolaty taste with a slight hoppiness to it. It felt very nice in the mouth, with only a little carbonation. Very drinkable, just remember to take it easy.

lordofthewiens, Jan 25, 2006
Photo of gregmoscetti
4/5  rDev -12.1%

gregmoscetti, Dec 30, 2012
Photo of mbrandon2w
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a growler to share with my fiancee's family over christmas.
Poured absolutely Jet black. No light came through whatsover. Nice dark brown head.
Aroma of chocolate, coffee. Both in the taste as well. The flavor was so complex and unbelievably smooth. Coffee, chocolate, slight roasted grains, some alcohol.
According to the bartender when I bought it, this was closer to 12%, and I can't believe the beer was so smooth if it had that much alcohol.
I wish I could get more of this.
Of the 5 or 6 people that tried it, not a single person did not love it.

mbrandon2w, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of Todd
4.8/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Growler from the source. Man does it suck living only 1 hour away from the brewery. Dual-reviewing this with the bro as I type, but silently so he won't copy me.

Dense, opaque, black, like motor oil, with a rich looking coffee colored head that eventually drops to a ringed lace. Gorgeous.

Big, bold nose full of molasses, chocolate cake with a glass of milk on the side, some spicy hops blended with sherry, and a tease of anise and char in the back. Tobacco, too. "So ... damn ... complex," said in my best Shatner voice.

Smooth, full-bodied, and viscous in the feel. Quite spicy upfront, with an herbal and lightly citric hop smack that's steeping in a border-line boozy, peppery, and warming alcohol chop to the throat that burns; just a bit. Malt characters run deep with some tangy blackstrap molasses, honey, treacle syrup, some char, brownie/chocolate, burnt coffee, and an interesting dark, fruitiness that's akin prunes (aka - dried plums; which I guess sounds better these days). Finish is quite tame with some powdery sweet chocolate. More hop spice, fumy alcohol (not too hot), and a hint of smoke in the linger.

Kate is indeed Great. This is probably the 4th or 5th time I've had this beer and it just keeps on getting better. Balanced, for what it is, insanely complex, and ranks right up there with the best of its style.

Todd, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of Callmecoon
3.5/5  rDev -23.1%

Callmecoon, Nov 21, 2011
Photo of bishopdc0
4.45/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared a table with a group of people, all who had come alone. We shared many rounds and were able to discuss the taste changes over the years.

This is my first kate so I don't have a frame of refrence.

To start this beer is black with a dark tan head. The head becomes a small rim at the glasses edge by the time I start drinking.

The nose is a little faint but the aroma of roasted barley, and a slight fruity tartness.

The taste of this beer is exceptional. It starts with a sweet chocolate and the mouth is very smooth with a light carbonation on the tongue. As the carbonation dissipates a slight amount of alcohol numbs and reveals a roasted and fruit and cherry taste. This is where is stand apart. The overal taste is wonderful.

The brewery stated that is was 12% and you couldn't tell at all.

bishopdc0, Mar 08, 2011
Photo of Britton
5/5  rDev +9.9%

Britton, Nov 18, 2011
Photo of Jason
4.88/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I've tasted this beer in passing, the last time was probably EBF 06'. Blurry memories so now I'm finally splitting a growler with Todd.

Pours thick and black with a sufficient brown lacing.

Aromas of chocolate cake batter, Tootsie rolls, chocolate covered malted milk balls and dry toasted cocoa beans. Hint of dark berry and spicy herbal from the hop / alcohol combo.

Creamy and a bit slick, almost a little syrupy in the mouth. Smooth carbonation. Alcohol is warming and a little fuming but not hot, hops come through quick with the alcohol before the maltiness lays in. Chocolate syrup, molasses cookies, dried plums and a cocoa powder maltiness slowly appear with each sip as each complex layer peels away. Finishes with some hop flavor, slight charred malt and a semi-sweet choco-flavor.

Perfectly balanced, very complex yet not too over the top so it has a dangerous level of drinkibility. There is so much chocolate and cocoa goodness here, so don't expect a big burnt charred character its more mellow within the sweetness.

Jason, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of tjthresh
4.05/5  rDev -11%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle. Pours pure black with a dab of brown head. The aroma is light with cocoa and I get a bit of vanilla or marshmallow fluff. The flavor is a bit more chocolaty, with a roasted edge. I found this to be more subtle that most of the "bash you over the head" type imperial stouts that we've come to love. In a night were we had the complete set of Dark Lord, this was a welcome addition.

tjthresh, Feb 21, 2009
Photo of fdrich29
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The joys of being a father know no bounds...

So at the tail end of my three month vacation I took to be a stay at home dad with my daughter I received a call from rocketfrog asking me if I wanted to go to Kate the Great Day at Portsmouth Brewing. "Why the hell not?" I say and a few days later with my daughter in tow we're heading up to New Hampshire.

We arrive around 1:30 or so and are among the last people to get a calendar page (November 7 & 8 I believe). The beer was released at 2:27pm. We wait and chat with the other people in line. Many familiar BA faces, some of which had just volunteered at the ACBF in Boston. I was offered a taste of Kate while we were waiting outside.

Love at first sip.

When the calendar dwindled down to the early Fall and we did the math, we realized we most likely weren't going home with Kate. October was called one day at a time, instead of the entire month. All of October received their beer, but that would be the end of Kate for the day. We were told to come back on rain check day with our calendar pages and we could buy the beer when they bottled more.

We had talked with Blackkristos for much of the wait and as he was leaving with his four bottles of Kate handed me one bottle as a gift for having waited for so long with my daughter. Tremendous beer karma goes out to him.

Rocketfrog and I had a glass at the bar before heading back home, and I had two glasses on that Friday with joepais when I went back up to collect my bottles on rain check day.

As for my review of Kate the Great....Totally, 100% worth the hype.

fdrich29, Jul 29, 2008
Photo of warriorsoul
4.7/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a 10oz. glass at the brewery...missed it the last time around, so was real glad to see it available.
Arrived in a standard glass w/ very little tan head...beer deep black in color w/ no light passing through. No lacing to be had with this one.
Very pleasant in the nose...sweet dark chocolate, espresso and some vanilla in the end.
Taste is phenomenal...the perfect blend of chocolate and coffee. Molasses, sweet carmelized malt and the very slight hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel is quite thick, but not cloying...carbonation is perfect for the style.
Did not find out what the abv is w/ this batch...I image it is at least 8% as it was slightly noticeable w/ no burn whatsoever.
Most beers in this style don't have this feel w/ out a year or so on it...one of the best I have tried to date and one that will have me up here every time it becomes available.

warriorsoul, Oct 02, 2005
Photo of badbeer
3.68/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Black with a beige head, decent retention and lacing. Some milk chocolate, cream, roast, sweet caramel, and a little coffee in the aroma. Sweet caramel, cream, milk chocolate and dark chocolate, some vanilla, and a touch of roastiness. Heavier than medium bodied with low carbonation, very smooth. An amazing beer, I need more of this. Thanks to Adam and Cole for the sample.

Update: Had this multiple times now. Smell has had some burnt plastic in every subsequent bottle. Taste has that as well, but not as much. A pretty smooth beer, but just not that big of a fan. Give me a Smuttynose IRS, please. More detailed notes to come eventually.

badbeer, Dec 28, 2008
Photo of magictrokini
4.6/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Easily the best beer from Portsmouth, I don't even have to try the others to proclaim this. Black pour with a tiny brown ring of bubbles on top. Thick lacing. Aroma stacked with coffee, chocolate, and roasted malts. Leather and tobacco are nearly as strong; this is one big beer. Huge flavor. The alcohol burn enhances the coffee and roasted malt, and brings out the little peppery hops contained in this one. Smoother vanilla and caramel pop in the end. Excellent beer.

magictrokini, Dec 12, 2008
Photo of standardcherry
4.25/5  rDev -6.6%

standardcherry, Oct 13, 2012
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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 891 ratings.