Portsmouth Kate The Great - Portsmouth Brewery
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Ratings: 886 | Reviews: 485 | Display Reviews Only:
4.7/5 rDev +3.3%
22 oz. bottle, 2010 vintage, courtesy of rpstevens. A huge thank you to a very, very generous trader for helping me track down the last great bottled RIS I haven't had the chance to try. Allowed to cool for 20 minutes outside the fridge, and poured in to a 22 oz. snifter.
Appearance: Pours an oily, greasy-looking night, fairly far to the right on the "thin ---- thick" spectrum, and thick enough that it took a good 15 seconds for the half finger of perfectly cocoa-hued head to arise from this one. It's a soapy, frothy head, the color of a good, dark bisque (#e8c094, for those who are interested), and though the retention isn't fantastic, it does leave a nice delicate collar (that's replenished by a surprisingly fast and plentiful stream of bubbles, given the apparent thickness) and a light, thin dusting. The lacing is thick and syrupy-looking, but it runs down the sides of the snifter after each sip like it wants to stick its face in this beer as much as I do.
Aroma: And how could I not want to with a smell like this? Give it time to warm and you'll be rewarded. Huge dark fruits preside over a juicy array of berry notes and some almost meaty, smoky port overtones. Blueberries, raisins, figs, and even some cherries marinate in a sea of port wine, made in to jam, and then mixed with milk chocolate syrup and spread over perfectly-done toast. Ok, it doesn't quite smell like that, but it still smells fantastic, both in its authenticity and enjoyability, but also in its uniqueness.
Taste: How marvelous. An absolutely rich and decadent mouth, that hits everything that should be hit by an RIS (in my personal opinion). I'm hardly even sure where to begin with this one. The malt bill is absolutely phenomenal - it's definitely a little on the sweet side of things, but saying that is overly simplistic. The sweetness of the sugars manifests itself in a number of ways - from dark, deep, robust toffee to rich, creamy, milk chocolate, almost Hershey's syrup-esque - and it's balanced by just enough of a faintly astringent, heavily toasted backbone that it never comes across as cloying or syrupy. Faint, earthy notes, dirt that amplifies and compliments rather than detracts or distracts, and full city coffee - one cream ... perhaps two, and one sugar - round out the malt foundation that's decadent, wholesome, authentic, and incredibly inviting. But let's not forget the supporting characters. Huge, juicy, bright blueberries, currants, and raspberries dance across the tongue over a sea of plump raisins and dark cherries. Faint, tawny port notes add hints of fruit, smooth warming esters, and a kiss of spicy, oaky woodiness. And the 9.5% abv? What 9.5% abv? It's just so quintessential, so authentic, and so complex ... it can't get anything but a 5.0.
Mouthfeel: Incredibly slick, oily, and smooth, which is both a strength and a slight knock. On the one hand, it distributes the carbonation beautifully - an even, smooth, creamy mess, like an RIS milkshake. The carbonation was a little intense at first, perhaps a little too high (the result was an eruptive, frothy mess) but after sitting out for 5 minutes or so, it improves drastically. Once it calms, though, the slickness does become noticeable - I suppose I'm nitpicking though, as it's a very near-perfect mouth.
Drinkability: I hate sounding like a fanboy in beer reviews. But I have to rave a little about this one. This is one of the most enjoyable, richest, decadent, authentic, and complex RISs I've ever had. I actually had to go out of my way to find fault in a few places, and feel a little bad about that. The yeasty notes and the richness of the malts is inescapably small brewery. That is, I do believe it when I hear that, if KtG were brewed at, say, Smuttynose's facilities, it would have to taste different. This is old world, hands on, delicately crafted, small barrel but big flavor, and - at 9.5% - absolutely nothing to complain about in a world of 19.5% Black Tuesdays. Indeed, this is one of a very small handful of beers I've been genuinely sad about once I've downed the last sip, and I hope one day this beautiful lady will yet again pass my lips.
03-14-2010 05:23:02 | More by CrellMoset
4.7/5 rDev +3.3%
"It's the best it's ever been" - Todd Mott
Missed the bottles by 30 minutes or so at 5:45...
A - Nearly opaque, motor oil black with an extraordinarily resilient two-finger light cocoa head that foreshadows the mouthfeel. It dies down (after a substantial amount of time) to a mystical swirling sheet with a bubbly ring around the edges. A "blanket" seems fitting.
S - The smell contains all the elements of a good ole... (Must interject that Todd Mott interupted us to ask if his beer sucked and exclaimed "holy fuck are you kidding me" at my friend's notes)... RIS. The alcohol stands out to me, most likely enhanced by the aspects of the port soaked oak spirals that this beer is aged with for 5 months. Subtle chocolate and dark fruit (again attributed to the port) are also present. The alcohol hits me as a bit spicy. There is also a milky, vanilla scent here.
T - The taste follows suit to the smell. Initial heat from the alcohol is quieted by the mix making it surprisingly smooth. The chocolate is much more present especially in the aftertaste. The port is extremely interesting to perceive as you make your way through the glass.
M - The mouthfeel is so creamy it's almost weird. I've had thicker brews, but this may be the creamiest RIS I've had. The alcohol is present and warming but it's not overpowering. More of an enjoyable, relaxing feel that helps with the 4 hour wait in the nearly freezing rain.
D - Not that you would drink this in large quantities but it is rather filling and the alcohol take it's toll at 9.5%. I had 2 pours in about 2 hours and would've been in for another if I had not needed to leave. Extremely drinkable and smooth, excellent blend and take on a great style.
03-01-2010 17:40:23 | More by atremains
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
Enjoyed back on 888, reviewed from fairly meticulous notes. Shared with SAS, Inflatablechair, and theotherbeerguy.
My share poured into a Chimay goblet.
'07 bottle provided by Inflatablechair.... quite possibly the highlite of the tasting in my mind... Huge Thanks Sam!
Pour produced a beautiful lite brown head over a dark dark dark brew that only revealed the smallest rays of walnut highlites when held to a bright light... good lacing the entire glass.
Aroma is amazingly complex.. deep raisin and chocolate with a little bit of dried fruit... more chocolate and roasty.
For flavor.. note say see aroma but with even more complexity.. coffee and roasty with a little bit more fruit... dark dried cherries.. not as bitter as lending alot to the overall complexity.. just enough sweetness to tie it all together.. worthy of the hype... viscous but not overly thick.. still very drinkable.. even more so when we revisited the bottle a couple hours later.... wonderful for sure.
Another shout-out to Sam.. thanks sooo much.
08-19-2008 07:10:41 | More by JohnGalt1
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
Ok, now this one will be a little lengthy as I feel it really deserves a little bit of exploration to do it justice. First off much thanks goes out to my friend from up north for hooking me up with this a while back, I had not had a chance to properly review it, so I cracked open the last one last night and figured I would give it the respect it deserves.
Pulled this out of the fridge and let it sit for a while to bring it up near sixty degrees and proceeded to pour it into a nice oversized wine glass to really have the full experience. The pour was wonderful, full deep dark chocolate color, absolutely no light coming through this one at all, none, completely, and totally opaque. At first, there was no head, then on it came about five seconds later, a full two finger high head of chocolate tan foam just rose up over the top and never really went anywhere. It literally still had this thick foamy top throughout the entire session, really quite nice. The side glass lace was equally impressive with a huge amount of sticky brown mess all over the side of the glass. This is what I want my stout to look like, rich full, black as night. I was liking where this one was going.
Up next I decided to lean in and see what kind of aromas where coming in off this. I was really quite please with a full rich and dark essence coming right off the glass. Lots of notes of chocolate as you would expect, with a deep sugary sweet layer as well. Very nice little bit of vanilla in there, which was definitely noticeable and more then welcomed. As I sat there and just absorbed it there was a really nice oaky, woody alcohol note coming through as well, nothing harsh, but a little hint that it was lying just under the surface. Nice little touch of coffee coming through as it warms along with just the slightest grassy like nose.
The flavor was wonderful. The body was a little bit lighter then I thought it would have been, but not badly or weak in any way. Lots of carbonation here as well. Really full flavors of chocolate and vanilla coming through really clearly and very big. As it warmed it got even more complex bringing in hints of cookie dough, a nice warming bourbon like alcohol flavor and more sweet flavors as well. The finish was very long and dry with a big coffee and caramel like lasting flavor, very nice. I polished off this whole bottle in a sitting though I probably should not have as I was hurting this morning, but it was soo drinkable, even more so then some of its larger friends in the style. Great creamy feel and a lot sweeter then I thought it would be.
Overall, I have to say this was excellent. Is it worthy of its number two in the world ranking, that is debatable, I honestly liked the abyss a bit more, but to each his own. Still this was top notch and should be right up there in the top ten. An absolutely phenomenal beer, I would bend over backwards to try this one again, it is just that good.
03-28-2008 11:17:23 | More by mikesgroove
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
22oz bottle poured into a Portsmouth Brewery tulip. Big props to 603BeerMe for finding someone willing to trade their extra bottle, thanks a ton Clark! Bottle split with russwbeck.
A - Pours a dark black, no highlights at all to mention. A relatively normal pour yields a modest 1-finger head, almost cream-colored, much lighter than I would've expected. The head is velvety smooth, and the retention is moderate. Once its gone, it leaves a ghostly wisp in its wake and a small, bubbly ring around the edge. Not much lacing at all.
S - My first whiff brings a huge nose full of coffee and chocolate. Much more rich and robust than any other Russian Imperial Stout I've had previous to this. It's very bold and rich, bringing flavors of freshly roasted espresso and dark chocolate. As it warms up, the alcohol comes through a little, mixing with the sweetness and bringing out teases of anise and dark fruit.
T - The taste leads with a formidable malt influence, which comes through in a very roasty taste, not so much coffee but toasted grain. The roast and coffee leads into a semi-sweet chocolate. It's a thick and flavorful chocolate and lasts well throughout the drink. The anise in the nose is subtle but there is still a little bit of black licorice, but can't say that the dark fruits are represented in any capacity. The alcohol does come through a little, but its rather sweet. Finish is incredibly long and full of roast, chocolate, and sweetness.
M - Mouthfeel is heavy-bodied with low carbonation. Incredibly smooth and it feels very good on the palate. It's almost to the point of being creamy and it goes down so easily.
D - Drinkability is very high. Everything about this beer screams tantalizing, from the nose to the taste and finishing with the mouthfeel. The alcohol is noticeable but not astringent. This is a damn good beer and I'm glad I've had the luck to get this bottle!
04-01-2011 00:25:30 | More by nhindian
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
Cheers to kplynch and Mike for splitting one with me.
Came later so and the beer was already poured so I can't comment on the initial head. But after 20 minutes, a nice ring chocolate brown lace remains. Beer is black, but not pitch black.
Smells fantastic - soft chocolate hits the nose followed by malty sweetness and slight bittering hops. Taste is even better - chocolate covered rasins and rum-soaked figs come to mind. There is only a small hop profile as the sweet malts are riding this one all the way. Incredibly smooth!!! Alcohol is not existent and the carbonation is perfect - my beer was gone so fast!
I was asking for more but we only had one bottle. Kate is indeed great and fits the hype.
09-10-2008 19:25:10 | More by phattysbox
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
22oz. Bomber purchased from the Brewery Gift Shop in February.
I've had this on tap as well (it was just as good then) and have simply been too lazy to write a formal review while at the Brewery but this stuff is so damn good I just had to review it.
Pours pitch black with a full 2 fingers of creamy brown head and loads of lacing. Smells of dark roasted malts, chocolate, espresso, and some dark fruits. As for the taste, well... WOW. I can barely begin to describe this. Starts off with a nice coffee flavor which is quickly replaced by a combimation of sweet roasted malts and chocolate. This is followed by an appearance by some hops just before the coffee returns for the finish accompanied by some toffee. Mouthfeel is great, full body, which is just a bit lighter than I expected but still near perfect for the style. Drinkability is excellent. The only distraction is the ABV which quickly makes its presence known with a wonderful warming that quickly makes its way from the stomach to the extremeties. Bottom line: this stuff is amazing. I've had a fair few imperial stouts and this is the best. I suggest you make the trip to Portsmouth and give this brew a try.
04-04-2007 22:09:27 | More by mnj21655
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
Kate the Great '11
A: Pours thick and syrupy, with only a tiny mocha head that lines the edge of the glass. There is very little lacing as it drinks.
S: Smells mainly of brown sugar, molasses, roasted malt, and dark chocolate. There is a slight alcohol presence in this beer, but it's very subtle.
T: Tastes exactly like it smells. Roasted malt, molasses, and brown sugar. I also get hits of raisin, plum, cherry, and vanilla. This is a really complex beer. I'm amazed at how much is going on here. It's absolutely delicious.
M: Full bodied beer, that coats the palate and hangs on for dear life. Slightly sticky and chewy, but that fades.
O: This beer is wonderful. It totally lives up to the hype.
10-17-2011 16:11:16 | More by trxxpaxxs
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
Jet black body with a nice mocha head. Picturesque beer all around.
The aroma is great. There is a bunch of milk chocolate and coffee and it smells delicious.
The taste is crazy good. It is creamy chocolate and coffee blended together. There is a bit of hotness that is probably alcohol but could be some bitterness. I can't wait to see how this ages.
When it's cold, the body seems pretty thick but as it warms it thins out a bit and becomes almost more of an old ale consistency. I prefer RIS's on the thicker end and served on the warmer end, so this didn't quite meet the terms of perfection.
This is a DAMN good RIS. With a little age, I think the bitterness will reduce a bit and make this awesome. This beer is MUCH better cold rather than warm, which is usually the opposite of what I find. It still has good flavor and aroma cold and the body is much better.
12-16-2007 06:07:05 | More by drseamus
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
Well I've refrained from writing reviews on this site up until now, but what better way to get started than with this outstanding, complex imperial.
Had this in a snifter at the brewery in September of 2005
Jet black, ie: opaque in appearance
A very complex smell; currants, dark chocolate, star anise, piney hops, tar, toasted marshmellows, fresh brewed Kenyan coffee
Wow! Taste is remarkable. Vanilla powder, baker's chocolate, rum soaked raisins, melted caramel chews, very slight iron component, fresh green hops, dark roast coffee and malted milk balls all intricately woven together.
A great sipper. Smooth, velvety and lasting. You can really sit back and reflect on the world around you with this one.
Very drinkable for it's strength. No fusil alcohol astringency.
Can't wait to get back to the brewery to try this again.
02-10-2006 19:11:41 | More by Rochefort10nh
4.72/5 rDev +3.7%
After much anticipation and with great enthusiasm I finally got to try the much-touted Kate the Great and I must say I was not disappointed. The presentation was perfect, after purchasing my two bottles I returned to my table to find it was the first table to receive the beer.
The appearance was as expected, opaque with a nice chocolate head. The aroma was very mild and sweet. This beer was very drinkable, smooth and malty with perfectly balanced notes of coffee, chocolate with a nice toffee finish. I perceived a little bitterness at the end either from the hops or possibly black patent malt, either way the sensation was welcome. There was a little heat detected from the alcohol. This was apparent even while the beverage was cold though the heat didn't increase as the beer warmed.
Overall I'd say this brew is worthy of nobility and common folk alike.
06-26-2008 17:26:05 | More by edbeer
4.73/5 rDev +4%
Lucky enough to taste this amazing beer off the tap and was not disappointed. Very light taste and finish for such a big Imperial Stout. KTG starts out with a wonderful aroma and strong head when served. Hints of mint/chocolate combine with the obviously high ABV make for a nice pairing. This brew is light when first sipped but followed by wonderful flavor. A world class beer if you are lucky to get it off draft.
04-26-2012 01:18:31 | More by mdurkee11
4.73/5 rDev +4%
Adding review of 2011 sampled 1/20/12 with HimerMan. Just as amazing as I remember. Even better actually. Aromas are ridiculous, berries galore. Everything remains true that I described below. Mouthfeel was better than I remember, carbonation was slightly higher in this more recent example, maybe the freshness... Adjusting ratings, this is as close to perfect as a beer can be.
Bottle courtesy of rlmartin at our most recent tasting. 2010 edition. My hand is shaking as I pour the bottle I am so nervous. I have been waiting to try this beer for as long as I can remember.
Pours a dark brownish black, not the darkest I have ever seen, with a nice small dark brown head that you don't see all the time, which quickly recedes leaving some minimal lacing.
Aroma is ridiculous. Waves of initial complex smells; raspberry/blackberry jam, dark and milk chocolate, lesser darker and vinous fruits as well. I am really getting a lot of dark chocolate covered strawberry here. I have never experienced such a berry presence in a beer. Port barrels did this... interesting, wow!
The tastes directly follow the nose with waves and waves of dark chocolate covered strawberries, lesser sweet milk chocolate bar and tons of raspberry jam and a little vanilla in the background. I have never had a stout with so little roasted/coffee presence and so much dark fruit character but I am 100% in love with this, with KATE I guess, whoever she is!
Mouthfeel is soft and sweet and velvety. Low-to-medium carbonation which I normally dislike but I couldn't care less here. This is full yet almost dry in the finish.
Overall, words cannot describe not pleased I am with this beer. Usually the hype train is off course but this beer is worth it, holy S! I wish I had more. I am considering moving to Portsmouth now is how good this was. Highly recommended, track it down, trade for it, just WOW!
08-13-2011 14:24:44 | More by claspada
4.73/5 rDev +4%
Wow, Eric, you continue to be far too generous. Thanks for letting me have a share of this bottle!
2012 vintage poured into a snifter...
A. Thick, rich, motor oil in my glass. Darkest of browns, almost black. About a quarter finger of light brown head with some good, spotty lacing down the sides of the glass. Really nice wisps of head float atop the beer.
S. Mmmm. Cocoa powder, ripe fruit, cherry juice, vanilla, roasted malt, toasted caramel, subtle touches of hops, almost citrus-like. Hints of roasted coffee as well. I really like this...especially the infusion of dark fruit and some citrus zest from what I assume are hops. The bouquet here is near perfectly integrated, and hits a lot of nice notes.
T. Super dark chocolate drops, strawberry, cherry juice, whole coffee bean, bread crust, roasted caramel, mocha, citrusy hop, almost like a chocolate covered orange. De-freakin-licious. Pretty boozy finish, but at this point, I'm not caring. Barrel adds a lot of subtle char qualities but also contributes a cloying dryness that subtly burns the back of the throat. A decadent beer and the complete antithesis to brews like Chocolate Rain. This doesn't try to go over the top sugar-bomb on you. It lets chocolate, coffee, caramel, and roasted malt each have its turn. Very very very impressive.
M. Thick and full bodied with moderate carbonation. Flavors are well-integrated. Slightly boozy and tannic finish detract ever so slightly.
O. A spectacular concoction. Top-notch imperial stout that brings a lot of new flavors to the table, making it an exercise in unparalleled complexity. Might could use some age with the alcohol burn that exists at this stage, but it drinks nicely nonetheless. One of the best coffee and dark chocolate finishes I have encountered, and a great creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Bravo.
05-26-2012 19:18:34 | More by siege06nd
4.75/5 rDev +4.4%
Big thanks to Jay for opening this bottle up! 2010 vintage poured into a small snifter glass.
A: Pours a very nice dark black color with a small mocha/tan colored head on top. Not very big and reduces rather quickly, leaving behind a ring of foam and some random bubbles on top.
S: Lots going on in the aroma, lots of dark fruits - cherry and raisins. There is some espresso and coffee and a bunch of dark chocolate. In some ways it reminds me of a port.
T: Very big, lots of flavors that change as it warms. Slightly bitter chocolate and coffee a first with tons of dark fruit in the middle. More cherries, raisins, and figs, as well as some brown sugar and molasses.
M: Full bodied, but extremely easy drinking. Goes down very smooth. Slight heat, but no heavy alcohol presence.
O: A fantastic beer that lives up to its reputation. Extremely complex, but the ease at which it drank was amazing. Can only hope to have it again someday. Thanks again Jay.
02-03-2012 19:56:26 | More by mdaschaf
4.75/5 rDev +4.4%
8 hours of waiting on line later... Got bottles and finally get into Portsmouth brewery for this famed nectar. Served from a Portsmouth snifter.
A: Served with a slight wisp of chocolate colored head floating atop a massive, pitch black brew. Not wanting to dock points for this, I give my glass a couple of vigorous swirls to no avail. No head is gonna emerge from this abyss... Lacing is spotty and lingers a bit where the beer rises up but it fades quickly also. Very nice color but really not much else.
S: Smell is faint, possibly from a numb nose from waiting so long out in the cold... However, I'm not letting this get in the way. A deep sniff reveals chocolate brownies, molasses, honey, bakers licquorice, slight cocoa, maybe a hint of raisins, and a dash of coffee.
T: Finally, we get to the taste, and I can barely contain my excitement!!! My first Kate... Hype does crazy things to beer but I've definitely been disappointed recently so I'm cautious. My first sip reveals a full, sweet chocolate body sprinkled with a slight cocoa bitterness. The middle transitions a bit suddenly. There's a hint of dark fruit and coffee but this is quickly overtaken by the most pleasant liquified brownie taste that I ever did have. At 9.5% abv., I expect Kate to be hot, but she's deceivingly smooth, silky, and supple. Finish is fantastically clean, leaving just a bit of brownie sweetness to tempt me to take another sip.
M: Medium to full bodied in just the right way. Kate is the smoothest beer that I've ever tasted and may be the smoothest I will ever taste. Drinks like a 9.5% but its not from an unpleasant hotness, rather I get such a healthy dose of complexity that my mind just can't reason it to be any less strong. Little carbonation perfectly complements the body as does a finish that is surprisingly clean.
D: It really doesn't get any better than Kate when it comes to experiencing what an RIS is all about. Amazing complexity without a suffocating body, silky smooth while still maintaining the perfect amount of carbonation, you just can't go wrong with this beer. Sometimes hype can create a "good" beer, here though, the beer no doubt created the hype!
03-02-2010 03:37:21 | More by SpeedwayJim
4.75/5 rDev +4.4%
2009 vintage enjoyed at one of the local tastings. Thanks, Mark! I wish I wrote more, but it was one of the last to pour that night.
Pours black with a minimal head. Looks as advertised.
Smells of figs, raisins, sweetness, and a little earth. I love the way this one smells.
Thastes of chocolate, figs, raisins, brown sugar, and dried fruit. This kind of combines the best qualities of beer and port.
Creamy and luxurious in the mouth.
Nit quite what I expected from an imperial stout. No roast, no coffee, and more like a barleywine. Awesome beer, though, that almsot defies definition. Greatly drinkable.
05-19-2010 17:39:06 | More by RomaniIteDomum
4.75/5 rDev +4.4%
*Attn BA Bros: please don't delete this review. I realize it was not on tap, but I want to create a new review separate from my 2009 bottle.*
2011 bottle, aged in a true cellar. Want to enjoy this in celebration of the impending home purchase (and also to avoid anything bad happening to the bottle while moving). I was at '09 KTG Day, and I can't wait to taste this one again.
A tiny psst when the cap comes off makes me a little concerned, and it takes a hard pour to get just a 1/2 inch of head. Beer itself is obviously jet black. Aroma is that dark mysterious blend I love in a RIS... sweetness although I'm not sure whether it's coming from chocolate or dark fruits; complex roasted malts but not overly smoky; alcohol makes its presence known for sure.
Taste follows the same complex lines. It's fruity without being hoppy, it's roasted without tasting like coffee, it's thick and viscous without feeling like motor oil. I am glad I started this above cellar temp, as I wouldn't want to miss any of the intricacies. I might want a tiny bit more carbonation, but this style really doesn't need it.
I can't get over how smooth this is. It has all the oaky vanilla you get from a bourbon barrel aged beer without any of the burning booze. If you'll excuse me, I'm leaving now to enjoy the rest of my glass without a keyboard in front of me.
God bless you, Tod Mott.
06-24-2012 00:59:29 | More by coachdonovan
Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 886 ratings.