Portsmouth Kate The Great - Portsmouth Brewery

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Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great

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489 Reviews

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Reviews: 489
Hads: 918
Avg: 4.51
pDev: 10.42%
Wants: 2,680
Gots: 170 | FT: 7
Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  12.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: bewareOFpenguin on 04-07-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 489 | Hads: 918
Photo of PHBoiler
3.52/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

This April 2015 review relates to a 2012 bottle. Really thin stout with quad-like flavors. Not much on the nose. Really past its prime. Wet cardboard flavors and papery mouthfeel.

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Photo of TemplofBeer
4.69/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this 2/26/15 it was a 2012 vintage at the Portsmouth brewery. It was fantastic, very do bust flavors of molasses vanilla and some barrel. I just recently opened a 2010 dark lord and this was better by a fair amount. Some sweetness but not overly so. A delicious stout. I can't wait for Tod Motts new Kate the great from Tributary brewing!

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Photo of 31Sam13
3.66/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A wonderful experience. When the beer is released it is like a whole different atmosphere; it makes people happy. I agree with the taste analyses by many of you, however, after drinking a fair amount of the stuff (or being lucky enough to) I must say that it has lost it's charm. It's not as otherworldly as some would have you believe. It hits its high notes, but its not the perfect beer, as rated here.

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Photo of Booty
4.48/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this beer on tap in 2009. It was awesome, 99 out of 100.
Had a bottle of the 2009 about a yr ago and it was kinda flat. It had a little CO, but not much. Still tasted great. World Class for sure.

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Photo of far333
3.6/5  rDev -20.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 vintage. Served in a crystal snifter.

Deep dark brown, nearly black, very opaque. A low soapy head rises up minimally and settles out flat. Low aroma of ripe dark fruits, lots of fig and plum. Rich and intense flavor of sharp espresso, smoke and leather, a bit ashey and acrid. Some cocoa notes lie beneath and emerge occasionally, but get pushed back down by the sharper flavors. Very flavorful, with lots of nuances. Mouthfeel is a bit thin and slick, but there is a tingly flourish in the finish. Excited to finally have a chance to try this much celebrated beer. I expected a little more from it, but it is a very good beer.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.53/5  rDev +0.4%
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.

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Photo of 4thelvofbeer
3.43/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle of 2012 KTG opened 2-17-14. This is a good stout, no doubt, but nothing spectacular. Rather quite average. Thanks to mtbdonn for sharing this beer...it was definitely on my list of "must try" beers and I'm glad to say that I got the chance to try it. It was good, but nothing remarkable. I guess a lot of the hype is because of the limited-ness of the beer and potential for it to not be made anymore, but overall an average good stout. I would not go out of my way at all to get this beer.

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Photo of zac16125
4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

330mL bottle into a snifter
2012 Vintage

450th Beer Advocate Review
My 94th out of the top 100 (based on the top 100 list at the time I started my quest to try all 100 of the beers)

A huge thanks to kdmcguire10 for sending this one my way.

A: Pours an opaque black with some browning on the edges when held to light. A thick sliver of tan colored heads builds and then fades fairly quickly. Leaves only a few small patches of lacing.

S: Quite sweet. Vinous, dark fruit notes, big licorice, chocolate cake batter, roasty, cinnamon, a subtle hint of booze. Just layers of complexity. Wonderful.

T: Chocolate, roasted malt and oak upfront. This is followed by a vinous component, which then fades back to an oaky vanilla thats reminiscent of some of the qualities barrel aging lends to a beer. I also get some herbaceous qualities, bitter coffee and cream. Again, its amazingly complex. So many wonderful layers to this one, and the flavors are bold, strong, and linger forever.

M/D: Full bodied, chewy, fairly smooth but carbonation on the heavier side for the style, which detracts from the smoothness slightly. Effectively no hint of the 12% ABV, and drinkability is so good that I have to make a conscious effort to slow down on drinking this one so that I can savor it.

O: Overall, this is an incredible beer, absolutely no doubt about it. Lives up to the hype, and well worth the wait for me. Arguably the best non-BA, non-additive infused Imperial Stout Ive ever had. The depth and layers of the aroma and flavor profiles are impressive. World Class.

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Photo of 77black_ships
4.34/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mid. 2013 review:

2009 Vintage. 65 cl. Bottle sampled. Pours black with a small beige head. Thick vinous molasses nose, thick sugar, malts, prunes, liquorish, wine vines, thick sweetness chocolate,… Taste is quite vinous, sour candy, dark red grapes, vinous, liquorish, wine vines, chocolate, molasses, malty, sweet spices, light bitterness in the back, very thick cake, lightly sour in the finish, bitter grapes,…. Almost touch light body for a stout,… Very unusual for a RIS esp. with the sour, red grapes, etc. notice, very unexpected. Still confused if this is supposed to be like this but it seems like this is the case. Unusual to say the least.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.49/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 Vintage

A-Pours quite black. Thin head. Doesn't appear to be completely black. Has a browner tint to it. I only enjoyed a small sample so it is difficult to properly assess the appearance.

S-Wow, what a unique aroma. It smells a bit like port. I get a lot of dark fruitiness. The standard chocolate and roast is a secondary aspect here. Very neat, almost like a Quad without the Belgian yeastiness.

T-The flavor is, like the aroma, unique and very interesting. I really wish I had a full glass as opposed to a small sample. Kate explodes with dark fruits: fig, prune, raisin. Dark chocolate and port wine. The year of aged has forced the favors to cooperate considerably well. Definitely an individual flavor.

M-Big, velvety and slick. Soft carbonation. Booze is a complete no-show. Excellent feel here.

O/D-Was never expecting to try this and I am super happy I got the chance. Haven't had a Stout quite like Kate. Definitely worthy of the hype. Too bad she's retired.

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Photo of joe1510
4.61/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber

Getting the chance to sample Kate the Great on Easter courtesy of brewandbbq, Thanks Jeff! Kate gurgles midnight black from the bottle into my snifter. This beer actually sucks up the light in the room. Not much of a head up front but halfway through the pour a fingers worth of creamy dense mocha colored head showed up and never left. Tiny carbonation bubbles rush along the glass keeping the head in place throughout. Great looking drink lines are left behind after each sip.

As this warms the aroma becomes more and more complex. Waves of anise crest throughout and then drop from sight before cresting again. Deep roasted malts, bakers chocolate, and cocoa all meld together to create an intense, inviting nose. On top of all this throw in a handful of dark ripe berries and you have yourself a mouthwatering complex RIS.

Everything I picked up in the aroma comes through in the flavor. The chocolate, roastiness, and cocoa meld together perfectly to create an intense yet seamless RIS. The chocolate comes through big mid-palate through the finish with the roastiness adding a bite on the swallow. This really is a top notch RIS with an incredible complexity of flavors!

The mouthfeel was good up front but as this beer nears room temperature the true nature of the beast comes out. The body is fantastically smooth and velvety. Kate massages the tongue on its slow tour of every tastebud in the area.

The drinkability is as high as I could expect from any big complex RIS making this one a true danger if you're not careful. My glass is disappearing far to fast as I try and figure out all the layers to this brew.

I'm always a little skeptical, and I hate to admit it but I am more critical, of a beer with this amount of buzz behind it. This is a fantastic beer no matter which way you look at it and if you read the rest of my review complex is the word! Keep Kate the Great comin'!

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.37/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

330 mL bottle poured into a wine glass. 2012 bottle.

Appearance - Small khaki head atop an almost black body. Doesn't last. Eventually there's nothing atop the beer.

Smell - Dark chocolate. Dark fruits, fruity and sweet like a port. Some booze.

Taste - Dark chocolate. Very rich. Dark fruits right behind, again reminiscent of a sweet port. Oak in the finish. Boozy.

Mouthfeel - Low carbonation and pretty boozy. Medium body.

Overall - A touch thin and boozy. Otherwise one of the best nonbarreled stouts I've had.

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Photo of davey101
4.57/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Quick notes. 2011 vintage, 22 oz bottle into a tulip glass. Huge thanks to Doug for sharing a pour with me! A really big want of mine which I've heard far too many grumblings of it being "overrated".

Pours a dark black body with a quickly fading mocha head. The aroma and taste on this beer is really unique as the port does leave quite an impression. Lots of chocolate, roasted malt, molasses and an almost dark fruit/black grape acridity. Rich and creamy mouth feel. Its rich and decadent and the dark fruit element that the port brings to the table really works. This exceeds all hype for me as I found it to be one of the best non barrel aged stouts I have had. I really hope this recipe carries on with Mott's new brewery as I would love to try it fresh.

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.98/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This 2011 vintage was generously shared by Rutager.

A: Black liquid with 1/2" light brown head.

S: Chocolate, salt, caramel and grass.

T: Cherries, figs, raisins, pears, roasted barley, chocolate and caramel.

M: Medium viscosity and a medium to low level of carbonation.

O: This stout is pretty much perfect. The Belgian yeast strain and special B malt are an amazing addition to the style.

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Photo of Rutager
4.63/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2011 bottle thanks to Yeahnatenelson. Served at cellar temperature.

Appearance. Pours black with 1/2 a finger of khaki head.

Smell. Prunes, raisins, chocolate, rum, cherries and caramel. Despite that description it's very unique smelling and keeps me coming back for more.

Taste. Tobacco, prunes, raisins, chocolate, plums and molasses.

Mouthfeel. On the lower side of full body with medium-low soft and smooth carbonation, unbelievably smooth.

Overall. Smooth and delicious.

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Photo of Brewnami
4.99/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If you want to know what the mouthfeel is like, or what color this beer is, take a peek at the other 700 reviews. I am writing here today to boldly state that this might be the best beer I've ever had. I luckily was able to get my hands on two bottles of this recently from the last batch made at Portsmouth Brewery in 2012. Because I am a nice guy and sharing is caring, I poured the little bottle into 5 glasses so that 4 other people could induldge in a beer in which, unless you work there, you need to win a lottery just to be able to purchase. This is as smooth as a nitro stout, perfectly balanced with chocolate notes and bitterness, smells delectable, and hides the 12% ABV very nicely. If anyone who has not tried this beer, enjoys Russian Imperial Stouts, and has the opportunity to trade for a bottle or purchase one from someone, I highly recommend doing so. I have one more bottle and I don't know when I will open it as I don't want it to go away. Hopefully the brewer will make this again one day!

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Photo of homebrew311
4.26/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2012 vintage reviewed from notes. Pours like a typical RIS, thick black and opaque with little to no head. The owe starts with deep roasts malts followed by a touch of oak, a bit of smoke and char, heavy waves of dark fruit and molasses, and some ashy notes. The taste is smooth and well rounded with chocolate and molasses coming through the strongest. The body is heavy and the carbonation is mild which makes for a smooth mouthfeel. Overall, this brew is very tasty and well executed. I don't really get much port character in this, and perhaps I was expecting liquid gold with all the hype surrounding this... I didn't get that, but it is still a damn good beer!

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Photo of Ryan011235
4.52/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Duck-Rabbit snifter

Shared by PDXHops; thanks Jeff!

2011 vintage

The color as it pours is a clear-ish medium brown. Thin layer of a lighter brown foam which departs to the inside perimeter of the glass. A ring of bubbly retention remains as do a few tiny specks of scattered lace.

This has quite the hefty aroma. There is a good deal of burnt dark sugars; licorice, molasses and a faint, semi-sweet chocolate note. Hints of cocoa dust, too. Undertones of prunes. As it warms, dark fruit tones emerge; slightly vinous. Mild earthiness on the second pour.

The flavor profile is different than what I am used to in an imperial stout. The vinous tones are more apparent than in the aroma and set the tone for the beer. It has a tangy middle that eases towards sugary, burnt flavors. Molasses and heavy prune. Not at all boozy; just ever-so-slightly warming.

Full body but not absurdly heavy. The vinous aspects seem to impart a slick, viscous feel. Carbonation is low and offers just enough of a perfectly-proportioned fluffiness to match the feel of the beer. Hints of burnt sugar linger.

This is a really interesting and enjoyable take on the style. It is seated comfortably on the sugary side of things but it is far from being too sweet. Also, it's very unique; no other beers I have had strike me as similar.

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Photo of CJS
4.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A Darkness in a glass. Finger width head that soon dissolves to think brown lace.

S Big bitter dark chocolate on the nose above anything else. Molasses and dry herb.

T Big Bitter dark chocolate taste as well. Aromas match taste.

M Nice viscosity and nice bitter notes. Slightly sappy and thick.

O Nice delisious RIS. Expected a bit more from the hype. I will go as far to say it's over rated. But that doesn't take away from it being a fine crafted stout.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.47/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Kate the Great '12
KtG snifter
***700th BA review***

A: Pours pitch black ala a good imperial stout. No light gets through. Initially a thin layer of light tan head. Faded into a nice ring around the edges. Nice alcohol feet.

S: Pulling lots of dark chocolate on the nose. Deep rich dark chocolate. Also some slight dark fruits. Deep raisins in there. Some roasted malts. Not getting any big coffee or anything really.

T: Up front, dark chocolate bitterness lingers on the tongue. Lingers there for a long time. Delicious. Mid palate, you get some roasted malt and minimal coffee flavors. Mostly that really decadent chocolate drifts into the taste. Maybe a little touch of dark fruit in there too. And the finish is very subtle, but that lingering dark chocolate (for a dark chocolate lover) is awesome.

M: Big and full here. Definitely mouth coating RIS. Lower on the carbonation, but it's still a nice enough amount.

This is a very very good RIS. It's incredibly balanced with all it's flavors, so I understand why it's so highly rated. That being said, it's not the BEST stout that I have ever had. High up there, just not the best.

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Photo of jaasen64
4.52/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

'12 11.16oz bottle poured into HF stemmed glass. Thanks Don for sharing this with me.

A- Pours an opaque pretty much jet black with some translucency around the sides. Not really any head with just a few small mocha brown bubbles and fairly minimal carbonation. Nothing in terms of lacing just some oily alcohol legs left along the sides of the glass. Looks fairly standard for a RIS with a nice full body.

S- Dark fruits, molasses, figs, raisins, some light integrated booze. Decently sweet, very well balanced, and fairly aromatic.

T- Molasses, a bit of dark chocolate, dark fruits consisting of a mixture of figs, raisins, and some cherries giving a port-like quality on the finish. Nice lingering aftertaste of cloying molasses/dark fruit sweetness. Overall nicely sweet without being overpowering and very well balanced.

M- Fairly thick and full-bodied, fairly low carbonation, extremely smooth with a hint of alcohol warmth appropriate for the style. Overall extremely nice feel for a RIS and one of the best feels I've experienced for a beer over 10%.

O- This is definitely one of the best examples of a non barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout. There were nice complex flavors, a nice level of cloying sweetness, and an extremely high drinkability. I hope they continue making this in the future and I would love to drink it again. If you love RIS then this is a must try however I wouldn't go absolutely crazy seeking it out.

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Photo of nootch23
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A friend of mine obtained a fresh 2012 bottle in a trade and after hearing so much about it we were anxious to break it open and see if it met our expectations. It exceeded them to the point that it became the best beer I've ever had. Everything about this beer was perfect. We spent a good 3 minutes just smelling this stout in our snifters. The smell was creamy with a hints of coffee and chocolate. A sweet smell.

You want to know about taste? Holy cannoli! The taste was incredible. A very subtle taste of coffee, chocolate, and malts. One of the smoothest stouts I've ever had. Not boozy at all. Couldn't even taste the 12%.

I can't say enough about this gem. Hands down one of the best beers I've ever had and certainly the best imperial stouts out there. Trying to get a hold of a bottle to age for a bit and have for a special occasion.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2011 vintage drank in 2012): Poured a pitch-black stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with huge note of black chocolate with lingering sweet notes is very interesting and quite huge. Taste is a complex mix between some huge black chocolate notes with some lactose notes with medium dry roasted notes with light espresso notes. Light liquorice notes could also be detected. Body is full with great creamy texture and good carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Huge beer with huge amount of taste while still retaining some good complexity.

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Photo of CooperEllis
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Composite review of bottles (22 and 11.2oz) from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012

Appearance - Thin head, tan, light lacing; deep brown liquid with little feathering or ruby highlight at the edge. Even 2009 did not have much of a head, no gushing, etc..doubt there was an infection issue but, as notes below, there are different highlights in each vintage.

The aroma is one of the best for the style. It's always enjoyable when an imperial stout is not buried under a barrel. Here, there is no shortage of depth with roast malt, black cherry, plum, and a light brown sugar sweetness.

Lovely balance; fruit-forward with complex malt in the middle. The carbonation does assist in rounding out the depth of flavor at the end. The 2011 bomber is by far my favorite incarnation, with a strong port presence without any sour note in the finish.

Excellent mouth feel, a bit chewy with a clean finish. This is true across all of the vintages that I've had. While certain aroma/taste notes may push to the front from year-to-year, the overall composition of this RIS are consistent throughout the vintages.

I've had the 2011 and 2012 side-by-side with the port from Flag Hill and the '11 has more port presence IMO. This is one of my favorite bottles, hope to see it's next incarnation back around and available soon.


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Photo of reyes29201
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750mL bottle, 2011 batch poured into snifter reviewed on 11/28/12.

A: Pours black with a thin tan head that leaves some lacing around glass.

S: Sweet dark malt with dark fruit, carmael and molasses with a hint of alcohol.

T: Starts off with sweet dark malts, raisins, figs and molasses. Leaves a pleasant lingering taste of dark fruit.

M: Super smooth and creamy full body, low-moderate carbonation and a sweet finish.

O: Very interesting and extremely drinkable for an imperial stout, the sweet dark fruit character really seperates this from other big stouts that are available. Easily the best non-barrel aged imperial stout that I have had.

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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
99 out of 100 based on 489 ratings.