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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

890 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 890
Reviews: 485
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 10.55%
Wants: 2,689
Gots: 172 | 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: 890 | Reviews: 485 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
4.28/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An exception imperial stout that lives up to its hype. Smooth chocolate and expresso, although the nose was a wierd mix of coffee, chocolate and pp. Black with white lace. Creamy smooth mouthfeel. The balance between Sweet and bitter is nailed.Thanks for sharing Tom.

Sammy, Mar 13, 2012
Photo of t0rin0
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

t0rin0, Dec 16, 2012
Photo of djrn2
5/5  rDev +9.9%

djrn2, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of Thorpe429
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2009 Version Bottled (thanks to bmanning)

Had the 2009 and 2010 side-by-side recently at a tasting.

The 2009 was a bit more complex than the 2010 version that I had on tap. The flavors had developed quite a bit more, with the licorice and dark fruits starting to really blend together nicely, creating a much more cohesive--and delicious--whole. Given the increased complexities, and the fact that this one is certainly designed to have a bit of age, I feel that the 2009 version is the more appropriate review, but definitely did not want to do a double review.
___

2010 Version On-Tap:

A: Very, very black with a slight tan head that doesn't last particularly long, although there are some decent legs as it goes down. 4.0

S: Very rich with plenty of chocolate, licorice, molasses, some dark fruits, and more licorice. The black licorice is definitely the most dominant scent, but it's blended well with many others. 4.5

T: Lots of black licorice alongside coffee, chocolate, dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. Very nicely blended together. 4.5

M: A bit thin for the style, especially compared with others like Dark Lord, but the flavors are layered very nicely and there isn't much of an alcohol presence at all. 4.0

D: Very, very drinkable. I would not have known I was drinking such a high abv beer if I hadn't previously had this information. Very complex, keeps you back for more. 5.0

Thorpe429, Mar 03, 2010
Photo of zestar
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

zestar, May 31, 2014
Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

nmann08, Apr 30, 2012
Photo of acurtis
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

acurtis, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of brentk56
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours an almost jet black color with a modest head that still manages to leave some droplets and squiggles of lace

Smell: Dark chocolate and espresso, with hints of molasses, roasted nuts and tar

Taste: The first sensation is fruity, but that is deceptive as the tongue is then greeted by milk and then dark chocolate (one of those high % bars); the chocolate is joined by a subtle hint of citrus fruit for just a moment and then the rich chocolate flavor prevails, although the fruit is definitely there, providing a bitter edge; after the swallow, the vanilla creme flavors arrive, almost like a nougat, providing for a long and silky finish that is reminiscent of fine tobacco

Mouthfeel: Thick bodied and creamy; with moderate carbonation; slight warmth on the finish

Drinkability: For an RIS, this is so smooth it defies description and the unusual flavor profile is what distinguishes this beer from the other great RISs out there; tough to find but worth the effort

Thanks, njhcnwk, for the initial score and mikeale, for the rebound

brentk56, Dec 18, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.63/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

June 2008 release. Anthracite at midnight with no highlights along the edges of the glass. They don't get any blacker and more light-sucking than this. A spirited pour created three fingers of caramel colored foam that is rich and milkshake thick. The lid melts in super-slow motion and is beginning to blast all available surfaces with thick sheets of finely stippled lace. They also don't get any more gorgeous than this.

The nose is straightforward, high-quality Russian Imperial stout. It's also incredibly potent. The beer doesn't smell very hoppy and the partial port barrel aging doesn't appear to have added anything to the aroma that I can detect. No matter, because hugely roasted malt of this magnitude doesn't need any help.

Kate The Great is a fantastically delicious version of what is probably my second favorite style. The first mouthful was amazingly complex, and I'm expecting each successive sip to be even more so. Before cracking the crown, there was a wee voice in my head that kept whispering that this highly heralded stout couldn't possibly live up to the hype. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't, but I'm enjoying in immensely... and still have most of the bomber to go.

Although I couldn't have identified their contributions without prior knowledge, port and oak are most likely what give Kate The Great its uniqueness. The flavor profile includes dark chocolate, espresso, black licorice, blackstrap molasses, raisins soaked in tawny port and crushed vanilla beans. A lack of American hop citrusiness isn't missed since the rest of the beer works so well together.

Alcohol is essentially absent on the palate. It is, however, leading to a spreading warmth and a feeling of well-being. I won't allow any of the scores to be affected... promise. The flavor falls *just* short of perfection, so I've decided to award drinkability. Since the beer is compulsively drinkable, it isn't like it wasn't honestly earned.

After several back-and-forths, the mouthfeel just does deserve the above score. It starts out no more than light-medium for the style, then gains viscosity with each passing ounce. Crushed velvet smoothness and perfect carbonation are a tough combination to beat.

Portsmouth Kate The Great isn't one of the 10 best beers to have ever entered my glass (it's currently #10 on the Top Beers on Planet Earth), but it's a lovely Russian Imperial stout that deserves every accolade thrown its way. Kate is Great and I'm honored that she's my 4000th review.

*reviewed on 10-25-2009

BuckeyeNation, Oct 26, 2009
Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

Texasfan549, Apr 08, 2012
Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

Phyl21ca, Dec 04, 2012
Photo of mikesgroove
4.72/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

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.

mikesgroove, Mar 28, 2008
Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

kjkinsey, May 22, 2012
Photo of GRG1313
5/5  rDev +9.9%

GRG1313, Nov 23, 2011
Photo of womencantsail
4.18/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Henry for sharing this bottle from the 2010 release.

A: The pour is nearly black with a fluffy and sturdy tan head on top.

S: A really complex set of aromas going on here. Of course the obligatory dark roasted malts, chocolate, and a hint of coffee. There are also some sweet, dark fruit aromas such as cherries and figs and a bit ofcaramel.

T: The roast really defines the flavor along with dark chocolate and a few hints of coffee. The fruit component is not as pronounced as it is in the nose, but still there in the background.

M: A medium bodied beer with a low, creamy, and smooth carbonation.

D: A really nice beer, but I'm not entirely sure if it's one of the top 5 in the world. Nonetheless, I'm glad to have tried it a couple times and would not turn it down in the future either.

womencantsail, Apr 22, 2010
Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -12.1%

ygtbsm94, Jan 30, 2012
Photo of jaydoc
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

jaydoc, Dec 14, 2013
Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

westcoastbeerlvr, Nov 14, 2011
Photo of largadeer
4.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'08 vintage.

Appearance: Kate pours a rich obsidian color, completely opaque as any imperial stout should be. Three inches of foam rises from a gentle pour, slowly settling into a quarter-inch cap and leaving a ton of sticky lace as it descends. Head retention is outstanding, far beyond other beers of this style.

Smell: Rich and sweet - cocoa and cream with an undertone of tart fruit. Pleasantly aromatic.

Taste & mouthfeel: Pretty rich and choocolatey, like liquid chocolate cake. The malt backbone on this stuff is enormous and decidedly on the sweet side for the style. I've heard that this year's batch is around 12%, and the sweetness is fitting of that ABV. Flavors of milk chocolate, tart berries, semi-burnt toast, sweet cream and caramel fill the palate but never overwhelm it. It finishes semi-dry with a hint of alcohol and a slight acrid quality. I think that this will mellow in time however, and I can imagine this stuff tasting very good in 6 months. As it stands I'd say that it lacks the complexity of other imperial stouts I've tried, though it's a solid and enjoyable beer.

largadeer, Jul 11, 2008
Photo of emerge077
4.58/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sample shared by Jay23, acquired via his trade. Thanks!
Great growler art, kitschy apres-ski scenes in 4-color silkscreen.

Into a Chimay chalice it pours a light-absorbing black, with dark crimson highlights, bordering on tones of oxblood. Spotty lace, with the occasional scalloped "m" bird on the horizon. Constant ring of foam around the edges, with a swirling "yin-yang" pattern to the surface skim.

Aromas of dried cherries and plums, light licorice, dark chocolate, with a slight caramelized sugar character that reminds me of cooking sweet plantains. Underneath, there's also crystalized sugarplum, and vague note of alcohol at room temperature.

Massive chocolate character that is deeply fudgy, with smooth oatmeal hints, dried cherry, with a residual dry char. There is a light brandyish alcohol, that is peppery in the finish. Taste is unique with an equally distinctive and enticing aroma.

Impossibly smooth, very much like chocolate milk, given the slight lactic feel. Peppery, bittersweet finish keeps things interesting, and keeps you sipping. If only this was available on draft locally, several pints would be a dream come true.

emerge077, Jan 06, 2008
Photo of JAHMUR
4/5  rDev -12.1%

JAHMUR, Nov 14, 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 TheManiacalOne
4.83/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On-tap 6/24/08 at the brewpub, poured shortly after the first keg of the June 2008 release was tapped, served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark black color, with a large tan head that fades very slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark chocolate, rich roasted malts, some coffee and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste is malty and rich but very well-balanced with flavors of dark chocolate, a little black coffee and a little dark fruit. The ABV is hidden quite well. The after-taste is bitter-sweet. Not much else to say about it other than that I think what makes Kate great is how well the flavors come together.

M: Very smooth with a little crispness, medium-to-heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easily, not too filling, strong kick, excellent representation of style, this is an outstanding beer. I'm not sure if it's worth the lengths to which many people have gone to get it, but I believe this beer has lived up to the hype it has received.

TheManiacalOne, Jun 25, 2008
Photo of Kegatron
4.85/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at the brewpub 12/21/07.

Served in a 10oz tulip glass.

Pours a impenetrable pitch black with a beautiful tan head that settles down into a smooth, creamy covering. I don't believe I've ever been mesmerized by a beers appearance before but I just couldn't get enough of watching the swish of blackness and tan head swirl around in the glass, leaving an awesome spiderwork of glass down the edges of the tulip glass. Aroma is a HUGE nose of chocolate sweetness. This mixes with an underpining of faint heat to make for a most pleasant, warming smell.

Much like the nose, the taste is one again dominated by sweet chocolate malt. This is by far one of the sweetness Imperial Stouts I've ever tasted and I loved it! The sweetness isn't absolutley dominate though, as some secondary notes of dark fruits and coffee shine through as well. Finishes with a combo of sweetness and some slight roasty bitterness that lets is end with a bit of an oomph. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, feeling almost viscous at times over the tongue. As I drink it though, I feel like it could almost go a little deeper with the body. Just a bit. Alcohol is present but never detracts from the rest of the beer. It perfectly accentuates the other flavors, adding an undercurrent of warmth and roastiness to the overall taste profile. Definitely one of the best jobs of balancing a higher ABV that I've ever felt in an RIS.

I don't know what else to say about this beer. I drove 8 hours up to New Hampshire to try it and it more than met my expectations. It doesn't possess the deep burnt notes and intense heat of other Russian Imperial Stouts, instead offering a profile that while still complex, is more accessable and most importantly, incredibly drinkable. After this glass, I had another on draft and proceeded to grab 4 growlers of it for myself and friends back home. Well worth the trip and I'll do it again when next year's release rolls around.

Kegatron, Dec 27, 2007
Photo of MasterSki
4.4/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge, huge, thanks to Dave (d0b) for busting this out at our "mini" tasting (there was nothing mini about this tasting!). Shared with three Daves and our associated women-folk. Summer '08 bottle served in a FOBAB taster glass.

A - One-finger of mocha foam with solid retention an some spotty lacing. Blacker than black color, with only the slightest bit of red at the edges when held to the light. Reminded me of the incredible-looking Homewood Reserve, but without the same volume.

S - Sweet roast malts, cream, milk chocolate, dark fruits, a hint of smoky wood, and a surprising touch of booziness. The alcohol was a surprise, as this was one of the lower ABV stouts we had and many of the others in the tasting didn't smell as hot. This one takes a while to warm up, BTW.

T - The taste was terrific. Sweet roast malts, bittersweet chocolate, a hint of coffee with a ton of cream and sugar, and a touch of cherry & dark fruits. The booziness I smelled is gone. This is what I expect from a non barrel-aged RIS.

M - Medium viscosity, low carbonation, creamy and incredibly smooth. Lots of residual stickiness afterward. It's nice to occasionally have a stout that doesn't have the consistency of a motor-oil milkshake, yet is still bursting with flavor.

D - This is possibly as easy drinking as it gets for a RIS. Low carbonation, well-hidden alcohol, smooth and not overly heavy. It's just a great-drinking brew.

So - some general impressions after knocking off the last of the big stouts. Kate is a wonderful brew, but she's kind of like that attractive girl in class that's kind of quiet. You take her out and expect her to open up and reveal a little more about herself, but she never does. KtG lacks the strong signature and personality that each of the other big stouts have - Abyss has those delicate hints of coffee and barrel-aging, Darkness has the candy and ridiculous hop presence, Dark Lord has the mouthfeel of a shake. Kate is subtle and shy, and a tiny, tiny, bit of a letdown (or as much of a letdown as a 4.4 beer can be).

Still well worth seeking out, but temper your expectations.

MasterSki, Feb 08, 2009
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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 890 ratings.