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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

889 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 889
Reviews: 485
rAvg: 4.55
pDev: 10.55%
Wants: 2,688
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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Portsmouth Kate The Great Alström Bros
Ratings: 889 | Reviews: 485 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Huhzubendah
4.83/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared a bottle with a few folks at my latest tasting.

A: Very black, but not opaque. Substantial, beautiful, dirty, wet sandy head with ample lacing.

S: Massive aromas of roasted malt, vanilla, bitter chocolate

T: Wonderful. Fantastic roasted malt. Huge flavors of bitter and sweet chocolates, subtle coffee notes, and a very pronounced, delicious vanilla finish that I found surprising and intriguing. This is truly a unique beer. It was the highlight of the night for me.

M: Great carbonation blended with a silky smoothness. Very well done, but not quite as spectacular as it was on draft.

D: It's such a treat to drink this. Very highly recommended.

Huhzubendah, Mar 30, 2010
Photo of ppoitras
4.97/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Growler obtained in trade with a kind individual. Thanks for the opportunity.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 1/4" dark brown head over the opaque black brew. Head dwindles slowly, with lots of lingering lace. Aroma is dark, roasty, oaty, yum. Taste follows along, velvety dark maltiness upfront, which flows right into gradual warming on through the experience. Mouthfeel is wow smooth, and drinkability is along the lines of "body saying want more now, brain saying should wait until tomorrow". Glad I had the privilege to enjoy this one.

ppoitras, Dec 19, 2007
Photo of mdaschaf
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

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.

mdaschaf, Feb 03, 2012
Photo of John_M
4.88/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at the brewpub today. Missed out on bottles, but certainly got my fair share of this beer on tap today (KTG release day). I feel fairly certain this will be the first and last time I get to try Kate on tap.

KTG pours the expected blackish brown color with very good head retention and lacing. As with the bottled version I had from 2008 (thanks to the ever generous Dyan), the nose on this beer is terrific. I get coffee, milk chocolate, vanilla and cherry liquer, and maybe a hint of licorise. As good as this beer smells, the flavor profile is just flat out fantastic. The flavors generally replicate the nose, except the vanilla and licorise are a bit more prominent, and I also get some plum. This beer is fairly sweet, but for whatever reason, that sweetness never feels as if it's over the top. Maybe it's the mouthfeel, which is oh so full, rich, soft, creamy and long. If I were ever to make a RIS nougat candy, this is what I'd want it to taste and feel like. This beer is flat out decadently rich and yummy, and yet there's nothing light or insubstantial about this great beer. Drinkability is so good it's flat out dangerous. I wasn't in line early enough to buy any bottles of Kate, so I essentially drank my two bottles at the brewpub. Despite the abv., I had no difficulty knocking back 4 glasses of Kate (serving size was in the 12 to 13 ounce range), and was still relatively coherent afterwards.

As I said before, I suppose there are better beers out there then KTG, but they are extremely small in number. This is an incredibly fine beer.

John_M, Mar 02, 2010
Photo of rab53
5/5  rDev +9.9%

rab53, Dec 02, 2011
Photo of billab914
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

We got our bottles bright and early today and decided to come back later to have a few on tap. We only had to wait a few minutes at the door to get a table around three pm.

Served in a Portsmouth snifter glass. It's pitch black with a one finger mocha colored head. The head faded away slowly only to cling to the sides of the glass where it left moderate lacing.

The aroma is big and roasty with some chocolate sweetness to it as well. It also has a slight friutiness to it with a little cherry coming through.

The taste has a lot of the flavors the nose had except with a much stronger coffee bitterness to it. The roasted coffee bitterness and the chocolate sweetness really go together well and help balance it out a lot. The bitter finish seems to linger longer in the finish. Excellent tasting RIS overall.

Mouthfeel is thick and creamy with low carbonation. Very good mouthfeel for the style.

Drinkability is very good for how strong it is. It's very delicious and has an excellent mouthfeel making it dangerously drinkable.

Overall an excellent RIS deserving of praise. Is it worth all the hype and line waiting, probably not but it's still very good. If this was on my store shelf all the time I'd probably pick it over Oak Yeti most of the time but not by much. Glad I got to try it though.

Waitress just told us it might kick soon so I ordered another.

billab914, Mar 01, 2010
Photo of Kelp
4.78/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at the Portsmouth Brewery.

A beautiful deep blackness to the beer. A nice brown/tan head on the beer. Good lacing left on the glass.

Smells of many things chocolate, oak, fruits, a bit of a sweet smell, and coffee. Just a nice mix of smells together.

This is the second year I have had it and it wasn't as good to me as the year before. Just a tiny little bit sweeter than the previous year. By no means diminishing the quality of the taste. Though Tod disagreed with me he liked this years more and thinks it will again amazingly. This is a complex beer chocolate, fruit, and oak are the first taste that hit the palate. The sweetness ends the beer cherries (maybe?) and the port combine for a nice after taste.

This is as smooth as silk on the tongue. It just glided across my tongue and down the throat. This is what a beer should feel like in your mouth. Perfect carbonation and creaminess.

I had two and wanted more. The Abv. does cut into having too many, but if you get the chance have them while you can. Wish they brewed it more often.

Kelp, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of Viggo
4.65/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BIG thanks to my man purplehops for being super generous and hooking me up with this bottle.

Pours an opaque black, some brown in the edges but otherwise as black as can be, medium sized tan head forms, settles down to a solid layer, great retention, leaves behind a bit of lace. Smell is very nice, toffee, lots of chocolate, dark fruits, roasted cocoa, alcohol, some prunes and figs, very rich, alcohol is superbly hidden. Taste is burnt fruits, toffee, charred woord, chocolate roast, nuts, alcohol, light smokiness, coffee, very rich. Mouthfeel is medium bodied but pretty slick, low carbonation, perfect body, not too heavy but just heavy enough. Lives up to the hype, an excellent RIS! Thanks a ton Stan!!

Viggo, Feb 22, 2008
Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.73/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pitch black with a little bit of cherry cola and tan looking head to it. Lots of soy sauce type aroma with this one, but it pulls through to still remain enjoyable, thanks to the additional chocolate and what seems to be tobacco.

Lots of plum in the taste, more soy, raisin, dark belgian sugar taste. Very sweet tasting, not dry at all. Didn't really pick up on any coffee at all in this one. It does hide the alcohol quite nicely.

The chocolate/cocoa doesn't stand out in a massive way, very underwhelming presence, the sugar and soy sauce feel really have too much presence to be considered one of the super elite imperial stouts out there.

Beerandraiderfan, Dec 23, 2010
Photo of JohnGalt1
4.72/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.

4.5/4.5/5/4.5/4.5

JohnGalt1, Aug 19, 2008
Photo of HopHead84
4.58/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage. Thanks Ben. Consumed on 11/21/2009 and poured into a snifter. The beer s black with a one finger head that recedes in under a minute. The head is light brown with scattered lacing.

The nose opens up with milk chocolate, and it stays in the foreground throughout the aroma. There's light coffee and a moderate roast. It's all well balanced with a light molasses edge. Alcohol is well hidden. The milk chocolate is outstanding. The nose is very smooth without a hint of astringency or burnt malt character.

The flavor is a blend of milk and dark chocolate with a dash of caramel and a subtle roasted malt character. The chocolate is sweet with a little vanilla and a touch of a light roast of coffee. The finish is dry with lingering milk chocolate and a touch of molasses. It finishes very smooth and it's devoid of the unpleasant astringency and burnt malt that seems to have become the norm for Russian Imperial Stouts.

The beer has a silky and slightly creamy mouthfeel with an upper low level of carbonation. Delicious stuff.

HopHead84, Nov 24, 2009
Photo of glid02
4.83/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bottle shared by Grant – much obliged! 2011 vintage.

Pours black with a one-finger light plum-colored head. The head recedes into a thin layer on top leaving solid lacing and decent legs.

Smells of soft roasted malts with smooth dark chocolate. Also present are slight hints of vanilla and stronger hints of booze-soaked dark fruits – plums mostly with hints of dates.

Tastes similar to how it smells, though more complex. Robust roasted malt flavors kick things off however the associated bitterness quickly recedes as dark chocolate and vanilla flavors come into play. Midway through the sip dark fruit flavors make an appearance, as do small amounts of sweet dessert wine. Earthy oak flavors temper the sweetness near the end of the sip, carrying through to a mildly bitter ending.

Mouthfeel is very good. It’s got a smooth thickness with grainy carbonation.

Drinkability is great. I finished my glass very quickly and could have a few more with no problems.

Overall this beer delivered on my expectations – a base RIS that is smack dab in the middle of sweet and bitter with good amounts of roasted and dark chocolate influences with a perfect amount of oak and port. Well worth a shot.

UPDATE: I was lucky enough to try the 2010 vintage shortly thereafter thanks to a generous soul and was surprised by the change - there was a blueberry flavor in the 2010 version and in general the beer seemed sweeter. Still very good, but not quite world-class as the 2011 was. I'd recommend drinking yours now if you've never had it before rather than sitting on it if the 2011 and 2010 vintages are any indication.

glid02, May 19, 2011
Photo of ShanePB
4.53/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Both 2011 and 2012 vintages opened side-by-side with mdaschaf during a recent trip to DE. This review score is for the 2012 version, which I thought was better. Review for 2011 is at the bottom.

Vintage 2012
Served into a tulip glass

A: Deep dark black body with very minimal head. Only a thin tan colored head was left around the edges with almost no lacing either. It's a heavy hitting, high ABV beer so some of this is to be expected.

S: Big sweet fruits, lots of port qualities, strawberry, cherry and caramel. Fairly chocolatey with plenty of roasted malts. It's very inviting and balanced with a little booze on the end.

T: Sweet but not overly so. Plenty of berry fruits, obvious port qualities, rich and roasted malts. There's a very "fresh" quality here when directly compared to the 2011 bottle I just love. Perhaps it's the vibrancy of the red fruits that come out in this one. Very unique and delicious.

M: Well carbonated, in my opinion it could be toned down a touch otherwise it would be perfect. Although for such a high ABV it actually helps keep things lively on the palate and break up some of the what would have been stickiness.

---

Vintage 2011
Served into a tulip glass

A: Deep dark black body with more of a head than the 2012. This stuck around for a bit longer too and had some nice lacing on the glass, as well as a retention cap on the surface of the beer. It could have been the pour, or the fact it was a much bigger sample since it was 22 ounces. (4)

S: Massive dark fruits now, plum, raisin, fig and some dates. The fresh, vibrancy of the port wine now seems a bit muddled and while it smells more smoothed out, it just isn't as inviting. Dark and caramel malts are the heavy hitters as the backbone. (3.5)

T: Like the nose, plenty of raisin, fig and dates with a very roasted, almost to the point of burnt malt back end. It's a bit more blended and rounded in a way, but not in a good one. I don't really care for how the fruitiness of the beer turned for cellaring it. (3.5)

M: Plenty carbonated just a bit less than the 2012, but the overall mouth feel is essentially the same. This could be big and sticky but it does a nice job of livening things up. (4)

O: (3.5)

ShanePB, Apr 08, 2012
Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.13/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 11.6oz bottle opened on 8.10.12.

A - Pours a motor oil black with a thin dark tan head that moves quickly to the edges.

S - Chocolate hits you first, then some roasty nice malts.

T - Chocolate, strong licorice finish. Not as complex as I was hoping.

D - Decent carbonation with a heavy body. Sweeter finish.

O - A very good beer, but not great. I was very glad to try this one, but it was too licorice heavy for me.

HuskyinPDX, Aug 14, 2012
Photo of GarthDanielson
5/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured on-tap and served in a tulip, the beer is jet black, with a thin, off-white head that is clingy and retaining. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, red wine, mint, and a bit of smoke. Amazing! Flavors are ridiculously layered, hitting the tongue all over with a barrage of characteristics. Woody and smokey hinted dark chocolate first, followed by a smooth roasted coffee profile that blends and cleans the palate. Candied and sugary highlights at the end make this absolutely delicious. The aftertaste is super rich and creamy, with smokey mocha flavors. The finish is warming and supersmooth, with a richness and booze cleanliness. Amazing beer, and I can't even imagine what the bottles will age like. Tremendous!

GarthDanielson, Mar 05, 2012
Photo of johnnnniee
4.88/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a growler obtained same day from the brewery.

Pours a dark black with a thin tan head that dissipates and laces the glass all the way down. Smell sends out chocolates, and coffee and a faint hop aroma. Some alcohol comes through as it warms. Taste is a chocolatey toffee like sweet indulgence. Has a bit of alcohol warming as it warms. Mouthfeel is thick and creamy. I'd love to watch this one age, this is one of the best Imperial Stouts that I've had!

johnnnniee, Dec 19, 2007
Photo of iL0VEbeer
4.75/5  rDev +4.4%

iL0VEbeer, Feb 16, 2013
Photo of TurdFurgison
4.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle received from brdc (thanks Daniel). I had this side-by-side with several other big and rare stouts (Darkness, Dark Lord, and Sexual Chocolate). Through this I was able to make comparisons which normally elude me. It turned out that Kate the Great was pretty unique in this contest. It had the most evident alcohol aroma and flavor, very reminiscent of sake, kind of a sake-RIS.

The beer is dark black with a nice initial 1-2 finger foam. As mentioned earler the smell was sake-like, but included roasted malts (more sweet than burnt). The taste was good but not great, lots of sake up front, then some malty sweetness as it fills the mouth, followed by a lingering sake or alcohol flavor. I'm not sure why alcohol is so evident in this beer versus its competitors, but it makes this more or less one of a kind. The body is standard for the style, thick enough but nowhere as thick as Dark Lord (or Darkness for that matter). Drinkability is very good, I was surprised to find myself wishing for more of this after the beers were gone (although Darkness was the hands-down winner in everyone's book).

TurdFurgison, Jan 03, 2009
Photo of THECPJ
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes: Thanks Jacob for sending this my way.

appearance: dark brown black with a 1 finger mocha head

smell: chocolate, vanilla, roast, sweet, malts / barley

taste: smooth chocolate, roast, vanilla, malts

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, full body,

overall: this is a well down stout and so glad I finally got a chance to try this bad girl. ; )

Cheers,
the CPJ

THECPJ, Dec 03, 2011
Photo of Alieniloquium
4.41/5  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.

Alieniloquium, Jun 29, 2013
Photo of Rhettroactive
4.1/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 22oz bomber to Bruges glass at a small gathering of NoVA BA's on 9/4/11
*From notes

-- Bill, I can't thank you enough for introducing me to Kate --

Vintage 2010

A: A hearty pour yields a .75 finger head and decent, yet unspectacular lacing. It's got an oxblood hue around the edges, and a rich brownie-black tint to the body.

S: Some deliciously dark fruits hit the nose before the glass even gets there. 65% dark cocoa weaves it's way around the nostrils, creating a wonderful bouquet.

T: Wickedly different then my expectations. The ruby port (in which the wood had soaked) has an absolute vice grip on the flavor profiles of the brew. There's a lack of balance here, as the char, malt, hops...heck, just about anything else take a backseat to the dense red fruit. When discussing this with billab914 (who had it on tap at the release), he said the beer is not how he remembered it, and that he doesn't like where it has ended up. To be frank, he said, he preferred it fresh. As this is my first time flirting with Kate, I can only say that yes, this properly cellared, 2010 vintage is dominated solely by the ruby port's one-note, dense red fruit character.

M: Kate certainly feels good, but I can't say she felt great. The weight's decent, and both the texture and carbonation were on-point, yet I felt something was lacking here. It came off just a touch uninspired.

O: Portsmouth's Kate the Great vintage 2010 is a very, very good beer that just didn't live up to my lofty expectations. But really though, how could it? Considered the Holy Grail of RIS's, I can honestly say that I've had better, and I've absolutely had a whole hell of a lot worse. I'm really looking forward to ticking the 2011 next week, and will be sure to post my review.

I'm sure many of you are asking: Is she worth it? Is Kate worthy of dumping the entire cellar, for one measly bottle? That, my fellow BA's is up to you, though I'd heartily recommend thinking twice before doing so. At least for the 2010 vintage.

UPDATE: 9/23/11
As expected, we cracked the 2011 vintage at my 30th Beerthday Bash. From the moment the cap came off, it was apparent that the 2011 was head and shoulders above the '10. The port barrel character was in perfect balance with the beer, it really was one of the best RIS's I've had the pleasure of drinking. The room was deafening before the pour, and once the bottle circled around and their glasses were full, it was dead silent. We all took a moment and looked at each other, realizing we were drinking what may be the perfect beer. The following are my reviews of the '11:

A: 4 S:4.5 T:5 M:4 O:4.5

The moral of the story: DRINK KATE FRESH!

Rhettroactive, Sep 18, 2011
Photo of xnicknj
4/5  rDev -12.1%

xnicknj, Nov 20, 2011
Photo of jrallen34
4.3/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I drank this from a 22oz bottle into my Rochefort chalice. 2010 version.

The beer pours a black with disappointing head. It rises less than an inch, and is gone quickly. Light lacing.

The aroma is super light, gives off mostly light coffee. I really wish more was going on here.

The taste is phenominal, its flavorful and balanced. It starts off lightly sweet, then the rest is just the most balanced light bitter coffee I've ever had.

The feel is nice, medium bodied with a nice bitter lasting finish.

Overall, this is really good, but does not justify a top ten ranking. The taste is top ten, but it doesn't have an equal aroma or very good looking. Maybe the 2010 needs some more time in the cellar, but this beer is good and has potential to be great.

jrallen34, Apr 04, 2010
Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.33/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle split and poured into a Duvel tulip. 2010 vintage.

Thanks to my personal "King of Beers", Adam, for knocking this off my "top 100 to tick" list.

A - Dark brown with mild haze and pitch black in the tulip,. there is some tan head but it's not retained well. A little lace is left decorating the tulip.

S - Warm alcohol and sweet molasses with smooth roasted chocolate malts. A bit of roasted malt bitterness. No hops, light woody finish.

T - Warm alcohol isn't boozy or hot but it cuts through the molasses and chocolate malts a bit. Roasted malt bitterness is low in the flavor.

M - Thick and smooth, Kate is rich and roasted but not bitter or hot. Very nice feel.

D - Great drinkability for an RIS. Smooth and flavorful with a nice finish, I'd LOVE to get my hands on another bottle. Way tasty.

BeerFMAndy, Feb 26, 2011
Photo of chippo33
4.5/5  rDev -1.1%

chippo33, May 23, 2013
Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 889 ratings.