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Portsmouth Kate The Great - Portsmouth Brewery

Not Rated.
Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great

Educational use only; do not reuse.

907 Ratings

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Ratings: 907
Reviews: 489
rAvg: 4.54
pDev: 10.35%
Wants: 2,698
Gots: 169 | 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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 907 | Reviews: 489
Photo of ShanePB
4.51/5  rDev -0.7%
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)

Photo of ejimhof
4/5  rDev -11.9%

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.65/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a jet black with ok carbonation and a dirty white head

S: Some funk, wood, dark fruits, tobacco

T: Has aome light funk, dark fruits like fig and raisins, wood, tobacco, vanilla

M: Has sordove a diminsihng feel on the mouth like the beer just feel flat on its face after initial taste

D: Very good

Photo of rab53
5/5  rDev +10.1%

Photo of akorsak
4.37/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jamie2dope for this bottle that was from the winter 2007-08 release. I wanna say December but can't confirm that.

A: The stout is a black murky singularity, absorbing all all light on the other side of the glass. A finger of head quickly dissapated, leaving nothing in its wake.

S: The nose is rich, decadent with chocolate, cocoa powder, coffee, licorice, molasses and dark fruis. Nuts and graham are equally intense but nearly lost in the shuffle.

T: The first sip is a punch of dark flavor and boozy strength. As the sip fades, a full coffee flavor arises, leaving a harsh landscape in its wake. Prior to the finish, rich chocolate and dark fruits set the stage. The boozy complexity is reminiscent of a well-aged World Wide Stout, with full vinous elements mixing with the dark sharpness of the stout. A real mouthfeel that gets a little to alcoholic at times.

M: The mouthfeel is full, unwilling or unable to stay with one flavor for long. The myriad flavors make the stout work and the coffee finish seals it.

D: The boozy heat makes the stout seem larger than 9.5%. Nonetheless, Kate is a nice sipping beer that has held up nicely over the past 15 months.

Photo of jdhilt
4.35/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 version. Pours a one finger brown head that fades quickly to a thin layer leaving some lace. Totally black color, no highlights. Light carbonation and medium bodied. Coffee and molasses nose, flavor is roasted coffee and hints of molasses, high ABV is hidden. Good RIS but is this worth two trips to Portsmouth ($21) plus raffle tickets ($20) and $8.00 for a 330ml bottle from the brewery in Portsmouth, NH? No, got it for my collection, this is bottle #3222. Stone has a RIS that is $7.70 for a bomber and is equally good.

Photo of HopHead84
4.59/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

Photo of billab914
4.72/5  rDev +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.

Photo of Kelp
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

Photo of John_M
4.85/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.37/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

Photo of iL0VEbeer
4.75/5  rDev +4.6%

Photo of Wasatch
4.8/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks goes out to purplehops for this brew.

2007 Vintage
22oz. Bomber

Poured into a chalice a nice deep black color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, which leaves some nice oil slicks and some sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is big and malty, roasted/burnt/smoke tones, toffee, chocolate, and caramel. The taste is great big and malty, nice tones of roastyness/smokeyness, slight sweetness, toffee/chocolate/caramel. The alcohol is hidden very well and leaves a nice warming feeling. Full/Medium body, a well rounded/complex brew. Very drinkable, to me this brew lives up to it's hype 100%, very smooth, not big on the alcohol that other RIS have. Highly recommended. Thanks Stan!

Photo of ppoitras
4.97/5  rDev +9.5%
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.

Photo of chippo33
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of johnnnniee
4.85/5  rDev +6.8%
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!

Photo of GarthDanielson
5/5  rDev +10.1%
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!

Photo of Rhettroactive
4.12/5  rDev -9.3%
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!

Photo of JohnGalt1
4.7/5  rDev +3.5%
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.


Photo of Viggo
4.65/5  rDev +2.4%
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!!

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
3.73/5  rDev -17.8%
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.

Photo of HuskyinPDX
4.15/5  rDev -8.6%
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.

Photo of Duff27
4.5/5  rDev -0.9%

Photo of aasher
3.53/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Oh sweet Katherine. This bottle is the infamous 09 vintage. It pours a medium bodied midnight black in color with a slight beige lacing around the glass. It smells of roasted malts with smooth chocolates with a slight buttery component. Uh oh. It's not bad but I feel this MIGHT be infected or on its way. The flavor too is slightly tainted butter. You get smooth and light chocolate with moderate sweetness and an interesting roasty finish. The butter though is something that's hard to stop thinking about. Overall its ok but this was from a questionable batch. Interesting beer and I was glad to try it. I'd love to try another vintage.

Photo of kscaldef
4.32/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage. Thanks to rlmartin for opening this one up while I was in town.

A: Pours black with no head, just a ring of foam

S: Coffee and raisin aroma

T: Thick, heavy coffee hits you immediately. Later sips start to reveal a bit of dark fruit

M: mouthcoating, but not overly sweet. Low carbonation.

O: Glad I got to taste this. Definitely a top-notch stout, although I'm not sure I'd jump through the hoops to get my hands on a bottle myself.

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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
100 out of 100 based on 907 ratings.