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A cool article about Kate the Great and The Portsmouth Brewery

Discussion in 'US - New England' started by Seanniek91, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. While clearly an op Ed, I just can't agree with the bulk of the article, most notably this quote, ...'My issue with beer folks who only seek the best beers is that your missing the point.' The author then proposes trying a sampler instead. So us ba's shouldn't eagerly pursue the best, but settle for 2nd place? My dollar is far too valuable. I will always buy/drink the best beer available, period.
  2. Secondly, I find it odd and borderlined disturbing Portsmouth brewery did not try to replicate the success of Kate the great and its day. I don't mean a halfhearted attempt at the same beer, but why not some other special beer which would draw the same numbers of people and lead to large sums of $ donated to charity?
    What I mean is that this brewery elected to stand head and shoulders above most others (on the east coast at least) for one day annually. It was special. Then Mot leaves (as he is free to do so) and the brewery then elects to not be great (pun intended) anymore.
    I like many, will take 364 days of mediocrity + 1 day of greatness over 365 of mediocrity.
  3. I think a lot of people are missing the point entirely about Kate, including the blogger. You touch on it, and he says "Kate the Great was a way to bring people into Portsmouth and to get the Portsmouth Brewery experience."

    No - Kate Day was something that exploded way beyond what Portmsouth ever wanted, or what the town could handle. Kate used to sit around forever and be available in growlers. Then the lines started forming, and then it got so out of hand they had to move to the lottery system. They never marketed any of this beyond a blog post or two.

    I tend to think they're specifically not doing another crazy Kate Day because they don't want that happening again. Portsmouth Brewery has always been a brewpub primarily for locals, and the locals appreciate all of their beers, not just Kate.
  4. Cbeer88- as always I appreciate your insight and agree with a bulk of what you said, which is harmonious (with what I said). I made it seem like I thought that just as it was a conscious decision to stop being 'great', it was also one to start. This isn't my opinion but was an effect.
    While you may be right about the brewery electing to end the day for the reasons you stated, the 'victims' of that decision include us ba's and a portion of the Portsmouth community and those the charity $ benefited.
    My beef is with the apparent theory of the author's that thus, the brewery/portsmouth beer week should receive similar patronage despite putting up almost an admittedly subpar product that the buyer should not just settle for, but embrace.
    tacosandbeer and jtdolla911 like this.
  5. I hear you. There's no question that Portsmouth has taken a hit without Tod, but I think we all realistically knew that would happen. They do still make very good beer though, and I do still enjoy going there. It's a nice brewpub, even without Kate.
  6. I've gone to the brewpub and had a flight, and was pretty underwhelmed. KTG was fantastic when I had it, but the other beers did not blow me away and did not warrant a return in my opinion when there is not much else to do in that area that would interest me. Now that the hype factor towards Portsmouth has died down a bit, I do look forward to trying the new beers by Tyler Jones. Not to completely shit on the place, it serves its purpose for locals and tourists, but there's no reason for me to leave Boston just to try a Kate-lite Stout
    Crawfordesquire likes this.
  7. Their Korean Beef taco's or whatever they are on Tuesday or Thursday are a reason to go; soooo good!
  8. "Breweries don’t survive by the success of one beer,"

    Apparently the author is not aware of The Alchemist.
  9. jamvt

    jamvt Savant (470) Massachusetts Aug 5, 2005

    Or Samuel Adams, or Sierra Nevada, or New Belgium, or Harpoon, or Magic Hat, or Long Trail. Need I go on? It's called a flagship.
  10. Interesting op-ed. It's fine to disagree with the sentiment here, but I'm pretty pleased with the transition to the new brewer.

    Imagine for a moment they kept the recipe and tried it again after Mott left and kept the KtG day tradition alive. You know that even if it wear exactly the same recipe, fermentation, aging, conditioning; there would be people on here saying it's different due to the new brewer.

    In all fairness, difference in ingredients year over year could actually cause the same recipe to taste different.

    My point is that the route that was chosen avoided all those issues and created a new tradition. I enjoy remembering what ktg was to the city and people, and letting it go. There's a certain grace with letting something go out on top.
  11. Exactly- but would anyone call KtG POrtsmouth's "flagship"? I think the point was that no brewery can survive based on one single release beer that's only available in limited quantities.

    Which is entirely accurate- I would find it impossible to believe that Portsmouth Brewing survived based on Kate alone. Or even to a large extent.

    What Cbeer said is spot on- the whole Kate thing got WAY out of hand. People swamping the town, lining up in the wee hours of the morning, drinking publicly, and so on.

    And, as far as the whole "I'll only buy the best beer, and if that's gone, I'll ignore the brewery"... eh, if that's your thing, then sure. Short sighted, but hey, whatever.
    Bierman9 likes this.
  12. I remember seeing that on their facebook page after i went on a Wed. So i will go back at some point in the summer. Maybe on a thursday after a lawsons/hf/heady run
  13. Jacksback- please explain how the theory which you reference is short sighted.

    Also, I didn't say I'd ignore the brewery, I just will always drink the best beer available, wherever it may come from. There's far better beer available than anything Portsmouth puts out, with some exceptions of course. I am not going to avoid Portsmouth brewery out of spite. When they put out a great beer which is better than the rest, I (along with many others) will be there pounding down the doors and drinking as much as I can. I'm not holding my breath for that day. :)
  14. I think a few things are being overlooked...

    The "article" is a blog posting, and the blogger is entitled to his opinions. It should be noted that the blogger has been an integral figure with Portsmouth Beer Week and puts a lot of time and effort into the event. Also, this year was the first Portsmouth Beer Week sans Kate the Great, and in the opinions of many locals (including this beer snob) it was the best beer week to date. Portsmouth Brewery did some nice collaboration beers and Tyler Jones rolled out his Royal Impy Stout, which is very tasty and still flowing as I write this. There were barrel-aged Smuttynose beers floating around town, and overall the week was good for downtown restaurants, bars, and businesses during an otherwise slow time of year. I think the blogger missed the mark by lecturing his readers about "life without Kate" instead of focusing on the positives I just noted.

    What I find somewhat comical is the number of BAs who feel the need to trash Portsmouth Brewery simply because Kate the Great is no longer brewed there. I will agree that you can find better IPAs or saisons or stouts or whatever at a high-end bottle shop, but there's a lot to be said for a local brewpub that makes very good beers year-round and has quality food and a friendly atmosphere. The P-brew is an important gathering place for locals and tourists, and it's something we locals value. I think BAs should take a road trip here, but to visit "the Portsmouth area" and not just the Portsmouth Brewery. This is a bone fide tourist town with something for everyone, including beer options (Kittery, Maine is right across the river... :rolleyes: )

    As for Kate the Great, just keep your pants on. Tod Mott will be brewing it and selling it soon enough :D
  15. A) If you don't semi-regularly try the scope of their beers, you don't know if they're good or not. And if you're only going to patronize Portsmouth if/when KtG is available... seems obvious that you'd miss out on some good beers, and, more importantly, lose any ability to comment on said beers.

    B) If you're only going to focus on drinking the beers you think are "best"... well, for one that's ignoring a lot of beers that are "very good". Maybe not "the best", but solid, good beers.

    As ElGallo said very well, "there's a lot to be said for a local brewpub that makes very good beers year-round and has quality food and a friendly atmosphere."

    If you're only interest in said brewpub is via a single beer... again, I'd say short sighted. And overly picky.
    Bierman9 likes this.
  16. True, but Kate the Great was never a flagship. I know that the blogger said that no brewery survives on a single beer, but I think what he probably meant (or at least how I read that) was that no brewery--especially a brewpub--can survive with mediocre beer 364 days with only 1 day of good beer. And his point, which I completely agree with, is that the Portsmouth Brewery never was such a brewery: it has good and sometimes exceptionally good beer 365 days a year.

    Sure, maybe it's not Kate the Great, maybe nothing else from its taps has never been named the best beer in America, but to suggest (as some other posters have) that the rest of the lineup is mediocre is a very different take than what I've experienced, and with a score of 94 out of 179 reviews, I'd say it's a different take on the brewpub than most people.

    As to chasing the best beer, I disagree. I wouldn't advocate drinking mediocre beer or going out of your way to visit every brewpub around, but life is too short to chase the latest best beer. There are thousands of excellent beers being brewed in this country right now, and while I love drinking a world-class one when I can, I'm very happy to "settle" for a very good to excellent beer in a nice space with interesting people most of the time.
    MarkF150 and jacksback like this.
  17. I wonder... of all the people who are so disappointed about the loss of Kate... did those people often visit Portsmouth outside of Kate day?

    Or was their ONLY interest in Portsmouth... Kate?

    Telling, maybe.
    Bierman9 likes this.
  18. EnronCFO

    EnronCFO Savant (455) Massachusetts Mar 29, 2007

    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  19. Hm. Figured I'd do a little quick check- looking at his profile, the good Mr. Crawford, Esquire (;)) is apparently rather a fan of Imperial Stouts.

    So of course, in his case... let's just say there's an obvious other factor in his preference for the beers Portsmouth produces.

    I'd still say the overall point stands though. Focusing only on a single "world class" beer from any brewer, brewpub or not, almost certainly ignores a lot of other "very good" beers, and other reasons, to patronize said brewery/brewpub.

    Carry on.
    Bierman9 likes this.
  20. Really glad to hear this is happening. Southern Maine is such a broad term and such a huge area, I'm really glad to hear that the new brewery will not only still be in the Portsmouth area, but right outside the area (Kittery Foreside?) that's already growing with a number of restaurants just over the bridge from downtown Portsmouth. Technically the new brewery will be in Maine, but it will be a great addition to the growing Seacoast brewery scene.
  21. I live 15 minutes from Portsmouth and am in the city bi-weekly. Based on that, I visit and patronize (no pun intended) the city more than most on this board, and enjoy me a good imperial stout just as 99% of the people here do.
    I never said the brewery put out bad beers. I said that I can always find a beer readily at my disposal which trumps whatever beer in said category Portsmouth is putting out.

    My point is the same- the brewery has elected to not be great, and the author suggests that so what, come drink there beers anyway, they are good. Good is not enough. Best is and is still always relative. I think that in this area of new england one can drink better beer than what they are putting out.
    I say drink the best beer you can on any given day. Put that above all else. If that for you is Portsmouth brewery, great. This isn't the case for me.
  22. The Alchemist is not a good example. Yes it has one beer, it makes a VERY good beer. But it's in the middle of ass nowhere VT. It is very hard to get and to travel to during the week for most folks who work. This further mystifies the beer. Put that same beer in downtown Boston and the cannery. Hard to believe it would have as much of a draw and impact with so many other beers around them. For the record (I love Heady)
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  23. Couldn't be more wrong. Elusiveness is one thing. But it is not in the middle of nowhere, HF is. And quality trumps all other factors. If the alchemist moved their operations to a more urban environment and quality remained constant, demand would increase exponentially, not go down.
    Look at PtE- in a city and demand is still through the roof. Plus there is far more competition. HT is so popular because of the quality, but the elusiveness (relatively speaking) doesn't hurt.
    tacosandbeer likes this.

  24. Mostly agreed. Heady Topper is popular because of the style, but you're also right that its elusiveness helps. Obviously, being elusive wouldn't be enough, but it definitely doesn't hurt. And obviously HF is more in the middle of nowhere (and also extremely deserving of the esteem it holds), but just because the Alchemist is off I-89 doesn't mean that it isn't in the middle-of-nowhere. Heady is still only available in the northern part of one of the least populated states in the country, several hours from any major metropolitan area. Obviously demand would increase in an urban area, but it certainly wouldn't be so elusive. They might still be able to survive on literally a single beer due to the quality and demand, but even then they would be an outlier. Now, try to survive on the quality of a single beer at a brewpub, which was really the original point.
  25. Fair enough. Obviously it's a matter of taste and priority. For my money, with Tod or Tyler, Portsmouth Brewery is among the CBC and a few others (and formerly the old Alchemist) when it comes to top-notch brewpubs in New England. Not to dismiss the quality of beers at either of those breweries, both of which I love, but I think the equation is a bit different with a brewpub than with a brewery. Oftentimes there will be a better IPA (or sometimes just an IPA period) at a bar somewhere else in Cambridge, but I'd rather be at the CBC, because I like the overall quality of the beer there (which I place among if not the best breweries in the state), the food, the vibe and so on. For me, I'll definitely drink the best beer available, but I also weigh that against where and with whom I want to drink that beer. And the best beer is going to depend on my mood, what style I want to drink, if I want to try something new or go with an old favorite, and so on, not just what the highest rated beer is (not that I think you're saying that either).
  26. FLM- agreed on virtually everything you said. Thanks for your insightful response. I like your take on CBC, it is almost a certain mood for me, to go there versus lord hobo et al.
    FrankLloydMike likes this.
  27. Great place to visit pre-Kate, great place to visit post-kate (never visited during hysteria years) . As a non local I will continue to patronize PB 3-4 times per year. Great beer, food & service can always be counted on there, regardless the presence of some geek beer.
    smutty33 likes this.
  28. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Savant (375) Maine Oct 28, 2011

    Have to disagree. Locals are chasing it when it comes out and there isnt any to be bought at any of the stores for more than a few hours, and that is in the middle of no where. If that was in Boston it would still be sold out and difficult to find.
  29. The locals and I thank the chumps and chooches for ignoring Portsmouth ohne Kate....

    Vielen Dank!!

    Prosit!!!
  30. My point was more geared towards even if they were still selling out I'm not sure the revenue brought in from a Cannery that only supplies one beer would be enough to justify the expenses to operate a business in the Metro Boston area. There is always someone gunning for your space with another lucurative business. I was there Saturday before 11 and it sure was busy. But I had no problem getting my case and the first guy in the line bought 6 cases. They seemed like they weren't running out anytime soon.
  31. LostTraveler

    LostTraveler Savant (375) Maine Oct 28, 2011

    From my understanding, and someone can correct me if I am wrong when they increased capacity last time they made it a point to hold a portion back for the cannery instead of distributing it.
  32. RoninTK3

    RoninTK3 Savant (290) New Hampshire Nov 12, 2012

    Portsmouth Brewery has been a hangout of mine for quite a while. I've tried a good deal of the beers they've put out over the last couple years. I think there's something to be said about a brewpub that has put out good to great offerings in such a wide variety of styles. Kate is an incredible beer, but I think they've put out plenty of excellent brews and I look forward to the new beers they make with Tyler. The food, beer, and service is great and they treat their regulars very well, so as long as that continues they'll continue to get my money.
    jjnasty, FrankLloydMike and Bierman9 like this.
  33. o_O

    Indeed. I'm sure they got together and said "hey, let's be mediocre! That'd be good enough!"

    :rolleyes:
    AdamP likes this.
  34. You clearly read my post and recognize that electing to do something implies saying it aloud :) I stand by my original point. They were only great for 1 day a year, and now they are great for 0. By choice.
  35. I guess we can be happy that you're the only ignorant idiot in this whole thread that takes that position.
    Bierman9 likes this.
  36. RoninTK3

    RoninTK3 Savant (290) New Hampshire Nov 12, 2012

    I still think they're great 365 days a year and I only had the pleasure of trying Kate once(and not at the brewery).
  37. Incorrect. Remember, they made the decision to suck.

    :rolleyes:
  38. RoninTK3

    RoninTK3 Savant (290) New Hampshire Nov 12, 2012

    Well they're not doing a very good job then...
    Bierman9 likes this.
  39. Idiot? I think like everyone else (including yourself) I am entitled to my opinion. You don't have to agree or like it. But insults are for the sandbox.

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