Portsmouth Kate The Great
Portsmouth Brewery

Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great
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Russian Imperial Stout
4.6 | pDev: 10.43%
Portsmouth Brewery
New Hampshire, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great
Reviews: 496 | Ratings: 933 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by beersis81:
Photo of beersis81
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%

More User Reviews:
Photo of naproxen
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I would slap me too if I heard someone say this, but of the countless ounces of Kate I have been fortunate to have over the years this is the first time it is from a bottle. I have had so much during the release that the thought of another sip doesn't even enter my mind for a good year (just in time for another release). I was most fortunate that someone else decided it was time to pop one open from their own stash today.

Best RIS ever.

We let her warm up a bit before splitting between two snifters after a long brew day. The head just looks like you would want to fall backwards into it like a tan pillow of trust, about the color of the label. The carbonation looks to be right where it should be, giving a near guiness-like display of bubbles. What looks to be a total blackout give off a deep garnet glow when held to the light at the bottom of the glass.

Oh wow, a year has treated this gal amazing. While I do not think the nose is very strong, the taste and mouthfeel overcompensate in being just that good. The body is a dark pillow in my mouth, it is full yet not heavy and very smooth. It even feels amazing on the lips, seriously, like a feather. A mother's voice couldn't sooth a person as well as this one. It begins smooth with dark chocolate and cocoa nibs, take a quick turn for some bitter coffee notes, and eases back into a creamy finish that leaves a silky coating in the mouth.

This is my #1 RIS. It is the most balanced and drinkable of all the "hype" RIS's out there today. There is no RIS as drinkable and satisfying as Kate the Great, fact.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.53/5  rDev -1.5%
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 JohnGalt1
4.7/5  rDev +2.2%
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.


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Photo of thekevlarkid
4.72/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Out of a very rare and unassuming bottle this beer was an opaque black color. The one finger head was mocha-colored and retained decently as a collar leaving thin, torn curtains of lacing. The aroma was very appealing, lots of chocolate, mocha, oiled leather, sweet pipe tobacco, molasses and some musty oak. The flavors were also excellent, lots of chocolate up front with a depth of molasses and sugar cane in the sweetness too. The roasted malt was pleasant in an earthy way, along with some blackened malt and hints of smoke towards the end. The finish was surprisingly crisp and aided in the drinkability of the brew despite the nearly 10% ALC. The alcohol was quite well hidden in general, even as it warmed, and the hop bitterness properly offset the sweet maltiness. As it warmed I tasted more caramel malt and the chocolate became very distinct like chocolate syrup. The mouthfeel was silky, the body full and the carbonation delicate. Lightly acidic, well balanced and quite complex. Deserving of its reputation and truly one of the greatest beers in this greatest of styles. I know how bold it is to say this, but this beer does belong in the top ten of the nation. Step back, respect, enjoy.

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Photo of jegross2
5/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

BEER REVIEW #200! Since beer review #100 was CBS, I had to pull out something epic to top it (especially since I took the MPRE in the morning).

Reviewing the infamous Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery out of New Hampshire. This is one of highest rated and most sought after beers in the world. I am absolutely ecstatic to have had the opportunity to try this beer.
Score: 100

2012 vintage bottle served in a Dogfish Head snifter and enjoyed on 03/17/12.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown coffee color with just under a half finger of creamy tan head at pour that settles into a ring around the glass and foggy layer atop the beer. Totally opaque save for a thin brown highlight strip at the top of the glass when held up to light. Above average frothy and oily lacing mix with absolutely superior retention. 5/5

Smell: Loads of rich and roasted chocolate and smooth, percolating coffee. A really nice aromatic mix of milk chocolate and chocolate. Toasted oats, prunes, figs, and roasted malts. A very light vanilla and licorice smell too. As the beer approaches room temperature, a very small amount of dark cherry comes out in the nose. Very inviting! 5/5

Taste: WOW! Move over Darkness, there is a new Russian Imperial Stout in town. The first thing I notice is the rich, complex and layered medley of chocolate flavors in this beer. There's creamy milk chocolate, fudge, bittersweet chocolate morsels, mocha and dark chocolate throughout. There's a modest amount of fig flavor and "dark chocolate raisinets" flavor on the midpalate in addition to some brown sugar. There is a light alcohol warming effect (but not flavor) on the midpalate too, but just the perfect amount to give some liveliness to the rich chocolateness of the beer. There's some toasted oat flavor and smooth coffee too. This beer honestly strikes the perfect balance between chocolate and coffee -- smooth, rich and flavorful, but not too bitter, sweet or acidic. There's another wave of rich mocha and dark chocolate flavor towards the finish, which seems to grow as the beer layers. Finishes with the perfect mocha and raw chocolate flavor that you'd expect and desire from a Russian Imperial Stout. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, minimal carbonation. Rich, creamy and chewy mouthfeel. Finish is dry, chocolatey and bittersweet. 5/5

Overall: I never thought that I would ever consume a beer that I enjoyed more than Surly Darnkess, but here we are. Kate The Great is truly a perfect beer that lives up to the hype. Rich, complex and infinitely chocolatey. You could absolutely hate beer and love this brew. If only this one was more available and easy to find, it would be the only beer I would stock in my fridge for regular consumption. People covet this beer for a reason, and I would absolutely recommend paying well over the cost to acquire a bottle for a special occassion. World class indeed!

Recommendation: Seek this beer out. I promise that you will not be disappointed.

Pairings: Vanilla ice cream or steak.

Cost: $8 for an 11.2 oz bottle, but when you consider the cost of purchasing a lottery ticket to entitle you to a bottle and the probabilities of winning, each bottle actually costs $23.

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Photo of HaveUSeenMyCellar
4.5/5  rDev -2.2%

Photo of Deuane
4.55/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big ups to fellow central PA BA Kegatron and his trusty sidekick Kim for making the journey to Portsmouth to secure us growlers!

Poured into my new Sam Adams "scientifically engineered" pint glasses.

A-Deep black with ruby highlights along the edges. Nice, creamy medium dark tan head.

S- Chocolate, licorice and smoke in the back. Alcohol warming with a bit of coffee in the background. A very complex and enjoyable brew to sniff!

T-Such a complex brew! All the flavors from the smell come thru with the nice burn of alcohol coming in at the end. This is a very tasty and luscious beer.

M-GIANT, smooth and delectable. This is one of the smoothest, best feeling beers I have ever had in my mouth! This is stellar....the overall lack of serious carbonation actually makes this MORE enjoyable....all those damn bubbles aren't getting in the way!

D-This is a seriously good beer. Does this beer live up to the BA hype? I say yes! One of the most complex but yet drinkable RIS I have had...ever. A wonderful effort that may make me take an annual X-mas time pilgrimage to NH!

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Photo of Soneast
4/5  rDev -13%

Photo of BumpkinBrewer
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of Dicers
4.59/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of hayesez
4.82/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Made the trek out east and hit up the release day for Kate. Had a good group of guys who saddled up with me for the excursion. Had an awesome road trip that culminated in the acquisition of a couple of bottles of KtG. Unfortunately, a couple of things came up and we had to leave before we had a chance to drink a few on tap.

Had a great time waiting in line with a bunch of excellent folks. The beer was well worth the wait!

Split a bottle with K-Bo and Tyler. Poured into snifter at just shy of room temperature. Poured a deep brown...not quite the opaque black I was expecting - it looked a bit thinner than many of the style. A strong pour produced a nice frothy head that quickly dissipated to a thin ring. A fair amount of garnet light comes in through the top. A small amount of blotchy lacing was left behind.

Has a smell dominated by chocolate. A bit surprised by how pronounced this was, but definitely enjoyed it. Also a very obvious dark fruit smell. A bit of sweetness mixed in there too.

The first thing that struck me with the Kate was the amazingly creamy drink. Seriously, this was one of the most silky, creamy, and smooth beer I've ever had. Taste also strongly led by the chocolate sweetness. The darker, ripe fruits were very evident after the chocolate started to melt away. Very little bitterness on the end and a very well disguised alcohol bite. This is a damn good beer.

It's a damn shame this is such a difficult beer to get. An outstanding brew that is easy to drink. One of the things that really stands out for me is the absolutely amazing mouthfeel. It's almost like drinking frothy chocolate milk. Thick (more so than the appearance would indicate) and creamy. Well worth standing in line for three hours while mother nature punished us!

Consumed: 3/1/2010

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.97/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Add another believer to the list.

I was lucky enough to be at Portsmouth Brewing on 6/24 @ 2:27pm.

IT was hard not to get caught up in the hype and I was very concerned about Kate living up to the events excitement.

Kate lived up to it's reputation and showed that she is truly Great.

I am saving the 4 bottles that my wife and I were able to secure, but we did enjoy several glasses before heading home.

Kate was served in a tulip glass and immediately showed it's greatness. A thick creamy tan head sat atop the beer then it faded to a thin foamy top that was sticky and thick.

The aroma was great and hinted to the flavors to come. Clearly the malt came through, but I also noted vanilla and molasses.

After taking the first several sips it became clear to me why this beer is so sought after.

This is, by far,the smoothest 9+% beer I've ever tasted. While the mouthfeel was big/sticky and bold it was somehow extremely drinkable.
Balance was perfect and you were left with a bit of lingering goodness after you had swallowed the latest sip. Silky SMOOTH

My wife, who is a Pilsner fan at best, also loved this brew. That's saying something for a Stout this big.

I seriously think this opened her eyes to a whole new style. I don't know how to tell her they all don't taste this wonderful.

Bottom line, this is an aptly named beer.

Kate is Great.

Enjoyed meeting all the fellow Beer Advocate members. What a great day!

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Photo of seeswo
4.25/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 bottle enjoyed with a few experienced BAs.

Pours black with a little off-white head. The nose is big maraschino cherries, roasted malts, dark fruit, chocolate, wood. The taste is huge sweetened cherries again, roasted malts, dark fruit, chocolate and wood. There is no vinegar or acidic notes accompanying the cherries, but it is a big flavor, similar to a cherry stout. Totally unexpected, but well integrated. Hard to say that it is infection, but hard to believe that this very strong flavor was intended. Big body with nice, light carbonation. Overall this beer was enjoyable, but not quite as advertised. If nothing else, the port is a dominant flavor in this beer. Hard to rate as such, so I rated the taste straight up and docked the overall.

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Photo of reyes29201
5/5  rDev +8.7%
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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Photo of atomictyler
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of kels
4.15/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks pwoods for making this 2009 part of my Christmas present this year. Could be part of the 2009 soured batch based on other reviews I've read, but still damn tasty nonetheless.

Pours as black as night and completely opaque. An initial 1-finger deep toasty cocoa-colored head sticks around for a good while before fading to a swirly skim and a pretty substantial glass-hugging foam ring. Spotty, spitty lace clings to the sides of the glass.

Aroma is bold - full of super dry cocoa lending a deep, chocolately sweetness. Slight fruitiness like syrupy raspberries or black cherries creeps out more and more as the beer warms.

Taste is equal parts rich, bittersweet chocolate and tart sour cherries. While I'm not sure this is brewer-intended, it still presents an interesting, complex tastiness that reminds me more of a high-hopped American Stout. Malts are syrupy and slightly roasted, bordering on the richness of a coffee roast. Alcohol is warm, but not particularly hot. Feel during the drink is sticky, yet well carbonated. The aftertaste is prolonged by the sticky coating left behind, but the overall experience really is actually kind of dry.

Drinkability isn't terribly high, but that's not so surprising for the style. As I said, the tartness reminds me more of an American than a Russian Imperial Stout, but that doesn't mean I didn't happily finish every drop.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.49/5  rDev -2.4%
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 GonzoHomebrewer
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.8/5  rDev +4.3%
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.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.26/5  rDev -7.4%
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 ridglens
5/5  rDev +8.7%

Photo of BGsWo22
4.75/5  rDev +3.3%

Photo of ghostwalker
4.08/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoyed and reviewed as part of cburian's RIS showdown. Thanks for the chance to try some great brews!

Appearance is dark brown, oily, little head.

Light coffee nose, malty vanilla flavors as well.

Sweet vanilla fruitiness. Little of the coffee/chocolate flavors that we find in other RIS. Very different, but very good.

Moderate thick and oily mouthfeel.

Good stuff. Moderate drinkability. Two tulips did go down quite nicely on KTG release day, however...

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Photo of AGDMainer
4.85/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Let me preface this by saying the awesome release day experience (night/morning?) undoubtedly influenced my love for this beer.

2010 Release: Drank Twice

I love the understated bottle. It would be tough to pick this out of a line up of Portsmouth beers not knowing all the hype. It pours a deep black with good head for a imperial stout. I was surprised by the relatively thin (in imperial stout terms) body. Smell was distinctly roasted with notes of chocolate. The taste, wow the taste, was wonderful. Everything I hoped for and more in this respect. Super smooth with vanilla notes. I would drink this every day if possible for its ultra silky mouthfeel and its decadent taste. I will be counting the days until it is released in bottles again!

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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
Beer rating: 100 out of 100 with 933 ratings