Portsmouth Kate The Great | Portsmouth Brewery

491 Reviews
Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great

Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by bewareOFpenguin on 04-07-2005

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 491 | Ratings: 926
Photo of Sycodrummer
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap from the Brewpub. Was presented to me in a 10oz. glass the beer was pitch black with a half-finger of tan/beige head. The head itself was thick and frothy alla cappucino. No outright signs of carbonation, but an impressive sheet of lace formed all down the sides of the glass and lasted throughout the sample. The head retained well as well throughout the sample.

The smell was innitially of darker fruits. Plum and fig are coming through quick nicely with an aromatic blend of roasted malt and alcohol. Also black coffee and slight bitter chocolate in the nose.

The taste releases the fruit flavors quite nicely. The plum and fig taste almost chocolate covered with bitter-sweet chocolate. Roasted (almost burnt) black coffee flavors and a slight but no too strong alcoholic warming. The beer is exceptionally smooth for a 10.5% ABV brew. No aggressive bitterness only that which comes from the chocolate tastes.

The mouthfeel is heavy but not syrupy. An even consistancy and balance to all the flavors. Not an assertive brew that screams alcohol, but raher more mellow and subtlely warming.

This was a great imperial stout in my opinion. It gets all 5's but in a very different way than my other all 5's (as of 10/3/05): Sam Smith Imperial Stout. This Impy has a much more fruitty flavor like a good port wine and is perfect to sip and enjoy after a meal. A very strong offering from the small brewpub.

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Photo of FatboyNH
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Waited 2-1/2 hours (or 2 years since I first found out about it) for this beauty of a stout. Wow! Outstanding is all I could say for the first few minutes. Very dark but very drinkable. Sweeter than most of the Russian Imperial Stouts that I have in the past. The smell is intoxicating. Ended up having 4 and could have had more, but @ 9.5 abv, the alcohol catches up to you. Definitely one of the best beers I ever had. Too bad they only brew it once a year, but it's worth waiting for.

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Photo of rowingbrewer
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

had on tap at kate day this year. waiting in the cold and rain for 2 hours and the reward was worth the wait.

this beer pours nearly pitch black with just hints of light being able to make its way through around the edges. there is a thin mocha colored head that aps the beer, but goes away fairly quickly. the smell was chocolatey and roasty with hints of the warmth from its 12% abv. the tastes starts out with chocolate hints and is followed by some well balanced roasted malt. the alcohol warmth is present but the it works very well and is wrapped up in the beautiful mouthfeel that this beer has. its velvety smooth and honestly the most drinkable imperial stout I have ever had. the eer is filling and the only reasons I did not have more than the 2 glasses i consumed were, 1 the line outside of people who hadn't had one which reminded me of my experience last yea of heading up for dinner and hearing kate had kicked hours earlier, 2 full feeling from lunch and 2 kates, 3 i have 4 bottles to share with friends over the next few years. if you get a chance to try kate savor it and consider yourself lucky as it is very limited.

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Photo of rye726
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

'07, '10 and '11

Pours an oilish black with hues of old redwood when held to light. Thick espresso head settles to a nice silky cover.

Nose has big roasted malts, loads of chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit, bitter hops. Super bready and rich, fantastic.

Taste is so deep and complex yet delicately balanced. Chocolate fudge, dark malts, ripe pitted fruit, subtle peppery alcohol, floral hops, anise, mloasses, vanilla and coffee.

Thick chewy body is perfectly carbonated. Big, lasting finish of chocolate, hops and massive malts.

One of the best beers I have ever had. Hard to track down, but well worth the effort. All three vintages are equally superb! I am sad I only have 1 bottle left!

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Photo of FringeBeers
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Just busted this out of the cellar today.

Beautiful black color to the beer with a cocoa colored head that dissipates quickly. A nice trail of lacing left behind.

Smells of chocolate, fruits, molasses, and caramel. Gets better as it warms.

It tastes like the smells the chocolates, fruits, etc... blended well together. I can even get a hint of the port aging and a nice bite from the alcohol.

This was silk across the tongue. Leaves almost a film with an amazing aftertaste to it. The carbonation is just right for this heavy a beer.

I can't believe you can only get two of these. I was tempted to go break out the second bottle, but i resisted. I got see how this babe ages.

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Photo of pd360
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I was lucky enough to get a taste of Kate on Monday before they ran out. I was too late to buy any bottles though. It really did live up to the hype, I was nervous about it being a let down, but that was not the case. It was thick and rich, like drinking a cold melted dark chocolate bar. Surprising amount of alcohol in there. Our server said this one was at 12%, and after 2 beers it packs a punch. Worthy of the praise and if you get a chance to try it, its worth the wait.

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Photo of Cedromar
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Never have I had a better beer. In a word, delicious.

A: Black with a light cocoa head.
S: Caramel, Chocolate and some dark fruit notes lingering in the background.
T: Wonderful chocolate taste throughout. Some vanilla accents as it warms as well.
M: Creamy and thick. Lingers on the palate beautifully.
D: It doesn't get more drinkable then this for a stout.

I made two 4 hour (roundtrip) journey's for to the brewery for this beer and was fortunate to grab a few growlers and bottles for aging. It was more than worth it and exceeds the hype surrounding it.

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Photo of dwaz
5/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 bottle - thnaks chuckycheese

Apperance - Pours black with slight reddish tinge and small head that dissipates quickly

Smell - Sweet malt with slight alcohol and smoke

Mouthfeel - Perfect, smooth, not too chewy or watery

Taste - well balanced, slight smoke, a slightly sweet flavor that I cannot my finger on, but a blend of blueberry, raisins and sweet malt. Little alcohol flavor on the back end.

Overall - a world class beer and the best Russian Imperial Stout I've ever tasted. The balance is amazing and what truely puts this beer in the class of Westy 12.

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Photo of Brewnami
4.99/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

If you want to know what the mouthfeel is like, or what color this beer is, take a peek at the other 700 reviews. I am writing here today to boldly state that this might be the best beer I've ever had. I luckily was able to get my hands on two bottles of this recently from the last batch made at Portsmouth Brewery in 2012. Because I am a nice guy and sharing is caring, I poured the little bottle into 5 glasses so that 4 other people could induldge in a beer in which, unless you work there, you need to win a lottery just to be able to purchase. This is as smooth as a nitro stout, perfectly balanced with chocolate notes and bitterness, smells delectable, and hides the 12% ABV very nicely. If anyone who has not tried this beer, enjoys Russian Imperial Stouts, and has the opportunity to trade for a bottle or purchase one from someone, I highly recommend doing so. I have one more bottle and I don't know when I will open it as I don't want it to go away. Hopefully the brewer will make this again one day!

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Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.98/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

This 2011 vintage was generously shared by Rutager.

A: Black liquid with 1/2" light brown head.

S: Chocolate, salt, caramel and grass.

T: Cherries, figs, raisins, pears, roasted barley, chocolate and caramel.

M: Medium viscosity and a medium to low level of carbonation.

O: This stout is pretty much perfect. The Belgian yeast strain and special B malt are an amazing addition to the style.

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Photo of SkiBum22
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Poured a deep black with with one finger head that descended into a thin frothy lacing, slight webbing as it lowered.

S - Smelled of dark fruits and chocolate, and almost a bit of a red wine scent in there.

T - Chocolate, espresso flavors/bitterness, oak, some alcohol in the finish, anise, molasses, some port flavors as well. Smooth finish.

M - A nice thick heavy mouthfeel, low to medium carbonation.

O - This is a top 10 beer for me. Absolutely lives up to the hype and then some. I've had a lot of great beers in my life but this one stands out. I will be trying to get a bottle every year from here on out.

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From BeerAdvocate Magazine Volume II, Issue I:

Dense, opaque, black--like motor oil-- with a rich coffee-colored head that eventually drops to a ringed lace. Gorgeous. Big, bold nose full of molasses and chocolate cake with a glass of milk on the side. Spicy hops blended with sherry and a tease of anise and char in the back. Tobacco, too. ("So ... damn ... complex," said like Shatner.) Smooth, full-bodied and viscous in the feel. Quite spicy up front, with an herbal, lightly citric hop smack steeping in a borderline boozy, peppery and warming alcohol--a chop to the throat that burns just a bit. Malt characters run deep with tangy blackstrap molasses, honey, treacle syrup, char, brownie/chocolate, burnt coffee and an interesting dark fruitiness that's akin to prunes. Finish is quite tame with powdery sweet chocolate. More hop spice, fumy alcohol (not too hot) and a hint of smoke in the linger.

Kate is indeed great. Balanced (for what it is), insanely complex and ranking right up there with the best of its style. In fact, it recently scored the best beer in America in our December issue of BeerAdvocate magazine. Big-ups to brewmaster Tod Mott and crew.

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Photo of kingcrowing
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled at the 2010 Stout tasting in a Orval Chalice.

2010 limited release 22oz bottle - BIG THANKS to Pete!

Pour a light brown mahogany with no head at all to speak of. Nose is light and crisp very fruity too with melon, strawberry and mainly melon.

WOW! Taste is amazing! Fruity with lots of pineiness, finish is smooth, very fresh & even hoppy - very surprising for a RIS. Super smooth and easy drinking.

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Photo of cleeze
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Talk about a life changing brew! I feel greatly privalaged to even have gotten a chance to taste it let alone take some home!

Poured a black as night oil color. Small head, with little lacing.

Smell was dark roast, some chocolate along with some coffee notes.

TASTE WAS SIMPLY AMAZING! So sweet. I truely believe I could of put back many more. Chocolate was present along with a bit of vanilia and some caramel.

Like I said the alcohol is barely present and it's so sweet that it goes down too smooth. Well worth the hype

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Photo of phingdong
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Consumed on tap on Kate Day 2011.

A - Pours a brownish/black with a one finger head. Recedes down to a thin brown ring.

S - Chocolate, woody, roasted malts, some sweetness.

T - Divine. There is so much going on but not one aspect stands out over the others. Extremely well balanced. Chocolate, roasty malts, rich fruit, some sweetness, oak/port, etc. Absolutely delicious.

M - Very smooth and creamy. Not too thick, not to thin. Just right. It begs for another sip. I oblige.

D - Extremely high. The 12% abv is hidden incredibly well. Most 12% or so imperials can be boozy and too hot when fresh. Not Kate. It catches up with you quickly, but what a journey. Four glasses was not enough. I could drink this all day (tolerance permitting).

Well done, Portsmouth. The biggest plus for me was the balance. All those flavors and nuances, yet not one more than another. I just wish I could drink it more often.

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Photo of ppoitras
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
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.

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Photo of MrMonkey
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I enjoyed several of these on tap at the release, but never got around to writing my review at that time. Figured I'd review from my bottle.

Pours an opaque black with a creamy two-finger mocha head that seems to last forever, but eventually fades to a floating cap and a thick sticky ring. Thick sheets/lacing left down the glass. Beautiful!

Huge nose of dark roasted coffee beans, vanilla, raisins, espresso beans, baker's chocolate, and a hint of alcohol. A few whiffs of a hop presence floating around there somewhere as well. Wow, is this complex!

Taste starts with some vinous fruits, like black cherry, raspberry and currants, before some milk chocolate, rum-soaked raisins, and some warming alcohol. There's a faint, but noticeable, grapefruity and piny hop bitterness throughout. Dark roasted coffee and chocolate covered espresso beans lead into a long dry finish.

Full-bodied, smooth, and creamy mouthfeel. It's never cloying or syrupy. Excellent dry finish.

Perfect drinkability, even for such a full-bodied complex brew. I could easily (and have!) drink several of these in a night. My hat's off to Tod Mott and the folks at Portsmouth!

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Photo of YonderWanderer
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Black, dark, motor oil with a thin dark brown head. It looks thick and evil, and that itself is vastly appealing.

S: Roasted grains, some dark chocolate, some dark fruit, some coffee all mixed together. Wonderful. Incredibly complex and balanced.

T: Wow. That's all I could say. Balanced. Complex. Lots of flavors in this one, that start in the nose and persist throughout the taste. The alcohol is extremely well-hidden, perhaps a hint of warmth, but not even really noticeable.

M: Smooth, creamy, and thick. This is the mouthfeel I wish most imperial stouts had. It's absolutely outstanding.

D: This is a phenomenal stout, and worthy of the hype. Delicious, smooth, creamy, and outstanding.

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Photo of trbergman
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22oz bottle (Feb 2009 release) poured into a tulip.

A - Jet black body with a lace of light brown head.

S - Strong aroma comprises dark fruits such as raisin and fig, vanilla, caramel, milk chocolate, espresso, and an oxidized, sherry note.

T - A cocoa-like flavor is the single strongest in this beer, yet it doesn't dominate. Kate is also very fruity, with tastes of dark fruits - raisin and fig - as well as a bit of cherry. Caramel and vanilla combine for a hint of creme brulee. Hop bitterness is low to moderate for the style, with little to no hop flavor. Some warming alcohol is present, but as a welcome addition, and there is a complementary sherry flavor. The finish is warm and sweet.

M - Lazy carbonation and smooth, full body lead to a viscous, syrupy mouthfeel.

D - Kate is a very compelling beer: with every sip, there is something new to discover, so I find myself sipping faster than might be prudent. This is a dangerously drinkable 9.5 percent. If it were more easily available, I could see myself enjoying it rather often.

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Photo of JoEBoBpr
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tulip glass from a 22 oz bottle.
2011 Version

A - Pours a beautiful darkness with a slight thin light tan/cream head that dissipates quickly.

S - Delicious roasted malty notes. Bready grain and some nice chocolate cake notes. Delicious sweetness with some nice caramel, brown sugar and chocolate syrup as well. There is also some slight bitter dark chocolate notes along with some mild espresso. I could smell this beer for ever. As it warms the coca powder gets nicely active giving it a slightly dusty/chalky aroma. Really nice.

T & M - Taste starts off with an oily and smooth sweetness. Caramel, vanilla, brown sugar and some nice milk chocolate notes permeate the whole palette. There is even some mild cinnamon as well as some good toasty bread and malt notes. This is then followed by some nice roasted notes. Some coffee and some burnt malts are present as well as some slight bitter chocolate. The beer is about the most balanced big stout I've ever had. Close to Surly Darkness in terms of balance. This is absolutely delicious and worth the hype. As it warms the sweetness intensifies along with the roast maintaining this delicious balance. Mouthfeel is delicious and near perfect. Great lower-carboantion with some delicious oily notes as well as good roast finish reminds you you are drinking a stout. There is some very slight heat on the back end but this beer is dangerously smooth and drinks easy.

O - Hands down my favorite stout. I feel blessed to have been able to try this. In my opinion sets the standard for a BIG stout that still retains its balance.

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Photo of gkatsoris
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


A: Black, black black. No head at all!!! It's alive!

S: Sweet and chocolatly. Anisey. Chocolate covered cherries. Dark bitter-sweet chocolate. Unsweetened chocolate. Wood. Very slight expresso. Black cherries. Man this is complex.

T: Oh-My-Balanced!!! Bittersweet chocolate. Chocolate. Cocoa. Expresso grinds. Black cherries in brandy. F-ing delicious!!!

M: This is the greatest mouthfeel ever! Thick and caramely!!! Holy coat on the tongue. Wams the tummy.

O: Quite honestly, I was expecting a let down. But this thins kicked me in the nuts and blew me away. I had a KBS last week, and this brew is 10 times KBS without question!!! The best beer I've ever had, without anything even coming close.

Thanks monsterzero; send me more!!!

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Photo of Barlow
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap on Kate Day 2011 (3 glasses).

Dark body with a small ring of tan head. Looks a bit thinner than some big stouts, but very inviting. Smells lovely. Roasty, chocolatey, goodness.

Taste is quite complex. There is so much going on but so very balanced. Chocolate, plum, roasted malt, vanilla. Mouthfeel is perfect for the flavor profile. 12% abv is barely noticeable.

Wonderful RIS. Very drinkable and perfectly balanced. Can't wait to have this again. Wish it wasn't so hard to come by.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
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 tprokop7
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I've had this a few times now, first on draft at the release and then a couple of times out of the bottle. I was unimpressed with it on draft, but my friends have since convinced me that it was too cold. I rated it well at a blind IS tasting and liked it a lot tonight...

Pours into a Yeti tulip, black with just a little head. Heavy roasted coffee, with a little chocolate and molasses. It's nice and smokey, and more complex than I remembered it at the release.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.97/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2010 release. Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Kate pours a pitch black color with just a bit of mahogany at the edges. A rich, creamy, coffee colored head forms, eventually fading to a ring. Overall nice retention and a bit of lace sticks to my glass.

Smell: The aroma just blows me away, it is so well balanced. Sweet molasses, roasted malt, dark chocolate, roasted espresso, oak, and a bit of port all combine together beautifully.

Taste: Amazing. The front is sweet molasses and some counteracting bitter chocolate, supported by the roasted and chocolate malt profile. Each sip adds more depth to each flavor. The fully roasted malt really carries the day, with hints of vanilla, oak, and port coming into the mix toward the end. The finish is of more chocolate and roasted malt, lightly sweet and bitter at the same time.

Mouthfeel: The words to describe how good this mouthfeel is fail me. Rich, velvet, viscous, smooth, thick, and creamy begin to describe how elegant this is. The medium carbonation and fully body match the flavor profile perfectly.

Drinkability: This is the best imperial stout I have had. Period. Aroma, taste, and feel. Now if I only they would make more...

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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
4.51 out of 5 based on 926 ratings.
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