Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99! (Limited time offer, US delivery only)

Portsmouth Kate The Great | Portsmouth Brewery

Your Rating: None

Want it   Got it 
Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great
929 Ratings
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.

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Ratings: 929 |  Reviews: 493
Photo of NarcoSolo
4.64/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally cracked my only 2012 bottle. Had been waiting for a somewhat special occasion, but "Tuesday" turned out to be it.

A: Pours jet black into a small snifter, about a 1/4 inch of tan head that dissolves into a ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. A bit of light peaks through around the edges.

S: Wow! Figs, raisins, chocolate, vanilla, dark roasted coffee, caramel. This beer smells fantastic.

T: The flavor doesn't disappoint. Rich coffee and vanilla flavors, hints of sherry and port, a bit of oak and a just a touch of smoke. A hint of coffee bitterness that I really enjoy.

M: Doesn't get any smoother in my book. Perfect mid-level carbonation, velvety smooth.

O: This beer definitely lived up to my expectations. I know other people disagree, but I was very pleased to have this perfectly executed RIS. It was a pleasant respite after all the BA releases of recent times.

 895 characters

Photo of PretzelCity
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had a 22oz bomber from the July? release 2008. Poured this sucker into my glass with much anticipation and wasn't disappointed. It's dark, real dark, with a nice two inch head. The smell is classic roasted malts and chocolate but nothing is overpowering or out of place. The taste is more of the same. The key to this beer for me was smoothness, from smell to taste. It was complex, well balanced, top quality, very smooth and very drinkable. I thought this one was worth the hype and hope to get a few more bottles as soon as possible.

 536 characters

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Pete who so generously broke this one out after already contributing a set of beers that made me blush with my comparatively paltry contributions. I have been waiting for a long time to tick this one. Bottle from the 2010 release...

A completely opaque - think fresh asphalt - and viscously bodied beer tumbles from the mouth of the bottle into my glass, the churning liquid creating a creamy and full milk chocolate colored head. Not much lacing results, but given the high alcohol content, I was surprised even at the head that showed up.

The aroma is phenomenal. The big initial character is the port. The fortified spirit is supposedly more evident in this than the other vintages, but given its potency, I can hardly act surprised. There are deep and rich chocolatey notes, balanced by the oak character and the vanilla thereby imparted. There are no overtones of residual hops or bitterness. The flavor is spot on for a Russian Imperial Stout, and it incorporates all of the necessary pieces. Chocolate, port, oakey vanilla, molasses, some licorice notes, and more port.

On the palate, this starts of strong and holds its position through the finish. Viscous and syrupy, it coats the palate, the only hint of alcohol a prickly warmth on the finish. Great performance and definitely worth the accolades and hype it receives, Kate is definitely a top notch RIS. Time will only improve this vintage, and if this is any indication, I need to get my hands on a bottle of the 08.

 1,492 characters

Photo of Mauerhan
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

so the time has come. yeah. its kate time.

pours black with a nice one finger mocha head. this beer looks thick. nice amount of lacing.

smells of rich cocoa with a touch of syrup and some faint hints of vanilla or coffee. chocolate covered dark fruits.

tastes great. definite chocolate, some slight booze at the back but this beer is drinking great. some coffee near the back with a slight presence by some dark fruit that i cant put my finger on.

mouth is creamy and smooth. thick and viscus. this is an extremely drinkable beer. worth the majority of the hype that is given to it. seriously this is a well crafted beer. easily top five of the style. well done portsmouth. well done

 691 characters

Photo of charlzm
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Consumed December 10th, 2011. 2011 vintage. Many thanks to Vurt for sharing!

Beer is close to pitch black with little apparent carbonation.

Aromas of dark pitted fruit, molasses, chocolate.

Flavors are more subtle and plentiful than expected: tobacco, chocolate, coffee, prunes and an acidic edge that flirts with sourness but doesn't go there. Port wine and woody notes as well.

Mouthfeel is lighter than expected, contributing to enjoyability. Slightly dry, clean finish.

This is one of the greats and deserving of the hype. Would I drink it every day? No. But a few times a year would be nice.

 601 characters

Photo of Viggo
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
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!!

 713 characters

Photo of bjohnson
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Growler poured sometime in late January at the brewpub. Has been sitting at cellar temp, in the cellar since. Shared with warriorsoul and inHOPpursuit on a lazy Sunday evening after dinner.

Pours a black as night black with a one finger caramel colored head. Dissipation is rather fast, but there is a fine line of retention that hugs the edges of the glass and lasts throughout. With a swirl of the glass the head resurfaces with quickly and leaves fine lacing down the sides. A complex blend of sweet caramel, bitter coffee, and sugary chocolate syrup tickle the nostrils. Heavy spicy thickness of alcohol clears out the aforementioned aromas.

Amazingly smooth and soft on the palate. Sweet caramel and nestle chocolate sauce flavors. Bitter coffee and robust malt notes. A very nice coffee bitterness, which is actually quite hefty, tag teams with chocolate notes rides into the aftertaste. Bitterness is quite apparent in the finish. leafy hop notes show their presence here. Thick and heavy with a full body, but yet amazingly drinkable. High abv goes completely masked by the complex flavors. With each sip a new flavor plays the lead role. Slight residual sweetness left on the lips. So drinkable that it's scary--this beer will knock your f'ing socks off if you have too many, but with each sip you want more. It's just addicting. Kate the Great rocks.

 1,363 characters

Photo of waughbrew
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Small dark head has lacing but not much retention. Smells like vanilla yogurt and chocolate. Tastes like dark chocolate and mocha. Sweetness and alcohol are both present in nice proportions. Raisins and a bit of oak round out a looong pleasing finish. Ridiculously smooth and easy to drink, this one is dangerous. Sip after sip, this is one awesome beer and one that I hope to enjoy many times during my life.

 409 characters

Photo of brew3crew
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had at the most epic stout tasting. This one from urbancaver.

2010 vintage

A-dark black with maroon around the edges. Tan head that quickly disapates
S-very sweet. Really like nothing I have ever had before. Wow. Port really stands out
T-everything is so well balanced here. Crazy. Very complex and wonderful. Cannot really narrow it down to anything. We may have a winner 2 beers in!
M-crazy smooth with a very sweet aftertaste.
D- wow crazy drinkable. Wish this was more accessible

 485 characters

Photo of bmanning
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 and 2010 bottles sampled side-by-side (thanks Thorpe429)
A: Both vintages are jet black with dark brown lacing
S: Lots of dark fruits and chocolate in the aroma for both. Also some coffee, molasses, port, tobacco, also some spiciness and nuttiness I'm detecting as it warms up a bit.
T: Wow! I first tasted the 2010 which is delicious - the dark fruit, chocolate, and port characteristics really shine. Then a sip of 2009 - this vintage is exceptional and so much better and a lot more complex than the newly bottled 2010. The flavors have really melded together well with an additional layer of berries, raisins, and cookie dough. The 2010 is also not as harsh going down as the 2009.
M: Both vintages are a bit on the thin side for a RIS, with the 2010 having a bit of an alcohol burn going down.
D: The 2009 is richer in flavor and definitely a sipper, but both have great drinkability.
Overall, I think Kate is an fantastic beer and lives up to the hype, although I don't think it's as good as Dark Lord or Black Tuesday.

 1,030 characters

Photo of rhodeska
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to all the great guys and gals that stood out in the freezing rain and cold (Penguin!) that let us get this beer.

Definitely one of the greatest beers I've had, I really wish I had opened this a little earlier, as the first taste I had was so velvety and smooth with a nice alcoholic kick. The beer originally had a chocolately and coffee taste, but in this one, all i could get was just a little tart and coffee, but very silky and smooth still. I love this beer, it was worth the 4 hour wait in line, and I am super excited to get one next year on my few lottery tickets.

 581 characters

Photo of Overlord
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled this with angry John McCain on Saturday night.

Pours a deep black. Surprisingly lively and robust light tan head. One of the more carbonated RIS's I've seen.

Smells like chocolate malt mixed with coffee and smoke. Taste definitely leans toward the sweeter side, with the roasted chocolate, dark fruits, and a hint of vanilla being offset by coffee, rather than vice versa. There are some roasted fruits, and maybe even a bit of hops, in here.

The mouthfeel was a nice change of pace for the style, and thick enough that the carbonation wasn't offputting. An excellent beer.

 585 characters

Photo of hero27
4.65/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Growler received courtesy of Cedromar, many thanks!

Pours from the growler a deep brown, small head of khaki foam leaves wisps of lace behind.
Aroma of rich dark chocolate fudge, burnt toffee, and vanilla.

wow, do the flavors come alive... chocolate malts, green apple, roasted coffee, raisins, bourbon, dark fruits, & vanilla pods...almost a "chocolate-coated cherry" flavor. Hop persistence on the front-end prevents this from being overly sweet...and in fact, surprisingly balanced.
Creamy texture..biting, spicy, lingering finish. Residual sweetness will lay on your tongue and not let up. I could best describe the lingering flavors as raspberries & raisins soaked in alcohol with a dark chocolate fondue.

Well, this shit is for real...
Kate is the hottest chick in the beer world right now.

 800 characters

Photo of Lothar666
4.66/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on Tap at the portsmouth brewery on Kate Day, 3/1/2010.

A- Jet black body, foamy cream-coffee colored head which left brief traces of muddy lacing on the sides of my tulip glass.

S- Esthers lend notes of Licorice, dark chocolates, and traces of vanilla to the nose.

T- Just as I remember it, maybe even better than last year. Esthers create flavors of strong black Coffee, vanilla, some dark chocolate and a touch of powdered sugar in the finish, leaving a dry sweetness on the pallet that lingers long after each delicious sip. Beautifully complex and perfectly balanced, this beer is a true credit to the style. Absolutely Phenomenal.

M- Coats the mouth perfectly, but with a powdery aftertaste that leaves the mouth somewhere between maximum satisfaction and craving another sip. Not syrupy or oily like some other highly celebrated examples of the style, but in fact better in its own way.

D- Disguises its ABV incredibly well, but the rarity of this precious nectar makes it a slow sipper by necessity. Absolutely amazing.

 1,039 characters

Photo of Chico1985
4.66/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Woo, what a night. Had 2 of these on-tap.

Pours black with an excellent huge, spongey beige head, looks just like it does on the Portsmouth site. Head is a little light colored for a RIS. The lacing on this is insane, covers the glass in tan alien goo/spidey web lacing.

Smell is the only thing kind of lacking here, faint smells of cocoa, booze, and some dark fruit.

Tastes I can pick up include roastiness, spicy tobacco, booze, chocolate (especially awesome in the aftertaste). But the thing that makes this stand out the most is an intense port wine taste, adding a very boozy dark fruit vibe, I've never tasted this kind of thing in a beer and I loved it. It has a noticeable alcohol bite because of this but it seems to fade down over time. Also some burnt caramel taste towards the end, and many other things I can't pin down, complex stuff. It is great from start to finish, even the last few sips are divine.

Mouthfeel is not super thick, but very very creamy, unusually so for the style but it is great and is another great factor that makes Kate stand out. The lack of thickness also makes this quite drinkable, although the booze taste may be a bit much over time, I was surprised at the great price this was for the bottle and on-tap. Being my first tasted top 10 beer, it didn't change my life but definitely is among the best beers I have had. When I decide to crack open a bottle I will write some more notes here.

 1,438 characters

Photo of atremains
4.66/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

"It's the best it's ever been" - Todd Mott
Missed the bottles by 30 minutes or so at 5:45...
A - Nearly opaque, motor oil black with an extraordinarily resilient two-finger light cocoa head that foreshadows the mouthfeel. It dies down (after a substantial amount of time) to a mystical swirling sheet with a bubbly ring around the edges. A "blanket" seems fitting.
S - The smell contains all the elements of a good ole... (Must interject that Todd Mott interupted us to ask if his beer sucked and exclaimed "holy fuck are you kidding me" at my friend's notes)... RIS. The alcohol stands out to me, most likely enhanced by the aspects of the port soaked oak spirals that this beer is aged with for 5 months. Subtle chocolate and dark fruit (again attributed to the port) are also present. The alcohol hits me as a bit spicy. There is also a milky, vanilla scent here.
T - The taste follows suit to the smell. Initial heat from the alcohol is quieted by the mix making it surprisingly smooth. The chocolate is much more present especially in the aftertaste. The port is extremely interesting to perceive as you make your way through the glass.
M - The mouthfeel is so creamy it's almost weird. I've had thicker brews, but this may be the creamiest RIS I've had. The alcohol is present and warming but it's not overpowering. More of an enjoyable, relaxing feel that helps with the 4 hour wait in the nearly freezing rain.
D - Not that you would drink this in large quantities but it is rather filling and the alcohol take it's toll at 9.5%. I had 2 pours in about 2 hours and would've been in for another if I had not needed to leave. Extremely drinkable and smooth, excellent blend and take on a great style.

 1,707 characters

Photo of warriorsoul
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed a 10oz. glass at the brewery...missed it the last time around, so was real glad to see it available.
Arrived in a standard glass w/ very little tan head...beer deep black in color w/ no light passing through. No lacing to be had with this one.
Very pleasant in the nose...sweet dark chocolate, espresso and some vanilla in the end.
Taste is phenomenal...the perfect blend of chocolate and coffee. Molasses, sweet carmelized malt and the very slight hop bitterness.
Mouthfeel is quite thick, but not cloying...carbonation is perfect for the style.
Did not find out what the abv is w/ this batch...I image it is at least 8% as it was slightly noticeable w/ no burn whatsoever.
Most beers in this style don't have this feel w/ out a year or so on it...one of the best I have tried to date and one that will have me up here every time it becomes available.

 866 characters

Photo of barefootbrewer
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to NJpadreFan!

This beer poured a thick black color with very little head (probably due to the growler being a few days older than it should). The smell is malty, sweet, roasted and molasses. The aroma gets deeper as the brew warms. The taste follows the aroma and is very smooth but also complex. The mouthfeel is full and there is a slight alcohol burn. Fantastic RIS.

Again, NJpadreFan rocks!

 413 characters

Photo of bmonty412
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Wow!...what a day, what a crazy experience we had at our first Kate Day. First,We get in an extremely long line that streched all the way around the building at 10 am . Then we wait in 30 degree temps with 20 mph winds for the next 4 hours and 40 mins!! This was a true test of our will and loyalty to this beer and craft beer in general for that matter! Often we wondered if this was worth the wait...turns out...it was!!

A-this beauty pours a dark, almost black opaque rich color with minimum carbonation, also served a little colder than i would expect into a really nice KTG glass, nice oily legs left on the glass.

S- smells unreal! Chocolate, mocha, sweetness and a touch of alcohol

T- oh so good, rich rich choco coffee roasty flavor with a wonderful sweet finish that is super creamy! Could not tell at all that this was 10% abv. Drank so smooth, one person there described it as "drinking velvet." This beer only got better as it warmed. Superb!!

O- This "experience" was amazing and reminded me why I love craft beer so much and in particular great stouts. This is a beer i had to try and was glad I did. Not sure if I will wait nearly 5 hours again to have it, but I will buy scratch tickets again to try and attain this beer. I suspect the lines for this Beer on Kate Day will only grow longer as Craft Beer popularity continues to blow up as it has done in the past couple of years!

 1,399 characters

Photo of goodbyeohio
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

growler from ben johnson, probably the coolest trader around

black beer, no light gets through. measly toast-colored head which leaves some spectacularly drippy lacing around the glass in circles.. kind of like a heavy-handed horizontal line by spraypaint. nose approaches the glass and BAM with rich coffee syrup and a butterscotch-laced deep caramelized chocolate malt aroma. complex but not overly assaultive or saccharine.

the flavors of this beer absolutely coat your mouth after sipping.. like chocolate syrup in a sundae flute. the body is light and some fizz is apparent, but the flavor and smooth texture which blossoms with each millisecond the beer spends on the tongue is exponentially awesome. starts with a bit of booze, moves into the bitterness and fruity sweetness of kona coffee. then comes a more pronounced bitterness- nondescript hops and baker's chocolate. the finish is all kahlua-soaked toffee bits and faint hints of dirt. this beer certainly lives up to its reputation as tops on the food chain of russian imperial stouts.

the only place i have to mildly criticize is in the field of drinkability. it's a little too light and airy to bear down with the rough edges of clearly divided alcohol presence and such high bitterness. these will work for some, but the perfect RIS would be just slightly less haywire in these categories.

but that's just me nitpicking. this beer is f-ing good and should be sampled at all costs to the drinker.

 1,474 characters

Photo of BeerAndBourbon
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2010 vintage

A. Pours black with some creamy coffee colored head.

S. Lots going on. Sweet chocolate malt, port, black strap molasses, some dark fruitiness.

T. Sweet chocolate, port, dark fruits, then a fairly dry finish.

M. Medium to thick mouthfeel with creamy carbonation.

D. Supremely drinkable. Stays on my top wants list.

 331 characters

Photo of OlieIPA
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can't tell you how long I've waited to try this beer. So, when PatronWizard helped set-up this trade...I was freaking excited. Anyways, going into this review...Abyss was the king of all beers, so I decided to do a side by side tasting to determine (at least in my mind), who reigned supreme. Well, here goes my review...

A: Pours dark as night and looks pretty damn viscous! The beautiful tan-colored head held up for a few moments, but quickly dissipated.

* Abyss wins

S: I pick up a lot molasses, chocolate, black licorice, and some sort of dark fruitiness that dominated all the other aromas. Since I'm doing a side by side tasting with the Abyss, the dark fig quality definitely comes out much more in the Kate...but there's definitely some similarities between the both.

*Abyss kicks BUTT again

T: A very robust cherry-chocolate mixed in with the very pronounced licorice. The flavor profile doesn't consist of as much coffee as I was expecting. The flavor seems to be really rich and doesn't go away for quite some time. The alcohol is a bit evident, but does adds to the finish rather than taking away from it. As PatronWizard suggested, this brew definitely reminds me a lot of Dark Lord...with a stronger chocolate punch.

*A tight race, but the Kate has a slightly deeper and richer flavor; too hard to tell.

M: Carbonation is nearly perfect...gently massaging my palate, but invigorating all the flavors at the same time. The Kate also coats the palate the way a RIS should...THICK! 4.5

* Abyss = Kate...Dark Lord probably rules this category.

D: The only knock I have on this beer is that the alcohol is a bit more obvious than other epic stouts I have had. This includes the Abyss and Dark Lord,both having higher ABV's as well.

Overall: I hate to say it, but Kate held up to all the hype...but I still think Abyss reigns supreme! This is definitely a must try, and something worth seeking out. One of my favorite beers. Cheers!

 1,958 characters

Photo of billshmeinke
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle my friend cmorton obtained through trade, and generously shared with me (11 oz. pour). Chilled to 50 degrees, and poured into a Duvel tulip. Trying this side by side with half a can of Ten Fidy for comparisons sake.

Dead black. Half a finger khaki head that resides fairly quickly to a ring of foam around the edge of the glass with an island in the middle.

Smell is pretty ridiculous in a good way. Smell comes off as intense dark fruits reminiscent of plumbs, dark cherries, and hints of raspberries. Also, dark chocolate cake, and black licorice. There is a slight hint of piney/spearmint aromas presumably from hops.

Tastes is up front with dark chocolate cake and dark fruits that are almost tart with dark cherries, some raspberry and a bit of plumb again. The dark chocolate is reminiscent of fudge. Then there is a bit of molasses, licorice and black currants. Quite complex, and sweet. I feel like this would pair wonderfully with some dark chocolate cake with some sort of raspberry sauce drizzled on it.

Mouthfeel is very rich and full bodied, not particularly syrupy of sticky for the style. Carbonation is quite low, as it should be. The beer is quite smooth with only the slightest trace of warmth going down.

Quite a drinkable and delicious example of the style, such a shame it is so limited. I wish more was brewed. It definitely was better than the ten fidy I tried along side which is certainly saying something.

 1,448 characters

Photo of hardy008
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 vintage.

Pours dark black with no highlights. Less than one finger of dark tan head which disappears quickly. The aroma has dark chocolate, espresso, alcohol, and molasses.

The taste has chocolate syrup, molasses, espresso, cocoa, and the alcohol is better hidden than the aroma suggested. This surprised me, because I expected this beer to be hot with booze based on the aroma, but the alcohol is well hidden for 10.5 %. This is a very sweet beer, and a malt bomb all the way. Excellent.

Full bodied, smooth, creamy, and the carbonation is fairly low, which is perfect for this beer. I could drink this again and again.

 628 characters

Photo of CrellMoset
4.67/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bottle, 2010 vintage, courtesy of rpstevens. A huge thank you to a very, very generous trader for helping me track down the last great bottled RIS I haven't had the chance to try. Allowed to cool for 20 minutes outside the fridge, and poured in to a 22 oz. snifter.

Appearance: Pours an oily, greasy-looking night, fairly far to the right on the "thin ---- thick" spectrum, and thick enough that it took a good 15 seconds for the half finger of perfectly cocoa-hued head to arise from this one. It's a soapy, frothy head, the color of a good, dark bisque (#e8c094, for those who are interested), and though the retention isn't fantastic, it does leave a nice delicate collar (that's replenished by a surprisingly fast and plentiful stream of bubbles, given the apparent thickness) and a light, thin dusting. The lacing is thick and syrupy-looking, but it runs down the sides of the snifter after each sip like it wants to stick its face in this beer as much as I do.

Aroma: And how could I not want to with a smell like this? Give it time to warm and you'll be rewarded. Huge dark fruits preside over a juicy array of berry notes and some almost meaty, smoky port overtones. Blueberries, raisins, figs, and even some cherries marinate in a sea of port wine, made in to jam, and then mixed with milk chocolate syrup and spread over perfectly-done toast. Ok, it doesn't quite smell like that, but it still smells fantastic, both in its authenticity and enjoyability, but also in its uniqueness.

Taste: How marvelous. An absolutely rich and decadent mouth, that hits everything that should be hit by an RIS (in my personal opinion). I'm hardly even sure where to begin with this one. The malt bill is absolutely phenomenal - it's definitely a little on the sweet side of things, but saying that is overly simplistic. The sweetness of the sugars manifests itself in a number of ways - from dark, deep, robust toffee to rich, creamy, milk chocolate, almost Hershey's syrup-esque - and it's balanced by just enough of a faintly astringent, heavily toasted backbone that it never comes across as cloying or syrupy. Faint, earthy notes, dirt that amplifies and compliments rather than detracts or distracts, and full city coffee - one cream ... perhaps two, and one sugar - round out the malt foundation that's decadent, wholesome, authentic, and incredibly inviting. But let's not forget the supporting characters. Huge, juicy, bright blueberries, currants, and raspberries dance across the tongue over a sea of plump raisins and dark cherries. Faint, tawny port notes add hints of fruit, smooth warming esters, and a kiss of spicy, oaky woodiness. And the 9.5% abv? What 9.5% abv? It's just so quintessential, so authentic, and so complex ... it can't get anything but a 5.0.

Mouthfeel: Incredibly slick, oily, and smooth, which is both a strength and a slight knock. On the one hand, it distributes the carbonation beautifully - an even, smooth, creamy mess, like an RIS milkshake. The carbonation was a little intense at first, perhaps a little too high (the result was an eruptive, frothy mess) but after sitting out for 5 minutes or so, it improves drastically. Once it calms, though, the slickness does become noticeable - I suppose I'm nitpicking though, as it's a very near-perfect mouth.

Drinkability: I hate sounding like a fanboy in beer reviews. But I have to rave a little about this one. This is one of the most enjoyable, richest, decadent, authentic, and complex RISs I've ever had. I actually had to go out of my way to find fault in a few places, and feel a little bad about that. The yeasty notes and the richness of the malts is inescapably small brewery. That is, I do believe it when I hear that, if KtG were brewed at, say, Smuttynose's facilities, it would have to taste different. This is old world, hands on, delicately crafted, small barrel but big flavor, and - at 9.5% - absolutely nothing to complain about in a world of 19.5% Black Tuesdays. Indeed, this is one of a very small handful of beers I've been genuinely sad about once I've downed the last sip, and I hope one day this beautiful lady will yet again pass my lips.

 4,160 characters

Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
Beer rating: 4.53 out of 5 with 929 ratings
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.