Portsmouth Kate The Great | Portsmouth Brewery

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.

For Trade:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 929 |  Reviews: 493
Photo of Sammy
4.23/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

An exception imperial stout that lives up to its hype. Smooth chocolate and expresso, although the nose was a wierd mix of coffee, chocolate and pp. Black with white lace. Creamy smooth mouthfeel. The balance between Sweet and bitter is nailed.Thanks for sharing Tom.

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Photo of acurtis
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of GRG1313
5/5  rDev +10.9%

Photo of jaydoc
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev -11.3%

Photo of kjkinsey
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of djrn2
5/5  rDev +10.9%

Photo of t0rin0
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of nmann08
4.75/5  rDev +5.3%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of oline73
4.03/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

We opened up a 2010 bottle at finewinemike's house this past weekend. Poured into a Colossus snifter.

Appearance: This beer pours black with a little bit of red at the edges where the light hits the beer. There is a layer of cocoa colored head that fades to a ring around the glass.

Smell: Sweet roasted malt and dark chocolate up front with lots of dark fruit and a little bit of a wine like smell. Lots of wood from the barrels and some heat from the alcohol.

Taste: This beer is quite roasty and doesn't have quite enough sweetness in it to even that out. Some dark fruit and wine tartness with a strong note from the wood. The finish is bitter.

Mouthfeel: The body is thick with tingly carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: Given the hype/ratings behind this beer, I was a bit disappointed. That being said, it was still quite good, but it didn't live up to the same level as a few of the other stouts at the tasting. I would have it again, but given the cost to trade for it, I won't be doing that again.

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Photo of brentk56
4.7/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance: Pours an almost jet black color with a modest head that still manages to leave some droplets and squiggles of lace

Smell: Dark chocolate and espresso, with hints of molasses, roasted nuts and tar

Taste: The first sensation is fruity, but that is deceptive as the tongue is then greeted by milk and then dark chocolate (one of those high % bars); the chocolate is joined by a subtle hint of citrus fruit for just a moment and then the rich chocolate flavor prevails, although the fruit is definitely there, providing a bitter edge; after the swallow, the vanilla creme flavors arrive, almost like a nougat, providing for a long and silky finish that is reminiscent of fine tobacco

Mouthfeel: Thick bodied and creamy; with moderate carbonation; slight warmth on the finish

Drinkability: For an RIS, this is so smooth it defies description and the unusual flavor profile is what distinguishes this beer from the other great RISs out there; tough to find but worth the effort

Thanks, njhcnwk, for the initial score and mikeale, for the rebound

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Photo of SocalKicks
3.75/5  rDev -16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Photo of emerge077
4.58/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Sample shared by Jay23, acquired via his trade. Thanks!
Great growler art, kitschy apres-ski scenes in 4-color silkscreen.

Into a Chimay chalice it pours a light-absorbing black, with dark crimson highlights, bordering on tones of oxblood. Spotty lace, with the occasional scalloped "m" bird on the horizon. Constant ring of foam around the edges, with a swirling "yin-yang" pattern to the surface skim.

Aromas of dried cherries and plums, light licorice, dark chocolate, with a slight caramelized sugar character that reminds me of cooking sweet plantains. Underneath, there's also crystalized sugarplum, and vague note of alcohol at room temperature.

Massive chocolate character that is deeply fudgy, with smooth oatmeal hints, dried cherry, with a residual dry char. There is a light brandyish alcohol, that is peppery in the finish. Taste is unique with an equally distinctive and enticing aroma.

Impossibly smooth, very much like chocolate milk, given the slight lactic feel. Peppery, bittersweet finish keeps things interesting, and keeps you sipping. If only this was available on draft locally, several pints would be a dream come true.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle (2011 vintage drank in 2012): Poured a pitch-black stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma of roasted malt with huge note of black chocolate with lingering sweet notes is very interesting and quite huge. Taste is a complex mix between some huge black chocolate notes with some lactose notes with medium dry roasted notes with light espresso notes. Light liquorice notes could also be detected. Body is full with great creamy texture and good carbonation with light warming alcohol notes. Huge beer with huge amount of taste while still retaining some good complexity.

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Photo of largadeer
4.03/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'08 vintage.

Appearance: Kate pours a rich obsidian color, completely opaque as any imperial stout should be. Three inches of foam rises from a gentle pour, slowly settling into a quarter-inch cap and leaving a ton of sticky lace as it descends. Head retention is outstanding, far beyond other beers of this style.

Smell: Rich and sweet - cocoa and cream with an undertone of tart fruit. Pleasantly aromatic.

Taste & mouthfeel: Pretty rich and choocolatey, like liquid chocolate cake. The malt backbone on this stuff is enormous and decidedly on the sweet side for the style. I've heard that this year's batch is around 12%, and the sweetness is fitting of that ABV. Flavors of milk chocolate, tart berries, semi-burnt toast, sweet cream and caramel fill the palate but never overwhelm it. It finishes semi-dry with a hint of alcohol and a slight acrid quality. I think that this will mellow in time however, and I can imagine this stuff tasting very good in 6 months. As it stands I'd say that it lacks the complexity of other imperial stouts I've tried, though it's a solid and enjoyable beer.

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Photo of zestar
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

Photo of mothman
4.37/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Breakdown of Kate Vintages

2008 with 2 years on it - best version I had, didn't review it.
2009 with 2 years on it - not infected, but very port forward
2010 fresh and aged a year - see below for detailed review
2011 fresh - Too young. I think time will do it well.

This review is for the 2010 edition. I have had the 10 fresh and I think I prefer that one over this one.

Pours a light layer of tan head. Color is black. A swirl leaves some legs. A bit of lace is also left.

Aroma: Creamy flavors and caramel. Milk chocolate, coffee roast. All malt goodness. A bit of oak as well.

Taste: Dark dried fruits show here with some molasses and syrup, but nothing overly sweet. Oak and vanilla show with some milk chocolate and caramel.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and roasted. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends a bit dry, but clean.

Overall, a really good ris. Near the top for the style. Very drinkable. I do prefer this vintage fresh, but still pretty good with a little time on it.

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.72/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2009 Version Bottled (thanks to bmanning)

Had the 2009 and 2010 side-by-side recently at a tasting.

The 2009 was a bit more complex than the 2010 version that I had on tap. The flavors had developed quite a bit more, with the licorice and dark fruits starting to really blend together nicely, creating a much more cohesive--and delicious--whole. Given the increased complexities, and the fact that this one is certainly designed to have a bit of age, I feel that the 2009 version is the more appropriate review, but definitely did not want to do a double review.

2010 Version On-Tap:

A: Very, very black with a slight tan head that doesn't last particularly long, although there are some decent legs as it goes down. 4.0

S: Very rich with plenty of chocolate, licorice, molasses, some dark fruits, and more licorice. The black licorice is definitely the most dominant scent, but it's blended well with many others. 4.5

T: Lots of black licorice alongside coffee, chocolate, dark fruits, and a bit of alcohol. Very nicely blended together. 4.5

M: A bit thin for the style, especially compared with others like Dark Lord, but the flavors are layered very nicely and there isn't much of an alcohol presence at all. 4.0

D: Very, very drinkable. I would not have known I was drinking such a high abv beer if I hadn't previously had this information. Very complex, keeps you back for more. 5.0

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Photo of jlindros
4.88/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Finally got to try this white whale. Had to stand in line for 4 hours in the freezing drizzle and 30 degree temperatures to make sure I got in to get it on draft. All that made it taste all the more better. Made my poor wife stand with me too, God bless her for doing so. I had a lot of making up to do after. Had on tap at the brewery on Kate day.

A: Super pitch black, no light can escape its dark matter grasp. A smaller head can be seen as the beer arrives, with a nice slightly dark fluffy head that leaves a nice lacing on the glass. Just the sight of it arriving and the dark milky looking beer under the nice fluffy head makes my heart beat faster than a cracked out sex prostitute.

N: After sticking my nose into the head a few times and getting that little foam on the tip of the nose, I just sat there breathing it in for a couple minutes, just soaking in the moment. Lots of dark roast come flying out. Lots of malts as well, a nice dark malt and roasty aroma. With the roast comes some freshly roasted coffee, and it's finally waking me up as my body defrosts from the 4 hour freeze. A slight sweet milk chocolate aroma comes out, and then it adds a little dark fruit, some brown sugar and sweet molasses. Very light hint of a bitter hop aroma, that is almost impossible to pick up behind all the roast and malts, but the longer I nose it the more it starts to come out. It's like all the amazing aromas you can get in a RIS in perfect balance.

T: Finally time to taste this glass of pure heaven. My wife turns to me and tells me that it better be worth it. As she continues to explain my mind just blocks out everything else in the universe as the smoothest liquid I have ever tasted breaks past my lips and swirls around my tongue. My tongue can't even get through to my brain to begin with the tastes as it's just overwhelmed with the velvety smoothness of the beer. Finally my tongue starts to talk, with a really nice smooth malty taste, and lots of roast. Again, the roast leads its way towards a freshly roasted and brewed coffee. With that comes a little semi sweet milk chocolate, and lots of vanilla. A little oak seems to make it way through at first and comes out more as the beer warms, and the slightest touch of port. Luscious bakers chocolate hints it's way in as I continue to swish around the first sip. I refresh the sip with another and get more vanilla, this time accompanied by a little brown sugar, hints of booze (hidden very well for 9.5%) a little sweet malty flavor, slight dark rich fruits, and even detect a hint of cinnamon and peppermint.

M: Just the damn smoothest thing that has ever touched my lips or anything else for that matter. It's like pure velvet and silk blended into rich creamy dark beer form. The perfect touch of carbonation just makes the experience that much better.

F: As if it couldn't get any better, the finish just delivers the finishing touch. It doesn't have any of that heavy bitter charred stout finish, just smooth creamy delicious stout flavors. A slight hop bitterness starts to come through as well on the finish, but it's light and blended well. A slight lingering chocolate and coffee flavors, and touch of molasses and sweet malts stick to the taste buds, but not the mouth. It's like it just left this nice reminder of the beer but doesn't leave the clingy sticky flavor all around the mouth. This has to be the most drinkable stout ever created, not even taking into account the high abv and amount of heavy malts in it. The velvety creamy silk flavor also stays long after.

Not sure if standing in the freezing rain for 4 hours made this all the more enjoyable, and it probably did, but how amazingly smooth and drinkable the beer is, and the perfect blend and balance of all the great luscious flavors just makes this beer so perfect. After KBS I never thought I could give a beer a 5.0 rating, but there's no way I couldn't after drinking this. Benjamin Franklin once said "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." Well I say, this is what He drinks all the friggen time. Next year it's hotel down the street and in line at 1AM.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.8/5  rDev +6.4%
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 ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -11.3%

Photo of Kegatron
4.83/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at the brewpub 12/21/07.

Served in a 10oz tulip glass.

Pours a impenetrable pitch black with a beautiful tan head that settles down into a smooth, creamy covering. I don't believe I've ever been mesmerized by a beers appearance before but I just couldn't get enough of watching the swish of blackness and tan head swirl around in the glass, leaving an awesome spiderwork of glass down the edges of the tulip glass. Aroma is a HUGE nose of chocolate sweetness. This mixes with an underpining of faint heat to make for a most pleasant, warming smell.

Much like the nose, the taste is one again dominated by sweet chocolate malt. This is by far one of the sweetness Imperial Stouts I've ever tasted and I loved it! The sweetness isn't absolutley dominate though, as some secondary notes of dark fruits and coffee shine through as well. Finishes with a combo of sweetness and some slight roasty bitterness that lets is end with a bit of an oomph. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, feeling almost viscous at times over the tongue. As I drink it though, I feel like it could almost go a little deeper with the body. Just a bit. Alcohol is present but never detracts from the rest of the beer. It perfectly accentuates the other flavors, adding an undercurrent of warmth and roastiness to the overall taste profile. Definitely one of the best jobs of balancing a higher ABV that I've ever felt in an RIS.

I don't know what else to say about this beer. I drove 8 hours up to New Hampshire to try it and it more than met my expectations. It doesn't possess the deep burnt notes and intense heat of other Russian Imperial Stouts, instead offering a profile that while still complex, is more accessable and most importantly, incredibly drinkable. After this glass, I had another on draft and proceeded to grab 4 growlers of it for myself and friends back home. Well worth the trip and I'll do it again when next year's release rolls around.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
4.5/5  rDev -0.2%

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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
4.51 out of 5 based on 929 ratings.
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