Portsmouth Kate The Great | Portsmouth Brewery

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Portsmouth Kate The GreatPortsmouth Kate The Great
932 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
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Ratings: 932 |  Reviews: 495
Photo of GarthDanielson
5/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured on-tap and served in a tulip, the beer is jet black, with a thin, off-white head that is clingy and retaining. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, red wine, mint, and a bit of smoke. Amazing! Flavors are ridiculously layered, hitting the tongue all over with a barrage of characteristics. Woody and smokey hinted dark chocolate first, followed by a smooth roasted coffee profile that blends and cleans the palate. Candied and sugary highlights at the end make this absolutely delicious. The aftertaste is super rich and creamy, with smokey mocha flavors. The finish is warming and supersmooth, with a richness and booze cleanliness. Amazing beer, and I can't even imagine what the bottles will age like. Tremendous!

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Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev -11.7%

Photo of Wasatch
4.8/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Thanks goes out to purplehops for this brew.

2007 Vintage
22oz. Bomber

Poured into a chalice a nice deep black color, nice carbonation, nice little creamy tan head, which leaves some nice oil slicks and some sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is big and malty, roasted/burnt/smoke tones, toffee, chocolate, and caramel. The taste is great big and malty, nice tones of roastyness/smokeyness, slight sweetness, toffee/chocolate/caramel. The alcohol is hidden very well and leaves a nice warming feeling. Full/Medium body, a well rounded/complex brew. Very drinkable, to me this brew lives up to it's hype 100%, very smooth, not big on the alcohol that other RIS have. Highly recommended. Thanks Stan!

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Photo of mklisz
5/5  rDev +10.4%

Photo of Duff27
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of feloniousmonk
4.72/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Growler courtesy of citrusjim, thanks, mate! This one's been on my radar for a while, but now that it's in the Top 5, it became a must-have. Sweet, now, it's mine, all mine!

Into a chalice she goes, this Kate, pouring a solid black, with a slim brown ring of head on top. Blackety, black, black, black.

In the nose, bittersweet espresso, dark chocolate, ...didn't impress at first, but grows as it sits in the glass and warms. (This was poured about 15 minutes after taking it from the fridge.) Roast becomes more evident in aroma, favor gets bigger...deep, spicy, earthy, and warm.

Let's drink, shall we?
Enters the mouth and fills it full tilt, to the hilt, big boned and bodacious, our Katie. And there's no simplicity here, it's an intriquing stew simmering on the palate, some roasty malt, some bright tingly hops, some dark fruit...plenty of beans, cocoa and coffee, but mixed smoothly and adroitly, sliding down the throat with easy, and urging further partakings. Chocolate is in charge of the next sip, but the the sweet is matched with roast, and the bittersweet coffee kicks in next. Nice. But then along comes blackberry, and and raisins, and more...mmmm, tasty...bold, but fuzzy, fierce, but mellow, calming, a tonic for a tough night.

Full bodied as they get, with a long, long finish...finish doesn't work, as there is no termination. Just a long languor. That's a good word for it.
languor \LANG-guhr; LANG-uhr\, noun:
1. Mental or physical weariness or fatigue.
2. Listless indolence, especially the indolence of one who is satiated by a life of luxury or pleasure.
3. A heaviness or oppressive stillness of the air.

#2 fits best for our purpose here. Call me satiated by this decadent, luxurious, fruity, hoppy, chocolatey, mellow, deep, dark, and stronger than you think Imperial Stout...what not as strong as I what? I didn't...wait, there it is...

beautiful girl, Kate, lovely, lovely lass!

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Photo of StoutSnob40
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Dicers
4.59/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of MasterSki
4.38/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge, huge, thanks to Dave (d0b) for busting this out at our "mini" tasting (there was nothing mini about this tasting!). Shared with three Daves and our associated women-folk. Summer '08 bottle served in a FOBAB taster glass.

A - One-finger of mocha foam with solid retention an some spotty lacing. Blacker than black color, with only the slightest bit of red at the edges when held to the light. Reminded me of the incredible-looking Homewood Reserve, but without the same volume.

S - Sweet roast malts, cream, milk chocolate, dark fruits, a hint of smoky wood, and a surprising touch of booziness. The alcohol was a surprise, as this was one of the lower ABV stouts we had and many of the others in the tasting didn't smell as hot. This one takes a while to warm up, BTW.

T - The taste was terrific. Sweet roast malts, bittersweet chocolate, a hint of coffee with a ton of cream and sugar, and a touch of cherry & dark fruits. The booziness I smelled is gone. This is what I expect from a non barrel-aged RIS.

M - Medium viscosity, low carbonation, creamy and incredibly smooth. Lots of residual stickiness afterward. It's nice to occasionally have a stout that doesn't have the consistency of a motor-oil milkshake, yet is still bursting with flavor.

D - This is possibly as easy drinking as it gets for a RIS. Low carbonation, well-hidden alcohol, smooth and not overly heavy. It's just a great-drinking brew.

So - some general impressions after knocking off the last of the big stouts. Kate is a wonderful brew, but she's kind of like that attractive girl in class that's kind of quiet. You take her out and expect her to open up and reveal a little more about herself, but she never does. KtG lacks the strong signature and personality that each of the other big stouts have - Abyss has those delicate hints of coffee and barrel-aging, Darkness has the candy and ridiculous hop presence, Dark Lord has the mouthfeel of a shake. Kate is subtle and shy, and a tiny, tiny, bit of a letdown (or as much of a letdown as a 4.4 beer can be).

Still well worth seeking out, but temper your expectations.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.63/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Comes in super pitch black with a mixture of that beige and cherry cola colored head on top. Aroma was lots of earthy, soy, tobacco like notes.

Plenty of dark fruit notes, more raisin and soy, kind of sweet. Does have a mouthfeel that absorbs the alcohol quite nicely.

I really never understood why this one was so loved. Its pretty basic stuff, just had a low bottle count, special release kind of thing furthering the hype of a decent beer along Dark Lord lines.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.35/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle shared with some people at a tasting. Beer is black but clear and reddish at the corners. The aroma is sweet but not overpowering roast like I thought it would be. Forms a brown thin head of medium and large bubbles. Head leaves some but not much lacing on the glass.

This beer is really nice drinking. Its not as big as I expected, there is some body, medium is a good descriptor. There isn't much carbonation in the mouth, some vanilla flavors, slight coffee and roast in the back, some bitterness. I would love to have this again and in a greater quantity. Next year in Portsmouth.

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Photo of Rochefort10nh
4.7/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Well I've refrained from writing reviews on this site up until now, but what better way to get started than with this outstanding, complex imperial.

Had this in a snifter at the brewery in September of 2005

Jet black, ie: opaque in appearance

A very complex smell; currants, dark chocolate, star anise, piney hops, tar, toasted marshmellows, fresh brewed Kenyan coffee

Wow! Taste is remarkable. Vanilla powder, baker's chocolate, rum soaked raisins, melted caramel chews, very slight iron component, fresh green hops, dark roast coffee and malted milk balls all intricately woven together.

A great sipper. Smooth, velvety and lasting. You can really sit back and reflect on the world around you with this one.

Very drinkable for it's strength. No fusil alcohol astringency.

Can't wait to get back to the brewery to try this again.

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Photo of ShanePB
4.51/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Both 2011 and 2012 vintages opened side-by-side with mdaschaf during a recent trip to DE. This review score is for the 2012 version, which I thought was better. Review for 2011 is at the bottom.

Vintage 2012
Served into a tulip glass

A: Deep dark black body with very minimal head. Only a thin tan colored head was left around the edges with almost no lacing either. It's a heavy hitting, high ABV beer so some of this is to be expected.

S: Big sweet fruits, lots of port qualities, strawberry, cherry and caramel. Fairly chocolatey with plenty of roasted malts. It's very inviting and balanced with a little booze on the end.

T: Sweet but not overly so. Plenty of berry fruits, obvious port qualities, rich and roasted malts. There's a very "fresh" quality here when directly compared to the 2011 bottle I just love. Perhaps it's the vibrancy of the red fruits that come out in this one. Very unique and delicious.

M: Well carbonated, in my opinion it could be toned down a touch otherwise it would be perfect. Although for such a high ABV it actually helps keep things lively on the palate and break up some of the what would have been stickiness.


Vintage 2011
Served into a tulip glass

A: Deep dark black body with more of a head than the 2012. This stuck around for a bit longer too and had some nice lacing on the glass, as well as a retention cap on the surface of the beer. It could have been the pour, or the fact it was a much bigger sample since it was 22 ounces. (4)

S: Massive dark fruits now, plum, raisin, fig and some dates. The fresh, vibrancy of the port wine now seems a bit muddled and while it smells more smoothed out, it just isn't as inviting. Dark and caramel malts are the heavy hitters as the backbone. (3.5)

T: Like the nose, plenty of raisin, fig and dates with a very roasted, almost to the point of burnt malt back end. It's a bit more blended and rounded in a way, but not in a good one. I don't really care for how the fruitiness of the beer turned for cellaring it. (3.5)

M: Plenty carbonated just a bit less than the 2012, but the overall mouth feel is essentially the same. This could be big and sticky but it does a nice job of livening things up. (4)

O: (3.5)

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Photo of eawolff99
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.42/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Photo of puboflyons
4.87/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Portsmouth Brewery. Sampled on "Kate the Great Day" 2010. The pour is nice and black with a thin brown ring of silky head around the glass. The aroma is incredibly inviting with coffee, thin malts, and a background of sweet molasses and something like black cherries. The mouthfeel is bold but smooth. It dances on rather than sits on my tongue. The taste is more on the coffee side that chocolate with a delicate hop ending. This has to be the best Imperial Stout I have ever had if not the best beer I have ever had. Simply amazing and it lives up to its reputation. They ran out a half hour after I got there.

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Photo of rudzud
4.64/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Review number 700! After waiting in line for Kate day since 5:45am it has arrived....a snifter of Kate the Great!

A - Poured into a 20th anniversary snifter that states "twist off...my ass!" a oily black pour with a nice creamy one finger mocha head that leaves light lacing and fades to a nice thin blanket. A little swirling brings everything back to life.

S - Aromas of sweet roasty malts and deep rich chocolate. Excellent port chips coming through. Very rich and roasty and decadent.

T - Oooohhh yeah. Rich roasted malts and deep delicious liquid dark chocolate. There is excellent oak, earth, vanilla, and some nice port aging notes intermingled in this beer. The finish...no booze. So so harmonious.

M - Mouthfeel is creamtastic. Silky smooth like a velvet curtain drapes along my pallet. Stupendous feel with no ABV detected. Magic.

O - Overall holy zombie Jesus. Beer was well worth the wait to get a pour. This is really good stuff and while the hype is getting out of control it really is an excellent Russian stout. Not sure how they do this. Oh wait...kid magic.

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Photo of outoffocus
4.33/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.8/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Many thanks to RustyDiamond for sharing this with a group of us at the Brick Store Pub. He brought it over straight from receiving it from shipping and the growler was in great shape. I'd been looking to try this for a while, and I wasn't disappointed. It strikes me as one of the species of RIS that are more to the winey side with fewer big flavors of coffee and chocolate and more dark fruit- somewhere almost between an RIS and a big Baltic Porter. This beer changed in the glass more than almost any beer I've had developing new flavors and mellowingg the alchohol in the nose out quite aa bit. It poured black with a very dark head- maybe not qquite as dark as Ten Fidy, but close. Good lacing and decent head retention. Big nose of solvent alcohol at first- very heady, but within minutes this had changed considerably to dark fruit, fortified wine, cherries, and even a wisp of smoke. The flavors as well are quite changeable in the glass. It also tastes a little hot to start, but that quickly progresses to a more sustained fruity wineiness, roasty flavors, cherrries, light chocolate, fresh cream, pears and prunes, and some nice earthy hops in the backgground. Complex and delicious. The mouthfeel is very smooth, not huge feeling at all, jut silky and delicious and surprisingly easy to drink. One of the more drinkable RIS I've had. Just a delight, and one I wish would become more available. I was really happy I had a chance to taste it.

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Photo of petermethot
4.75/5  rDev +4.9%

Photo of John_M
4.85/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at the brewpub today. Missed out on bottles, but certainly got my fair share of this beer on tap today (KTG release day). I feel fairly certain this will be the first and last time I get to try Kate on tap.

KTG pours the expected blackish brown color with very good head retention and lacing. As with the bottled version I had from 2008 (thanks to the ever generous Dyan), the nose on this beer is terrific. I get coffee, milk chocolate, vanilla and cherry liquer, and maybe a hint of licorise. As good as this beer smells, the flavor profile is just flat out fantastic. The flavors generally replicate the nose, except the vanilla and licorise are a bit more prominent, and I also get some plum. This beer is fairly sweet, but for whatever reason, that sweetness never feels as if it's over the top. Maybe it's the mouthfeel, which is oh so full, rich, soft, creamy and long. If I were ever to make a RIS nougat candy, this is what I'd want it to taste and feel like. This beer is flat out decadently rich and yummy, and yet there's nothing light or insubstantial about this great beer. Drinkability is so good it's flat out dangerous. I wasn't in line early enough to buy any bottles of Kate, so I essentially drank my two bottles at the brewpub. Despite the abv., I had no difficulty knocking back 4 glasses of Kate (serving size was in the 12 to 13 ounce range), and was still relatively coherent afterwards.

As I said before, I suppose there are better beers out there then KTG, but they are extremely small in number. This is an incredibly fine beer.

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Photo of sweemzander
4.05/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 2010 Vintage. Yet another huge thank you to Adam for sharing!

(A)- Pours fairly thick and pitch black. Some tan bubbles formed, but otherwise no head formation.

(S)- A good richness and roastedness on the nose. Some molasses, cocoa, and coffee. Rather dry, but a good overall aroma.

(T)- Similar to the smell. A big richness. not as much roasted elements as I would have liked to see, but it does have a big sweetness in its place. Plenty of raisin, molasses, and cocoa, with just a tiny hint of dark oaky fruits from the port chips.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. Rich, sweet, yet smooth and well balanced.

(D)- Definitely a great imperial stout. It is rich and sweet with just about everything where it should be. I would have liked to see more roasted elements come through to further balance it out, but perhaps I am just being picky. While this is quite good, I do not see why this is worth the trade value it is getting other than simply of the fact that only 900 are made each year.

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Photo of Rhettroactive
4.12/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

From 22oz bomber to Bruges glass at a small gathering of NoVA BA's on 9/4/11
*From notes

-- Bill, I can't thank you enough for introducing me to Kate --

Vintage 2010

A: A hearty pour yields a .75 finger head and decent, yet unspectacular lacing. It's got an oxblood hue around the edges, and a rich brownie-black tint to the body.

S: Some deliciously dark fruits hit the nose before the glass even gets there. 65% dark cocoa weaves it's way around the nostrils, creating a wonderful bouquet.

T: Wickedly different then my expectations. The ruby port (in which the wood had soaked) has an absolute vice grip on the flavor profiles of the brew. There's a lack of balance here, as the char, malt, hops...heck, just about anything else take a backseat to the dense red fruit. When discussing this with billab914 (who had it on tap at the release), he said the beer is not how he remembered it, and that he doesn't like where it has ended up. To be frank, he said, he preferred it fresh. As this is my first time flirting with Kate, I can only say that yes, this properly cellared, 2010 vintage is dominated solely by the ruby port's one-note, dense red fruit character.

M: Kate certainly feels good, but I can't say she felt great. The weight's decent, and both the texture and carbonation were on-point, yet I felt something was lacking here. It came off just a touch uninspired.

O: Portsmouth's Kate the Great vintage 2010 is a very, very good beer that just didn't live up to my lofty expectations. But really though, how could it? Considered the Holy Grail of RIS's, I can honestly say that I've had better, and I've absolutely had a whole hell of a lot worse. I'm really looking forward to ticking the 2011 next week, and will be sure to post my review.

I'm sure many of you are asking: Is she worth it? Is Kate worthy of dumping the entire cellar, for one measly bottle? That, my fellow BA's is up to you, though I'd heartily recommend thinking twice before doing so. At least for the 2010 vintage.

UPDATE: 9/23/11
As expected, we cracked the 2011 vintage at my 30th Beerthday Bash. From the moment the cap came off, it was apparent that the 2011 was head and shoulders above the '10. The port barrel character was in perfect balance with the beer, it really was one of the best RIS's I've had the pleasure of drinking. The room was deafening before the pour, and once the bottle circled around and their glasses were full, it was dead silent. We all took a moment and looked at each other, realizing we were drinking what may be the perfect beer. The following are my reviews of the '11:

A: 4 S:4.5 T:5 M:4 O:4.5

The moral of the story: DRINK KATE FRESH!

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Photo of enelson
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of BARFLYB
4.5/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

09' version into a large snifter glass. Split with Birradr14 oglmcdgl and mary. Thanks goes out to Jwelsh for the bottle, one which I thought I would never try.

A- Kate is a beauty. Deep dark black sky color in appearance, there is no light going to be making it through this lady. A very thick viscous looking beer once it's settled in the glass. Got a 1/2 inch of densely packed dark tan foam that left some mess on the glass.

S- Deep roasted smells of malts at first but this really opened up fairly quickly. A heaping of high end chocolate comes up with some sweet coffee closing in behind. Somewhere in between I get a bit of milk or cream scents. I was surprised to smell a bit of vanilla towards the tail end of my glass. A dark fruit variety seems to be coming to mind as well.

T- A true RIS with a focus on the dark roasted malts but there is so much more built into this. With the roast also comes just a bit of smoke in kate as well. What I get first is a lot of dark fruit, a bit more than expected actually. Picking up a lot of rich chocolate which is blending nice with the low coffee/cream taste. Some molasses while the vanilla really steps up with warming. Just a hint of alcohol & a plethora of flavors.

M- Not quite full bodied but a step down from that. The bold flavors get my senses buzzing as well as a good amount of carb felt as well. There is a alcohol bite to this but just enough to let you know it's there. Smooth and subtle for a RIS this one should be treated with respect.

D- I only wish I had more. I could of easily drank a ton more of this. Kate is pretty hard to get if your not near the brewery so I feel blessed. Saying that this is not my favorite RIS but it is a damn good one. I savored my precious oz's for some time and loved every second of it. Hats off to Portsmouth.

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Portsmouth Kate The Great from Portsmouth Brewery
Beer rating: 4.53 out of 5 with 932 ratings