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.

For Trade:
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Reviews: 491 | Ratings: 926
Photo of rudzud
4.64/5  rDev +2.9%
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 GarthDanielson
5/5  rDev +10.9%
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 agirginis
4.58/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- pours like motor oil with a brown head

S- a real complex smell of chocolate, wine, and coffee. It smels almost as good as it tastes

T- it starts out with chocolate and coffee but ends with the sort of a wine and fruit flavor/

M- a smooth very easy drinking beer.

O- this beer lives up to all the hype and is worth the year long wait people have to go through!! Cant wait for KATE DAY!! dONT OPEN BOTTLE RIGHT AWAY give it some time. I opened one 6 months later and it had a great taste to it. Recommend keeping for longer though

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

Big thanks to Jay for opening this bottle up! 2010 vintage poured into a small snifter glass.

A: Pours a very nice dark black color with a small mocha/tan colored head on top. Not very big and reduces rather quickly, leaving behind a ring of foam and some random bubbles on top.

S: Lots going on in the aroma, lots of dark fruits - cherry and raisins. There is some espresso and coffee and a bunch of dark chocolate. In some ways it reminds me of a port.

T: Very big, lots of flavors that change as it warms. Slightly bitter chocolate and coffee a first with tons of dark fruit in the middle. More cherries, raisins, and figs, as well as some brown sugar and molasses.

M: Full bodied, but extremely easy drinking. Goes down very smooth. Slight heat, but no heavy alcohol presence.

O: A fantastic beer that lives up to its reputation. Extremely complex, but the ease at which it drank was amazing. Can only hope to have it again someday. Thanks again Jay.

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Photo of drowland
4/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber shared at the SeaBass going away tasting! Opaque pitch-black pour with a small brown head. Slightly sour aroma loaded with dark fruits. Sweet roasted flavor filled with chocolate and roasted malts. Pretty tasty, but not as awesome as some make it out to be.

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Photo of fewa
2.09/5  rDev -53.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

had this one in a ktg, black albert, kabert and special-k line up.
Pours a deep black color with almost no head. Smell is sweet, chocolate and coffee. The taste is simply a let down. Muddy coffee, sweet molasses, fatty chocolate and dusty oak. This beer lacks complexity, is thin and has low carbonation. Easily the worst in the line up. Happy that only 33 percent of this is added to the kabert, so the true masterpiece black albert can compensate. Overhyped.

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Photo of shawnm213
4/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle shared by phaleslu at DLD 2010. Big thanks peter. Have been curious about this beer. hoppy, bitter, roasty. cocoa, coffee. has a weird moldy cocoa taste. light body compared to the Oak aged DL, Apis Póltorak Jadwiga, and black tuesday i just had. Maybe i was previously batting with a doughnut on my bat, but this seemed quite drinkable. Hope to try it again some day when I’m not a boat load of beers deep. Great beer. Happy to have tried it.

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Photo of dmac621
4.4/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle shared at Paul’s Thanksgiving weekend bash. Poured a deep dark brown almost black body with a foamy dark beige head. Aroma is great with lots of raosty notes, chocolate, burnt toast, tootsie rolls, and grassy hops still make a prescence despite all the roastiness. Medium to fuller bodied with slight alcohol warming and average carbonation. Flavors of chocolate, toast, espresso, vanilla and a hint of alcohol. Overall this is just one great beer.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.74/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 model split with steepH20 as the cornerstone celebratory beer for his new boy

Black, with next to no head, and a still placid surface

Very subtle on the nose: light cocoa notes, slight roast, and berries. Like much of what is to follow, subtlety is a main component of this beer. What I found most interesting about the nose is that nothing jumps out at you, but rather the nose pulls you in. Really appealing in its nuances.

Kate is one of the smoothest beers I have ever drank. The naysayer in me wanted to find and expose the flaws in this beer. The realist in me could not. It's simply a near flawlessly executed, well integrated, and remarkably easy drinking 12 percent stout. The port lays a well woven berry like quality throughout the entire beer. The roast and chocolate notes are lightly played but fantastically integrated. I had to, on multiple occasions, stop and remind myself to slow down while drinking this.

Overall, this is not a pomp and bluster stout. It doesn't make you its bitch or slap you down with any over the top notes. Rather it invites you in and the next thing you know, Kate has seduced you until your eyes have glossed over and you are ready to do anything she asks of you. You dirty, dirty temptress.

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Photo of cgarviereg
4.42/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to MIKETD for this one ... deep black ... thin tan lacing ... deep coffee roast ... some chocolatre nose ... dry roast ... again lots of chocolate ... quite spirity ... touch too dry for me.
tap at De Molen (friday)... dark black ..solid easy dark roast nose... soft set roast malt .. light bitter choclate roast ... dark mals... toffee roast. nice tap at De Molen (sat)... deep bl€k ... deep dark roast malts ... big chocolate ...nose ...big roast ... light charcoal bitterness .... dark malts ... big chocolate ... heavy meaty roast ... light oak ..nice

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Photo of spdyfire83
2.87/5  rDev -36.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

102nd Review
Bottle to snifter
Vintage 2008

From notes. I was looking for the "right time" to crack this mini-whale and that was just before I departed the States to move to Ireland. Enjoyed with bspringer and mtep13.

A: Deep mahogany. A few light mocha bubbles on medium pour.

S: Cocoa, roasted malt, figs, and molasses. Hint of oak and caramel. Not as inviting as I had hoped.

T: Faint dark chocolate raisins with hints of oak, coffee, and brown sugar. Almost boring. A bit too sweet for my liking and almost no defined balance. Muddled mess here - I'm guessing that has to do with the age of it which is quite a bummer.

M: Full bodied with almost no carbonation. I wish it were thicker - especially considering the style.

O: A disappointment for sure, but I can only blame myself (I think). I sat on this too long and made the mistake of acquiring a vintage beer that seems to not age well over time. I'd be willing to give this one another shot, but I would caution anyone out there from cellaring this beer.

I will re-review it when this one comes across my glass again.

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Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
4.47/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It was a dark and dreary Tuesdaynight. The wind was howling. The 3rd Tuesday in a series meaning random night and I'm waiting for Jeffo to bring his random beer.
Kate the Great...

2011 vintage

Let's see what the hype is all about. Surely it can't be THAT good.

From a 22oz bottle into a snifter.

Thick looking. Like a melted chocolate cake. A hard pour revealed a one finger head leaving a decent amount of lacing.

Kate has a great nose. Oak, dark fruits, cherries, a nice roasted malt sweetness and a bunch chocolate.

Flavors are equally awesome and delivered everything the nose promised adding smokey and coffee flavors.

A nice thick heavy mouthfeel, low to medium carbonation.

Kate 2011 does everything right and lives up to the hype. The flavors are almost in perfect balance with a slight accent on the sweetness. I'd drink this every day of the week but that's not going to happen...

Thanks a bunch Jeff for killing it again on random night.

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Photo of claaark13
4.41/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I shared one of these with my Euro friends at a tasting in May but don't have adequate notes. Finally getting the chance to give the '11 vintage another shot. Thanks Jonah/Andrew for both of these. Chilled for a few minutes and poured into a Darkness snifter.

A - Pours black with a slow-rising tan head that slowly turns to lacing with a little foam collecting where the surface meets the glass. Sticks to the side of the glass well. Looks very appealing overall.

S - Faint coffee and roast. There is some sort of dark fruity aroma coming through, almost bready like a Quad may present.

T - Sweet malts, mild coffee. Dry and slightly woody finish. The slightly sweet port comes through with almost a fruity note in the end. The flavor is well balanced.

M - Medium to slightly thicker body, medium to low carbonation. Really carries everything well.

O - Most everything falls into the right place with this beer. I think I could sip on this or drink it like a 6er of Zombie Dust. Very balanced, nothing dominates the taste but they all play their part.

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Photo of Kaydogg
4.38/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 batch

A: Pours black with a thin tan head that leaves some lacing around glass.

S: Sweet dark malt with dark fruit, molasses with a hint of alcohol.

T: Starts off with sweet dark malts, raisins, figs and molasses. there is that port wine sherry taste to it..really well balanced and complex

M: Super smooth and creamy full body, low-moderate carbonation and a sweet finish.

O: extremely drinkable imperial stout, the sweet dark fruit character and sherry wine type flavor really seperates this from other big stouts. Definitively one of the best imperial stouts I've tried..

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Photo of MPLS
3.97/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I have not logged into this site in over 2 months. That being said it has been a while since I have reviewed a beer. Time to make the cellar look a little more slim.

2010 Bottle of Kate the Great that I acquired in a trade with the help of some Czar Jack.

A: The beer is opaque and dark, perfect for a night that follows winter solstice. The head on this beer was short-lived, even with an aggressive pour. A small ring subsides and lacing is not as plentiful as anticipated.

S: Intoxicating port alcohol, dark chocolate, berries. The roasted malts were more evident. Notes of oak or some slight woodiness.

T: First sip was pleasant, but not a obvious sign from the beer gods. I like it, more and more after each sip. The flavor profile is very port like with an acidic, fruit like edge. I like it - but don't absolutely love it. The "acidic" edge detracts from my overall enjoyment of this beer.

M: A little thinner than expected, but @ 12% it holds it's own. It lingers long, I like that. Wish there was a bit more carbonation in this one.

O: Yep, big hype. Didn't quite deliver, but I enjoyed the beer.

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

This review is a combination of notes taken 7/1/08, 3/22/10, and memories burnt into my mind from 4 bottles ranging from 2008 - 2011 (and some on-tap). Most recently updated on 4/28/12, from a 2012 bottle.

Note: 200th review posted to BA, I've been waiting to write this for a while

Note 2: No amount of rambling will do justice to this beer, so I'm going to attempt to be concise. I will likely be revising this in the future.

Appearance: Pours dark brown, slightly viscous-looking - head is a beautiful tan color, doesn't stick around forever, but the ring of carbonation that sticks around leaves great lacing

Smell: Simply intoxicating - a number of distinct aromas - burnt coffee, chocolate malts, baker's chocolate, dark chocolate, molasses, and dark fruits (figs, grape skin), and some burnt port, a touch of wood - some hoppy aromas (when fresh), and they add a herbal/spicy character that blends with the dark malts - rich, complex malts, a beautiful blend of roasted malts, burnt malts, and cake-like sweetness

Taste: Beyond perfection - a complex harmony of bitter, burnt tones, somewhat sweet, candy-like tones, and some spiciness from the hops - dark, burnt malts - definitely burnt, but not excessively charred - dry, baker's chocolate, as well as sweeter, semisweet chocolate - roasted coffee - some incredible dark fruit flavors, perhaps from the port, which also adds a touch of tart - some sweetness that is reminiscent of a spice cake, as well as toffee - just breathtaking overall - the taste itself really comes in stages, with some rich sweetness at the start, chocolate in the middle, and a gloriously roasty aftertaste - definitely some variation from fresh to aged, but a 5/5 regardless

Mouthfeel: Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Kate - heavy, but not sludgy - insanely smooth - nicely carbonated (actually varies batch to batch) - absolutely, stupidly, and mind-blowingly drinkable

Overall: No other beer has caused me so much joy (and so much pain)

Having the opportunity to drink Kate the Great is simultaneously one of the best and worst things to ever happen to me. The good things are outlined above... The problem with this beer is that it's so good that it has cast a shadow over every stout I've had since the summer of 2008. Nothing is as good as Kate. And this beer is so f--- hard to get. I've waited in line for so many hours. It's an unhealthy relationship. It's become the prototype for why I hate hype. To summarize, I absolutely love and absolutely hate everything about this beer.

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Photo of PDXHops
3.94/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

An enormous thank you to Spleeb for this bomber, shared with Ryan011235 in oversized snifters. Never be afraid to propose a trade for a wale, kids; some good dude just might take you up on the offer!

Kate pours a few shades shy of black with abundant mahogany highlights that make up for the lack of pure darkness. Not much in the way of a head to admire, but periodic gentle swirls coax the tan skim. Lacing is sacrificed in the effort; scattered streaks and splotches are it. Any likenesses to a pedestrian beer get tossed out the window at this point, though.

The port seems to manifest itself in the nose as lush berry notes more than the wine itself. As it warms, these notes become increasingly and pleasingly pronounced. Richly roasted and toasted malt profile with a dusting of cocoa. I'm not sure a dash of burnt malt wouldn't kick it up another notch, but it smells quite nice as is.

The port seems to be more of a factor in the flavor profile, lending a load of concentrated raspberry, strawberry and blackberry and a certain warmth. This berry combo matches up nicely with deep dark chocolate. Somewhat vinous, but not really tangy. 12%?? I gotta say, it went down with ease. Moderate carbonation with a smooth feel and a lengthy, coating, satisfying finish.

Overall impression: I'm not sure I'd swing for the fences again from a tradebait standpoint to get another bottle, but I sure wouldn't mind having another as a cellar experiment. Good stuff.

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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 cpetrone84
4.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pour is a deep black with a tan colored head. The nose has a little oak, light roasted malts, hints of dark chocolate, bright sweet flavors of anise, malt, and dark berries. The flavor is great, lightly roasted, dry dark chocolate, a touch of smoke in the roast, fairly sweet towards the back but not in a sugary way. Blackberry, plums, and cherry are very bright. The body is medium to full, very drinkable, smooth on the palate with a light carbonation and short finish.

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

Was feeling a little nutty this evening and decided to open this after the CBS when my fiance said "Kate the Great; which one is that again...told her the details...fuck yeah sounds awesome".

11' Bottle

Pours, pretty straight up Imperial Stout like, thick and syrupy with a nice off-white head.

Nose; oak (slightly smokey), some wine, caramel and chocolate.
Taste; milk and dark chocolate, rich wine notes, vanilla, oak, and a lingering bourbon vanilla ice cream, a touch of espresso. Finishes with a hint of ripe fruits; must be the port coming through and finally a suggestion of no-bake cookies; wtf!?!?!

This is most definitely dessert in a bottle...so much richness and decadent flavors!

Overall; very complex, layer upon layer of decadent notes with a great milky mouthfeel.

Killer stuff; lives up to the hype most definitely!

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Photo of charlzm
4.65/5  rDev +3.1%
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.

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Photo of Beerisheaven
4.6/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

2010 Vintage compliments of Kelp, a ridiculous trading partner from New England way.

A - pours generally black but fairly modest in its head and lacing retention. Was not sure what to expect following its initial presentation.

S - Failry modest across the nose. Fruit & licorice find their way across the nose. Nothing stands out, all very nice.

T - Without doubt, the best RIS I have had to date. Dark fruit port like in taste and absolutely no hint of alcohol. Some underlay of dark chocolate too but the fruit takes the lead and never looks back. Tremnedous world class RIS. Can't put it any way other than the measuring stick for RIS's. This was without doubt the smoothest silkiest beer that I have had in a long time. Everyone just kept saying "smooth" as they were drinking it.

M - Given the lack of head, a tad thin but still very enjoyable. Its richness and smoothness

O - Worthy of the hype. A tremendous beer that I would love to have over and over but realize that you can't.

Thanks J for the #1 beer in the tasting tonight. Everyone had this as the #1 beer of the night, hands down.

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

Reviewed from notes: Thanks Jacob for sending this my way.

appearance: dark brown black with a 1 finger mocha head

smell: chocolate, vanilla, roast, sweet, malts / barley

taste: smooth chocolate, roast, vanilla, malts

mouthfeel: mild carbonation, full body,

overall: this is a well down stout and so glad I finally got a chance to try this bad girl. ; )

the CPJ

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Photo of MADhombrewer
2.12/5  rDev -53%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

2010 vintage. Shared with Hopsbreath, Tulipsnifter, and witchsbrew. Got this from WkndatBernardus, thanks.

Appearance- Black with little tan head. 4/5

Smell- Weak aroma. Dates? 2/5

Taste - Very fruity. Tangy, fruity Pebbles cereal. 2.5/5

Maouthfeel- Too thin for my taste. I expect an Imperial Stout to be a lot thicker. 2/5

Overall- Wow! I am very unimpressed with this. I thought the 11 was much better and it had smoke flavor that I didn't expect and didn't care for that much. 2/5

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.82/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had a college buddy/beer geek in town so decided to rip through as many treats as I could with a few other BAs and friends. This started things off. Big thanks to BearsOnAcid for helping me get to sample this treat and also thanks to cooperellis for picking up the bottle for me!

2011 vintage

a - opened the bottle and had my pour in a cbs snifter. brew poured black as night but had a wateryy glisten. there wasn't much head to speak of, but what was there had a somewhat mocha tan color. swirling the beer really coats the glass.

s - smells of chocolate roasted malts with a hint of vanilla. really nice smelling.

t - oh wow! pretty spot on perfection for what i dig about stouts. great roasted malt with a blast of quality chocolate tamed back with some vanilla notes.

m - great body, thick and rich...smooth as silk. kind of like chocolate milk.

o - overall...this is simply amazing. after discussing the beer a bit with the group it came to light that it is aged in port barrels and there definitely is a port quality that sets the flavor apart. just really wonderful and easy to drink. no hype, this beer is the truth. like really tasty chocolate milk. i had been dying to try this since i first learned of it and i am not disappointed one bit.

--- edit ---
was able to have a sample of the 09 at Capt Lawrence CdC release and it was just as good, if not better. fantastic beer and perma-want.

--- edit --- 2013-01-08
popped open my last bottle of this beer (2012 vintage) tonight to celebrate the 10th anniversary of my first date with my wife. i've had this beer several times in my travels and what i've come to learn is that it don't age all that well and today felt like the perfect night to pop it open (probably already waited too long). poured gorgeous black and the smell has a strong roast with black licorice. the flavor is much of the same. the roast is intense, but not like a southampton IRS. it really is a great stout for something not aged in barrels, but not as amazing as it's reputation is. the heat is on and the booziness is a bit in your face, but all in all one of the better of the brewery only release stouts. the port barrels are there, but everything is somewhat hidden behind the heat. my palette today would probably rate this more between a 4 and a 4.5 than the 4.85 of my first impression...that being said, the 2011 vintage was superior to the 2012 in my opinion.

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