Portsmouth Black Cat Stout | Portsmouth Brewery

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Portsmouth Black Cat StoutPortsmouth Black Cat Stout

Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery
New Hampshire, United States

Style: Irish Dry Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
Yes, Arthur, there is another stout. Our Irish-style "dry" stout is brewed with four different malts, roasted barley and Chinook hops. It is big, bold, smooth & tasty, and we think it's the best thing on either side of St. James Gate.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 01-30-2002

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Reviews: 103 | Ratings: 196
Photo of Gatch
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at the brewery.

A - Pitch black with a creamy, light brown head. Hangs around for a long time.

S/T - Smoky, charred, roasted malt.

M - Smooth, roasty, and dry in the finish.

A good example of a traditional stout. Went well with the pulled pork sandwich.

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Photo of NardiByNature
4.43/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this guy on tap at the Brewery on the 23rd. It impressed me in the sampler (which are sweet), so I ordered a pint of it afterwards.

Black and a creamy short head that sits on top of this beer until the end. Head clings to the glass around the edges so it's sort of smooth and concave.

Licorice, coffee, chocolate and grain smells.

Delicious. I love this. Some of the nose with some roasted grains and toast.

I've seen beer described as "velvety" before, and that seems like one good way to describe it - if you like velvet, that is. Dry, yet creamy. It's great.

Loved it. Try it if you're drinking in Portsmouth then I couldn't speak more highly of the Portsmouth Brewery. The imperial stout is great and so is the Bottle Rocket IPA.

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Photo of KTCamm
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap at the PBC in Portsmouth NH.

Pours jet black with off white creamy foam. Very sticky. Rich roasted smell, some coff. Smooth taste with a real dark chocolate flavorful finish. Low to no carbonation. Finishes like a candy bar. Nice blend of bitter and sweet.

Very good stout.

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Photo of cosmicevan
4.35/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to cooperellis for picking this up for me (along with others) when visiting the brewery. enjoyed out of a portsmouth sniftery tulip.

a - opened the bottle and filled my glass...poured thick oil like black with a thin off white creamy head that was gone quick leaving sparse bubbling on the surface of the brew.

s - very nice creamy roast. some menthol. some powdery cocoa. irish cream.

t - starts off with a charred powdery chocolate then a touch of roastiness and finishes with irish cream.

m - mouth is light and the beer leaves a charred feel. quite nice.

o - overall, this beer is to beer...what baileys is to booze. it is pretty light and has a nice irish cream thing going on. mostly char and roastiness with some subtle notes of coffee and a nice presence of powdered chocolate. this beer is totally hitting the spot right now.

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Photo of jamescain
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a sniffer.

Appearance: Jet black with an off white head about a finger thick that fades into a thin lacing over the top of the beer.

Aroma: Notes of roasted grain, chocolate, and a hint of caramel.

Taste: A lot more chocolate in the taste then in the aroma. Roasted notes and surprisingly sweet.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation easy enough to contemplate drinking a few more.

Overall: Probably the best Dry Stout I've had, which is not that many since they seem to be hard to come by in the craft world.

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Photo of Sean9689
3.63/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the brewpub.

A - Pours black, tan-colored head, thin cap, thin collar.

S - Nice malty backbone, coffee, roast, light chocolate.

T - More chocolate-forward here, some coffee, roast, malts, and a touch of hops.

M - Light body (perhaps a touch too thin, but still, it's only 5.5%), creamy finish, good carbonation.

O - Enjoyable. I really am a fan of the Irish Dry Stout, so this was hit home for me. That said, I've had better, but still, I enjoyed it for the most part.

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Photo of GbVDave
4.15/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into an imperial pint. Special thanks to jayli for this from our most recent trade!

A: Pours a deep cola black with russet highlights at the edges. One finger of light brown cream layed on top, briefly, before settling down into a thick and creamy collar that left a few tendrils of lace in the glass.

S: Heavy roast and burnt chocolate. Subtle coffee with cream, campfire ash, fudge, and chocolate dipped cherries.

T: Close to above with the fudgy, chocolate-y flavors dominating. Coffee puts up a valiant effort, but is steamrolled by the chocolate. Nice ashy flavor during the long finish.

M: Killer mouthfeel! Slightly sweet and incredibly creamy with a thickness I've never before experienced in this style. Excellent dry and ashy prickliness that picks up steam in the finish.

O: A wonderful example of the style. The care they put into their "everyday" beer is very apparent. Send more jax!

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Photo of rudzud
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bottle of this while at the brewery. Poured into my Duvel tulip.

A - Pours a nice dark oily black with a rich two finger head that slowly fades leaving nice amounts of side lacing and a thick film on the brew.

S - Good roasted coffee notes as well as some light chocolate. Some very faint hops too.

T - Similar to this nose the flavours are all quite smooth together. Starts a little roasty and bitter coffee notes that fade to your usual coffee and qualities with some light hop finish. Very, very light.

M - Quite thin like this style is. Ever slightly creamy too.

O - Overall this is quite the irish dry stout. Nice and creamy, really good appearance and smell. A solid brew from Portsmouth.

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Photo of Jayli
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Consumed 6/11 at the brewery
Served in a pint glass

A: This beer pours an opaque black with a 2 finger of creamy brown head. Head retains nicely and leaves ringlets of lacing on the glass.

S: Nose is dark chocolate, light coffee notes and a hint of toffee sweetness.

T: Taste is supremely balanced! Starts off with great coffee notes, mingled with a nice roastiness. Lighter toasted malts come through. A nice milk chocolate and minor dark chocolate then come through. A huge roast presence with a light hoppiness comes in during the finish.

M: Lighter side of medium body, medium carbonation, on the lighter side but slightly creamy.

O: Goes down easily, ridiculously tasty, not too filling, mild kick, and excellent representation of style. This is a phenomenal drinking Irish Dry Stout. One of the easiest drinking of the style that I've had. Yea - I could get with this one all day, every day!

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Photo of johnnnniee
4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a respectably dark brown/black color with a thinnish tan head that I had to coax with a vigorous pour. Roasted coffee and caramel fill my nostrils along with powdered dark chocolate and a hint of toffee. Taste is roasty and creamy almost like a sweet stout rather than a dry. Chocolate and coffee mixed with caramel and toffee. Longer lingering roasted coffee bitterness mixed with just enough sweetness finishes every sip. Medium body with a light level of carbonation and a creamy smooth mouthfeel. Another great brew from the folks up at the Portsmouth brewery.

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Photo of afksports
4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Introduced to me through my friend John who provided the bottle, Black Cat is supposedly thought by some to be as Great as Kate. It seems that annual release of 900 bottles has turned some towards the more readily available option.

And I'm certainly not complaining. Black Cat pours a deep brown to black body, leaves bubbles tickling the glass, and sustains a ring throughout the drink. It smells like chocolate and coffee, rather standard I guess, but well-composed. The taste is really not all that boozy, and features dark chocolate and hops bitterness that pair up for a colorful tinge. Plus, from start to finish, sweet sweet stout malts. Those are probably the only overwhelming component of the brew - it just might be too thick to drink that much of.

Still, with its full body, this Black Cat makes me just as happy as Janet Jackson's "Black Cat" made my sister back in the day (Black Cat was a song title, right? I'm not being dirty).

That said, I'll withhold judgment on the debate between Cat and Kate. I'd rather have both.

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Photo of danmcg62
4.33/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber bought at the Portsmouth Brewery store up in NH.

A-Pours a deep, dark black color with a creamy head. Very nice.

S-Dark chocolate malt comes to mind first. Sweet caramel is around there too.

T-Thick and choclately, super malty. Tastes like a dark chocolate bar in a glass. Very tasty.

M-Chewy and creamy. Feels like a chocolate milkshake.

O-Overall this is a very good stout. Very drinkable and very pleasing to all the senses.

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Photo of Flounder57
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I purchased this bomber on the way back from snowboarding at Wildcat and decided to take a slight . I poured the beer into an Imperial pint glass.

Appearance: The beer pours a pitch black color with a one finger mocha color head. It reduces down to a thin layer of head and slight lacing right before I decided to take a sip.

Smell: Roasted caramel sweet malts and some slight coffee and chocolate hints.

Taste: same flavors that I could smell folllowed by some dry bitterness towards the end.

Mouthfeel: slightly chewey and medium bodied. Very smooth and medium carbonation.

Overall: I think this beer fits the style very well. Would purchase this again at the brewery to take home or have a pint if I was ever driving through Portsmouth. Very easy drinking beer and would recommend it to anybody.

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Photo of Bmoyer0301
3.41/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5


Tonight I pulled out another one of my favorite glasses and this is probably the most frequently used, my trusty English pint glass. As I proceeded to pop the cap there was a generous amount of hissing and the carbonation gasses seeped out and floated away. On the pour I decided to go slowly just in case the head wanted to flow over the neck of my glass. When I was done I was left with a good looking one finger thick head that was a milk chocolate mocha colored. As I hold my glass up to the light this baby is deep deep black and has absolutely no light passing through it at all. There is no yeast chunks or haze floating around which is a good sign. As I give a quick swirl the viscosity seems pretty tame and nothing really to mention of and not leaving any long streaking legs on the walls of my glass.


Roasted malts, and cocoa powder are the main event here. Some slight ashy undertones followed by chocolate and raisins. As I left my glass warm up a bit there are lots of dark fruits shining through and some rum-esq aromas. In the middle I am pulling out some light roasted coffee maybe a iced coffee smell, actually to be more specific I am reminded of non-dairy coffee creamer. I am liking the faint sweetness that rounds out the roasty bitterness through.


Its really nice to sit back and enjoy a simple style like this once and awhile because it really puts the extreme beers back in check and makes you appreciate other styles so much more. Right out of the gate you are loaded with dry roasty malt and dark cocoa flavors and even a touch of molasses. Very thin on the palate and easy drinking makes this quite a session-able beer when you have a craving for a few darker beers. In the middle I am pulling out some minerals that resemble ocean water maybe some salt? (Oyster Stout?) I don't want to forget to mention that I am actually tasting some citrus hops behind all of these flavors which really surprises the heck out of me for this being a dry stout. The finish is long and really leaves you with a great coating of chocolate that goes on and on and pulls you in for another sip.


This is as good as they come in my opinion, easy drinking and oh so smooth. Don't get me wrong when it comes to Portsmouth, Kate the Great is where it's at but don't turn your nose up to their other offerings because they are just as good. I believe this is my sixth or seventh bottle from these guys and I have yet to have on that was bad or off flavored. So again I say if you get a chance to try or trade for one tonight's beers, this is a no brainer and sure win in the flavor category.

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Photo of greenmonstah
4.13/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber purchased at the brewery yesterday. Poured into my new Portsmouth tulip.

A - Black pour with a finger of light brown head. Dark as an imperial stout. Brown edges. Avg retention and lacing.

S - Roasted coffee and some earthy hop. Some bitter dark chocolate.

T - Sorta plain. Earthy hop and a watered down coffee. Very light and easy to drink. A bit of roasted malt. Works for the style, but might be a little subdued for my tastes.

M - Thin as water. Thin as a Guinness. Normally this would give me pause, but this is honestly right on for the style.

O - Unbelievably easy to drink. Calm and smooth. This is really something. This is a perfect example of an Irish Dry Stout. I've never finished a bomber so fast. Wow. I'd love to get my hands on more.

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Photo of muttyd
4.17/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bunch of bottles of Portsmouth over the weekend. I've had the BC stout several times at the brewery, huge fan of this beer.

Pours a near pitch black, brown with a faint tan head that fades into an offwhite ring. Big roasted malt, coffee, milk chocolate aroma. Very faint citrus hops in the nose as well. The flavor follows the nose with a big roasted malt profile with loads of coffee and milk chocolate. Finishes with a leafy/herbal hop bite. Creamy, smooth, and silky mouth feel. Dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of WoodBrew
3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

So I am in New Hampshire for the Great Bay Half Marathon...its the night before a race and ....why not drink some....ok....alot of the local beer!!! Here Kitty kitty kitty....The Black Cat stout from Portsmouth is good. This beer has was dark/black in color with thin ecru head and great lace. The smell has a subtle roast coffee nose. The smell funnels into the taste of this beer. The reasonable ABV leads to this beer being a Session...certainly worth a taste.

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Photo of Kinsman
4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had the chance to stop by Portsmouth this afternoon and grab a few pints. Out of the three I had, this was the only one I had had before but never on cask. This cask version had been dry-hopped with one of the noble hops, but the bartender could not remember exactly which one of the top of her head.

Pours a nice opaque black body with a creamy and dense looking tan head, which settled down to about 1 finger of thickness.

Aroma featured some of the roasted barley malt as well as some chocolate-like sweetness in addition to a nice grassy hop presence.

The cask and dry-hopping seem to work wonders on this beer. Starting with a base that consists of roasted barley and coffee-ish flavors with some dark chocolate mixed in, the dry hopping adds a tasty grassy and earthy hop flavor that I found to be quite pleasing.

Cask beers always deliver a wonderfully smooth mouthfeel and this one was no different. In particular, this was a bit chewy and full bodied too. Overall, I've always enjoyed this stout because it really is a more flavorful version of Guinness and/or Murphys, but the cask and dry hopping really take this one up a notch. Keep up the good work, Portsmouth!

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Photo of stakem
4.07/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Portsmouth brewpub on 3/12/11. This was a nitro pour served in a pint glass. It appears black in color with a finger and a half of fluffy mocha head. A webbing of patchy lace sticks all over the glassware in a sort of spotty curtain as more sips and swirls are taken.

The smell of the brew is roasty with dark chocolate malt and an overall very even, appealing roasted character somewhat like charcoal mixed with citrus hops. The hoppiness only really makes itself known across the back with a light mineral touch.

The taste is minerals mixed with roasted malt. There is a lasting light bitterness that is lightly chalky to charcoal in character with the way it coats the mouth. Lingering flavors of chocolate meets coffee persist but are mild coupled with contrasting citrus hop flavor.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest level of carbonation. The nitro delivery was not 100%, it was clearly a blend of beer gas nitro/c02 because the initial pour and head formation was short lived. Overall easy drinking and not bad. In the dry stout category this is among the better ones I've had.

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Photo of Kegatron
4/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On nitro-tap @ the Portsmouth Brewery (Portsmouth, NH) on 3/13/11. Served in a pint glass.

Pours a flat black in the glass, with ½ finger of creamy mocha colored head. This maintains a rich frothiness to it, ringing the sides of the glass with robust creamy lacing. The aroma has a nice moderate fullness here to it, with notes of cocoa, coffee, and ripe citric fruit. Going deeper reveals some additional a sweeter caramel flavor and a fresh leafy hops. This is nice.

The taste is also fairly rich with chocolate, dark roast, and bitter citric hops. Those fruitier flavors sit with a touch of boldness across the back of the palate. Overall, this feels drier with bitterness than actual roast but you do get some light dark accents from the malts which hang on the tongue. The mouthfeel is medium bodied, with a pleasant smooth crispness to it that has also has a touch of a chewier feel underneath. This feels about right for a 5-6% Stout.

While this didn't quite come off as a traditional Dry Irish Stout to me, this definitely packed some quality full flavors and a well balanced feel into its easy drinking sub 6% package. I could have easily had a couple of these. I believe that this is usually their staple dark beer here and it's a good one to have around.

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Photo of akorsak
3.88/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 650 mL bomber from the brewery. Shared with janlud (1st review) and ksak.

A: The stout is black, dark as night, nestled underneath a white head. Isolated patches of lace run all around my glass.

S: The nose is cocoa powder with a chemical bubbliness. Roasted malts run alongside the cocoa, a sweet body.

T: The taste is mild, befitting an ale below 6%. The sweet roasted body shows off chocolate, cocoa powder and syrup. The dryness is palpable, wringing out the sweetness.

M: The mouthfeel is sweet and dry, a thin flavor that tries to disappear but can't. A powdery taste lingers.

D: Under 6%? Good enough for me. My Irish dry stout on St. Patrick's day.

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Photo of janlud
3.9/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

First review under the guidance of a great beer connoiseur. Bomber bottle from the brewery. Cocoa powder taste, not too sweet, has a bite to it. Not too bad for an Irish Stout. Thank you A Korsak for my grandchildren and for the awesome beer mentoring

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Photo of CooperEllis
4.28/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into the Southamton IRS release snifter (slight different than my dfh snifter, but really, it's all just glass)

Great dark color with a silky head. The head dissapates quickly, but leaves very nice mily lacing.

Very strong grain presence in the nose, slightly milky/cafe latte aroma.

Mistakenly was told this was a 'coffee' stout, but this is an Irish Dry stout and an excellent brew across the board. Wonderfully subtle notes within the milky malt body. This is highlighted by a full and rich mouthfeel, but the end is crisp, very nicely balanced.

Despite all the wonderful characteristics of this stout, I'm a bit unhappy. It's probably because I was expecting a stronger coffee presence. Still, damn fine across the board.

(1-1-5, I'll never catch afksports)

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Photo of levifunk
3.65/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottle shared by caseyk.

a - nice black pour with a nice thick head.

s - coffee dominates the nose. some kind of cream/milk nose, but dry.

t - over-roasted coffee. kind of a weak flavor.

m - thin pallet. on the lower end of carbonation for the style.

overall - not that impressive of a beer, but i may just not like irish dry stouts?

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Photo of jlindros
3.97/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tap at brew pub

Creamy 1 finger nitro head, pitch black beer. Messy lacing all over the glass.

Nose lots of choc malt, bit of roast, coffee, toffee, hint of caramel, creamy nitro pour aroma, hints of earthy hops, and stouty bitterness.

Taste starts creamy with a definite nitro pour, creamy dark malts, some choc malts, touch of cocoa, some roast with coffee and toffee, fairly rich and creamy but not very heavy. Plenty off earthy hops giving it some bitterness combined with a bit of roasty stout bitterness. Finishes with lingering hops earthy bitterness, some stouty dark malts and hint of creamy milk choc.

Mouth is med bodied, little lighter than i expected, creamy nitro carb.

Drink is decent, creamy and smooth, no bad flavors, could have used a bit more dryness on the finish, and I would like to try it without the nitro. The more I drink the more some earthy and a little herbal hop flavors come out, and start to interfere with the rest of the beer a bit, but that's my opinion.

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Portsmouth Black Cat Stout from Portsmouth Brewery
4.04 out of 5 based on 196 ratings.
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