Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

Portsmouth Black Cat Stout | Portsmouth Brewery

103 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Portsmouth Black Cat StoutPortsmouth Black Cat Stout

Brewed by:
Portsmouth Brewery
New Hampshire, United States | website

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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 103 | Ratings: 196
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.

 1,040 characters

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.

 455 characters

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.

 803 characters

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.

 2,641 characters

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.

 763 characters

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.

 517 characters

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.

 463 characters

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!

 1,182 characters

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.

 1,109 characters

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.

 1,272 characters

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.

 663 characters

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

 251 characters

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)

 778 characters

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?

 338 characters

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.

 995 characters

Photo of ToasterChef
4.52/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A chilled bottle was split between two pint glasses. Black liquid fills the glass. Atop it rests two fingers of thick brown foam. Good lacing is left behind. Some sweet crystal malts, chocolate and a slight bitterness make up the impressive aroma. It gets me excited to take a sip.

This is a well constructed and well balanced beverage. Plenty of dark malts can be tasted, imparting sweetness, but also robust toasted and nutty flavors reminiscent of a fine brown ale. The level of bittering hops is on the small side, but works very well here. It isn't an oily bitterness, nor does it remind me of coffee. It provides a sharpness that can be felt as well as tasted. This is one of the better Irish dry stouts I've had.

The beer is full bodied. At first, it feels like it has low carbonation levels, but if I let the beer rest in my mouth, I can feel a lot of bubbles popping in my mouth. A thin and slick coat is left behind. It's a touch sweet.

This is a very drinkable stout. Next time I'll opt for the growler instead of a bottle. It goes down that well. I'd also want to save some to cook with.

 1,103 characters

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

Thanks to Cody (GoGriz) for this one. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a Sam Adams perfect pint.

A: Standard pour yields a .5 finger frothy mocha head with moderate. Beer is an oily, viscous, opaque black. Lacing is thick and frothy right at the top with tiny legs and good stick.

S: Nose is toffee, roasted malt, coffee beans, milk chocolate, and bitter liquorice. Not the most aromatic but very appropriate and appetizing. No off flavors at all.

T: Opens toffee, sweet milk chocolate, and roasted malt. Very subtle coffee sourness. Nutty. Caramel sweetness. Robust sweet liquorice and chocolate backbone reveals itself towards the middle. Sweet chocolate and coca-cola at the end. Finish is liquorice and cocoa powder with a sweet and bitter coffee aftertaste.

M: Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Smooth, silky, and oily in the mouth. Just perfect. Rich and robust on the palate and going down. Finish is subtle and aftertaste doesn't really linger.

D: I recall having this at Kate Day earlier this year and really enjoying it. However, revisiting it in bottle form has been a revelation. This is another very solid beer from Portsmouth. Feel is perfect and drinks much bigger than its ABV suggests. Really good and worth seeking out.

 1,250 characters

Photo of billab914
3.53/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Surly nonic pint glass. It poured black in color with a modest and creamy off-white head to it. The head faded to a very thin covering and remeined through drinking it. It left some decent lacing on the glass as I drank it as well.

The aroma is on the sweet side with milk chocolate and malt leading the way. It has just a touch of roasted malts present as well.

the taste has a mix of milk chocolate and dark chocolate to it. It has just a bit more roast to it compared to the nose, but still pretty reserved. Some sweeter, malty, caramel flavors bring it more towards the sweeter side. The caramel showed even more as it warmed.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and carbonation is moderate. Drinkability is decent, but not great. It was a little on the sweet side for me overall, but not too bad. Enjoyable beer overall.

 858 characters

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

Pours a very dark brown almost black but you can see light through the edges. It has a thick tan head that leaves thick lacing on the glass as it dissipates.

I get roasted notes and a little hop aroma in the nose.

The flavor has a lot of roasted notes and is very dry like this type of stout should be. Nothing really stands out other than the roasiness but its flavors are so well integrated that you can't say anything bad.

Thin mouthfeel that goes along with the dryness. This is a stout I can drink all night. It may even be a good summer stout with the roastiness and thin body.

 586 characters

Photo of alpinebryant
4.23/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice dark black with light showing at the edges, a strong healthy tan head that left heavy lacing.

Smell of lightly roasted malts, darkly roasted malts, oatmeal , chocolate, and sweet malt presence.

Taste of fantastically balanced low abv Irish stout. Absolutely a fantastic stout. I had been saving this one for a few months and drank a 110k+ OT last night so I figured this one was next. This is much more balanced than the 110k from CCB. Sure, it is a different beast and has not been -bal but really, this beer is a lot more enjoyable and a lot less rare. Although I do have to say that the rare flavor is missing from it a little bit... Anyway, heavy cocoa flavors, very light coffee, oatmeal and a light vegetal hop flavor. These hand bottles are probably not quite fair to judge by, but they bottle them at Portsmouth and I have it so I am going to say there is a slight vegetal flavor to it mixed with a very light cherry flavor.

This is a great example of the style

 987 characters

Photo of mothman
3.89/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into darkness snifter.

Pours 1/2 finger of light tan head. Color is black.

Aroma: Dark coffee, very rich, roasted malts, nuts and chocolate.

Taste: Rich coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, chocolate, and nut flavors.

Mouthfeel: roasted, slight creaminess. Lighter bodied. Medium amount of carbonation. Ends dry and roasted.

Overall, a pretty decent dry stout. Easy drinking. Nice flavors. Good stuff.

 408 characters

Photo of bcastine
4.36/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pub pint glass at the brewery, fresh batch

A: Doesn't get any better then this. Black with the slightest tinge of red on the edges when held to the sun. 1 finger dense white head that left exceptional lacing allowing you to count the sips down the glass.

S: Roasted malt, coffee, bakers chocolate, oats and carmel

T: Balance! the perfect of amount of roast, hops and sweetness. Perfect harmony of the expected dry stout flavors. Comes across as very fresh in the malt flavors, where as many pub stouts have a stale out of balance astringency from the roasted malt.

M: If you never had a Portsmouth Brewery stout or porter you don't know what a 5 in feel is lol. It is the slickest, silkiest stout you will ever drink. Its almost as if they cheat somewhere in the brew process to achieve this feel. As a brewer myself I've tried with no success to duplicate the feel of Portsmouth's black beers.

D: As drinkable as a 5%+ stout can be. The feel really leaves you longing for another sip. This is by far the best dry stout I've ever had the chance to drink. Been all over Great Britain and the US drinking stouts and this is the best Dry Stout imho.

 1,167 characters

Photo of TimWithNumbers
4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Had this beer on tap at the brewery with dinner before diving into the sampler.

Appearance: A pretty deep black, very thin (as in little to no) head, surprising for a stout. Very little cling to the glass.

Smell: A very pleasant, rich malt scent. More than a hint of dark chocolate, with a touch of dark roast coffee.

Taste: First sip left me wanting more and more. Very pleasant to the palate. Bitterness to be expected with a stout, but an almost sweeter, stronger presence of cocoa as well.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly thin, but not too watery. Finishes nicely, lending itself to...

Drinkability: Finishes much easier than stouts I'm used to. This beer paired really well with my haddock - they complimented each other nicely, rather than got in one another's way. Would absolutely try again.

 796 characters

Photo of KrisPaulk77
4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at the Brewery.
The beer was served in one of the brewery's branded pint glasses.
The beer was deep and dark, with a tight collar of creamy, khaki-colored foam. The head stayed substantial for quite a few sips, and never really receded. Impressive rings of lace showed the progress of this pint as it was consumed.
The aroma was rich and roasty, with a touch of bitter chocolate, some caramel, and sweet grains, with a balanced hop profile.
The taste was good, rich in flavor, with tastes of cocoa, coffee, sweet grains, a nice, clean hop flavor, and a good dry finish. The mouthfeel of this beer was smooth, silky and creamy.
I could drink this beer all day. My first offering from the Portsmouth Brewery. I picked up a bomber to bring home.

 763 characters

Photo of aahynick
4.5/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

50F in a pint glass on tap nitro

A- opaque black with thick long lasting tan head

S- roasted malt

T- wonderfully nutty and great caramel flavor

M - smooth, rich full body

D- a pleasure to drink. Makes me wish I lived in New Hampshire.

as a side note, if you want to make the staff at Portsmouth Brewery laugh, just ask if they have any Kate the Great in stock.

 367 characters

Portsmouth Black Cat Stout from Portsmouth Brewery
90 out of 100 based on 103 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.