Review: Portsmouth Brewery Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout

Well, I don’t know if it’s the “best beer in America” or not, but it’s certainly one of the best I’ve ever had. I am, of course, talking about the Kate the Great Russian Imperial Stout from the Portsmouth Brewery in Portsmouth, NH.

Kate the Great was named the “best beer in America and second best beer in the world” a few years ago by BeerAdvocate Magazine, and ever since then it’s been one of the hardest beers in the country to get your hands on. Released only a couple of times a year on special “Kate Days” and only at the brewery, each customer is limited to only two bottles to take home with them; only perpetuating the hype surrounding the beer.

The most recent Kate Day was this past Monday the 9th and good friend @jchristie was there to nab some bottles (having waited in line for more than 3 hours). One of which I happily traded a few rounds at Novare Res for.

The beer itself was dense and dark, not very unlike motor oil. Rather than a normal head, a very small amount of bubbles formed, which more closely resembled instant lacing than any real head. The nose was huge and instant; I could smell it clear across the kitchen. It smelled like spicy molasses and chocolate.

The spice came through just as instantly and just as strongly in the taste, too. There was certainly plenty of burnt characters — chocolate, coffee and tobacco. Plus an alcohol wallop which hits the back of the throat hard and burning, but in a really, really good way. Every aspect of Kate the Great is done with perfection.

While I’m the first to say that most of the hype surrounding the beer is just that — hype — and that many of the other beers that the Portsmouth Brewery brews are almost nearly as good, it’s no doubt an incredibly well-done example of the style. And one that, if you’re able to get yourself to the next Kate Day and partake in the festivities, I strongly, strongly suggest you get your hands on. Cheers.

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One comment

  1. I’ve been hearing a lot about this beer lately, but I was unaware of the limited availability?  Two bottles?  They really have generated a aura around this product haven’t they?  It sounds good, but I don’t think I’d wait on line for it!  Thanks for the review!

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