Header Image

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Kate The Great

Every year I make a list of beers that I want to try and set out to land a bottle or two.  In 2010 the list included Black Tuesday, Darkness, Dark Lord and Surly Four.  In 2011 it was about developing a taste for sours  was hitting off various Cantillons and Drie Fonteinen but also included beers like Westvleteren 12, Pliny the Younger, Marshal Zhukov and Surly Five (plus Mo's Bender).  Of all the beers I tired there was one above all that I needed to try.  So I decided that in 2012 I would set out to land legendary Kate the Great from Portsmouth Brewery.

A quick history on Kate the Great - First released in 2005 it lwas a quite sleeper of a beer until 2007 when it was named the Number One Beer in the USA (Number Two on Planet Earth) by Beer Advocate Magazine.  Almost overnight Kate became on the the rarest and most talked about beers. Not helping the fact annually only 1,000 22oz bottles were released until 2012 when the volume to 12oz allowing the quantity of bottles released to raise to 2,000.  2012 also marked the first time the beer was released in a unique bottle as all previous years had used a default Portsmouth Brewery label stamped with Imperial Stout.

The first and only? Kate the Great Label

Sadly 2012 might well mark the last year of true Kate the Great as after eight and a half years Tod Mott the creator of Kate the Great has left his post as Head Brewer at the Portsmouth to pursue other ventures, taking the recipe with him.  While Tod has plans to rebrew the recipe he will do so under another name and future plans for "Kate the Great" have yet to be decided by Portsmouth Brewery.

To obtain the beer I responded to a ISO:FT [ISO- Rare, Churchills 12 FT- Kate, Cantillon, Allagash Sours, 07/08 Abyss, list...] started by jsilva. I still had a Churchill's Finest Hour 2012 that I'd almost just put in a box anyway for a BIF that I got zero wants out of (bullet dodged).  So I considered it out and available to trade. I didn't want to however do a 22oz for just a 12oz so I started the conversation simply with -

Do you have or have access to a Kate the Great glass?

I figured that if I was going to enjoy Kate the Great there would be no better way to do it than in the official glass.  This was a special glass produced for the 2012 Kate Day in conjugation with Portsmouth's 20th Anniversary and featured a close up of Kate bitting off the cap to the bottle - "Twist off... my ass!" The Kate arrived first with the glass getting to me several weeks later.

I decided that my upcoming Tenth Wedding Anniversary (#Scott&Bonnie10Years!) would be the perfect opportunity to open it.  Once the day came I arrived home around 5:20 and pulled the Kate out of the fridge to warm a little. We were going out to dinner later so while Bonnie was getting resdy I gathered my glass and opened the bottle.  Here is my review.

Great looking combo
Appearance: Pours deep and black, with a fourth inch of tan head.  Not a ton of lacing but still an enjoyable experience throughout.

Aroma: I personally don't get as much port as I expected, in fact I don't get any. What I do get is a nice roast aroma with some chocolate and wood traces. 

Mouthfeel: It sits remarkably heavy in my month.  Thick, rich and cream with a very full mouthfeel. Wonderful! I've only had a few stouts as rich and creamy as this one.  Literally everything I look for in an Imperial Russian Stout.

Taste: It was a little cold of the starting block but nothing that a little hand warming couldn't fix.  I get a lot of dark stone fruit similar to what I've tried on quads, almost a plum. A lot of roasty goodness with some fug and chocolate undertones. A very slight warming not unexpected from a beer with a 12% abv.

Overall: I honestly thought this beer was spectacular and lived up to the hype.  Currently Kate the Great occupies the number 3 slot on BeerAdvocate's list of Top Beers for Russian Imperial Stout.  When you consider the fact that most of the top beers on that list are barrel aged while Kate is not it's a pretty impressive feat. 

While I had most of it I probably lost maybe a sixth when my daughter decided to jump on me. I had moved to the couch to finish it up while Bonnie finished getting ready for dinner. Apparently after a little bit Syd decided that it would be a good time surprise me by jumping on me. Result - me covered with most of my remaining glass of Kate. Awesome. Bonnie's Notes: You ended up with Kate the Great all over you because of Syd the Wild

It definitely makes me want to revisit the recipe for Kate the Great that tried back on my birthday as 33 developed some odd infection that I'm hoping will be covered via some faux barrel aging.



Monday, August 6, 2012

Scott's Scottish on Scotch (AKA Project S.C.O.T.T.)

Could use an acronym
A while back I got this crazy idea about getting together with a bunch of other guys named Scott and brewing up 10+ gallons of a massive Scottish Wee Heavy which we would then age on Scotch soaked oak cubes.  I named this idea Project S.C.O.T.T. - ending up calling it Scott's Scottish on Scotch

It floated around in my head for a while but never really congealed into a solid plan. It appeared to see some progress in June when I was finally able to get my hands on some East Coast Yeast.  In addition to ECY01 BugFarm, ECY02 Flemish Ale and ECY04 Brett Blend #1 (yes you'll be seeing a lot of East Coast Yeast posts in the near future) I decided to pick up a vial of ECY07 Scottish Heavy.
ECY07 Scottish Heavy - Leaves a fruity profile with woody, oak esters reminiscent of malt whiskey. Well suited for 90/shilling or heavier ales including old ales and barleywines due to level of attenuation (77-80%) - recommend a dextrinous wort. Suggested fermentation temp: 60-68°F.
I figured picking up the vial would be the push I needed to get a Scott team together.  It wasn't and after over a month of sitting on it I decided to a least run a test batch through.  I therefore set out to run Project S.C.O.T.T. solo, Han style that is.

That's a lot of yeast
This also afforded me a great opportunity to test out my recently completed stir plate.  It took me a little bit to figure out how to seat the stir bar so that it would correctly spin. Pro Tip: It's best to align it prior to powering up.  Other than that it worked like a champ.  I fired it up on Friday night for a Sunday brewday and with an overnight cold crash I had an impressive layer of yeast in the morning.

For the recipe I did my usually online research.  I was looking for something in the high range 9-10%.  I looked for tasting notes and any comments that I would find favorable.  I also compared recipes to see if there was a common theme in the grain bill, this was how I decided on a generous base of British Golden Promise and Maris Otter.  For the hops I decided to see what I had left over in the fridge the morning of brewday.  I decided to keep the hops balance for more of an ageable beer then a hoppy beer but still include a slight amount of flavor and aroma hops.

Man, this thing has been
killing me lately
As will a lot of massive gravity beers my efficiency suffered slightly resulting in a slight dip from my target gravity of 1.095 ending up being 1.092 including a slight loss of volume. I roused the yeast everyday for the first week till the activity started to die down and every so often since.  My hope is to drive it into the low 20s to reduce the level of sweetness and round my abv in the 9-10% targeted range.

The only minor issue I ran into was a leak in tubing of my wort chiller.  It had had a slight burn in the outer layer and with the pressure a small hole burst.  It wasn't a major problem like the one I experienced with the GRANDE IPL (currently is progressing nicely) but enough to warrant a full tare-down of the existing tubes and a full redesign of my cooling procedure.  I've got a couple of pumps that I'll be rigging up to put into service for my next brew, one of which will be decided to moving ice water through the chiller similar to how Shawn does it. 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...