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 -
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.