Kate the Great…an ongoing, live updated #beer blog entry…

I wanted to try something a little different.  I try to post weekly beer related musings on Sundays, and this year the phenomenon known as Kate Day is on a Monday.  Tomorrow, in fact.  Kate Day is when the Portsmouth Brewery (http://portsmouthbrewery.com/) releases its annual white whale known as Kate the Great.  The beer is a Russian Imperial Stout weighing in at 12.00% ABV, and BeerAdvocate (www.beeradvocate.com) has KtG ranked at 100, which is “world-class” status.  Because of the rarity and popularity of the release, obtaining a bottle or glass of the brew is not as straightforward as walking into the bar.  To score a bottle, the Portsmouth Brewery releases a lottery system of scratch tickets approximately 3 weeks before Kate Day.  This year, the tickets went on sale on a Friday afternoon around 5pm.  There is a 15 ticket per person limit per day, and there are 15000 tickets available with 2000 winners mixed in there.  I’ll give you a second to work out the odds.  The tickets were sold out by Saturday afternoon, I believe sometime around 3pm.  Less than 24 hours to move 15000 tickets at $2 a ticket.  The great thing is that all the proceeds from the ticket sales go to charity, which provides a huge amount off to a good cause.  The other good thing is that I scored two winning tickets, so there are some bottles with my name on them.  Now, the ticket entitles you to purchase a bottle, which runs $8 a pop.  Reasonable price for a beer that is highly sought after across the country.  In fact, I have already made plans to trade one of my bottles of KtG for a bottle of Dark Lord from a fellow beer lover who is making the trek from Ohio for Kate Day.  Ooooooh, beer nerdery at its best!

Now, for those unfortunate enough to not have winning tickets (and it happened; there were plenty of people who went 0 for 30 from what I have read in the forums) Kate Day is still not a loss.  The Portsmouth Brewery will be serving KtG on-tap at the brewery, and the doors open at 11am.  Perfect time to start housing some 12% liquid nectar if you ask me!  Now, when you add all the elements together, including the limited availability, the quality of the product, and the lottery system, this turns into quite the event.  Of course, for me, this is all hear-say, as this is my first Kate Day.  Rumors abound of lines going down the street and wrapping around the corner, people lining up in the wee hours of the morning to brave the cold and guarantee a spot inside when the doors open, and trades furiously taking place on the streets to procure this relic of brewdom.  So, two bottles not being enough for this guy, I am planning to trek into Portsmouth in the said wee hours of the morning to squat a place in line and wait out some delicious brew with my fellow beer enthusiasts.

Now comes the different part.  I’m going to try some live updated blogging for this week’s entry.  Once I leave the house, my only means of updating will be the wordpress app I have on my phone, so I’m going to see how savvy I can be with my little keyboard and phone camera.  I’ll post updates throughout the waiting process, as well as a review once I get my watering suckhole on some of this elixir.  If I’m not completely blasted by the end of it, I’ll try to report an overall summary of the experience, the people, and what I might do differently for the event next year.  If I am too schnockered for all of that, I might dictate to my lovely wife, and then wake up 3 days later to read what she really wrote.  Either way, I’ll try to keep it light and entertaining, as well as informative.  If any of you are reading this while there, come find me.  I’ll be the one inside with my wife and 2 month old daughter (no, she’s not drinking…her fake ID looks NOTHING like her, so we aren’t even trying!).  So, until later, I am off to pack my gear, get my things together, and then turn in early in preparation for a twilight departure.  Hope to be posting again shortly. (Sunday, March 4 @2045; t-14:15 until planned breach of premises)

Monday, March 5 @0430; t-6:30 until the ground becomes soaked with all that is Kate

Going to sleep last night was a chore.  I was like a little kid the night before Christmas.  So, I did the only logical and practical thing I could think of.  I self-medicated with Benadryl so I would pass the hell out in a hurry.  And, it seemed to work.  I was originally going to wake up at  0300 to leave, but thanks to the live webcam setup by Seacoast Beverage Lab, I decided a little more sleep would do me well, as nobody was there.  The cam feed can be found here: http://seacoastbeveragelab.com/kate-great-day-2012-live-blog/ .  Well, now there are some people milling about, so it is time for me to embark.  More to follow…

Kate Day @0600; t-minus 5 hours until my probable hypothermia will be vindicated…
So, tip #1 for next year…gas up the car the night before. Dumbass! I swear, if the zombie apocalypse happens I will bite it because I forget to tie my shoe, or something equally stupid. Anyway, I’m in position, and about 20 people back. Things are looking good…always better to have a human shield when in the front line.
image

Kate Day, @0640; t-minus 4:20 until I start to get feeling back in my face and toes…

Just greeted by Brennen, general manager of the brewery. Keeping morale up to combat this bitter bitch that is New England windchill. Also requested that we not scare the locals when the city awakens, since most older people don’t know what beer is. No promises…

Kate Day, @0650; t-minus 4:10 until my pee starts to thaw for evacuation…
They brought us out fresh, hot pretzel rolls from inside. My paranoia at an all-time high already, I screamed some gibberish and threw the roll back at the kitchen attendant. How dare they try to poison me so close to victory!
image

Kate Day, @0651; t-minus 4:09…
I immediately regret my paranoia…

Unapproachable, closed off, bitch Kate Day, @0815; t-minus 2:45 until I watch the door open but am unable to move my frozen limbs…
Can hear the vultures above me, circling and baying in hunger. People around me say they are pigeons and seagulls, but how can I trust people with two heads? The end may be near…I think the groups behind me attacked the guy with the pretzel rolls and cooked his flesh. The day is bleak, and may already be lost. Save yourselves…

Kate Day, @0845, t-minus 2:15 until warmth envelopes me, both inside and out…
So, the paranoia has subsided. I think someone slipped me some peyote earlier. Sun is coming out, so when it peaks the buildings it should get much more tolerable out here. Line is around 200 people so far…pretty insane. Locals drive by slowly, staring out at us from the warmth of their cars…now I know how those pandas at the San Diego Zoo feel…
image

image

Kate Day, @0920; t-minus 2:40 until I stampede any fallen souls for some beer…
The sun just came out for a bit, and its warming qualities were welcomed whole heartedly by all. Signs of life not seen for hours became present all around. This day may be survived after all…
image

Kate Day, @1040; t-minus 0:50 until I reach the light at the end of this tunnel…
My wife and child have arrived. I am once again anchored in reality. This is the downhill portion of the wait…

Kate Day, @1100; t-minus 0:30 until tapping…
Inside with food ordered and warm-up beers poured…waiting for Kate to tap…

image

Kate Day, @1130; Kate the Great officially tapped…
Will have review as soon as my glass is in hand…let the party begin! FYI…still can’t feel my toes…

Kate has come, and she is good…
Well, I am speechless…this is just fantastic. My wife and child are here, as well as my new beer friends Brian, Luke, and Mike, who braved the cold with me this morning. Review to follow…

image

Obligatory review to justify previous ramblings…

Poured on-tap and served in a tulip, the beer is jet black, with a thin, off-white head that is clingy and retaining. Aromas of coffee, chocolate, red wine, mint, and a bit of smoke. Amazing! Flavors are ridiculously layered, hitting the tongue all over with a barrage of characteristics. Woody and smokey hinted dark chocolate first, followed by a smooth roasted coffee profile that blends and cleans the palate. Candied and sugary highlights at the end make this absolutely delicious. The aftertaste is super rich and creamy, with smokey mocha flavors. The finish is warming and supersmooth, with a richness and booze cleanliness. Amazing beer, and I can’t even imagine what the bottles will age like. Tremendous!

Overview
So, the day was a smashing success! The wait wasn’t too painful, we made some new friends, we got to taste the best beer I have ever had, and scored a bottle of another world-renowned beer in a game-day trade. The head brewer, Tod Mott, visited our table and informed us that my daughter was the youngest Kate Day participant ever, which is a bonus. Three glasses for me, two for my wife, and a bottle to take home and age for my daughter. Amazing beer, and a great day. Looking forward to next year!  If you get the chance to do a “Day” such as this, I completely recommend it…not only do you get some very good beer, but you get to meet some very cool fellow beer enthusiasts.  Plus, in my case, you get a day away from work, which is always a good thing!  Drink educated my friends!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: