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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - Atwater Brewery

Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,029 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1029
Reviews: 443
rAvg: 3.34
pDev: 20.96%

Brewed by:
Atwater Brewery visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: ypsifly on 10-21-2006)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,029 | Reviews: 443 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of myelo


3/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Opaque dark brown to black. You could view an eclipse through this and your retinas would survive. Medium tan head with a bit of lacing.

Medium roast coffee and vanilla aroma with a hint of earthy malt.

Flavor is mostly vanilla with some coffee and roasted malt. Low hop bitterness and no obvious ethanol.

Light, thin body with medium carbonation.

I really wanted to like this -- porter, coffee, vanilla -- what's not to like? But the overall impression is too thin and watery. Also the vanilla seems somehow artificial. When I tried my first bottle I was underwhelmed so I waited a week and tried another bottle, this time letting it warm some. That helped a bit but I'm still disappointed by the thin body and not enough complexity.

Serving type: bottle

04-05-2014 23:30:54 | More by myelo
Photo of BeerDazed


3.06/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured a dark black into a standard pint.

This had very little smell...Looking for some vanilla here. Just a hint. Nothing else.

No head whatsover. It looked thin and, after the first sip, mouthfeel coincided with the look of this brew.

The taste...Not much vanilla (slight) or coffee. Mildly bitter in the finish. Pretty weak.

Serving type: on-tap

04-04-2014 22:50:33 | More by BeerDazed
Photo of EvoRich


3.89/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

This beer was my introduction to real craft beer. Before this, I drank decent stuff, like Blue Moon, Shock Top and some Leinenkugel's. I still like Summer Shandy's in the Summer, but VJP was my first, craft, dark porter I ever liked, and introduced my the this world.

Appearance: Coca Cola... My first thought. Dark, but with red tinge around the edges. Light does shine through.

Smell: This is the best part of this beer. The vanilla over powers the Java.

Taste: Again Vanilla over powers the Java. The Vanilla tastes a bit artificial. I'd like for there to be more coffee flavor.

Mouthfeel: Very creamy. My kind of beer.

Overall: As I said this was the beer that introduced my to the craft beer world. While it's no longer my favorite, I will still gladly drink this beer with enjoyment.

Serving type: bottle

04-02-2014 02:11:13 | More by EvoRich
Photo of Badger6


3.36/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Dark, dark brown, passes no light. Almost no head, minimal lace.

S: Vanilla and sweet malt.

T: Leads with vanilla, that carries through the beer. The sweet malts come in after the vanilla and carry to the end. There is a mild roasty note that underlays the beer after the initial hit of vanilla, and that carries almost to the end. There is a maltiness that lingers after the finish.

M: Heavy feeling body, with a soft feel. Some carbonation, but not prickly.

O: A decent vanilla porter, but not great. This is a sweet, mildly roasted, vanilla porter, which is truthfully just not my style, but I'm glad I tried it. It was enjoyable, to taste, but I really think to get into it, one needs to be a fan of this style.

Serving type: bottle

03-25-2014 04:00:58 | More by Badger6
Photo of Boggdogg


4.01/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A - pours a dark brown color with a small cream colored head with a small amount of lacing. This is the only disappointment of the beer, but by no means terrible.

S - as expected a strong coffee smell with sweet vanilla. Can tell that there is some complexity to the beer.

T - excellent taste of vanilla at first followed by a cream taste and finishing with bitter coffee. Kind of resembles a cream soda taste. Good balance but just a little too sweet.

M - medium bodied and very smooth slightly dry.

O - terrific beer mostly because of its complex taste. One of my favorites!

Serving type: bottle

03-22-2014 02:35:39 | More by Boggdogg
Photo of timmy2b

New York

3.4/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle poured into a goblet glass

Dark Black color with a very small ring of white foam along the edges of the glass.

Scents of vanilla and some caramel with a little bit of malt.

very light Vanilla flavor on the tounge with a nice porter malt for the taste.

Light in the mouthfeel with a little bit of bitterness and a slight amount of nuttiness.

Decent beer, but nothing to write home about.

Serving type: bottle

03-06-2014 23:14:03 | More by timmy2b
Photo of MarkQ617


3.58/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at Hops and Crafts in Nashville. Pretty nice sweet porter. Roasted malts and strong but not overpowering vanilla notes. I didn't get as much coffee flavoring as I'd expected. Very creamy mouthfeel. Dark brown color with a light tan head. I think a little underrated.

Serving type: on-tap

03-03-2014 03:21:46 | More by MarkQ617
Photo of 1000lbgrizzly


3.63/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

A: Black but for the edges, a tan, smooth-looking foam is produced on the pour but dissipates to a ring around the glass. No lacing (I'm concerned). Some carbonation is visible. I think I saw a bit of residue slide down my glass after the last gulp.

S: Vanilla bean is most prominent, cream-and-sugar-added coffee is in the background. Really mouthwatering, actually. No typical beer ingredients seen (malt, hops, etc).

T: Mostly vanilla bean, not much coffee to be seen, sadly. Sweet, with a bit of bitterness coming through at the end. A little too heavy with vanilla, very little balance in this aspect.

M: Nice and smooth, if a bit watery.

O: For a stylized beer, this isn't bad. Definitely brings both vanilla and java, if unbalanced and without much depth besides those notes. Wouldn't recommend it to people looking for traditional, balanced beers, but for equally unbalanced pairings (ice cream, chocolate brownie, a dessert by itself) I would suggest a tasting.

Serving type: bottle

02-17-2014 08:37:49 | More by 1000lbgrizzly
Photo of Pegasus


3.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: All but opaque deep amber body with a modest, scattered coarse white head, with scattered, patchy lacing. The head retention is slight.

Aroma: Deep, sweet aroma of cocoa, like cold chocolate Nestle-Quik, it seems deeper than chocolate milk. There is also a pleasant, although understated vanilla aroma.

Taste: Opens with sweet semi-sweet chocolate, followed by lightly toasted malt. As the taste progresses, there is a slight herbal hop presence, although quite understated. Throughout the taste, there is a very mild undercurrent of vanilla, although if realized visually, it would be at the corner of the eye, never seen head-on. Finishes with a mild wave of roasted malt, and a slight burst of mild herbal hops.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and pleasant, although a bit thin.

Drinkability/notes: Not bad, although I wish it was more "over-the-top" in terms of aroma and flavor.

Presentation: Packaged in a standard twelve-ounce brown glass bottle with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2014 22:36:35 | More by Pegasus
Photo of asaharyev


3.46/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pour: Extremely dark brown with a bit of light brown head. The beer has no haziness to it, but it’s tough to tell with the color so dark.

Aroma: Vanilla and coffee, with some bitterness and chocolate. Not much else jumping out.

Taste: A bunch of vanilla up front, with a bready sort of character, and coffee filling in the background. Fairly straightforward, with a touch of bitterness at the end, and a light, smooth mouthfeel. Not really that much to talk about here.

Overall: A straightforward porter that won’t make a meal by itself. It’s got a good flavor, and drinks smoothly, but I find myself wanting a bit more complexity. Probably a good party beer.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2014 15:48:44 | More by asaharyev
Photo of Une_Petit_Citrouille


3.75/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I loved the smell of this beer, but it was a little much for me. Maybe it's just a taste I have to get used to. I didn't really taste much of the vanilla, but there was definitely a very strong coffee taste- but black coffee. I have a few bottles left, so maybe I'll experiment with it. Overall, not bad at all, just not my favorite!

Serving type: bottle

02-04-2014 01:59:04 | More by Une_Petit_Citrouille
Photo of Murphious


3.24/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Pours witha dark cola color and slight head, almost the same as a glass of cola. Head disappears quickly. Aroma of vanilla and maybe slight chocolate---no smell of coffee. Letting it warm slightly gives more vanilla aroma.
Taste is vanilla beer with slight bitterness from coffee after taste. Mouthfeel is thin compared to most. Overall this is not offensive in any way and somewhat easy to drink compared to most porters since it seems somewhat "light". I would prefer more malt.

Serving type: bottle

01-26-2014 03:22:11 | More by Murphious
Photo of rdilauro


3.58/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Since stouts are my favorites, just step down a notch and when I was brewing my own, porters were my choice.
Unfortunately, we had this one from the bottle, so I could not really detail the look and appearance of this brew, so I remained neutral. But even from the bottle, you could get generous amounts of coffee swirling around the bottle as if you were ready to have a nice cup of vanilla java coffee!

The taste did not disappoint me, but I just felt it was a bit on the light side. This might be unfair of me, since, I understand porters in general are a little lighter than stocks. I've been drinking so many stocks lately, that I may have made an unfair compassion.

But still, even on the light side, this was full of flavor. The vanilla didn't come out as much as the strong coffee, taste and the java was so smooth.

Serving type: bottle

01-24-2014 13:12:55 | More by rdilauro
Photo of workingclassbrew


2.83/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

I have wanted to try this for awhile, maybe not a traditional beer, but coffee, and vanilla are two of Gods good gifts.

Poured from a bottle into a small old school tavern glass. Poured dark brown, slick oil like. No foam.

When you swirl the bottle definite coffee, and less, but present chocolate comes out. The coffee aroma is not bitter, I think smoothed out by the vanilla.

Well the coffee, and chocolate/vanilla is front, and center from the 1st taste. As I let it warm a bit this taste just gets heavier, but with more vanilla coming through. Not much malt which makes it a little thin on the tongue. No hops present. Becomes much sweeter as it warms, if you let it sit for a while in the mouth it tastes like a light imperial stout, a little fig taste. The novelty though wears out along the way.

Something different. Ok to try. Sounds a lot better than it taste

Serving type: bottle

01-16-2014 05:55:35 | More by workingclassbrew
Photo of chinchill

South Carolina

3.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

12 oz bottle; date notched (bottled) July 2013; from Siciliano’s Market in Grand Rapids. Served in a Belgian snifter.

Pours very dark reddish-brown, clear, with a bubble and weak beige head. Medium-light carbonation is OK but the body is too thin.

Aroma: unbalanced mix of dark roasted malts and vanilla, with vanilla dominant and coffee barely present. Pretty good smelling nonetheless.

Flavor: follows except with the vanilla seeming even more disproportionate and now this is mildly objectionable. At least it is a natural vanilla flavor. Eventually, the vanilla recedes at bit allowing more coffee and a dose of dark roasted grain to join the vanilla in the lingering aftertaste. Even here, it lacks dark roasted malt flavor, however. Mildly sweet.

O: recommended for fans of dark vanilla ales. Don't expect much coffee aroma or flavor.

Serving type: bottle

01-12-2014 20:10:43 | More by chinchill
Photo of 57md


3.38/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Appearance is a dark brown with ruby edges and a thin layer of beige head. The nose has distinct vanilla notes, but not much roasted quality. The taste also has vanilla notes, but not much roasted bitterness. The body is quite thin for the style.

There is definitely vanilla, but I did not even get a hint of java. Most important, the porter qualities are lacking.

Serving type: on-tap

01-08-2014 06:00:21 | More by 57md
Photo of Omnium


3.16/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottle > Pint Glass

A - Pours a ruby brown black color with a huge fizzy head of 2.5 fingers, way over-carbonated from the looks of it, some small patches of bubbly lacing.
S - There is seriously so little vanilla and coffee in the aroma is retarded, it smells excessively grainy though, very very small amount of roasted malts.
T - Taste is better, more of the roasted malt comes through, a touch of toasted caramel, then some odd fruity flavor, apricot? a hint of vanilla bean and some coffee in the end.
M - This is like drinking a pop, its excessive carbonation detracts from the whole thing.
O - Just falling short of the whole mark as far as this one goes, I thought I used to like this from times past, but I'd rather have Brackenridge's version of this any day.

Serving type: bottle

01-04-2014 02:04:16 | More by Omnium
Photo of AwYeh


2.03/5  rDev -39.2%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bottled November 2013.

A: Cola reddish-brown; sure it's dark, but it's also pretty transparent for a dark brew, which isn't something I see too much. Fine, frothy, off-white head.

S: Huge vanilla flavors, some coffee comes through too. Maybe a bit of caramel; everything is sweet here.

T: Sweet and thin flavor; tastes like "vanilla beer." It's clearly a beer, but flavors beyond vanilla and some coffee on the finish really aren't coming out.

M: Really thin body, with light carbonation and not much texture beyond a slick mouth coat.

O: There are many better offerings for the porter style; I'll pick one of those up next time.

Serving type: bottle

12-17-2013 05:48:12 | More by AwYeh
Photo of mlichens

New Hampshire

3.36/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Not what I expected, but good. Served from a 12-oz bottle into a glass. Smell is sweet, certainly a tad overwhelming in the vanilla department. Pours like a dark cola and feels as such when drinking it. For a porter, it drinks more like an American Lager.

Taste is good, non-offensive or overwhelming. Again, not quite what I look for in a porter. If comparing it to Breckenridge's Vanilla Porter, there is no contest. Still, it is a tad sweet and quite drinkable. I'll probably try it on tap again.

Serving type: bottle

12-12-2013 03:25:29 | More by mlichens
Photo of hopsolutely

Ontario (Canada)

3.58/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Perhaps it's not the world's best balanced porter, but I'm thoroughly enjoying it and as a Canadian with rare allotments of border crossing beer cache, not at all sad to have a bought a 6 pack.

Pours a thin cola colour, as other reviewers have suggested, but has some head and is sufficiently carbonated to be a decently drinking beer despite the thinness. Aroma is pure vanilla and caramel, although I distinctly remember a coffee bitterness in earlier bottles that I can no longer find in this ~3 month old remainder. The flavour is also not particularly well balanced, but a lovely dessert beer with great vanilla and caramelized malt notes. It is sweet, but that makes the mild bittering hops more distinct and it has a pleasant finish - no syrupy sweetness in the end.

Have never been to Atwater, but hope to make a stop on next beercation in that area.

Serving type: bottle

12-06-2013 01:01:06 | More by hopsolutely
Photo of walkinginplace

North Carolina

3.08/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

A: I made the mistake of reading the reviews prior to trying this one, particularly the last reviewer, who said it looked like "a Vanilla Coke". Now all I see is a Vanilla Coke. Pretty dark, but not much carbonation or head.

S: Smell is not strong at all, some light vanilla and mocha maybe.

T: Vanilla isn't as strong as I was expecting based off of the reviews on BA. While the vanilla is certainly there, the mocha taste comes through just as strong for me. The vanilla is far more pronounced in the aftertaste, which is pretty damn good actually.

F: Fairly light-bodied. Not much carbonation.

Overall: Despite all of its flaws, I honestly like this beer. It's easy to drink, fairly flavorful, and pulls off the coffee-beer balance. Not a favorite or anything but I'd have it again.

Serving type: bottle

11-29-2013 22:46:39 | More by walkinginplace
Photo of krustster


1.85/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.75

Wow, a porter with vanilla and coffee? What a flavor combination--sign me up!

Okay so this looks closer to a Coke than a Porter. Pours a thin, clear brown. Smell is lots of vanilla with not much else. I like vanilla, but where's the java and the porter?

Taste: Way, WAY too sweet, way too much vanilla. There's no trace of coffee or even porter in this. It tastes like they put together a random black beer and dumped a whole bottle of vanilla extract into it with a bunch of sugar or other sweetener. I can handle overdone flavors, especially vanilla (I always put about twice the recommended amount of extract into things when baking) but this is absolutely sick. I feel terrible saying this but I literally could not finish the second half of my glass because I started to get physically ill.

Barf. Between this and the "Decadent Dark Chocolate" disaster I can't say that I have any desire to buy Atwater again.

Serving type: bottle

11-27-2013 04:52:06 | More by krustster
Photo of jmdrpi


3.48/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

12 oz , notched February 2013

very dark brown, almost black. little head. sweet vanilla aroma. sugary, but not really any coffee. taste is more balanced, starts a bit sweet, finishes slightly roasty. medium to thicker body, medium to higher carbonation. overall just an okay porter.

Serving type: bottle

11-26-2013 04:36:43 | More by jmdrpi
Photo of Wisconsin_Max


3.61/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

While the overall beer drinking experience lives up to its "Vanilla Java Porter" title well, it is never overly impressive. It is very drinkable, I could see myself enjoying a six pack throughout an evening, but the flavor is weaker than I was hoping for.

Serving type: bottle

11-21-2013 01:46:55 | More by Wisconsin_Max
Photo of jera1350


3.61/5  rDev +8.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thinner black. Ring of foam around the glass. Nose is mainly vanilla extract with some malty sweetness and molasses. The flavor is good, but watered down. Blend of coffee with sweet malts and vanilla extract. Some roastiness on the finish. The body is quite thin also which detracts from the overall beer. Not bad, but needs body.

Serving type: bottle

11-08-2013 23:55:24 | More by jera1350
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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
76 out of 100 based on 1,029 ratings.