1. Don't miss our 7th annual American Craft Beer Fest featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers this May 30 & 31 in Boston, MA! Buy your tickets now!
  2. BeerAdvocate on your phone?! True story. Try the beta now.

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
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Reviewers
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 1,029 | Reviews: 443 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of chicagobeerriot


1.15/5  rDev -65.6%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

In general, I think beer lovers tend to be the optimistic sort, always believing that an unknown brew could be a satisfying discovery. Because of that, it sometimes takes a while for it to sink in that the new occupant of your snifter is simply not up to snuff. Drainpours should be rare and hard earned. For me, almost any new beer is worth a full glass...almost.

Vanilla Java Porter is one of the rare beers that is a disaster right out of the starting blocks. Nothing is as it should be. It pours almost two shades lighter than the style demands: dark brown with readily apparent ruby highlights. The beer assaults your nose with an unnatural vanilla smell that blends with some caramel notes that produces the overall effect of children's cough medicine.

I've had many successful vanilla beers that capture the earthy sweetness of vanilla beans. This beer fails miserably in that regard. A one-note sickly sweet vanilla extract takes the lead and does not let go for the rest of your session. That one industrial strength flavor ruins not only this beer, but whatever innocent beer you select to follow it. For that matter, where is the java in this java porter? According to the label, Atwater added "the finest coffee" to this brew. Well, the beans must have immediately jumped out of the tanks in protest, because roasted coffee flavors are nowhere to be found.

I head to the sink to start the beer funeral, but I stay my hand a couple of times because, like a summer action flick, this beer is almost fascinatingly bad. I take some extra sips just to remind myself that I'm not making this up. Please, for the love of God, do not make that same mistake. Begin the drain pour as soon as humanly possible...

Serving type: bottle

11-16-2009 01:29:15 | More by chicagobeerriot
Photo of jkoravos


1.15/5  rDev -65.6%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle chilled to ~35F.

Appearance - Dark reddish brown, clear. Head was light brown and fizzy, quickly dissipated. Color is too light for a robust porter, IMO.

Aroma - I don't get any coffee or vanilla in the nose. All I get it a artificial raspberry aroma.

Taste - Not good. Overwhelming tangy and fruity, with a little roastiness. Nothing like what I would expect from a "Vanilla Java Poter". Possibly infected.

Mouthfeel - Very thin for a robust porter.

Drinkability - Not much to say. It's terrible. I dumped it.

Serving type: bottle

01-05-2010 02:56:43 | More by jkoravos
Photo of pmcadamis


1.25/5  rDev -62.6%
look: 4 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - A really thick and creamy brown head installs itself permanently above a viscous black brew with chestnut highlights. A fair amount of spotty lace sticks around after big sheets of foam slide down into the blackness.

S - Bitter black coffee is spiked with what I swear to God smells like Louisiana hot sauce. This oddball combo isn't the best aroma in the world...far from it actually. Pepper and salt.

T - This is honestly pretty foul. That weird Louisiana Hot Sauce note is still there, and this tastes like black peppercorns with sea salt crusted on top.

M - Light bodied, thin, and undercarbonated. This finishes pretty clean and neutral, which is a blessing given the horrid flavor.

D - Never again. This is not good beer.

Serving type: bottle

10-07-2008 17:01:52 | More by pmcadamis
Photo of Bighuge


1.25/5  rDev -62.6%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

A big "psssfffftt" as I uncap it. Usually not a good sign. I pour a half glass of foam with a careful pour. Usually not a good sign. Smells weird. Usually not a good sign. Tastes bad. Definitely not a good sign. No redeeming qualities to this beer. Overcarbonated and astringent. No good tastes. I'm not gonna drink this one.

Serving type: bottle

10-14-2008 03:19:39 | More by Bighuge
Photo of jiggahertz

New Hampshire

1.33/5  rDev -60.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

A: Deep brown beer with a good finger head no lacing.

S: I'm not sure if it's vanilla or what but it doesn't smell great so overly sweet.

T: Possibly a bad beer? I dunno but this is getting worse with each sip. I can't even finish this.

M: Horrible, can't get past the taste to write much more.

D: Zero, horrible. I don't know what else to say.

Serving type: bottle

10-31-2009 18:13:18 | More by jiggahertz
Photo of Umbra


1.35/5  rDev -59.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Appearance: Dark brown, almost opaque, brew with dark tan wispy head. Little carbonation in the body.
Aroma: Sourness?
Flavor/Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Infected, came off as a bretty sour mess. I don't usually do this, but after reading a few other reviews, it appears that this is not only common with Atwater brews, but with this one in particular. Hopefully, buyer beware, some of their other brews don't seem half bad.

Serving type: bottle

08-22-2007 01:45:01 | More by Umbra
Photo of r00tarded


1.35/5  rDev -59.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

I'll make it simple: if you haven't had it, don't.

So many things wrong with this beer on so many different levels. Unbalanced, tastes like burnt coffee grounds or stale coffee, and is a watered-down porter to boot.

Nothing worth trying here in my opinion.

Serving type: bottle

11-17-2008 22:09:50 | More by r00tarded
Photo of Mag00n

New York

1.35/5  rDev -59.6%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

Something about this beer just did not jive with my palate. I found it incredibly bitter, to the point of being undrinkable. Probably the worst beer ive had since i got 'into' beer some years back. Thankfully I only had one of these in a 6pack mixer.

I wish i could be more constructive but i just found this to absolutely horrible.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2009 07:27:33 | More by Mag00n
Photo of BARFLYB


1.45/5  rDev -56.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1

12oz bottle into a Flying Fish pint glass. Had this on tap and wanted to see how the bottle version fared.

A- Atwater VJP pours out a very dark brown color. It looks black from afar but close up to the light the true color comes out getting lighter in color towards the surface. A very dismal head tried to form a cap but failed. No lacing

S- A nice roasty robust scent coming from this with a lot of malt presense giving off a chocolate smell. Some vanilla is masked under the massive coffee smell with a nice hop bite coming from the Goulding variety. With warming alot of rotted fruit with old coconut, turned out nasty.

T- The vanilla extract used comes out more in taste than smell and slightly edges out the coffee used but it's not a nice mix. This is backed by the chocolate taste coming from the malts which also gives way to a faint caramel smell. Nice hop bite rounds it all out. After a few more tries at this I found this to be horrible. Charred fruit with a overwhelming vanilla coke taste. Nasty.

M- Medium bodied with a good amount of carbonation for the style which is felt on the tounge minimally. Doesen't exactly coat the palette but not on the thin side either. A slighty bitter aftertaste.

D- I enjoyed this much better from the tap but the bottle version is not that far off. Not as creamy or smooth from the bottle though. A low abv makes this good for a session beer, but i won't be going out of my way for this one. I paired this with some steak which was a nice way to go, just wish this was put together better, right now it's undrinkable

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2009 00:10:20 | More by BARFLYB
Photo of DoctorDog


1.5/5  rDev -55.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Presentation: 12 oz bottle into a nonic.

A- Dark mahogany, and nearly opaque. Pours with a foamy explosion of light tan head that would have overflowed the glass had more than 1/2 the contents been poured....has me worrying about infection from the word "go." Fades very slowly into a full cap.

S- Acrid coffee mixed with mildly detergent smelling odor....

T- Sour and biting, with a bit of coffee and vanilla on the finish. Ugh....

M- Downright watery....

D- Essentially undrinkable...drainpour.

Future outlook: I didn't buy this several times after having it catch my eye....I'm rewarded for finally caving in and buying with this disgusting (hopefully) infected mess. I don't want to do it, but this beer has truly earned it's "F."

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2010 03:09:37 | More by DoctorDog
Photo of association330


1.53/5  rDev -54.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - Pours dark brown (near black) with a bit of light still coming through. One finger of tan head quickly dissolves into nothing more than a ring of bubbles.

S - Rotten malt that has been burnt to a crisp. If you could put store brand used coffee grounds into a trash bag, put it out under the hot sun for a few days, and then open it up, it would probably smell a lot like this beer. There's also this weird metallic smell floating around. Just plain bad.

T - Sour, rotten coffee grounds that actually trigger my gag reflex slightly.

M - Thin and foamy.

D - This is just the second beer I have ever drain poured. Thankfully I only purchased a single bottle.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2009 00:53:52 | More by association330
Photo of kellertrumpet


1.58/5  rDev -52.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

Pours a very dark brown with a thin slightly off-white head. The light head on what is supposed to be a porter is a bit worrisome.

Does not have a huge aroma directly after pour or even later after it warms for a bit. Some light weak coffee is discernible.

Mouthfeel is very thin and watery and certainly not what I was hoping for.

The flavor profile is just as, if not more, disappointing and thin. The major player is the coffee which reminds me of day old foldgers which someone made with half the grounds needed for a strong cup. There is also some slight roasty notes and the vanilla is there but it reminds me of a cheap brand of extract.

I really enjoy porters and was really excited about the Vanilla Java on the label. I guess you can't judge a book by its cover.

Serving type: bottle

02-15-2011 01:38:01 | More by kellertrumpet
Photo of kasper

New York

1.63/5  rDev -51.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A: Pours a dark, dark brown with light tan foamy single finger head, which lacks lacing characteristics.

S: Smells like spent coffee grains, or some unappetizing kind of earthy grains. No vanilla, but bit of trash and some room-temperature organic pea soup from a can.

T: Man this one keeps going downhill. Average sip starts off with some below-average sweet malt before the bottom falls off the beer, and finishes with this awful taste of reused organic coffee grains. It kind of tastes like a Founders Breakfast Stout that sat in your grandmothers basement and had mildew water drip into it before it was re-carbonated just before serving with some ice cubes thrown in. Aftertaste of bitter rubbish.

M: Watery, overcarbonated. Crap.

D: I will not finish this beer. Maybe it was a bad bottle. It tastes like ass.

Serving type: bottle

10-30-2008 01:51:35 | More by kasper
Photo of Talisker


1.68/5  rDev -49.7%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I don't think this was a bad bottle, just a bad beer.

12oz bottle received as an extra in a trade.

Pours inky black, moderate tan head that dies quickly. Something is very off with the aroma, musty, medicinal. The taste compounds the problem - medicinal, bitter, like spoiled fruit. There's some evidence of coffe around, but no vanilla, no hops, and unfortunately everything is spoiled by this rancid off-flavor. Hard to gauge the texture, but seems thin in keeping with the style.

Definitely a style I'm in interested in - I like coffee beers. But this was a drain pour.

Serving type: bottle

08-13-2007 01:21:05 | More by Talisker
Photo of coldmeat23


1.68/5  rDev -49.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1

GLASS: Shaped Pint Glass
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

Pours almost black. Two fingers of loose coffee colored foam form and then dissipate very quickly. Lacing is minimal.

Definite coffee notes are present. Sadly, it smells like a cup of Folgers, not a big dark roasted coffee shop cup. The vanilla is also present, although less so. It smells artificial. Slight hints of roasted malts.
The whole thing has a sort of 'metallic' smell too it.

No, sir. I don't like it.
Burnt coffee beans dominate the taste. There is also a 'fake' sweetness to it, that destroys whatever chance this beer may have had. The vanilla is nowhere to be found. There seems to be a bit of hops sourness here, also. This brew is way out of balance.

Very light, waterey body. Not at all what I want from a stout, of any kind. Way too thin.

As this is now a drainpour, I'm going to say that the drinkability is non-existent.
Unless they change the recipe, I hope to never have this beer again.

Serving type: bottle

02-03-2009 19:33:04 | More by coldmeat23
Photo of bcostner1


1.7/5  rDev -49.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.75

A: dark brown, thin fizzy head. Transmits light.

S: sweet vanilla cake batter/frosting. Nothing else.

T: bad. Super sweet, sugary cloying vanilla. No coffee whatsoever. Tastes really artificial. Like a rubber band dipped in vanilla and sugar.

M: thin, watery, not satisfying at all.

Bad beer. Would never have again. Too bad...a vanilla java porter done correctly would have really been a great brew to try.

Serving type: bottle

04-07-2013 13:35:18 | More by bcostner1
Photo of nick76


1.78/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Bad, I mean unreasonably bad. The aroma is quite sweet with old coffee, an ash tray, burnt malt, and a tini-tiny bit of vanilla. (whiffing to detect the vanilla was difficult because the cigarette butt smell was making me sick) The appearance is dark red brown with an average tan head. The flavor has all the elements from the aroma plus vegetable stir fry heavy on the bell peppers. The palate is actually smooth but this is one incredibly nasty beer!

Serving type: bottle

11-22-2008 08:26:56 | More by nick76
Photo of theBubba

New York

1.78/5  rDev -46.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Poured a deep amber, not quite root beer color into my snifter with a decent but not long lasting head. A little lace remained to the end.

Smell was mostly vegetable (artichokes and brussell sprouts?) with a slight hint of vanilla.

Taste was mostly sour. Lambic, if you'd like to be polite.

Mouthfeel was thin and flat.

Drinkability? My first is my last. Got suckered in by the Vanilla Java Porter name (I like all three). This is neither of them. More like a bad home brew where the wrong spores got into the wort.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2011 03:31:13 | More by theBubba
Photo of throwthechaff


1.8/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

this is probably the worst and most sorry excuse for a porter i have ever had. please save yourself the cash and do not even try this beer. The only smell or aroma that you get from this is this weird fake vanilla stench that just smells wrong and unnatural. The taste totally reflects the smell and is just as worse if not more terrible. I loved the octoberfest by them but this is just a sorry excuse for a beer and it seems so half assed it just comes off as a joke. Please don't drink this beer, I would rather drink a Kobra.

Serving type: bottle

09-19-2009 06:38:47 | More by throwthechaff
Photo of ekmoody


1.8/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Pours out innocently enough, a nice dark beer with a good foamy head.

However, upon taking a whiff I realized I probably should not have bought a 6 pack. Smelled almost chemical in nature, with the vanilla being the dominant component. Coffee really not in there.

Flavor is again very heavy on the vanilla, the coffee seems to have gone missing. Really not what I was hoping for.

Fairly light for a porter, which can be ok if the flavor is there. Unfortunately it wasn't, so I'd have to think hard about it before deciding to drink another one.

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2010 23:15:36 | More by ekmoody
Photo of IPAcraig


1.83/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

A - An excellent looking beer. It pours a nice deep brownish black with a massive light creamy-brown head. no lacing

S - Offputting to say the least. It has a nice bitter dark chocalate aroma, with a hint of sweetness. However that is hugely overpowered by the smell of vinegar and burnt coffee (not to be confused with a nice roasty coffee flavor).

T - It taste exactly the same as above ... except worse. It taste like watery burnt coffee at less than room temp. That is followed by the same vinegar flavor that seems to have a hint of worcestshire in it as well.

M - Okay - better than average. A slight creaminess. Its hard to concentrate on hte moutfeel, with a taste this off putting.

D - 1 ... poured down the drain.

This is a "quality control view". I have had this beer once before and it was nice; very sweet and creamy with hints of chocolate and coffee. However, I bought a 6 pack of this a few days ago and this is the second beer from the group. I was hoping the first beer was a fluke ... they were both terrible. This may or may not have been the breweries fault, but I write this review so that people can be aware (perhaps just people who buy their beer in Tallahassee or Publix) that this beer may not be up to par.

Serving type: bottle

08-15-2007 00:44:57 | More by IPAcraig
Photo of climax


1.83/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

keep in mind this was a beer-of-the-month mail-in, which was crowned with frost when it showed up, so it may or may not have been tainted...i'm hoping it was

color was a solid brown-black, a very fizzy head faded quickly to a creamy film

smell was hardly pungeant, chocolate malt and coffee rule a weak army... a bit cardboard

taste was definitely coffee and acidic, a bit more chocolate in the finish, faint hints of vanilla and random sour/bitterness. i wasnt very impressed for it was rather harsh, luke warm coffee... blegh

mouthfeel was pretty thin and watery, was never really creamy, just slightly crisp

i guess it could be easy to drink due to it's light body, but i never wanted another sip, for it really puckered me up like i had to french a frog. it seemed as though they just threw in artificial flavors to keep vamping it up.... i ended the misery by pouring the last third down

Serving type: bottle

03-03-2009 05:19:13 | More by climax
Photo of righthereisay


1.83/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

One of the worst porters I've ever had. Kind of like they just took a random porter and poured a shot of coffee and some vanilla extract in it.

Will never buy from this brand again unless somebody recommends a different beer from them.

Luckily I just purchased a single from the 6 pack shop. I don't think my dog would have drank the other 5.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2009 00:54:47 | More by righthereisay
Photo of timherremans


1.83/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

A vanilla java porter... sounds good.
Well, in the case of this ale from Atwater Block Brewery.. it was not.

"A robust porter made with chocolate and coffee malts. We then add the finest coffee and vanilla to our award winning brew which is sure to please!"

With that little bit of info right on the bottle, I had to try it.

I do not know how "the finest" ingredients were used. It was just not crafted with care at all. It was WAY over carbonated, so much, that it was not possible to pour. So, I drank mine out of the bottle.

The initial taste overwhelms you of a burnt instant coffee. Not pleasant at all. I could pick up a little bit of chocolate, vanilla, and malt, but I had to search long and hard for it. The bad coffee taste really hits you every drink and does not want to dissipate.


Serving type: bottle

03-14-2011 04:02:04 | More by timherremans
Photo of Cromster


1.85/5  rDev -44.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Appearance - Dark black color with no head or lacing.

Smell - Burnt coffee with just a very slight hint of vanilla.

Taste - Burnt coffee and sour citrus flavors. I was really expecting a deeper taste but this beer just didn't deliver. It tasted watered down.

Mouthfeel - Water and light on the palate.

Drinkability - I can't get past the taste of something being burnt. I wouldn't drink this again.

Serving type: bottle

04-13-2008 02:16:55 | More by Cromster
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
76 out of 100 based on 1,029 ratings.