Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - Atwater Brewery

Not Rated.
Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter

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BA SCORE
74
okay

499 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 499
Hads: 1,543
rAvg: 3.19
pDev: 22.26%
Wants: 21
Gots: 266 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Atwater Brewery visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  4.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ypsifly on 10-21-2006

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 499 | Hads: 1,543
Photo of metter98
3.22/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is very dark amber (near black) in color and poured with a thin white head that faded away and completely disappeared. No signs of carbonation are visible.
S: There are moderate aromas of vanilla in the nose.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and also has some notes of roasted malts.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The lighter bodied nature of this beer makes it quite easy to drink compared to other porters. (489 characters)

Photo of Thorpe429
3.42/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of my father-in-law. Served in a tulip.

Pours a dark chestnut brown with a very bubbly tan head that is very bubbly and recedes quite quickly. Very little lacing and a slight bubble ring around the edges. The nose is a lot of sweet, chocolatey roast and a bit of vanilla. Pretty decent, although the vanilla is a bit artificial.

The flavor is quite a bit of artificial vanilla along with some chocolate and mild roast. The body is thin and slightly astringent. Low carbonation. Nose isn't bad, but this is a bit fake and gimmicky. (549 characters)

Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark coffee brown color with a thick beige head that dots the pint glass with suds

Smell: Smells of mocha, more milk chocolate than coffee; vanilla aromatics are clearly apparent

Taste: Starts with a mocha vanilla flavor that builds in coffee bitterness, mid-palate; after the swallow, the sweeter flavors dry out, leaving a residual sweetness from the vanilla on the tip of the tongue

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Not as challenging as other coffee beers, this is nevertheless an enjoyable brew that I liked better than most of the other reviewers to date (622 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.58/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

better than its ratings, but definitely not without its flaws. good not great, kind of what i have gotten from all of the atwater beers i have gotten to drink. the look is nice, almost nitro looking, with a creamy inch of thick light brown head, and a dark but silky shiny body. it smells like heavy vanilla, almost too much, more than is normal, and more extract than anything else.its hard to get too much vanilla in a beer, its such a tasty ingredient, but it comes across contrived here and definitely covers up whatever coffee is in here. full bodied and creamy feeling beer though, i like that aspect, its just the vanilla is candy sweet, and it makes the lushness of this a little less enjoyable. come coffee bitterness in the finish, but not enough to balance, and the chocolate aspect of the roast is also on the sweet side. not bad beer, but i think middle of the pack at best for the style. lacking nuance and balance for sure, but tasty enough, and good enough for very broad appeal. one and done for me though with this level of residual sugar. (1,057 characters)

Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev +13.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

And the new brews keep rolling into Central Kentucky. Found this one at Wines on Vine (go figure.) This seems to be a beer with a lot of promise and potential... this means that it really isn't there yet. Opens up with a burst of roasted grains and coffee, with back-up notes of cocoa and cream. The color is a nearly opaque, dark brown with a somwhat fizzy head retention. Robust looking, jut a bit flat. The flavors are bold charcoal and coffee, but little after that. The vanilla is barely detected and there seems to be an overbearing coffee / fermentation sourness that won't let any other nuances shine enough to make a difference. The beer seems under-malted, which hurts the flavor roundedness and textrues. The beer is fast fleeting, leaving a powdery, dry coating and lingering coffee bitterness. The beer is intriguing and certainly worth the try, but would buy many more if improved. (895 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.8/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Charred chestnut that falls just short of opacity (it's an overcast morning out there). The upper half of the pint glass is filled with a frothy, caramel nougat colored head that looks pretty good, both after the pour and as it deflates.

Most coffee-added beer smells like freshly brewed java. This one smells like that as well, but there's also an undercurrent of burnt coffee grounds. Thankfully, it isn't prominent enough to ruin things. I don't appreciate the vanilla extract at all.

Vanilla Java Porter sounds good on paper. In liquid form, however, it doesn't measure up. Because I've already had Atwater's Shaman's Porter, I can't say that I'm surprised. My hope was that the previous beer was an outlier. Instead, it looks like we have the beginnings of a trend.

First of all, VJP is significantly undermalted. As a result, there's no roasted barley flavor, no chocolatiness, nothing other than weak iced coffee to occupy the taste buds. Along for the ride is a mild, saccharine-like sweetness that mingles with a trace of dark fruity tartness. While the vanilla extract is now identifiable, it certainly isn't bold enough to earn inclusion in the name.

The mouthfeel can only be described as thin fading to watery. I'm not thrilled with the amount of carbonation either (too low). Even an ideal amount probably wouldn't have earned an average score.

Michigan is overrun with good-great breweries. After having had two of their offerings, I feel safe in saying that Atwater Block isn't among them. Not even close, really. Vanilla Java Porter needs a complete overhaul. Adding some malt to the hops, yeast and water would be a good place to start. (1,659 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
2.68/5  rDev -16%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

The third beer of the night for me and its already 7, hmm. Not sure I am gonna make it through the 12 I wanted to, but no worries, its a lovely night. Served cold and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 01/29/2010.

The pour was a bit thin looking from the start. Nice dark brown in color but it seemed to be lacking in the overall look. Not really very thick with loads of light shing through from the start. Small head of tan capped the top. The aroma was artificial vanilla and candy like aromas. Hints of almost cherry, but more very, very fake vanilla and java. Thin, very thin feel and flavor. It just never really reached any kind of level that it should have. Watery feel with a vanilla extract flavor. Overly sweet, almost sickingly so, it just really did not do it for me at all.

Overall I would have to take a pass on this one, just not worth it again. (879 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
3.01/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: The beer pours a very dark brown color with an initially large off-white head that dies down to a thin ring.

S: Smells good at first. A lot of vanilla, a little bit of acidic coffee, and quite a bit of chocolate (that's actually the best part). There is some roasted malt and a bit of metal.

T: A heavy dose of roasted malt and coffee. The (fake) vanilla flavor is there and rather pungent as well. A touch of sour cherry on the back and as well as some metal.

M: The body is medium with a medium to high carbonation.

O: I could see this actually being pretty decent if it wasn't for that sourness and metallic character. (628 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.53/5  rDev -20.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a black body with a fizzy, short-lived head.

Smell: The aroma smells of gas station coffee left to scorch upon the burner for far too long. Oh, and with just a wisp of vanilla.

Taste: More of the roasty low-grade coffee with a light sweetness. There's really never more than just a hint of vanilla extract. Finishes watery with a bit of sourness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Watery. Harshly spritzy.

Drinkability: Not overly pleasant, either in taste or aroma. Also, painfully overcarbonated. (515 characters)

Photo of nickfl
3.63/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one finger of ligh brown head on top of an opaque brown-black body. The foam settles slowly and leaves nice lace

S - A fruity aroma of cherries and plums with some light mocha coffee notes.

T - Light coffee with fruity cherry notes and some vanilla sweetness up front. The cherry mixes with some chocolate and caramel notes in the middle before fading to a finish of moderately sweet fruit, sweet chocolate and light clean coffee notes balanced by light malt bitterness. Lingering chocolate and coffee notes darken in the aftertaste and become something more like what I originally expected from this beer.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a slightly dry finish.

D - This is quite a bit different from what I expected. It has a distinct cherry note with only moderate coffee and minimal vanilla, and I almost wonder if the bottle I bought isn't a mislabled cherry stout. It is, nevertheless, a very pleasant and drinkable beer with a nice balance between the fruit/malt and coffee bitterness. (1,028 characters)

Photo of TMoney2591
3.04/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

Served in a Lagunitas mason jar.

Ah, one of the first bottles I ever bought at a Total Wine during my NoVa days has come here to the Midwest for me to try again. Let's do this shit: It pours a clear midnight sienna topped by a finger of khaki foam. The nose comprises vanilla, light buttercream, light toasted caramel, and a hint of marshmallow. It's not that things smell off, they just smell somewhat artificial, somewhat ill-fitting. I dunno. The taste holds notes of light roasted malts, fake vanilla, light vinyl, and a twinge of toasted marshmallow. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a thinly fluid feel. Overall, this stuff has definitely gone downhill since I first tried it those few years ago. It's overly thin, thoroughly artificial, and even a bit plastic-y. Quite a downer, folks... (828 characters)

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.65/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I won't do my usual review for this beer as I don't think it really needs or deserves it. It's an OK, "flavored" beer that appears to be fairly popular, and if that's what sells, then dammit, sell it! Of course you don't even need to sell it if people like it, so OK. AND, it is helping to get people into craft brewed beers so who's to complain?

It's just that to me, it seems like their regular porter with coffee and vanilla flavoring added. And that's OK, for sure, but it's not really balanced. The vanilla appears in a saccharine way, and the coffee is somewhat acidic, or 'burnt'. All of that vanilla extract and brash coffee atop a very basic porter... it just doesn't work. There's not enough girth to balance or support the additional flavors, and what you end up with is a mis-aligned triangle of flavors that stagger limp-legged and one-foot-dragging across your palate until it finally leaves you, slightly dazed and guessing at what just conspired with an oddly vanilla-chemical and acidic-coffee finish left in your mouth. It may not be exactly "out of balance", but it's certainly dis-jointed.

Drinkable for one, but not two. (1,143 characters)

Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.73/5  rDev +16.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Acquired via trade from mymrnngjckt, so a big Thank You goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown, with a large beige head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted coffee beans, vanilla and dark malts.

T: The taste is malty and smoky with strong flavors of vanilla and coffee. There's not much of a hops presence, but it's really not needed in this type of beer. The flavors get more harmonious and creamy as the beer warms a bit. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, it's not the type of beer that I would want to pound down several of, but it's a good enjoyable beer to sit and relax with and drink just a couple. (893 characters)

Photo of jlindros
2.4/5  rDev -24.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.5

I knew this would be a pretty bad beer, but I had to review it for myself...

A: A large fluffy 2.5 finger head rises up and slowly fades over the very dark brownish-black color.

N: Nose actually has a lot of coffee, roast, some sweet syrupy malts, dark malts, a touch of vanilla, touch of chocolate.

T: Starts with a lot of coffee and roasted malts, some chocolate, some fake vanilla flavors, really fake infused vanilla... very watery too, damn, I was excited thinking this was pretty good until the taste. The fake vanilla and watery taste really just makes this taste like it was made by Coors. A watery malted flavor adds to it. The fake vanilla overpowers everything except the coffee flavor, which is cheap and easy to add.

M: Very watery, extremely... and very low carbonation.

F: A slight roasted spicy bitter... wait, no, not really. Just liquid watery taste with some syrupy fake corn syrup sweetness. Sticky and ugly. Some slight coffee and roast lingering, and a touch of chocolate on a burp. But mostly just watery and fake vanilla on the finish as well. Terrible! (1,082 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
3.71/5  rDev +16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Decanted cool into my Dogfish head shaped pint.

A - Deepest brown w/ black cherry highlights. A quickly falling 2.5 finger tan head w/ a fine bead.

S - Rather dry like leather in the aroma w/ a woody tan bark and nuttty muskiness. Very earthy w/ subtle spice and a tinge of vanilla bean w/ an ever so slight coffee note.

M - Dry w/ yeasty notes and a twang of coffee acidity w/ moderate carbonation and nutty roastiness.

T - A dry powdery malt w/ slightly tannic bean flavors. Gentle sweetness gives way to roasty and spiced flavor w/ hints of herbal hop and vanilla essence. Nutty is the primary flavor, subtle copper w/ a tinge of caramel and creamy smooth flavor w/ a hint of yeast. The coffee character comes out more as it warms w/ a chewy toffee flavor. Not a bit of charred flavor-very subtle blend w/ a nice balance of sweet and toasted grain flavors. A superb amount of chocolate w/ spice and coffee.

D - Very easy to drink w/ a lot going on, yet nice malt and coffee interplay and the twang in the vanilla w/ a husky bean oil and malt mix. Very quaffable - went well w/ teriyaki chicken and rice a roni. (1,119 characters)

Photo of RblWthACoz
2.26/5  rDev -29.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Pours pitch black with a tan head that is very airy and bubble filled. Nose is strongest with roasted coffee tones. Mild vanilla there yes. Wow. What a weird flavor. On the first swig, I got such an oddly sweet hit that I didn’t think I would be able to have another sip, let alone finish the whole damn thing. I hoped it would turn into something else as time went on, but it didn’t. Way too tangy. Just sings a bit too high. Feel is okay on the liquid and it has a pretty high carbonation. But overall this is one unbalanced beer. Such a weird tangy thing going on that I just can’t hang. (593 characters)

Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev +25.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Washington House, Sellersville, PA

Notably, my experience with this beer on tap and in the bottle was considerably different. LOTS more character and flavor on tap, and this review is what that describes.

Dark brownish black, opaque, with little to no head. Rich vanilla, chocolate, and coffee in the nose. Very smooth tasting. The vanilla extract overpowers all, and in a good way, with not much else coming through except undertones of sweet dark malts and a bit of coffee and cocoa. Medium body, not very thick or heavy at all. Goes down smooth with no harshness, and little to nothing in the way of hoppiness or bitterness. Nice beer. (661 characters)

Photo of WVbeergeek
3/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

These Atwater brews are just hitting the Pittsburgh market and so far I'm not impressed, they are a bit more expensive than other 12oz bottles too. Appearance has a dark cola brown hue with some red highlights forming around the edges of the pint glass forms a thin tan moccha colored head leaves behind minimal lacing. Aromatics...it comes heavy with the vanilla, light coffee seems like some extract was utilized in this one no natural whole beans here very sweet mild chocolate roastiness minimal herbal hops. Taste is syrupy cloying with the vanilla extract character with a good amount of bitterness to somewhat balance it between the mild hops and dark roasts finishes with a slight lactic tartness that I didn't care for. Mouthfeel is medium bodied lighter carbonation does leaves that syrupy feel on the palate. Drinkability...seriously I will pass just make a normal stout if your going to kill the base beer with extract, not a huge fan of this one. (959 characters)

Photo of MasterSki
3.27/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle shared by Jason, a man of impeccable taste in microbrews. Served in a tulip and dated November 2011.

A - Quick-dissolving light tan foam settles to a thin ring of bubbles. Dark brown body that is a few shades lighter at the edges of the glass. A few spots of lace are left as the beer is consumed.

S - A mix of coffee and vanilla. A touch reminiscent of extract, but surprisingly pleasant. There's some earthy roasted grains in the background.

S - Taste is similar, but dominated by the vanilla extract flavor. Pretty generic in character, but delivers on the flavors promised by the name and far from offensive.

M - Medium-light body, smooth texture, a touch of dry roastiness in the finish, and fairly low carbonation. No obvious alcohol warmth of flavor.

D - A very middling but otherwise inoffensive porter. Not a drain pour like many of the gems we opened that night, and might be appealing to craft beer n00bs for it's familiar flavors and lack of subtly. (973 characters)

Photo of smcolw
3.13/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Decent starting head which settles to a single layer of bubbles. Some lace. Dark brown, minimal light shines through.

Dark malt aromas with some jalepeno pepper--very odd. I cannot detect any vanilla or "java".

Thin bodied with high carbonation. This is a full flavored beer, but the tastes are slightly off and not as advertised. The flavor matches the aroma with an (now) expected spiciness. No vanilla, some coffee. (420 characters)

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.7/5  rDev +16%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Vanilla Java Porter, Atwater Block Brewery, Detroit, MI

Deep black, with brown/red highlights at the edges...good tannish head.

Cocoa hits the nose first, then some coffee....bitttersweet, but mostly sweet. Baker's chocolate, more than anything else.

Drink it: there it all is again, cocoa, some bittersweet coffee-ish feels, but mainly sweet chocolate. And plumb full of vanilla, too, that's there in spades, don't miss it!

In fact, that's really the primary flavor, before any "java" or "porter" flavor. And it was a bit too much for me.
good, though! (559 characters)

Photo of jwc215
2.56/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours very dark brown/almost black with a tan head that fizzles down to a vanishing patch.

The smell is of slightly burnt coffee and a hint of vanilla - not in an oak way, but in a vanilla extract way (not surprising, as that is what is used). A bit of sour fruitiness is in the back.

The taste is of sweetened, over-roasted/slightly burnt coffee and a touch of sweet vanilla extract balanced by sourish fruitiness. Bitterness more aligned to bitterish coffee than any hop presence - overall, sweet balanced (not very well) by too much roast - burnt - and some sourish notes.

It is on the lighter side of medium-bodied with carbonation that is a bit prickly - almost harsh.

The burnt edges and sourish notes and too much sweetness combine to make this less than desirable for more than one. It somehow manages to stay above "drainpour" for me, and is not "terrible", as it has some potential, I suppose, but I would have no desire to have this again. (954 characters)

Photo of superspak
3.58/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, bottled in 10/2014. Pours fairly crystal clear very dark brown color with a 2 finger dense and rocky khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Nice spotty soapy lacing clings down the glass, with some moderate streaming carbonation. Aromas of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, toast, brown bread, vanilla, light nuttiness, light herbal, and toasted earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance and complexity of dark/roasted malt and coffee/vanilla spice notes; with decent strength. Taste of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, vanilla, toast, brown bread, light nuttiness, light herbal, and toasted earthiness. Light coffee bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of chocolate, cocoa, coffee, caramel, vanilla, toast, brown bread, light nuttiness, and toasted earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Good complexity and solid robustness of dark/roasted malt and vanilla/coffee spice flavors; with a good roasted bitterness/sweetness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth and fairly creamy/bready mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is well hidden with minimal warming present after the finish. Overall this is a very solid spiced porter style. All around good robustness, complexity, and balance of dark/roasted malt and vanilla/coffee spice flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. A nicely enjoyable offering. (1,456 characters)

Photo of chinchill
3.34/5  rDev +4.7%
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. (849 characters)

Photo of WesWes
3.12/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The beer pours a deep, dark brown/black color with a 1/2" fizzy tan head that quickly fades to spotty lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a robust, black malt and coffee scent along with a slight vanilla aroma. The taste is average. It has a very bitter coffee taste that goes down with ease, but finishes dry with a very light vanilla flavor. The mouthfeel is average. It is a full bodied beer with a little too much carbonation. This beer sounded great, but the reality was a bit disappointing. The vanilla was hard to decipher and the coffee taste was overbearing. Also, the mouthfeel was really lacking. It was too thin and carbonated too much. (648 characters)

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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
74 out of 100 based on 499 ratings.