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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - Atwater Brewery

Not Rated.
Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,269 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,269
Reviews: 463
rAvg: 3.39
pDev: 20.35%
Wants: 9
Gots: 106 | FT: 3
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: 1,269 | Reviews: 463 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of samie85
2.1/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This is reviewed from notes; originally reviewed 4/25.

A-Pours a pitch black with a tan, two finger head into my tulip pint glass.

S-Smells of fake raspberries with some vanilla extract, no coffee in the aroma.

T-Roasted malts upfront with some of that fake raspberry from the nose and possibly some vanilla on the finish.

M-Really thin and watery and a little over-carbonated.

D-I always like to try new things, but this is what happens when I buy blindly without doing a little research first. Not a pleasant beer at all, and I wasn't expecting the fake raspberry notes.

samie85, May 08, 2010
Photo of SpittinRivers
2.53/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass. Poured to a color of dark brown with a very dark red behind it. About a finger of head . Creamy on top that fades to fish eye bubbles. The aromatics are not very present. Fairly sweet smell with alcohol. Not much off front. Sort of a muted feeling when it hits the lips. Then the tangy, followed by a slight bitter. This parts seems to come over the pallet too fast then fades out very quickly. There is lingering bittersweet dry mouth feel. Yep, sweet java. This should definitely should not be served right out of the fridge. The head lingers very disorganized on the glass. Kind of fell it in my head. Caffeine maybe? I'm not finding the vanilla so much.

SpittinRivers, May 03, 2010
Photo of mountdew1
3/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a mostly opaque dark coffee color with a very thing off white head. Copious streams of carbonation rose from the bottom. Aroma was vanilla sweet, almost overly so, with a hint of coffee flavor. Taste was slightly sweet lactosey. Not much coffee flavor, but a vanilla ending flavor. Not very good in the mouth. Felt a bit thin and watery, and the carbonation was distracting. Not very drinkable. The over carbonation was problematic, as was the slightly acidic watery beer.

mountdew1, Apr 23, 2010
Photo of CaptinRedBeard
3.2/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-Poured into an Atwater Block pint glass. Pours dark brown with a tan half finger head that dissipates quickly, no lacing at all.

S-A hint of coffee but mostly just vanilla coming through in the aroma.

T- Fairly sweet with the vanilla being the strongest component. The coffee flavor comes through more than in the aroma but not by much. A slight metallic aftertaste.

M-A bit to thin and watery for my taste. Good carbonation.

D-Just too sweet to have more than one, two at most in a sitting. Not my favorite but I would buy it again.

CaptinRedBeard, Apr 20, 2010
Photo of irishking1977
3.35/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark mocha with a moderate tan head. Head retention nearly non-existent as the head diminishes quickly, leaving little lacing.

S: Mild coffee aroma. Virtually no vanilla detected at all. Some chocolate malt is vaguely noticeable.

T: Watered down coffee and a hint of chocolate malts, but any hint of vanilla is barely perceived if there at all. Not bad, but kind of ho hum. I can see where they were trying to go with this one, but it seems to me that it's just a bit too watered down. Unoffensive, but also not a super tasty, memorable beer.

M: The theme of this one is how watered down it seems to be. Same goes for the mouthfeel. Kind of thin. Decent carbonation.

D: Pretty decent brew, but my expectations weren't exactly met. I had a feeling this one might sound better than it actually is; this is certainly the case. At least it's not a terrible, hard to drink beer. Easy to drink considering the supposed cornucopia of flavors used. Don't get your hopes up, folks, if you see this one in stores, but it can be mildly enjoyable.

irishking1977, Apr 17, 2010
Photo of techfed87
2.8/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an adequate sized head. Color is a stark black with hints of amber.

Smells surprisingly of cigar tobacco. Other than that, most other flavors are muted.

First sip has a certain creme brulee quality to it, with some caramel like sweetness to it, but at the same time the pallet is picking up on portions of the beer that are just falling flat. Yes, there is a vanilla presence, but in terms of coffee, it just isn't there. Compared to a bell's Java Stout or Shorts Cuppa Joe or even Founder's Breakfast Stout, this just doesn't compare.

As a brewery, I haven't heard much about Atwater, and what I have heard hasn't been very promising. I can respect their choice to try for something as complex as a vanilla java porter, but, in my opinion, these types of receipts have to be built ontop of beers that are already successful. Do they have a coffee stout that excels at being a coffee stout? Do they have a porter that excels at being a porter?

Until Atwater has simple beers that excel at being simple beers, I fear their attempts at extravagance will continue to come up short.

techfed87, Apr 11, 2010
Photo of TheGordianKnot
2.5/5  rDev -26.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

A- Brownish/dark amber in color poured with a nice 1 1/2 finger head. Would like to see it a bit darker for a porter, but looks enticing.

S- Absolutely wonderful smell... Quite possibly the most sweet smelling porter I have experienced yet. This beer literally smells like a sweet chocolate coffee drink- hence Vanilla java. Once the head subdued, the smell changed a lot to more of a bitter coffee scent, but being a grand coffee drinker- I'm still loving it!

T- The taste is mediocre at best... on second thought, that may be an overstatement. No vanilla flavor, no chocolate flavor, not much of a beer flavor even. It tastes like bland coffee with a lingering astringency. Taste is an absolute let down, especially after the amazing aroma. As I have gotten towards the end of the beer, I came back up to write this part- the java flavor has gone down and it is starting to taste more like a beer at least. This is better than the bland coffee, so I'm bumping taste up to a 2.

M- This beer coats the mouth and leaves a very gritty feel to the tongue and gums. I'm not a huge fan of the mouthfeel as it leaves me with a feeling like I should wash my mouth with water after each drink of this beer.

D- Nope. I have one now with 2 more staring at me, and it will be a while til I drink either of those 2. To be honest, I'm a college student and I may wait til some big party night and bust those 2 out once I am already feeling good so I can just down them without thinking.

TheGordianKnot, Apr 09, 2010
Photo of mralphabet
3.35/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into pint glass

A: Poured black with a hint of reddish brown. About a fingers worth of head that disappears pretty quickly. It settles to a nice ring with little to no lacing.

S: Love the smells, strong vanilla aroma with coffee, hints of coco and sweet malt. It is as advertised.

T: The vanilla is comes on at the back of the tongue and lingers in the aftertaste. Coffee fills the rest of the flavor palate.

M: Very light for a porter, with a higher than expected carbonation. Not at all what I was expecting.

D: I like the smell and taste, but the overall feel is a little to light and weak for a good coffee porter.

This is my first beer from Atwater.... I'll look for them again, this one is not a big winner with me....

mralphabet, Apr 06, 2010
Photo of steve8robin
3.83/5  rDev +13%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Sounds good, so I bought...

A: Looks very good. A nice dense pitch black with no light peeking through. Has a small off-white head that fades quickly.

S: Creamy vanilla and roasty coffee emerges upfront. Chocolate sweetness in the middle with and maltiness on the backend. Smells very good.

T: Creamy vanilla upfront followed by a hint of roasty espresso. A hint of bitter chocolate in the middle with water on the backend. Good.

M: Doesn't reall leave any flavor on your palate. Too bad.

D: Goes down easy like a cola. So, for some of the wrong reasons.

All in all, this brew started off good, but ended mediocre. Not worth hunting down. Good to try once, but otherwise, nah. Hop heads will absolutely hate this brew...

steve8robin, Mar 31, 2010
Photo of ekmoody
1.8/5  rDev -46.9%
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.

ekmoody, Mar 27, 2010
Photo of biglite351
2.25/5  rDev -33.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

A - nice dark color for a vanilla, probably the coffee. Foam was nice, lasted a medium amount of time.

S - extremely weak smell.

T - various tastes... but non of them very good. The brew is not bad flavored, but I would not call it good.

M - creamy, no bitterness or alcohol tingle.

D - eh, I would have a large list before picking this again.

biglite351, Mar 24, 2010
Photo of John_M
3.63/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a bottle of this at Julio's on my way back from Kate the Great.

The beer pours a fairly dary brown color with pretty good head retention and decent lacing. On the nose, I get a huge aroma of vanilla, coupled with milk chocolate and light coffee grounds. This really smells like chocolate malt balls. Mouthfeel replicates the nose for the most part, though the beer is a bit thin. This beer is moderately sweet, with the coffee and milk chocolate dominating in this pleasant, simple beer. Drinkability is OK, though the vanialla, coupled with the sweetness, detract just a bit.

A nice enough beer, though not so wonderful I feel as if need to revisit this any time again soon.

John_M, Mar 17, 2010
Photo of jpmclaug
2.75/5  rDev -18.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Great Minds Drink Alike Great Divide pint glass.

A - a super dark brown almost black color with a tiny layer of off white head

S - smells like coffee but it doesn't have the powerful smell that I get from most coffee stouts

T - the flavor is pretty thin and lacking, a faint coffee flavor but it might just be my taste buds hoping for what the label promised

M - light body with a good deal of carbonation

D - really easy to drink but I'm not sure I really want to drink it, this isn't a drain pour but I don't plan on ever buying this again

jpmclaug, Mar 17, 2010
Photo of jlindros
2.3/5  rDev -32.2%
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!

jlindros, Mar 16, 2010
Photo of manahansf
2.1/5  rDev -38.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 1.5

Pours a deep and clear brown color with a one finger creamy tan head. Looks good, but the aroma is off with a nose of pencil lead and tartness. The drink is similar with a great deal of off flavors. The coffee taste is very tart and the sweetness cloys the palate. With a light body and high carbonation, it is a quick drink and quick finish but it leaves behind the tart and wooden pencil flavor for just long enough to wonder if you should take another sip.

manahansf, Mar 09, 2010
Photo of avalon07
3.2/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a somewhat cloudy consistency - less so than most porters. There was a thin, foamy, tan-colored head that quickly dissipated. Very little lacing.

S: An OK aroma of coffee, chocolate and vanilla.

T: Tasted mainly of coffee, with hints of malt, chocolate and vanilla. Coffee is so omnipresent none of the other ingredients really get a chance to shine.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry finish. Medium-bodied.

D: This isn't the worst porter I've ever had, but it decidedly average.

avalon07, Mar 06, 2010
Photo of kimcgolf
2.95/5  rDev -13%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

On tap. Poured to a dark brown with reddish tints, a nice thick tan head that lingered well, and good lacing. Nose started out well, with the scent of coffee, chocolate and a hint of vanilla. Unfortunately, teh rest did not quite live up to the billing of the appearance and nose. Mouthfeel was a little thin bodied and sticky sweet. Taste was a weird mixture of the scents of the nose, and the finish left an aftertaste of having drank vanilla extract straight from the bottle.

kimcgolf, Feb 17, 2010
Photo of BeerInReview
2.85/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I was in the mood for a robust porter, this is no robust porter.

A: A dark amber appearance with thick head atop.
S: Strong vanilla with a faint coffee aroma.
T: Well the nose doesn't lie. Strong vanilla flavor upfront, too much in fact, leading into sweet malt flavors, with a very slight tinge of coffee flavor and bitterness. The vanilla is too pronounced and overbearing for my taste.
M: Like I said, I was in the mood for a robust porter and this beer is thin.
D: Though not a "bad" beer, I can't see myself seeking this beer out.

BeerInReview, Feb 13, 2010
Photo of DMXLOX22
2.73/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Grabbed this six-pack on my way out of my favorite establishment, Civera's Deli. Let's see how it weighs up since lately I've been a little curious about the "Java" type beers.

Appearence: Noticed a nice brown-amber type of coloring, but actually seemed a little too dark and almost like creek water (Must be the mocha?)

Smell: Can definitely sense the mocha beans and an almost heavy onset of vanilla. The label did mention vanilla, but this strong? Has more of a Irish coffee smell to it.

Taste: A bit bitterness was sensed but seems to go down clean, with the vanilla and mocha flavors taking over. Didn't enjoy this much, and the reason being, not a huge fan of coffee to begin with.

Mouthfeel: Seems too thin and added with a little more carbonation then I'm used to. But like I mentioned before, it does clean up quite nicely.

Drinkinability: Went into this endeavor with I think a bit too much confidence, bit also with high hopes. If your a fan of coffee and beer, this brew is for you. Will I dare to drink again? Only if it was bought for me. Cheers!

DMXLOX22, Feb 13, 2010
Photo of Fitzgerald
3.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My wife and I picked up a six pack of Atwater Block Vanilla Java Porter,we both like coffee and dark beer, perfect match. I didn't get to drink any right away, so during the week I checked what people thought of it on beer advocate.com. it didn't look good. Well you can't believe everything you read right?

Appearance- Poured into a old 10 oz. Hamms glass nice tan head dark brown almost black, a little lacing.

Smell-I could smell the coffee coming through and vanilla no real porter or peaty scents.

Taste- I taste the coffee and vanilla, not a real heavy porter a little like a brown ale. My wife likes the taste it's what she was looking for.

Mouthfeel- A bit of carbonation not real thick but it isn't a stout

Fitzgerald, Feb 07, 2010
Photo of mikesgroove
2.65/5  rDev -21.8%
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.

mikesgroove, Jan 30, 2010
Photo of WorldWideStout
3.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: Somewhat dark brown. One finger off-white head.

S: Lots of vanilla. A little artificial smelling, but not bad.

T: Lots of vanilla, again somewhat artificial. A little bit of roasted malts in the background. No java or cofee.

M: A bit thin, but for a 6% it's fine.

D: As long as I didn't concentrate too hard on analyzing the vanilla, it went down pretty easy. I could easily have a few more.

No, this isn't anything spectacular, but it's pleasant enough.

WorldWideStout, Jan 29, 2010
Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.13/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Presentation: 12oz brown pop top, no date

Appearance: Medium-to-dark brown beer, with a medium dark ivory cap which soon fades to a medium film

Smell: Where's the coffee? There's just a HINT of coffee here, though there is some bourbon vanilla. Actually, vanilla extract is about all I'm getting in the aroma department

Taste: Mostly bourbon vanilla, with just a HINT of coffee, and a medium burnt bitterness. This is touted as a "robust porter." No. It's a vanilla-laced brown ale. The vanilla flavors are nice, but there's not much else going on except some odd fruity flavors.

Mouthfeel: On the light side of medium

Drinkability: Medium at best

Conclusion: Meh...it's a good idea, but not executed well. Much better coffee beers out there.

BedetheVenerable, Jan 17, 2010
Photo of BetterDarker
1.95/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

12oz bottle poured into a snifter.

A- Dark brown/ mahogany with thin white head with some retention and nice lacing.

S- Smells like medicine.

T- Like the smell, very medicinal. I love vanilla in practically anything, but it doesn't work here. With java in the name I would expect some coffee flavor, I do not detect any. Any malt and hop flavor is masked.

M- light and watery.

D- Drain pour. Not sure where this beer falls along the history line of the coffee craze in porters and stouts, but this beer proves it's not an easy brew to do well.

BetterDarker, Jan 16, 2010
Photo of imaguitargod
2.35/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured to a two finger, cream colored head that slowly dissipated. Color is black with ruby edges. Taste, right off the bat, is of roasted malts and coffee grains. The vanilla notes are also right up front. For a porter, this is a bit too sweet for my tastes. The body is also a little thin and there’s a slight tongue slickness/residue that’s left behind. Drinkable, but I wouldn’t go out searching for another.

~Jonathan Passow

imaguitargod, Jan 14, 2010
Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
77 out of 100 based on 1,269 ratings.