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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.

1,350 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,350
Reviews: 476
rAvg: 3.4
pDev: 20.29%
Wants: 16
Gots: 140 | 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: 1,350 | Reviews: 476 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of UncleJimbo
3/5  rDev -11.8%

Photo of bpfrush
3.75/5  rDev +10.3%

Photo of StlHopHead77
2.17/5  rDev -36.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Bottled October 2011

A-Pours a thin,watery brownish black with 1 1/2 inches of loose and quickly dying tan suds that left spotty lacing.

S-Weak coffee,stale chocolate,lightly charred malts and cheap,vanilla extract.

T-Weak,coffee,tootsie roll,caramel and more cheap,vanilla extract.

M-Super thin.Nothing there that lingers or is worth mentioning.Way too much generic,synthetic vanilla flavor.

O-Serious disappointment.

Photo of cosmicevan
2.75/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to florida9 (kirk) for tossing this into the Growler Plus BIF box he sent my way. Not sure how their dating system works, but the bottle has July 2011 ticked off on the label.

a - opened the brew and filled my E snifter. brew poured a watery brown with a huge bubbly greyish white head. the head was really bubbly and actively bubbled away. had a very coca cola look to it.

s - wow, that's different. smells kind of like charred vanilla coke. coffee is there, but has a bit of a stale smell.

t - mish mosh of too much vanilla and bleh coffee...with some porter like qualities of charred roasted malts, but overall doesn't work that great for me.

m - mouth jumps out at first as this brew is overly carbonated.

o - overall, very soda like. Not sure if I'll get through the entire bottle or not, but certainly one that I won't seek out again. The vanilla just doesn't work too great. If they did a tiny amount of vanilla and beefed up the chocolate, this one might stand a chance.

Photo of MsRif
3.85/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

My experience with this brew on-tap vs. bottled is vastly different...hopefully I can hit on everything in one review.

Poured a dark brown, opaque color from the tap into a pint glass. Very large tan head that receded slowly but did not dissipate completely. From the bottle, it was more see-through and I noticed less head retention.

On tap it had a lovely quality coffee aroma with sweet undertones of vanilla. The vanilla was not overwhelming at all and the character was very balanced. Bottled...it smelled like coffee that had been soaking in vanilla and Splenda for too long. Taste on tap was wonderful. Starts out strong with coffee, notes of chocolate and vanilla...sweet, but not overly so. Finishes a tad bitter. Nice, multidimensional brew. Bottled...way too sweet. Way too much vanilla. Tasted artificial and just wrong. Not at ALL what I remembered from getting it on tap. I will never buy it bottled again.

On tap, was medium in body. Bottled...THIN. Way, way too thin. Do they cut it with water and then bottle it? Not cool. Very disappointing since I really enjoyed it on tap.

I'll get it again if it's on tap...I will never buy it in a bottle again. This review focuses ratings more towards the draught...I really enjoyed it.

Photo of jtingue
2.6/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a snifter. Bottle dated June 2011.

Appearance. Clear, but dark black in color with a red tint. Pours with the thinnest tan head that dissipates so quickly that its like it was never there.

Smell. The strange combination of coffee and vanilla creates a smell that reminds me quite a bit of toffee with a hint of maple sugar candy. None of the usual porter characteristics.

Taste. Starts out with strait vanilla. Some dark roastiness tries to pop through but are quickly killed by an unpleasant coffee bitterness. A flavor of gas station coffee lingers around on the palate until a sweet vanilla and coffee finish.

Mouthfeel. A thin watery body is slightly masked by a small amount of carbonation, quite unpleasant.

This beer completely lacks any sort of subtlety. The only way it can call itself a porter is through its color, a pretty weak argument. This would be well and good if the coffee and vanilla were used with some sort of beneficial effect on flavor, but the beer just ends up tasting like a poorly made malted milkshake.

Photo of match1112
3.8/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

a: black in the center with brown hues around the edges. a finger of mocha colored head quickly settles into a cap with little lacing.

s: roasted coffee, malts and very little vanilla.

t: cold cup of coffee, lacking in vanilla.

m: pretty thin and smooth. a little creamy texture to it and a slight bitterness from the coffee.

o: it's alright, probably a good starter porter, kind of bland.

Photo of Florida9
2.75/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A: Very dark brown, almost black, in color, yet still visibly clear. Forms an enormous light tan head that slowly reduces to a small, but stable 1/8" of bubbly head. No lacing.

S: Smells of cola and a strong sweet artificial vanilla scent. Almost like some sort of Vanilla Coke knock-off. There is some roasty malts in the mix, but the artificial vanilla dominates.

T: Cola, chocolate, coffee, and that sweet fake vanilla. Thinly flavored, finishes quick and watery. Leaves a sweet saccharin aftertaste in the mouth.

M: Thin to medium in body with heavier carbonation. Thin for the style. Very low bitterness.

O: Simply not a very good beer that I didn't even bother finishing. Reminds of a mildly alcoholic cola with it's sweet, fake taste.

Photo of jbierling
2.55/5  rDev -25%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark coffee brown color.

Smell: Was expecting more. Smelled more vanilla at Kilwins today.

Taste: Was expecting more taste from vanilla porter.

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Average at best. I was expecting to really like it.

Photo of ChadSimmons
3.38/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very dark brown with some hints of red. Absolutely no head but did leave a fizzy film at the top. I found this beer very refreshing, and the java taste was very pleasant. Couldn't taste very much of the vanilla though. I found the mouthfeel to be very watery. This beer has VERY little body. Overall it was a refreshing beer that goes down very easy. I would definitely drink again but wouldn't seek out.

Photo of Josiah2729
3.1/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bottle poured into tumbler

A- Dark, little to no head that dissipated quickly

S- Vanilla with some coffee, sweet smell

T- Slight bitterness, malty, fairly strong vanilla, some coffee

M- Light, cola texture, pretty thin

O- Average, I was somewhat dissapointed, kind of overdid it with the vanilla

Photo of RedSpecial1
3.83/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep rich coffee color, even the highlights are reminiscent of a dark roasted cup of coffee. Relatively little head remains after the initial pour. The smell is of stale, Italian roast coffee. The flavor has notes of strong Madagascar vanilla, and finishes with a deep, smokey coffee flavor. The beer's mouthfeel is appropriate for a porter, which could be perceived as thin by people expecting a stout. Overall, this is a good example of a porter. It's very drinkable, and refreshing like a porter should be.

Photo of gatorbreath
3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance is solid. Looks like an opaque fudge brown pour with a minimal, carbonated, offwhite/tan head..minimal lacing..

Smell is strongly of malt and java. Seems interesting at the outset.

Taste is different, for sure. There is an attack on the palate of malt and even picking up some hoppiness as well, the java is very prominent and the vanilla seems well disguised. I cant say I enjoy it too much, but there is a slight burnt/smoked taste to this that I am definitely noticing.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, not too carbonated, and slick.

Going to probably abstain from this offering in the days to come. It is good but I enjoy others more!


Photo of yankeej13
3.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this beer on tap at Atwater Block Brewery.

A- Nice dark malty beer, had a medium head of foam and a minor amount of carbonation.

S- Fairly potent, you can totally pick out a coffee smell and a medium amount of vanilla as well.

T- It was much more thin of a beer than I realized considering it was a 6 percent beer. Mild taste of vanilla as well as coffee malts.

M- Light good drinkability. More on the thin side goes down easy. Even though it was on the light side it has distictive flavor you can pick out.

Overall I enjoyed it alot just which it had a bit higher alcohol content. Always liked my porter on the heavy side. Cheers

Photo of bushbeer75
3.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown bottle label notched Jan. 11 consumed 5/8/11

Atwater Block Brewery Vanilla Java Porter poured black with dark brown/red highlights color producing a ¾-finger tan fizzy head that reduced very quickly to a thin fizzy film. The aroma is dominated by burnt coffee, and there is just a wisp of vanilla. The flavor begins with mild dark chocolate followed and dominated by burnt coffee. The taste finishes with a [too] light touch of vanilla. Mouth feel is light medium with medium carbonation.

With a name like Vanilla Java…I was expecting a brew with much more vanilla flavor. Atwater’s Porter is not as heavy as other Porters, however, a good entry level porter.

Photo of WoodBrew
3.4/5  rDev 0%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The Atwater Vanilla Java Porter is big on aroma, but short on body. My preference for porters and stouts is to have some body...a bit thicker mouthfeel. This Porter is very light. The appearance is very dark amber, not completely opaque. Minimal carbonation and almost no head. The aroma is filled with vanilla and coffee. The taste has vanilla and coffee, but the coffee is definitely more prevalent. Those that like iced-mochochinos will like this beer. The mouthfeel is lacking cuz I like body...this beer does not have body. Still worth a try however.

Photo of tdm168
3.05/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at the Village Draft House in Raleigh

Arrived a deep brownish-black with a thin lacing of head. Smell is bold mesh of vanilla and coffee, but the combination combines to make vanilla cola. Taste is again vanilla and coffee. The taste is a little unbalanced. Each flavor has its own place; initially, there is a sweetness from the vanilla followed by coffee and roasted malts, but the combination tastes like cola in the finish. This beer has no carbonation and is rather watery.

This one isn't as robust as I would like, and I couldn't really shake the not-so-impressive cola aftertaste. Not upset that I tried it, but there are far better coffee and/or vanilla porter out there.

Photo of womencantsail
3/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

Photo of optimistictour
3.1/5  rDev -8.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I guess my memories of a tasting one year ago were rosier than the truth. I bought a six pack of these basically out of sheer surprise at finding them at a grocery store. I don't regret it, but I wouldn't do it again.

It looks relatively good while pouring, cola-dark with a decent looking amount of head, even for the style. But then it settles into the glass for a second and the head absolutely disappears with no lacing. I may as well be drinking soda.

It smells good. Easily good enough to entice anyone into buying one. I get everything the name implies: warm vanilla, a shot of coffee, and a bit of smokiness.

Then I drink it. Another reviewer put it best when he said this should be "Vanilla, Java, Porter" as the flavors never quite mesh into a singular taste. There's the artificial vanilla of a flavored coffee creamer, there's a vein of actual coffee sliding up the middle, and the smoky darknes serves mainly as a backdrop. I like these flavors, but it just feels disingenuous.

Mouthfeel is honestly where this one falls apart for me. Remember the cola reference? That's how it feels going down. Sure there's more body and it doesn't sting my palate but the feeling is not what I'd expect of any porter. It's too thin and carbonation is present but lacks teeth.

It's an alright beer that I wouldn't turn down if being handed one, but I won't go out of my to pay for one again. There are better coffee stouts, vanilla anythings, and classy porters out there.

Photo of lurpy1
2.45/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

On tap at Pizza House in East Lansing.

Everything comes together pretty well in terms of aroma - sort of like sniffing a frappucino. In terms of taste though, this guy's a mess, really 3 different not very good beers - a vanilla beer that smacks of cheap vanillin extract, a coffee beer with too much burnt coffee, and a porter, which comes in a distant third and gets lost behind the more aggressive flavors. At no point do the flavors harmonize. Title should be Vanilla, Java, Porter.

I was marginally able to finish this beer. Disappointed, sounded tasty.

Photo of McNuts
2.5/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Bought a single, thankfully, from NC retailer. Gently poured into New Belgium snifter and watched it foam all over the place.

Appearance: Watched the super carbonated porter make a huge mess all over my coffee table. Massive head, no lacing.

Smell: Best feature of the beer. Nice coffee aroma with faint vanilla.

Taste: Weak coffee and artificial vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Thin and overly carbonated. Tongue stinging mess.

Overall: Thankfully, I bought a single. Pass.

Photo of CWBlues
2.33/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Got a bottle of this from EricCioe after I posted about recommendations for Vanilla-tasting porters. He warned me that he didn't care for it but offered it up for my tasting. I'm extremely gracious, and turns out I agree with him!

A: Pours black with a fizzy head that dissipates pretty quickly.

S: I thought it smelled great. I got a big nose full of vanilla and coffee (two things I love).

T: Such an incredible disappointment. After having fantastic vanilla stouts like Vanilla-bean aged Dark Lord and Flat 12's Van Pogue Vanilla Porter, this one fell flat (and tasted it too). It was almost like the vanilla extract killed the beer. There was a bitter coffee aftertaste that hung around a little too long for me. The vanilla was VERY artificial.

M: It was a strange thing here: it tasted flat, but was overly carbonated. Is that even possible? It fizzed too heavily on the tongue. Not enough good coating.

O: Very...bleh.

Photo of BeerNinja007
2.5/5  rDev -26.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Picked up this single 12oz bottle at Barb's in Concord NH. Feb 2011 is notched on the label, but there's no indication if this is a Born On date or a Best By date. I'm glad they put a date on the label, but it is completely useless and stupid for them to not distinguish what the date means. Served refrigerator-cold in a standard pint glass.

A: Dark brown brew gives faint orange highlights around the edges when held to a light. 1/2" of fizzy taupe head settles quickly to a thin layer and meniscus.

S: Warm semi-buttery/caramely vanilla extract mingles with a dry grainy roasted malt body, hint of molasses, some astringent smoke/ black malt.

T/M: Very thin, hardly any malt presence in taste or body. More like cream soda than beer.

O: Meh. Not very beery.

Photo of cooch69
4.18/5  rDev +22.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was poured into a goblet and it came a deep silky brown, almost black with not anything exept for a few tiny patches as a head.

Nose is very chocolaty, sweet and a little coffee. Very malt forward.

Taste is light and refreshing, especially for a stout. 40% chocolate bar. It even has a hint of cream to it. Not much coffee but it shows itself lightly. This beer was a delicious session porter and I was happily surprised at the outcome.

Photo of ToAzwethinkweizm
2.35/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Date: 22 April 2011
Glass: Nonstandard highball
Type: 12fl oz bottle

Poured gently, overcarbonated frothy caramel head, average lacing, deep
brown color.

Aroma is....not good. Soapy coffee. That's all.

Taste is bland...watered-down coffee, no vanilla, nothing exciting. I can't
get over the high carbonation and bland mouthfeel. Unfortunately, this is
just another tick on the list.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,350 ratings.