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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.

1,283 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,283
Reviews: 465
rAvg: 3.38
pDev: 20.41%
Wants: 9
Gots: 109 | 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: 1,283 | Reviews: 465 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of John_M
3.63/5  rDev +7.4%
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 -18.6%
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%
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 -37.9%
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 -5.3%
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 -12.7%
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 -15.7%
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 -19.2%
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 +3.6%
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 -21.6%
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 +4.4%
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 -7.4%
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 -42.3%
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 -30.5%
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
Photo of CTDrinks
3.3/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

I ran across this at a local store while seeking out something else. I didn't find what I wanted, but was intrigued by the prospect of what the lable promised; vanilla java porter...hmmm. I've been feeling very "porter" as well as "dopplebock" of late (yes, I know they're different) so this caught my eye.

Without restating what everyone else has said, it does poor well and its appearance is as one would expect from a porter. From there, it does depart a bit. For me, not as disappointingly as others, but its on its way.

I did not find it as sweet as some have said, but the java and chocolate notes are strong. Vanilla was not as prominent as I had hoped for. I would have liked more of it in the finish, but instead I get a little in mid-drink and lose it pretty fast. Still, I don't find it offensive.

Overall, its very pleasant and as I saw others state, taken in the right context, its worth a try to see where you fall on it. If you want a porter, then buy a true porter. This one comes up a lil short. You want to experiment without crashing, this is a solid choice.

CTDrinks, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of Dodo2step
3.5/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

P- Barley's and Hops in Pittsburgh

A- black, dark chocolate and coffee color. A minimal brown head the has no sticking or lacing power.

S- robust coffee smell and hints of caramel malts and vanilla. It smells like a dark french vanilla cappuccino.

T- vanilla is more prominent in the taste than smell. dark coffee and sweet malts as well.

M- a rich and creamy type of brew. Like sipping french vanilla cappuccino.

D- easy to put down but it feels like i am drinking a BMC type of beer. Flavors and smell are good but there is the "wow" factor that is missing.

Dodo2step, Jan 09, 2010
Photo of buschbeer
2.7/5  rDev -20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

I poured into a pint glass to two fingers of light beige head. It is dark brown in color with ruby highlights. It smells of vanilla at first, but that is soon overwhelmed by dark fruits, raisin and plums. If I try really hard and use my imagination I get a faint smell of cappucino. It just smells really sweet. The taste is a little better. I get a chocolately coffee flavor. The dark fruit is muted. I used to love this beer before joining this site and after sampling some world class brews, I can't say the same about it anymore.


buschbeer, Jan 06, 2010
Photo of jkoravos
1.15/5  rDev -66%
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.

jkoravos, Jan 05, 2010
Photo of alkemy
2.4/5  rDev -29%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Real dark brown with ruby/mahogany highlights and no head or lacing. I'll give it one thing...it does look like I poured a cup of java into my glass. Sweet vanilla, coffee, and faint bitter chocolate scents. Bitter coffee finish. I had this a couple years ago and thought it was a turd. Now I just find it a bigger one.

alkemy, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of backfat
2.1/5  rDev -37.9%
look: 4 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

bottle brought to recent porter tasting.

A/ poured a dark brown/black with a tan head. good lacing.

S/ there was something a little off in this one. you do get a bit of coffee and vanilla, followed by an odd, chemical smell that reminds me of the smell of a burger king bag. the liquid 'char-broil' very unappealing.

T/ overwhelming vanilla. like someone rubbing on vanilla lotion right next to you, or the way you feel about vanilla after a rare vanilla vodka hangover

M/ decent mouth-feel. bitter aftertaste.

D/ no thank you

backfat, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of jsdunlop
2.75/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Picked this single up at Alex's Grocery off of Randleman Rd in Greensboro, NC.

Pitch black color with a fluffy off white head about half inch thickness that held on for quite a while. Strong aroma of vanilla extract, chocolate and roasted coffee beans. I could smell this brew as I poured it in my glass. This one tastes almost like it smells, except the vanilla overpowers the chocolate and coffee notes and takes control of the brew. There's a strange aftertaste that I can't quite describe, but it's almost chemical in nature. Something is not right with this brew. Mouthfeel is unusually light for a porter with decent carbonation and the combination makes for easy drinkability. If it weren't for the excess vanilla and chemical flavors, it'd be alright.

jsdunlop, Dec 23, 2009
Photo of StarlightSeraph
3/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: A murky dark brown, with a half-finger of tan head. The head lingered for quite some time, despite there not being very much of it. Good lacing.

Smell: Vanilla, roasted malts, and some kind of chemical astringency.

Taste: Surprisingly bold flavored - a strong mixture of roasted malts and vanilla. A little bit of coffee flavors on the back end - they really come through in the aftertaste. The vanilla and chemical sweetness dominate, however, almost to the point of being cloying. As the beer warms, it only gets sweeter. There's an unpleasant astringency throughout as well.

Mouthfeel: Nice and creamy, but carbonation is a little high.

Drinkability: This beer has potential, but just ends up way too sweet. The vanilla/chemical flavors dominate. One was plenty, and it was tough to finish it.

StarlightSeraph, Dec 22, 2009
Photo of BWMKappaSig
2.5/5  rDev -26%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

A: A foggy deep brown with hints of garnet. Off white head is remarkably thin, though strangely leaves a bit of lacing.

S: Sweet and sugary smelling, almost like a Dunkin Donuts vanilla coffee. There seems to be a strange sour note to it.

T: Sweet vanilla flavor mixed with coffee. Overly sweet and lacking any real hops bitterness.

M: Remarkably thin mouthfeel with no real robustness expected from a porter. Weak and watery, which makes the sweetness that much more noticable.

D: Light enough at six percent that if one were inclined, multiple would be possible, but the sweetness is a bit too offputting.

BWMKappaSig, Dec 18, 2009
Photo of MrStark
2.85/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a nonic pint glass.

Appearance is dark brown/black with hints of red and a small tan head that dissipated quickly into a small cap.

Smell is pretty faint, there is just hints of coffee and roasted malts. I can really detect much of anything else.

Taste is kinda off to me. The vanilla is there but there is something off putting about it. There are tiny hints of coffee and chocolate but are barely noticeable. Its not a horrible flavor but just not impressive to me.

Mouthfeel is fairly smooth with a mild amount of carbonation.

Drinkability is just ok. It goes down easy but there's nothing there to make me want another. I feel there are better examples of coffee and vanilla porters out there.

MrStark, Dec 09, 2009
Photo of donniecuffs
3.83/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

I was shocked to read some of the bad reviews of this beer, in particular the lack of a vanilla and/or java presence in the flavor. Maybe this can be attributed to an inconsistency between batches? If that's the case, then obviously that's not a good thing, but...

...the batch/bottle I had was, well,...

Poured mahogany with two fingers of beige head and great lace, into an American pint glass. The smell revealed ample traces of coffee and roasted malt, but only feint hints of oak and vanilla. The taste was more complex, with an initial surge of ice coffee-type flavor, dissolving to roasted maltiness, and then finishing on a sweet vanilla note. The taste of coffee lingered afterwards as well. Surprisingly thin body for a porter, with some decent carbonation. Not the best coffee porter I've had, but definitely nowhere near the worst.

donniecuffs, Dec 08, 2009
Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
76 out of 100 based on 1,283 ratings.