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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: 139 | 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 yeastyboi
3.2/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured a near-black, somewhat translucent deep umber hue with subtle mahogany tones shining through. Visible carbonation. Thin, white head dissipated quickly and left minimal lacing.

Above all else, this beer gives off a strong aroma of vanilla extract. Very difficult to perceive the hop and malt characters and see past the vanilla. A more subdued coffee scent is also present.

As with the aroma, all hop and malt flavors are overpowered by the vanilla. There is a light sweetness and a sugar cookie-like taste near the end of the beer. Some coppery flavors that seem to be mostly masked by vanilla. Caramel malt and roasted coffee bean flavors arise as aftertastes. The vanilla lingers on the tongue long after the last sip.

Crisp mouthfeel. Very high carbonation. This beer is very clean.

Overall, this is a tasty, sessionable beer good for a cold evening cozying up by a fire or with dessert. The vanilla, however, seemed a bit contrived, and the body was light for a porter. Ideally, I would like to taste more of the malt flavor in this beer.

Photo of EricCioe
3/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

This beer pours a thin-looking, Cola black with a hint of head that dissipates and leaves no lace. On the nose there are notes of coffee, cold and thin rather than the bigger, more inviting roasted notes in other coffee beers. The vanilla also seems to be more extract than real vanilla, and underneath these two things there seems to be very little going on here. Not a bad thing if those two things were top notch, but I felt they were lacking. In the mouth, the coffee is the biggest flavor, and there is some of the vanilla extract note coming in here, too. It's not a bad start. Unfortunately, that's all there is. There is nothing going on in the way of roasted or chocolate malts here, just decent coffee and vanilla extract. The body is very thin but the bittersweet combination of coffee and vanilla extract leave a nice medium finish.

Overall, I was expecting to like this beer a good deal, and I didn't. It had all the beginnings of something nice but never cashed in. To me it was just too thin, like they were trying to brew a vanilla java porter for someone who doesn't like craft brew. The upshot is that it's easy drinking. Thanks to my sister for passing this along. I'm really excited to try the VJ Black Imperial Stout that she also sent, which is supposed to be an imperial version of this beer. That might rectify my problems with it.

Photo of GreenJetta912
3.7/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Roasty smell, typical of a porter. You can smell a little bit of the coffee and only a hint of the Vanilla. Dark Brown, not black apperance, with minimal head.

Nice roasty taste. This is a decent beer. A good beer for people to start with if they are new the world of dark beer. Smoother than most porters. You pick up a good balance of the coffe with the rest of the malts used. very faint hoppiness. light carbonation and creamy mouthfeel.

This beer is smooth and therefore doesn't leave as dry of a finish as most porters.

This beer is great for a session, no mention of abv on the bottle but any alcohol in it does not come off boozy in the least bit. Beer is chugable!

Photo of metter98
3.2/5  rDev -5.9%
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.

Photo of lsrose
4.33/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this in April '11 from a 6-pack dated Nov. '10.

A - With a semi-aggressive pour, this beer had a fairly tall head but it wasn't too thick and dissipated quickly to leave a coating. Reddish color.

S - Smell is of a lot of vanilla. Pleasant smell.

T - At first it may taste pretty bland. As it sits in my glass, it gets better and better. I think the flavor comes out as it warms up a bit. It is a DRASTIC change that I have noticed in everyone I have had but my beer is usually pretty cold.

M - Little watery when too cold, but gets better.

O - Of the first couple drinks this may be a 3.5 average. As I drink the rest, the vanilla flavor comes out and I am trying to cherish the end of the drink which is always great!

Photo of Lillenk
4.5/5  rDev +32.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Grill One Eleven.

Appearance was a beautiful dark brown into black with a nice white head.

Smell was huge of coffee and chocolate.

Taste was sensational. Tons of sweetness with the coffee and chocolate but very well balanced and finished clean and smooth.

Mouthfeel was way lighter than one would expect from a porter (but in my opnion, in a good way). The lower and ABV and mouthfeel pairing with the awesome flavors makes this very crushable and I, personally, could sit and drink quite a few of these. Fantastic beer.

Photo of jayt206
3.05/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

A: Black with a hint of crimson on the bottom and edges. One finger off-white head.

S: Heavy on the vanilla with a very slight hint of burnt coffee.

T: All vanilla with almost no coffee (barely noticeable at the very end of the sip.)

M: Body and carbonation level are just like a soda. Very thin for the style.

O: Light and easy to drink with no sense of alcohol. The lack of a general Porter flavor profile and body, combined with a lack of coffee, leads to a very uninspired brew.

Photo of brew3crew
3.2/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A-black/brown body with no head
S-lts of vanilla with almost no coffee
T-wow that's a lot of vanilla. Almost too much. Little bit of coffee, lot if vanilla
M-medium bodied and smooth
O- I like vanilla in beers but this is really overpowering. Like to much creme in my coffee

Photo of Kinsman
3.2/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Was suprised to see this at the local beer store today since I've never seen Atwater Block in this state so it looks like our distributors have picked up a new brewery.

Pours an almost pure black body with just a little bit of room for some lighter brown hues. Light tan colored head fills the class to just shy of two fingers thick but leaves little lace behind.

Aroma is, as the name would suggest, heavy on the vanilla. Coffee/java aroma is also noticeable but the sweetness of the vanilla seems to mask some of it. The presence of the malt seems to be missing from this porter, or maybe the flavorings are too strong.

While not as sweet in taste as I was expecting after smelling it, the vanilla flavoring is certainly the dominant flavors. In fact the name, Vanilla Java Porter pretty much describes the main flavor profile of the beer in order from strongest to weakest. Heavy on the vanilla with a moderate java presence and a rather weak porter (chocolate, coffee, and roasted malts) flavor. In fact this robust porter doesn't seem very robust at all. The more I drink it the more I'm becoming convinced that this is simply an alcoholic version of Vanilla Coca-Cola (I'm not even sure if that stuff is still made).

Mouthfeel is rather light and a bit creamy. Overall, this is certainly not a bad tasting beer but it's flavoring seems to be a bit out of balance but if that's what the brewmasters want and if thats what sells, who am I to complain.

Photo of timherremans
1.83/5  rDev -46.2%
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.


Photo of jongullotti
2.33/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

12oz bottle purchased on 2/26/11. Put in the fridge for 1.5 hours to cool it a little bit. Poured into a Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass.

Medium brown color with thin light tan head which dissipates quickly to a very light lacing which remains around edge of glass almost throughout.

Aroma consists of light vanilla extract, light roasted coffee, and some cocoa. More difficult to pull out these aromas than I had expected. It took me a few wafts.

Taste is lacking excitement for me. Like the aroma, there is some plastic-y vanilla, very light coffee flavors. I often think that vanilla, java, mocha style beers have too much of those flavors but this time there is not enough. Not much malt present for a porter. Very little bitterness. The flavors aren't blending together well.

Mouthfeel is weak. Very disappointed here; way too light bodied for a porter. Watery. Not much carbonation.

Drinkable because it is smooth with no real bitterness or alcohol detected.

I don't recommend this beer. Possibly my least favorite of any vanilla and/or java beer I've had. Needs more of the advertised flavors. It's as if they didn't use enough ingredients, or used too much water. Vanilla java lite?

Photo of TheFightfan1
3.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Rough pour into my mug. Looks very similiar to coca-cola. Nice semi creamy light brown colored heading. Dissapates to a light lacing.

Smell is like a cup of cold java. Slight creamy notes and a touch of vanilla.

Taste is intriguing. IT has all that it states but it does lack balls. Mocha is there,cocoa and a metallic like vanilla extract are left lingering.

Mouth is kind of weak. Watery and light bodied. Seltzer feeling left in the mouth.

This was a good idea but like I stated above needs more in all aspects of the ingredients.

Photo of kellertrumpet
1.58/5  rDev -53.5%
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.

Photo of theBubba
1.78/5  rDev -47.6%
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.

Photo of DannyDan
4.2/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer pours out a nice blackish-brown body with a thin tan head that has decent lacing and good retention. The smell is a very strong vanilla with some slight hints of coffee and chocolate. The taste is some hops up front with vanilla in the middle and some hints of coffee and chocolate at the end. The aftertaste has some chocolate and coffee taste, but mostly vanilla. The mouthfeel is very smooth, creamy and pleasant on the tongue, lips and cheek. This is a nice beer to drink and I just finished my first of many Atwater Vanilla Java Porters.

Photo of Gushue3
3.33/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- pours deep dark brown and looks black in my glass. moderate off white/mocha head that lingers for a bit

S- STRONG vanilla scent, not sure if its too much, but its there. light coffee and chocolate at the end, very sweet

T- definately getting the vanilla up front, but not as overpowering as i expected it to be. much like the scent, the coffee and chocolate sneek up at the end. theres an aftertaste thats a little syrupy, and vanilla extract.

M- a little bit light for a porter but not too bad, little to no carbonation makes it smooth on the tongue. at times theres a weird feel on my tongue much like the last bit of a sugar free sportsdrink. confusing me

D- this beer is drinkable. id like to have another one to compare it. decent taste, good feel, but a few odd characteristics.

Photo of tbrown4
3.6/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sister in law brought 4 over in a mix 12-pack for Christmas dinner. Have had a few since then.

A - Pours pitch black with slight off white head. Slight spotty lacing

S - Roasty, sweet and tart aroma.

T - Pretty intense roasted flavor with a slight hint of vanilla. Almost tastes artificially sweet. Slitter bitter, almost sour aftertaste

M - Thin, just enough to lightly coat tongue.

D - I could easily put this back for a few hours due to alcohol content. But, not sure I'd want to as the flavors don't keep me coming back.

Photo of seedsofchaos
3.83/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

A noisy beer that settles down almost immediately. When poured it was as if I had just poured a fresh drink of root beer and the beer actually looks about the same. The thin head dissipated before I could even set down the glass. Opaque, this brew is a solid coffee brown with enough SRMs to get it almost to black but not quite. Carbonation dies down quickly and this beer kind of just sits and looks at you... A bit of a let down in the appearance arena.

A quick sniff gets me excited again as the allure of nutty lightly roasted coffee and sweet vanilla entices me to inhale deeper. Caramel malts are dominate behind the light coffee and there's almost a cream-like element there as well.

Super light mouthfeel makes me definitely think more along the lines of soda but where's the carbonation? I can't say this is a porter but if someone told me there was a new sweet Southern Tier cappuccino/frappacinno this would come to mind as what it should taste like... Except with more body necessary. Caramel and toffee fill the taste with very lightly-roasted coffee. Simple, delicious but severely lacking nonetheless.

All in all, this is definitely enjoyable but a porter it is not. I'd more think that is something one could drink quite a few of after a night out. The "all-American Cosmopolitan young lady's clubbing afterparty beer" anyone?

Photo of StoutHunter
3.68/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I got this bottle in an Atwater mixed twelve pack. A porter sounds like a good way too start the night off so lets see how it goes. Poured from a 12oz brown bottle into a pint glass.

A- This beer pours a super dark brown, almost black. It had two fingers worth of off white head that died down to a thing ring that stayed the rest of the time. It also had some nice lacing.

S- The aroma is nice and roasty with a mix of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla.

T- The taste has all the great components from the aroma and are blending together very nicely, this brew is also very smooth. The hops are detectable at the end and help tie everything together, also no alcohol is detectable.

M- Medium bodied and slightly over carbonated.

D- I could probably drink two off these before the flavor gets old, drinkability is good for its style.

Overall I thought this was a pretty good brew. The flavors were balanced nicely and as advertised. All in all this was the best beer in the Arcadia mixed twelve pack, I would for sure buy this beer again.

Photo of russwbeck
2.73/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Got this in a growler from Champs Sports Grill in State College, PA

A: Dark, but almost opaque, maroon pour with an initial tan head that dissipates quickly and leaves some lacing.

S: Most prominent on the smell is the vanilla, it masks roasted malts and a hint of coffee.

T: The taste is pretty disappointing. Really watered down. Hints of coffee and roastiness up front, and just a slight taste of vanilla on the aftertaste.

MF: Much lighter than I thought it would be. Nice amount of carbonation.

D: The alcohol is completely masked and it is decently drinkable, but man I wanted more from this.

Photo of Bounty628
3.23/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Vanilla Java Porter is brewed in the American Porter style and has an ABV of 6.0% that was somewhat surprising because the taste of the alcohol was quite nicely muted behind the java of the offering.

The porter pours a brown to maroon consistency and the head that was present was about one finger thick and was a light tan. The head did not maintain itself throughout the offering. There was a moderate amount of carbonation in the pour.

The nose was the largest disappointment of the offering as with a vanilla java name I was really expecting some great things. However, the nose was about as light as one could imagine and there was just a hint of roasted coffee that came through in the nose. Most porters try to pack as much roasted or malted notes as possible into the nose but with this offering that just is not the case. There was absolutely no vanilla that came through in the nose and the weakness of the nose was a good reason to be concerned with the taste.

Moving on to the taste, fortunately the lackluster nature of the nose did not hold true with the taste and Atwater redeemed themselves here. The vanilla is quite noticeable in the taste but it fortunately has a rather natural taste and does not maintain a syrupy or synthetic vanilla taste. There is a good amount of roasted coffee in the taste and the pairing of the two holds up quite nicely. Some dark chocolate also works its way into the taste and the combination of the flavors really gives way to a dynamic taste.

There is a good mouthfeel with this porter and the right amount of carbonation really serves this porter well. There is a rich yet not heavy mouthfeel and the roasted nature of the taste really hangs with the tastebuds giving the mouthfeel a full and complete nature.

Some might argue that porters do not maintain the same drinkability as perhaps a lager or an ale but I would argue that drinkability does not just boil down to session drinking but instead focuses on the overall drinkable nature of the beer. This porter could serve as a nice session beer or it could stand alone as a good beer to pair with a nice meal. Ideally this beer would go nicely with either a smoked chicken or some grilled BBQ meat.

Photo of philbertk
3.13/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Vanilla Java Porter--Malt Beverage brewed with Coffee Beans with Natural Flavor Added (Vanilla Bean Extract)--2007 12 oz. Bottle. 5.50% to 6.0% ABV--12 to 16 IBU's. depending on source (BOMC, Bottle Label, Web Page, Rate Beer) (2.0 / 5.0) Porter--Espresso. Beer of the Month Club Selection December, 2007. Thin foamy lacy tan head. Cloudy dark bronze edged black color. Aged sediment. Mild vanilla espresso roasted mild hop front. Thin mild sweet roasted chocolate coffee Porter body with mild vanilla hint and aged sour fruitiness. Dry sweet clean citrus end. Sampled 4/25/2010. Aged Poorly. Sour 1st Bottle. Next two were OK, but still not fresh. Bad Sample Selection?

2009--12 oz. Bottle. 6.00% ABV. 14 IBU's. (2.0 / 5.0) Beer of the Month Club Selection February, 2009. Foamy bottle & foamy lacy tan medium head. Loose sediment Clouds dark bronze red brown color. Mild hop vanilla espresso fruity front. Thin mild sweet roasted fruity mild coffee Porter body. Slightly sour easy citrus fruit mild hop end. Poorly Bottled & Aged. Fruity Sour notes disguise everything else. Sampled 4/28/2010.

Atwater Block Brewery--Wake Up & Smell the Beer!--Vanilla Java Porter--Malt Beverage brewed with Coffee Beans with Natural Flavor Added (Vanilla Bean Extract)--2010 12 oz. Bottle. 6.00% ABV. 15 IBU's. (3.5 / 5.0) Creamy dense lacy mocha coffee head. Opaque dark black brown color. Rich mocha milk chocolate mild hop front. Dry roasted chocolate vanilla thin coffee crisp mild fruit thin biscuit body. Thin weak end with light chocolate mild hop slightly fruity flavor. Weak coffee flavor after explosive mocha front. Sampled 12/28/2010. Malt of the Earth Beer of the Month Club Selection Received 11/29/2010.

Photo of LilBeerDoctor
3.53/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed on 3/26/2010. Bottle thanks to cheapdark. Pours a dark brown with a thick tan head. Aroma of vanilla mostly with some coffee and sweet roasted malt. Flavor is also predominantly vanilla and lactose. Pretty decent although the body is weak. Nice vanilla notes and much tastier than I had expected!

Photo of AScribjr
4.33/5  rDev +27.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a nice beer atwater brewery puts out. A nice dark color with minimal head. The small as you bring the glass to drink is a very strong notes of vanilla,but not a bad thing, because the firdt taste is one to remember.I've had the bottle and this beer can only be enjoyed on tap. drinkabillity is ok but after 3-4 your looking for a new taste. Enjoy this is a good winter beer.

Photo of Rifugium
4/5  rDev +17.6%
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.

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