1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - Atwater Brewery

Not Rated.
Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

1,311 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,311
Reviews: 468
rAvg: 3.39
pDev: 20.35%
Wants: 14
Gots: 122 | 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
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,311 | Reviews: 468 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of batty
3.48/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

A: just on the brown side of black, just reddish-chocolatey at the edges when held to the light. off-white head is minimal, laces sticks for a little while, then disappears. i like my beers (esp porters i think) w/ big thick foam.. not quite up to what i was hoping.

S: mostly smells like vanilla extract, including the alcohol notes. label does say added vanilla extract, so makes sense, but doesn't explain the lack of much else - just a hint of chocolate really far under the surface, but really quite one-dimensional.

T: my first thought was of sweetness, then confusion, then of root beer. on closer inspection that first thought was rather ridiculous, and as i settle into the beer i get strong vanilla, but really of vanilla extract. tastes much more artificial than i would like, but this could be just because there isn't enough to back up the vanilla flavor - chocolatey malts, but really needs more body and substance in the middle for flavor to round out the brew

M: thin.

D: goes down pretty smooth and easy, and reasonably tasty.

batty, Oct 07, 2009
Photo of morimech
3.18/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an attractive dark brown color with a thick head that had excellant retention. The head eventually settles to a thick cap. Large amount of sticky lacing is left on the glass. The aroma and flavor sadly does not carry the show. Mild vanilla and chocolate aromas but very mild. The flavor is a bit off. Touches of vanilla and coffee but it lacks a nice malt base to help with the non traditional flavors. Slight bitterness with no lingering aftertaste. The body starts nice but falls off in the end and feels a little thin and overcarbonated. Nothing bad with this beer but it comes off rather timid and poorly executed. No point in drinking this again.

morimech, Oct 06, 2009
Photo of mooseisloose
2.9/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Smells like alot of java but with a vanilla bean smell also very prevalent. Pours to a very opaque dark brown with a creamy micro-bubble head that stands nicely in the glass. First sip yields a good up front roasted malt flavor that is slightly sweetened with a twang of vanilla. The flavor however, waters out quickly and leaves a minute bit of bitterness behind but overall the finish is very clean. Mouthfeel is good on carbonation but the thinning out of the flavor ripples into and adversely affects the mouthfeel as well. Not really what I expected. I was looking for more of a big bold porter with a vanilla twist. It ain't there.

mooseisloose, Sep 30, 2009
Photo of porterwoobie
3.3/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

op tap, poured into a standard pint glass.

A: dark brown, thick off-white head, good lacing.

S: chocolate and roasted notes. and as the beer is called, vanilla is also present and up front.

T: heavy on the vanilla. the chocolate, coffee, and roasted flavors fall underneath the vanilla and are subtle and muted. the vanilla was heavy on the palate.

MF: medium bodied, medium carbonation, reminds me of drinking a cream soda

Drinkability: drink one every now and again to do something different, yes. a goto beer, no.

porterwoobie, Sep 25, 2009
Photo of Wasatch
3.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks goes out to cvstrickland for this brew.

Pours a nice black color, very nice carbonation, very nice two-finger plus creamy/foamy off-white head, with some thick creamy sticky lacing to follow. The nose is malty, with some slight coffee notes, slight chocolate note, vanilla. The taste is slightly sweet, with some coffee/chocolate notes, vanilla. Medium body. Drinkable, I was expecting more, but still a tasty brew.

Wasatch, Sep 24, 2009
Photo of throwthechaff
1.8/5  rDev -46.9%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

this is probably the worst and most sorry excuse for a porter i have ever had. please save yourself the cash and do not even try this beer. The only smell or aroma that you get from this is this weird fake vanilla stench that just smells wrong and unnatural. The taste totally reflects the smell and is just as worse if not more terrible. I loved the octoberfest by them but this is just a sorry excuse for a beer and it seems so half assed it just comes off as a joke. Please don't drink this beer, I would rather drink a Kobra.

throwthechaff, Sep 19, 2009
Photo of SirSketch
1.85/5  rDev -45.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

After being on a porter kick for about a week, I noticed this beer for the first time at my local liquor store and decided to buy a six-pack... not the best decision. The head was out of control and I had to wait far to long to let it subside before drinking. Light roast and coffee in the aroma, but not much else and hard to detect. I didn't get much vanilla in either the aroma or taste, sadly. The beer was very thin in all aspects. This isn't unbearable, but it was not pleasant by any means and completely not worth the price, which was average or slightly higher than other craft six-packs

SirSketch, Sep 19, 2009
Photo of OneDropSoup
3.4/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours the darkest brown imaginable with a half-finger of tan head that drops to a thin, loose dusting. Deep ruby highlights, but only a little bit. Foamy & creamy looking around the edges, but no lacing.

Smells of some chocolate and roasted coffee, not real rich but it's there. A little vanilla & honey, even graham cracker. Good smells, but on the thin side.

Taste is mostly roasty & kind of waxy in a way, like crayons or wax paper. Not really getting much of the yummy flavors that defined the smell. They pick up a little as it warms, & there's a dark chocolate aspect, but they are still dominated by the bitterness & waxiness.

Mouthfeel is decent but leaves a little bit of a film in the mouth. The aftertaste is bitter. I was really excited about this when I first tried it, & it was my introduction to more complex porters, but now I've moved onto other similar & better examples of the style. Not bad, but I'm starting to see superior alternatives. Also prefer it on draft.

OneDropSoup, Sep 11, 2009
Photo of righthereisay
1.83/5  rDev -46%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

One of the worst porters I've ever had. Kind of like they just took a random porter and poured a shot of coffee and some vanilla extract in it.

Will never buy from this brand again unless somebody recommends a different beer from them.

Luckily I just purchased a single from the 6 pack shop. I don't think my dog would have drank the other 5.

righthereisay, Aug 30, 2009
Photo of johnnnniee
3.35/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid dark brown with a bubbly beige head. Smells of milk chocolate, a bit of vanilla, slightly acridic aroma. Slight coffee and a touch of alcohol. Taste is creamy chocolate, slight coffee, very smooth taste is a bit unexciting. Creamy bordering on watery mouthfeel, Light carbonation, medium body. This one was okay. It was the best of the three that I bought from Atwater, but only okay compared to others of the style.

johnnnniee, Aug 29, 2009
Photo of DeathbySexyBT
3.03/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Deep brown/black with an ochre halo of light. Minimal head with not much lacing to speak of.

S: Baker's chocolate and hershey's unsweetened dry cocao mix on the nose. A little bittering in there, but you smell a the chocolate malts with a little bit of burnt coffee grounds.

T: Follows the nose by the letter. Add a splash of vanilla syrup and a slight chemical flavor.

M: Light body and inconsistent carbonation between bottles.

D: This beer was very mediocre. I had high hopes for this and was sorely disappointed. One expects a complex brew based on the flavors in the title. That is hardly what is delivered.

DeathbySexyBT, Aug 28, 2009
Photo of JerseyDevil980
3.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Smooth vanilla porter, not as much vanilla as one usually gets in this style. It poured a nice carmel color out of the bottle and finished looking like a nice solid porter. It has a smooth finish with a slight vanilla aftertaste which is pleasant. The aroma score is low but that could be cause it tended to lack an aroma over all.

JerseyDevil980, Aug 18, 2009
Photo of wangbruins
3.05/5  rDev -10%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Dark, cola appearance with a smooth, syrup-like pour and almost no head

S- Slight vanilla smell, but I had to strain to catch it, with coffee and I also thought I detected a nutty scent

T- I could taste the vanilla, but it's my favorite flavor of anything so that was easy for me, and I thought the coffee was strong like an expresso, but no nut flavors that I thought might be present

M- Very smooth which was surprising to me because I expected it to be way heavier. This was actually the most enjoyable part of the beer for me because of that

D- This is almost like a dessert beer that went down easy but it would have to be a one to two limit. I had this on tap last night but it was my last beer of the night so I didn't really get to pay much attention to what I was drinking so I brought a bottle of it home to have today. Wasn't bad on tap (as far as I remember) but not much different.

I had this at the Brickyard in Lewiston, New York but it's not listed on the Beer Spy list. If you are ever in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls-Lewiston area, give this place a try. My best friend is the gm and the person who got me into good beer, as well as telling me about BA. He is building their beer selection and doing a pretty good job of it.

wangbruins, Aug 17, 2009
Photo of Buschyfor3
1.95/5  rDev -42.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

12oz bottle served in a small pilsner glass at Rich O's Pub, New Albany

A: A moderately dark brown body with some reddish/ruby colored highlights that peak out near the edges of the glass - the body is not overly dark but still has some sense of richness in color. Off-white, slightly creamy head with decent retention and lacing. Sadly, the appearance is probably the best aspect of the beer as everything was downhill from here for me.

S: I really didn't get alot of the distinguishing vanilla or java characteristics on the nose, unfortunately. I was able to pick out a dash of smoked malts and maybe just a faint kiss of black coffee at the start, but there was an awkward, dark sourness on the nose - not sure if it was oxidation or what, but it was in there and it prevented the vanilla and roast coffee from playing their part in the aroma.

T: The taste is a letdown, like the nose. Not getting much vanilla anywhere in the flavor profile, nor am I getting a whole lot of coffee. Unfortunately, there is a quite noticeable oxidized flavor in there which throws out a crazy wet paper flavor. Only near the finish do I get any sense of the coffee present in this porter, and what is there is faint, along with a split second of cocoa-like chocolate. Really, I think this beer has all the potential to be great - coffee, vanilla and chocolate sounds awesome - but it translates into a mess of a porter.

M: Thin. All I can say.

D: Definitely had better porters that accentuate coffee or vanilla flavors in their profiles. This became a chore to drink after the first couple sips - warming up did not improve anything. Disappointing.

Can't really recommend this over any other coffee-themed beers - so many better American-style porters out there, and particularly of the vanilla persuasion (I think Breckenridge Vanilla Porter is miles ahead of this), not to mention a plethora of better coffee-forward beers. Convinced that I had a bad bottle with the oxidation flavors that were present, but I'm not sure when/if I'll return to this beer to give it a second chance.

Buschyfor3, Aug 15, 2009
Photo of scottyshades
2.93/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Pours a full, deep, rich roasted brown color. The head is off-white, thick, tightly knit, and billowy. Lacing is good.

S: A strong whiff of burnt malts followed by a rush of roastedness comprises the beginning of the nose. Metallic notes and a small vanilla note are present. Not too impressed.

T: Pretty crappy flavor profile for a porter...Twangy, sour, very metallic, some burnt malt/roasted malt notes...Very rough and unrefined. I taste the coffee, but no vanilla. Really no balance, just a mash of sourness, coffee, and metal.

MF/D: Light mouth, good carbonation, sour/coffee finish.


scottyshades, Aug 08, 2009
Photo of youngblood
2.68/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a regular imperial pint glass. About a finger of head, lots of carbonation bubbles, looks rather watery.

Smells decent, some roasted toffee and obviously espresso. None of them are very deep though.

The taste is really nothing more than a watered down version of the smell. Not impresssed.

The mouthfeel is ok, if a little slick.

Has good drinkability as nothing is offending.

youngblood, Aug 03, 2009
Photo of bamadog
3.08/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one has been in my fridge for quite some time now as it was part of a payment for dogsitting for beerman207, but hey, better late than never. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is very dark brown/near black and comes with a short one finger deep tan head with moderate retention; leaves a pretty thick and foamy lacing initially, but it gets a little thinner as it sits; body is largely opaque - a bit one dimensional as there aren't any highlights when held to the light.

Smell: Smell is interesting, it's got some deep roastiness in it, but it's also coming across as a bit smokey as well... Odd... Where's the vanilla? As it warms, it starts to make a bit of an appearance but not what I was expecting.

Taste: Not so good... It's got the roastiness coming through alright, but it's interesting that something called "Vanilla Java Porter" didn't have anything remotely vanilla in the nose until it warmed and then just this pretty big burst of a really artificial vanilla flavoring in the mouth... It kind of muddles everything up and it comes across as just too damn sweet -- it seems that there's some attempt at balance with the hop presence but it doesn't work for me. Sorry, Atwater...

Mouthfeel: Body is a bit watery, but the carbonation is nice and fizzles a bit on the palate - leaves a fair stickiness on the roof of the mouth in the back. A bit average.

Drinkability: Pretty low - the flavors aren't balanced... I feel like they just tried to do too much with something that may be much better off if left a bit simpler.

bamadog, Jul 28, 2009
Photo of paco1029384756
3.15/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dirty brown color with one finger of white head.

Scent of weak malts, grain, some grass and a hint pf chocolate. Not impressive, a bit weak.

Taste of weak malts, grain, vanilla, and a hint of chocolate. Unimpressive, but not offensive; still rather weak.

Mouthfeel is light bodied and smooth with good carbonation.

paco1029384756, Jul 12, 2009
Photo of drjamyma
3.88/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A six pack of any porter takes its sweet time in my fridge to deplete, so this has had some time to grow on me. Over all impression from a guy that doesn't love porters...this is in my top 3. I don't really have a definitive top 2 but this one probably wouldn't be in it. Regardless, it's actually quite nice. I feel like I've had more stouts like this with the range of flavors and creamy mouth feel that this one has. I didn't get any nasty flavors as some others had, though as I sip it now, I can taste a coppery taste, not awful though. This is a nice night time beer. Maybe a top 2 in my list of sleepy time beers.

drjamyma, Jul 10, 2009
Photo of scoob8000
3.9/5  rDev +15%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I was very surprised by this one at first. I actually got it to try in hopes my fiance' would like it. (It's now her all time favorite I might add)

Soon as you open a bottle you catch a good whiff of vanilla followed by coffee.

The smell is very good, at least for a coffee drinker as myself.

Taste is very sweet, chocolately, coffee, desert. For some reason brownies come to mind.

Mouth feel is very smooth and creamy and goes down smooth.

This is definietly a sipping beer that would go great with just about any desert.

If you like chilled coffee, give this beer a try!

scoob8000, Jul 04, 2009
Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.58/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

So after quite a bit of debate, I've decided that I like this beer, but it's not one I will be drinking regularly. It pours kind of a hazy brown color with a small almost root beer creamy looking head with some lacing. It has a VERY strong aroma of vanilla and if you try hard you can smell some roasted malts, but the vanilla is so overwhelming it's a bit tough. It tastes very, very good, but it's so sweet that it would be very tough to drink more than one. Like most porters it does have the smokey flavor at the as an aftertaste, which is relieves the sweetness a little. Because it's so sweet, it really effects the mouth feel and drink ability. It's more of a "dessert" type beer. Drink it if you wanted something sweet after a meal. I'd actually recommend anyone to try this beer, but I don't know anyone who would be able to drink it on a regular basis.

AndyAvalanche, Jul 01, 2009
Photo of Rootdog316
3.08/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Cola-brown, with a light tan head.

Smell: Vanilla, a touch of chocolate and coffee. Very pleasant, overlaying roasted malts.

Taste: Sweet vanilla over a dry porter profile that's reminiscent of cola, but not quite. Some coffee but not as prominent as the vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Thin of medium; clean and pleasantly drinkable with a dry(ish) finish.

Overall: Interesting. Moderately enjoyable. I expected more from this beer. I didn't think the mouthfeel would be so medium, so that is where it will lack in score for me.

Rootdog316, Jun 22, 2009
Photo of phlipsm
4.65/5  rDev +37.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer came to me as a beer of the month offer. I received several beers from the Atwater brewing Co. I prefer pale ales generally but was happy to receive this one. This is a desert beer. After dinner instead of a cup of coffee try one of these. I'm not an advocate of "flavored beers" but this one is one I'd like to try again. Very smooth finish.

phlipsm, Jun 20, 2009
Photo of association330
1.53/5  rDev -54.9%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - Pours dark brown (near black) with a bit of light still coming through. One finger of tan head quickly dissolves into nothing more than a ring of bubbles.

S - Rotten malt that has been burnt to a crisp. If you could put store brand used coffee grounds into a trash bag, put it out under the hot sun for a few days, and then open it up, it would probably smell a lot like this beer. There's also this weird metallic smell floating around. Just plain bad.

T - Sour, rotten coffee grounds that actually trigger my gag reflex slightly.

M - Thin and foamy.

D - This is just the second beer I have ever drain poured. Thankfully I only purchased a single bottle.

association330, Jun 20, 2009
Photo of Bung
3.25/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. A semi-translucent dark brown pour. Quite a bit of whitish head. Aroma is pretty sweet, vanilla with limited malt and chocolate. Quite a bit of carbonation, but not that off putting to me. Taste has some syrupy sweetness, caramel and vanilla. On the thin side body wise though. There is some chalkyness where the roast and normal porter characteristics should be. Finish doesn't seem to do much, some more vanilla.
If you judge this on it's merrits it is a descent drinker, but judging it on porter characteristics it is pretty weak. Missing the earthy, grass/peaty, roast coffee/malt tones.

Bung, Jun 14, 2009
Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,311 ratings.