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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - Atwater Brewery

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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
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1,439 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,439
Reviews: 502
rAvg: 3.42
pDev: 19.88%
Wants: 17
Gots: 192 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Atwater Brewery visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  6.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: ypsifly on 10-21-2006

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,439 | Reviews: 502 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of RedSpecial1
3.79/5  rDev +10.8%
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
3.65/5  rDev +6.7%
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 +3.8%
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 -7.9%
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
3.46/5  rDev +1.2%
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
3.06/5  rDev -10.5%
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
3.01/5  rDev -12%
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
3.14/5  rDev -8.2%
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
2.54/5  rDev -25.7%
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
2.58/5  rDev -24.6%
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
2.45/5  rDev -28.4%
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
2.53/5  rDev -26%
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
4.15/5  rDev +21.3%
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
2.32/5  rDev -32.2%
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.

Photo of yeastyboi
3.22/5  rDev -5.8%
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
3.02/5  rDev -11.7%
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
3.72/5  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
3.22/5  rDev -5.8%
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
4.3/5  rDev +25.7%
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 +31.6%
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
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
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
3.23/5  rDev -5.6%
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
3.21/5  rDev -6.1%
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
1.86/5  rDev -45.6%
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
2.36/5  rDev -31%
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?

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,439 ratings.