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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - Atwater Brewery

Not Rated.
Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter

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1,396 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,396
Reviews: 487
rAvg: 3.41
pDev: 19.94%
Wants: 18
Gots: 165 | 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: 1,396 | Reviews: 487 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of HiLLWiLLiam
5/5  rDev +46.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Deeelicious is the one word I can come up with when asked to describe this humble brew. Of all the words that can be used to describe a drank, it is the most fitting. This beer gets a ten on the chug-scale (ladies), and the caffeine buzz is delightful. Sip hard....

Photo of tubacharlie
3.7/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A very dark brown with ruby highlights, this brew has a good sized head of a khaki tan color, somewhat rocky, with good retention and some stickiness.

The scent of vanilla is discernable in the nose, with burnt caramel accents. A mouthful of slightly sweet roast coffee hits the palate, with more pronounced vanilla flavors in the middle and afterglow. Bunches of malted barley in between. Not quite as thick as some porters, this one is very drinkable, with creamy smooth carbonation and enough hop bitterness to offset the sweetness of the vanilla.

Works well as a desert beer with a scoop of chocolate ice cream.

Photo of RJBeverage
2.28/5  rDev -33.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Poured from a growler. Dark, not quite opaque a bit of head, but it dissipates before long.

A charcoley-coffee smell. A bit like burnt coffee. The taste comes off with the roasted coffee, then the charred taste, but then you get the vanilla flavor. For the first pint, the overall taste is quite pleasant, but the more of it I drink, the more the burnt flavor asserts itself. After that the vanilla comes across as an attempt to cover the increasingly annoying burnt taste.

I had a draft pint of this at the bar, and was impressed enough to get a growlerfull a few days later. But repeated drinkings have decreased my originally positive view of this beer.

Photo of Tilley4
2.58/5  rDev -24.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a dark brown with a fairly thick creamy head.. Not black but nothing you can see thru either...

Toasted malt aromas with a strange tart aspect to them... Almost vinegary really... Maybe a touch of coffee as well but the sour aromas really detract from this... Not the coffee aroma I was anticipating..

Very reminescent of day old coffee that has gone a touch funky is what drinking this is like... The key elements are all there but there's a weird funkiness here that I don't think was intended... Disappointing...

Won't revisit this one. Glad I tried but once was enough...

Photo of ToasterChef
2.97/5  rDev -12.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from an aged cellar temperature bottle into a pint glass. This bottle has been in my cellar for over a year--perhaps a bit too long. Upon opening, the bottle foamed up slowly but consistently. It took me a few minutes to pour two 6 oz glasses.

Once in the glass, the tan head was significant. It was foamy on top with large bubbles making up most of the body of the head. The liquid is cloudy, opaque, and colored dark brown. There are a number of streams of tiny bubbles rising in the glass.

As you would expect, the aroma is of coffee and vanilla. Both remind me of their natural bean form, not a brewed cup of coffee or vanilla flavoring. The balance between the two aromas works well for me.

The flavor tastes a bit off to me; perhaps another sign that I forgot about this bottle for too long. There really isn't any coffee taste until after I swallow. At that point, I can taste some dark roast coffee briefly before the flavor disappears. Before that, there is sweet vanilla laced with a slight vinegar taste.

A medium, creamy body contains a good amount of carbonation. Swishing the beer causes it to foam up a lot. There is a mild stickiness present throughout. The coat itself is sweeter than I like.

I'm glad I split this bottle. The beer is too sweet for me and the flavors comes in waves; they don't work together as they do in the aroma. The gushing bottle made it a pain to pour, which is just another strike against this beer. Perhaps if I find myself in an area where this is distributed, I'll try a fresh bottle, but I'm not going to go looking for this beer.

Photo of allergictomacros
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A - Super dark with a bit of a weak head.

S - Nose is cocoa and coffee.

T - Leans towards the tart side with a lot of acidity. Soft chocolate floats in in the middle followed by a quick finish that doesn't stick.

M - OK body. Feels a bit thin maybe.

D - Again, just OK. I like the chocolatey center, but it gets muddled with the rest of it. I think the problem is that there's too much acidity in this one.

Photo of mattgreger
2.43/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

The pour on this brew is a dark, chocolate/coffee black color. It poured with a nice 1/2 bubbly, tan head that fades pretty fast to a small cap. There is a bit of lacing that falls down the sides of the class as you sip through this brew. This brew pours very "thin," which isn't what you expect from a porter.

The aroma is only that of coffee and some roasted malts. There was a slight hint of chocolate present in the noseful as well, but not very much. I am really don't smell any vanilla at all.

The taste is pretty subpar. I would have to say, I am far from impressed. The flavor that hits you first is surely that off the coffee. Then a bit of a roasted malty flavor follows, with a little hint of vanilla that kinda finishes this brew. The coffee flavor pushes any other flavors that are present out, but I can't detect any other flavors.

The mouthful is ok. The flavor is well enough, but the carbonination is very high, and kinda of makes me see this brew as a coffee soda more then a beer.

The drinkability on this brew, I guess would be easy. As stated above, I think that the coffee flavor is a little overbearing, the carbonination is kind of high, and with the name having vanilla in it, I expected a bit more vanilla flavor. I will venture on and try other Atwater Block products, but I will probably not turn towards this brew again.

Photo of sommersb
2.91/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From a 12 ounce bottle with a date of May 2010 (not sure if that is the bottled date or the best before date).

Poured into a tulip pint glass, this beer is dark brown/near black, with red tints visible when held up to light. Large tan head with a moderate amount of lacing.

I didn't get much aroma except for roasted, borderline burnt, malts. Based on the label's description I was expecting maybe some chocolate or vanilla in there but did not smell them.

Taste was of bitter, burnt coffee beans. No sweetness in this at all, and again, not much chocolate or vanilla as far as I could tell. It also seemed to have some kind of metallic taste to it. The mouthfeel had too much carbonation for my liking, with a bitter coffee aftertaste.

One beer was enough for me. If you like black coffee (which I do not), this may be more appealing to you, however.

Photo of yesyouam
3.15/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Atwater Block Vanilla Java Porter is a brown/black beer with a thin khaki head that fades to a film and leaves decent lacing. It has a sweet, roasty aroma with notes of coffee and sugar and a touch of chocolate. It's medium bodied and watery. It tastes pretty sweet. It starts roasty and then ends with a coffee ice cream flavor. The aftertaste is sour. There's no bitterness involved, really. It tastes great for half a second and then it kind of falls apart. It's a good concept but it doesn't really work out. Still, I wouldn't turn one down.

Photo of zoso1967
2.88/5  rDev -15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Pours a very dark brown with a light tan head. It is almost completely opaque. The carbonation is fairly low, leading to a pretty meager head even with a strong pour. What little head there is does hang around for quite awhile though. It leaves no lace.

The aroma is laid back with a good amount of coffee aroma, but not a much else. There is also some sweet dark malt aroma, and a bit of chocolate. Really not a huge nose on this beer though.

The flavor is sweet and smooth with subtle coffee, some dark chocolate and an impressive amount of vanilla. There is quite a lot of sweetness in this beer, but it does not really taste like malty sweetness. It ends up sort of tasting like really weak coffee with a lot of sugar, vanilla and cream added.

The mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium and very smooth with almost no carbonation. It finishes a little bit on the sticky sweet side and leaves burnt coffee flavors on the tongue.

This is a fairly drinkable porter, but nothing unfortunately it seems to fall a bit flat. I am not sure if I would seek this out again, though I might be willing to give it a second try.

Photo of SamuelJackson45
3.56/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- very dark coffee look.

S- smell of coffee and vanilla beans and mild hops.

T- bittertaste from the coffee and vanilla.

M- gritty taste might be from coffee beans hint of vanila throughout sip.

D- ok beer not blown away at all. but ok drinking beer.

Photo of weeare138
3.38/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appears a dense black with a huge tan head that slowly fades away into a bubbly cap. Scattered bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of obvious coffee, cocoa, vanilla, and fruit. Touch of tartness found.
Taste is of the aromas with a sweet coffee and cream flavor being the standout
Mouthfeel is medium bodied, chewy, sweet, mildly acidic, and fruity. It's a tad over carbonated too.
I would be curious to try this without the coffee addition. I enjoyed the Stoney Creek Vanilla as it was but Im not sure if this is the same recipe.

Photo of MbpBugeye
1.91/5  rDev -44%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

This one was given to me by spider889. I gotta say I have a pretty poor impression of this brewery but Im going to try my hardest to not allow that to mess up this review.

March '10 notched off on the label
A- This a thinner looking porter, light is cutting the blackness down to a rich umber. The head from a rough pour is pretty big and it stays at a thin cap.

S- Lots of coffee filters on the nose. Im not getting too much vanilla. Other smells of wet dog and roasted malts.

T- Wet coffee grounds take over the flavor of this beer. Some vanilla tried to cut in just before the finish. Blaaa, dont let this warm, even a few degrees. Im adding this 10 min later because the taste has moved into that of a wet dog who has just gotten into a bottle of vanilla extract and a weeks worth of leftover instant coffee.

M- Like everything else Ive had by Atwater, this beer is wildly over carbonated. It physically hurts the tongue.

Photo of TitanTake
2.2/5  rDev -35.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

I love coffee, beer, and vanilla... what could go wrong?

Poured from a bottle into a mug.

A - loved the dark, chocolaty pour; nice head with just the right amount of lacing on the sides of the mug.

S - aroma was a little "cheap"; a little charcoal; a little woodsy; void of the expected vanilla

T - overly complex at the expense of real beer flavor; missing all the best things about its parts

M - coats the tongue in a strange film

D - little indication that this beer is anything but a one-time novalty

Finally, it goes to show that the parts are greater than the sum.

Photo of droomyster
2.12/5  rDev -37.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Seriously strange stuff. Gets off to a good start by pouring very dark with a massive brown head. The main aroma reminds me of seltzer water (that's a bad sign) and a bit of coffee. There's a nasty chemical funk that I've never smelled in a beer before. Tastes nothing like a porter; flavors of a weak, day old coffee and stale chocolate, and that same chemical funk that's so prominent on the nose. The vanilla flavors are strongest on the front palate and then linger briefly on the finish. Body is waaay too carbonated. I'm wondering whether I simply got a bad or damaged bottle or if each of these traits is intentional...

Photo of Spider889
2.49/5  rDev -27%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

This is what I get for being a neurotic compulsive beer freak who needed to buy a sixer at 12:30am (only a half hour before the state cut off).

I wander into the cooler and look around hoping for something to catch my eye, but I am also really hoping to find something new. This beer looked interesting so I grabbed it. I also grabbed my phone to look up the reviews, and of course I can't get any 3G signal in the store... I take a chance, and I lost.

Pours decent enough but the color is closer to watery, thin coffee rather than a nice dark porter. Big head which retains well. No lacing.

Smells of coffee and roasted malt with a mild silky vanilla hint.

Taste is immediately of roasted malt and coffee, then sweet, then more coffee. The aftertaste is of old coffee grounds. And not even good coffee at that, I am reminded of the childhood days of when my mother would make instant Folgers each morning. I taste some sweetness but no vanilla sadly.

Wishing for a darker, thicker, and more robust brew. With some heavier malting and a better handle on the sweet vs control of the vanilla and this could be amazing. As is I am trying to think how long these will sit in my fridge before I can muster the will to drink the other 5...

Photo of BeerCon5
3.41/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours almost completely black in color with two fingers of dark tan foamy head, some lacing.

The scent was of faint roasted malts and coffee.

The taste was initially vanilla, then chocolate and burn coffed, some roasted malts. Almost no hop presence.

Medium bodied, smooth, a bit creamy, but a little thin, average carbonation.

This was an ok beer, there was decent flavor, I just thought it was a little too thin for a porter.

Photo of mothman
2.7/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into Rare Vos glass.

Pours a 1finger of dull tan head. Fades to a ring, leaving some thin splattered lace. Color is a deep brown, pretty much black.

Aroma: Roasted malts and burnt coffee. Dark chocolate and very light vanilla flavors. Not what I was really expecting in terms of the coffee and vanilla.

Taste: Wat too much vanilla here. Also has some sour notes. Burnt roasted malts and coffee with some chocolate. Sweet and burnt.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy but sour. It leaves a sour aftertaste as well. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation.

Overall, I saw this sitting in my fridge and it sounded perfect at the moment, but the taste just didn't reflect on the name of this beer and how good it sounded. Not at all impressed with this one.

Photo of beveritt
3.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Presentation: Thanks to DoctorDog for sharing the love on this one. Poured from a 12 oz brown bottle into a Shaker pint glass. Label is a little busy; a hand with a sign and a coffee cup superimposed over some hops and coffee beans, all beside a description of the beer. May 10 is notched on the bottom. Not sure if that is a production date or best by date. Because this one was given to my buddy from the distributor as an apology for an old, bad batch, I am thinking this is a production date.

Appearance: Pours with 1 1/2 fingers of medium tan head. This settles slowly, leaving a thin yet complete coating of foam. The beer itself is a dark mahogany; see through and much lighter than I would expect. No sediment remains in the bottle.

Smell: Slight roasted barley nose with a hint of a metallic twang in the finish. The barest of breathe of vanilla.

Taste: Hints of roasted barley with slight undertone of cocoa up front. By far, the most apparent flavor is a dry, roasted coffee flavor. Not overly bitter, but a very distinct coffee flavor in the back of the throat just as you swallow. Very mild vanilla in the finish.

Mouthfeel: Lower than average carbonation, which, in turn, leads to a creamy mouthfeel.

Drinakbility: The overall beer is okay, rather unimpressive. The middle slightly acrid coffee flavor is great. Now, if they could only get some more robust porter flavors and pump the vanilla up a notch, this would be great. Right now it is just okay.

Photo of beerdrifter
2.89/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Dark brown ruby red pour with quickly fading head and no lacing. Nice roasted coffee nose with hints of chocolate and vanilla. The taste is much the same with the roasted coffee dominating here also, albeit a bit watered down. The vanilla is present but also watered down. The mouthfeel is very thin which kills the drinkability for me. I had high hopes for this beer when I bought it but it fell way short.

Photo of stakem
3.1/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Presented in a short weizen glass it appears a very dark brown almost black color with little to no head. What does appear reminescent of a head is a thin lacing of offwhite film that collects along the inside perimeter of the glass. Nose is full of a dark grainy chocolate sweetness and a ripe dark fruit character. Taste is quite watery and thin but filled will coffee and vanilla that is pretty much impossible to miss. A little too mild on the level of carbonation. A dark grain bitterness resides on the tongue accented by the alcohol warmth. An ever present character of dark sweet fruit hangs out in the background and really just clashes with the vanilla and coffee. I finished the glass but would not have this again.

Photo of BeefyMee
3.54/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Deep dark brown turning to dark ruby when held to light. Ruined by stubborn head and no lacing.

S: Not much at all. A slight hint of roasted malt and vanilla but that's about it.

T: The vanilla is pretty nice and balances the roasty character well. The coffee is virtually non existent except for a ghost like aftertaste. Not sure how much that should be held against it because it's very pleasant otherwise.

M: Smooth and chewy.

D: Quite drinkable. Vanilla can be overpowering but not here. Everything is balanced nicely which makes it easy to knock back a few of these.

If they had called this Vanilla Porter it would be more effective. The java part is hardly evident and would be better off as a nice surprise instead of something for which people have expectations.

Photo of DoctorDog
1.53/5  rDev -55.1%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Presentation: 12 oz bottle into a nonic.

A- Dark mahogany, and nearly opaque. Pours with a foamy explosion of light tan head that would have overflowed the glass had more than 1/2 the contents been poured....has me worrying about infection from the word "go." Fades very slowly into a full cap.

S- Acrid coffee mixed with mildly detergent smelling odor....

T- Sour and biting, with a bit of coffee and vanilla on the finish. Ugh....

M- Downright watery....

D- Essentially undrinkable...drainpour.

Future outlook: I didn't buy this several times after having it catch my eye....I'm rewarded for finally caving in and buying with this disgusting (hopefully) infected mess. I don't want to do it, but this beer has truly earned it's "F."

Photo of BrewMaven
3.5/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Picked up two bottles of this each had a different label. The first bottle was near godawful and a 1/3 went down the drain the bottle i just opened is MUCH better...Anyway, it pours a deep brown and the heady cap of foam lasts about a minute.

Smells of mostly coffee beans and a little hint of soap..No it's not the glass:)

Taste is more strong coffee and seemingly little else. More carbonation than I expected and a fairly thin mouthfeel.

Not bad but wasn't worth the trip to Shoreline.

Photo of cbmatt
2.55/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

I opened this beer expecting too much, it smelled strongly of coffee, which I liked. The look was a very dark brown to black. The initial taste, tasted of too many flavors and spices. This tastes like someone just threw a few too many spices into the mix to see what it would taste like. Overall the taste was weird, the aftertaste was complete coffee, but I couldnt get over the initial taste. All and all this is nothing special, I was kinda disappointed.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,396 ratings.