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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 Fitzgerald
3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
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

Photo of mikesgroove
2.65/5  rDev -22.1%
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.

Photo of WorldWideStout
3.53/5  rDev +3.8%
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.

Photo of BedetheVenerable
3.13/5  rDev -7.9%
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.

Photo of BetterDarker
1.95/5  rDev -42.6%
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.

Photo of imaguitargod
2.35/5  rDev -30.9%
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

Photo of CTDrinks
3.3/5  rDev -2.9%
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.

Photo of Dodo2step
3.5/5  rDev +2.9%
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.

Photo of buschbeer
2.7/5  rDev -20.6%
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.


Photo of jkoravos
1.15/5  rDev -66.2%
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.

Photo of alkemy
2.4/5  rDev -29.4%
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.

Photo of backfat
2.1/5  rDev -38.2%
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

Photo of jsdunlop
2.75/5  rDev -19.1%
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.

Photo of StarlightSeraph
3/5  rDev -11.8%
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.

Photo of BWMKappaSig
2.5/5  rDev -26.5%
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.

Photo of MrStark
2.85/5  rDev -16.2%
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.

Photo of donniecuffs
3.83/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

Photo of kegger22
2.68/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Vanilla Java is medium brown with a one finger, cream colored head. The aroma has only a sour note to distinguish itself. Concerning the taste, there is nothing of the vanilla, coffee or chocolate indicated on the label. There is however an unpleasant sour taste. The feel is thin and watery with a prickly amount of carbonation. Drinkability is limited by it's sub par flavor.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter is not a very good beer. The only flavor in the otherwise weak and watery beverage is mild vinegar. This porter is more mindful of an English rather than American porter.

Photo of MetalHopHead6
3.05/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter poured black with a modest bubbly one-finger head that quickly dissipated. It left a little lace on the glass.

The bottle promises several flavors; however, this was a bland run-of-the-mill porter. It was sweet rather than roasty and the feel was flat, with nothing left behind.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter looked good, and is enjoyable enough, but has no substance.

Photo of Natural510
2.33/5  rDev -31.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Pours black with hints of mahogany when held to light. Rich, thick tan head makes for an inviting brew.
Scent, unfortunately, does not live up to the look. I can smell hints of the coffee and malt, but also a strange plastic odor which reminds me of the flea powder we use on our dogs. That must be the vanilla (hope I'm wrong).
Yep, I can taste the plastic masked as vanilla as well. It does mellow out toward the end and carry a tart, raspberry-like finish. The coffee helps mask some of the inconsistencies, but not nearly enough. Becomes slightly better as it warms.
I have to say, in the asthetic department (look, body etc), this one works. The actual result is a disaster. Remove what's used for vanilla here, keep it a straight coffee-porter, and this recipe has some potential. Until then....

Photo of david18
3.9/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was also surprised by the negative reviews on this beer. In this case I was particularly surprised because I expected to hate it. After all, vanilla porter? The presence of vanilla is perfectly incorporated into this beer. Not in the flavor, just very quickly in the aroma.

Great porter flavor, good carbonation in spite of the bartender's attempt to push it out, as said, good balance and great drinkability.

This beer has a very low abv, which will make it a great afternoon or sessionable winter beer.

Definitely try it.

Photo of nickfl
3.63/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one finger of ligh brown head on top of an opaque brown-black body. The foam settles slowly and leaves nice lace

S - A fruity aroma of cherries and plums with some light mocha coffee notes.

T - Light coffee with fruity cherry notes and some vanilla sweetness up front. The cherry mixes with some chocolate and caramel notes in the middle before fading to a finish of moderately sweet fruit, sweet chocolate and light clean coffee notes balanced by light malt bitterness. Lingering chocolate and coffee notes darken in the aftertaste and become something more like what I originally expected from this beer.

M - Medium body, moderately high carbonation, and a slightly dry finish.

D - This is quite a bit different from what I expected. It has a distinct cherry note with only moderate coffee and minimal vanilla, and I almost wonder if the bottle I bought isn't a mislabled cherry stout. It is, nevertheless, a very pleasant and drinkable beer with a nice balance between the fruit/malt and coffee bitterness.

Photo of Onenote81
2.4/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This brewery has just recently become available in this area. Thought I'd give it a shot.

Poured into my pint glass. Pours a muddy brown, with tan edges. Small tan foamy cap. Little retention. Leaves some lace. Smells like citrus zest and a little sour funk. Some soy and molasses in their as well. Vanilla and java are absent in the nose.

On to the taste. Starts out a bit roasty, but finishes sort of sour and off, like the scent. I can't place any coffee in this at all, nor the vanilla sweetness. Some light bittering on the finish, but it's pretty weak. Body is moderately carbonated and well-rounded. That's the best I can do on this beer.

Overall I was pretty disappointed with this offering. I hope this isn't an example of what all their offerings are, but I am a little tentative to try the rest of the lineup now...

Photo of microbrew52
4.55/5  rDev +33.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm very surprised at the average score for this beer. I had this in Pittsburgh on tap and I was blown away by the flavor. Most porters/beers that boast coffee or vanilla beans tend to let me down, but this one came through perfectly. You get the Vanilla in the mouthfeel but the coffee comes later in the finish. Perfect. Easy to drink and is now one of my favorites in this genre.

Photo of chicagobeerriot
1.15/5  rDev -66.2%
look: 2 | smell: 1 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

In general, I think beer lovers tend to be the optimistic sort, always believing that an unknown brew could be a satisfying discovery. Because of that, it sometimes takes a while for it to sink in that the new occupant of your snifter is simply not up to snuff. Drainpours should be rare and hard earned. For me, almost any new beer is worth a full glass...almost.

Vanilla Java Porter is one of the rare beers that is a disaster right out of the starting blocks. Nothing is as it should be. It pours almost two shades lighter than the style demands: dark brown with readily apparent ruby highlights. The beer assaults your nose with an unnatural vanilla smell that blends with some caramel notes that produces the overall effect of children's cough medicine.

I've had many successful vanilla beers that capture the earthy sweetness of vanilla beans. This beer fails miserably in that regard. A one-note sickly sweet vanilla extract takes the lead and does not let go for the rest of your session. That one industrial strength flavor ruins not only this beer, but whatever innocent beer you select to follow it. For that matter, where is the java in this java porter? According to the label, Atwater added "the finest coffee" to this brew. Well, the beans must have immediately jumped out of the tanks in protest, because roasted coffee flavors are nowhere to be found.

I head to the sink to start the beer funeral, but I stay my hand a couple of times because, like a summer action flick, this beer is almost fascinatingly bad. I take some extra sips just to remind myself that I'm not making this up. Please, for the love of God, do not make that same mistake. Begin the drain pour as soon as humanly possible...

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