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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter - Atwater Brewery

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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
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1,438 Ratings
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Ratings: 1,438
Reviews: 501
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: 1,438 | Reviews: 501 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of yesyouam
3.15/5  rDev -7.9%
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 -15.8%
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 +4.1%
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 -1.2%
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 -44.2%
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 -35.7%
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 -38%
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 -27.2%
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 -0.3%
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 -21.1%
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 -9.4%
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 -15.5%
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 -9.4%
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 +3.5%
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 -55.3%
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 +2.3%
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 -25.4%
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.

Photo of Cyberkedi
3.13/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours a nice opaque sable with a fluffy, pale tan head. Aroma is fairly strong and mainly of coffee with a powdery undertone and hints of vanilla and cocoa. Flavor is like roast coffee with touches of vanilla and unsweet chocolate, not very strong. Texture is smooth and a bit on the watery side, not much fizz. OK, but not worth hunting down.

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.08/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

12 oz bottle poured into a snifter. "Keep 45° F cool", space to notch month and date. Only 10 was notched.

A - Vanilla Java Porter reacts to the tall pour terribly. The thin and clear super-dark brown beer forms no head for half the pour then instantly starts effervescently fizzing like a can of soda. The loose, ugly tan bubbles react the same way, forming a pile and disappearing within seconds. Even a swirl gets no retention. All that's left is a thin film and ring of foam.

S - A distinct vanilla extract aroma appears right away but seems to fade with the effervescent release of carbonation. The remaining aroma is a teeter-totter between dark, heavily roasted malts and equally roasted coffee. Bittersweet chocolate also plays a roll in the aroma with a complimentary drizzle of molasses. A vigorous swirl brought out some green, grassy-like hops which were low in presence enough to add depth to the aroma rather than be unpleasant. Even with the warming, vanilla is still rather absent.

T - Heavily roasted malts which dominate the nose also dominate the flavor. Lots of thin roasted coffee also comes out but the flavor lacks the good depth and intricacies the nose offers as it's missing the rich bittersweet chocolate and vanilla. While the swirl offered up hops in the nose, the hops are just omnipresent in the taste giving the finish a light, grassy touch.

M - This beer is medium-light bodied and thin in both flavor and texture. The carbonation is too much for this style and what they're going for. The flavor doesn't need a sparkling carbonation finish! The roasted bitterness leaves a lingering dry texture to the finish. This beer needs it's carbonation lowered and it's body boosted.

D - The aroma is good but it all went down hill fast from there. The lack of body and thin profile are disappointing. It's drinkability is ok but there is no incentive to bring me back for another try of this beer.

Photo of samie85
2.12/5  rDev -38%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This is reviewed from notes; originally reviewed 4/25.

A-Pours a pitch black with a tan, two finger head into my tulip pint glass.

S-Smells of fake raspberries with some vanilla extract, no coffee in the aroma.

T-Roasted malts upfront with some of that fake raspberry from the nose and possibly some vanilla on the finish.

M-Really thin and watery and a little over-carbonated.

D-I always like to try new things, but this is what happens when I buy blindly without doing a little research first. Not a pleasant beer at all, and I wasn't expecting the fake raspberry notes.

Photo of SpittinRivers
2.55/5  rDev -25.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Poured into a Dogfish Head Signature Glass. Poured to a color of dark brown with a very dark red behind it. About a finger of head . Creamy on top that fades to fish eye bubbles. The aromatics are not very present. Fairly sweet smell with alcohol. Not much off front. Sort of a muted feeling when it hits the lips. Then the tangy, followed by a slight bitter. This parts seems to come over the pallet too fast then fades out very quickly. There is lingering bittersweet dry mouth feel. Yep, sweet java. This should definitely should not be served right out of the fridge. The head lingers very disorganized on the glass. Kind of fell it in my head. Caffeine maybe? I'm not finding the vanilla so much.

Photo of mountdew1
3.03/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured into an imperial pint glass. Color was a mostly opaque dark coffee color with a very thing off white head. Copious streams of carbonation rose from the bottom. Aroma was vanilla sweet, almost overly so, with a hint of coffee flavor. Taste was slightly sweet lactosey. Not much coffee flavor, but a vanilla ending flavor. Not very good in the mouth. Felt a bit thin and watery, and the carbonation was distracting. Not very drinkable. The over carbonation was problematic, as was the slightly acidic watery beer.

Photo of CaptinRedBeard
3.22/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A-Poured into an Atwater Block pint glass. Pours dark brown with a tan half finger head that dissipates quickly, no lacing at all.

S-A hint of coffee but mostly just vanilla coming through in the aroma.

T- Fairly sweet with the vanilla being the strongest component. The coffee flavor comes through more than in the aroma but not by much. A slight metallic aftertaste.

M-A bit to thin and watery for my taste. Good carbonation.

D-Just too sweet to have more than one, two at most in a sitting. Not my favorite but I would buy it again.

Photo of irishking1977
3.35/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Dark mocha with a moderate tan head. Head retention nearly non-existent as the head diminishes quickly, leaving little lacing.

S: Mild coffee aroma. Virtually no vanilla detected at all. Some chocolate malt is vaguely noticeable.

T: Watered down coffee and a hint of chocolate malts, but any hint of vanilla is barely perceived if there at all. Not bad, but kind of ho hum. I can see where they were trying to go with this one, but it seems to me that it's just a bit too watered down. Unoffensive, but also not a super tasty, memorable beer.

M: The theme of this one is how watered down it seems to be. Same goes for the mouthfeel. Kind of thin. Decent carbonation.

D: Pretty decent brew, but my expectations weren't exactly met. I had a feeling this one might sound better than it actually is; this is certainly the case. At least it's not a terrible, hard to drink beer. Easy to drink considering the supposed cornucopia of flavors used. Don't get your hopes up, folks, if you see this one in stores, but it can be mildly enjoyable.

Photo of techfed87
2.83/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours an adequate sized head. Color is a stark black with hints of amber.

Smells surprisingly of cigar tobacco. Other than that, most other flavors are muted.

First sip has a certain creme brulee quality to it, with some caramel like sweetness to it, but at the same time the pallet is picking up on portions of the beer that are just falling flat. Yes, there is a vanilla presence, but in terms of coffee, it just isn't there. Compared to a bell's Java Stout or Shorts Cuppa Joe or even Founder's Breakfast Stout, this just doesn't compare.

As a brewery, I haven't heard much about Atwater, and what I have heard hasn't been very promising. I can respect their choice to try for something as complex as a vanilla java porter, but, in my opinion, these types of receipts have to be built ontop of beers that are already successful. Do they have a coffee stout that excels at being a coffee stout? Do they have a porter that excels at being a porter?

Until Atwater has simple beers that excel at being simple beers, I fear their attempts at extravagance will continue to come up short.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,438 ratings.