1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. 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.
BA SCORE
77
okay

1,211 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,211
Reviews: 458
rAvg: 3.38
pDev: 20.41%
Wants: 6
Gots: 89 | 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:
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: 1,211 | Reviews: 458 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of number1bum
3.1/5  rDev -8.3%

Another one courtesy of mymrnngjckt.

Pours a murky looking chestnut brown color with two fingers of fizzy light beige head. Head recedes pretty quickly though, and leaves only a thin whispy lace and no stick.

Smell has some coffee in it, along with some roasted malt. I don't get the vanilla yet, nor any hop aromas that would be typical of a porter.

Taste is, hmm...weak. Not getting a whole lot of flavor at all. It starts off with some coffee flavor but it's thin. There's also a bit of roasted malt, and some vanilla. But nothing really stand out and it's quite bland. Again not much in the way of hops, either. Mouthfeel is less than medium bodied and is basically just too thin. Watery and bland.

Eh, this is nothing special at all. Not much flavor, not much to get excited about.

number1bum, Feb 04, 2008
Photo of SpencerT
2.95/5  rDev -12.7%

Dark brown body with creamy mocha head. Decent retention.
Faint weak coffee scent, very little vanilla aroma. Would have liked them to use beans instead of extract. Couldn't discern any aroma hops.
Hint of coffee flavor. Not much of the vanilla translates. It seems a bit watered down. Nothing really comes forward. Well balanced yet not bold enough for my taste in porters. Maybe, a little more bitterness, which I rarely say.
Not a bad beer but I have had much better java/ vanilla porters.

SpencerT, Feb 04, 2008
Photo of Slatetank
3.7/5  rDev +9.5%

Decanted cool into my Dogfish head shaped pint.

A - Deepest brown w/ black cherry highlights. A quickly falling 2.5 finger tan head w/ a fine bead.

S - Rather dry like leather in the aroma w/ a woody tan bark and nuttty muskiness. Very earthy w/ subtle spice and a tinge of vanilla bean w/ an ever so slight coffee note.

M - Dry w/ yeasty notes and a twang of coffee acidity w/ moderate carbonation and nutty roastiness.

T - A dry powdery malt w/ slightly tannic bean flavors. Gentle sweetness gives way to roasty and spiced flavor w/ hints of herbal hop and vanilla essence. Nutty is the primary flavor, subtle copper w/ a tinge of caramel and creamy smooth flavor w/ a hint of yeast. The coffee character comes out more as it warms w/ a chewy toffee flavor. Not a bit of charred flavor-very subtle blend w/ a nice balance of sweet and toasted grain flavors. A superb amount of chocolate w/ spice and coffee.

D - Very easy to drink w/ a lot going on, yet nice malt and coffee interplay and the twang in the vanilla w/ a husky bean oil and malt mix. Very quaffable - went well w/ teriyaki chicken and rice a roni.

Slatetank, Feb 02, 2008
Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.75/5  rDev +10.9%

Acquired via trade from mymrnngjckt, so a big Thank You goes out to him. Poured from a 12oz bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a dark reddish brown, with a large beige head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of roasted coffee beans, vanilla and dark malts.

T: The taste is malty and smoky with strong flavors of vanilla and coffee. There's not much of a hops presence, but it's really not needed in this type of beer. The flavors get more harmonious and creamy as the beer warms a bit. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Smooth and crisp, medium body, medium carbonation, slightly sticky finish.

D: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, decent kick, good representation of style, it's not the type of beer that I would want to pound down several of, but it's a good enjoyable beer to sit and relax with and drink just a couple.

TheManiacalOne, Jan 31, 2008
Photo of WesWes
3.1/5  rDev -8.3%

The beer pours a deep, dark brown/black color with a 1/2" fizzy tan head that quickly fades to spotty lacing. The aroma is decent. It has a robust, black malt and coffee scent along with a slight vanilla aroma. The taste is average. It has a very bitter coffee taste that goes down with ease, but finishes dry with a very light vanilla flavor. The mouthfeel is average. It is a full bodied beer with a little too much carbonation. This beer sounded great, but the reality was a bit disappointing. The vanilla was hard to decipher and the coffee taste was overbearing. Also, the mouthfeel was really lacking. It was too thin and carbonated too much.

WesWes, Jan 30, 2008
Photo of erosier
3.75/5  rDev +10.9%

Pours a dark brown with a light tan head that is pretty big, but pretty light in thickness. It has a nice roasty malt smell with some good hints of chocolate and coffee. Not too much vanilla in the aroma. The taste is good for a porter, but not as hit-you-in-the-mouth as I was hoping for. It has a nice chocolatey coffee roasted malt flavor with some hints of vanilla in the aftertaste which is nice. It has an OK mouthfeel and it is pretty drinkable. I liked it as a porter and I would get this more often if I could.

erosier, Jan 28, 2008
Photo of electrified
3.38/5  rDev 0%

Pours very dark brown, almost black, like coffee. Not much of a head. Smells like cream soda. Tastes like cream soda and coffee. Rather sweet, but some roasted bitterness. Not bad, but this is just a little weird for me. Vanilla-flavored coffee always seems a bit artificial and perfumed to me, and I get some of that impression in this beer. Well-carbonated and not too heavy. Overall not too bad, but I don't think I'll be reaching for it again soon.

electrified, Jan 25, 2008
Photo of dirtylou
3.93/5  rDev +16.3%

12oz single, bought a 6 pack at steve's university a month or so ago

appearance: pours into a bell pint glass - dark mahogany body with a creamy tan body. cola-esque

smell: aroma is pretty nice but rather artificial...vanilla beans, light mocha, sweetner, powdered chocolate

taste: this is an enjoyable porter regardless of its BA rating assessment...creamy vanilla waves, milk chocolate, mild coffee flavoring...a little thin and not much in the way of bold malts but a nice brew

mouthfeel: thin but creamy, mild carbonation

drinkability: high

dirtylou, Jan 23, 2008
Photo of allengarvin
2.7/5  rDev -20.1%

This is a dark brown beer whose head instantly disappears, leaving not even a trace of film across the top. Chocolate-vanilla aroma, with a touch of toastiness. Though vanilla is not that strong in the taste, it doesn't mix very well with the cocoa malt. Hop bitterness is low, but the vanilla doesn't blend well with the roasted malt bitterness. It's downright unpleasant.

Bleagh, couldn't finish this one.

allengarvin, Jan 10, 2008
Photo of tmitch75
3.78/5  rDev +11.8%

Another monthly club selection...

Very dark, almost black color with one finger of creamy tan head. Head dissipates quickly to a thin layer and leaves no lacing at all.

Vanilla smell is prevalent with coffee in the back. Taste is virtually the same with a hint of dark chocolate.

Body is too light, especially for the style. More body would make this outstanding. A great change of pace beer but not an every day one. A damn fine dessert beer though.

tmitch75, Jan 03, 2008
Photo of RblWthACoz
2.17/5  rDev -35.8%

Pours pitch black with a tan head that is very airy and bubble filled. Nose is strongest with roasted coffee tones. Mild vanilla there yes. Wow. What a weird flavor. On the first swig, I got such an oddly sweet hit that I didn’t think I would be able to have another sip, let alone finish the whole damn thing. I hoped it would turn into something else as time went on, but it didn’t. Way too tangy. Just sings a bit too high. Feel is okay on the liquid and it has a pretty high carbonation. But overall this is one unbalanced beer. Such a weird tangy thing going on that I just can’t hang.

RblWthACoz, Jan 01, 2008
Photo of Minkybut
3.43/5  rDev +1.5%

I poured this beer into my tumbler at 50 degrees. The beer was almost black. The beer had very little head and no lacing at all. The head of this beer lasted all of two minutes. The smell was a little sour and the taste was just strange. I thought it was a little coffee tasting but not like the label would leed one to think. I will not try again

okay, so 6 years later I'm trying this again and liked it.

Minkybut, Dec 31, 2007
Photo of nohead02
4/5  rDev +18.3%

This is a nice novelty beer. Very dark with just a small head that disipates pretty quickly. Medium body. Nice aroma presages the full flavors, with only minimal hoppiness. As advertised, it comes through with a complex array of coffee and chocolate with a vanilla finish. My personal bias is toward hoppy beers, but this was a pleasant switch from the routine on a cold winter night.

nohead02, Dec 21, 2007
Photo of CortexBomb
2.23/5  rDev -34%

Looks like porter, dark brown heading toward black with a decent sized head on top of it. The smell is big on the vanilla, to the detriment of almost everything else.

The flavour on it is also aggressively heavy on the vanilla, very syrupy sweet, sugary vanilla at that, to the point where most of the rest of the beer's flavour seems to get lost in the process. There is a vague coffee backbone to this, but the vanilla makes it hard to taste.

The mouthfeel is about average for the style. The drinkability, not too good...perhaps a small glass after dinner, but more than that? Definitely not something you could drink more than one of.

The bottom line: flavoured beers like this tread a fine line, and Atwater goes too far into the vanilla territory for me, as that flavour dominates the rest of the beer and destroys any other porter characteristics. Not my favourite version of the style.

CortexBomb, Dec 15, 2007
Photo of daliandragon
2.98/5  rDev -11.8%

Pours a terrific dark, thick brown with an immense three fingers of tight bubbled, cream colored head. This is how a good winter porter is supposed to look. The nose is heavily malted and sweet wwith a burnt/sour tone in the backround , but not far in the backround. Some sweet vanilla helps round it out.

The vanilla is even more overstated in the taste than the nose. Some late coffee notes, more porter typical. The tate is too sweet and gimicky but its the texture that really lets you down here. Not watery, but thin and spineless. Great name, great look, subpar porter.

daliandragon, Nov 24, 2007
Photo of DackAchan
4.2/5  rDev +24.3%

A- Very good appearance, pours dark with a chocolate black two finger head that laces well.

S- Rich aromas, strong vanillia scent with a strong backing of roasted coffee.

T- Roasted coffee takes over with some hints of vanillia, a very nice combination.

M- Good mouthfeel, good bite at the end.

D- It was reasonably drinkable. The mouthfeel wasn't as good as I expected so it brought the beer down a little. Still, good flavor, good smell and good appearance makes is a beer I'd try again.

DackAchan, Nov 23, 2007
Photo of longdivision
3.85/5  rDev +13.9%

Very interesting. This is definitely a desert beer. I don't think I could do more than one of these. It has a big vanilla smell. You smell more vanilla than you taste. The coffee flavor tastes like the "coffee" flavor, if that makes sense, maybe it's because of the vanilla. It almost doesn't even seem like a beer at times though. Mouthfeel isn't a heavy as I would expect either. I was expecting an oatmeal stout kind of mouthfeel. Definitely try it, but try it before you buy it.

longdivision, Nov 13, 2007
Photo of kirok1999
3.48/5  rDev +3%

Sounded like a nice combination. It poured a very dark garnet/black, darker than I had expected for a porter. Smell is very hollow, some vanilla as expected and very little coffee.
Taste is thin as well. More in the taste than the smell; lots of vanilla and very little coffee. It would be easy to let the coffee dominate the vanilla so I guess they toned it down a bit. Some grassy notes in the hops, a little earth and leather. Feels very thin and is pretty well carbonated, kinda bloating. Many better porters out there that don't use coffee to get more of a coffee taste and more vanilla taste without using vanilla extract.

kirok1999, Nov 11, 2007
Photo of LeftyBWS
3.75/5  rDev +10.9%

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a Sam Adams pint glass.
A: A rich and dark chocolatey-brown color, quite dense. Pours with a thick bubbly cloud of light-brownish head that settles down fairly quickly and leaves a thin ring atop the beer the whole way down. Thin and spotty lacing, but still this beer is just asking to be drank.
S: Wow, this smell is terrible. It's like musty old gym socks, with a whiff of dirt. More precisely, it's kinda grassy and smoky, but there's no hint of vanilla or java. Mostly, though, there's an overwhelming mustiness that makes me jerk my nose away.
T: What a difference! This taste is much better than the smell. There's a creamy yet smoky chocolate flavor up front, very smooth. The midtaste reveals a subtle coffee flavor that gives way to the vanilla flavor that lingers thru the finish. Fairly sweet throughout, and in fact there's perhaps a tiny hop bite right up front, but it doesn't last long. All in all, a finely-balanced array of malty and rich flavors.
M: Creamy and smooth at first, and this remains true throughout the taste. Slightly filling, but not too much so. It does leave a chewy thickness in the mouth.
D: If I can ignore the smell, this beer is very drinkable for a strongish porter. Unfortunately, I can't, and it makes this one a bit tougher to handle.

LeftyBWS, Oct 17, 2007
Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.75/5  rDev -18.6%

Charred chestnut that falls just short of opacity (it's an overcast morning out there). The upper half of the pint glass is filled with a frothy, caramel nougat colored head that looks pretty good, both after the pour and as it deflates.

Most coffee-added beer smells like freshly brewed java. This one smells like that as well, but there's also an undercurrent of burnt coffee grounds. Thankfully, it isn't prominent enough to ruin things. I don't appreciate the vanilla extract at all.

Vanilla Java Porter sounds good on paper. In liquid form, however, it doesn't measure up. Because I've already had Atwater's Shaman's Porter, I can't say that I'm surprised. My hope was that the previous beer was an outlier. Instead, it looks like we have the beginnings of a trend.

First of all, VJP is significantly undermalted. As a result, there's no roasted barley flavor, no chocolatiness, nothing other than weak iced coffee to occupy the taste buds. Along for the ride is a mild, saccharine-like sweetness that mingles with a trace of dark fruity tartness. While the vanilla extract is now identifiable, it certainly isn't bold enough to earn inclusion in the name.

The mouthfeel can only be described as thin fading to watery. I'm not thrilled with the amount of carbonation either (too low). Even an ideal amount probably wouldn't have earned an average score.

Michigan is overrun with good-great breweries. After having had two of their offerings, I feel safe in saying that Atwater Block isn't among them. Not even close, really. Vanilla Java Porter needs a complete overhaul. Adding some malt to the hops, yeast and water would be a good place to start.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 08, 2007
Photo of matty
3/5  rDev -11.2%

Brown colored beer with an aroma of coffee beans.Taste is mostly of coffee and I'm having trouble detecting any vanilla.Aftertaste actually tastes like I just drank a 22oz.cup of coffee.This isn't a great beer but it doesn't suck either.I would drink again only if offered to me though.

matty, Oct 04, 2007
Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.53/5  rDev -25.1%

Appearance: Pours a black body with a fizzy, short-lived head.

Smell: The aroma smells of gas station coffee left to scorch upon the burner for far too long. Oh, and with just a wisp of vanilla.

Taste: More of the roasty low-grade coffee with a light sweetness. There's really never more than just a hint of vanilla extract. Finishes watery with a bit of sourness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Watery. Harshly spritzy.

Drinkability: Not overly pleasant, either in taste or aroma. Also, painfully overcarbonated.

ChainGangGuy, Sep 14, 2007
Photo of Marson
2.05/5  rDev -39.3%

Looks just like a porter should - it's dark, dark brown.

With a porter I expect a burnt smell/taste and a bit of sourness, but this one had a bit too much of both. Crossed the line from pleasantly smoky to downright charred.

Way overcarbonated (actually fizzes loudly like Coca-Cola when poured into a glass), so it's too sharp on the tongue. In my opinion a porter should be a bit softer & thicker.

Overall - an unusual flavor, so it was probably worth trying once, but it's not one I'll buy again.

Marson, Sep 11, 2007
Photo of Umbra
1.35/5  rDev -60.1%

Appearance: Dark brown, almost opaque, brew with dark tan wispy head. Little carbonation in the body.
Aroma: Sourness?
Flavor/Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Infected, came off as a bretty sour mess. I don't usually do this, but after reading a few other reviews, it appears that this is not only common with Atwater brews, but with this one in particular. Hopefully, buyer beware, some of their other brews don't seem half bad.

Umbra, Aug 22, 2007
Photo of IPAcraig
1.83/5  rDev -45.9%

A - An excellent looking beer. It pours a nice deep brownish black with a massive light creamy-brown head. no lacing

S - Offputting to say the least. It has a nice bitter dark chocalate aroma, with a hint of sweetness. However that is hugely overpowered by the smell of vinegar and burnt coffee (not to be confused with a nice roasty coffee flavor).

T - It taste exactly the same as above ... except worse. It taste like watery burnt coffee at less than room temp. That is followed by the same vinegar flavor that seems to have a hint of worcestshire in it as well.

M - Okay - better than average. A slight creaminess. Its hard to concentrate on hte moutfeel, with a taste this off putting.

D - 1 ... poured down the drain.

This is a "quality control view". I have had this beer once before and it was nice; very sweet and creamy with hints of chocolate and coffee. However, I bought a 6 pack of this a few days ago and this is the second beer from the group. I was hoping the first beer was a fluke ... they were both terrible. This may or may not have been the breweries fault, but I write this review so that people can be aware (perhaps just people who buy their beer in Tallahassee or Publix) that this beer may not be up to par.

IPAcraig, Aug 15, 2007
Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
77 out of 100 based on 1,211 ratings.