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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.

1,351 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,351
Reviews: 477
rAvg: 3.4
pDev: 20.29%
Wants: 16
Gots: 141 | 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: 1,351 | Reviews: 477 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of DeathbySexyBT
3.03/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Deep brown/black with an ochre halo of light. Minimal head with not much lacing to speak of.

S: Baker's chocolate and hershey's unsweetened dry cocao mix on the nose. A little bittering in there, but you smell a the chocolate malts with a little bit of burnt coffee grounds.

T: Follows the nose by the letter. Add a splash of vanilla syrup and a slight chemical flavor.

M: Light body and inconsistent carbonation between bottles.

D: This beer was very mediocre. I had high hopes for this and was sorely disappointed. One expects a complex brew based on the flavors in the title. That is hardly what is delivered.

Photo of JerseyDevil980
3.53/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Smooth vanilla porter, not as much vanilla as one usually gets in this style. It poured a nice carmel color out of the bottle and finished looking like a nice solid porter. It has a smooth finish with a slight vanilla aftertaste which is pleasant. The aroma score is low but that could be cause it tended to lack an aroma over all.

Photo of wangbruins
3.05/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- Dark, cola appearance with a smooth, syrup-like pour and almost no head

S- Slight vanilla smell, but I had to strain to catch it, with coffee and I also thought I detected a nutty scent

T- I could taste the vanilla, but it's my favorite flavor of anything so that was easy for me, and I thought the coffee was strong like an expresso, but no nut flavors that I thought might be present

M- Very smooth which was surprising to me because I expected it to be way heavier. This was actually the most enjoyable part of the beer for me because of that

D- This is almost like a dessert beer that went down easy but it would have to be a one to two limit. I had this on tap last night but it was my last beer of the night so I didn't really get to pay much attention to what I was drinking so I brought a bottle of it home to have today. Wasn't bad on tap (as far as I remember) but not much different.

I had this at the Brickyard in Lewiston, New York but it's not listed on the Beer Spy list. If you are ever in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls-Lewiston area, give this place a try. My best friend is the gm and the person who got me into good beer, as well as telling me about BA. He is building their beer selection and doing a pretty good job of it.

Photo of Buschyfor3
1.95/5  rDev -42.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

12oz bottle served in a small pilsner glass at Rich O's Pub, New Albany

A: A moderately dark brown body with some reddish/ruby colored highlights that peak out near the edges of the glass - the body is not overly dark but still has some sense of richness in color. Off-white, slightly creamy head with decent retention and lacing. Sadly, the appearance is probably the best aspect of the beer as everything was downhill from here for me.

S: I really didn't get alot of the distinguishing vanilla or java characteristics on the nose, unfortunately. I was able to pick out a dash of smoked malts and maybe just a faint kiss of black coffee at the start, but there was an awkward, dark sourness on the nose - not sure if it was oxidation or what, but it was in there and it prevented the vanilla and roast coffee from playing their part in the aroma.

T: The taste is a letdown, like the nose. Not getting much vanilla anywhere in the flavor profile, nor am I getting a whole lot of coffee. Unfortunately, there is a quite noticeable oxidized flavor in there which throws out a crazy wet paper flavor. Only near the finish do I get any sense of the coffee present in this porter, and what is there is faint, along with a split second of cocoa-like chocolate. Really, I think this beer has all the potential to be great - coffee, vanilla and chocolate sounds awesome - but it translates into a mess of a porter.

M: Thin. All I can say.

D: Definitely had better porters that accentuate coffee or vanilla flavors in their profiles. This became a chore to drink after the first couple sips - warming up did not improve anything. Disappointing.

Can't really recommend this over any other coffee-themed beers - so many better American-style porters out there, and particularly of the vanilla persuasion (I think Breckenridge Vanilla Porter is miles ahead of this), not to mention a plethora of better coffee-forward beers. Convinced that I had a bad bottle with the oxidation flavors that were present, but I'm not sure when/if I'll return to this beer to give it a second chance.

Photo of scottyshades
2.93/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

A: Pours a full, deep, rich roasted brown color. The head is off-white, thick, tightly knit, and billowy. Lacing is good.

S: A strong whiff of burnt malts followed by a rush of roastedness comprises the beginning of the nose. Metallic notes and a small vanilla note are present. Not too impressed.

T: Pretty crappy flavor profile for a porter...Twangy, sour, very metallic, some burnt malt/roasted malt notes...Very rough and unrefined. I taste the coffee, but no vanilla. Really no balance, just a mash of sourness, coffee, and metal.

MF/D: Light mouth, good carbonation, sour/coffee finish.


Photo of youngblood
2.68/5  rDev -21.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a regular imperial pint glass. About a finger of head, lots of carbonation bubbles, looks rather watery.

Smells decent, some roasted toffee and obviously espresso. None of them are very deep though.

The taste is really nothing more than a watered down version of the smell. Not impresssed.

The mouthfeel is ok, if a little slick.

Has good drinkability as nothing is offending.

Photo of bamadog
3.08/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one has been in my fridge for quite some time now as it was part of a payment for dogsitting for beerman207, but hey, better late than never. Poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is very dark brown/near black and comes with a short one finger deep tan head with moderate retention; leaves a pretty thick and foamy lacing initially, but it gets a little thinner as it sits; body is largely opaque - a bit one dimensional as there aren't any highlights when held to the light.

Smell: Smell is interesting, it's got some deep roastiness in it, but it's also coming across as a bit smokey as well... Odd... Where's the vanilla? As it warms, it starts to make a bit of an appearance but not what I was expecting.

Taste: Not so good... It's got the roastiness coming through alright, but it's interesting that something called "Vanilla Java Porter" didn't have anything remotely vanilla in the nose until it warmed and then just this pretty big burst of a really artificial vanilla flavoring in the mouth... It kind of muddles everything up and it comes across as just too damn sweet -- it seems that there's some attempt at balance with the hop presence but it doesn't work for me. Sorry, Atwater...

Mouthfeel: Body is a bit watery, but the carbonation is nice and fizzles a bit on the palate - leaves a fair stickiness on the roof of the mouth in the back. A bit average.

Drinkability: Pretty low - the flavors aren't balanced... I feel like they just tried to do too much with something that may be much better off if left a bit simpler.

Photo of paco1029384756
3.15/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dirty brown color with one finger of white head.

Scent of weak malts, grain, some grass and a hint pf chocolate. Not impressive, a bit weak.

Taste of weak malts, grain, vanilla, and a hint of chocolate. Unimpressive, but not offensive; still rather weak.

Mouthfeel is light bodied and smooth with good carbonation.

Photo of drjamyma
3.88/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A six pack of any porter takes its sweet time in my fridge to deplete, so this has had some time to grow on me. Over all impression from a guy that doesn't love porters...this is in my top 3. I don't really have a definitive top 2 but this one probably wouldn't be in it. Regardless, it's actually quite nice. I feel like I've had more stouts like this with the range of flavors and creamy mouth feel that this one has. I didn't get any nasty flavors as some others had, though as I sip it now, I can taste a coppery taste, not awful though. This is a nice night time beer. Maybe a top 2 in my list of sleepy time beers.

Photo of scoob8000
3.9/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I was very surprised by this one at first. I actually got it to try in hopes my fiance' would like it. (It's now her all time favorite I might add)

Soon as you open a bottle you catch a good whiff of vanilla followed by coffee.

The smell is very good, at least for a coffee drinker as myself.

Taste is very sweet, chocolately, coffee, desert. For some reason brownies come to mind.

Mouth feel is very smooth and creamy and goes down smooth.

This is definietly a sipping beer that would go great with just about any desert.

If you like chilled coffee, give this beer a try!

Photo of AndyAvalanche
3.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

So after quite a bit of debate, I've decided that I like this beer, but it's not one I will be drinking regularly. It pours kind of a hazy brown color with a small almost root beer creamy looking head with some lacing. It has a VERY strong aroma of vanilla and if you try hard you can smell some roasted malts, but the vanilla is so overwhelming it's a bit tough. It tastes very, very good, but it's so sweet that it would be very tough to drink more than one. Like most porters it does have the smokey flavor at the as an aftertaste, which is relieves the sweetness a little. Because it's so sweet, it really effects the mouth feel and drink ability. It's more of a "dessert" type beer. Drink it if you wanted something sweet after a meal. I'd actually recommend anyone to try this beer, but I don't know anyone who would be able to drink it on a regular basis.

Photo of Rootdog316
3.08/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Cola-brown, with a light tan head.

Smell: Vanilla, a touch of chocolate and coffee. Very pleasant, overlaying roasted malts.

Taste: Sweet vanilla over a dry porter profile that's reminiscent of cola, but not quite. Some coffee but not as prominent as the vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Thin of medium; clean and pleasantly drinkable with a dry(ish) finish.

Overall: Interesting. Moderately enjoyable. I expected more from this beer. I didn't think the mouthfeel would be so medium, so that is where it will lack in score for me.

Photo of phlipsm
4.65/5  rDev +36.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer came to me as a beer of the month offer. I received several beers from the Atwater brewing Co. I prefer pale ales generally but was happy to receive this one. This is a desert beer. After dinner instead of a cup of coffee try one of these. I'm not an advocate of "flavored beers" but this one is one I'd like to try again. Very smooth finish.

Photo of association330
1.53/5  rDev -55%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

A - Pours dark brown (near black) with a bit of light still coming through. One finger of tan head quickly dissolves into nothing more than a ring of bubbles.

S - Rotten malt that has been burnt to a crisp. If you could put store brand used coffee grounds into a trash bag, put it out under the hot sun for a few days, and then open it up, it would probably smell a lot like this beer. There's also this weird metallic smell floating around. Just plain bad.

T - Sour, rotten coffee grounds that actually trigger my gag reflex slightly.

M - Thin and foamy.

D - This is just the second beer I have ever drain poured. Thankfully I only purchased a single bottle.

Photo of Bung
3.25/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. A semi-translucent dark brown pour. Quite a bit of whitish head. Aroma is pretty sweet, vanilla with limited malt and chocolate. Quite a bit of carbonation, but not that off putting to me. Taste has some syrupy sweetness, caramel and vanilla. On the thin side body wise though. There is some chalkyness where the roast and normal porter characteristics should be. Finish doesn't seem to do much, some more vanilla.
If you judge this on it's merrits it is a descent drinker, but judging it on porter characteristics it is pretty weak. Missing the earthy, grass/peaty, roast coffee/malt tones.

Photo of jbhuxley
3.25/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearence: Dark, caramel color.

Smell: It lives up to its name... Overpowering vanilla coffee smell.

Taste: Again lives up to its name. Intense, sweet artificial vanilla flavor immediately hits. Finishes with a slightly bitter coffee flavor. Slight metallic flavor throughout. Very candyish.

Mouthfeel: Thin and watered down. Crisp carbonation.

Drinkability: The metallic flavor never really goes away. Interesting to try but I can't say I'd ever go for a second.

Photo of dogfishandi
3.23/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle at about cellar temp poured into a pint glass. pours almost opaque dark brown color with a tan colored head. moderate head retention, hardly any lacing.

in the aroma i get mostly a wierd kind of metallic vanilla, almost tinfoil like smell. maybe from the vanilla extract. a little roasted malts, coffee, and some chocolate mixed around in there as well, but not very prominent.

the metallic vanilla flavor comes through in the taste right off the bat. again a little roast and some chocolate. finishes with some mild coffee flavors that have a slight bittering effect after the finish.

medium to light body, average carbonation. the tinfoil mouthfeel kinda ruined this for me. not too bad of a beer, but definately not what the label suggests, and at the same time, a little too much of what the label suggests. ill finish the other 2 i have and leave it at that.

Photo of NCSUdo
3.48/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle

A: Pours a deep brown with small off white head. No lace, little retention.

S: Sweet vanilla, bit of coffee. Would like more roasted malt in the aroma, but what is there is pleasing. A hazelnut character to the aroma.

T: Roast malt is more apparent in the taste. Still a sweet vanilla character, and the coffee is much more noticeable. Again, a hazelnut character to the beer. Pretty decent taste.

M/D: Medium bodied, a bit too light for a porter, low carbonation. Pretty drinkable beer. Overall, it could use a little more porter character, but it's a decent beer as is. I'm quite surprised at this after looking over some of the other reviews. Overall, yes, the beer is "over flavored" but I still find myself liking the flavor more than being put off.

Photo of joerodiii
2.45/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I was excited to try this beer...what a disappointment. The label says "Robust Porter". This was not at all robust and was barely a porter.

The aroma is mostly of mild roasted grains with a whiff of grassy hops. The taste is of a watered down stout. Not bad, but not really there. The coffee is really faint, and the vanilla is not even noticeable. The beer is thin and more carbonated than it should be.

If I am ever looking for a lawnmower porter, this is it.

Photo of ClockworkOrange
2.53/5  rDev -25.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into my nonic pint glass. Appears a dark brown color with about a finger of fizzy, quickly fading tan foam. Smell and tastes of artificial vanilla flavorings, mild chocolate, somewhat sour as well. I picked up zero coffee notes. Rather thin bodied with an aftertaste that just drops off flat. Steer clear.

Photo of jdhilt
4/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a two finger light tan head that fades quickly leaving a good lace. Brown/black opaque color. Light-medium carbonation and medium bodied. Coffee nose. Flavor is sweet coffee with a smooth vanilla finish. $2.05 for a 12oz bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, MA.

Photo of mjw06
2.88/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

rather unimpressive spacey small head on top a dark brown to black body. decent lacing.

very sweet dark chocolate with a ever-present strong plasticky vanilla, not much roast or even coffee bean in the smell.

roasted "java" bean taste with the vanilla. not chocolate in the taste. not very residual either. taste almost dissapears as it moves to the back and finishes. actually, not much taste at all.

doesnt pack the body you should expect from a porter. medium to light bodied feel. you know how you taste something and it is what it is, but yet something just doesnt seem right?? thats the best way to describe the carbonation in this brew. it seems fake/bootleg/knockoff, whichever word you choose.

the label calls this a "robust porter". sike! far from it. i was firmly dissapointed in this. the vanilla is over-kill in presence while at the same time really not packing that much taste to it. this is a waste of time and money.

Photo of ILikeGoodCider
2.78/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Enjoyed on 04.26.09. Part of a BOTM sampler. Poured into a 14oz pint glass.

A: Almost black w/ a thin foamy tan head that leaves quickly.

S: Vanilla bean, dark roast malts.

T: A decent porter but too much coffee that and vanilla (maybe an attempt to overpower the java?). The vanilla extract is an interesting choice.

M: Light-bodied for a dark porter. Lingers on the tongue a bit. This is the best part of the brew.

D: The vanilla extract ruined a good coffee porter. Shame.

Photo of CHickman
3.43/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.25

Came from the Beer of the Month Club; poured brownish black in color with a 1 finger tan creamy head that was full of little bubbles and faded slowly.

It had a very strong vanilla and coffee odor that was sweet overall, with toffee, caramel, wheat bread and half-and-half milky notes mixed in. Pretty nice aroma overall.

A malty brew with very low carbonation that tastes like roasted, sweet vanilla coffee beans dripped into a beer. The vanilla seems to have the strongest smell and taste while the coffee taste is light and fades, then the smoky taste fades finishing tart / dry / bitter. Hints of booze, milk chocolate sweetness and malt also show up after each swallow. This was a thin feeling beer with a medium body and a slick feel on the tongue.

Not the kind of beer that I would drink all night, but it was decent and a nice late night treat. I generally hate the term "robust", but as a huge coffee drinker by day I must say that this beer was robust in the coffee sense of being a beer and quite enjoyable.

Photo of BuffaloTapHugger
3.2/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bottle into a small tumbler. Pitch black in color with moderate caramel head and no lacing. Smells of chocolate syrup and vanilla extract with some coffee and roasted malts. Taste is super sweet, lots of vanilla and hershey's then the sweet malts in the back. Light syrupy in texture, its dry with very low carbonation. Not my cup of tea or java for that matter. Recommended to those who like the sweetness.

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
78 out of 100 based on 1,351 ratings.