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.

1,095 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,095
Reviews: 449
rAvg: 3.35
pDev: 20.9%
Wants: 6
Gots: 50 | 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:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,095 | Reviews: 449 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bamadog


3.08/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-28-2009 03:31:41 | More by bamadog
Photo of paco1029384756


3.15/5  rDev -6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-12-2009 03:46:56 | More by paco1029384756
Photo of drjamyma


3.88/5  rDev +15.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2009 05:50:07 | More by drjamyma
Photo of scoob8000


3.9/5  rDev +16.4%
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!

Serving type: bottle

07-04-2009 02:06:41 | More by scoob8000
Photo of AndyAvalanche


3.58/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

Serving type: on-tap

07-01-2009 03:10:20 | More by AndyAvalanche
Photo of Rootdog316


3.08/5  rDev -8.1%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2009 13:12:58 | More by Rootdog316
Photo of phlipsm


4.65/5  rDev +38.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2009 00:55:10 | More by phlipsm
Photo of association330


1.53/5  rDev -54.3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-20-2009 00:53:52 | More by association330
Photo of Bung


3.25/5  rDev -3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2009 17:24:37 | More by Bung
Photo of jbhuxley

South Carolina

3.25/5  rDev -3%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-09-2009 03:05:30 | More by jbhuxley
Photo of dogfishandi

New York

3.23/5  rDev -3.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-08-2009 22:09:33 | More by dogfishandi
Photo of NCSUdo


3.48/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-07-2009 23:35:25 | More by NCSUdo
Photo of joerodiii

New York

2.45/5  rDev -26.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-02-2009 22:06:18 | More by joerodiii
Photo of ClockworkOrange


2.53/5  rDev -24.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-19-2009 02:04:38 | More by ClockworkOrange
Photo of jdhilt

New Hampshire

4/5  rDev +19.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2009 22:28:21 | More by jdhilt
Photo of mjw06


2.88/5  rDev -14%
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.

Serving type: bottle

05-05-2009 02:33:43 | More by mjw06
Photo of ILikeGoodCider


2.78/5  rDev -17%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-27-2009 03:43:25 | More by ILikeGoodCider
Photo of CHickman

New York

3.43/5  rDev +2.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-16-2009 03:18:40 | More by CHickman
Photo of BuffaloTapHugger

New York

3.2/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

Serving type: bottle

04-15-2009 05:35:03 | More by BuffaloTapHugger
Photo of bimish


2.98/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

A - Dark, tabbaco brown color. Thin head, dissipates quickly. Average laccing.

S - Roasted malt aroma, with heavy notes of coffee and some hints of vanilla (all to be expected from the beer's name).

T - Roasted malt flavors with heavy notes of vanilla. Coffee notes are not apparent. Some sort of a tangy flavor is also apparent, but hard to place.

M - Fairly coarse, light carbonation.

D - Sort of a strange porter. What I assume to be the vanilla component ends up overpowering the taste. This is not the first porter I'd reach for if I had a choice.

Serving type: bottle

03-29-2009 00:15:09 | More by bimish
Photo of armock

New York

2.73/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - Poured a black color with a light brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt with coffee scents

T - Follows the nose but not as good tasting slight bit of vanilla flavoring

M - This beer has a medium body with medium carbonation to it

D - Not the first porter that I'd drink if I was out at the bar but for one that was delivered to my doorstep for free its drinkable even though it falls short in the taste department

Serving type: bottle

03-27-2009 14:59:37 | More by armock
Photo of scoobybrew


2.05/5  rDev -38.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

This was poured from the bottle into a pint glass.

A - deep dark amber color with a thick head that settles quickly into a fine lacing which has okay retention

S - strong roasted grain with a distinct smoked wood-like scent, faint vanilla

T - much like aroma strong smoky roasted grain, faint extract-like vanilla flavor

M - medium-light body, moderate carbonation, some astringency as well

D - This is a disappointing beer for something marketed as a vanilla java porter. It's better suited to a robust porter, but even at that, it's not very outstanding. The astringency is somewhat unpleasant. I wouldn't recommend this beer.

Serving type: bottle

03-21-2009 22:49:48 | More by scoobybrew
Photo of 2KHokie


2.6/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

12 oz. bottle. Pours a murky dark brown with a very small off white head. The head dissipates quickly leaving no lacing per se. Heavy vanilla and coffee notes in the nose give me hope. Mild carbonation with a somewhat astringent quality. It has a certain sourness that doesn't seem to pair well at all. Sweet with a very little bitterness. Dry. I don't get the coffee on the palate nearly as much as I did in the nose. Lighter in body and finishes fairly clean. As I was finishing this one, the flavors merged into a definite BBQ flavor. Very weird. It definitely didn't put it's namesake to very good use.

Serving type: bottle

03-18-2009 22:17:10 | More by 2KHokie
Photo of LordHammer

New Jersey

2.93/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Poured from a 12oz bottle into my Northern Brewer glass.

A: A very deep brown, almost totally opaque, pours with a small head that fades to a thin sheet.

S: Something between mild coffee and pumpernickel bread. A bit odd on the nose.

T: Really nothing special here. There are notes of coffee and vanilla, but the entire thing is bland for a porter. Really lacked the depth that I was expecting.

M: Lacks the feeling of substance that I expect from a porter. Carbonation is appropriately subdued.

D: Not overly strenuous to the palate or the liver. I could drink several, but on taste, one is certainly enough.

Serving type: bottle

03-15-2009 00:40:31 | More by LordHammer
Photo of RobH


3.1/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12 oz brown bottle

A: Dark color but pours and appears to be thin in body for a porter

S: Bitterness prevails from the coffee and hops.

T&M: The very thin mouth feel disappoints from the beginning, delivering a thin liquid that's primarily a bitter rush of coffee and hops. Not enough balancing malt sweetness for my tastes.

D: This one doesn't deliver in my opinion. Falls short on body, balance, and overall character. There are MUCH better coffee porters out there, including Kona Pipeling Porter

Serving type: bottle

03-14-2009 19:57:10 | More by RobH
Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
77 out of 100 based on 1,095 ratings.