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Atwater VJ Black - Atwater Brewery

Not Rated.
Atwater VJ BlackAtwater VJ Black

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

166 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 166
Reviews: 64
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 13.33%
Wants: 6
Gots: 15 | FT: 2
Brewed by:
Atwater Brewery visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: DrDemento456 on 04-09-2011)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 166 | Reviews: 64 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by gnemesis:
Photo of gnemesis
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle poured into chalice like glass on 04/10/2011.
Pours black topped with an off-white head with tan highlights. Good retention, and decent lace. Smells of chocolate and vanilla- i get a hint of tobacco and coffee. Taste is the same- reminds me of seafoam. Its good but not roasty at all- not how I like my imperial stouts. Medium body and low/medium carbonation. Good for Atwater but lacking the robust flavors that make for a good imperial stout.

gnemesis, Apr 11, 2011
More User Reviews:
Photo of mvanaskie13
3.38/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured into sam adams custom glass: color is black, head is tan, 1/2 inch thick, lacing on the glass.

Smell is vanilla, over done and not pleasant for a beer of this type.

Taste is vanilla forward, chocolate malt and chocolate syrup. Hides the abv well, but it does not taste that great, malt backbone is not definitive, maybe some roast.

Mouthfeel is very dry on the finish, surprising its not sweeter for its size, but again i dont like this beer for its style.

Overall an odd beer for this style, too much vanilla to try and cover its strength, chocolate flavor is intense as well. I like it when the stronger stouts let the flavors fly and give you a big roast or hop experience, this seems out of place.

mvanaskie13, Feb 22, 2014
Photo of Sokko
4/5  rDev +2.6%

Sokko, Nov 27, 2012
Photo of warnerry
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottled March 2011

A - Pours pith black with two fingers of light brown head. Head had good retention, and leaves some decent lacing.

S - Huge vanilla aroma, which seems to mask the other aromas initially. Eventually, aromas of chocolate, cola, molasses and some roasted malt come through.

T - Taste follows the smell pretty closely, with a lot of sweetness and vanilla, followed by some chocolate, faint roasted malts that become more prominent on this finish.

M - Mouthfeel is a bit thin for the style, and somewhat watery, though there is some creaminess to it. Sweet throughout, but it dries out a bit on the finish, which has a subtle bitterness.

O - Not a standout, and the sweetness and strong vanilla will not be for everyone, but this was pretty enjoyable overall. With all the available options for an RIS, I can't see buying this again. Did not get any booziness out of this, which was a pleasant surprise.

warnerry, Jan 30, 2012
Photo of TimoP
4/5  rDev +2.6%

TimoP, Aug 13, 2012
Photo of reitzbrewing
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

reitzbrewing, Dec 01, 2012
Photo of jondeelee
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

VJ Black opens with a whiff of yeasty dough and malt, much like rising bread, which clears away and opens into a deeper, darker series of aromas that include heavy kola nut and caramel, a distinct almost Dr. Pepper-like spice and sugar blend, and more subtle layers of tobacco, anise, and black malt. For an Imperial Stout, the nose is heavily sweet and spicy, overflowing with molasses and brown sugar, pepper, and an almost smoky nutmeg or allspice spike. The aromas are certainly intriguing, but do bear more than a passing resemblance to a soft drink or a sugary root beer, and thus throw the nose off. It’s only the subtle dark ash and anise undertones that reveal the beer’s stout base, and these can be easily lost.

On the tongue, the beer continues to bear a good resemblance to a soft drink or root beer, with sugary spice flavors predominant, backed by dark ashy notes. Kola nut, sarsaparilla, cane sugar, vanilla, and a near-burnt allspice seem to make up most of the spice profile, and when joined with brown sugar and molasses, create a very non-Imperial-Stout-like flavor profile. One has to dig a bit deep to find coffee, ash, and black malt—but again, these can be easily lost. So sweet is the beer that it actually becomes almost sucralose (i.e. Splenda)-like around the edges, leaving a strange super-sweet rim that doesn’t quite mesh with the ash and coffee. The aftertaste is more of the same, though a touch more ash and coffee come through, the entire profile lingering on the tongue (along with the sucralose bite) for a long time. Mouthfeel is a slightly watery medium-light, and carbonation is medium.

Overall, this is definitely one of the more strange Imperial Stouts on the market, and one where the flavors don’t quite seem to mesh well together and provide a nice balance. On a good note, the beer’s 11% ABV is very nicely hidden beneath these flavors, detectable only late in the aftertaste as the vapors rise from the tongue. But the beer itself feels like it’s suffering from an identity crisis, not quite sure what direction it needs to go in.

jondeelee, May 18, 2012
Photo of dogfishandi
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz. bottle at cellar temp poured into a snifter. FEB 2010 notched on the label, i take that to be the bottled on date, so about 1 1/2 years old. purchased as a single at beers of the world in rochester.

pours out opaque black with a big huge billowy tan foamy cap. very nice retention, thick sticky lace everywhere. i wouldnt really say a creamy head, but looks fantastic.

not the biggest aroma. i detect some nice rich brownie batter like chocolate and a bit of vanilla that smells nice. behind that theres a little roasted malt and maybe some coffee.

kind of sweeter milk chocolate vanilla, a little chocolate cake. similar to many milk stouts ive had. some roasted malt, but its definatly not one of the main players like in most impy stouts. finishes with a solid bitterness that lingers a bit.

the mouthfeel just doesnt deliver enough. kind of weak body for this style. after you take a sip, it just doesnt really feel like you drank an impy stout. hardly any alcohol detectable, which has its advantages. slightly chalky.

overall, a decent beer, worth a single, but i wouldnt strive to get this again. almost tastes a little artificial, has some flavors in common with mokah and choklat. way better than the beer this was based on, the vanilla java porter, but i want some more malt.

dogfishandi, Sep 17, 2011
Photo of Pbody
3.78/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Dark smokey imperial stout with good depth, hints of chocolate and coffee. I don't typically buy from Atwater Brewery but this is a pretty well balanced imperial stout from their single batch series, also has a pretty nice kick to it at eleven percent. Would definitely recommend this beer in low doses lol.

Pbody, Apr 18, 2014
Photo of WVbeergeek
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Deep dark black body with a tan head filling my chalice above the rim of the glass, dwindles slowly leaving chunky sporadic lacing. Aroma has deep vanilla semi oaked barrel notes with hints of coffee and dark chocolate. Flavor has a sharp acidic dark chocolate infused coffee, almost like it has a slightly sour mash amongst hints of oak aging (my guess is oak chips), with some vanilla bourbon hints going on. Really not bad it's just a mix of tart dark chocolate, harsh roasted coffee notes, and a bit of artificial vanilla bourbon oak notes. Much like an Rock Bottom nitro Vanilla Bourbon stout I've had in the past. I can't believe this beer is packing 11% alcohol, extremely well hidden and a bit dangerous. Mouthfeel is medium bodied not cloying in anyway a bit of the bitter dark roasts leaves behind some welcoming dryness to the upfront sweet vanilla java presence. Overall impression is wow, not bad well crafted one of the first Atwater Block brews I've been impressed with on any level. Nothing diabetes sickeningly sweet about it just a well balanced well hidden imperial version of thier Vanilla Java Stout.

WVbeergeek, Apr 11, 2011
Photo of Sammy
3.33/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Opaque black with little head. A little roasty and boozy aroma, with a spot of vanilla. Somewhat thin for the style,perhaps the oiliness gives my tongue this impression, not so well integrated. Bitter chocolate and some vanilla, bourbon, coconut. A sipper, not so drinkable.
Ken's bottle.

Sammy, Sep 15, 2011
Photo of tempest
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I found a bottle at Abe's Cold Beer, the label is notched for Feb 2010. This stout is so smooth, I had not idea it was stronger than seven or eight percent. There's a huge, dry cocoa flavor with a toasty sugar cookie taste in the background and a roasty molasses edge. It's not the richest RIS, but it's a great chocolate-like beer (reminds me of Rogue's chocolate stout) that's not too heavy.

tempest, Oct 17, 2011
Photo of jtb0608
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

jtb0608, Jul 16, 2012
Photo of jduprey007
3.25/5  rDev -16.7%

jduprey007, Mar 10, 2013
Photo of Apex
3/5  rDev -23.1%

Apex, Apr 21, 2012
Photo of Bung
4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz. Pretty much a black pour with a layer of light tan head. Retained fairly well.

Aroma, has roast malt, some earthyness and light chocolate. A bit subdued.

Taste is much more assertive. Very nice blend of roast malt, dark chocolate, vanilla. Some peat or something earthy in there also. Cocoa and lighter coffee accent the drier finish. Lingers nicely.

Enough carbonation to keep it interesting. I wouldn't quite call it creamy. Maybe a little thin body wise, but maybe that helps the drinkability. This was pretty easy to put down for 11%.

Wasn't expecting much since I haven't cared for the other Atwater brews I've had. I was pleasantly surprised. Best I've had from these folks for sure.

Bung, Jul 25, 2011
Photo of n2185
3.05/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Pours black with half a finger of tan head that vanishes completely with no lacing.

S: Roasted malts with lots of sweet chocolates, licorice, and raisiny dark fruit aromas. There are some slight smokey notes toward the finish.

T: Light roasted malt flavors up front followed by a strong licorice and dark fruit flavor. The finish is sweet and charred tasting.

M: Thick body with lowish carbonation, this beer is not as creamy as I'd like.

O: An alright stout, overall, though a bit too sweet and licorice-y for me.

n2185, Jul 20, 2012
Photo of bigaddy
4/5  rDev +2.6%

bigaddy, Mar 04, 2014
Photo of HipHopinHooligan13
4.5/5  rDev +15.4%

HipHopinHooligan13, Jun 29, 2012
Photo of EgadBananas
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Big thanks to injuredreserve for the bottle to go!

A- Poured pretty much a solid black. Didn't look extremely thick, but it's pleasantly dank in the end. Head was a light brown, which left nice lace. Dissipated to a nice creamy film.

S- Aroma was nice and roasty, with plenty of chocolate and malt sweetness. Faint coffee and a tinge of dark, sweet fruits as well.

T- The taste was nice and chocolaty, really roasted, slightly candied (fruits), some coffee bitterness on the finish, with maybe a touch of woody hops.

M- The feel was creamy, though not full-bodied. Solid medium, slick, but smooth. Easy to ignore, but the most noticeable flaw.

D/O- Overall, a pleasantly surprising stout. Nice and flavorful. Alcohol was really no where, so the drinkability is very good. I'd call this a hidden gem for those who have this available to em, or stumble across it.

EgadBananas, May 08, 2011
Photo of tommy5
4.25/5  rDev +9%

tommy5, Dec 05, 2013
Photo of buschbeer
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 fl. oz. bottle
Served in a snifter
March 2012 is notched in the label.

A - It pours black with less than an inch of tan head.

S - I smell some roasted malt and dark chocolate.

T - On my first taste I immediately thought "chocolaty." It has a real nice dark chocolate flavor along with some roasted malt.

M - Full

O - I haven't thought much of Atwater Block beers. This one has me rethinking them. This beer is delicious. I love the dark chocolate characteristics.

buschbeer, Feb 23, 2014
Photo of IdrinkGas
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

IdrinkGas, Apr 05, 2014
Photo of DrBier
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

DrBier, Jul 14, 2014
Photo of civicm87
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%

civicm87, Aug 23, 2013
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Atwater VJ Black from Atwater Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 166 ratings.