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Atwater VJ Black - Atwater Brewery

Not Rated.
Atwater VJ BlackAtwater VJ Black

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

179 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 179
Reviews: 65
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 13.11%
Wants: 7
Gots: 26 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Atwater Brewery visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  11.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: DrDemento456 on 04-09-2011

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 179 | Reviews: 65 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Jlang2012
3.5/5  rDev -10%

Photo of thecheapies
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Black is the name... black it is! Can't see through it at all. Nice cappuccino-like froth on top. Looks great.

Molasses, dark fruits, dark chocolate, a little licorice, light booze, chicory root, and musty roast grain. Has an obvious sweetness.

Nice bittersweet flavor of chocolate, black strap, raisin, and chicory coffee. Licorice is here, too. A tad too sweet, but there is salvation in a bitter earthy hop note that isn't that small. A lot going on here, and none of it as all that bad. Booze is very subtle and creeping. Body is pleasingly full, and the beer is not without a spicy carbonation that finishes with some cleansing as if too get the syrup off the tongue. Lightly tacky and coating. Goes down very smoothly.

Not your prototypical impy. Lacks in intensity and the sweetness is dialed up one notch too many. Qualifies as smooth and tasty. Nose ain't bad either. Atwater did a good job on VJ Black.

Photo of Stinkypuss
3.94/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Clear dark brown, off white creamy topping forms and recedes to a ring. Leaves
Smell: Chocolate and vanilla, some coffee.
Taste: Roasted malt, mild earthy hops with faint pine. Dusty cocoa and mild fusel alcohol. Mild bitterness, finishes with a good helping of coffee like roast. Strong vanilla overpowers faint citrus and pumpernickel bread notes.
Feel: Full bodied, well carbonated, balanced and graceful for its strength.
Overall: A good imperial stout from Atwater.

Photo of twenty5
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of maxwelldeux
4.75/5  rDev +22.1%

Photo of wrightst
4.53/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had sevaral of Atwater beers, and most seem to target the medium range. This one aims for the smaller, center of the target, which of course, is more rewarding.

It pours very dark brown, nearly black with a tan head. As appealing as that is, surprisingly, I did not drink in the appearance.

The smell was a strong presence of vanilla, which really surprised me, as I was expecting what the label told me to expect, a Russian Imperial Stout. It lead me to do some digging and right here, two reviews down from mine, is the answer - it's a vanilla porter, repurposed as a RIS. If you'd asked me ahead of time, I'd have said two things: I don't think it will work, and try it anyway. I love brewers that will go out on a limb like this.

The flavor was similar, but the vanilla was much less intense. Common for beers with vanilla. The taste was much more in line with an imperial stout, but the vanilla continues to linger. This is one of those high gravity beers (11%) that does not taste it. A feature I like.

It is robust in mouthfeel, but not as hearty as some imperial stouts, and not close to say, triple abbeys or double bocks.

Photo of lucasj82
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Roman5150
4.19/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bottle into tulip glass

appearance: black with white foamy head 1 finger thick

smell: maybe i'm crazy but I get a huge hint of powdered hot cocoa packets, not quite espresso or coffee but very similar. also some milk chocolate and earthy, resiny hops in the mix.

taste: dark chocolate and espresso forward. heavy on the roasted malt, follows the nose and has a hint of bitter hot cocoa. very unique chocolatey taste.

mouthfeel: not too carbonated, sort of thin body

overall: A very good coffee forward stout, and my favorite beer from Atwater, and otherwise average brewery that i've tried so hard to like. This is their best offering, had side by side with 6-month old Expedition Stout, and while it was inferior it stood it's ground in flavor complexity and drinkabilty. This is a well balanced beer, a little on the bitter side for a stout, but highly drinkable.

Photo of TheRougeBastard
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of linnymtu
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of Sparky44
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Texasfan549
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of JohnnieNepal
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Photo of jduprey007
3.25/5  rDev -16.5%

Photo of MI_gal616
4.56/5  rDev +17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The VJ black is Atwater's Vanilla Java Porter made into an Imperial Stout (more, more, more of everything).

This poured like a beauty into the glass. Small, tan head with great legs on a super robust dark brown, almost black beer.

The smell is what blew me away. Like vanilla extract, super sweet. Normally not what i'd be looking for in a beer, but it smelled so good!

The flavor was rich with roasted coffee, smooth roasted malts, and not nearly as sweet as the nose would suggest. In fact, there was a rather pleasant hop bitterness in the aftertaste that was not present in the initial flavor.

The mouthfeel was medium to full body. Definitely more robust than I expected after reading some reviews of this beer and having a rather watery Vanilla Java Porter earlier this year.

Photo of jbaker67
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of akttr
3/5  rDev -22.9%

Photo of eschmitt777
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of Kerrie
3.25/5  rDev -16.5%

Photo of GRPunk
3.79/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I've heard of a ZJ, I guess it's time to see what this VJ is all about.

Bottle notched J 13, poured into a Duvel tulip.

A- A normal pour created a 1-finger, brown head that settles down to a thin film and leaves really nice webs about the glass. The body is a dark brown that suggests near black through the middle of a full glass.

S- There's an initial waft of dried or stewed fruits, mostly raisin. Lighter chocolate and coffee at first. Roasted, toasty grains become almost charred at points. The char and chocolate increases. Vanilla sneaks in much later with some warmth.

T- Complex. 1st sip had that initial rush of raisin followed by a significant dose of milk chocolate. Chocolate really seems to be the major player here. I'm good with that. An injection of vanilla compliments nicely and increases as I drink. Hopping is present, though difficult to describe.

M- Full bodied as expected at 11%. Kind of a sticky sweetness. Fairly creamy.

O- What an odd beer. Not bad. Different. Similarities to Vanilla Java Porter. Vanilla is a nice touch. I like the way it compliments the chocolate aspects. Aroma doesn't really match the flavor. Good sipper. Maybe not my "favorite" RIS, but not a bad beer.

Photo of shamrock071521
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%

Photo of martyl1000
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Brown-black with a thin off-white head. Not much lacing on the glass of my snifter.

The aroma is surprisingly bright and biscuity, without the bigger aromas of the style. Really more like a much smaller beer, like a mildly spiced winter warmer in the nose, with sweet malt and no alcohol.

Speaking of alcohol, it's hard to believe this is 11% abv. There's hardly a trace of it in the mouth. The other flavors of the style are also very quiet: unsweetened coco, burnt coffee, vanilla.

Surprisingly thin mouthfeel, yet with an overall creaminess that creates a mysterious sensation--a richness born of something other than mouthfeel.

While it's not what I look for in the style, I will remember this for guests who want to drink with the big boys but who are overwhelmed by true big beers.

Photo of TastingRoomCharNtony
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%

Photo of jimminy
4/5  rDev +2.8%

Atwater VJ Black from Atwater Brewery
87 out of 100 based on 179 ratings.