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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter - Ballast Point Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,195 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,195
Hads: 5,807
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 982
Gots: 1,653 | FT: 98
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: radshoesbro on 03-17-2009

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,195 | Hads: 5,807
Reviews by lehueve:
Photo of lehueve
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

More User Reviews:
Photo of mikesgroove
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off this is an exceptional beer. I had wanted to try it since it came out by missed all the bottles on sale, needless to say when I was able to trade for some it made my day. Served at a nice 55 degrees and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/04/2009.

The pour was fantastic. Huge dark beer here, black as night as it pours out. A big cascading brown head comes up and over the top and then settles down into a half inch layer that hung around for the entire rest of the session. The aroma was vanilla, huge vanilla beer and light cafe like coffee notes. Some hints of roasted malts, but vanilla in a beer like I have never come across before. Not terribly sweet and fake, this was like whiffing good vanilla ice cream. As I take the first sip, wow. This beer is suprising the crap out of me. First off where is my 12 percent? This is soo smooth I really got caught off guard by my second glass. The vanilla explosion followed through on the taste, rich and creamy with light and sweet coffee notes following through on them as well. Really tight flavor here, smooth with a long drawn out finish that was sweet, delicate and drying enough to make me want another in a minute.

Overall this was a very unique beer, that falls squarely into the dessert category. I was very happy, and very suprised with how big this was and how good it was as well. A winner here for sure!

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Photo of dazedman
4.73/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Coffee, vanilla what's not to like? I love this beer. Rarely will I rate a porter over a Imperial Stout but this brew beats most of them hands down in my book. If you like Imperial Stouts and you have a chance to try this get it right then don't wait don't think about it! Pay the man and enjoy.

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Photo of TheItalianStallion
4.63/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bomber into a tulip.

A: Pour is black as night with a thick, creamy cap of brown foam. The head eventually settles to a thin film dotting the glass with lacing all the way down.

S: Aromas of fresh brewed coffee and roasted malts with a brown sugar sweetness. Vanilla barely detectable as the beer warms.

T: Big flavors of coffee and molasses on a solid base of roasted malts. The roastiness is obviously there, but definitely isn't as strong as the coffee. There is the PERFECT amount of vanilla sweetness on the finish. Not underwhelming, but not overwhelming, it is just the right amount.

M: Creamy mouthfeel that isn't overly viscous with a low amount of carbonation. Medium bodied and semi dry on the finish.

O: Overall I thought this was an excellent beer that has robust flavors of coffee and the ideal amount of vanilla sweetness. It is my go to dessert beer, and I will be drinking it for years to come.

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Photo of rjd722
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into my Ommegang wide flute glass, a beautiful black coloring with big, frothy brown head which dissipates slowly and laces the entire way down. A burst of vanilla greets you and is accompanied by some nice roasted chocolate notes. Smoked toffee and chocolate (with hints of vanilla) dominate the experience and overall this brew has a bitterness slightly more intense then coffee. Considering it's a 10% ABV, it has a pleasant texture and is easy to drink. Really great weekend beer, what else can I say about another exceptional Ballast Point offering?

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Coffee? Vanilla? What's there not to love in a larger than life Porter? Throw in a completely intimidating label and we have ourselves an instant winner!

The beer pours a thick, viscous, nearly black color with a creamy lace of carbonation that retains well and clings to the sides of the glass in moderate fashion. Legging shows barley-stained liquids crawling just beyond the lace. Complete opaqueness makes this beer rival the biggest of Stouts.

Strongly Porter-like in aroma: not as roasty as a Stout, but heavy toast, dry toffee, bitter cocoa, and deep espresso notes peppered all over the scent. Vanilla softness helps to temper the aggression from coffee and toast but it leaves me wanting much more.

Even stronger flavors of heavy, heavy toast, espresso, and a charred flavor that makes me think ash. Still, the toffee and vanilla do little to balance the stronger darker flavors. They have some melding together to do.

Very bitter and strong bite from the roasted grains create a harsh feel that the sweetness cannot round out. Bitterness is aggrevated by high grassy hops, coffee oils, and alcohols making the beer a bit of a chore late.

The beer seems to have a lot of 'young' characteristics that may come together better with age. Regardless, a heavier vanilla taste and feel could improve the beer.

Thanks kmurray8621!

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Photo of BradMacMullin
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Salty Pig. This was such a big tasting bomb of a porter - amazing stuff. Enjoyed it while I listened to my buddy John talked about his match.com dates as of late. Made me wonder why someone doesn't order a 12 pack of these for a 1st date. 6 each of these bad guys, and everyone will be in love. Anyways.....great beer. Wonder why Beer Advocate doesn't offer a dating website on the side. This could not fail...

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Photo of tectactoe
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Shared with Mike - thanks to GetMeAnIPA for sending this one my way. Pours a deep and dark obsidian-like color; very, very little brown on the edges with a solid, fine-bubbled tan head that fades much too fast. A quick swirl of the glass can coax it back, but only for a few moments.

The aroma on this one is very tantalizing; heavy, HEAVY roasted coffee beans - I'm talking burnt, scorched, charred, ashy. These beans smell super roasted and super bitter. This plays off of a delicate sweetness induced from the vanilla aromas that hang in the balance. Might be a tiny bit of cocoa somewhere deep in the abyss, but any attempt to further sniff it out is just met with more and more heaps of coffee beans, roasted malts, and light vanilla. I've always been partial to bitter porters rather than overly sweet ones. The nose on this beer tells me that my bias may be in effect.

...and right I was - the aroma is a perfect indication of the malt assessment in Victory At Sea. From the moment the beer hits your tongue, your palate is pile-driven with an enormous roasted, charred, and borderline burnt flavor. Coffee beans, coffee beans, coffee beans. Imaging taking a hand full of French Roast coffee beans, scorching them in a skillet, then shoving them in your face. A little overboard? Maybe.... but you get the idea. The alcohol is also noticeable from the first sip to the last, but at 10% ABV, I have no complaints. Some lightly sweet vanilla coats each and every sip also, providing a tiny bit of balance to the bitter-roasted brigade. Some chocolate definitely comes out more upon warming, although it was nearly absent in the aroma. The aftertaste is a compilation of mild charcoal flavors with some ashy and dry bitterness - a "balls to the walls", unadulterated coffee bean roast. Medium-thick body with a decent amount of carbonation; mildly creamy and smooth.

Hell yes. Victory at Sea gives the roasty bitterness lovers more of what they crave. Such a roasted, charred, and bitter stout with lovely little sweetness interruptions to keep things interesting. Very pleasantly surprised by this one - great way to end the night.

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Photo of Roguer
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge, dark tan head atop a very dark ebony brew. Good retention, and as the head slides down the glass, it leaves spiderweb lacing behind.

Huge roasted barley and coffee aroma, with vanilla fighting for elbow space at the table. Smells very much like a big strong coffee stout - which is what it is, after all.

Flavor matches deliciously, with a ton of vanilla coming through in the 1st and final thirds - far more than hinted at by the aroma. Coffee, roasted barley, and chocolate malts all blend together in lovely fashion, allowing the vanilla to be the highlight on top of a very solid, slightly sweet base.

Quite bitter and balanced; aftertaste definitely teases an earthy, vegetal hop presence.

Silky mouthfeel, big bodied, full mouthfeel. Lively; minor sting; growing alcohol heat on the back-end (but not during the sip). Moderately dry finish, with a lingering bitterness. Very clean. Exceptionally easy to drink.

This is a lovely coffee-vanilla stout-porter. All the praise it receives is well-deserved. A great breakfast beer, but I could just as easily see this being a nightcap.

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Photo of 14erFan
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

What a treat - I had never heard of this one and just got a bomber off the shelf because the description sounded intriguing. Such a great, big flavor with rich vanilla and a refined porter finish. Liked it so much I got a six-pack the other day.

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Photo of vickersspitfire
4.85/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Dark brown body, almost black and sealed with a dark tan head that’s three fingers thick, foamy and just looks like a nice place to rest on. Thick lacing marks every sip you take.
Dark roasted malts and coffee and a mild semi sweet odor of dark chocolate, brown sugar and butter with a touch of caramel.
Strong roasted malts and coffee at first followed by the bitterness of dark chocolate. The aftertaste is a milder version of the taste itself minus the bitterness.
Light bodied.
This is a great tasting porter with plenty of malts to go around.

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Photo of Treb0R
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Alcohol content too high for a porter. Drinkability suffers because of this. The vanilla is lost; I didn't sense much if it here at all because it was full of roasty coffee and bitter hops. High IBUs are not necessary when you also have bitter coffee presence that is not tamed by a balancing sweetness. Needs less alcohol, more body, less hops, more vanilla, and some sort of balance so you don't just get a blast of bitterness from the coffee and hops.

I'm picky as hell so take the above advice with a grain of salt. I enjoyed this beer. A lot. Just being brutally honest with this review. The only reason it will not be a repeat buy is the cost at $15 for a sixer. It was truly one of the best porters I've ever had. I just wish the flaws mentioned were worked on.

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Photo of gopens44
4.52/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours into a a mocha colored foamy explosion, nesting on top a beautiful opaque beast of a porter. Lacing? Yep, it's real and it's fantastic also.

Nose most reminiscent of cola more so than almost anything else I can pickup at first. A little warmth and agitation brings out some chocolate.

Tastes right there with the nose. I get a lot of cola at first, than a bitter chocolate retreat that is faintly sweet. Like unsweetened dark chocolate. I'm going to guess that the vanilla is manifesting itself as the cola I am getting? Finish is bitter chocolate and very little else. I guess I am getting a tad bit of heat? It's there just warming the innards I guess, but masked better than most anything I have ever had at 10%

This blurs the line between RIS and porter IMO. Such a great tasting beverage.

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Photo of sendsilk
2.29/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Just found one of these down here in good old FL, a rarity I can assure you. Read alot about this bad boy and am super excited to try it. Here goes the play by play as I drink it.

A- Poured dark, I mean really dark, burnt brown color. Nice 3/4" head but quickly recedes and not much lacing.

S- Holy Coffee! That's not a good sign for me. I like coffee for breakfast and beer for dinner and I likes 'em separate. I was hoping to be overpowered with vanilla but it is definitely coffee. Dammit, I hope this doesn't taste like some Kona Pipeline Porter which I bought a case of and can barely stomach the swill.

T- Coffee and beer dammit to hell. Where the hell is the vanilla guys? It DEFINITELY says vanilla porter on the label. How about labeling it V@S Coffee porter **Now without vanilla!!** I could have had a Cigar City Cubano Espresso which tastes very similar, BUT, I did not want a coffee beer. I'm sure many people out there love this (as witnessed by the rating) but this is not the "vanilla porter" I signed up for.

M- It does have a nice thick and creamy mouthfeel even though the coffee is overpowering.

Well, at least I can say I have tried it. I have another one of these that someone might want to trade for. I don't know, maybe as it gets older it will get better but this is definitely not for me.

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Photo of jhartley
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Cuvee tulip glass from a 12 oz. bottle with I believe a May 29th date.
Deep dark black with a tan head, which hangs around briefly and then leaves. Only a small trace amount is left along the top. Minimal to no lacing.
Tons of espresso coffee and sweet vanilla on the nose along with a nice malty roast.
Taste is delicious, just the right amount of coffee and vanilla balance.
A nice full mouth feel, starts out sweet and ends with a nice minimal bitterness.
Overall, a delicious beer that I am happy they started bottling in 12 ouncers! A perfect size for drinking especially with the 10% abv. Definitely a winner worthy of the hype.

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Photo of Kodama78
4.81/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I'm not the biggest fan of porters. I tend to think that if I want a dark beer I might as well get a stout. That being said, the taste of Victory at Sea is ridiculous. I have never tasted another beer with such a perfect blend of coffee and vanilla. One of my favorites any time I can get it

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Photo of Premo88
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bomber poured into "stout glass" -- tall tulip

L: black as it rests on the table with a thick tan head of sticky foam ... head is a solid inch tall and the sticking is incredible, looks like leftover milkshake; the lacing is unbelievable ... it's like a coat of paint; needless to say, keeps a solid tan collar of foam and about a half a skin (you can't see them, but clearly bubbles are flying up the column in that inner darkness); up to light the beer looks clear, dark orange/amber/brown

S: sweet chocolate, vanilla ... like a yummy ice cream desert, so very sweet (and this is almost ice cold);

T: wow ... uhhhh ... wow -- an instant 5. super sweet chocolate and vanilla with the dark malt giving it a fantastic burnt/bitter finish that's still very smooth because of all the up front sweetness; man, it is packed full of sweet chocolate and burnt dark malt bitterness, both ends just spilling over full of flavor, and the way they're balancing out the swallow is amazing; there's some alcohol flavor in it, but it's not bothering me one bit with all the other flavor; the coffee flavor is nicely sweetened out, so it's much more like a latte than raw coffee/espresso

F: a ton of carbonation really crisps it up; weighty feel

O: big everything ... big sweet, big bitter/burnt notes, big ABV that instantly makes its presence felt, even big carbonation with a big look with all the sticking and lacing and perfect black/tan color combo. as good a beer as I've come across and completely worth the money (about $10.50 for the bomber)

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.74/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with a 2 inch chocolate milk colored head that lasts. Good rings of lace on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of bitter cocoa powder, coffee grounds after the coffee has been brewed, and raw vanilla beans. I keep sniffing this beer over and over - it smells so damn good. Taste is of dark chocolate syrup, bitter coffee, vanilla extract, and an earthy mineral taste. Only slight bitterness on the palate after each sip. Absolutely amazing. Beer is thick and creamy in the mouth. A bit of alcohol warming in the throat. Overall, this is a very tasty hard to find beer. There is a distinct smell and taste of Hershey's chocolate syrup in this beer that makes me very happy. I am glad I found a bottle to enjoy. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on one.

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Photo of chrisjws
4.89/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served in a snifter from a 22oz bomber at ~45F.

A: Black, small amounts of light at the edges. Half a finger of light brown head.
S: Coffee and cocoa smack you in the face. Some vanilla in the background, but it smells like a vat of dark chocolate and coffee. Plain awesome.
T: Taste follows the nose well. Big dark chocolate and coffee upfront, chased by vanilla in the aftertaste. I detect a bit of spiciness in the background as well.
M: Full mouthfeel, medium carbonation. Coats your mouth and lingers between each sip.
O: Probably my favorite porter I've had. Tons of dark chocolate and coffee, just the way I like my dark beers.

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Photo of CA_Jim
2.25/5  rDev -48.4%

Woah, this is a huge beer. Bitter, lots of coffee. Thick and heavy. The vanilla flavor seems lost at sea. Tasty in small amounts, but hard to finish a pint.

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Photo of VikingBeer
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Ballast Point "Victory At Sea." Thanks to NordBier for these! 12 oz. bottle, served in a Dark Horse tulip at fridge temp but allowed to warm to 58-60 degrees.

Too cold, but pretty and coal-black as it sits warming up. Head is gone after three or four minutes, but a stubborn lacing persists nicely.

Smell is coffee and vanilla upfront, unsurprisingly, followed by a carob-esque bitter scent, a rummy hint of booze. The aroma really doesn't open up unless the beer is served at cellar temp, naturally.

Also unsurprisingly, the first sip gives a blast of vanilla and espresso-roast coffee, hints of cinnamony spice, and a notable whiff of Dutch cocoa. I cannot emphasize enough how bracingly assertive and surprisingly dry that first vanilla-espresso hit is, either, as I get little hint of sweetness until the mid-palate, when more chocolate-cocoa flavors roll in, along with hints of black walnut, rummy booze, dark fruit (especially currants), spices, especially cinnamon and mace, and a touch of oakiness. This one has a bit of age on it, but the hops are still a detectable presence, bringing hints of grass and herbs, especially mint, and a ghost of juniper berries. Finish is still medium-dry, with more currants, a heavier spice presence, and a touch of maduro cigars. Medium-full bodied, lighter than one expects from 10% abv, but not watery or disappointing, just sufficiently lighter than a conparable imperial stour to justify the name. This is truly an excellent flavored imperial porter, surprisingly complex and rewarding.

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Photo of Dirtyhands
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown, opaque. Minimal carbonation fades to a leather brown around the edges. Smells of vanilla, chocolate, pecans, roasted nuts, caramel, coffee and toast. A viscous, velvety mouthfeel that coats the mouth. Loads of bakers chocolate, coffee, vanilla, Brown sugar and pecans. Intensified roast bitterness that meshes quite perfectly with residual sugars. Mighty fine work Ballast Point.

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Photo of jcoleMA66
4.91/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a spectacular porter - enjoyed at Armsby Abbey. It is as good as it gets. Color is mahogany to black with a thick tan head. Lots of lacing. Initial smell is strong cocoa, coffee and caramel. Taste follows the nose with strong chocolate and coffee roast with some vanilla in the finish. Mouth feel is creamy. This beer is 10% but is in no way boozy, which ireally surprised me. This is an amazing beer.

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Photo of MasterSki
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to srandycarter for sending a bottle of this my way. Served in my brand-new Red Hook pint glass.

A - Tar black, with a two-finger mocha foam that dissipates slowly and leaves a nice cap, but minimal lacing. A small amount of reddish-brown coloration is visible at the fringes of the glass.

S - Coffee! Vanilla! Ridiculously potent - even cold I can smell it a good foot away from the glass. The coffee is bitter and roasty, and there is also quite a bit of burnt malt, cream, and cocoa mixed with the vanilla. It's slightly reminiscent of Southern Tier's Crème brûlèe, but nowhere near as cloyingly sweet.

T - The coffee is nowhere near as bitter on the palate - it's more roast and slightly smokey. There's also plenty of milk chocolate, vanilla, and sweet malts. There's a tiny bit of alcohol that peeks out from amongst the flavors, but it's not particularly offensive. Roasty aftertaste - not very bitter at all, which is nice for such a coffee-infused brew

M - It's medium bodied, but on the thinner side, and seems a little watery for such a big beer. Carbonation is lively, with lots of tingle on the upper lip and top of the palate. Finishes with loads of sticky sweetness.

D - I'd have no problems with a bomber of this one, although it is mildly palate-busting and a little too high gravity for sessions.

We've started to get the regular Ballast Point line in Illinois, but I'm anxiously awaiting the day that we can get the special limited releases (Sculpin, Sea Monster, etc.).

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Photo of changdulla
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This might be my favorite non barrel aged porter/stout. So effin good.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,195 ratings.