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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.

1,219 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,219
Hads: 5,922
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,720 | FT: 91
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: 1,219 | Hads: 5,922
Photo of Pegasus
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Appearance: Utter obsidian in color, with a large dark tan head, which retains rather well. Thick, glass-coating lace adorns the glass walls.

Aroma: Strong notes of cold coffee, bitter chocolate, roasted malt, vanilla, earth, and vinous alcohol. While the coffee/espresso notes are strongest, the vanilla is notable.

Taste: Opens with a massive cold coffee flavor, with a strong undercurrent of bitter cocoa and vanilla. As the taste progresses, a brief moment of sweet chocolate appears, then vinous alcohol, and dark roasted malt. Late in the taste, earthy flavors appear, along with a burst of herbal hops. The 10% ABV is very gracefully concealed. Finishes with a lingering note of cold coffee and bitter cocoa.

Mouth feel: Smooth, soft, and velvety.

Drinkability/notes: An absolutely superb example, an order of magnitude (or two) beyond ordinary beer.

Presentation: Packaged in a twenty-two ounce brown glass bomber with a pry-off crown, served in a New Belgium Brewing chalice.

Sourcing: Purchased at Spec's in Austin, Texas for $9.99 plus tax.

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Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Split a bomber with beer buddy Phil. Live review.

Pours dark with ruby hues showing through when place infront of a light. Nice dark mocha colored head. Not a lot of lacing.

Cold vanilla and a blast of coffee on the nose. This is exciting.

Lots of coffee up front. As the coffee dissipates, the vanilla emerges tentatively. Roasted malts, bitter chocolate round this masterpiece out. Hint of alcohol in there as well.

Really smooth mouthfeel. Not heavy by any means, and certainly does not feel anywhere near 10%. Incredibly well crafted beer.

Overall I'd climb over your mother to get this beer. This beer has been sitting in my fridge for maybe 2 years? Absolutely incredible beer. It was a stretch not to give it full 5s.

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Photo of jlharman
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wonderful aroma of coffee with a hint of vanilla. Bitter at first but becomes smoother leaving a hint of coffee aftertaste. I wish I could find an espresso this good. Best Porter I've tasted.

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Photo of Pete_IV
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

22oz bomber poured into tulip

Pours a nice black with a tan head around an inch high. Smell dark chocolate at first mixed with coffee. Taste starts with a nice roasty flavor with a bitter background. Chocolate sits on the tongue when you let your mouth sit empty a few seconds. Nice and smooth in the mouth.

All around I think a very nice smooth beer with a bit of bite for the price. Would buy again.

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Photo of dpgoblejr
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Black, mostly dark brown, porter that has a small tan head and not much lacing. Smells of coffee and vanilla dominate the aroma. Taste follows suit with the coffee coming in strong to start with the vanilla and a sweetness to end. Nice bodied brew with a somewhat thicker feel than other porters and quite drinkable for being 10% abv. Overall, an awesome imperial porter that won't disappoint!

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Photo of 01001111
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

A: Deep black oil with a healthy espresso creama colored head.

S: Roasted wood, vanilla, and a subtle spice.

T: Starts with a strong vanilla flavor then gives way to a wave of thick coffee. After that comes the coffee bitterness which then yields to the hop bitterness. The finishing note is roasted malts more reminiscent of a stout than a typical porter.

M: Quite thick, almost espresso-like.

O: Far more impressive than I anticipated. The vanilla is a touch strong but the rest is near perfect for the style. I'd love to try this again after some aging.

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Photo of ExaltedNecrosis
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle poured into oversized tulip glass.

A - Pours a pitch black with one and a half fingers of dark mocha/chocolate head. This doesn't let any light through.

S - Massive coffee aroma that can be smelled without even putting my nose to the glass. The roasted coffee is followed by vanilla and chocolate.

T - The taste is a coffee lover's heaven. Huge roasted coffee flavor, followed a bit after by sweet vanilla and a bit of chocolate. The roastiness is very pronounced and quite delicious. Every flavor is very bold and full.

M - This is one of the thickest porters I've had. It's pretty much a stout. Full, chewy body with moderate carbonation. The coffee really sticks to the mouth long after taking a sip. It's got a nice chewy and sticky aftertaste.

O - This was everything I hoped it would be and then some. The best porter I've had hands down, and it beats a lot of my favorite stouts. The roasted coffee, bold vanilla, and chocolate complement each other perfectly. Amazing job, Ballast Point.

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Photo of FocusDave
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a teku glass while studying for my LEED AP exam.

A - Pitch black opaque with a couple fingers of light tan foamy head that gives way to sticky lacing.

S - Coffee and toasted malts.

T - Taste is still very coffee forward, but a little bit of vanilla sneaking in there. Malt and hops are well balanced and neither is pushing the other out of the way.

M - I'm impressed that a beer this dark with this much flavor doesn't feel heavy. It's crisp and dry on the palette.

O - I'd like to get some more vanilla and maybe a little more malt sweetness, but overall this is a fantastic imperial porter.

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Photo of Ford
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Nobi Public House in Webster, Texas.. served in a 9oz snifter.

First.. thanks Ballast Point for finally coming to Texas... howdy and welcome.

I love porters and stouts... I especially love them with big coffee smells and flavors.. I also like vanilla...

This one stands with the best I have had... so good... lots of coffee flavor.. a touch of vanilla is there also.. smells so dang good.

I don't know if this is year round.. the website doesn't show it, so I'm guessing it is seasonal.. I would love to see this year round...it's a great beer.

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Photo of creepinjeeper
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

22 oz bottle poured into Breckenridge 471 Small Batch snifter.

Look: Deep brown to black, almost fresh asphalt in color. Tan head that lingers. Lacing all around the snifter.
Smell: Roasted coffee, sweet vanilla beans. Toasted grains.
Taste: Cold brewed coffee, caramel, a sweetness added to finish. Only opens up more as it warms.
Feel: Creamy, hearty, balanced carbonation.
Overall: I apologize to Ballast Point for taking too long to try this amazing porter. It's the perfect beer for any day, but especially a fall/winter morning with nowhere to go. Because, you just want to savor each sip.

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Photo of Trifecta1
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Absolutely insane coffee-forward porter. World-class, nigh perfection, end of story. Buy it.
PS: Porters are supposed to be medium-bodied. Don't understand everyone else sh*tting on this for "thin mouthfeel, it's only medium-bodied!"

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Photo of DM1293
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Let's be real here; this is essentially a stout. It might SAY Porter, and it might be BREWED like a Porter...but this beer is pretty darn thick in mouthfeel, more than any other porter I've had.

The taste is phenomenal. It's very prominently sweet chocolate, hints of dark fruit, balanced out by a firm but unimposing coffee bitterness. It's like drinking dark chocolate really, with even hints of vanilla coming through. Fairly thick, but this is an Imperial-style so I expect it to be so.

For all the praise I give it, I'd probably still just drink it just as a "Dessert Beer" due to its 10% ABV. Regardless, it's definitely worth tracking down while you can.

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Photo of drink1121
4.79/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared bottle with kfvs034.
A-Pours black with a light brown small head. The little head quickly fades but never completely.

S-Big vanilla up front then I get coffee with some caramel in the middle and light bourbon at the end.

T- Different than the smell. Coffee at first, then some roasted malts . Bourbon and vanilla come to towards the end.

M- Smooth as ever. Some hop bitterness on the tongue. I can feel the hops, but cant really smell or taste them.

D- Wow. 10% thats crazy drinkable for that. I would have never known. I bought 4 of these in Illinois and am glad I did.

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Photo of ZX6Chris
4.78/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Bottle from the late release in 2010.

A-Pitch black with a small dark tan head of tight bubbles that settles to a ring around the glass. A little bit of lacing.

S-Lots of vanilla, chocolate, bitter roasted coffee. Almost a spicy kick from the coffee.

T-Rich roasted coffee, vanilla, milk chocolate. Bitter coffee on the finish.

M-Light to medium body, nicely carbonated. A little harshness from the coffee

D-Wow. The vanill and coffee flavors are HUGE in this. I can't wait to take another sip. I find my self chugging the glass!

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Photo of ajm5108
4.78/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Lots of dark chocolate & cacao riding the wave of toasted coffee, but evened out by the semi-sweet vanilla bean. Finishes pretty bitter, but in a good way. Velvety smooth and creamy feel. Reminiscent of Founder's Breakfast Stout, whuch is to say an excellent coffee brew.

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Photo of SFNC
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Good God Almighty, ths is one good brew! I'd held Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald, Fuller's and Founder's Porter to bethe standard bearers for the Porter style, but no more. A great complexities of smells and flavors, coffee, mild chocolate, vanilla, malt, and more coffee. The alchohol does have a bit of a burn, but at 10% it probably should. This a killer!

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A 10% imperial porter. Tell me again why this isn't a stout? It's stronger and more intensely flavored than 90% of thestouts I've drank. Guess the line between porter and stout is invisible, especially in Ballast Point's case.

8 oz pour at "Extreme Beer Night" at the Old Toad during Rochester Beer Week.

Thick, tar-like black pour, with a generous head.

Smells and tastes basically the same. Sweet creamy vanilla, mild roastiness, intense, bitter coffee flavor, and Hershey's syrup. Incredibly sweet, almost to the point of cloying-ness. The almost cloying sweetness is the only thing keeping this taste score from a 5. The vanilla is far from fake though- like a rich vanilla bean ice cream from Stewart's back home.

Full, sludgy mouthfeel. The Exxon Valdez has nothing on this guy. Low carbonation, full body.

One of the best porters you can buy, but don't go into it expecting a traditional porter. Go into it expecting a good beer, and you'll be happy more than happy.

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Photo of twiggamortis420
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage courtesy of cmurren25, thanks Chad! Pours a black-as-night color with awesome retention and great lacing.

Nose has lots of coffee on it and a light vanilla twist. Plenty of roasty malts and a decent amount of sweetness.

Ohhhh, this is way smoother than it should be. Vanilla and coconut-infused chocolate malt flavor. Smooth yet robust. One of those "wow" beers, no doubt about it. This review has officially been cut short due to the extreme enjoyment I get from every single sip. Amazing beer.

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Photo of Bubba83
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured my last bottle of the most recent batch that made it up to the Bay Area probably 7-8 months ago. Poured into a tulip at about 50 degrees.

Poured with a good two fingers of tan, espresso like head, super fine, can't even really see the bubbles in the head at all. The body of the beer itself is completely opaque, even when held to a light source. The retention is not great, but the small ring of head does maintain itself rather nicely. Lacing is a lot better than when I've had it on tap.

Wow, the aromas wafting out of the glass are completely ridiculous. Hardcore coffee with some vanilla and a whole lot of dark chocolate. There's quite a lot of roast too. Undeniably amazing smell here. Every time I revisit this beer I expect it to underwhelm for some reason and every single time it impresses instead, especially in this department.

Tastes great too, everything from the smell, and aging this bottle a good number of months seems to have balanced out the normally rather heavy hand of vanilla into a nice balance with the coffee. This beer should theoretically be sweeter than I like, but there's such a good amount of roast that counterbalances the somewhat faded vanilla to make a delicious treat. Little to no alcohol flavor at all, little to no hop presence.

The mouthfeel is as good as it gets, a perfect consistency. The carbonation level is pretty mellow and just perfect for the style. Feels full in body and velvety in the mouth, can't be improved.

Overall this is just such a foreign experience from beginning to end. It's hard to explain because other breweries have used these types of ingredients in their beers, but nothing quite tastes like this one. The vanilla and coffee are at the forefront, but in a very nice balance, especially when aged for a little bit. I don't know how a company that can make such fantastic IPAs can also score such a success with a malt-dominant beer, but they do. Hats off to Ballast Point.

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Photo of avalon07
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Poured from a bottle to an imperial pint glass. Had a jet black color and a thick, opaque consistency. There was an inch of foamy, tan-colored, long-lasting head and excellent lacing. A great-looking beer.

S: Smelled of coffee, vanilla, roasted malt and a little hops. A big, bold, enticing aroma.

T: Tastes like it smells. roasted coffee, roasted malt, and vanilla and a slight hoppiness in the finish. Very flavorful and bold.

M: A good amount of carbonation with a dry finish. A full-bodied beer.

D: An excellent example of an American Porter. Exceedingly drinkable.

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Photo of Antg8989
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Thick Mocha Creamy Head with considerable lacing. Deep brown in color.
Smell: Malty - smells like a cappuccino and the pleasant smell of an ice cream parlor. Tiny hints of alcohol detected.
Taste: A pleasant, yet bold and roasted coffee with sweet vanilla.
Feel: Smooth, creamy and medium balanced.
Overall: Breakfast Stout lovers, this could be the competition. While not an oatmeal stout, this beer has numerous comparisons to Breakfast Stout, with the addition of vanilla. Although I'm not a vanilla lover, this Porter was delightfully balanced in flavor. Ballast Point is becoming my go-to for stouts/porters. Grab some before the season is over!

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Photo of AwYeh
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a shaker pint; thanks to seeswo for sending me this in the Black Booty 2011 BIF!

A: Pours a dark brown/black with three full fingers of frothy tan head- looks like a bowl of oatmeal when viewed from the top. Excellent lacing.

S: Tons of chocolate roasted malts, a strong vanilla smell, and an almost equally strong coffee aroma. Bittersweet dark chocolate puts this one over the edge to make it truly enjoyable smell.

T: Rich, RICH chocolate flavor- perfectly complimented by the vanilla and coffee in the beer's namesake (one of the few beers that lives up to the descriptors in its name). Wonderful chocolate, coffee, vanilla finish. Tastes like letting a high quality, bitter (80% or more) dark chocolate bar melt and dissolve on your tongue, plus the frequently mentioned coffee and vanilla. Outstanding.

M: Medium-bodied, light carbonation. Not as sticky as I would like to really bring the finish through, but still heavy enough to leave the flavor on your palate.

D: Extremely enjoyable, I could have several glasses of this in a row. It does taste a bit like dessert, so I'm not sure if it is an everytime beer... but this is certainly one I can't wait to have a glass of again.

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Photo of Lerxst
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Much thanks to beernerd81 for this one

A-Pours black with a nice one finger mocha colored head that has good retention and leaves nice lacing.

S-I am loving this nose. My nose is telling me this is an RIS. Strong vanilla and coffee aromas, roasty malt, chocolate. With apologies to Campbell's soup, this is mmmm, mmmm good.

T-Slightly sweet and a bit bitter at the same time. Follows the nose with vanilla, coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, along with a slightly bitter hoppy twist at the back end and a bit of booze. Man, this is REALLY good!

M-Medium bodied, but has a rich, lush mouthfeel. Slightly stinging carb bite works well.

D-This is a big beer make no mistake, but it is absolutely delicious making it almost dangerously easy to pound a bomber.

I really loved this beer. If I had ready access to it, I'd buy a case. A truly GREAT job by Ballast Point.

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Photo of Ungertaker
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber poured into a Deschutes snifter.

S- Coffee, roasted malt, nuts, brown sugar

A- Deep black with a quickly-vanishing khaki head. A ring is left around the glass where the head once was. A bubbly lacing adheres to the glass with each sip.

T- Coffee hits immediately and remains throughout. It is accompanied at the front by a bitter dark chocolate that transitions to a sweeter, almost milk, chocolate with subtle hints of vanilla. Both the milk chocolate and vanilla dissipate, leaving a roasted coffee and hints of raisin at the finish.

M- On the thicker side of medium; a perfect consistency for a porter, IMHO. The carbonation is in the background throughout. 

O- Phenomenal! The balance and complexity have never been matched by anything I have had in a porter that has not been barrel-aged.

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Photo of Reagan1984
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours like a milk shake. Really thick tan head forms and rises like an Imp Stout. Really looks and acts line a big Imp Stout in the glass. Very creamy head that has great structure. Extremely dark brown in color with really no light getting through even at the edges. Clumps of lacing line the inside of the glass.

The aroma is fantastic. Wow, that's pretty awesome. A wonderful creamy coffee aroma with a hint of vanilla extract behind. Can an aroma be creamy? If so, then this one is. If Not, then this one still is!

OK, so now I see why this beer resides in the top 100. I figured it would be good, but this is really great. The balance between the components is really amazing. Again I use the term vanilla extract vs bean or just plain vanilla. I think this is the melding of the vanilla with some of the abv. The coffee flavor is great. Creamy, sweet and with a nice dark roast. There is a nice hop finish that is almost lost in everything else. Is it roasted coffee or hop bitterness? Who cares, the complexity is wonderful. How did I only pick up one bottle of this? I'll get more, probably tomorrow.

The mouth feel here is close to perfect. Creamy with a prickle of carbonation. So creamy.

This drinks like a wonderful milkshake and goes down so smoothly. While it's a big flavor it doesn't really drink like a 10% abv. Goes down a little scary smooth.

Wonderful beer.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,219 ratings.