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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.

1,215 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,215
Hads: 5,906
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,715 | FT: 92
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: 1,215 | Hads: 5,906
Photo of babaracas
4.31/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a nearly opaque very dark brown with two finger thick fluffy medium brown head, settles to a half inch that stays, with rings down the glass for a few inches. Smell: big espresso with roast, caramel and earth; vanilla, dark chocolate. Taste: vanilla pop upfront, then high cocoa chocolate atop dark brown sugar and buttered toasted brown bread, thins out into earthy espresso with prune note and more chocolate, earthy hopping and re-emergence of the vanilla. Medium-light bodied, creamy feel, sticky finish. Delicious.

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Photo of Billolick
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

$9.99 for the bomber at DeCicco's, Ardsley, NY.

Pours straight up black, dark mocha head, thats rich, dense and staying around. Thick sheeting and nice looking and well developed lacing left behind.

Nose resonates with coffee and more coffee. Also some dark grains, mocha, light chocolate.

Full flavor porter, lucious waves of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and dark malty goodness. Rich, dense, boldly amped up and thoroughly tasty stuff. Heavy and viscious on the tongue and coating the mouth.

Over the top and highly worthy of seeking out.

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Photo of Soonami
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ballast Point Victory at Sea is a beer I've been hearing and reading about for almost as long as I've been a BA. This is a beer that lives up to the expectations. A coffee vanilla imperial porter, it has lost of the things I like in a beer. The beer is almost motor oil black, with a thin layer of lacy bubbles and sticky clingy scuzz on the glass.

The beer smells deeply of coffee, although it doesn't smell like the freshest coffee with a bit of acridity. The sweet chocolate and malt flavors carry through to give VaS a distinctly beery aroma. The hops provide only bitterness, but the coffee is very assertive up front with syrupy caramel flavors and a warming vanilla sweetness in the finish.

Tasty beer with a great integration of ingredients that match well.

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Photo of Stigs
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, loved this on tap...thank Jim for another shot at this. served in a 12oz tulip

A - pours with a very thin layer of loose, dark khaki colored foam. the beer is pretty much pitch black throughout the whole glass. only a couple random spots of lacing left behind.

S - strong, fresh and cold steeped coffee, lightly creamed. some sweetness fights through with vanilla beans, and milk chocolate. roasted malts are present yet stay mostly in the background until the end, more present as the beer warms.

T - strong, yet bitter fresh roast coffee. cut into sharply near the end by vanilla coffee creamer, the vanilla beans come through strong in the end and linger for a bit. toasted nuts and roasted malts, caramel add balance. cocoa powder is very present in the lingering sweet aftertaste. yum.

M - mediud to thickish body, quite syrupy yet cut into sharply by some tight and crispy carbonation. very sticky finish, with lingering roasty bitterness and vanilla sweetness.

D - coffee has died down a bit here but the slack is taken up by a more pronounced vanilla and toasted nutty sweetness. hides is 10% ABV dangerously well, with nary a spat of alcohol taste or burn present.

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Photo of prototypic
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Victory at Sea pours a dark chocolate fudge color. It's nearly opaque, save for a few burgundy highlights at the outermost edges. A very light mocha head covers the top. It recedes to a surface covering quickly. Lacing was spotty and light.

The nose is good. Chocolate malts are noted early. Smells like dark chocolate fudge. A relatively strong vanilla bean scent follows. It's a nice touch. Roasted coffee is in the mix and works very well with the other elements. The more I smell it, the stronger vanilla seems to come through. It definitely has a sweet, sugary vibe. Alcohol isn't noticeable. Pretty good all in all. Maybe a tad heavy on the vanilla for me.

The flavor is a step up. Bittersweet, dark chocolate is apparent throughout. It's very tasty and gives it and excellent base. Roasted coffee is much stronger in flavor. I like that. It works extremely well with the chocolate. As a coffee lover, I'm a big fan. It's not coffee overload though. Non-coffee fans shouldn't be discouraged. Vanilla is more subdued in flavor. That actually works well. It's a nice complementary flavor, and works better in a more subtle role. That's a good thing. Alcohol is slightly noticeable, but is blended very well overall. It's not overbearing in the least. Finishes with a blast of coffee and chocolate.

Victory at Sea has a medium body that grows more substantial with warming. Carbonation is light, and it has a nice smooth feel. It needs just a little more girth to get that creamy feel a beer this big needs. Drinkability is very high. This is a damn tasty beer that goes down far too easily. It never feels as big as it is. Tough to keep from chugging it.

Ballast Point generally brews good beer. Occasionally they brew something special. Victory at Sea falls somewhere in between the two. It's damn good, but isn't quite special. Frankly, a bigger body might be all it needs to get there. Without question, it's damn solid all-around and is well worth your attention. Easy recommendation.

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Photo of jtierney89
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Super deep brown color, cant tell on the clarity but looks a little hazy. about 2 inches of tan sticky head. Smells alot like coffee and asphalt. Herbal woody hop nose. Burnt malt as well. Coffee really comes through as the beer airs.

Wow, tastes as if a delicious big ol black beer had a baby with an amazingly rich coffee. Bitter black chocolate on the tip of the tongue with a sweet creamy vanilla twang . Huge coffee flavor along the mid palate. Finishes with burnt sugar and underlying hop bitterness, much like a straight black coffee. Almost no detectable alcohol. Quite a brew. Could easily work as a breakfast brew with it's sweet vanilla start and bitter coffee finish. Loving it. Hope it doesnt give me the jitters though, coffee burns often do :-(

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Photo of vandemonian
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter is a big complex beer. Flavours of coffee and biiter dark chocolate. The finish is dry and bitter.

A: Black colour and a nice 1 cm head that lasts really well. 4.5

S: I can smell the roasty malt from 3 feet away. Up close... it's weirdly not that much stronger. Charcoal. Bitter dark chocolate. 4.5

T: Malty with big flavours of coffee and bitter, dark chocolate. Some slight sweetness and a dry-ish bitter finish. A big, complex beer. The finish is too harsh for my taste. 4.25

M: Foamy. 4.5

O: 4

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Photo of DearthVader
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz poured into a Delirium snifter.

Poured a dark black which let no light shine through at all. It left a half finger of tan head on top that left a fair amount of lacing.

I pick up mostly coffee in the smell, but you do get some vanilla at the end of your sniff. A very pleasant smelling brew.

This is a very good tasting Porter. Heavy on the coffee with a slight trace of alcohol presence, and a balancing sweetness with the vanilla

Relatively thick mouthfeel, but that could just be because I had spent my previous 3 weeks drinking nothing but IPA's and DIPA's.

A good sipper. I actually paired this with some ice cream and a couple bites of a brownie. My girlfriend was craving dessert and I told her "only if I get to have my beer with it." She can never say no to me.

Go ahead and try and pick one of these up. A great brew crafted from a very talented brewery.


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Photo of LiquidAmber
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into an Elysian snifter. Pours pitch black with a thin medium brown head that dissipates to a thin film and thick ring around the glass with light lacing. Aroma dominated by roasted coffee and vanilla with a bit of alcohol, reminiscent of a coffee liqueur, light toasted malt. Flavor of espresso coffee, vanilla, toasted malt, light oak; finishes with charred, rich coffee and long lasting hop bitterness with a hint of chili pepper hotness. Medium bodied with some creaminess. A very nice, complex porter, rich enough to pass as a stout. Flavors a very complex and rather unusual for a porter, with the ambigous nature of the final pepperiness and bitterness especially interesting. A hyped beer that lives up to its reputation.

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Photo of DrDemento456
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a bottle of this at my local beer nutz for 9.99. Score!

A - Pours as black as a porter can get. Even if you try and hold it to it the light doesn't seem to come through. A very smooth coca colored head greets me.

S - Mostly of dark roasted malts with a small twang of vanilla in the nose. Smells kind of like a cappuccino.

T - Ow man this stuff is great! It gave off a great vibe of coffee and cream right to the tee. Too bad as it warms the coffee malt flavor takes full hold and it ABV is noticeable toward the end or I really would have loved it.

M - Medium to heavy bodied with full flavor.

D - Well at that price is truly was great to try it. Maybe it's just me but like Creme Brulee, I can't seem to focus on the extreme vanilla that everyone says is in there. A very drinkable coffee porter but would kind of work better at a lower ABV since it comes off kind of cloying.

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Photo of PicoPapa
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Ginger Man. Pours a pitch black color with a thin layer of light brown head. Some lacing. Smells great. The aroma is sweet coffee and vanilla with some smokey roasted malts and chocolate. The taste is a nice boozey mix of the coffee and sweet vanilla. Dark chocolate and roasted malts. More of the coffee and vanilla comes out at the end along with a nice warming alcohol presence. There's a lot going on here but it all blends well together. Slick mouthfeel. Overall, fantastic Imperial Porter that I need to have again.

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Photo of DefenCorps
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed a few in PA and boy, is it worth it!

This beer pours black with reddish brown highlights, capped by an 1/2" thick brown head. Retention is excellent, as is the lacework it leaves. On the nose, it's pretty awesome. Fresh coffee (somewhere between an espresso and a regular cuppa joe), an awesome vanilla note, as well as a great rich chocolate aroma. The palate replicates the nose, with the balance between the flavors being fantastic. Opens up with chocolate, followed by coffee and then vanilla before a beautifully bitter finish with flavors of dark chocolate and coffee. The palate is great too, with a medium body, soft and rich carbonation and a great finish. A nice slickness as well. Drinkability? I drank a bottle and could have gone for another

**Edit Jan 2011**
Drinking the 2010 winter release, I can say that my review is the same, but I have to dial down my scores a bit to reflect how I feel about this beer.

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Photo of draheim
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a rich brown w/ a thick mocha head.

Aroma is rich chocolate, coffee, caramel, cocoa nibs. Smells great, like dessert.

Taste is good strong coffee up front, softened by the vanilla. A solid backbone of dark roasted malt holds it all together.

Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, balanced and moderately dry.

Overall this is about exactly what I was expecting/hoping for, and it's now one of my favorite porters.

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Photo of NorCalYeti
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

taste- chocolate, subtle dark roasted coffee flavors, caramel undertones

color- dark chestnut brown

clarity- clear

smell- cocoa, roasted malt, biscuits

body- sweet/tangy chocolate hop bite at the front and sides of the palette, soft, medium-heavy weight mouthfeel, smooth, medium-long finish

appearance- mocha-colored head, nice heavy lace, slight carbonation

overall impression- nice beer, almost a little too sweet but would pair well with desserts. the brewer says this is an imperial porter...i think it departs slightly from the style and tends to be a little "showy" with the vanilla imprint

notes and comments- the aroma is very one note...i may be mistaking the smell of vanilla for cocoa but it is very pronounced and delightful. killer label

glassware: tulip

song: my brother esau - 10/3/87

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Photo of BARFLYB
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I've been trying to find this since it's been out. I managed to try the ba version and now on to the regular, On-Tap at Capone's in a tulip.

A- Victory at sea is black, there's no doubt about it, I might as well say it looks like a stout. Usually my porters have a dark brown look, this is a step above that. Not much head, or even a cap, but once i get some room in my glass a few swirls brings forth a coffee colored head. Scattered loose lace.

S- This beer name does not lie, this is a big (imperial) smelling beer. Pretty much a porter done to the max. Up front the coffee and the chocolate make a cute couple giving off a huge roast and a bit less sweetness when put together. A nice blast of cream and vanilla beans when the temp rises. Alot of roasted malt. The roast is probably the biggest scent from this.

T- And more roast in the taste. I'm finding that the coffee and the vanilla are perfectly balanced while the chocolate is a little less in your mouth which im digging. Nice fair trade coffee with vanilla beans and more roasted malt. The roast in this makes me smile. With warming I get some chocolate syrup taste in the end. Just a touch of hop bitterness and a little bourbon which i thought would be a bit bigger, im not complaining though.

M- This one is smooth, I can't stress enough that this is one of the easiest feeling porters considering it's size. Just a small trace of alcohol after I gulp some down but not hot. A bit of a syrupy feel after 6oz or so. Above medium bodied with light carbonation and a smooth finish, bliss.

D- If this was not so high in alcohol I would of had a bunch more. If the bottles were not so damn hard to come by I would have alot of them in my cellar as I type this. One of the best [porter's that i've ever had and quite a feat for Ballast Point to come up with this recipe. Hey guys, brew some more and send it to the east, we need more for the winter.

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Photo of alpinebryant
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown chocolate, not quite black with a mocha head that leaves lots of lacing.

Smell of roasted coffee, vanilla , roasted malts, and sweet sugar.

Taste of not surprisingly, Coffee, vanilla and roasted malts. There is a bitterness that is slightly different, but could also be perceived as licorice mixed with dark burnt malt. Not a whole lot of ashy flavors, but Charred flavor seems to be pretty strong. In other words, burnt, but sweet mixed with vanilla flavored sugars. If you let this warm in your mouth a little bit, the vanilla really becomes more prevalent and tasty.

Mediated carbonation levels with a nice mouthfeel that is not too thick but definitely not thin. All in all, a very drinkable coffee Vanilla Porter.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a good amount of head. Smells strongly of coffee with a bit of vanilla. A bit of vanilla as well... Tastes strongly of coffee and vanilla with a fairly thin background. Clean and smooth and a very light. Vry drinkable especially for 10%...

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Photo of xnicknj
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into glass - 2009 vintage

Pours an inky black with a thinner tanned head. Fades out almost completely with sine spotty lacing and film.

A strong scent of cocoa with espresso, coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of alcohol.

Plenty of chocolate and cocoa up front with a nice splash of vanilla flavor. Lighter tones of coffee and mocha mix in with an almost truffle- like sweetness. Roasted dark malts with caramel and some lingering warmth. Finishes toasty with a hint of booze.

Fuller medium body, mild carbonation, a little creamy and smooth. Really nice drinking, and some age helped mellow out the alcohol although some of the coffee and vanilla flavors faded.

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Photo of Holland
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Huge thanks to CheapBeerBuzz for giving me this one as an extra!

A: the beer is deep and thick looking with a one finger brownish head that clings to the glass.

S: dominated by rich coffee smell with some roasted malt and sweetness, but it blends so well with the mocha smell.

T: coffee, then roasted notes, then a huge flavor of chocolate comes through. Some decent bitterness to balance the slight sweetness. Flavor hangs around in my mouth forever.

M: seems pretty thick, but the carbonation cuts that pretty well.

O: didn't really blow me away, but it's still incredible for a well distributed beer. Not too much vanilla, but that's good. Seems well balanced and fairly drinkable.

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Photo of GregSVT
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber into a snifter

A: Pours a deep dark cola with a big tan head that fades leaving lots of lacing on the glass.

S: The nose has tons of coffee aromas with a creamy vanilla and malty smell there as well.

T: The taste starts with coffee but soon after the vanilla and roasty malt flavors take over and leave a wonderful finish on the tongue.

M: The feel is creamy from the carbonation but it's a bit thin for an "Imperial" porter.

D: High ABV yet tasty profile puts this on the medium end of drinkability.

Very tasty and I wish I had access to this without having to trade for it. This along with Terrapin Wake N Bake are the best coffee beers I've ever had.

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Photo of fastsrt
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle in snifter

A: black, tan head diminished quickly.

S: coffee, vanilla in the back, malts mingled with subtle coffee.

T: first taste thought was "this reminds me of founders CBS" all the flavors are balanced making a wonderfully flavored beer

M: mild carbonation, dry bitter finish with lingering vanilla.

D: at 10% one bottle is good, and reasonably priced, high quality have paid twice this much for beer not at good.

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Photo of reds2harleys
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Wonderful brew from Ballast Point. Pours dark with nice foamy head. Excellent flavor with just a hint of vanilla, very subtle. Looks heavy but drink fairly light. You def get the booze in this but still drinks easy for a high ABV.

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Photo of brewskifan55
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Hop City, Birmingham

A: Tar black. A 2 finger tan head that took its time getting squared away. Sticky lacing.

S: Coffee strong with vanilla and chocolate bringing up the rear.

T: Huzzah! Strong coffee notes, followed by a faint essense of vanilla and a decent chocolate and malt backing. Take your time and enjoy.

M: Medium to heavy with creamy carbonation.

O: An outstanding porter. Would be great with a chocolate chip cookie. Wish I'd bought a bomber. Recommended. Love the label artwork, too.

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Photo of JamesStreet
4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A- thin-looking ink-black with a wispy beige head that leaves nice lace on the glass.
S- blasts of strong bitter coffee roast dominate. Lovely aroma! Small hint if vanilla bean comes through as well.
T- coffee subsides a bit but is still the dominate character in this one. Sweet molasses flavor on the back that cuts the coffee nicely.
M- velvety medium feel with moderate carbonation.
O- this brew is a delight to quaff if you're like me and love big, coffee aromas. The taste falls off a tad from the nose but is still high quality. Lovely beer!

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Photo of breadwinner
4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Coffee lover's delight here, along with a healthy dollop of vanilla. I thought it got perhaps a touch heavy with the vanilla, but and it's definitely a sipper, but I think it'll probably right in a lot of people's wheelhouses.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,215 ratings.