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

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,160 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,160
Hads: 5,641
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 949
Gots: 1,580 | FT: 108
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: 1,160 | Hads: 5,641
Photo of lacqueredmouse
4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

220oz brown bomber purchased from Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam and Rich.

Pours a decent brown-black colour, with a relatively light body that doesn't hold carbonation. Head forms a decent filmy crest of golden-crispened brown and the lacing is excellent. I'm a bit surprised at the body, but otherwise it looks pretty decent.

Nose is wonderful, and delivering on everything I expected. Lovely oaky vanilla characters, cut with a crisp, fruity coffee aroma and underpinned with rich dark chocolate and malts that give sweetness but nothing in the way of grassy graininess. It's sweet and luscious and impressive—I don't care if it's also something of a gimmick. Gimme gimme gimme.

Relatively smooth and light entry on the palate just peppered with a little coffee spiciness. Big rounded, slightly empty vanilla characters come through in the mid palate. The back palate is where the richness is: dark chocolate and red mole pricked with more of that coffee bite and everywhere fresh and vibrant from supple vanilla. It's very pleasant once you get here: a little bit lacklustre beforehand.

Feel is very good: light enough to remind you it's a porter, but with heft to remind you it's 10% ABV.

Overall, it's a lovely brew, but perhaps one that was always going to be lovely. The flavours are pronounced and are quite well balanced. It's drinkable and very tasty. Something perhaps stops me from gushing wholeheartedly about it, but there's no doubt that it's a very fine brew. (1,528 characters)

Photo of elgiacomo
4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle, best by October 17, 2013. Served at around 45F and allowed to warm.

Pours thick black with a small light brown head that leaves some spotty lacing behind and recedes to a light cap and ring.

Aroma is big and bold vanilla and coffee, in fact those two are so strong I’m having a hard time picking up much else, maybe some underlying notes of roasted malts, chocolate and caramel. Excellent strength.

Flavor starts with a big wave of vanilla, moving towards some dark baker’s chocolate, coffee, roasted malts, a little dark fruit, very little hop presence, moderate sweetness, some alcohol but well integrated at this level of ABV. Really tasty.

Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich, creamy, somewhat sticky, good carbonation.

Man, this stuff is delicious! A vanilla bomb! Such a treat to get to try this. One of my customers brought me a bottle after a trip to the West Coast, so a big shout-out to Mark for this one! (932 characters)

Photo of captaincoffee
4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Near black with full tan head and lots of staying power. Nose is complex with various malts and burnt malts, and plenty of coffee and vanilla. Taste is a bit much...tons of flavor, but somewhat muddled and overdone. Finish leaves a bit too much bitterness over the coffee and dark malt notes. Definitely a good big beer. Definitely not a quick or quaffable. Need to spend some time with it, and one is probably plenty. Overall very good. (440 characters)

Photo of SLOTHLIFE
4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just had this for the first time...Thoroughly enjoyed it but every single sip I would get hit with the sensation of Vanilla Coke. I haven't drank or even thought about that stuff in like 12 years but seriously through the whole glass I was reminded of my junior high cafeteria and that dude from A Bronx Tale...
It was kind of distracting.

Will revisit. (356 characters)

Photo of r0nyn
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into my Otter Creek nonic.

Pours big, dark and thick with a half-inch tan head that recedes slowly. There's a ton of sticky, stringy lacing that just completely coats the inside of the glass. Really a rather pretty beer. Smell is full of coffee beans, coffee beans, coffee beans. You've really got to whiff it good to detect the other nuanced scents in there. After a few deep sniffs, I get the titular vanilla along with some dark chocolate, berries and caramel.. Definitely one of the more complex-smelling beers I've ever sampled.

I thought I knew what to expect tastewise, but this beer totally surprises me. Tons of roasted malts dominate the flavor profile, along with the substantial coffee character. Not too much astringency. Can't really detect the vanilla, which is slightly disappointing, but not dealbreaking. There are notes of sweet, dark and bitter chocolate towards the end with maybe just a hint of alcohol warmth. Mouthfeel is really quite nice, with a medium body and smooth finish. Carbonation is pretty non-existent. Not really chewy, but has a nice amount of oomph that makes the drinking experience quite pleasant.

Drinkability is great with this beer. It looks great, smells and tastes very good and goes down easy. If you love coffee, you'll love this beer, because fresh, it tastes almost like an iced coffee. You'll just need to be careful, because unlike an iced coffee, this porter carries a very well-hidden 10% ABV that can be very dangerous. On the whole, a great beer to crack open with a few friends. (1,559 characters)

Photo of Double06
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Decided to crack this one as a reward after finishing law school exams.... 22oz bottle from Fa10 poured into snifter.

A: The darkest brown, just a shade short of black fading along the edges to an almost reddish color. 1/4 inch light brown head with enough viscosity to lightly coat the edge of my glass.

S: Not as strong as I would expect but very nuanced and well-balanced between the coffee and sweet vanilla notes.

T: Changing swallow by swallow but I'm getting a hint of the alcohol heat to start, then the vanilla and sweetness, followed up by the deliciousness of the coffee . Very well balanced and tasty!

M: Solid amount of carbonation allows the flavors to fill the mouth and tongue. Leaves enough coating in the mouth to let you keep tasting it but not so much that it's thick.

D: Very high... the coffee finish makes you want to keep drinking more to balance with the initial sweetness. The non-heavy mouthfeel contributes as well. I could easily drink 2 of these in a sitting but at 10%, it'd hit me hard.

Went out of my way to order this one to Georgia and I'm glad I did. Another well done offering by the folks at Ballast Point. (1,151 characters)

Photo of BuccoFan
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into snifter from 22 oz. bottle. Very impressive head and lacing. Body of this imperial porter stands up against, and is even more robust than, some imperial stouts. Vanilla is the first taste, with the coffee bitterness detectable on the way down. I'm not too crazy about vanilla porters/stouts, but this is objectively a high quality beer, and if you like vanilla, you'll no doubt like this. (401 characters)

Photo of Hopstuff
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Good lord Mary Joseph, this one strikes the knickers like a lacy momma ready to pounce on a unborn tadpole. I am dripping with amazement. Ballast Point's best effort to date. Something tells me I might OD on greatness. But seriously this beer hits home for me. A Porter born to sail the night, without fear, without wavering from the very foundation of why I love the west coast set. Its like surfing in a sea of mocha foam born from the depths of a dark sea, married to the sky. I can't imagine a darker sailor to share the night with. It like two passionate mates are meeting in my mouth to shag! (598 characters)

Photo of raiderob
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

From a bomber into das boot.dark coffee color with brownish foamy head.vanilla bean.caramel coffee taste with slight hint of 10%.....sweet&tasty...Prost (152 characters)

Photo of Dope
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Last year's batch.

A: Black as night pour. Big, dense mocha-colored head. Fades at a moderate pace. Nice spiderwebs of lacing left behind.

S: Lots of coffee (naturally). A bit of sharp alcohol. Get a touch of vanilla and... cherry, oddly enough.

T: Coffee and a bit of char up front, but not overpowering. It's mellow and sweet with hints of dark fruit. Nice wave of vanilla follows that into the middle with some milk chocolate. More char and coffee (bitter now instead of smooth like up front) in the finish. Long lingering bitter coffee and baker's chocolate in the aftertaste.

M: Full bodied, fairly heavy. Smooth and creamy vanilla coats the mouth.

O: A nice heavy imperial porter with some big coffee notes and just enough vanilla to smooth it out. Tasty with a really nice mouthfeel that helps it go down easily despite the 10% ABV. I'm normally not a fan of coffee beers but this is one of the best. (914 characters)

Photo of scotorum
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

a: Black with just a hint of ruby clarity. Head was finger plus thick tan, receded slowly to a dense surface foam film and extensive lacing.

s: Combination of dark malt and dark fruit with the emphasis on smoky dark malt.

t; Prunes and vanilla under bitterness; smoky porter aftertaste does suggest cold strong black coffee. Bitterness lingers at the sides of the tongue. A hoppy porter.

m: Medium; the bitterness, excessive for a normal porter, makes it seem heavier.

o: Unique, and at first, highly sippable. Unfortunately, malt sweetness and vanilla flavoring are not prominent enough to offset the prune and cold black coffee flavor and hops bitterness, which after awhile begin to grate.

Probably would be better offered in twelve ounce portions. Might be good with spicy or fatty foods, but would overpower mild flavored anything.

People who like strong cold black unsweetened coffee will likely go for this, but those of us who like our coffee sweet and light, and our porters less hoppy. not so much.

Perhaps this is an old bottle; no date is visible anywhere. If the vanilla has faded, that might explain why I was less impressed with this than the average BA review. But it is definitely a very flavorful brew. (1,230 characters)

Photo of Vdubb86
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a 3 Floyds pint glass

Thanks to Mages64 for this want

This beer pours a gorgeous dark black chocolate color with a tan foam residing on the surface. The aromatics are rather pleasant they remind of all of the smells listed in the name of this beer. Coffee, check. Vanilla, check. Imperial Porter...well that translates to dark chocolate for me, so we're good. I wanted to rate this beer higher than I did. The first couple of sips were heavenly nectar, but the sips after that were acidic and astringent to my palate. I must say that the mouthfeel when warmed up to nearly room temperature was solid, but at suggested temps was merely good. This beer was pretty darn tasty and easy to drink to boot. I would crack open my other bomber of it, but at 10% that would spell disaster. I really enjoyed drinking this beer. (828 characters)

Photo of dasenebler
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ballast Point Victory at Sea
8/29/12
22oz. best before 5/11/12

Pours a dark brown hue, pretty much black until you hold it to the light. Towering tan head is very attractive, leaving great lacing on the way down. (4.5)

Aroma has a strong but pleasant vanilla note, along with a hefty dose of chocolate and a wee bit of dark fruit. A hint of oxidation, but otherwise nice and clean. (4)

Flavor is bold, malty and hugely chocolatey. The vanilla is readily apparent, making this brew seem more like a piece of liquid chocolate cake than a beer. Mild roast leaves some tang on the finish, and the coffee character builds as the drink wears on. More rich than sweet. Alcohol is as well masked as anything I've had for the style. The mouthfeel is thick and chewy with creamy, medium-low carbonation. (4, 4)

This is a very nice beer and would make for a great dessert when shared between two beer lovers. (4.5) (907 characters)

Photo of reebtaerG
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A 10oz pour into wide mouth short glass at Lures

A-a black pour with a thin tan head

S-aromas of coffee, chocolate and licorice

T-taste of coffee, chocolate and a hint of vanilla

M-medium to heavy body with light carbonation well balanced smooth and silky

O-overall a great porter I was expecting more vanilla (315 characters)

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

A Pours a dark brown that borders on black. Topped off with a mocha head.

S A bit of roast and coffee

T Very strong vanilla notes that are followed with some coffee and a bit of roast. Tastes like some sort of sweet coffee drink from Starbucks or something with the vanilla masking much of the coffee.

M Decent body about right for a porter I suppose.

Overall this is quite an enjoyable beer that I would gladly pick up again. (471 characters)

Photo of DenverHopHead
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a snifter.
Appearance - black with a bit of light coming in; a medium, creamy, mocha head that leaves decent lacing!
Smell - vanilla, coffee and some sweetness similar to Kalua!
Taste - follows nose exactly; bold, robust flavors that hide the 10% ABV brilliantly!
Feel - creamy, slightly sweet, and some bitterness on the finish. Complex and flavorful brew!
Overall - well worth the high praise! I intend on aging a bottle! (454 characters)

Photo of ratedz
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to MrTopher for sending this my way...I have been wanting to try this for a long time. Thanks again, Chris!

A - Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with about an inch of light brown head. The head retention was fairly impressive and as it did subside, it left a lot of lacing on the glass.

S - Nose is full of coffee followed by some roasted malts and a little vanilla.

T - Some bitter coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and hints of vanilla. A little alcohol burn on the finish.

M - Fairly thick body, very creamy and smooth. Light carbonation, which feels perfect for this beer.

O - An excellent porter. Very smooth and easy to drink despite the 10% ABV. I would buy this fairly often if Ballast Point decided to send it the KS or MO. (752 characters)

Photo of Treb0R
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
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. (769 characters)

Photo of oline73
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a snifter.

Appearance: Pours an opaque dark brown color with a little light coming through at the edges. There is a half finger of tan head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Smell: Definitely getting the coffee along with some vanilla. There are some dark fruit notes along with a roast. I'm getting the alcohol burn as well.

Taste: Coffee and roasted malts dominate the flavor right off the bat. I'm getting some dark fruit and vanilla notes as well. As the sip progresses, you get some bitterness along with a burn from the alcohol. The finish is roasty and a bit boozy. Not overly sweet, especially considering the ABV.

Mouthfeel: The body is on the thicker side with lots of carbonation and a dry finish.

Overall: A very good coffee beer. The flavor was quite full and there was a lot going on. I actually wish this beer was a bit sweeter, but I still enjoyed it. (896 characters)

Photo of aasher
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle was courtesy of thagr81us in a recent massive trade. Thanks Calton! I've been wanting to try this forever.

It pours a dark, dark, dark brown in color, medium in body, with a light beige lacing around my snifter. The aromas are an array of soft chocolates, toffee, lightly roasted malts, vanilla, coffee with cream, with a subtle sweetness. Surprisingly there is no bitterness on the nose at all. The flavors consist of sweet milk chocolate, lightly creamed coffee, dark chocolate, light vanilla bean, chocolate milk, and it finishes with a slight coffee bitterness. It's really smooth and moderately rich. It's sweet but not too sweet. Overall it's a very, very nice beer and a hell of a porter. The alcohol isn't overly present and it's a fine beer to sip on. This is another well made beer from Ballast point and worth your while. (845 characters)

Photo of DSlim71
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Bomber pours pitch black with a dark tan head that hangs around for a few minutes. Some nice, spotty lacing is left behind after the head is gone.

S - Coffee right away with vanilla coming through pretty strongly. A little char, roastiness, and dark chocolate.

T - Same thing with the taste, you get the coffee up front but the vanilla takes over, maybe a little too much. The dark chocolate is there, and it's a little boozy, especially as it warms. Finishes with a roasted bitterness.

M - Creamy, medium bodied with a low to mid level of carbonation.

I picked this up in a bottle shop in PA, and I'm glad I did. It was a nice sipper to finish off the weekend, but the heavy vanilla kept it from being great in my opinion. (736 characters)

Photo of seeswo
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The title of this beer is quite the mouthful! I recently came across a forum discussion about the difference between an imperial stout and an imperial porter. The short answer: little if anything. With that question answered, I dove in.

This beer smells really good. I am partial to the flavors of vanilla and coffee and how just the smell of them affect me physically being a coffee drinker. I perked up immediately and figured I was in for a treat.

The taste was very good. Robust, with a solid texture, mostly balanced and not overdone vanilla and coffee. Actually, I could have gone for a tad bit more on those flavors, but this bottle is a year old, so I don't know whether they faded a bit or what. A great choice for a cool fall evening, I just wish I still had a fireplace to enjoy it next to. A lot more low key than some of the crazy RIS's like Darklord, Darkness, etc. - and I say this as a good thing. Not a flavor bomb or chewy, thick, sweet cloying mess like the above beers can be (they are still delicious, just not as a whole bomber on a regular evening).

Really good beer. Did not slay me, but definitely worth efforting to try. One of those beers you wish you had gotten more of... (1,205 characters)

Photo of tpd975
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to kiefdog for this treat.

A: Pours a nice dark black hue with a small fizzy head. No retention or lace noted.

S: Lots of artificial vanilla with bold notes of dark chocolate and fresh coffee.

T: Bold vanilla right from the start, a bit artifical in taste though. Bold coffee takes over the middle with mild bitter chocolate playing off the vanilla in the finish. I like this one.... would be great if the vanilla was more vanilla bean like.

M: Medium in body, smooth, tasty.

D: Good, I rather enjoyed it. (517 characters)

Photo of matttttYCE
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into my Deschutes snifter glass. I've had this for a little while but I don't know why I haven't drank/reviewed it yet.

Appearance - Aggressive pour yields a tan, creamy smooth looking 2 finger head that diminishes but not very quickly. Leaves some lace but not much. Color is pretty much thick black (maybe a little bit lighter than that) and opaque.

Smell - At first I'm getting mostly a soft pleasant coffee smell with vanilla like someone made me a cup of coffee that wasn't really strong at all and put some nice vanilla creamer in there. After that is some nice malt and that typical porter smell (not quite deep dark roasted malt like a stout but it's there). Also getting some toasty nutty smell in there a bit and some chocolate as it warms. It's a nice complex smell. Not really overpowering or overwhelming at all and I'm not sure whether I'd rather have more vanilla in it or not. But this one may be a bit old and the vanilla may have faded some.

Taste - It's sweet. It's got the other tastes like you would expect too. Lots of coffee, roasted malts and light vanilla and a bit of alcohol noticeable on the way down. Also feel like I'm getting some of the chocolate in the taste as well since I'm smelling it more in the nose as it warms. I could drink this so much more often if it was more available. A little bit of a bitter coffee note finishes off the taste on this one.

Mouthfeel - Mouthfeel is actually really good. Not thick and chewy like a big imperial stout, but more rich with a nice medium body. I guess this is bordering on a stout, but who cares. It's a damn good beer. Carbonation is probably light or creamy on par with a nice imperial stout. Finish is more wet and lasting but it doesn't last too long.

Overall - This is a very good beer. Of course, I feel like I'm on a roll with big flavorful beers that I'm reviewing. Maybe I've got a thing for vanilla or coffee flavored beers, I don't know. What I do know is this: If you think coffee or vanilla (or both) sound interesting in a beer, DO NOT hesitate to pick this one up if you see it. I doubt it will disappoint. (2,124 characters)

Photo of Chizoad
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stoked to find this at local ramen house Underbelly. Not exactly sure what an American/Imperial Porter is.

Paler than an imperial stout, but a nice head with ok retention.

Coffee, vanilla, strong malts, pretty much as expected. Smells great.

Very similar flavor, nicely bittered. Lacks a little complexity.

Love the weight of this beer. Definitely not the thickness of a stout, and that makes a big difference for drinkability. Carbonation was spot on. Not boozy in the least.

Certainly the best porter I have had, but it's not a style I drink a lot of. (558 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,160 ratings.