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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.

1,216 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,216
Hads: 5,913
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,718 | 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: 1,216 | Hads: 5,913
Photo of philbe311
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Initial review on 11/28/09 (tap):

A - Dark shiny midnight black color... Just the tiniest bit of riuby highlights leak in at the top when the glass is tilted... A slight medium tan head quickly fades leaving an minimal but inviting lace... No carbonation can be seen... Leaves rings one the glass on the way down...

S - The nose is fairly subdued given the size and boldness of this brew... Present are roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, and a bit of licorice... Very little in the way of vanilla...

T - Equal part coffee, chocolate, and hearty roasted malt... The alcohol's warmth is present, but well hidden in the background... Absent are the vanilla and balance I enjoyed so much in draft form...

M - Slightly more than medium bodied, but still extremely delicate... Ever so slightly chewy... Goes down very easy considering the 10% ABV would lead you to believe... Not quite a sipper, but close... The bottle version proves to be a little more fizzy and a little less creamy...

D - A world class offering in draft form... Still a very formidable offering in bottle form... The vanilla and balance are MIA... Also the mouthfeel suffers from increased fizziness...

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Photo of jeffjeff1
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

I picked this up at Bevmo I think.

Appearance- black color, nice size tan head, nice lacing

Smell- coffee, roasted malt, chocolate

Taste- coffee, chocolate

Mouthfeel- full bodied

Drinkability- This was very good. It was definitely what I want when I drink an imperial porter. Excellent beer!

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Photo of wcudwight
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thick black with a nice creamy mocha colored head with good retention. Mocha and chocolate aroma with a hint of vanilla. Flavor is very similar to the aroma with more vanilla. Dark chocolate with rich roasted coffee flavors and strong vanilla. The flavor just sits in the mouth and lingers for awhile. I love it. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of heavy and coats the mouth. As drinkable as a 10% beer can be.

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Photo of rlee1390
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received in a beer trade, poured into a snifter.

A-Dark motor oil black, creamy brown heady that leaves some lacing.

S-Coffee and Roasted malt, not picking up the vanilla though.

T-Mainly coffee and roasted malt. Some vanilla is in there as well. However it really needs just a tad bit more vanilla to be perfect. Some bitterness in the finish but not much.

M-Heavy, syrupy with some carbonation.

O-A solid beer, but when Vanilla is in the title, I would like to see a tad bit more for my tastes. Still a great beer that I'm glad was included in the trade.

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Photo of BretSikkink
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark dark black in color with a good-looking head of two fingers, beige in color, with large bubbly pock-markings. The nose is quite large, especially once the head settles and the thick lace starts to form. Notes of heavily roasted barley and plenty of coffee, with I suppose a hint of vanillin in the sweetness.

Solid flavor all around, with a good dosage of what you would expect from a Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter. Espresso notes are present, and mix with the clear vanilla hints to give a white bittersweet chocolate impression. Hops are earthy, and melt into the roasted coffee notes to add a pepper edge - not to mention the zing provided by the alcohol.

Great drinkability, as the booze is masked by the preponderance of quality flavors. It comes off as fairly sweet overall, however, which hurts the drink score for me personally. I wouldn't mind if the mouthfeel were thinned a bit by a heavier hand of hops. No matter - this is a solid brew all around.

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Photo of gyllstromk
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Where is the fish on the label? These skeletons freak me out.)

Pour is black, wet, with a gentle, brown head. Aroma is chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and caramelized sugar, bringing to mind a pastry. Taste is vanilla with a kiss of sweetness. Coffee on the finish rounds it out. Lingering coffee bitterness. More vanilla on the exhale. Feel is thinner than a normal stout but has a stickiness to it; coats the mouth with a bitter, burnt aftertaste. Where is the 10% alcohol hiding?

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Photo of ColdPoncho
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks much to plenum for this bottle! (from my cellar to yours LIF) From notes, 1-6-2011

A - Very dark brown, not cloudy though, medium light brown head which dissipates to a thin layer just on the surface of the beer.

S - I smell wood, which seems mostly to be my confusion about the bitter and dry coffee in the nose. Theres some warming alcohol, and the vanilla comes out as it warms.

T - Very well in keeping with the nose, bitter coffee, very big flavor, with the vanilla coming out more as it warms.

M - big and robust, a bit drying.

D - this is a sipper, but I do like it quite a bit, so drinking it isn't bad at all.

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Photo of emyers
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz. bottle poured into a Founders snifter.

Appearance: Pours near black with a 1-finger medium brown head. Leaves a nice lacing down the glass.

Smell: Very multidimensional. Coffee takes the forefront, but strong vanilla and dark chocolate take over at times, only to fade out and be replaced by another aroma, creating a layered bouquet.

Taste: The base beer comes through a lot more here with a very strong roasted malt base. Coffee and dark chocolate build off of this foundation. The vanilla is much more subtle here than in the aroma, but provides added complexity. Caramel malt and some earthy hops come through on the finish along with a nice bitterness and a slight acidity from the coffee.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, medium carbonation. Hint of acidity from the coffee.

Overall: Great beer. This would be above average even before the addition of the coffee, chocolate, and vanilla, but they really bring it over the top. Excellent.

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Photo of jpro
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had at 10oz draft at Closed for Business...

A: Black. Dark brown, dense head is formed on the pour; rings and sheets of lace get left on the sides of the glass.

S: Piney hops??! Not expecting that to be the first thing I noticed... Coffee and roasted malt; a dark chocolate sweetness; vanilla.

T: Starts with a short blast of vanilla; then transitions to roasted malts and a hoppy bitter; surprisingly bitter finish given the sweetness from the vanilla and chocolate malt.

M: Near full; creamy and slightly viscous; higher carbonation than expected.

D: Fairly drinkable considering the 10% abv (I had no idea... wow!); a lot of flavor going on (especially the sweetness) might wear out the ol' taste buds.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This bottle was a gift from drabmuh. Thanks Matt!

A: A flawless appearance. The beer is jet black and completely opaque. There is a dense, thick, foamy head of a dark tan color. The head retention is great and the glass is coated in lacing.

S: Fresh coffee beans. I am a coffee drinker, and I appreciate the aroma of fresh coffee. We are off to a great start with this beer. Also noted are scents of roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, and alcohol.

T: The beer tastes great. The coffee is more present than the vanilla. The beer leads off with coffee and segues to vanilla and chocolate intertwined in roasted malt. Very impressive. As good as it is, I wish Ballast Point would use authentic vanilla instead of natural flavors. This beer is so close to being amazing. It's the little things that often make the biggest difference.

M: The beer is very flavorful and smooth. The 10% alcohol is disguised very well. It's creamy and thick, with the perfect carbonation level.

D: It's so good, I'm drinking it too fast, but not as fast as last time (see notes). This stuff can catch up to you quickly. I thoroughly enjoy this beer. I'm taking down the bomber by myself tonight, as I have been really looking forward to a good night to enjoy it, but honestly, it's probably best shared a few ways.

Note: Chugging this beer midway through an epic tasting can lead to immediate and irreversible intoxication (even if your friend grills you chicken in the middle of the night) and palate wrecking, causing the imbiber to not be able to differentiate Kate the Great from Alpha Kong. Seriously.

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Photo of E_Schaaf
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

L: 12oz poured into a snifter - a deep brownish-black, consistency and appearance reminds of cold brewed coffee. One finger head, a mid-toned sepia. Dissipates quickly.

S: Medium roasted coffee, subtle vanilla bean, faint butterscotch? Very malty with some cocoa notes too.

T: Follows the nose in breadth, but coffee and vanilla dominate with a malt backbone. I'm surprised at the subtlety of the alcohol considering the ABV. Tastes best possibly slightly above cellar temperature. Not too warm, but not too cold either. Not as bitter as expected on the front, but crescendos over a few seconds. Aftertaste leaves one wanting another sip.

F: Much fuller than other porters that come to mind (Black Butte, Anchor, Smog City Coffee Porter). Medium body, present but temperate acidity, moderate carbonation (persists for a while, a pleasant surprise). Goes down easy but is very rich. Best savored slowly.

O: A delightfully bold porter. Easily a favorite in this style, and I love the forwardness of the coffee. Despite my moderate caffeine tolerance, I definitely feel a kick from this one. Lovely on a cool evening like tonight 11/15/15.

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Photo of pigc
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black with three finger brown sugar colored head with good retention.

S - Toasted malts, chocolate, caramel, coffee, vanilla.

T - Starts out with smooth, rich, dark coffee followed by a wave of chocolate, vanilla and iced coffee bitterness with a touch of the alcohol heat in the end.

M - Medium body with plenty of carbonation to go around.

O - Definitely a world class imperial porter here. Very complex with all the notes. Just a tad bit hot on the alcohol. This one could benefit to be put away for a year or so and would certainly smooth out even more with age.

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Photo of oberon
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I hald this for a little while but the urge got to me to much last night.Poured into an imperial nonic a deep dark chocolate brown with a thin dark beige head that didnt last long,a great mix of heavy coffee roast and vanilla imparted sweetness,a bit of sweet alcohol and dark fruit shows thru as it warmed.Roasty and sweetish upfront with the dark roast coffee flavors prevelent,a vanilla/carmel flavor lends some hefty sweetness,there is a drying earthy almost resiny note in the finish that is drying just enough.A great beer it is a one and done though because the alcohol is potent and can give off some big sweetness,a rich well made beer.

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Photo of glid02
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap.

Pours black with a one-finger tan head. The head recedes into a wispy layer on top leaving solid lacing.

Smells of roasted malts with good amounts of semi-sweet chocolate and vanilla.

Tastes similar to how it smells. Roasted malt flavors up front are joined by semi-sweet chocolate almost immediately. Midway through the sip smooth vanilla flavors join the fray and carry through until a bitter chocolate ending. The vanilla flavors manage to linger for a bit.

Mouthfeel is good. The thickness is very nice with soft carbonation. As it warms it becomes smoother.

Drinkability is great. I finished my glass rather quickly and could have a few more.

Overall this was a very good Imperial Porter. I have to say I didn't get a whole lot of coffee flavors out of this, but the beer did just fine without them. Worth a shot.

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Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Look: Quite dark with ruby/cola highlights. Loads of messy lacing.
smell: Lots going on. Pretty aggressive charred, roast, dry but also sweet vanilla.
taste: again, lots happening. The porter and coffee dominate as in black coffee, quite dry with a hint of sweet vanilla.
overall: aggressive coffee vanilla porter as advertised. Well done.

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Photo of ColdOneKev
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-black body with big tan head leaves heavy lacing.
S-overwhelming cocoa and vanilla. Roasted malts.
T-layer and layers of coffee and vanilla. Chocolate and roast. Bitterness of coffee is offset by malty sweetness and vanilla. No detectable alcohol burn.
M-thick body low carb oily mouth feel.
O-i knew this was going to be a good brew based on reputation and I wasn't disappointed. Seek it out!

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Photo of infi
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 release, 22 oz. bomber. Shared with BAs brun and NYManc.

Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

A beautiful deep dark-brown color with a thin tan head of short retention. Barely translucent throughout. Smell is incredibly full of dark-roasted coffee bean, as it's the first thing to immediately hit the nose. After all that coffee, were some nice milk chocolate and vanilla bean sweetness notes that really amplified the drink experience. There were some small hints of toasted malt throughout too.

Taste was incredibly roasty with the coffee dictating most of this porter's flavors. The coffee beans were nicely roasted with no points of astringency found at all, which is a nice plus. There was a good amount of maltiness to the taste, as well as some smooth cocoa/chocolate aspects. Not much of a vanilla flavor as I hoped it to have, but the beer was substantial as is.

Mouthfeel felt silky all the way through with low amounts of carbonation. Medium in body and weight. Drinkability is incredible on this beer. One bomber was definitely not enough for us three. Very flavorful and smooth-drinking. The 10% ABV isn't found in the taste at all, but it'll keep you at bay in the long run. Another damn delicious gem from BP.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Joe at Walnut Liquorette got this from the back for me. Thanks! On to the beer:

It is black. Very black. The head forms rocky on top, holds up well, and is tanned. Nice roasted coffee bean aroma....almost like Also a little smoke. Behind all that is a whisper of citrus hops. Now there's the addition of chocolate. It really changes are you keep inhaling.

Black Marlin Porter remains one of my all-time favorite porters, and the same folks who make that beer make this one as well. There are vanilla notes, but you need to squint hard enough to taste it. From the get-go, roasted, bitter coffee dominates. Bitter chocolate sits underneath the coffee. Astringent coffee and ash linger in the aftertaste. Alcohol is hidden incredibly well in this beer. There are the hops again, which squirt a little of its juice into the nectar (and a little hop bitterness). As for the liquid, it is smooth with a medium feel. It doesn't feel like its listed 10% ABV.

The aftertaste is the chink in this beer's armor. Otherwise, a good creation by Ballast Point, with the possibility of being wonderful.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at the Blue Dog pub in Lansdale.

A: Poured a pitch black, wasn't too surprised here. The bar was a bit dark but not much light was going to get through this one anyway. About a fingers worth of tan head slumped down to a thin ring around the glass.

S: Huge roasty aroma, heavy on the coffee and a bit bitter smelling. Had a very nice sweet aroma as well of a sweetened coffee. The vanilla was noticeable but not overwhelming. Very nice. Good sweet malt profile.

T: Chocolate and coffee mingling well, mocha. The coffee tastes like a very dark roast and adds a very mild astringency. Good bitter flavors balanced with some sweet malts. One big, bad porter for sure.

M: Went down very smoothly with no burn from the alcohol content noticed at all. Good full bodied porter.

D: This one falls into the dangerous category. May be hard for some to stomach more than one of these, but I'm a fan of huge dark beers. Very drinkable and glad I had the opportunity to taste this on tap.

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Photo of cdkrenz
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Black to dark black body up in the 30 to 35 SRM range. This is about as black as they come. The head is a medium to dark tan color with decent stamina.

S - Aroma is that of coffee with accents of anise and chocolate.

T - Coffee, rich rich coffee with a vanilla steadfast. This is a tasty beer. One of the best, if not the best tasting porter I've ever had.

M - Thick and slightly coarse.

~ This makes for a perfect desert beer. I mentioned above that this is probably the best porter I've ever had and I truely believe that. You must get your hands on a bottle or two of this big time porter.

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Photo of DagenhamDavis
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

An excellent beer, but a mote too sweet for my liking. Saying anything negative goes against the grain, but the punch I look for with an imperial porter/stout is a little bit hidden here. Full of flavor with notes of caramelized sugar and of course vanilla and sweetened coffee. Very thick and creamy in the mouthfeel, and a wet, astringent finish. Becomes more bitter as it warms, and loses some of the too sweet notes. Try it!
Great for the price (or almost twice the price) at 2.72/ bottle.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Appearance - The beer poured a murky black color with a modest mocha colored head.

Smell - The aroma was a pleasant vanilla malty aroma. The aroma is not overly sweet, but certainly seems to suggest a dessert beer.

Taste - My first impression on drinking the beer was to think of vanilla coke. Notes of malt, vanilla, dark chocolate, and a little dark fruit was present. The chocolate evolved to be more dry in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - For the style, I thought the beer was a little thin. Taking into consideration all the extras in this porter, the thinness is a little surprising.

Overall - I enjoyed the beer and would certainly drink it again. I am not certain that I would seek the beer.

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Photo of Andymac28
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Wowzerz! Pitch black. Dark tan slim head. Smells like burnt dark chocolate and slight vanilla! If you want lacing clean your f-in glass correctly and it will be fine. Taste- black coffee slight vanilla bean, just like it says on the label..incredibly well done BP

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Photo of BobZ
4.21/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

22 oz Bottle poured into a Pint glass.

Appearance: Almost black with a small 1/4" tan head that quickly recedes to only a cap, nice lacing.

Smell: Big coffee with a hint of sweetness.

Taste: Rich dark roast coffee is the dominant flavor there is some vanilla on the finish but it is subtle. This is done in a good way the coffee bitterness up front with just the hint of vanilla sweetness on the finish. Very little chocolate flavor as again the roasted malt supports the coffee flavor.

Mouthfeel: Very well bodied for a porter, smooth and drinkable.

Overall: An excellent coffee porter, full and very flavorful.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a CBS snifter.

Appearance - Slight transparency to the pour, but it's black once it's in the glass. Nice khaki head that settles and even seems to change to a lighter color. Probably just my foolishness there. Clings to the inside of the glass. Doesn't look particularly viscous.

Smell - Coffee most apparent, but it's pretty fudgy as well. Vanilla is faint in the nose. Every once in a while I get a hint of a metallic note.

Taste - Very chocolatey. Rich fudge. Coffee more subdued. It comes out in the finish where some of those roasted malts give it a bitter coffee finish. No metallic notes. Vanilla is much more prevalent here.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied. Not quite as chewy as I'd like. Smooth carbonation. No real heat from the alcohol.

Overall - It's a pretty stellar beer. I don't know about the whole "porter" thing. It drinks like a thin stout, but the flavors are great.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,216 ratings.