Dismiss Notice
Get 12 monthly issues of BeerAdvocate magazine and save $5 when you select "auto-renew."

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join our email list →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.

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.

1,282 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,282
Hads: 6,217
Avg: 4.35
pDev: 8.97%
Wants: 1,031
Gots: 1,880 | FT: 92
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,282 | Hads: 6,217
Photo of Gavage
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a dark brown almost black color with a thick 3" milk chocolate colored head. Moderate lace paints the glass.

Smell: loads of vanilla, roasted malt, and chocolate is easy to detect.

Taste: big roasted malt flavors with a load of vanilla, some coffee tones, moderate amount of bitter chocolate, and some moderate bitterness. Alcohol is barely noticeable here.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit creamy at the finish. Aftertaste is long lasting.

Drinkability: this is a slow sipping beer, but the flavors keeps it interesting throughout. Definitely worth seeking out.

 618 characters

Photo of BigB415
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good thing I like vanilla because this beer is all about the vanilla. Labeled at an imperial vanilla porter, the label doesn't lie. It's been a while since I had a porter since I'm a stout guy but I figured I'd give it a try since Ballast Point makes great beers. Pours a pitch black with light lacing. Smells heavily of vanilla and I think I smell some alcohol which is expectant with this beer weighing in at 10% first sip I get more vanilla and some burn from the alcohol which doesn't over power. Very nice beer, I can see why it's on the top 100 and why it was sold out of most places that I went to.

 605 characters

Photo of W_Des
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with big coffee aromas from the glass. A little bit of cocoa comes through on the nose and a tinge of vanilla sweetness. The body is full of coffee with a slight acidity. Roasty flavors come out as well although I want some more vanilla in the body. Seems like it is masked by the coffee.

 300 characters

Photo of spoony
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 650 ml bottle to a tulip. Reviewed from notes dated December 6, 2014.

A-A normal pour produces a healthy, two-finger head of mocha foam. The head is fluffy and retention is good. The beer is ebony in color but I can see a few bubbles climbing up the glass. Good looking stuff.

S-The aroma is heavy on the dark chocolate and coffee, but the vanilla mutes the bitterness and acidity somewhat and gives a suggestion of a cappuccino or mocha latte. There is just a bit of smokiness lurking in there, as well as some leafiness from the hops. Very interesting.

T-The tastes is similar to the smell. The flavors are a mix of smooth, milky, creamy, vanilla on the one hand, and roasty, acrid, coffee bitterness on the other hand. The beer is surprisingly dry and quite complex. The alcohol is very well hidden.

M-The feel is smooth with milder levels of carbonation and a medium body.

O-I'm not sure that I totally enjoyed the flavor profile of this beer, but it is incredibly well-made and unique. The layers of flavors are impressive and I would never believe that it was 10-point-whatever ABV by tasting it. The look and feel also score quite high.

 1,156 characters

Photo of lordofstarside
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber to snifter, enjoy by 11/16/13

Pours jet black with a finger of khaki foam that's started receding. No visible carbonation, alright lacing- pretty run of the mill. Smells of dark roast coffee, cherry, fig, vanilla, caramel, some hops, alcohol, toasted malts, chocolate, and a mass of other dark fruity esters. Some definite complexity, not the most but stands out. Taste follows the nose, strong up front coffee and vanilla, a slight hop profile, toasted malt, cherry and other fruits, creme, caramel, and a touch of alcohol. Feel is full bodied and thick. Very creamy and rich, goes down easily. Overall this stuff is pretty good, despite not having much taste for coffee, which by far dominates the taste. Well crafted, must try if you're big on coffee

 761 characters

Photo of Bung
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. Nearly black pour, cream colored head with a small amount of bubbly lacing. Aromas roast malt, hints of woody vanilla. Tastes similarly with much more assertive vanilla, coffee and some caramel. A little bourbon like booziness, but not bad at all. Definetely a sipper right now. Close to creamy mouthfeel. I bet this will age very nicely. Been very impressed with Ballast Point, this one did not disappoint.

 414 characters

Photo of Greywulfken
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: stout black, rich full head that leaves lotsa lace

S: roasted malt, espresso, some mocha and vanilla

T: very nice roasted malt with a vanilla syrupiness through it; burnt bitter back to the creamy sweetness gave it nice depth

M: crisp for a beer this rich; viscous body masks the abv

O: I was not as floored by this beer as some others - the beer started off with sweet vanilla flavors, and then dried into roasted espresso notes - a well-crafted beer for sure

 467 characters

Photo of metter98
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: It was poured into a snifter glass and was dark black in appearance with a thin mocha-colored head.
S: The aroma is filled with coffee flavors and some hints of vanilla.
T: The initial taste is of dark, roasted malts and chocolate after which the coffee flavors begin to intensify and continue through the finish. There is a bit of sweetness in the overall taste.
M: It feels very rich and medium-bodied on the palate. There is some dryness in the finish.
D: This is a beer that definitely needs to be sipped given the high alcohol content.

 543 characters

Photo of bens0n
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

This beer pours a nice dark black, but theres not too much head or lacing going on, looks pretty flat, tiny bit of medium tan head.

On the nose I pick up on a slight trace of vanilla and coffee and another smell that I can only describe as a soggy wood deck, its really interesting, not really what I was expecting though.

Flavor wise its got a nice smokey backbone, slight hint of vanilla comes in thats kind of sweet. Not picking up on too much roast/coffee at all, smoked vanilla is what I can pick out. Definitely well masked ABV though, not boozy at all. Has a funky woody/smokey flavor that lingers around

Mouthfeel is nice and slick, not too thick, but a decent viscosity.

Overall, not really what I was expecting, especially given the fact that has additional flavor additives in it. Its not a bad imperial porter by any means, but really did not live up to my expectations of a coffee vanilla porter.

 913 characters

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Got this awesome beer from Beerdy. Thanks Brien! can't wait to try this beer!

Poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Dark black beer with a dark mocha brown head. Super thick lacing sticks on side of the glass and a thick cap of tiny yet dense bubbles remains on top this awesome looking brew.

Smell: Roasty malts and massive coffee aromas. The vanilla is still pretty easy to find, but is not a strong as the coffee.

Taste: Upfront you get a strong coffee taste that has a bite to it. The bitterness recedes about mid taste and vanilla takes over; it is subtle yet still has a nice sweetness to balance the coffee. Milk chocolate, mild booze, and a mild bitterness returning in the finish.

Mouthfeel: This is a huge porter! Medium bodied beer with a silky feel to it. I am really amazed at just how well this beer has held up the carbonation is spot on for a porter! The vanilla accents the booze in the beer and the beers has a slightly boozey bite. I wonder what this beer was like fresh. It is a well made beer!

Overall: This is without a doubt the best Ballast Point beer that I have had! This is the only bottle of this beer that I have; looks like I will be trading to get more! Everything is really nice in this porter; great balance without any ingredients overpowering the other and I still has a bite. Which shows me this beers is still a bad ass!

 1,361 characters

Photo of WunderLlama
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bomber poured into snifter

Black liquid with brown two finger foam cap, decent lacings

Aroma of coffee and chocolate

Taste of chocolate, roast coffee, vanilla, licorice

Good beer,mrepeatable

 195 characters

Photo of jrenihan
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On-tap at Ginger Man.

Beer is black with a small tan head,

Vanilla is the strongest smell. it is actually somewhat overpowering, though nice. Some chocolate as well.

Tonnes of vanilla and chocolate in the taste. Roast malt and a bit of anise. The coffee is quite muted in comparison to the vanilla, which is very strong. Quite balanced, with a notable bitterness despite the inherent sweetness of some of the flavours. Very nice- truly a dessert beer.

Full bodied, moderately carbonated. Fairly thick. A bit creamy.

Overall, very enjoyable indeed. Reminiscent of DDC's Aphrodite, which I suppose is not surprising.

 620 characters

Photo of jminsc76
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Simmzy's in Manhattan Beach, California.

Pours a decently sized espresso head atop a black body. Very little lacing or legs at first, that is until I let it warm, then agitate, and then bam! out comes the head with thick legs as I tilt the glass.

Strong aromas of coffee, oak, and sweet vanilla beans, the last of which is the most prevalent in the bouquet. Wonderful smells.

Bitter coffee and vanilla on the front end, with bananas and darker fruits exhibiting toward the finish. Also accompanying those fruits is a slight quantity of booziness, which detracts slightly from the richness of all the other flavors. Grrr...

An incredibly thick mouthfeel as I swish, very full-bodied and pillowy. Love that feeling.

Overall, I was a little offset by the heat, as I have had this both from the bottle and from the cask and both consist of heaven on earth in deliciousness without the booziness. However, this is still a masterpiece of an imperial porter, and remains among my top five favorite beers of all time.

 1,029 characters

Photo of arlo19
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%

I had this beer out of town so brought 2 bottles home on the plane. Finally drinking and reviewing a year later.

Great dark pour, healthy carbonation and lastling head.

Aroma is mostly coffee, with some cocoa as it warms.

Taste is chocolate covered espresso beans (thanks, Tim). Drinking it cold, I was overwhelmed with a dry and bitter aftertaste. Like the aroma, it tastes more balanced warmer.

Solid beer, it would be great to do a side by side with this, breakfast stout and roebling imperial robust porter.

 519 characters

Photo of Beerisheaven
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle picked up and poured into a Dogfish Snifter glass.

A - Black pour with a tan mocha head that finishes with small lacing on glass.

S - Lots of coffee, some chocolate, some wood, and a nice roasted malt smell. I did not smell any of the vanilla on the pour.

T - Velet smooth taste. I would compare this favorably to the Devil over a Barrel without the bourbon profile. I got lots of coffee and espresso taste with a bit of wood as well. Again, not much if any vanilla even after letting it warm somewhat. Lots of roasted malt as well. Great taste.

M - Probably my favorite aspect of the beer. Really smooth and velvety. Outstanding.

D - If you like a coffee or porter, put them together and you will really like this.

I loved this beer. I am going to pick up a couple of more bottles to enjoy it before it is gone.

 833 characters

Photo of regspeir
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours almost black with a huge head which settled quickly. Good lacing remained throughout. The nose was milkshake - chocolate and vanilla, caramel, with a noticeable roasted malt and coffee. The mouthfeel was creamy and a perfect thickness for a porter. Taste was carmel, coffee, vanilla. The finish contained some bitterness, smoke and a mild and pleasant alcohol warming. i would not be able to sip at this all night but will definitely seek it out again - an excellent porter.

 480 characters

Photo of nomomentwasted
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at O'Brien's pub in a pint glass. Tapped a new keg today and bailed on class so I could try this one that has been on my list for quite some time. And it's a full pint too! Huzzah O'Briens!

Appearance: Black. Dark. Like coffee. I have a feeling I'll be saying that a lot, but it's really dark, almost no light escapes. The tap was a little headless though, and so that's the only knock on the otherwise splendid appearance.

Smell: Big nose of huge malty texture, slight bitterness and, oh yeah, coffee. Slight tinge of vanilla in the nose, but really muted and less than I expected from a coffee vanilla porter. Aromatic, big, and pleasing.

Taste: Coffee, burnt malty flavors, and stout, porter back end. I tried hard to get the vanilla here, but it's not too big. Definitely very little boozy quality though, and less than the Stone 12th, which was my comparison beer for this one. Really, really coffee-y though, and reminded me of a more porter-take on the Speedway Stout from Alesmith. Pleasant, but not mind-blowing either. Don't get me wrong, loved the taste, just not exactly as complex as I'd hoped.

Mouthfeel: Creamy and full, and not watery while not boozy either, which is a tough line to walk for big, dark beers.

Drinkability: I knock it slightly as I couldn't imagine drinking much more than I did of it as far as a pint goes, it's simply a little too filling. On the enjoyability, however, fantastic, and well worth seeking out. Looking forward to having this in the future aged in the bottle as well and see how it matures.

 1,561 characters

Photo of arizcards
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber from Total Wine in late February for $7.49. Coffee meets beer, my two favorite beverages!

Beer poured black with a bubbly tan head. Nose is good, heavy roasted coffee dominates. Taste is roasted malts, coffee, slightly sweet from the underlying vanilla. There is a nice smooth hop finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very smooth. Overall drinkability is good. Initial sips were hot. I would love to try this beer with a year of aging! Glad to have had the opportunity to try!

 498 characters

Photo of malloyca
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Opaque brown appearance with a reddish-to-coffee tint around the edge. Nice lacing. Coffee and vanilla aromas leap out of the glass. This initially smells like something to pour over vanilla ice cream; there is no residual aroma of malt, just the coffee and vanilla. Mouth feel is exceptional because it combines a nice viscosity with some carbonation and a finishing bite. This is not a flabby vanilla porter. The flavors are initially of vanilla, but that sweetness is balanced by bitter coffee and roasted malt. The 10 % abv is well concealed.

 546 characters

Photo of jaasen64
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle thanks chase2634. Poured into Founders snifter, bottle split 3 ways. No date visible on bottle, but I believe it's a 2010.

A- Pours a dark black with a very thin mocha brown head that quickly recedes and leaves very nice lacing that clings to the side of the glass. About average carbonation.

S- Coffee, vanilla, some roasted malts, a little bit of booze. A little bit above average aroma strength.

T- Coffee, quite a bit of vanilla (even more then the aroma), some booze that's nicely hidden by the coffee/vanilla, finishes with a nice vanilla taste that lingers. If this is a '10 then the vanilla and coffee held up very well. A lot more vanilla then I was expecting.

M- Smooth, lightly creamy that supports the vanilla taste very well, goes down easily, nice carbonation.

O- This was a very nice porter. A very nice vanilla coffee flavor that is very well balanced and hides the 10% abv very well. I'm pretty sure chase2634 told me this was an '10 however I'm not sure if that's definitely true due to the date. If it is true I'm very impressed by how well the vanilla and coffee held up. I definitely recommend trying this beer out.

 1,153 characters

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks Thickfreakness for the bottle!

A: A dark brown, almost black body, with a tan head and great lacing.

S: A nice and smooth nose of coffee & vanilla with a roasted malt background. Slightly boozy too.

T: Bitter coffee is the first flavor I taste, followed by some roasted dark chocolate malts and sweet vanilla. Very creamy with some caramel in there.

M: Although very smooth and creamy, the mouthfeel is a bit heavy like a stout; medium to full body; medium carbonation.

O: Really glad I got a bottle of this. Really good beer that I would love to get another one of. Definitely worth a try if you like coffee flavor brews.

 634 characters

Photo of seand
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep opaque black or near-black brown, with a fair amount of dense foamy head. What's there retains pretty well, and leaves very nice webs of lacing.

S: A huge, rich, and decadent mix of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt, with a touch of cherry. Smells like a freshly baked dessert pastry.

T: Quite sweet, with a nice roasted malt body. Finish has a light coffee bitterness. It's like your dessert with coffee, all in one!

M: Rich and full bodied, with medium carbonation.

Overall it's extremely well done. It's very rich, but nicely put together, rather than just a straight up malt bomb.

 615 characters

Photo of RossiDaMan
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Coffee drinkers unite. Very strong coffee flavor that finishes with sweetness and an alcohol kick-- like a Starbucks with a vanilla extract chaser. If you like your morning Joe be sure to check this one out!

 209 characters

Photo of SanDiegoBeerLove
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Very Dark(lika a stout), half finger light tan head.

S - Coffee, Vanilla sweetness, Bourbon and Chocolate. Very even smells.

T - Tastes very close to the smell only stronger. Tastes of Coffee, chocolate, and vanilla with some smoky bitterness. Very light on sweetness(unexpected) and the alcohol. A slight metal taste in the finish also quite high in tannins.

M - Heavy in the mouthfeel with light carbonation.

D - Very drinkable but the 10% could hurt the good time.

Very much a stout in most characteristics.

 519 characters

Photo of Extol
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - black in color, with a foamy brown head. Smell - mostly coffee and something else I can't put my finger on. Taste - blast of coffee with a subtle vanilla to smooth out the bitterness. Overall - this is good, can't wait to see as it warms a bit.

 257 characters

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,282 ratings.