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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,193 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,193
Hads: 5,804
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 981
Gots: 1,652 | FT: 98
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.
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Reviews: 1,193 | Hads: 5,804
Photo of ale1
2/5  rDev -54.1%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

found this at Moe's Center Street beer store in Jupiter, Fla .

not having tried this porter style ale after searching all the shelves for new one's we added this to this evening's taste session again.

poured into a Seirra Nevada pint glass served around 55°

taste:coffee,vanilla to the nose, however when sipping some, hit with strong coffee,chocolate flavors, not what you'd expect from roasted barley however kind of a instant coffee taste if you like cuban coffee cortaditas, the bittering in the finish not from hops, but from the unsweetened chocalate & coffee.
this ale overwhelming, viscous appearance
really tough to call this a porter as it's really a black coffee bitter stout ..rather potent one at that.

this could be served as a desert type ale if that's what they intended????

naaa this isnt pleasant to drink, obnoxious glorpy cacaraca

like you're to assume ? or beat me, make me like it ?

this ale is like in your face coming and going , we'll pass on the next purchase
to call this an enjoyable beer ? no not really it just doesn't taste good even with all the flavors firing off at different times start to finish
tastes like a bad medicine

i homebrew ale, it has to taste good or i wont make it.

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Photo of CA_Jim
2.25/5  rDev -48.4%

Woah, this is a huge beer. Bitter, lots of coffee. Thick and heavy. The vanilla flavor seems lost at sea. Tasty in small amounts, but hard to finish a pint.

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Photo of sendsilk
2.29/5  rDev -47.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Just found one of these down here in good old FL, a rarity I can assure you. Read alot about this bad boy and am super excited to try it. Here goes the play by play as I drink it.

A- Poured dark, I mean really dark, burnt brown color. Nice 3/4" head but quickly recedes and not much lacing.

S- Holy Coffee! That's not a good sign for me. I like coffee for breakfast and beer for dinner and I likes 'em separate. I was hoping to be overpowered with vanilla but it is definitely coffee. Dammit, I hope this doesn't taste like some Kona Pipeline Porter which I bought a case of and can barely stomach the swill.

T- Coffee and beer dammit to hell. Where the hell is the vanilla guys? It DEFINITELY says vanilla porter on the label. How about labeling it V@S Coffee porter **Now without vanilla!!** I could have had a Cigar City Cubano Espresso which tastes very similar, BUT, I did not want a coffee beer. I'm sure many people out there love this (as witnessed by the rating) but this is not the "vanilla porter" I signed up for.

M- It does have a nice thick and creamy mouthfeel even though the coffee is overpowering.

Well, at least I can say I have tried it. I have another one of these that someone might want to trade for. I don't know, maybe as it gets older it will get better but this is definitely not for me.

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Photo of ShogoKawada
2.4/5  rDev -45%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

22oz into Portsmouth tulip. Been meaning to try this one for a long time.

A- Dark roast coffee... 5 finger head after an aggressive pour. Great formation/retention. Khaki in color, even and thick lacing. One of the better 10% pours I've seen in a while.

S- Kind of buttery toffee caramel. Mild heavily creamed coffee. Not really appealing.. there's something off in the nose here. .

T- The buttery caramel toffee is here but doesn't turn me off like it does in the nose. Vanilla is here but comes across more like artificial sweetener than vanilla bean. Tastes like a chocolate butterscotch sundae with some coffee ice cream. Sweet, but not in the realm of ST's creme brulee. Mild acidity, but the coffee is playing too much of a subdued role and the caramel vanilla sweetness is a bit too much.

M- Flavorful.. a bit too sweet. Stealth ABV, very lush body, great carbonation.

D- Low. I'm very 'meh' on this beer. For the price, I can't see myself buying this again.

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Photo of Keystrokegraffiti
2.87/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Looks great, but the taste was a bit off putting. At first the flavor is good, strong coffee and mild vanilla, but when it hits the back of the throat it's very dry and bitter. Was really looking for a smooth porter with this one. Disappointed.

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Photo of Auracom
2.87/5  rDev -34.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Extra from John, thanks man! 22 oz. bottle poured into a Jester King snifter on April 21st, 2012.

A - Deep brown coloring, a bit thin for a large porter. Medium khaki head with quick reduction and marginal lacing.

S - Big coffee bean and espresso as anticipated. Touches of roasted malts and vanilla underneath. Definitely more in the realm of an RIS than a porter in terms of aroma size and intensity.

T - Lots front palate carbonation followed by vanilla bean sweetness and honey. Mid to rear palate of stale coffee beans with cocoa bitterness. Some brown sugar sweetness blended into the mix, but it doesn't offset the poor coffee character.

M - Bizarre, and unfortunately lacking, for a porter. High carbonation, not at all smooth, medium body, dry bitter finish with a hefty espresso aftertaste.

D - I can't really forgive the taste and mouthfeel here. Huge disappointment. Bottle variation? I don't know that I'd revisit, but the hype on this one suggests I need to try it again.

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Photo of amphion1065
2.99/5  rDev -31.4%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bomber purchased in 2011, poured into a Duvel tulip.

A really fantastic-looking beer. Pour is very dark brown, almost black. A two-finger mocha head (that is, appropriately enough, reminiscent of cappuccino foam) just won't go away. Very tight bubbles, great retention. Awesome lacing, too.

Tons of of roast coffee in the nose. Those roasted malts are very, very strong. There's a pretty clear alcohol element in the nose as well. Just a very slight hint of vanilla. Nice, if one-dimensional.

Unsurprisingly, the taste is basically all coffee. There's a persistent, acrid bitterness that really lingers. Thought there's not a lot of vanilla at work here, there is definitely a pronounced boozy taste. Some dark fruits, but that burnt coffee quality is overpowering.

The mouthfeel is too thin, with overactive carbonation. This really needs to settle down.

I remember loving the first bottle of Victory at Sea I tasted - a friend had brought one back to Boston from San Francisco back in February, and I can still recall both smelling and tasting caramel in this beer. This was just average, and I'm not sure that age is to blame given the fact that the coffee was so strong. A let down for me.

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Photo of MadCat
3/5  rDev -31.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a nice dark black color with dark tan head, leaves good lacing

Smell: Strong medium roast coffee, some hints of roasted malts and earthy hops

Taste: Strong medium roast coffee dominates the taste. The faintest hints of vanilla, along with a little stronger hints of roasted malts and earthy hops. Good bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full body, good level of carbonation for the style

Overall: Disappointing. Severely. Even without all the hype it gets, picking up a bottle from a good brewery that says "Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter" you would expect something different. This tastes like you brewed a batch of beer replacing the water purely with coffee, and not a coffee with the kind of notes I prefer. If this didn't say vanilla on the label, I would have no idea it was there. And, you have to really know what you're looking for to tell that it is based on a porter. Now, maybe I had it too fresh? Maybe a little age will tone the coffee down? But still, where's the vanilla? I know its there, but it is so over powered by the coffee. I haven't had a ton of coffee beers, but what I have had is a bit more balance, a bit more toned down, and a bit more enjoyable. At $10 a bottle, I'm not going to try to figure out if I got a bad bottle. Still, this isn't a drain pour, but I can think of plenty of 4 pack or 6 pack beers I would rather have.

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Photo of Hojaminbag
3.03/5  rDev -30.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Ballast Point Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Porter (wow, that's a long one) has a black, opaque body with a large crown of off-white head that is composed of rather large bubbles. Retention is pretty good, and the beer laces the glass nicely.

Lots of coffee in the aroma, with hints of chocolate and vanilla.

This beer is a little bit puzzling for me. How does this beer sound so good to me, (coffee, vanilla, porter, I like ALL of these things!), smell so good, but taste so off? The flavors are there, they are strong, but they are a little bit cloying and I just don't feel like they come together well. Up front there is a ton of coffee and roasted malts followed by a large blast of bittersweet chocolate. The vanilla flavor is huge, reminding me of vanilla extract. A bite of bitter hops rounds out the finish, adding a bit of a citrus character.

The mouthfeel could use a little more punch, it is fine but would be better if it were bigger and a bit creamier.

One thing I will say for Victory at Sea is that it hides that 10% ABV really well, no alcohol flavor or even warming pops up, and I would not have guessed that this bad boy was this strong. Overall, however, this beer just did not work work for me. Ballast Point is great, and everyone else seems to love this one, but I thought it was a bit over-done.

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Photo of RobertColianni
3.08/5  rDev -29.4%
look: 4 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.25 | overall: 2.75

24oz. Bottle
10oz. Pours into XL Duvel Tulip

A: Victory at Sea pours black as night with a brown, creamy head that dissipates into islands of patchiness after about ten minutes. A very pretty pour.

S: The scent from this Porter is very straight and to the point: charred barley. There was no pretending or beating around the bush on this one. Very boring.

T: The flavor profile of Victory at Sea unveiled a creamy, frothy, hot chocolate, black coffee, and caramel once warm. Enjoyable, but still very standard or typical.

M: Once the head of the Porter dissipates, the creaminess sort of does as well. Once the body warms up for about fifteen minutes on this sipper, the malts viscosity drops off largely. Not that there was a ton of maltiness beforehand, but this beer really turns into a thin bodied mess of carbonation. Thumbs way down from me!

OVERALL: Victory at Sea is tastefully enjoyable, but not very balanced at all. To be blunt, it's all over the place. We agreed collectively that the chocolate taste was bitter and dry, the black coffee or espresso was very forward, and the vanilla was just a tingly and grainy mess that basically turned into a thin chalkiness after twenty minutes or sipping.
Victory at Sea didn't open up at all or gain a thing from temperature rise. Infact, it died completely, and fell apart. I've had much better.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
3.09/5  rDev -29.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

22oz bottle, trade with beerman4. Dark brown with a thin tan head. A very strong smell, roasted malts, sweet vanilla, maybe just a little coffee. Almost cloyingly sweet from the vanilla, also too bitter in the aftertaste. Could use more malt presence and less extra flavoring. The body is a tad thin for a robust porter style, didn't match well.

I'm a little disappointed overall, the taste is too sweet, the vanilla is more prominent than I'd like, and the coffee is too bitter. The bottle states this is an artisinal masterpiece but I disagree. Their IPA's are solid though.

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Photo of sa93
3.14/5  rDev -28%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

I feel this beer is somewhat overrated. It's all coffee, all the time. It doesn't have any balance. It completely drowns out the more interesting notes, and doesn't even really taste like beer. A small taste might be enjoyable from time to time, but that's it.

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Photo of NRo
3.29/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: beautiful black body with a nice light tan head

Smell: Like fresh coffee grounds

Taste: Seriously, all I can taste is coffee. This is marginally better than drinking cold coffee cause at least it's beer.

Mouth feel: nice and thick, smooth

Overall: I'd let it age and hope that the coffee dies down and let's other flavors come through.

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Photo of ptykozoon
3.29/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours blackish, strong frothy head, sticky lacing, red hues in the light, pretty.

Sweet rich coffee, not much else.

Lots of luscious coffee, not gonna lie - can't find much of any vanilla. Detecting a bit of hops.

Lots of heat and sharp carbonation. Smooth density contrasts the alcohol bite and carbonation AND coffee bitterness too much. Could use some time in the cellar.

Not a bad beer, great coffee quality, rich and creamy.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.34/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Ballast Point's Victory At Sea, porter brewed with coffee and vanilla. 10% ABV.

A: Almost two fingers of lighter chocolate milk colored head. Pitch black in the glass. Very dark brown in the dimple. A good amount of multi-layered lacing. Slight sheeting.

S: Deep roasted coffee up front. Vanilla is hard to make out against the coffee. Slight powdered cocoa.

T/MF: Very dark coffee, mixed with a bunch of char! And a heavy dose of hops. Quite heavy for a porter, all told.

Hmm. I'd heard good things about this one, but it is quite disappointing. I'll see how it warms up.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of mrmiles
3.37/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of my all time favorites. First time review. First bottle of the 2010 batch. Poured into my St. Bernardus goblet.

A: Pour is a dark brown. Very dark, almost black when held to the light. Slight foaming at edge of glass, but no real head to speak of. Small groupings of bubbles ride the surface.

S: Coffee first. Followed by vanilla and some chocolate notes. Some chocolate malt presence as well.

T: The vanilla comes first mixed with some roast coffee. Chocolate malt follows and then aftertaste picks up the coffee again. Boozy, but well hidden. Some bitterness present, most likely from the coffee.

M: Solid carbonation makes this beer feel lighter than it really is. Very deceptive. A bit viscous for a porter however.

D: Extremely drinkable. Even better after a year or 2 when alcohol mellows. Be careful though as the abv will catch up quickly.

Overall I love this beer. Like I said, one of my all time favorites and without a doubt my favorite porter. That being said, it very often doesn't feel like a porter. I will drink this beer again, and again, and again...

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Photo of mactrail
3.38/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A black liqueur of a beer.

Nice to look at, with a topping of beige-tinted foam. Pleasant enough carbonation. Intense flavors. Hot with alcohol and tastes like rum, with a dollop of Bailey's Cream. Hops are a good touch and cut the sweet maltiness, leaving a bitter aftertaste. I just keep thinking of those flavored instant coffees.

I guess this boils down to whether you like coffee and ice cream in your beer. Maybe for dessert with a piece of angel food cake.

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Photo of JohnPecod
3.38/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - not quite a stout and not quite a porter. The head doesn't stay around long but still overall a beauty.

S - Oak, coffee, with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Not an outstanding bouquet but perfectly acceptable.

T - Historically this has been one of my favorite beers, but this batch tastes distinctly different than the others I've had. The distinction/problem was the dominance of the oak flavor. Unlike previous batches that deftly balanced the chocolate, vanilla, and coffee flavors this lacked the depth and complexity I've come to expect. The oak muscled everything out.

M - A little extra pop of carbonation but perfectly in line with the style.

O - Maybe my buds we're having an off night. Luckily I have another bottle to do more "analysis."

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.38/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours pitch black with a bubbly mocha head of foam. Two fingers worth. It dissipated rather quickly. Leaves streaks of lacing.

S - lots of oily espresso on first sniff along with varying degrees of roasted malt and a bit of milk chocolate. Some mild spice notes along with hints of vanilla and toasted coconut.

T - vaguely sweet on the front of the tongue. The roasty bitter flavors enter mid palate to balance the sweetness. There are hints of vanilla as well but it seems to be providing a counter notand e to the strong esprosso bean roasty flavors.

M - full bodied. medium carbonation. Creamy texture.

O - an interesting ale. I was expecting a little more desert beer
from this with the vanilla playing a larger role. But still flavorful and well produced.

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Photo of MasterfulIdiot
3.4/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into an Ikea Snifter

Appearance is black, with an impressively large cafe-au-lait-colored head for the snifter. The head fades quickly, and leaves some scattered tendrils of lace.

Smell is majorly coffee, with a slight lactic tartness. Really smells like some kind of creamy iced mocha drink.

Flavor was a little disappointing to me. Lots of coffee and chocolate. But it's so roasty that it comes across as burnt. There's some nice off-setting sweetness on the palate from the vanilla, but the swallow ends up being overly bitter and charred to me.

Mouthfeel is nice, thick, and creamy, as I'd expect.

Overall, it's definitely good, but there are many coffee beers I'd choose over this one... Not sure what I missed here - maybe my expectations were too high?

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Photo of RAlmeida77
3.41/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wasn't blow away by this beer. Thought it was pretty good. HInts of vanilla and coffee in the nose but definitely wanted more of a vanilla presence in the flavor.

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Photo of kingcrowing
3.42/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22oz bomber poured into a Duvel tulip.

Pours a velvety black with a very small light brown head that quickly dies down. Nose is coffee, a bit of sweet vanilla and chocolate malts.

Taste is rich and sweet, the coffee bitterness is quite strong and present, a bit astringent and harsh. The vanilla isn't very apparent but I think it's toning down the bitterness of the coffee a bit. It's pretty good but a bit harsh for drinking a lot of.

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Photo of harrymel
3.42/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Black with light tan foam. Smells of coffee and vanilla, very strong and decadent. Flavor is overpowering coffee and burnt malts. Full bodied with moderate carb and an off dry finish. Decent beer, nose>flavor

Original review on 19FEB11: 3/2.5/2.5/3.5/3- 2.73
A: Pours a dark, brown ale. single finger latte head falls quickly leaving a fine velvet sheet. Little lacing.
S: Plenty of coffee. Sharp alcoholic nose. A little overbearing with the coffee and alcohol.
T: Once the beer hits the mouth, it's all vanilla. Such a severe transition from coffee to vanilla, man I don't really dig this. Okay, a little bit later and the coffee is starting to balance out the vanilla sweetness a bit. Roasty background.
M: Thick with low carbonation. Sticky.
D: This is a big beer. I will finish the bottle, but I will never seek this out again.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
3.42/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: Pours near black. Hints of dark rich browns at the edge. Head is dark khaki and starts off big and rocky. Drops to a smaller cap and clumpy collar. Some small notches of lacing. Moderate carbonation on the pour.

Smell: Loaded with fresh vanilla bean and straight up roasted coffee bean. A slight twinge of coffee acidity as well. Nicely roasted with a touch of burnt malt. Nicely caramelized with a measured sweetness. A touch of herbal hops with a ton of cocoa. Bitter baker's chocolate with some milder dark chocolate thrown in the mix. A touch of brownie as well. Vanilla adds a touch of sweetness as well.

Taste: Holy vanilla batman. Slightly bitter over extracted vanilla bean. Roasted coffee beans lend a bit of an acrid edge as well. Deeply roasted with some charred and burnt edges. Some cooked and caramelized malts, but it's more and more burnt with each sip. Sweet. Milk chocolate, bitter cocoa, straight nibs and then some overextracted clespresso. Very chocolatey. Did I mention chocolate and coffee and vanilla because seriously. It's borderline candy.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy up front. Finishes clean with a medium body and moderate carbonation.

Overall: Edward Kenway sank this ship.

Sweet and burnt. It hits on all the promised flavors, but it's just not all there. So very heavy on the vanilla and chocolate. A dessert beer yes.

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Photo of thebeers
3.42/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Bottle date 15058; batch 62.

Near black with two fingers of thick, lasting mocha-colored head that leave impressive lacing. Heavy malts, along with hints of coffee and vanilla on the nose, combine into a chocolate milk / YooHoo smell. The taste, however, doesn't live up to the presentation. The malt flavors expected from a high-quality porter just aren't there. Neither roasty nor creamy, there are hints from the solid nose present in the taste, but then an unpleasant, acerbic aftertaste I attribute to the coffee, although hop bitterness may also play a role. Glad I didn't buy a six pack.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,193 ratings.