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

Not Rated.
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,215 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,215
Hads: 5,906
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,715 | FT: 92
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: radshoesbro on 03-17-2009

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,215 | Hads: 5,906
Photo of modidia
3.64/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A bit too heavy and a bit too sharp on the finish. I don't love supporters generally but this one got such great ratings I have to try it. I think it needs a bit more sweetness to balance out the sharpness.

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Photo of callmescraps
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I somehow keep missing this beer. It's time to finally give it a try. Ran into it when purchasing some celebratory fruit for good friends.

Appearance- Black? Possibly very, very dark brown. It looks black. Two inches of mocha head settle down and laces somewhat. Only a thin cap remains.

Smell- Like a cup of coffee. Lots of roast. Deep, rich coffee notes. Some licorice. Not getting a lot of the vanilla bean. Roasty. A hint of cherries.

Taste- Comes forward with some nice chocolate covered cherry. That licorice. Then the roast comes in for real. Lots of bittersweet chocolate. The burnt aspect lingers. And lingers. Downright charred. I want more vanilla. It comes through at the start. But then it's burnt caramel and roast, and more roast. The vanilla comes out a touch better as it warms.

Mouthfeel- Nice carbonation. Seems a tad light.

Drinkability- No hint of the booze. So nice. Plenty of hints of burnt coffee.

Probably not meant to be. Not a huge coffee fan. Sometimes I find a coffee beer that does it for me (Speedway Stout comes to mind). This is not one of them. I was hoping the vanilla would balance things out, but it didn't seem to come through.

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Photo of SensorySupernova
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black as night, with a low brown head.

Smell: A little bit of whiskey and caramel. Not too strong.

Taste: Very sweet all the way through. Caramel and whiskey, a bit woody. Roasted malts, although not as strong as the appearance would suggest. Reminds me of a Scotch ale. Plenty of vanilla in there. Some alcohol heat at the end; about what you would expect at 10% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, moderate carbonation.

Overall: Enjoyable, but too sweet for me. Maybe it would improve with a year of age; I had it fresh on tap so I don't know. Definitely lots of different flavors in here. Look and feel fit well with a big beer.

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Photo of Chico1985
3.67/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours as black and mysterious as the bottom of the sea with a small tan head that sticks around, leaves decent lacing. Not picking up much coffee in the smell, but great scents of vanilla and caramel, and later on some chocolate. Unfortunately the taste is a little lackluster. Mostly a decent coffee taste, a little sweetness, but not much vanilla. A little roasty. But the thing that really kills the taste is the alcohol, it's there up front with every sip, 10% is too high for a porter in my opinion. A little vanilla and caramel is detectable in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is fine for the style. It would be alot better if the alcohol was more hidden. I've had plenty of 10% beers and coffee beers that do it well.

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Photo of corby112
3.67/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very deep dark brown while pouring out of the bottle but looks pitch black and completely opaque in the glass with only the slightest hint of mahogany edges when held to a light source. Foamy one finger light tan head that has decent retention, only slowly settling into a lasting cap and ring that leaves sheets of lacing in it's path.

Sweet chocolate malty aroma with a very nice roasty character and subtle vanilla. These combined aroma produce a tootsie roll like chocolate coffee scent that is mouthwatering. The roasted coffee bean presence becomes more prominent when it warms. Subtle hops become evident beneath the lactic, silky chocolate notes. Very complex aroma, hopefully the flavor lives up to it.

Chewy silky malt dominated full body with a huge roasted coffee bean presence. Lots of silky chocolate malt and some subtle mellow vanilla notes but the flavor is a bit overpowered by the very intensely strong deep roasted coffee, espresso bean. Hints of oatmeal, toffee, very burnt toast and licorice with a nice dry bitter hop character in the finish. I can't overemphasize how much of a strong burnt/roasted coffee presence there is. It's a bit too harsh for me and extremely bitter, taking away from the silky chocolate and vanilla notes that I liked so much. Alcohol heat mid-palate that becomes stronger at the end of the swallow and produces some warmth in the finish. Pretty complex but a bit one dimensional for me. Recommended for fans of roasted coffee and big coffee beers.

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.67/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Go Ducks! Since I'm a CAL alum, I gotta pull for the PAC-10!!!

This beer is crazy already. Pours an inky black, with a dark tan head that basically fills the glass. It's a slowly billowing thing, too. Kinda like watching the Titanic sink in that lame movie starring that girl's boobs. It just keeps expanding until it reaches the pinnacle and then, ever more slowly, crumbles into a finger of marshmallow like beauty. Lacing is coating the galss like toffee. Amazing so far. Some nice, albeit not super robust aromas in here. Some coffee for sure, some vanilla, like a vanilla cappuccino in a way. Some sweetness, but it's really subdued. Something else I can't quite place. Like cinnamon roll...Holy mackerel, the flavor is crazy. It's certainly a porter, and it's certainly robust. The vanilla lends a bizarre character - it makes the middle and finish taste like burned coffee. Or, mayhaps, coffee w/Baileys, but unsweetened...The coffee notes don't really dominate until the end, where it blasts into you a little too forcefully. The finish is super bitter, and I'm not sure they wanted that. It's a mixture of hop bitterness and that coffee flavor. This beer is expensive at $7.49/bomber, 10% ABV so it's a sipping beer. The flavors get less punchy as it warms, but this is still really a beer for Imperial Stout lovers and their ilk...

What I like most: The crazy beautiful (like Kirsten's chest in that movie) pour

What I like least: The overpowering bitterness and price point...

Verdict: Good, albeit not fantastic, and unique. Worth trying if you see it but probably too crazy for most folks to enjoy..

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Photo of beerad666
3.68/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a rich thick black with a heavy brown head. The aroma is sweet, lots of vanilla and chocolate. As for the coffee I feel like it is somewhat missing, just slightly there. I feel the same way about the taste. The chocolate and coffee were fighting it out and the chocolate is winning. They just weren't working together like they should. Very creamy and rich in the mouth. Good flavors and complex but I don't think it completely worked. I had to pass my glass onto someone else it just was too sweet for me, maybe would have been better after a meal.

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Photo of WJVII
3.68/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2/23/11 review session hosted by Cdkrenz reviewed from notes- cdkrenz sample:
Poured into a pint glass this brew has a thick oil like black color with a nice 3 finger chocolate head. There is a strong aroma of burnt malts, coffee and caramel. The flavor is more mild than expected and not until a few sips do you notice the subtle but delicious vanilla that matches perfectly with the chocolate flavor. The coffee that is advertised is not very noticeable. This had a smooth milky body and was good but not the best we had that night. Strong brew and definitely recommend.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.68/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a shade from pitch black with three fingers of thick tan head. The head slowly subsides with nice lacing and a thick film atop the beer.

S: Lots of smooth earthy coffee in here with some dark chocolate and a hint of vanilla and caramel sweetness - kind of like coffee and cream. Fairly straight-forward, but nice.

T: The coffee is still very present, but now dark chocolate comes out quite strong along with nice roast. The roast and coffee meet somewhere that almost makes them indistinguishable between the two, though the coffee remains very obviously there. Vanilla comes in fairly strong as well, but there is an acidic twang in the aftertaste. Without this acidity, this beer would be very good.

M: Medium thickness with fairly strong carbonation.

O: The coffee is very, very strong with this one, though it goes well with the beer. The beer remains fairly dry, though the vanilla sweetness is a nice touch. A bit acidic. A good coffee porter.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.69/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black, with a chocolate brown head. In the aroma, a light roast, chocolate and vanilla hints. In the taste, quite roasty, dry chocolate, and a dry coffee note. A small bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry coffee aftertaste. Faint nose, not much vanilla, hides the alcohol, but just about average.

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Photo of beagle75
3.69/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.
2009 batch.

A: Opaque black color--turning clear, dark brown where light is allowed to penetrate around the edges of the less-full glass--with over one finger of diminishing beige foam head. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Rich chocolate forms the backbone of the smell, also with brown sugar, Irish cream, pipe tobacco, and spirituous vanilla. The combined effects of these smells are all-encompassing with endless depth--and make it hard to believe it didn't see the inside of a wooden barrel.

T: Begins sweet, briefly figgy, with roasted malt and an acidic burst of the tobacco from the smell. As acidity fades toward the middle, coffee emerges, eventually welcoming the drying bitter finish. Also featured in the finish are earth, herbaceous green stems, and a lingering whiff of vanilla. This beer presents restrained booziness throughout, but less than is expected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, leaving the palate burning either from acidity or alcohol, with surprisingly brisk carbonation.

D: Opening the bottle is made worthwhile just by the smell of this over-rated beer. While flavors generally match the intensity of the smells, the sharpness of early acidity is off-putting and difficult to ignore. Definitely a sipper--it's sensory qualities tower over other bottled imperial porters, such as Flying Dog's Gonzo.

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Photo of TwoPack
3.7/5  rDev -15.1%

A: Deep, Deep brown. Nice light brown head that dissipates but thin layer remains. A swirl easily produces another layer.
S: A hint of milk chocalate upfront that quickly turns to espresso. Short of a burnt coffee/espresso. A hint of vanilla extract.
T: Big hit of vanilla, especially at the very beginning and then also sharply lingering on the aftertaste. But most of the flavor is dominated by bitter coffee. Quite bitter. Also decently boozy. I don't smell the alcohol but I taste it.
M: Mouthfeel is nice, full and creamy. Not so rich that you feel like chewing but the right amount of body for a beer of this kind.
O: 3.7. It's very good, but I wanted to enjoy it more. I enjoy the slight chocolate, vanilla and coffee flavors, but it comes off a little too harsh and the bitterness lingers too long in a not so pleasant way.

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Photo of bubseymour
3.71/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Way too ash/roasty for me. No sweetness at all. Just ashy and bitter finish. Ok, but not my style preference for a big porter/stout. I really don't understand the high ratings for this one at all.

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Photo of HuskyinPDX
3.71/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber opened on 1-22-12.

A - Pours a dark brown with a dark tan head. Great retention with good lacing.

S - Nutty and lots or roasted malts.

T - Chocolate milk and roasted malts, lots of vanilla.

D - Good carbonation and medium body.

O - Bitter chocolate and lots of coffee and vanilla. Not quite what I was hoping for.

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Photo of dfillius
3.72/5  rDev -14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Enjoyed in a 5 oz. taster at Stone Bistro.
A: Very dark brown with 1/2 finger of head.
S: Kahlua! Reminiscent of walking down the coffee aisle at the supermarket.
T: Bitter from coffee flavor maybe more than hops. Alcohol, and a bit of Kahlua.
M: Heat definitely
D: Meh. Delicious, but not too much due to the strength of the alcohol.

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Photo of Tele
3.73/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A: 4.25 Looks nice and viscous out of the bottle. Super dark brown, almost black with an off-white head that dissipates quickly.

S: 3.75 Roasted coffee and malt dominate the nose with strong vanilla coming right behind. Coffee smells pretty earthy (maybe I let this one go a bit too long; perhaps better fresh?).

T: 3.5 Bitter coffee and roasted malt. Vanilla sweetness is in the middle with more bitterness at the end.

M: 4.25 Really nice carbonation and pretty rich and thick. Well done here.

O: 3.75 Probably need to revisit this one fresh (or even age it longer to see if the bitterness of the coffee mellows out a bit). It’s pretty good, but fresh it might be more balanced and interesting.

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Photo of Michael_D
3.73/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with a minimal khaki head. Smells heavy on coffee and roasted malts. Vanilla and booze in the background. Tastes sweet up front, some hops to balance, and lots of coffee. Vanilla isn’t as heavy in the flavor as I’d hope it was going to be, but it’s there. A little bitter in the aftertaste, where most of the vanilla is. Thick, mouth coating. Good stuff.

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Photo of BeerAficionadoMCMXC
3.74/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

A- color is dark brown. Tilt of glass reveals some brown but still maintains the dark brown color.
S-100% vanilla, slightly overpowering.
T- I got roast, vanilla, coffee, and a bitter finish. Chocolate is also very present.
M- chewy, thick, dark, stout.
O- imperial porter?! This is a stout.

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Photo of JBogan
3.74/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a very dark brown, in fact if you don't look closely it might even appear black. A one finger tan head caps it off, which soon turns into a thin film which remains and leaves moderate lacing. Nice looking but nothing extraordinary for this style beer.

Smells like a whole lot of coffee dashed with a hint of chocolate. Not very complex but pleasing nonetheless.

Taste is of roasted coffee, a hint of vanilla, and more coffee. No sign of the caramel that is supposed to be in there, and no sign of alcohol despite it's high ABV. Oh, and more coffee. Once again, not especially complex.

Mouthfeel was excellent. Very slick and smooth, almost oily in fact, with a medium/thick body.

When all is said and done, if you like coffee you'll like this one. I would have preferred a lot less coffee and a lot more of the caramel and vanilla which are supposedly in there. You've heard of hop bombs? This one's a coffee bomb.

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Photo of CrazyDavros
3.75/5  rDev -14%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with a large tan head.
Aroma of vanilla, roasted malt and very soft coffee.
Flavours include more vanilla and a fair bit of sweet malt. A fair whack of coffee too.

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Photo of Zonk
3.75/5  rDev -14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Deep brown color. Nice aroma of coffee and really significant vanilla. Mouthfeel was fairly rich and creamy. My problem with this beer was that the vanilla came off as really artificial which kind of ruined it for me.

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Photo of mxchap
3.75/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Overall: More on the roasty / coffee side than I remember. Vanilla very much takes a back seat. Not a bad beer overall, but I remember it being more balanced and nuanced previously. [3.75]

Look: Minimal head and dark brown in color. Minimal lacing [3.75]

Smell: Follows the taste, except the vanilla is somewhat noticeable [3.75]

Taste: Extreme coffee flavor. The debittered dark malts come in second. A smidge of bready sweetness and heat on the back end. Vanilla? [4]

Feel: Feels a litte strong on the carbonation, and a bit thin overall. Warming [2.75]

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.76/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Pours a super-dark brown with just a hair of light creeping around the edges as it rests in my pint glass. The head is a frothy and delicious lumpy tan that leaves some good lace.

Smells of metal with hints of maple syrup and vanilla. I think this will smell better as it warms.

There's a lot going on in the flavor as everything seems to pounce out at the same time. There's a smooth, solid porter base here that's a little on the thin and dry side, but that's OK as it makes for a subtle foundation for the coffee and vanilla. This would have been a disaster had this not been the case. Finishes surprisingly clean with little hints of coffee and a touch of sticky barley. Edit: I did a double take when I caught the abv. 10%? I never would have guessed.

Feels big and present without being too much to handle. Leaves a bit of a film in the mouth though.

A bomber shared with friends seems like a good call. I'm not too excited about finishing this one solo though. Not sure what's going on with the smell, but the metallic twang kinda wrecks things a bit.

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Photo of aorloski
3.76/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drank at 9:30 am paired with vanilla yogurt and pomegranate granola

Appearance - incredibly viscous motor oil out of the bottle. Looks better than mosts stouts. this one poured vigoursly gave me a 2 finger mocha head that was fluffy.

Smell - Boozy, booze right up front that hides really great notes of coffee, vanilla and roasted malts.

Taste - Again, this one is a little hot and pretty booze forward. Incredibly sweet with not a ton of vanilla or coffee shining through but they are there. I was expecting more robust qualities of a porter mingled with vanilla and coffee, sounds better than executed.

Mouthfeel - Creamy as hell, silky and chewy.

Overall - A tad of a disappointment for me, wanted it to be more than it was probably, but still a very fine crafted brew regardless.

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Photo of WhiteOak
3.76/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark coffee brown color with a cola edge. The expansive, foamy head is light brown.

S- From a bottle, there was a short-lived but wonderfully seductive initial aroma of espresso layer cake with caramel and creme brulee´, but unfortunately this aroma blew-off within mere minutes of the first pour. After this, the nose became muted and offered only a whiff of one-dimensional roasted malt. There were hints of some very nice aromatic notes here, but since they were so fragile, I had to score accordingly.

T- Flavors of roasted, slightly chocolatey malt attack the palate first, followed by a mid palate of bitter dark roasted coffee. The lingering finish is dominated by a bit too much coffee bitterness, but it is not unpleasant. A moderate amount of smokiness is present as well. The hops are restrained, as they should be with these added flavors.

M- The feel is creamy and moderately viscous; very pleasant.

D- ABV is masked behind its richness and structure, with only a warming touch. Certainly quite drinkable, and a nice interpretaion of a Porter.

Comment: Nice brew, and might have made a great candidate to spend some time in oak.

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