Dismiss Notice
Hello, is it beer you're looking for?

Learn more about beer. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for as low as 68% off the single issue price.

Subscribe now →

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.

1,195 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,195
Hads: 5,819
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 984
Gots: 1,664 | FT: 96
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,195 | Hads: 5,819
Photo of RedChrome
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pure onyx body. Thick and foamy toffee colored head held over and inch for about three minutes before slowly receding. To dark to note carbonation.

Roasted barley hits strong up front and brings a nice coating of vanilla with it. Coffee aroma is quite strong and bursts forth after a second on the nostrils.

Strong bitter coffee taste up front. Vanilla background to the overall flavor. A very nice balance between malt and vanilla sweetness and coffee bitter.

Thick feel on all mouth surfaces and flavor clings to the tongue. Carbonation is a nice light burst.

A great brew. Works well as a dessert beer. A true treat worth finding. Coffee lovers will enjoy this one twice as much.

 688 characters

Photo of Bitterbill
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle courtesy of the generous trader known as russpowell. Thanks Russ!

This pours a near pitch black with about an inch of tan foam. The foam is receding fairly quickly and at this point there's some lacing.

The smell is very big vanilla! Vanilla and caramel malt sweetness. I can't say I smell any coffee at all...maybe that will change during the session.

The taste doesn't hide the coffee at all. Big flavourful notes of coffee and vanilla dominate and dominate in a very nice way. Very tasty. I get a light chocolate flavour as well with some caramel malt sweetness. Overall, the taste is ruled by bitterness but the malt and vanilla hang in there big time. Oh, there's the alcohol now, not so much in the taste but definitely gives a nice warming after the swallow.

It has a pretty thich chewy mouthfeel to it and the carbonation is on the light side but perfectly suited. At this point, the foam and lacing gone.

Drinkability? I'm not going to kid anyone and say I could drink this all night long but hell, it *is* damn drinkable for the strength of this monster and I think the collaberation between the vanilla and coffee works oh so well. A real treat to drink and one I'd look forward to trying again. Wonderful brew!

 1,234 characters

Photo of feylure
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this in from California last week and been wanting to try it.

Pours dark... like death dark with barely any brown around the edges.

Smell is intense; there's a lot going on here. Tons of lavish mocha and sweet, roasty malt everywhere.

Taste is a whiplash of flavor. Upfront, there are small notes of vanilla and sweetness, then during the middle is a rush of dark mocha + chocolate flavors. The tail leaves with the darkest and most intense of flavor. I love how this beer fades from light sweetness to extreme dark flavor.

Mouthfeel is full throughout.

This is a superb beer, and I wish it was more readily available up here.

 635 characters

Photo of MasterSki
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to srandycarter for sending a bottle of this my way. Served in my brand-new Red Hook pint glass.

A - Tar black, with a two-finger mocha foam that dissipates slowly and leaves a nice cap, but minimal lacing. A small amount of reddish-brown coloration is visible at the fringes of the glass.

S - Coffee! Vanilla! Ridiculously potent - even cold I can smell it a good foot away from the glass. The coffee is bitter and roasty, and there is also quite a bit of burnt malt, cream, and cocoa mixed with the vanilla. It's slightly reminiscent of Southern Tier's Crème brûlèe, but nowhere near as cloyingly sweet.

T - The coffee is nowhere near as bitter on the palate - it's more roast and slightly smokey. There's also plenty of milk chocolate, vanilla, and sweet malts. There's a tiny bit of alcohol that peeks out from amongst the flavors, but it's not particularly offensive. Roasty aftertaste - not very bitter at all, which is nice for such a coffee-infused brew

M - It's medium bodied, but on the thinner side, and seems a little watery for such a big beer. Carbonation is lively, with lots of tingle on the upper lip and top of the palate. Finishes with loads of sticky sweetness.

D - I'd have no problems with a bomber of this one, although it is mildly palate-busting and a little too high gravity for sessions.

We've started to get the regular Ballast Point line in Illinois, but I'm anxiously awaiting the day that we can get the special limited releases (Sculpin, Sea Monster, etc.).

 1,505 characters

Photo of DIM
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Goddamn it took me too long to try this one!

The aroma was fairly mild to me, I found a pleasant balance of vanilla, roasty malt, caramel, and a hint of coffee. This tastes leaps and bounds better than it smells. Sweet up front with vanilla and caramel playing nicely off of one another; a big roasted note come comes in mid-palate before a massive coffee finish. Just phenomenal! I especially appreciate how subtle the vanilla is. Vanilla is not my favorite ingredient in beer but it absolutely adds something special here.

Sign me up for a case in the not too distant future. This may well be my breakfast stout substitute.

 628 characters

Photo of woosterbill
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber into a Mad Elf tulip.

A: Pours a solid midnight black body underneath a lofty 3-finger head of creamy, frothy, dark tan foam. Strong retention and nice chunky lace. Great looking beer.

S: Bold coffee jumps out of the glass, followed by a delicate blend of vanilla, caramel, and faintly citric, bitter hops. Rich, balanced, and complex.

T: Follows the nose almost precisely, with roasted coffee up front, smooth vanilla and sweet caramel malt in the middle, and highly acidic, orange-flavored hops on the tail end. Big, bitter finish, with just the lightest dash of warming alcohol. Delicious.

M: Medium body with moderate, roiling carbonation.

D: Does a great job delivering a huge array of robust flavor without being overwhelming with sweetness or heat. Great.

Notes: Special thanks to my wife for giving me this as a Christmas gift (and for the salesman at New England Beverage Co. who picked it out for her). It was the perfect complement to the day's candy, company, and cheer, and far tastier (I presume) than the Tiffany necklace I got her. I'd rather have beer than jewelry any day.


 1,112 characters

Photo of Ynot2
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 version

Poured from 22 oz bottle into a snifter, nice three finger mocha colored head with a nice toffee colored lacing as the beer is consumed. A deep dark brown color to the glass.

Smell of lots of vanilla and chocolate, the coffee is there but it is the lessor of the aromas? Think of a chocolat mocha.

The taste of vanilla and chocolate are up front from the first sip. Very little alcohol for a 10% beer. The coffee bite follows the smell, at the end and more subtle? There is a lingering coffee taste as the beer warms, but it is not overpowering. Really nice flavors.

Mouthfeel is just about perfect for the style. Like a malted drink, very little carbonation as I would expect. Thick and creamy, full body sticks to the roof of your mouth.

Overall a great example of the style. The pour, aroma and flavors make for a delicious beer. I will have more if these in the future. Wish it was available in a 12 oz bottle, 22 is a bit much for one person.

 965 characters

Photo of morebeergood
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Purchased a bomber at Bauer for $9.99. Poured into a stemmed crystal glass. Dark brown color, bordering on black. Large leather brown head. Significant lacing. Thick body, not a lot of carbonation noticed. Smell was a wonderful combo of coffee and chocolate. Taste was a knock out. Borderline perfect. Had that chocolate and roasted barley flavor of a nice porter, but the addition of the high end coffee was killer. Then, the vanilla was just enough in the background to lend a bit of flavor, but didn't overwhelm at all. A great compliment to the intended flavor profile. Outstanding flavor. Mouthfeel was stout-like, very heavy and hearty. Much more than a porter. Not a beer to session with, but a beautiful beer to have with dessert or have as a sweet treat by itself. A bit more expensive than what I spend normally on a bomber, but well worth it. Puts Ballast Point up there with the big boys in my mind.

 911 characters

Photo of MattyG85
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Surly Darkness chalice. Label says enjoy by 01/15/14.

Appearance: Pours an oily pitch black with a moderate amount of rising bubbles. Solid two finger deep tan head that slowly fades into a thinner creamy layer. Leaves a lot of creamy lacing around the glass.

Smell: A rich, sweet, and roasty dark aroma with a big presence of chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. Upfront dark roasted barley malts with big hints of dark chocolate, roasted coffee beans, burnt toast, vanilla, and cream. Also some hints of burnt caramel, toffee, grains, biscuit, and smoked malt. Some sweet molasses and burnt brown sugar hints. Subtle background hints of raisin and fig. Very laid back hops. Huge on the roasty coffee. A pretty good aroma.

Taste: Like the aroma hints at, a big roasty and rich stout taste with a big taste of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla notes. Roasty dark malts with a huge upfront taste of coffee beans, dark chocolate, and vanilla. Malt notes of burnt caramel, toffee, toast, biscuit, grains, and some char and smoked malt. Sweet notes of burnt molasses and brown sugar. Subtle undertones of dark fruit with notes of fig, raisin, and prune. Light earthy hops in the background. A very good coffee forward stout taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Very creamy, silky, and somewhat syrupy. Very smooth with a well hidden alcohol presence.

Overall: A very good imperial porter. Great taste of coffee beans and chocolate with a nice silky smooth body.

 1,534 characters

Photo of deadonhisfeet
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a Brooklyn Brewery snifter. The pour is very dark, but not quite opaque. When held to the light it appears clear and shows a tiny bit of ruby highlight. The head is mammoth, brown, rocky, and quite long-lasting. The nose is slightly astringent, not too assertive, and gives off some nice roasty notes and promises both coffee and vanilla.

The beer has a medium-full body and a complex, superbly balanced flavor. Lots of roasty notes up front as well as a hint of toffee-like malt. Around mid-palate, the roastiness gives way to coffee and the toffee gives way to vanilla, still maintaining a balance. Some of the roastiness comes back on the back of the palate and really lingers on the finish. Is this beer really 10% ABV? No way I would ever guess that. The feel seems thin given the ABV, but I think it's the roastiness playing tricks on me.

I can see why this is a ``Beer of Fame''. It's a tasty, incredibly well-balanced porter that is a near perfect example of the style description and therefore I must rate it very highly. Still, I think I prefer Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald and its slight, woody sweetness to this. I like to taste a little more malt and a little less roastiness. It's a personal preference, nothing more (darn sweet tooth). This is a terrific beer and I think it's a better example of the style than EF, but if I could only have one porter, I'd still take EF.

 1,415 characters

Photo of jhartley
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a Cuvee tulip glass from a 12 oz. bottle with I believe a May 29th date.
Deep dark black with a tan head, which hangs around briefly and then leaves. Only a small trace amount is left along the top. Minimal to no lacing.
Tons of espresso coffee and sweet vanilla on the nose along with a nice malty roast.
Taste is delicious, just the right amount of coffee and vanilla balance.
A nice full mouth feel, starts out sweet and ends with a nice minimal bitterness.
Overall, a delicious beer that I am happy they started bottling in 12 ouncers! A perfect size for drinking especially with the 10% abv. Definitely a winner worthy of the hype.

 654 characters

Photo of Thirstygoat
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

The allergy meds mute my sense of smell but this was magnificent while pouring , especially the vanilla

Black hole dark with tan head that dissipates fairly quickly

Malt, coffee on the from of my mouth and vanilla on the back , how can you go wrong .Delicious!

The slightly thin mouthfeel may explain the difference between an imperial porter and a stout better than any example I can think of?

This is about the wonderful taste WOW!

 442 characters

Photo of thecheapies
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 5

Bomber dated 'Enjoy By 11/06/13'.

Pours extremely dark, like a brown-black. I elevated the bottle during the pouring and it produces about an inch and a half of cappuccino-like foam. Retention is superb. Lacing is plus-plus.

Rich coffee porter scents boosted with a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract. Liqueury, but not entirely sweet. Robust roasty grain notes mesh in, and well. The vanilla really brings out the mocha character in this beer with notes of chocolate syrup and marzipan. Some hazelnut, too. Hints of Fig Newton and citrus/pine hops. Truly phenomenal.

Impressive! Great 'cup of joe' flavor. Tastes like a coffee (black) with a teaspoon of sugar and a half-teaspoon of vanilla extract just as I depicted in the nose description. Big time vanilla presence and it almost intensifies the already slightly unruly alcohol note. Still, it's stiff and burly with hefty amounts of hop and roast bitterness. Lots of kilned grain char and earthiness and dark roast coffee, but there's a sweeter butterscotch note in the middle that can't be left out of my evaluation. Char, too, like burnt popcorn. Hops play a few cards, citrus and pine, but these are all small hands. Very minor fruit notes recall fig and cherry. Has flavor you want to write about all day.

Drinks with a medium-plus body. Heady booze and striking carbonation; I mean, this beer is alive and ready. Just a little too amped-up.

Ha! I'd rate this very high as an Imperial Stout. American Porter, you say? Fuhgeddaboudit!!

 1,497 characters

Photo of brother_kenneth
4.46/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Absolutely delicious beer. It is very flavorful and tastes exactly as advertised. One definitely doesn't have to look for the coffee and vanilla. Both are huge in the nose AND the taste. If this was a limited bottle, people would line up for it.

 245 characters

Photo of SkiBum22
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very opaque, can't see any light through it. One finger light brown, mocha colored head. Decent head for such a strong beer.

S - Big coffee, vanilla and roasted malt notes off the bat. A little caramel too. I get a little of the alcohol but not too much.

T - Up front some very nice caramel notes, some breadiness, and some dark fruits. On the back end big roasted coffee notes and a lot of vanilla. The vanilla and the coffee play very well of each other.

M - Very creamy and smooth. A tiny alcohol burn. But overall a great mouthfeel for a porter.

O - This is my favorite porter by far. I wish Ballast Point released it more often.

 641 characters

Photo of timontheroad
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured a very dark opaque almost black color. Nice half inch head with great retention and lacing.
Smell: Aroma has a lot of coffee, with some slight dark roast malt and chocolate notes.
Taste: Very coffee forward, with great vanilla punch on the back end. Some slight roasty malt flavors also.
Mouthfeel: Nice thick and chewy, very full bodied for a porter.
Overall: Just an outstanding brew, really like the coffee and vanilla combination.

 453 characters

Photo of GetMeAnIPA
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I really loved this beer. It takes a style I've had many times and makes just enough twists to make it both unique and awesome.

A - black as night with a cappuccino color head. The head disapates fairly quickly but does leave some brown foam bubbles on the glass as I drink.

S - smell is dominated by coffee, a rich roasted coffee. Very little vanilla on the smell. However, as the beer warm the vanilla becomes more present.

T - as soon as it hit my palate I was in love. Rich roasted coffee flavor followed by a touch of vanilla sweetness. The beer finishes with a nice warming sensation. There is more vanilla on the taste than smell which surprised me, as I wasn't expecting it. The bitter coffee notes and warming alcohol keeps the sweetness at bay. As the beer warms more vanilla and coffee bitterness comes forward. The beer changed like three times as I was drinking it. From coffee forward to vanilla forward, Back to coffee.

M - this beer is incredibly smooth. The vanilla adds a smoothness to it. Medium body with minimal carbonation. This beer was crazy smooth.

O - this beer was great. It's definitely a big beer with big bold burnt bitter coffee flavors, but the vanilla balances it out great. It's like when the coffee or the vanilla become too much the other flavor comes in.

It's like drinking a coffee beer dessert but not too sweet. I've had DIPAs sweeter than this beer.

 1,398 characters

Photo of frozyn
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

L - Pours very dark black, purplish tint at the top with light overhead.
S - Coffee scent is strong, with a sweet something to go with it. Maybe the vanilla, but I didn't pick it up distinctly.
T - Wonderful coffee flavor, very similar to eating a chocolate-covered espresso bean. Vanilla comes through nicely, subtly. The alcohol is similarly subtle, although you know it's there. The warmer the beer got, the more I tasted everything beyond the coffee, especially what others have called the toasted malts (not something I've learned to distinguish yet, perhaps it starts now).
MF - Very smooth -- as many have said -- velvety feel.
O - Great nuanced flavor, very smooth to drink. You can't go wrong with this!

 716 characters

Photo of wedge
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

@ Woody's

Pitch black color with a small head on top. Nice speckled lacing on the glass all the way down. Smells like a delicious coffee latte. Rich vanilla and chocolate mixed with a huge helping of espresso roast. Sweetened coffee and chocolate syrup flavor carries over to the flavor...huge, smooth, and somehow not over the top in terms of sweetness. I am struck with the intense urge to eat a glazed doughnut. Vanilla bean works with everything, but never screams to be heard. Not a hint of booziness to be found. Big, thick, and full. Certainly a dessert beer, though it could work just as well as a breakfast beer. Delicious...

 635 characters

Photo of doopiedoopiedoo
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A gift I received from TheBrewViking. I was looking forward to this all week as I decided to drink this on a Friday night after work> TGIF. Thanks Brooks.

Poured into a snifter (and little bit into a de Molen tasting glass for the mrs)

I'm looking at a deep dark black brew. Nice mocha colored head and a decent amount of lacing.

The aromas are bold. Coffee upfront with the vanilla, something to be expected from a coffee vanilla porter. The is a lot more going on. A sweet milk chocolate malty scent...

Flavors are just like the nose at the beginning. Yeas there is coffee vanilla and that milky chocolate but it's followed by a very nice bitterness.

It's a failry thick and heavy porter. Carbonation is medium and the finish is dry to neutral. The mouth gets coated leaving all the wonderful flavors for a while.

This is a world class brew. The coffee and vanilla flavors taste natural as opposed to some artificial flavoring. The looks, nose, taste, and feel make this a near perfect after dinner beer. Highly recomended.

Thanks againg Brooks for sending this my way. Amie and I enjoyed this quite a bit and I'll be looking for this on my next trip to AZ!

 1,170 characters

Photo of gloriousglo2
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

That's right, on freakin' tap, here in PA, into one of those effete snifer glasses..smelled like a dark roasted coffee, deep brown color, no head by the time the bartender got it to me, which took about 20 seconds after he poured it. Very rich, thick, tasted like chocolate with only a hint of vanilla. A little boozy, but a nice balance overall. At 10% ABV, thought this was more like an imperial stout, but not complaining. The wife even thought it was good, which says a lot...

 480 characters

Photo of Douglas14
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with lots of dark brown and red creepin from the edges towards the middle. This keg is a year old now so the coffee has somewhat dropped out but is still present. The vanilla on the otherhand has really developed nicely. It smells exacty like fresh vanilla beans. Not exract. Fresh beans. The taste is the same but with a nice roast character from the malt. Great mouthfeel. The bitterness and carbonation go well the smoothness. Awesome beer.

 455 characters

Photo of Hopswagger
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

P: Pitch black body with a cappuccino jiggly cream top. Delicate lace on edges.

S: Robust columbian coffee, vanilla potpourri, near burnt dark malt, pumpernickel bread, no bake cookies and astringent booze.

T/M: Huge vanilla extract presence hits the palate first then the coffee and chocolate cookies take over. Hints of smoke and charred molasses mingle with the velvety feel. Finishes semi dry with lingering espresso. Nice warming sensation.

O: Love it. A great impy porter that showcases both the vanilla and coffee in a circus of flavors for your mouth. It's like having a cold triple shot if espresso with vanilla added. Highly recommended.

 653 characters

Photo of Beerzebub
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a Bruery glass, not overly cold.

Off-black, deep reddish-brown meniscus, small dark tan head, looks good.

Smells delicious, the vanilla and coffee are each quite distinct but at the same time the aroma is totally cohesive. The vanilla almost makes it seem barrel aged, like maybe rum barrel. Deep chocolatey roasty malt, too. NICE.

Tastes deep and roasty, well balanced with a good dose of sweetness. Lingering bittersweet coffee, cocoa, vanilla, quite a long finish. Very tasty.

Good medium-full texture, fine cushy carbonation makes it almost creamy, this and the balance make it very easy to drink.

Excellent beer, nice to finally review it.

 659 characters

Photo of RCM505
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally had the 12oz bottle. Always loved this beer....new label too :-)

Nice....Black and black! Nose is all vanilla. taste is mad vanilla with coffee and chocolate; body is sexy; nice and wholesome...Renaissance

All fun aside...this is one of the best out there.

 269 characters

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,195 ratings.