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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 Porter
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1,217 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,217
Hads: 5,918
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 8.94%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,719 | FT: 91
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: 1,217 | Hads: 5,918
Photo of nataku00
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bomber shared with a friend, poured into a shaker pint. Very dark brown, bordering on black, with some lighter shades of brown at the edges when held up to the light. Finger of dark brown frothy head that leaves a lot of nice lacing as the head dissipated to a collar around the edges of the surface. Looks to be well carbonated as it is very easy to swirl and reform a finger's worth of head.

Nose is dark roasted malt, black coffee, and a little caramel malt. I don't get too much vanilla on the nose, but the rest of the aromas are nice and strong and smells great.

Taking a sip, dark roasted malt and bitter coffee right away, melting away into sweeter malts, caramel, wheat bread. A slight hint of vanilla on the back of the tongue, so perhaps that component has faded somewhat.

Light to medium body, smooth small bubble carbonation that's pretty common for a porter. For a 10% abv beer, the alcohol is very well hidden by smooth and balanced flavors.

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

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Been trying to get this beer for ages! Thank you NYC!

A great dark coffee brown head forms so nicely and evenly foamy, rich looking, and dense. Body color is a classic dark brown walnut and doesn't even look like light gets through this thing at all. Aggressive looking, big. Looks wonderful.

Nose is coffee and cream with a nice balance. Some dark rolling malts and a hint of piped smoke. Smells like a great coffee beer is coming.

Palate hits with the wonder of the nose, but there's a catch. Rolling coffee notes mix with a nice light body and dark malts, but even a catch of fizz. Vanilla comes in a bit, but it comes off as a bit acidic and even slightly sour vanilla. Finish leaves a nice mix of all flavors, very VERY well balanced and not even hot or boozy for 10%.

Overall the palate is quite good, with just a slight minor flaw. But it drinks so well, great brew.

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

Bottle received in a trade with Jophish. Thanks Joe!

A: Black with brown highlights and a thick white head that dissipates quickly.

S: Thick roasted malts, with some coffee and a little chocolate showing through. Nice dark chocolate cake effect. Not as sweet or vanilla-heavy as expected.

T: Roasted coffee, light chocolate, and vanilla. As it warms, vanilla becomes more prominent with a little sweetness, bringing chocolate tort to mind. There's a slight alcohol bite, but for the most part, it's pretty well covered. Finishes with a lengthy coffee bitterness and roasted malt combination.

M: Medium to thick with moderate carbonation. Finishes quite dry.

I received this beer late 2009, so am guessing that it has dried out a bit from what it started as. But as far as I can tell, time hasn't hurt it much as the coffee and vanilla are still very evident. This is a great beer and I'll definitely jump at the chance to grab it should I come across it in the future.

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Photo of Ninjabrew
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Black one of the darkest I've had. Honestly one of the best looking beers I've had but I can't rate black a 5.

S: Dark semi-sweet chocolate with something else I can't place.

T: Very good with a lot going on. Bittersweet start and a herbal hop finish. Too much going on here for me to pick everything out.

M: TOP NOTCH! I don't normally notice the mouthfeel too much but this beer nailed it. I has carbonation but the bubbles seam smaller than other beers making it feel like there is more liquid than others.

O: Very good!

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Photo of M_C_Hampton
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: poured from a 22 oz bottle into a pint glass, dark brown almost black with a large tan head that lingers leaving good lacing, clear

S: huge coffee and vanilla, dark toasty malts, slightly sweet, imagine a French vanilla cappuccino

T: very sweet up front with big flavors of vanilla, flavor profile moves towards bitter coffee, nice hop bitterness at the end mixes with warming alcohol

M: thick and oily, lower carbonation

O: an excellent beer that is on the sweet side, nice for dessert

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

Viggo shared this treat. thanks eric!

22oz bottle. sampled july 1/09.

pours deep dark brown, not quite black, with a few pale brown highlights around the edges. the layer of dense brown head drops slowly and always seems to maintain at least a ring around the glass. spotty lace.

aroma is great. dark and milk chocolate. coffee. vanilla. caramel and toffee. bit of butterscotch. toasted whole wheat bread and biscuit. bit of cracker. light alcohol. nice light sweetness. bit of earthy character too.

taste is great. black coffee. dark and milk chocolate. vanilla. warming alcohol. caramel and toffee. nice light sweetness. just a touch of roast, but it comes across more as coffee and chocolate. dark toasted whole wheat bread. biscuit. bit of cracker. just under medium bitterness level, again more coffee and chocolate than hoppy.

mouthfeel is good. fairly big body. just under medium carbonation level.

drinkability is great. excellent balance. the alcohol feels a bit warm at first, but it mellows out as it warms. nice depth and complexity. love the coffee and vanilla, really complimenting the base beer. vanilla is often overdone, but this one is just right to me. great stuff.

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

bomber served in a snifter glass.

pours an opaque, motor oil black with a creamy khaki toned head that slowly recedes into a collar around the glass; nice walls of lacing. all around great looking imperial st- ah, porter.

nose opens with an unmistakable coffee presence, followed by roasted malts and chocolate, some vanilla. reminds me a little of founders breakfast stout. aroma characters largely pull through in the taste with plenty of coffee and roasted malts, but the vanilla is a bigger player here... coffee and a touch of caramel... slight bitterness to the finish. overall, a really tasty, dare i say delicious brew. well done.

smooth, velvety moutfeel... medium bodied, though a bit lighter than most similar-styled beers; appropriate carbonation. 10% ABV but it drinks so smooth, makes this one dangerously good.

originally reviewed: 11-26-2010

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

22 oz bottle, no date, poured into a snifter.

A- Pours black with some brown tinges, topped with a finger and a half of creamy tan head, leaves good lacing.

S- Huge roasted coffee aroma, burnt grains, some vanilla sweetness, but the roasted aroma is dominant.

T- Damn, loads of coffee flavor and absolutely charred, like burnt-to-a-crisp malt. Caramel and vanilla sweetness become prominent towards the finish. Roastedness actually produces a pretty considerable bitterness. Has a bit of cream flavor that lingers on the palate.

M- Medium-bodied, creamy, smooth feel, roastedness provides slight astringency.

O- A really nice beer, it's very drinkable, the 10% ABV doesn't make itself felt at all, definitely try this if you like real roasted beers.

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

A - pours a very deep, dark black color. No light can be seen thru this one. Nice creamy 2 finger, light brown head that slowly disipates leaving a beautiful lacing.

S - great vanilla aroma, big and rich! Can't wait to taste this one

T - the coffee really comes thru on the front, and the vanilla really rounds this one out very nicely. maybe even some slight chocolate note as well. a little alcohol taste in the end, but not overpowering.

M - medium-heavy mouthfeel. perfect amount of carbonation.

D - extremely drinkable for 10%! Im actually kinda glad I have this bomber to myself, so I can have 2 glasses.

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Photo of Jaysauras
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

L: Dark, velvety, like a pepsi or coke look. Head is thick and creamy looking. As you would expect from a porter. Very sharp looking beer. Excellent head/lace.

S: Smells of rich coffee flavor, a hint of sweetness that accompanies a bowl of cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal. Also the distinct smell of oak or bourbon.

T: This is where the Victory at Sea really separates itself from other porters. Most are simplistic in a way. You get your coffee, your chocolate, and then you go about your business. Ballast Point has done a very strong job here in incorporating some more complex flavors. It is a touch boozy, but the way it works isn't overpowering. You get your typical and advertised flavors of Chocolate, Coffee, and Vanilla, but there is a wonderful rich undertone of nutmeg and cinnamon. It also has a hint of bourbon or whiskey. The best part is the finish, which blends a nice strong hoppy flavor of an IPA with a roasted malt and coffee bit. An undertone of vanilla still lingers. It is like S'mores meets alcohol meets Hershey's kisses. From beginning to end it takes you from sweet, to rich, to hoppy. An excellent combination from start to finish.

F: Chewy, sticky, but also crisp and boozy. A nice balance. For a 10%-er the booze is evident but not overpowering.

O: Tremendous. One of the best porters I've ever tasted. It goes above and beyond your standard porter. With rich tastes and textures it is a must try for those who appreciate a good solid stout, porter, or Imperial stout. It takes the standard flavor of a porter, which can be lazily applied to a plethora of brews, and expands upon them. It adds an element of complexity to the style while maintaining a lovely simplicity and loyalty to the popular style of American Porter.

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

Vintage 2009

A: the body is black as night no light getting through with a tan head

S: Coffee with roasted notes and vanilla. Smells slightly sweet but not over the the top.

T: Great tasting beer! Big time coffee notes come though followed up with vanilla and some roasted notes. slightly sweet and finish a bit acidic. I think the vanilla really smooths the beer out. Alcohol is very well masked.

M: med mouth with med carbonation and very drinkable

O: Overall this is a very enjoyable beer and has aged very nicely a really well made craft beer.

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

A - Dark, almost black, tan head dissolves to ring. Light, somewhat clingy, soapy lacing.

S - Coffee and chocolate dominate, vanilla is muted. Roasted malt evident.

T - Yeah baby. An assault of coffee chocolate and vanilla, all corraled by a bitterness that leaves it near neutral. Wow.

M - Big, heavy, perfect carb, great balance.

D - It will F@#k you up, but you might be tempted anyway.

Great stuff!

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Photo of dank203
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

a top BA beer. pours dark brown to black with a khaki colored head. fresh coffee bean is attributed in the aroma as well as subtle vanilla. in the flavor, the vanilla is more present, its a sweet beer of vanilla, with bitter/roasty coffee notes. big dark beer

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

Pours a clear and oily black with a light brown mocha head. Very little lacing as the head fades, however the surface takes on the appearance of an artful latte presentation at a bistro.

Very pleasant aroma of freshly roasted coffee with some noticeable vanilla.

Semi-sweet chocolate is tamed by some light roasted malts. Caramel malt and some smoke flavors are also present. A dash of fresh brewed coffee is then followed up by vanilla sweetness that rounds out the taste. Alcohol is artfully masked, and hop bitterness builds to a level that is just shy of balancing out this malty brew. Bittersweet aftertaste. As far as I am concerned, this is a winning combination for imbibers who enjoy coffee and have a sweet tooth.

Creamy, medium/high carbonation with a medium body; slightly viscous and velvety smooth.

Very drinkable; dangerously so. Bittersweet aftertaste and mix of flavors that mesh very well make this a very palate enticing beer.

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Photo of AirBob
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Notes from 1/24/15

A - About 1 cm of coffee-milk brown head which settles to barely a collar. Deep black body even around the edges of the glass. Good legs but retention is weak.

S - Deep dark roasted coffee bean. Touch of vanilla and cocoa. Coffee is very dominant. Vanilla becomes more pronounced as it warms.

T - Follows the nose. Maybe some brown sugar. Boozy vanilla comes through. Coffee leaves a bitter finish.

M - Medium carb. Full bodied (oily). Bitter finish from the coffee. Tingly.

O - Vanilla does its best to balance out the coffee bitterness but its still a litter too bitter for my liking.

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

22oz bottle poured into my CBS snifter

Thanks to Jebus3513 for the gift

Pours a deep chestnut, near black, with a frothy dark mocha cap. Great staying power with some prominent sip lines. Oily body as it sticks to the glass when swirled.

Vanilla knocks you back first. Roasted coffee, rolled oats, and some milk chocolate round out the nose. Sweetness overall with some bitterness from the roast. Pleasing.

The flavor profile follows the nose. Prominent vanilla with roast coffee and dry, flaky oats. The chocolate flavor mixes with everything else and gives a fudge-like flavor.

Fill body with low carbonation. This guy is smooth and drinks really easy. Little mixture of sweet and roast that lingers.

This is a damn fine porter. Full, well-realized flavor without being overly bold. One of the best I have had. Seek this out.

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Photo of Totalpackage411
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What a great beer. As good as any porter I've had. A nice hint of vanilla with a rich coffee flavor. Highly recommend for anyone who likes porters or stouts.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.).

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,217 ratings.