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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.

1,216 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,216
Hads: 5,912
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,006
Gots: 1,717 | 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: 1,216 | Hads: 5,912
Photo of Alequine
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

An amazing beer that drinks real smooth and tasty for the ABV. Nice balance sweetness and bitterness from the coffee. Color is mahogany to black with a thick tan head. Nice lacing. Initial smell is strong cocoa, coffee and caramel. Taste follows the nose with strong chocolate and coffee roast with some vanilla in the finish. Mouth feel is creamy. My favorite Porter and one of my favorite beers.

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Photo of kell50
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on draft many times at Duckworth's in Charlotte, NC. Time for a review!

A: Very dark black with a nice 2 finger off white creamy head that seems to completely attach itself to the glass. Looks similar to a Guinness as it flows from the tap.

S: MMMM. There's so much going on here. I first detect some roasted coffee notes up front; followed by hints tobacco, vanilla beans, caramel, and dark chocolate.

T: Tastes just like it smells. Fresh brewed coffee, vanilla, chocolaty sweetness and with a touch of a smoke as well. Probably the most full flavored porter I've ever had. Victory at Sea clocks in at 10% abv, but drinks more like 5%. Scary.

M: This beer definitely has a heavier, full-bodied mouthfeel. It's sticky, viscous, and has a low amount of carbonation.

O: Very impressed by this beer! It's an excellent pairing with cold temperatures. The beer's flavors and richness became more pronounced as the beer reached room temperature.

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Photo of coldriver
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bomber pours an opaque black with slow forming fantastic looking cascading tannish head. Aroma is as advertised - coffee and vanilla, dark roast malt, a little bacon, and a hint of the 10% alcohol. The taste is the same - smokey coffee and vanilla with great hop bitterness. Mouthfeel is a bit harsh (really my only quibble with this wonderful brew) but creamy and dry finish. Great beer, the vanilla and coffee flavors fit in well with the traditional (but extra strong) porter flavors. Would easily put this up with some of the better imperial stouts.

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Photo of kevanb
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer is always a treat to enjoy and could be my favorite offering from Ballast Point. It pours a viscous jet black color, minimal browns appear when held to the light. A nice thick caramel colored head sits atop the glass, that has great retention and yields some fantastic lacing. The aroma is exceptionally complex, roasted coffee with toasted malts make a big impression right off the bat. Coconut and vanilla add some sweetness with something almost like dairy cream lending a hand to cut down the stronger burnt and roasty elements to soften the nose. Big robust flavors, roasted coffee is again a big player, some dark fruits come in, perhaps plum or cherry sweeten the beer a bit, some toasted coconut is also present. Some dark chocolate elements are also present, that play well with the malty flavors, but the most prominent flavor is the vanilla, it really takes the beer to the next level, it blends so well with many of the other qualities of the beer and sort of draws them all together in a really nice harmony, the only drawback is that is does have a bit of acidic astringency to it. The body is nice, big, full, silky at first with a nice bitter finish, again, a bit astringent at the finale.

Verdict: Masterful porter from Ballast Point. The flavor profile is wonderfully complex with a fantastic aroma, perfect for a meal or for desert that can be quaffed or sipped.

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Photo of MacMalt
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I had this on draft so it was colder than I would serve it at home. Very dark brown with creamy head. I was disappointed by the lack of smell (perhaps due to the temperature) but this is a delicious porter. Coffee forward but with enough vanilla to justify its reputation. Nice medium body. Overall, an excellent beer. I wish it were easier to find in bottles here in New Jersey.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

This poured the color of midnight at a bottom of a well, with an espresso-crema cap of foam.
The aroma held layers of dark chocolate and roasted coffee, roasted malts, a hint of vanilla. It’s a sipper, with a smoothly warming flavor of a sweetly bitter espresso with cacao and vanilla, and just a touch of booziness at the end. This is a big beer but so enjoyable!

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Photo of BierJager89
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with a brown ring of head.

S: Coffee and vanilla in the nose.

T: Coffee with a little bit of vanilla and some dark chocolate.

M: Medium bodied with average carbonation.

O: A bit underwhelming, but only because i expected more out of a brewery this good brewing a beer that sounds as good as this one does.

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Photo of Mdog
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Black, huge head.

Smell: Strong coffee aroma.

Taste: Big coffee and vanilla up front, then continues with lots of vanilla. Nice and sweet but not cloying.

Overall: I could swear this beer is bourbon barrel aged, but according to the description, it is the infused vanilla beans that give that impression. Big and bold, sweet and tasty. Very good!

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Photo of BeerLover99
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: dark brown/black, finger khaki head, awesome lacing

S: dark chocolate, sweet vanilla, nutty, toffee, malt, coffee

T: dark chocolate, roasted malt, toffee, mild roasted coffee, nutty

M: med/heavy, chewy, smooth mouth

O: OH MY! Ballast has hit a HR.
PORTER/STOUT fans should seek this gem out.


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Photo of Bone53
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pitch black, absolutely no light coming through when put up to the light, and a creamy one to two finger light brown head

Smell: Coffee, roasted malts, with a undertone of vanilla. Its all there, and from first whiff you can tell its of very high quality

Taste: Coffee and roasted malts upfront with subtle notes of vanilla, and caramel sweetness mid palate which carries throughout the aftertaste. Some bittering hops on the finish as well

Mouthfeel: Heavy medium body id say; Goes down smooth with a bitter, coffee-like finish

Overall: First class coffee porter without a doubt. Had this on tap a couple years back and still remember how much i enjoyed it. Well, i think i enjoyed it today as much as i did back then. The balance of coffee, vanilla, roasted malts, and bittering hops is fantastic. I get more roasted malt in the taste than nose which i really appreciate. It really rounds the beer out. This holds up to some of the better coffee stouts iv had. Get it while you can! Cheers!!

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Photo of MacQ32
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a thick, but damn near black into my over sized goblet glass with a solid finger of molasses colored head that dissipates within a few minutes to only a thin layer across the entire surface of the beer. Strong lacing.

S - Lots of sweet vanilla and roasty chocolate. Enough bitterness to balance out the sweet armoa.

T - Bitter sweet chocolate and quite roasty up front, which relatively quickly transitions into plentiful sweet vanilla and lots of bitter dark chocolate. Finish is mostly sweet chocolate and roasty/bitter coffee and slightly spicy hops. Fairly dry/boozy, hoppy bitter aftertaste.

ONCE I ALLOW IT TO WARM UP to 55-60 its much smoother, and has less roasty/bitter astringency.

M - Medium-full bodied, the bitterness makes this very drinkable for me, not overly syrupy sweet. On the more carbonated end of the spectrum for the style. The carb+bitter make its fairly easy to throw back.

O - Big combination of sweet vanilla and bitter chocolate/coffee flavors, wonderful balance of the two

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Photo of HopBomb515
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Black with a towering coffee colored head and great lacing. Notes of heavy coffee, caramel, toffee and light vanilla in the nose. Big coffee flavor, some toffee and vanilla working in the background smooth the flavor profile. Nice feel as it warmed, creamy, fuller side of medium body and very drinkable at 10%. This was one of, if not the most coffee forward beers I've ever had. Really fantastic.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle was poured into a Palm snifter.

Appearance: A two finger mocha head was poured that reduced to a puffy layer. It is a pitch black color with no vision of anything. Frothy lacing down the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Roasted coffee, sweet vanilla, milk chocolate, no alcohol detected,

Taste: Same as above with some boozy alcohol in the rear. Smooth and tasty. Very balanced too.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, vanilla sweetness, a little bitterness, medium carbonation, and medium bodied.

Overall: I can finally see why people rave about this beer. Well worth it and reasonably priced too. I will drink more of these in the future.

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Photo of Jimmys
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

bomber into tulip. best before 11/06/13.

A: pours a very dark brown. very opaque. head is tightly bubbly, but nothing massive. retention is average. tons of thick lacing.

S: a lot of chocolate and coffee on the nose. dry and bitter. smells like black chocolate powder. maybe some caramel as well. if there is vanilla in there, which I believe there is, there is enough caramel and chocolate to make it more of a blended aroma.

T: tastes like something I would buy from Dunkin Dounuts. there is ton of caramel, chocolate, and coffee. seriously first sip is just like a chocolate caramel something-or-other from DD. a little bit of alcohol heat towards the finish, but certainly manageable. the roast makes its presence known at the finish. lingers.

M: pretty silky carb. maybe its the body, which is massive, but definitely a velvety drink.

D: wow, this is a lot of beer. big time porter flavors combine with even more chocolate. throw coffee and vanilla into the mix and you have a very tasty, very complex brew. im sure if you let the heat chill for another 4 months this could get even better. very tasty and if you are a fan of coffee stouts, porters, get your paws on this thing.

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Photo of ElSid
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The Beers of California


Freshness Date: 11/8/13

A: Black opaqueness with a thin layer of light brown head which fades to a faint cling to the glass.

S: Freshly roasted coffee beans and vanilla sweetness. Essentially a whiff of Coffee Bean's Vanilla Cappuccino. Dried leaves and toasted bread in the background.

T: The roasted coffee and smoke comes first which transitions to an alcohol warmth. Through the alcohol there are glimpses of vanilla sweetness. The bitterness is earthy and slightly floral. The malt is strongly toasted with a nice caramel twang. The finish is somewhat dry with a warming alcohol finish.

M: Smooth with bourbon warmth. The feel rocks and carbonation is exactly where it needs to be.

O: The vanilla and coffee combine with the toasted backbone of this Imperial Porter resulting in a flavorful and wonderful brew. The flavor combination works and adds some variety to the Imperial Stout dominated market.

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Photo of socon67
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at The Good Life, Massapequa NY

A - Dark brown pour with a brown foam. Lacing on this is very nice streaks along the glass. Foam retention is pretty solid. This appears to be a thick beer.

S - Okay I love vanilla scents so this was simply awesome. The vanilla aroma was promounced, consistent, and gave a sweet, bakery cake smell. There is also a distinct smell of ground coffee. The malt profile on this smells sweet. This is a dessert beer.

T - A very sweet flavor that has sugar and vanilla frosting flavor. The is a slight bitterness of coffee that has an ever so slight anisette flavor of licorice. The complexity of sweet malts and these flavors makes this an enticing beer.

M - A bit heavier than most porters. Has a syrupy thickness as this hits the mouth. While I throughly loved this beer, it is not sessionable and I'd say it certianbly reuqires resetting your palate to taste more beer, or other foods for that matter.

O - A well crafted big porter that once again blurs the porterstout lines. For vanilla beer lovers this is a must try. Easily my favorite from Ballast Point and that includes Sculpin.

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Photo of Bosoxfan20
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A- slides out of the glass with a thick and hearty look. Near black with a khaki head of a half finger that quickly dissipates into a soft ring around the edge.

S- Espresso and cocoa nibs come out strong from the get go. Vanilla comes in late. Roasted and toasted.

T- Big, bold flavors here. Intense roast without becoming obnoxious. Huge cocoa that is almost milky, coffee beans and hints of vanilla. Smooth and complex.

M- Simply amazing. Right there with Everett as the best feel on any porter I have had. Thick, viscous, creamy. Full body. Coating and timely bitterness. Alcohol well hid.

O- This thing is outstanding. I expected so much and yet it found a way to blow away my expectations still.

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Photo of FickleBeast
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into an Ommegang snifter

Pours pitch black with a finger of mocha foam. Aroma is strong with coffee - roast bitter black coffee flavors.

First sip is viscous, with a sweet strong vanilla flavor that fades into a roasted coffee bitterness. Delectable. There is a nice, sweet chewy moutfeel, and strong bitter finish. But the flavor of the beer is almost dessert-like in its sweet vanilla flavor. Excellent all around.

I first tried this beer at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival - it was my favorite beer of the festival. Excited to have found this in my bottle shop.

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Photo of brentk56
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pours an impenetrable obsidian with massive tan head; stickage galore with speckles of lace all around the pint glass

Smell: Not sure which jumps out more - the coffee or the vanilla; underneath, there is a nutty character that lends a nougat depth to the brew

Taste: Nutty toffee, up front, with the coffee and vanilla developing; in the mid-palate a bittersweet chocolate aspect arrives and, after the swallow, the hops lend a hand with a piney bitterness; some dark fruit appears as well but this beer is about the malt, the coffee and the vanilla right through to the finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Normally, I am not a big fan of vanilla but this beer is so unique, with so many other elements going on, that the vanilla, though dominant, really is additive

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Photo of dwilson01
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a bomber (2010 release) into my new belgium tulip glass, dark mocha head tops the brew, a thin layer that dissipates quickly. The body the dark, when held up to light a brown tint appears around the edges.

The scent is one of the best I have ever had, dark roasted barley hits the nostrils giving a delicious coffee smell which is cooling instead of hot like a fresh cup of joe. Sweeter molasses and chocolate malt undertones give a soothing smell after the roasty one. No hop smells to speak of.

The flavor is amazing, one of the first things that strikes me is the vanilla, in the bottle this flavor really comes to maturity and I distinctly am able to pick it out. The roasted coffee and small amount of chocolate flavors combine into a nice balance which lends to the perfect naming of this beer.

The mouthfeel is great, creamy like a milkshake made of coffee and chocolate, not precisely cappuccino but very close to it. The drinkability is solid, it's a sipping beer but the nonexistent alcohol esters make it hard to believe this isn't an iced coffee.

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Photo of rangerred
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter out of a 22oz bomber.

Pours pitch black and reminds me of used motor oil. Not much in the way of a head but the wisps of lacing left on the sides of the glass is truly impressive considering the abv.

The aroma is extremely pleasant and soft. Dark roast coffee and some light hints of caramel. The vanilla is there but it is very subtle, much more so than any other vanilla flavored beer I have had before. Dark chocolate is also mixed in. Sort of reminds me of a mocha coffee drink.

The flavor is even more impressive and substantial than the aroma. The vanilla is extremely subtle and well-integrated becoming most apparent immediately after the sip. Dark roast coffee and vanilla quickly followed by a shot of caramel. Bitterness reminiscent of dark chocolate and espresso followed then by more vanilla and moderate sweetness. Mouthfeeel is on the sticky side and there is a little bit of tannic bitterness on the roof of the mouth.

Overall, an extremely well done coffee vanilla porter. For once the vanilla is not overdone and is perfectly integrated. A sipper for sure but perfect for the cold winter months and one to savor over the course of an evening.

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Photo of daveg36
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

Good beer. Definitely a dessert beer. Very chocolately and a little vanilla latte in there. Not sessionable, not recommended on a warm day, and not recommended on a really full stomach. A heavy beer, but delicious.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On Tap (2010)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

(Aged 1 year)

Jet black, shiny, with a thin light brown cap. Sheets of lacing down the glass. Thick and menacing.

Roasted malt, lots and lots of rich coffee, and some faint vanilla round out the nose. Complete and decadent aroma.

The flavors are a wrestling match between the rich, creamy, yet bitter coffee, and sweet, earthy vanilla. It's a wonderful wrestling match I'm happy to referee. Delicious, and in my opinion, better than the barrel aged nitro version.

Medium to thick bodied.

A vibrant, delicious, balanced, big, big stout. Lots of vanilla, coffee, and roast battle it out big time--good thing they're all delicious.

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Photo of lnashsig
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to AugustGarage for the chance to try this. This was an extra in a recent package from him- he consistently amazes me with his selection and generosity.

Poured into my DFH snifter, pours a dark brown/black color, with a tan/off white head that fills the top of the glass, and then slowly recedes. Excellent retention. Smell- dark chocolate, dark coffee, big hops on the nose. This one has it all! Taste- biting hops, followed by a roasty dark chocolate flavor, finished with a big almost espresso roasted coffee flavor. This beer reminds me of Founders Breakfast Stout, but beats it in a big way. This is a luscious, decadent beer that is well balanced, and exciting on all levels. Mouthfeel- I'm honestly surprised this is categorized as a porter- it has the rich syrupy thick mouthfeel of a stout, with perfect carbonation. Drinkabilty- as with most beers I get from AugustGarage, I'm saddened by the fact that I can't buy this easily again. It's an amazing beer and I will be looking for anything close to it that I can buy in Houston (but will probably come up short).

Thanks again- this one was the highlight of my night last night.

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Photo of NJpadreFan
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ballast Point- Victory at Sea

A- Dark mahagony brown almost black with a thick whipped tan head. Great head retension and lacing.
S- Sweet sugary black coffee and creamy vanilla.
T- Dark roast black coffee with vanilla cream added. Smooth chocolate malt.
M- Very thick and sweet. No bitterness. Smooth and creamy with a light touch of alc. in the end.

Overall- A great replacement for coffee at 9am.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,216 ratings.