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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

4,103 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 4,103
Reviews: 957
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 9.11%
Wants: 756
Gots: 812 | FT: 62
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
"Imperial Porter"

(Beer added by: radshoesbro on 03-17-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter Alström Bros
Ratings: 4,103 | Reviews: 957 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of MaximalC
4.04/5  rDev -8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours seal brown with the barest of ruby highlights, topped by a modest head of mocha foam that settles shortly into a thin veil. A persistent sheet of lacing clings to the glass as the beer descends. The aroma features HUGE roasted coffee notes with traces of dark chocolate and vanilla. The flavor matches the nose, with a massive kick of roasted coffee that lingers indefinitely. This is not the watered down coffee adjunct that so commonly passes for "coffee flavor" in beer--this is the real deal. There's also a noticeable alcoholic burn on the front end, which is unorthodox but not shocking considering the ABV, though it's tolerable for the style. Some dark chocolate can be found lurking beneath the charred, roasted foreground, but vanilla doesn't feature as prominently as the label would suggest. A slightly peppery hop bite accentuates the bitterness of the roasted malt on the back end. I can't wait for this to warm up and really see what it can do*. The body is medium and complements the flavor profile well, while the carbonation is appropriately modest.

This is not an especially nuanced brew, but if you're looking for something bold with an authentic, deluxe coffee character, you've come to the right place.

*Warming does indeed reveal some subtle dark fruit that was close to invisible at cooler temperatures.

MaximalC, Oct 14, 2013
Photo of Bradaplast
4.04/5  rDev -8%

Bradaplast, Aug 23, 2014
Photo of ThePorterSorter
4.04/5  rDev -8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The beer pours a jet black with 1/2 an inch of a creamy tan head that laces and dissipates into a thin chocolate covering. the nose is chocolatey with bits of vanilla sweetness. the taste is rich & full bodied, malty & roasty with great chocolate sweetness. Initially it's very sweet and slightly warming, but finishes with a heavy burnt roasty and bitterness. this is a really tasty beer, great price and availability in wny, drinks more like a stout though

ThePorterSorter, Apr 20, 2013
Photo of aleckpa
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Black with a soapy, mocha head. About a finger's head on the pour, it goes away for the most part but some lingers. Bubbly mocha rims the glass. Great lacing on the side of the glass.

S: Coffee followed by vanilla. Some roasted malts as well. Smells sweet but not overpowering.

T: Similar to the nose. Coffee front of the tongue and vanilla on the back. There is a good balance between the two flavors. In my opinion, you can taste both distinctly and separately yet they balance out. I don't taste any alcohol which could be dangerous.

M: Smooth and creamy. Not thick like a stout. Medium bodied.

O: This is an excellent beer. I personally don't like vanilla in beers, but with the coffee it balances it out. At 10% ABV, the alcohol is masked pretty well, so it will sneak up on you. For the flavors and ABV in this beer, it's worth the price.

aleckpa, Dec 22, 2013
Photo of Mebuzzard
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I would say this beer would be perfect first beer on a Saturday or Sunday morning tailgating.
Pours a dark dark brown, almost black. Off tan head is medium in size, looks a touch soapy.

Aroma is what makes me think of mornings. Coffee and roasted malt, like dark toast. Hints of vanilla smooth it out and calm down the roastiness.

Yum. Good flavors. Vanilla and coffee blend nicely with the coffee taking the upper hand. Dark roast and rich. Sweetness is halted by the warming alcohol, which would make drinking two or these a chore, but fun.
Smooth feel to it. Gimmie some pork and beans, grilled on an open flame with this stuff.
very nice.

Mebuzzard, Oct 12, 2010
Photo of RblWthACoz
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours black with a tan head. Nose is tight vanilla and coffee. But mostly coffee. Flavor is sweet coffee tones. Almost like you added that faux creamer to your coffee. A bit too sweet IMO, but it does still work quite nicely. Feel has a biting carbonation on the mouth and the liquid is thicker on the body. Overall a good stout. Robust and ripe with character. Though I feel the vanilla is coming on just a bit too much. It'll be interesting to see how this reacts as it warms up.

RblWthACoz, Apr 17, 2009
Photo of Retsinis
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Bruery Tulip glass.

Pours a deep, rich black, with brown highlights when held to the light. Less than an inch of head, that fades to a light lacing that sits on top, and sticks to the side of the glass.

Smell is of vanilla, roasted coffee, burnt brown sugar, and a tinge of bitter hops, but comes across more as bitter coffee.

Taste follows the nose, coffee, vanilla, some tobacco, dark chocolate ( like 70% dark chocolate)

Mouth feel is a bit creamy, but doesn't linger on the palate. Heat of the 10% is well masked, but comes through more once it warms up.

Overall, one of the top coffee porters. The 2010 seems a bit too balanced in contrast to previous years, with the flavors melding to a point of masking what is a complex beer. Having sampled various variety's, the barrel aged tap version is delicious, as was last year's fresh, (Also aged last years for a year, vanialla comes through a lot, coffee fades quite a bit, was still present though) but last years cask version with Rum chips takes the prize.

Recommended in any variant though, great seasonal.

Retsinis, Jan 28, 2011
Photo of mdfb79
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a pint glass.

a - Pours a dark brown color with one finger of tan head. Light carbonation and lacing evident.

s - Smells of milk chocolate, roasted malts, cofee, and a hint of alcohol.Some vanilla too. Very nice.

t - Tastes of bitter chocolate, hops, roasted malts, coffee, and alcohol.

m - High carbonation and medium body. Some alcohol warmth.

d - A pretty good porter. Smells amazing with lots going on, but I wasn't the biggest fan of the bitterness in the taste; it was a bit too much. I didn't get any vanilla from the taste which I would have liked, and also thought the high carbonation hurt it a bit. None the less, it is still a very good porter worth checking out. Would have again.

mdfb79, May 12, 2010
Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been hoping for this since Texas finally got Ballast Point this summer.

It pours out dark with a creamy fluffy cloud of a lightly browned head.

The aroma definitely tells you that there is coffee in this. Sweet milk chocolate and vanilla. Light roast and dark fruit notes. Everything is under the prevalent coffee aroma.

Coffee, roast, and alcohol are balanced a bit by the sweeter vanilla and chocolate flavors. The roasty coffee profile of the beer again exerts its dominance on this beer in the flavor department.

Has a big creamy silky smooth mouthfeel.

MattSweatshirt, Jan 10, 2013
Photo of CaptDavyJones
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at 'The Hopping Pig' in San Diego.
Pitch black with half a fingers worth of dark tan colored head that dissipated to a thin film.
Lots of roasted malt, coffee, vanilla and some cocoa notes coming through.
Aroma is translated almost completely to the taste. Lots of roasted malt, coffee notes. However, the vanilla comes through more in the taste than the aroma. There is a very good balance between the coffee and vanilla.
Very good mouthfeel and damn tasty beer.
Definitely worth a try and comes highly recommended.

CaptDavyJones, Jun 16, 2012
Photo of axeman9182
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from the generous BA Soonami. This one was allowed to warm a good bit before being poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Victory at Sea pours a solid black, with a tan head that comes up to between two and three fingers in height. There's a decent amount of lacing left behind, and the foam takes its time in inching down the side of the glass. The nose is almost perfectly balanced. There's some sweet milk chocolate that's neck and neck with strong coffee in terms of flavors standing out. I think a lot of porters and stouts sometimes overdo it on roasty grain notes, but this beer is notable for it's pretty much complete lack of any. I actually wish there was a little bit of roast to give the nose more of an edge, but that's really nitpicking. That superior balance isn't found in the flavor, for the most part. Coffee jumps out and dominates any chocolaty notes on my palate. As the beer finishes approaching room temperature, the coffee and vanilla bean influences finally begin to even out again, but it's a bit too late to make this a truly great beer. The carbonation is appropriately subdued, but I expect a rich and full body from a 10% porter, and this one just doesn't deliver on that front. Victory at Sea is a very good beer, and one that I would gladly come back to, but it's just a step below true greatness.

axeman9182, Jul 24, 2011
Photo of chaz410
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black body, light has no chance in this viscous black hole of shadows. A light kakhi head sits atop this solid black brick of fluid.
Smells of coffee, vanilla hints, caramel and toasted malt.
The taste is amazing. There's a huge amount of roasted mocha and coffee. Laced across this robust backbone is subtle caramel and a nice vanilla sweetness with a very bright toasted character toward the end. There is a slightly charred coffee-like bitterness at the end.
Very thick and silky mouthfeel.
A very drinkable but assertive Imperial porter!

chaz410, May 25, 2010
Photo of krisandajt
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A gentle pour from the bottle, the beer is black, dark and viscous. There is virtually no head atop this brew, only a thin ring of coffee colored foam where the beer meets the glass.

Smell: Nice roasted quality with some chocolate and coffee mixed in. I've been sitting on this one for a while, I get the impression the coffee has faded somewhat. Still, smells very good.

Taste: Some nice hints of vanilla, I really didn't get much of it in the nose so it's a bit of a surprise. The roasted quality isn't as pronounced as it was in the nose. Sweet, milk chocolate. Everything is pretty well balanced. Not getting much coffee, but again I think that's the result of the beer sitting down in my cellar.

Mouthfeel: Nice medium body, good carbonation. Very easy drinking beer given its potency.

Drinkability: A fine drinking porter perfect for a cold night like tonight. My one gripe is that I should have opened this one up sooner. I'd like to try it fresher and see if the coffee comes through more. Still, I'm enjoying it and I would recommend it to anybody.

krisandajt, Dec 05, 2010
Photo of BeerForMuscle
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Virtually black, with a sticky, thin layer of irregular bubbles on top. Looks strong.

S - Apple skin to black chocolate with cane sugar. Notes of alcohol and dark, rich sweetness. Maybe some steamed milk.

T - An assertive flavor profile with heavy coffee presence. Not much in the way of vanilla. There is a sweetness in the middle, but the strength of the coffee takes over. The 10% ABV is present; too strong for the rich flavors to mask.

M - Rich and strong, like a cappuccino. This beer is very sturdy and dry.

O - A hearty brew, but not sure this is a porter. This one seems like a coffee stout more or less.

BeerForMuscle, Apr 06, 2013
Photo of hreb
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in pint glass. Oh, *Imperial* porter? Oh my. Beer pours pitch black with a massive pillowy brown head on top. Big coffee aroma dominates everything else. A hint of caramel sweetness -- I guess I could believe vanilla in there. Flavor starts out coffee forward, with a caramelly, oaky (vanilla) sweetness up front, which progressively works its way back across the palate and ends up respectably bitter. There's not zero hops in here, but the real aftertaste is the earthy bitterness of black coffee, which leaves its residue on the lips. I think the vanilla provides caramel and oak flavors, neither of which are president, but the result is pretty complex, without bringing the harshness of oak, nor the sticky sweetness of adjunct sugars.

hreb, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of angrybabboon
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this. I've been meaning to review this for quite some time.

Consumed 2/18/14

Appearance: Surprisingly dark, I would legitimately call this jet black - pours with a large, rocky, beige head - keeps a solid cap - leaves webs of lacing

Smell: Big, bold coffee - roasty coffee beans and coffee grounds - tons of vanilla bean and vanilla - cooked, roasty, burnt malts - chocolate malts, dark chocolate, baker's chocolate - nutty in the finish

Taste: Coffee, chocolate, and vanilla - decidedly reminiscent of chocolate-covered coffee beans - espresso and some drip coffee - dark chocolate, baker's chocolate, and a touch of cocoa - the vanilla is definitely big, with some vanilla beans and vanilla extract, but I think it's a bit overshadowed by the coffee... or maybe I can't quite discern the two flavors since I add French vanilla to my coffee on a daily basis - whatever - nice level of sweetness balanced with some roast - finishes dry and roasty

Mouthfeel: On the heavy side of medium, definitely big for the style, nice carbonation, smooth

Overall: Yup, worth a try

This isn't the best porter I've had, and it's not the best application of coffee. But it is very good. It's fairly easy to find, so I'd say it's definitely worth a try.

angrybabboon, Feb 18, 2014
Photo of Nietzsches_Horse
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nietzsches_Horse, Oct 25, 2014
Photo of sommersb
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 06-28-2014
Freshness: Best by 12-12-2013
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Tulip
Purchased: Received in a trade

Black, opaque beer that features a small tan head. Very good lacing and a low level of retention.

Aromas have vanilla and wood, rich dark fruits, coffee, chocolates and dark cherry fruit.

The taste has dark chocolate, rich malts and brown breads, bitterness of roasted coffee and earth hops and vanilla. Also get some alcohol warming and perhaps some oxidation from the age.

Thick-bodied mouthfeel with low carbonation. The finish has a pretty intense coffee flavor and bitterness.

A very rich and coffee-forward beer that I enjoyed, but it did seem to have some off flavors that may be attributed to the age.

sommersb, Jun 29, 2014
Photo of Stebow1289
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%

Stebow1289, Oct 29, 2014
Photo of Shumista
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle shared three ways. From notes.

Pours black with a brown head, no surprises there. The smell is roasted coffee (the cheap stuff though, folgers maybe), chocolate and some vanilla. I was pretty taken aback by the flavor, I expected roasted coffee to dominate but this is an absolute vanilla bomb. Coffee, chocolate and a nuttiness are all underlying flavors as well. Everything combines to make a beer that reminds me more of a mocha vanilla milk shake than a porter. Creamy mouthfeel, very sweet but not to the point that drinkability suffers. Definitely some delicious stuff.

Shumista, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of emerge077
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Glugs into a half liter mug, jet black with a crisply defined line of mocha foam on top. The foam is sticky and leaves tan concentric rings around the edges. As it warms up, the aroma is very chocolate/vanilla like a milkshake. The flavor is also heavy on these notes, seeming like a melted kahlua milkshake on first impression. Some char and bitter coffee elements. Fairly dry and bitter dark chocolate aftertaste. Pretty beefy, one to sip for sure. Luckily there's no hint of 10% in here.

emerge077, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of JoeBloe
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i tried this earlier today with friends, bottles were nicely chilled -
everybody loved this, and there were more remarks about chocolate flavor than coffee or vanilla - now i'm having a glass at home, served a little warmer -
pours a deep chestnut brown, nearly opaque
the 1 finger head recedes to form a 1/4 inch collar around the glass with spotty lacing on the sides and a swirly 'crema' on the surface -
not much aroma from this -
taste is complex and smoooothe - yes, i can taste the vanilla notes and the coffee, with a little choco/toffee on the finish -very well balanced - i cannot taste the alcohol in this 10% brew - damn! is this smooth!
mouthfeel is quite good with a creaminess that begs for the next sip - not sticky - medium/full bodied
drinks waaay too easy for the abv
great stuff!

JoeBloe, Dec 06, 2010
Photo of flagmantho
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip. Looking forward to this one!

Appearance: entirely black body -- not much else to be said here! Head pours a thick finger of rich, frothy, dark-tan foam. Retention is decent, and a nice lace is left on the glass. Bam!

Smell: rich, sweet coffee and roasty aroma. Very light and subtle hints of vanilla are indeed coming through. In general, there is not a lot of complexity to the aroma; however, it seems extremely clean and well-crafted. I like it a lot.

Taste: rich and heavy porter taste. Lots of roastiness with plenty of coffee thrown in; the coffee is nice but definitely adds its share of bitterness. Hop bitterness is also high; unfortunately, though, there is a quite a bit of vegetal hop character which detracts from the overall flavor in my book. Still a tasty beer, though.

Mouthfeel: big body with a rich, smooth and creamy texture. I like it a lot, but I feel like maybe there is a bit of missed opportunity here -- the beer is not a super silky and sleek as I feel it could be.

Overall: this is a great-looking and great-smelling beer; tasty, too, but I feel like the cleanliness of the flavor and the smoothness of the texture could be dialed in just a little bit more.

flagmantho, Aug 17, 2013
Photo of Phelps
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks: like breakfast. An overriding and abundant black liquid fills the glass while a powerful-looking head the color of brown sugar and the consistency of pancake batter slowly retreats to a thin but stubborn blanket. Sweet, sticky spatters of lace pepper the glass as it goes.

Smells: like Cappuccino gelato. Medium roast coffee, with milk. Sweet, dessert like. Subtle vanilla notes in the back, with some roasty delights. Bit of sourdough, brown sugar. More coffee than vanilla.

Tastes: like tiramisu. An excellent balance of bitter and sweet. Bitter medium roast coffee flavors play at the sides of the tongue, while a sweet vanilla and irish cream character builds at the front. Toast. Molasses. Alcohol heat rolls down the throat, noticeable but not overpowering. Sweet finish. Loving the play of coffee bitterness and sweet vanilla. Really comes together as it warms. The vanilla becomes more pronounced, making the overall drink sweeter.

Feels: creamy, smooth and luxurious over the tongue. At first I thought the body could be a touch more full, and the medium carbonation just a bit too heavy, but the beer again improves dramatically as it warms. The mouthfeel expands to a creamy delight.

Drinks: like dessert. Victory at sea is a treat that, while not terribly complex, is utterly drinkable. I foresee the flavors mingling even better with time; I look forward to revisiting an aged bottle in a year or so.

Phelps, Jun 20, 2010
Photo of Thickfreakness
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this in one of my first trades last year... thought it was about time I opened it.

A- Pours near pitch black into my DFH glass. Nice creamy, thin dark tan head with a nice amount of oily residue clinging to the glass.

S- Nice roasted malt and coffee is the first thing that hits the nose. Cocoa, vanilla bean, and a subtle touch of citrusy hop lies beneath.

T- Fresh pressed black coffee, beautiful roasted chocolate malts! Very nice vanilla notes than open up aas it warms. Tastes like real vanilla beans... not extract. Nice bitterness, probably from both the roasted malt and the citrusy hops.

M- Creamy and chalky at the same time. Rich vanilla and chocolate flavors mingle with the citrus from the hops. Really thick and creamy on the tongue without being sticky. No real sence of the 10% which is nice.

O- This is a fantastic porter! Wishing I had drank this fresher, but hopefully I get another bottle this year. Incredibly drinkable and delicious. The vanilla really shines thru as it warms up.

Thickfreakness, Nov 22, 2011
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 4,103 ratings.