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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,215 Reviews
no score

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

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,215 | Hads: 5,906
Photo of unclejazz
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Manny in Chander,AZ for turning me on to this. Talk about meeting and exceeding expectations, check out this review!

A-a nice pour with a 1 finger head that slowly dissipated leaving a thin foam that laced a bit.

S-yum, the vanilla and coffee combine with the roasted malt to create a wonderful bouquet. This smell really jumps up and attacks your nose, with pleasure.

T-spot on, vanilla hits first follow by roasted malts, cocoa, and coffee. You can barely taste the alcohol. As I take a sip, I savor it like its the last, until its all gone. Now I am sad.

M-just heavy enough for not be watery, and a pleasant pop of carbonation I was not expecting by really enjoyed.

O-damn that is one tasty beverage, I wish I would have popped this one sooner, so I would have known how delicious it is. Founders Porter has some competition. Look out!

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Photo of zac16125
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Victory at Sea Imperial Porter
22 oz bomber poured into a pint glass
no born on date or other identifying numbers
written from notes taken months ago

A: Pours a thick very dark brown, almost but not quite black, with just over 2 fingers of dense mocha colored head that takes a good while to dissipate down. Leaves some mild patchy lacing.

S: Heaviest aromas are roasted malt and chocolate, along with some coffee and a significant vanilla character as well. Really quite an awesome aroma.

T: Initial it is tons of chocolate from the first sip all the way through to the aftertaste. The chocolate character is mostly milk chocolate but also some more subtle dark/bakers chocolate characters as well. As it warms other flavors start to come out including a significant vanilla presence, and a more subdued coffee flavor. There is also a slight roasted character and a touch of hop bitterness. This is really a damn good beer. Complex, well balanced, and very tasty.

M/D: Smooth with a low amount of carbonation. Full bodied with a sticky mouthfeel and a well masked ABV. Decent drinkability but definitely a sipper.

O: Overall, a very good beer. Complex and delicious flavor profile, awesome aroma, and a good smooth mouthfeel. Very well done and a beer I highly recommend.

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Photo of Etan
3.97/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Brooklyn tulip.

A: Pours an opaque black with a light tan head. Nice retention and lacing.

S: Sweet coffee with hints of vanilla. Notes of marshmallow, lactic sugar, cinnamon, some chocolate. So good.

T: Big coffee hits the palate. Like the nose, the coffee starts out sweet and milky, with lots of vanilla. Slight alcohol in the back with a quick wave of roasty burnt coffee bitterness in the finish. A little sweetness and coffee lingering. As the glass is drained, the coffee bitterness coats the palate and doesn't go away.

M: Moderately thick. Could be a little thicker.

O: The alcohol is very well-hidden, but I'm missing the sweetness that usually comes from the alcohol and malt because of the coffee's dominance. If you love coffee, this is nice, but I think it causes a bit of an unbalance between the porter elements and the flavors from the beans.

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Photo of draheim
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle into a snifter. Pours a rich brown w/ a thick mocha head.

Aroma is rich chocolate, coffee, caramel, cocoa nibs. Smells great, like dessert.

Taste is good strong coffee up front, softened by the vanilla. A solid backbone of dark roasted malt holds it all together.

Mouthfeel is creamy smooth, balanced and moderately dry.

Overall this is about exactly what I was expecting/hoping for, and it's now one of my favorite porters.

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

22oz bomber opened on 1-22-12.

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

S - Nutty and lots or roasted malts.

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

D - Good carbonation and medium body.

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

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Photo of Immortale25
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Poured into a snifter.

A- Pours a black color that's completely opaque with a 3/4 inch dark tan head that retains a bit before coming to an 1/8 inch ring around the edge of the glass and streaks of solid lacing following behind. Plentiful surface foam.

S- Lovely scents of milk chocolate intertwined with mocha in a sweet context.

T- Roasty, yet not bitter, notes of cocoa and some peanut butter. Coffee's definitely there and just as prevalent, but with a softer connotation than a full-on coffee beer. Alcohol is a bit on the imposing side, but its 10% ABV makes it justified.

M- Creamy and decadent. Especially pleasant at a lower serving temperature. Medium carbonation and a nice thick, chewy body.

O- Every time I have this, I love it more and more. I don't even seek out darker beers, but this is crazy good.

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Photo of muletrane
4.41/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

No bottle date :(

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a CBS snifter.

A: Pours a jet black colour with no light shining through. Huge three fingered creamy light tan head. Tight bubbles with great retention and lacing.

S: Coffee notes dominate the nose here. Some vanilla notes on the back end. Some alcohol as it warms.

T: Very nice balance between the coffee, vanilla and roasted malts. There is lingering bitterness and roastiness in the finish. Some warming alcohol.

M: Moderate body with light carbonation. Very smooth and easy to drink.

Overall this a very nice and unique porter. Nicely balanced and tasty. Very glad I got a chance to try this.

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Photo of jgagne
4.41/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- very dark, almost opaque body with a huge chocalate milk looking head.

S-huge chocalate and vanilla notes come woffing off this beer. With mild roasty coffee notes.

T-wow, this beer has a wonderful blend of coffee, dark chocalate and vanilla. The chocalate hits you at first then the vanilla really smoothes out the beer. And you end with nice roasty finish.

M-nice heavy body with low carbonation. Sits almost like an imperial stout.

O-what a truly wonderful beer. Great balance and flavor. Highly recommended.

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Photo of tjkinate
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a great Imperial Porter!

A: Massive, light brown, frothy head that displayed great retention and loads of lacing that completely surrounds the glass above this black bodied brew.

S: Milk chocolate, coffee, subtle hints of vanilla and cocoa nibs. Far from being the most complex of beers, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

T: Cocoa nibs followed by bitter coffee flavors that mix perfectly with the sweet vanilla undertones. Reminded me of drinking hot chocolate on a cold winter evening.

M: Well carbonated, heavy bodied, yet slightly chalky.

O: Fantastic, best beer you can get for the price. Enough said!

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Photo of dogfishandi
3.98/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to LaChupacabra for this awesome extra!

22oz bottle at about fridge temp poured into my darkness snifter. "VAS12" stamped on the neck?

pours out pretty much opaque black with a huge 2-3 fingers worth of light mocha/ biege colored head off the pour. settles to a thick frothy layer with tons thick sticky lacing.

lots of a creamy vanilla bean aroma. then comes a blend of deep roasted coffee and roasted, burnt malts. nothing really espresso like. bits of dark fruits and maybe a little fruity esters. as it warms some dark chocolate is noticable and smells just slightly warming.

the taste is a little more enjoyable than the aroma. the vanilla bean is again at the forefront. but close behind is some nice roasted coffee, a little more expresso like than in the aroma, and roasted malts. dark chocolate and some mild dark fruits. a bit sweet and the slightest bit of sweet toasted malt. warming going down, but no real taste of alcohol.

comes off just a touch thin and a bit overcarbonated for the style. maybe even the slightest bit acidic from the coffee. becomes more warming as the beer warms up which makes the body feel a bit bigger.

a very enjoyable beer, my only compliants are it could use a touch more body and a little more coffee character. i understand its an imperial porter, but the line between impy porter and impy stout is a little blurred IMO. still a stand up beer as is, but not something i would trade for again. definatly glad i got a chance to try it and id definatly drink again if readily available.

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Photo of Rifugium
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First had: on tap at Pinocchio's, Media, PA

Poured oily black with a small tannish head that receded quite a bit and left little to no lacing. Aroma of roasted dark malts, vanilla, chocolate, coffee. The aroma carried over well in to the taste, with practically all the same elements in a good balance; flavors came out more as the beer was allowed to get closer to room temperature. On the fuller side of medium-bodied, smooth, lower carbonation, and a bit of alcohol warmth that really didn't affect the flavor. Very good overall.

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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 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 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 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 iadler
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours a deep brown with a two finger dark mocha head that dissipates into a nice cap. Webs of lacing are left behind.

S- Roasted malt is prominent upfront with coffee beans, dark chocolate, black cherry, vanilla and caramel malt.

T- Dark chocolate covered espresso beans, heavy dose of roasted malt, char, burnt caramel, light cream, and a hint of dark fruit.

M- Medium carbonation and body with a dry roasted finish.

O- While the coffee was quite upfront and robust, I didn't get too much vanilla in the taste. The heavy roast presence got a bit too overwhelming, but certainly a nice offering from Ballast Point and one I would like to try fresh.

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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 AgentMunky
4.67/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter. Supplemented by a review from notes on 4 February 2012.

A: A nice finger or two of mocha head fades quickly. Black-dark with excellent lacing.

S: One of the most excellent scents in beerdom. Strong coffee. Vanilla beans. A touch of cream. Powerful and amazing.

T: Sweet, creamy, and very substantial. Loads of vanilla, matched only by coffee beans. Slight bitterness on the endtaste (to which hops contribute). Coffee is prominent on the aftertaste, which is not quite dry, but clean superlative, with just a trace of vanilla. Rich, enticing, and excellent. Damned tasty.

M: Creamy-full with balancing and astringent hops.

O: A truly fantastic beer. Most highly recommended! I would (and will) drink again. Balanced and excellent with significant vanilla/coffee notes -- it lives up to its self-styled genre of a 'Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter.'

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Photo of TheSixthRing
4.26/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Pours as black as beer gets. I went so far as to hold a 150-watt reflector bulb to it... no light came through. The head is a creamy tan, about a finger width, before dying into a fine lace.

Smell - Earthy aromas. Very earthy. Coffee comes through, also a bit of vanilla, but it's buried. A bit of alcohol tinges the nostril.

Taste - Intense coffee, then vanilla notes and chocolate dance on the tongue. The tail end of the aftertaste is reminiscent of vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate syrup. Again, a bit of alcohol comes through, but not more than expected for a 10 percenter.

Mouthfeel - Creamy, medium body. Decent carbonation. Goes down easy enough.

Overall - This is a great beer. I'll certainly be on the lookout for other Ballast Point offerings in the near future.

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Photo of Thingus
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Live tasting, bomber into Duvel tulip...

Appearance; pours black with two fingers of bubbly mocha colored head... Retention is decent with the head hanging around for a couple minutes before falling to a thin film... Lacing is good, with blotches and spiderwebs all over the glass.

Smell; coffee and vanilla!! And not much else... Try as I might, I can't get any more aroma from this brew...

Taste; holy moly, this is a vanilla latte lovers dream brew!! Tons of coffee and vanilla... Smoothly roasted and not overly bitter or burnt tasting, great flavors of vanilla bean... As the coffee and vanilla fades out with hints of malt and chocolate sneaking in...

Mouthfeel; on lighter side of full bodied, with good carbonation... Slightly bitter finish..

Overall; a damn good beer all around, the vanilla and coffee work exceptionally well together!! I'll definitely track this one down again, absolutely worth the effort to obtain!

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Photo of rudzud
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Picked up a bottle of this at Austin Liquors. Been wanting to try this one for a few years, glad to have finally come across it.

A - Poured into my Duvel tulip an excellent oily almost black pour with a big, rocky two finger mocha head that faded to a thick mocha cloud/blanket and nice halo.

S - Wow, this smells nice. The coffee isnt too overwhelming, it is instead in great balance between chocolate and vanilla beans. Super harmonious.

T - Again, wow. Some porters/stouts that have coffee in them are just WHAM in your face coffee. Not this. Nice light, rich, powerful coffee upfront that is a perfect combination of chocolate and vanilla. Almost like a good mocha coffee. Really good, even combination of flavours with that nice vanilla there to just make this pop. The end is a bit of a battle between the nice vanilla and bitterness of the coffee, with a great lingering of the both. ABV isnt noticeable in the mouth.

M - Yeah, this is a damn good porter. Stuff is dangerously drinkable. at 10% I really dont pick up any of that at all. Very smooth, rich, creamy and what I do is hidden wonderfully by that bitter coffeesharp (there is a light, carbonation to it). Not thin, chewy, lots of bitterness from coffee and a nice sweetness of vanilla.

O - Overall This is an awesome beer. Vanilla really jumps out of this beer. Great flowing of coffee, chocolate, and vanilla. Waited so long to try this and it was SO worth it!

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Photo of ms11781
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a very dark brown color with lighter, reddish brown hues at the edges of the glass. A nice, dense, tan/light brown foam head develops and has nice retention. Excellent lacing is left on the glass. Really nice looking beer.

The nose is really nice. Great roasted and coffee notes come across first and are followed up by some light chocolate notes. The vanilla comes out more as the beer warms a bit and once it does it goes excellent with the coffee and some chocolate that shows up.

Each sip starts with a well balanced mix of both roasted coffee and some nice, sweet vanilla. Both are really potent but very pleasant and not overwhelming. Towards the finish there is a hint of chocolate before some bitter roast comes through at the very end. There is also some warming from some alcohol.

The beer has a fairly good sized body, not huge, probably somewhere between medium and full. The carbonation is on the lower end but is somewhat lively. The combination allows it to feel like a bigger beer without actually being one.

This is an excellent beer. As advertised it is full of great coffee and vanilla flavor and aroma. There is a nice balance between some bitter roast and almost sugary sweetness. Everything pulls together nicely and makes for a great beer.

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Photo of PorterLambic
3.88/5  rDev -11%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Arrives very,dark brown with a small, dark tan head of sorts, mostly just a ring in the snifter. No light penetration.
Smell is, not surprisingly, vanilla and coffee with roast malt and weak hops floating around back. Decent balance.
Taste is malty, dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee and a little rum note. Good balance and good complexity.
Mostly full-bodied with a light effervescence. Slightly drying finish. Warming throughout. Very nice brew.

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Photo of jbphoto88
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A dark brown beer that closely approaches black. There are some ruby highlights that barely give away the actual color. The head is a sponge of bubbles, sticking to everything it touches and is the color of espresso crema with a hint of cherry wood red. Impressive start.

Mmmmm there are loads of chocolate malts and coffee punch in the nose. And I mean punch! The coffee notes all but dominate with charred malts coming in way behind the thick cloud of cafe musk. All of those heavy scents have a bit of an acidic tart smell to them but in my experience that can be masked in flavor.

Speaking of which this is a huge flavor bomb. The coffee and chocolate carry over but not the tartness. The coffee is diminished and replaced by the vanilla roasted caramel malt and a baked nuttiness. Heavy duty with waves and layers of big porter flavor. Super delicious.

The mouthfeel is full bodied like you'd guess from a beer of this nature. The acrid notes perk up here and seem to wash off a layer of enamel from your teeth and leaves you with a chocolate bile aftertaste. Not my favorite finish but not so bad to make me rate it below a 4. So even with that negative this is still a bad ass brew.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.92/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Pours a deep black with a half finger of tan head. It looks the part and pours a little thick
S: Espresso, roasted malt, dark chocolate, and maybe some hints of vanilla but the coffee notes dominate
T: Chocolate to start with some coffee notes, a bit of vanilla, roast malt, burnt sugar, dark roast coffee for sure. aftertaste is straight coffee and black malt
M: full bodied with solid carbonation, a little prickly which helps keep things light and moving. Not heavy or chewy.
O: ABV and flavor profile of an imperial stout with the easy drinking of a porter. My goodness is this stuff good. Get it if you can, I'm very happy that I have another bottle of this to look forward to.

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