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

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,162 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,162
Hads: 5,653
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 949
Gots: 1,586 | FT: 108
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: 1,162 | Hads: 5,653
Photo of xnicknj
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into glass - 2009 vintage

Pours an inky black with a thinner tanned head. Fades out almost completely with sine spotty lacing and film.

A strong scent of cocoa with espresso, coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of alcohol.

Plenty of chocolate and cocoa up front with a nice splash of vanilla flavor. Lighter tones of coffee and mocha mix in with an almost truffle- like sweetness. Roasted dark malts with caramel and some lingering warmth. Finishes toasty with a hint of booze.

Fuller medium body, mild carbonation, a little creamy and smooth. Really nice drinking, and some age helped mellow out the alcohol although some of the coffee and vanilla flavors faded. (688 characters)

Photo of DefenCorps
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Grabbed a few in PA and boy, is it worth it!

This beer pours black with reddish brown highlights, capped by an 1/2" thick brown head. Retention is excellent, as is the lacework it leaves. On the nose, it's pretty awesome. Fresh coffee (somewhere between an espresso and a regular cuppa joe), an awesome vanilla note, as well as a great rich chocolate aroma. The palate replicates the nose, with the balance between the flavors being fantastic. Opens up with chocolate, followed by coffee and then vanilla before a beautifully bitter finish with flavors of dark chocolate and coffee. The palate is great too, with a medium body, soft and rich carbonation and a great finish. A nice slickness as well. Drinkability? I drank a bottle and could have gone for another

**Edit Jan 2011**
Drinking the 2010 winter release, I can say that my review is the same, but I have to dial down my scores a bit to reflect how I feel about this beer. (933 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle poured into a snifter.
10% ABV

A - As pitch black as the depths of the sea itself, this dark imperial porter has a frothy mocha head that churns upward lapping rocky splashes of lace on the glass as it slowly sinks.

S - At first Victory At Sea's aromatics present nothing more than cold-pressed oily, loosely ground espresso bean. As the dark beer warms, roasted malt incorporates dark chocolaty nuances with the rising tide of vanilla bean and subtle sweet caramel on the finish.

T - Heavily roasted malt unveils dark bitter baker's chocolate with undertones of molasses and dried vanilla bean before launching right back into the robust cold-pressed espresso flavor. While it's damn delicious, it's not quite as impressive at the aroma lets on.

M - Starting with a robust feel, Victory At Sea quickly shifts to a thinner feeling presence due to it's heavily roasted malt and coffee acrid bitterness that's further thinned by warming alcohol on the finish.

O - An iconic beer from it's harrowing label to the sheer robust presence of the coffee, Victory At Sea is a classic coffee beer for any coffee lover, gliding smoothly across the palate with black espresso, vanilla tannins, and bitter chocolate lapping at the bow as warming alcohol fuels it's sails. If you want to totally geek out, enjoy this while watching a 'Pirates' movie. (1,354 characters)

Photo of tectactoe
4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Shared with Mike - thanks to GetMeAnIPA for sending this one my way. Pours a deep and dark obsidian-like color; very, very little brown on the edges with a solid, fine-bubbled tan head that fades much too fast. A quick swirl of the glass can coax it back, but only for a few moments.

The aroma on this one is very tantalizing; heavy, HEAVY roasted coffee beans - I'm talking burnt, scorched, charred, ashy. These beans smell super roasted and super bitter. This plays off of a delicate sweetness induced from the vanilla aromas that hang in the balance. Might be a tiny bit of cocoa somewhere deep in the abyss, but any attempt to further sniff it out is just met with more and more heaps of coffee beans, roasted malts, and light vanilla. I've always been partial to bitter porters rather than overly sweet ones. The nose on this beer tells me that my bias may be in effect.

...and right I was - the aroma is a perfect indication of the malt assessment in Victory At Sea. From the moment the beer hits your tongue, your palate is pile-driven with an enormous roasted, charred, and borderline burnt flavor. Coffee beans, coffee beans, coffee beans. Imaging taking a hand full of French Roast coffee beans, scorching them in a skillet, then shoving them in your face. A little overboard? Maybe.... but you get the idea. The alcohol is also noticeable from the first sip to the last, but at 10% ABV, I have no complaints. Some lightly sweet vanilla coats each and every sip also, providing a tiny bit of balance to the bitter-roasted brigade. Some chocolate definitely comes out more upon warming, although it was nearly absent in the aroma. The aftertaste is a compilation of mild charcoal flavors with some ashy and dry bitterness - a "balls to the walls", unadulterated coffee bean roast. Medium-thick body with a decent amount of carbonation; mildly creamy and smooth.

Hell yes. Victory at Sea gives the roasty bitterness lovers more of what they crave. Such a roasted, charred, and bitter stout with lovely little sweetness interruptions to keep things interesting. Very pleasantly surprised by this one - great way to end the night. (2,139 characters)

Photo of clayrock81
4.13/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a black body with two finger tan head that dies slow with no lace. Aroma ranges from coffee, vanilla, espresso, milk/lactic qualities, hints of milk chocolate. For a heavy beer the alcohol is hidden and the beer is rather light and smooth. More sweet than dry as the roasted coffee notes are easily noticed but the beer seems to slightly dominated by milk/vanilla sweetness. An enjoyable beer on its own or as dessert. (425 characters)

Photo of barnzy78
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz. Poured near-black with a light brown head that left decent lacing on the glass. Aromas were of bold coffee, roasted grains, vanilla, chocolate, and maybe some oak. Mouth-feel was medium bodied. Tastes were bold up-front coffee and roasted malts with notes of dark chocolate and vanilla. Also some hints of fruity esters - maybe some ripe dark fruits, although fairly faint. Alcohol was present, but balanced well with the flavors. Finished sweet with a lingering of sweet cocoa and espresso. Basically, this was a good interpretation of going with something different and thinking outside of the box. Worth the try if you can find it. (640 characters)

Photo of VelvetExtract
4.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Looks and pours more like a Stout than a Porter. Very deep black with only a slight hint of brown on the edges. I can see bubbles rising along the glass up to the fluffy head. Nice lacing and retention.

S-Very roasty and chocolatey with hints of vanilla. This beer's scent is big and bold and nice.

T-Complex flavor assault on the tongue. Delicious mixture of tastes hit the palate. You get the coffee and chocolate. So very roasty, and the vanilla comes into play very well. Booze is there but muted and doesn't take away from the awesome flavors.

M-Surprisingly quite light. I guess thats why this is a Porter and not a Stout. Still pretty creamy however. I enjoy the lighter body on this beer. The mouthfeel I find to be more Porter-like than the other aspects of the brew (which are very Stout-like).

D-Booze is masked excellently. This lighter body of the beer also increases its drinkability. Quite happy.

Here I was thinking Ballast Point's only great beer was the Sculpin. Foolish, this one is amazing too. Christ, I may like this better than Sculpin. (1,067 characters)

Photo of twiggamortis420
4.77/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 vintage courtesy of cmurren25, thanks Chad! Pours a black-as-night color with awesome retention and great lacing.

Nose has lots of coffee on it and a light vanilla twist. Plenty of roasty malts and a decent amount of sweetness.

Ohhhh, this is way smoother than it should be. Vanilla and coconut-infused chocolate malt flavor. Smooth yet robust. One of those "wow" beers, no doubt about it. This review has officially been cut short due to the extreme enjoyment I get from every single sip. Amazing beer. (510 characters)

Photo of champ103
4.38/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours an impenetrable opaque black color. A thick, rocky tan head rises to over two fingers. Excellent retention and rings of sticky spiderweb looking lace.
S: Vanilla beans and roasted coffee intermingle. Roasted malt, chocolate. Very nice.
T: This is excellent. Big vanilla and chocolate flavors right up front. Roasted malt and coffee. Though the coffee always takes a back seat to the vanilla. Fairly simple, but excellent.
M/D: A big full body. Medium carbonation that is perfect for a big beer. Velvety smooth and silky texture. So easy and enjoyable to drink. A great sipper, and warmer on.

I have had this several times, but finally got a bottle for my own. This is even better than I remember. Excellent, and highly recommended. (742 characters)

Photo of Jwale73
3.97/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks again to stevemcqueenjr for sharing this rare treat. The label on this bottle is awesome (a skeleton at the helm). 22oz. bottle served in my Gouden Carolus chalice. Poured one shade shy of black. No head, just a few bubbles and a thin, bubbly band wound around the bowl of the glass. Reddish-brown highlights were revealed at the base when held up to the light. Nose is roasted coffee/espresso upfront with a hint of vanilla in the back. Taste is char, roast and coffee followed by some vanilla and toffee/butterscotch. Some bitterness lingers between quaffs. Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and lightly effervescent. Nice complexity with a slightly burnt quality. This is a really nice offering from Ballast Point, but there's just a little too much char and bitterness in the mix that impacts the drinkability. (814 characters)

Photo of rfgetz
4.4/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep rich brown, almost black. Minimal ring of brown head, leaving some lacing. Smell is of medium roast malts with hints of coffee, vanilla, dark fruit and an underlying sweetness. Vanilla scent improves as it warms. Taste is of fresh roasted coffee with a creamy, milky sweetness backed by a nice presence of vanilla. Hints of fruit, chocolate and oak present. As the drink warms, the taste takes on a somewhat vanilla extract type taste, which is one of my few knocks. Nice full body for a porter, encroaching on stout territory with its creamyness and smoothness. Excellent beer which changes drastically as is approaches room temperature. To experience is, I recomended serving below recommended temp and tasting as it warms up. (741 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
4.55/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A-very dark brown liquid that lets just a little bit of light shine through giving off a red hue. The head is dark tan, thick and creamy with solid retention, well over a minute, and leaves a thick lacing on the glass. Borderline perfect appearance.

S-huge nose that brings roasted malts with a nice touch of vanilla leading into the roasted java, this is begging me to drink it!

T/M huge body!!! This is so thick it is chewy! The texture is very smooth and creamy. The taste brings huge roasted malts, some nice roasted java comes in next with a hint of vanilla. There is some nice dark chocolate and the finish is slightly bitter and brings a crisp bite

D- this beer is absolutely delicious, I really enjoy all of Ballast Point's offerings that I have had so far. This beer follows suit and is absolutely huge! I love the big coffee flavors and the vanilla is very light but mixes in well with the roasted malts. (917 characters)

Photo of ZAP
4.09/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

Deep brown/black with ruby highlightsa lot of coffee grounds on the aroma...not much vanilla...full bodied....nice smooth creamy body....a lot of coffee on the taste as well...not getting much vanilla...some roasted malts...

The velvety texture is probably the high point along with the coffee notes. It's good to very good and I will rate it that way but nothing extraordinary that I would buy it again at its price point. (426 characters)

Photo of Brenden
4.71/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

This beer pours pretty thick, looking like a stout but with a slight opacity very barely in the edges if you tip the glass just so. Yes, it's thick. It's pretty close to black. Somehow, though thick and dark, it doesn't look too heavy. On the pour, a strong, dense cocoa colored head emerges and rests at a full finger, with little to no settling over the entire course of the drinking session. Along with the strong form it's got some stick, too, as it manages to leave strong, heavy lacing in large patches down the glass.
The aroma is big and rich in this one, and there's no doubt this is a strong, robust and very American-style porter. Roast is the main element in here, lots of big malts for a very strong foundation to build on. There's no acrid edge, no harshness found in malt-heavy beers with lots of roasty character. There is a light note of charred woods that, with the sweetness, come together rather than fighting for dominance. The sweetness is creamy, lots of vanilla and toffee, with just a hint of currants or dark cherry. The roasted coffee lies over it all without overpowering it, but lending itself to the overall character.
I've had a couple people who have tried it tell me this beer must have been barrel-aged, and, while it isn't, I understand what they're getting. Along with the underlying fresh coffee, the sweet creamy vanilla and toffee (and maybe something like a touch of molasses), the hint of dark fruits, and the big roast, there's something like a woody character to it. Honestly, it adds a a bit of balance to the flavor if nothing else. Not only that, but the alcohol has a noticeable warming affect but doesn't get too hot. The woody notes come out even more into the finish.
Big, thick, rich and robust, this is a full-bodied beer. It definitely breaks from tradition to follow the path of Americanization. It's deep, not just big for the sake of being big. Carbonation is enough to keep it lively while maintaining the character, crispness is light and works similarly. It has a nice creaminess to it from beginning to end. (2,067 characters)

Photo of ColForbinBC
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
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. (833 characters)

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.69/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black, with a chocolate brown head. In the aroma, a light roast, chocolate and vanilla hints. In the taste, quite roasty, dry chocolate, and a dry coffee note. A small bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry coffee aftertaste. Faint nose, not much vanilla, hides the alcohol, but just about average. (321 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Black color, little brown on the edges, nice tan head that popped up and left some decent lace.

S - Someone told me the vanilla on this is not that big, but I found it to be huge. Nice coffee flavor and roasted malt smells, just slightly bitter. Little bit of chocolate in there as well.

T - Really like this one. Vanilla is very nice and rich, hints of chocolate, decent coffee taste, and a roasty malt backbone that doesn't get bitter like a big stout.

M - Full bodied, creamy. Pretty much perfecct.

D - A bit heavy, so it's not like it's a session beer, but pretty good for the style. Didn't have a problem getting through the bomber of this. (654 characters)

Photo of drpimento
5/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Lovely monster. Appearance is a large tan, slow to settle, thick head with lots of lace and and opaque black brown color. Aroma is coffee, vanilla, roast malt, leather, black earth, dank forest, cement. Flavor's similar to nose, fairly dry, just enough tang and bitter to balance and then a hint of sweet in the finish. Body is just right. Long finish. Nary a hint of strength. (377 characters)

Photo of CrazyDavros
3.75/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours black with a large tan head.
Aroma of vanilla, roasted malt and very soft coffee.
Flavours include more vanilla and a fair bit of sweet malt. A fair whack of coffee too. (175 characters)

Photo of popery
4.37/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: wall-to-wall black with a creamy beige head. Some coffee black shades show up on the edges when swirled in the glass. Some lacing.

Smell: vanilla beans, creamy chocolate, roasted malt and fruity coffee. There's a lot of good stuff going on. Some booze heat in this fresh bottle.

Taste: starts sweet like a chocolate milkshake and transitions to a bitter note combining roast and coffee. The finish is nicely bitter and sticks with you for awhile.

Mouthfeel: creamy, thick and wonderful. Some booze burn in the finish.

Drinkability: All of that roast, coffee and booze cuts down on the drinkability, but, given those qualities, it's pretty easy to drink. The soft feel helps a lot. (697 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.61/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks Beerwolf for another share!

(A)- Pours a pitch black. Some tan bubbles.

(S)- Some chalky cocoa and spicy pepper-like dusty funk.

(T)- Some nice vanilla with rich raisin, dusty cocoa, and caramel.

(M)- A mellow/smooth carbonation level. A nice balance albiet some chalky/dusty characters, but good.

(D)- A solid porter with some fun flavors, though a little weird smell-wise. (422 characters)

Photo of Darkmagus82
4.4/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bottle into a pint glass

Appearance – The beer pours a beautifully deep brown-nearly black color with a huge billowy brown colored head. The head just sits there and persists, very slowly fading over time to leave one fantastic level of streaky lace on the sides of the glass.

Smell – Oh man there is a whole lotta coffee in this smell. A huge coffee aroma greets the nose with it being accompanied by tons of vanilla and caramel sweetness. Along with these aromas are some very nice roasted malt smells as well as a moderate presence of a cocoa smell. A little bit of a woody aroma and a decent showing of a boozy smell round out the aroma profile, creating a rather sweet, dark and warming smell overall. Quite delicious smelling.

Taste – The taste begins with tons of dark roasted malt and a sweeter coffee flavor. The sweeter nature of the brew is of a vanilla and caramel nature with just a hint of chocolate mixed within. The sweeter vanilla and caramel actually pick it up as the taste moves onto the end with the vanilla getting quite strong at the end. All the while the coffee also steps it up getting even stronger in flavor toward the end of the taste, and bringing with it a little bit of a more roasted and some more bitter flavors. While the nose displayed quite a boozy nature the taste did not display as much just giving some hints of alcohol. In the end with the mix of flavors one is left with a sweeter and rather coffee heavy roasted flavor to linger on the tongue.

Mouthfeel – The body of the beer is on the average to slightly thinner side for a 10 % brew with a carbonation level that is on the average side. Overall the feel was rather fitting as it prevented both the boozy flavors and coffee flavors from becoming too overpowering, but while still providing the base for all the complex flavors to be appropriately appreciated.

Overall – This is a nice coffee lover’s imperial porter. Big on coffee with a nice blend of roast, coffee, sweet, and booze. A very nice one to try if you get a chance. (2,065 characters)

Photo of barczar
3.94/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Big coffee and vanilla in aroma, with a bit of that fresh bean character that I find offputting. I'm sensitive to vanilla, and this is over the top, for me. Not a huge coffee fan, either.

Flavor is similar, with that bean character and roast malt emerging initially, and vanilla overtaking the finish. There's a slightly acrid coffee character in the bitter, roasty finish. Malt sweetness and notes of chocolate complement the vanilla fairly well.

Not my favorite flavor profile, but it's a decent beer. Smooth mouthfeel and rich, but more bitter in the finish than I'd prefer. (579 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to mrbubbler for shipping a bottle of this across the country, always happy to have Ballast Point in the house. Cut open to celebrate with my wife after returning from a short trip to Fabulous Las Vegas...where I was surprised to find good beer pretty available.

Poured into our new Devil's Backbone snifters (thanks Vickster & sholland119!!) this beer is a rather unsurprising black. Smell conforms with truth in advertising strictures: hard malts, bold coffee, liberal scoops of vanilla. That doesn't quite do it justice, very nicely medled bunch of aromas.

Victory at Sea brings the vanilla funk. Strangely, the taste isn't as tight as the smell. Vanilla is overriding & seems less honest than really good vanilla beers, a touch artificial. The coffee is good, serving the sweetness, understated. The base beer appears to be good, but it's buried beneath a mudslide of vanilla. A dropperful of chocolate causes this to veer towards what my wife calls "Tootsie Roll" territory.

Ultimately, this doesn't quite do it for me. Pretty good beer, but it taste like a candy whipped up in a big factory with robots vs. a confection whipped up by hand in the back of a local shop. Close for me. (1,200 characters)

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.77/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A 10% imperial porter. Tell me again why this isn't a stout? It's stronger and more intensely flavored than 90% of thestouts I've drank. Guess the line between porter and stout is invisible, especially in Ballast Point's case.

8 oz pour at "Extreme Beer Night" at the Old Toad during Rochester Beer Week.

Thick, tar-like black pour, with a generous head.

Smells and tastes basically the same. Sweet creamy vanilla, mild roastiness, intense, bitter coffee flavor, and Hershey's syrup. Incredibly sweet, almost to the point of cloying-ness. The almost cloying sweetness is the only thing keeping this taste score from a 5. The vanilla is far from fake though- like a rich vanilla bean ice cream from Stewart's back home.

Full, sludgy mouthfeel. The Exxon Valdez has nothing on this guy. Low carbonation, full body.

One of the best porters you can buy, but don't go into it expecting a traditional porter. Go into it expecting a good beer, and you'll be happy more than happy. (978 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,162 ratings.