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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.

1,219 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,219
Hads: 5,923
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,721 | FT: 91
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,219 | Hads: 5,923
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

A: The beer is a deep black color, with a short light brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is full of coffee, roasted malts, vanilla, some chocolate and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out sweet with strong creamy flavors of vanilla and coffee up front. Then a very hearty roasted malt character comes in along with some background flavors of chocolate, dark fruit and a little smokiness. The hops presence is very mild but complementary and strong enough to bring a good balance. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium-to-heavy body, medium carbonation, finish is slightly sticky.

D: Very tasty, goes down dangerously easy, slightly filling, strong but disguised kick, very good representation of style, this is a very flavorful porter that is worth drinking for a long time if you're in the mood for the style.

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Photo of LXIXME
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark opaque porter with a light brown head the leaves a nice lacing as well as a small mound of head in the middle of the glass staying atop this beer. Lighter aroma than taste of coffee with a nice accent of vanilla, just seems to be proportioned just right for my taste buds. Another good reason to like Ballast Point BC.

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Photo of Slatetank
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on tap at brass rail deli in campbelltown - served chilled in a snifter allowed to warm gradually.

A - An ebony liquid, no light passing through. The porter is augmented by a thick rocky cream cap which sticks securely to the glass as it settles, the bead is very fine

S -The smell is intensely aromatic w/ sweet notes of caramel and vanilla floral aspects shining through, mild coffee elements provide a sturdy scent for the vanilla bean and the aroma of alcohol is very mild, yet sligthly noticeable. I get a subtle bittersweet cocoa note in addition to the strong vanilla qualities

M - The feel is creamy, smooth and highly carbonated for the strength, yet it does not detract from the overall texture which has a sweet edge and moderately high bitterness quotient to balance the malt body with a light alcohol note in the semi-dry finish

T - The flavor is a complex array of earthy and sweet notes, both beans are noticeable, yet not overdone in the flavor. The vanilla is the standout adding an almost silky cocoa quality to the caramel notes of the malt. The coffee is almost bordering on citrus with its gentle sweet accents and mild roasted notes. The porter itself is smooth, mild roasted flavors with lots of caramel undertones which are balanced by a slightly spiced flavor from the hops which are bitter and add to the complexity bringing you back for some more vanilla goodness into the last sip

D - Wow, a truly unique Porter calling anything other than Imperial would be wrong -it has so many attributes, though. The masterful use of the spices improves the overall beer rather than detract from it which is why it gets the '5' it really never lingers in one flavor realm too long, it is a progressively subtle yet intense and balanced experience. The 10% is not apparent until after you've downed a snifter - so deceptive and yet so luxurious.

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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 russpowell
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to corby112 & tendermorssel for sending this! Cheers Craig & Mike!

Pours a brown tinged ebony with a finger of mocha colored head. Good head retention & lacing

S: Much coffee & coffee grounds

T: Mocha, charred coffee, & a touch of vanilla, plus dryness up front, plus a tinge of booze. Smooths out a bit a it warms, vanilla, oaky dryness & a touch of toffee as this warms; the coffee fades to more pleasing level once warm. Finishes slightly astringent, with nice coffee bitterness, a wisp of vanilla, dryness & wet charred grain. Almost pulled a 4.5

MF: Very smooth up front, slightly chewy with low carbonation

Drinks very easy for the style & ABV, not the best coffee beer I've ever had, but probably top 3. Worth seeking out, nice brunch beer!

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.06/5  rDev -6.9%
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.

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Photo of superspak
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into snifter, best before 12/10/2013. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1 finger dense dark tan head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass. Aromas of big vanilla, cream, milk chocolate, caramel, toffee, coffee, light roasted malt, and dark bread. Incredible aromas with great balance and complexity of dark malt and sweet vanilla notes. Taste of milk chocolate, vanilla, cream, roasted malt, caramel, coffee, light char, toast, floral, and light pine. Lingering notes of vanilla, milk chocolate, cream, roasted malt, caramel, coffee, light char, toast, dark bread, floral, and light pine on the finish for a while. Fantastic balance and complexity of roasted and sweet creamy vanilla malty flavor; with a good malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying sweetness present after the finish. Medium carbonation and full bodied; with a very creamy, slick, and slightly syrupy mouthfeel that is great. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a small warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic imperial vanilla porter! Great balance and complexity of roasted and sweet malty flavors; and extremely smooth to sip on for 10%. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap beside the Sculpin IPA, I guess Bocktown just had a tasting for Ballast Point. A newcomer to the beer scene in the Burgh. This one pour black as night no ruby highlights seen when held toward the light. Mocha brown head fine speckled lacing forms as it dwindles. Aroma offered up strong coffee dark roasted malts dark chocolate hints of soft vanilla and mild caramel tones, and a bit of booziness is detectable as well. Flavor was a big roasted porter a bit of dark fruit plums soaked in alcohol with nice rounded vanilla and caramel sweetness. Very much a dessert beer, balanced with herbal hops and dark roasted coffee bitterness. The alcohol level didn't offend the palate or get in the way of drinkability. Full bodied slight alcohol burn, carbonated moderately finishes velvet smooth. Drinkability is way too easy for a 10 percent brew, I enjoyed this and I'm sure they're still pulling this one get there while it lasts great world class brew out of San Diego, wow SoCal is spoiled.

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

Great ring lace on the glass from the substantive tan head. Dark, dark brown color where no lace passes.

Lots of coffee and a little bit of cream. Basically, mocha in aroma. Low level of sweetness...reminiscent of good cocoa.

Lots of powdered chocolate in the flavor. Sweet and bitter from the malt. Rich body with a relatively low level of carbonation. Almost chewy. The aftertaste is complicated: Notable hop bitterness with some dark chocolate malt and sweet milky flavor. Deceptively high in alcohol.

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Photo of chinchill
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle: Now available in 6 packs! :)
Great looking, with a frothy tan head that leaves lovely lacing and has great retention.
Aroma: coffee, dark roasted grains, vanilla and alcohol, in that order.
Flavor: initially more subdued coffee allowing a nicely balanced mix, but the coffee does build at the end and build with repeated sipping. Vanilla is subtle.

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Photo of mdfb79
4.52/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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.


Edit: 07/24/15 - Have had this a ton of times over the years and I think it has gotten much better. One of my favorite porters ever to be honest.

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

Thanks to petesuphi for sharing the rest of his bottle with me. One of my all time favorite porters.

A - Pours jet black with a fluffy two finger tall tan head leaving light streaks of lace down the glass.

S - Smells of rich coffee, sweet vanilla and chocolate and the ever present dark roasted malt. This ones nose is absolutely intoxicating.

T - Starts off with a big dose of dark roasted coffee slowly giving way to a nice mix of vanilla and milk chocolate sweetness. The smooth feel really makes this one easy to drink. Finish is a mix of sweetness and dark roast, lignering on the pallet for some time.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Smooth feel with a sweet / roasty finish that clings to the pallet. Goes a bit flat at the end of the glass otherwise pretty good.

O - I could drink this every day no problem. The flavors are spot on and the alcohol is all but undetectable. I am glad I picked up a few of these to last the the rest of the year.

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

Thanks to srandycarter for sending a bottle of this my way. Served in my brand-new Red Hook pint glass.

A - Tar black, with a two-finger mocha foam that dissipates slowly and leaves a nice cap, but minimal lacing. A small amount of reddish-brown coloration is visible at the fringes of the glass.

S - Coffee! Vanilla! Ridiculously potent - even cold I can smell it a good foot away from the glass. The coffee is bitter and roasty, and there is also quite a bit of burnt malt, cream, and cocoa mixed with the vanilla. It's slightly reminiscent of Southern Tier's Crème brûlèe, but nowhere near as cloyingly sweet.

T - The coffee is nowhere near as bitter on the palate - it's more roast and slightly smokey. There's also plenty of milk chocolate, vanilla, and sweet malts. There's a tiny bit of alcohol that peeks out from amongst the flavors, but it's not particularly offensive. Roasty aftertaste - not very bitter at all, which is nice for such a coffee-infused brew

M - It's medium bodied, but on the thinner side, and seems a little watery for such a big beer. Carbonation is lively, with lots of tingle on the upper lip and top of the palate. Finishes with loads of sticky sweetness.

D - I'd have no problems with a bomber of this one, although it is mildly palate-busting and a little too high gravity for sessions.

We've started to get the regular Ballast Point line in Illinois, but I'm anxiously awaiting the day that we can get the special limited releases (Sculpin, Sea Monster, etc.).

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Photo of dbrauneis
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours jet black with a two finger mocha head with large bubbles in it. The beer has very good head retention and significant lacing.
S: Roasty malts with hints of vanilla, coffee, and chocolate.
T: Starts with the taste of the vanilla, followed by coffee, then a little chocolatey, and finishes with a nice roasty maltiness... has a little bit of the bitter acidity that one would normally associate with coffee. The taste of the alcohol is hidden.
M: Very full bodied with very little carbonation, nicely coats the inside of your mouth while drinking it.
O: Wonderful example of the porter style and something I could definitely have over and over again.

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

Served in a tasting glass.

Pours 1/2 finger of light tan head. Fades to a thin layer but leaves lots of splattered lace. Color is pretty much black.

Aroma: Nice coffee/espresso flavors with chocolate, vanilla, and roasted malts. It is balanced out by grassy hops.

Taste: Lots of coffee and espresso again. Then the caramel and chocolate roll in. Followed by a nice amount of vanilla. Lots of roasted flavors with some grassy hops and a hint of citrus to balance it out.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, and a little rich. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends roasted, but relatively clean.

Overall, a very solid beer. I really enjoyed this porter. A big beer and none of the 10% abv showed. Very drinkable for how big it is.

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Photo of drabmuh
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Undated bottle served in a goblet. Beer is black and forms a thin brown head. Carbonation is low and so is lacing.

There is a nice coffee aroma with a slight hint of vanilla. As the beer warms closer to room temperature the aroma develops more and there is more of a vanilla character to it, also more sweetness.

There is a strong coffee flavor and bitterness in the back palate. The front palate detects a mild sweetness. The beer is smooth, no carbonation on the palate. Beer is lighter in body than expected overall. The bitterness lingers but there is no aftertaste, just a flavor that holds on. Overall, pretty enjoyable and a good porter for sure.

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

Review from notes 2/6/11. Thanks to THECPJ for pulling this one out at the end of the night!

A: Pours a deep black with a thick two finger, mocha colored head. Decent lacing. Beer appears to be a bit syrupy.

S: Lots of chocolate and vanilla. A little bit of alcohol presence and a touch of coffee.

T: Really intense chocolate and vanilla flavors, they blind very nicely. There is a little bit of alcohol and a note of coffee, but the chocolate and vanilla dominate in a big way.

M/D: Medium bodied with light carbonation, but sort of heavy. Extremely enjoyable, a nice after dinner sipper, or would go great with most desserts. I was really happy (and surprised) that there wasn't as much coffee in this one, but it works for me.

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

'09 bomber I purchased fresh that year it was released and completely forgot about it until today. Poured into a snifter, it appears dark brown in color with more than a finger of dark tan head. The cap recedes to a thin film across the top. A light swirl brings back a finger of dark khaki head. When held to the light, it shows some dark brown clarity around the edges with some indication of red through the body.

The smell includes everything you would expect based off of the aroma. Coffee, vanilla, roasty grain, chocolate and a bit of a citrus element that comes from a combination of hops and the citrus component of strong coffee. A little bit of mineral inclusion is present as well as a musty grain/coffee and sulfur inclusion towards the back. The more I smell this brew, the more it comes across like cocoa.

The taste of this brew is roasty initially that blends into a flavor of vanilla and coffee. The coffee is lightly musty and contains a bit of a citrus element. The roast is bitter and produces some unsweetened chocolate flavors. There is a bit of a mineral element present that blends into the citrus element of the hops and coffee. Each flavor is individually identifiable but collective comes together to make a fairly good brew.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest level of carbonation. The 10% abv is felt with both flavor and warmth but it blends nicely with the character displayed throughout. Overall not a bad brew, this is something I wouldn't mind revisiting immediately after it's release to see how that coffee is while it is fresh.

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Photo of tdm168
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a thick mountain of brown head. The head has great retention. The nose has very strong notes of coffee and hints of cocoa. The taste is heavy coffee and light chocolatey, roasty notes followed by some faint vanilla. There is a faint hop bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is rich, smooth, full bodied though a little heavily carbonated.

Wow! This is well balanced, complex, and insanely drinkable. The ABV is hardly noticeable which made this bomber a dangerous one.

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

This bottle was a gift from drabmuh. Thanks Matt!

A: A flawless appearance. The beer is jet black and completely opaque. There is a dense, thick, foamy head of a dark tan color. The head retention is great and the glass is coated in lacing.

S: Fresh coffee beans. I am a coffee drinker, and I appreciate the aroma of fresh coffee. We are off to a great start with this beer. Also noted are scents of roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, and alcohol.

T: The beer tastes great. The coffee is more present than the vanilla. The beer leads off with coffee and segues to vanilla and chocolate intertwined in roasted malt. Very impressive. As good as it is, I wish Ballast Point would use authentic vanilla instead of natural flavors. This beer is so close to being amazing. It's the little things that often make the biggest difference.

M: The beer is very flavorful and smooth. The 10% alcohol is disguised very well. It's creamy and thick, with the perfect carbonation level.

D: It's so good, I'm drinking it too fast, but not as fast as last time (see notes). This stuff can catch up to you quickly. I thoroughly enjoy this beer. I'm taking down the bomber by myself tonight, as I have been really looking forward to a good night to enjoy it, but honestly, it's probably best shared a few ways.

Note: Chugging this beer midway through an epic tasting can lead to immediate and irreversible intoxication (even if your friend grills you chicken in the middle of the night) and palate wrecking, causing the imbiber to not be able to differentiate Kate the Great from Alpha Kong. Seriously.

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Photo of billab914
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass. Pours pitch black with a two finger light brown head. The head retreated to the sides of the glass but left excellent lacing on the sides.

From the aroma it's very east to tell this is a coffee beer. There is a strong presence of coffee along with a decent amount of roastedness to it. There is a slight vanilla sweetness that helps balance it out nicely.

The bitter coffee is the first thing that you notice in the flavor, but the real draw for me is the subtle complex vanilla sweetness it has in it. There is some roasted grains and bittersweet chocolate to go along with the coffee and vanilla in the finish as well.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side with moderate to low carbonation. I really enjoyed drinking this one and would definitely buy it again. The vanilla sweetness really helped balance out the bitter coffee and roast flavor making this one stand out from other coffee stouts.

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Photo of Mora2000
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to kaiser81 for sending me this bottle.

Pours dark brown with a khaki head. The aroma is a mix of strong black coffee with hints of chocolate. The flavor is black coffee with vanilla and some chocolate. The coffee and vanilla merge together very well to make a very good beer. The mouthfeel is very creamy and the carbonation is low.

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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 Billolick
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

$9.99 for the bomber at DeCicco's, Ardsley, NY.

Pours straight up black, dark mocha head, thats rich, dense and staying around. Thick sheeting and nice looking and well developed lacing left behind.

Nose resonates with coffee and more coffee. Also some dark grains, mocha, light chocolate.

Full flavor porter, lucious waves of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and dark malty goodness. Rich, dense, boldly amped up and thoroughly tasty stuff. Heavy and viscious on the tongue and coating the mouth.

Over the top and highly worthy of seeking out.

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Photo of Gavage
4.26/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: pours a dark brown almost black color with a thick 3" milk chocolate colored head. Moderate lace paints the glass.

Smell: loads of vanilla, roasted malt, and chocolate is easy to detect.

Taste: big roasted malt flavors with a load of vanilla, some coffee tones, moderate amount of bitter chocolate, and some moderate bitterness. Alcohol is barely noticeable here.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit creamy at the finish. Aftertaste is long lasting.

Drinkability: this is a slow sipping beer, but the flavors keeps it interesting throughout. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,219 ratings.