Dismiss Notice
Save $5 when you subscribe to 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine and select auto-renew.

Subscribe now →
Dismiss Notice
Join Our Email List →

And we'll send you the latest updates and offers from BeerAdvocate, because knowing is half the battle.
Dismiss Notice

Pre-order your Respect Beer "Hipster" Hoodie today!

Plus: Free shipping (US only) on orders of $25 or more until 12/18/15. Just select "Free Shipping" at checkout.

Shop now →

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: 5,907
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,717 | FT: 92
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,215 | Hads: 5,907
Photo of azorie
4.13/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Its a black strong stout /porter, with some lacing, and a tan tall head.

Its very strong boozy coffee vanilla, as you figured it would be. it basically takes over any hops or malt taste. Since this is one of my favorite ways to make my own porter I have to say well done here.

taste is pure pleasure, malty, no hops, strong booze flavor, strong coffee, and vanilla bean but it blends so nice together its very good combo.

strong body of course, med carb. thick but not so much its like a shake.

its a stout of course, if your into history any. great coffee stout.
10% is nice but its not to bad in 1 bomber.

only thing I hate is the price. 9.99 is too much for this beer IMHO period. So while I love it its one and done for me.

I bet its 8oz at the brewery for 6 to 7 bucks, rip off land.

 795 characters

Photo of Casey10
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow a great beer given to me as a "extra" from SwillinBrew thanks Gil this one is really nice.

Wow what flavor this one really stands out for what it is shooting for the coffee flavor really stands out and is so nice.

A - Dark, wispy mocha head.

S - chocolate is prominate I can not really tell about the vanilla but this smells nice.

T - Lovely, so good smooth similar to southern tier chokolat but yet different. Not able to pick up the vanilla but most likely there whatever I like this.

M - smooth again leaves almost a feel after you have had just drunk a chocolate milk and the contents are slipping down the back of your throught.

D - I want another I gave a lower score because of the ABV and if I quickly drank another well lets just say I might not enjoy this beer the way I have.

A must try well done !!!

 823 characters

Photo of JBogan
3.74/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This pours a very dark brown, in fact if you don't look closely it might even appear black. A one finger tan head caps it off, which soon turns into a thin film which remains and leaves moderate lacing. Nice looking but nothing extraordinary for this style beer.

Smells like a whole lot of coffee dashed with a hint of chocolate. Not very complex but pleasing nonetheless.

Taste is of roasted coffee, a hint of vanilla, and more coffee. No sign of the caramel that is supposed to be in there, and no sign of alcohol despite it's high ABV. Oh, and more coffee. Once again, not especially complex.

Mouthfeel was excellent. Very slick and smooth, almost oily in fact, with a medium/thick body.

When all is said and done, if you like coffee you'll like this one. I would have preferred a lot less coffee and a lot more of the caramel and vanilla which are supposedly in there. You've heard of hop bombs? This one's a coffee bomb.

 929 characters

Photo of ChrisMyhre
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a stemmed wine glass from the 22 oz. bottle. Enjoy by January 15, 2014.

a: Dark black, not sure if there's variation from batch to batch but I see no brown at all. Solid looking dark tan head, but not tall. Not much lacing.

s: Very vanilla forward, a little coffee, malt, and yeast though too.

t: Much less vanilla taste (I hate vanilla coffee so this is a very good thing to me), nice roasty, somewhat with lots of good coffee flavor .

m: Drinkable, just slightly on the drinkable side(for a 10.0 abv Imperial Stout at least), lower carbonation but still a very full feeling beer..

o: Excellent, the most balanced coffee stout/porter I've had, very subtle vanilla taste with nice scent, which is very rare. I will pick this up anytime I have extra dough lying around, would love to see in 12 oz bottles.

 822 characters

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

Ballast Point Victory at Sea is a beer I've been hearing and reading about for almost as long as I've been a BA. This is a beer that lives up to the expectations. A coffee vanilla imperial porter, it has lost of the things I like in a beer. The beer is almost motor oil black, with a thin layer of lacy bubbles and sticky clingy scuzz on the glass.

The beer smells deeply of coffee, although it doesn't smell like the freshest coffee with a bit of acridity. The sweet chocolate and malt flavors carry through to give VaS a distinctly beery aroma. The hops provide only bitterness, but the coffee is very assertive up front with syrupy caramel flavors and a warming vanilla sweetness in the finish.

Tasty beer with a great integration of ingredients that match well.

 767 characters

Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours black as night with a thick coffee colored head - good retention.

Smells heavy of chocolate, coffee, vanilla and roasted malt.

Taste is big coffee espresso notes up front followed by bitter dark chocolate and rounded by some sweet vanilla notes. There is also some bitter burnt malt flavor to keep the sweetness at bay as dark fruits (rum, fig, and raisin) come through. Big flavor from a big beer - definitely a slow sipper.

 435 characters

Photo of 2ellas
3.79/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Look: beautifully dark, no light can pass through! With a thin tan head and minimal lacing
smell: amazing roasty, maybe a bit of the coffee. I don't think I get any vanilla but I might not be sure what vanilla smells like
taste: opens up as it warms. I get what I believe to be vanilla, a bit of coffee and even chocolate. Though it seems a bit muddled and didn't follow the roasty smell that I got from the nose.
mf: coats the tongue nicely, just about average for the style
overall: a good beer. Not sure I'd seek it out but if it were readily available, I'd definitely drink it often.

 593 characters

Photo of TubaManJack
4.4/5  rDev +0.9%

22oz bomber 10 days after bottling poured into a sniffer and enjoyed over a period of 2 hours.

Appearance - A traditional black bodied porter with a bit of milk chocolate head. There is precious little carbonation or head retention.

Smell - Wet damp coffee grounds with some harsh roasted notes. However as the beer comes up in temperature this gives way to the world class beer I expected. Deep medium roast coffee crashes against milk chocolate and heavy unsweetened vanilla. It is amazing and the roasted notes fade into the background. Very pleasant and worth the time to bring down and subsequently wash my sniffer glass.

Taste - A stronger and deeper version of nose, The deep medium roast coffee crashes against milk chocolate and heavy unsweetened vanilla which are quite chewy. But you need to let this beer warm up a little more than you would expect.

Mouthfeel - Thinner than I expected for an Imperial Porter in part to the balanced warmth of the ABV and lacking an oily feel from the coffee chocolate interplay. I liked it given the nice amount of carbonation.

Overall Impressions -
Wow, it was quite impressive, despite the hype and mystique, the beer lives up to most of its reputation. This beer really needs to warm up and time to unfold. Much like the sails of a clipper ship, you can't expect to unfurl the sail instantly. The beer in its first hour or so wasn't as impressive as the initial damp roasted coffee with vanilla extract, however once it came up to just below room temp, there wasn't any stopping to it. I would seek it out.

 1,567 characters

Photo of Thickfreakness
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
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.

 1,014 characters

Photo of gr0g
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out pitch black, topped with a one finger head of dark tan foam. Some spotty lacing. Aroma is top-notch provided that you're a fan of coffee. Vanilla soaked fresh ground coffee hits at first, followed by rich, dark cocoa. There's a hint of alcohol that isn't out of place in a 10% ABV brew.

Somewhat astringent and coffee-forward at first taste, giving way to a rich, bittersweet mocha. A noticeable infusion of vanilla complements the flavor excellently. A bit of a fusel alcohol note on the finish is only a slight negative. I'm compelled to take sip after sip until the bomber is finished. Mouthfeel is silky and as rich as a porter can get without getting into stout territory. Carbonation is soft and not all that abundant but still has good longevity. This is an elite beer that has few rivals as a after-dinner treat.

 831 characters

Photo of Treb0R
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

Alcohol content too high for a porter. Drinkability suffers because of this. The vanilla is lost; I didn't sense much if it here at all because it was full of roasty coffee and bitter hops. High IBUs are not necessary when you also have bitter coffee presence that is not tamed by a balancing sweetness. Needs less alcohol, more body, less hops, more vanilla, and some sort of balance so you don't just get a blast of bitterness from the coffee and hops.

I'm picky as hell so take the above advice with a grain of salt. I enjoyed this beer. A lot. Just being brutally honest with this review. The only reason it will not be a repeat buy is the cost at $15 for a sixer. It was truly one of the best porters I've ever had. I just wish the flaws mentioned were worked on.

 769 characters

Photo of sacrelicio
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The perfect coffee porter. Let me elaborate: I had this on my wants for long time, almost a personal whale if you will. I spied a bottle at Whole Foods in NYC (Tribeca) and my eyes popp'd from my head. I purchased the bottle and opened it for my friend's 30th birthday. It was amazing. The coffee and vanilla were decadent and rich with a delicacy that can't be beat.

 367 characters

Photo of KingEdward
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is great! Look is dark brown with nice lacing. Smell is of sugar cookie , milk chocolate, and vanilla. Taste is of milk chocolate, vanilla, and wow! I want this on nitro! Feel is velvet and creme! Awesome. Ballast point rocks! Can'!!!t wait to try more of there beers!

 278 characters

Photo of thedoubler55
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a very dark black, has a nice 2 finger off white head that leaves a nice lacing around the glass.

S: Strong roasty notes up front, hints of coffee, and strong smell of dark chocolate and some cherries.

T: The vanillas presence is obvious with both the nose and taste on this brew, very roasty and nice subtleness.

M: Heavy mouthfeel, and sticky, perfect amount of carbonation.

O: This was a very good beer, I felt as if the warmer it got the better it tasted. Nice warming effect to this beer as well, Great job!

 529 characters

Photo of AwYeh
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a shaker pint; thanks to seeswo for sending me this in the Black Booty 2011 BIF!

A: Pours a dark brown/black with three full fingers of frothy tan head- looks like a bowl of oatmeal when viewed from the top. Excellent lacing.

S: Tons of chocolate roasted malts, a strong vanilla smell, and an almost equally strong coffee aroma. Bittersweet dark chocolate puts this one over the edge to make it truly enjoyable smell.

T: Rich, RICH chocolate flavor- perfectly complimented by the vanilla and coffee in the beer's namesake (one of the few beers that lives up to the descriptors in its name). Wonderful chocolate, coffee, vanilla finish. Tastes like letting a high quality, bitter (80% or more) dark chocolate bar melt and dissolve on your tongue, plus the frequently mentioned coffee and vanilla. Outstanding.

M: Medium-bodied, light carbonation. Not as sticky as I would like to really bring the finish through, but still heavy enough to leave the flavor on your palate.

D: Extremely enjoyable, I could have several glasses of this in a row. It does taste a bit like dessert, so I'm not sure if it is an everytime beer... but this is certainly one I can't wait to have a glass of again.

 1,215 characters

Photo of EliotRosewater
4.14/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A - absolutely pitch black. Pours a single finger mocha- brown head.

S - tons of chocolate right up front. Some coffee, roasted malt, bread. Looking for the vanilla and not finding it.

T - roasted malts, dark chocolate / cacao, coffee, bourbon. Again, not much vanilla. Little but of sweetness. Alcohol is well integrated.

M - not as viscous or syrupy as one might think. Relatively nice finish but not as much of a lingering aftertaste.

O- one of my favorites given the price and availability. Nothing mind blowing but a really solid late night dessert beer.

 567 characters

Photo of Gyle41386
3.63/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a mug.

Dark, dark black pour. About a finger of mocha-colored foam retains pretty well and sticks nicely.

Very, very coffee nose. Light sweetness up front keeps it porter-y, with a light roasty bitter finish.

This is definitely a coffee beer. I'm not really tasting much of anything else. There's a little bit of boozy heat in the finish. Certainly an imperial porter. The vanilla doesn't come through right away, which is a bit of a bummer.

Body is maybe a little heavier than medium, just a step below what I'd expect from an imperial stout, so that seems right on the money. Low carbonation. Slick and chewy.

ABV is apparent, but never a bother. Definitely a sipper. Very nice beer.

 717 characters

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 0z bottle poured into a Darkness snifter.

A- One finger tan head dissipates quickly decent lacing, dark black, when held up to the light you cannot see through it.
S- Big coffee/espresso aroma, nice chocolate aroma as well, nice roasted notes, roasted malts.
T- Every sip is really smooth, the coffee flavor is delicious with hints of chocolate and vanilla, very balanced.
M- Medium/big, perfect amount of carbonation for this beer, a bit sticky, really smooth velvety finish.
O- Really impressed with this beer, huge coffee presence that goes down very smooth. This is a very tasty easy drinking brew, really impressed.

 624 characters

Photo of mr-jj
4.24/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap served in a snifter.

Color is dark brown and opaque with a thin tan head. Aroma is roasted malt, chocolate, vanilla and some espresso. Flavor is similar to the nose - kind of like a chocolate mocha milkshake with a bitter coffee finish. Body is medium with a nice creamy mouthfeel. Overall, a very tasty beer that I really enjoyed.

 345 characters

Photo of Dwkasper
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%

A: Dark, black with 2 fingers of thick tab head

S: Fresh coffee, dark chocolate, smoke, light wood

T: chocolate up front with creamy and coffee finish

M: light carbonation with creamy mouth feel

O: Tasty and smooth. Great fall and winter beer

 248 characters

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.

 559 characters

Photo of Sarlacc83
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, split. Thrilled that Ballast Point is delivering beers to Oregon

A: Lightless mahogany with a rim of cappuccino head. Not much in the way of legs, surprisingly, but I’ll manage.

N: The vanilla strikes first, but it’s soft and almost supple. coffee and dark chocolate firm up the base, and there’s a hint of molasses and similar flavors to oak. I get a whiff of charcoal, too.

T: Very bitter like fresh-pressed espresso mixed with some smoked wood. Malty sweetness and vanilla do a good job of rounding this out so that it’s not one-dimensional. Hop greenness also rears its head. Hits multiple parts of the tongue.

M: Oily with a medium-heavy mouthfeel. Alcohol is well-hidden.

O: A really well-built Imperial Porter that never allows any one of its elements to overwhelm the others. I’ll be buying this one on a regular basis.

 860 characters

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

Wow - like drinking a chocolate mocha creme pie! A great dessert to linger over on Christmas Eve.

It pours with a light tan colored head with modest lacing. Coffee and vanilla are both very prominent on the nose. The flavor combines these notes with chocolate and bread from the malts. Throughout, the coffee is very prominent and tastes about as rich and fresh as any coffee I have had in a beer (and better than you'd get with most coffee in this country). The vanilla is well integrated and doesn't stand out as much as it seems to holds things together.

A very tasty, sweet libation for slow sipping.

 606 characters

Photo of brother_rebus
3.54/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

maybe i was tricked about this beer due to the fan hype, and notoriety. The first sip was virtually off-putting. I must admin it got better from there. They claim it has "just the right amount of sweetness". Thats my major problem with it. Its a malt pit. Not cool. Love porters. Love imperials. Not this one.

 310 characters

Photo of BradMacMullin
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Salty Pig. This was such a big tasting bomb of a porter - amazing stuff. Enjoyed it while I listened to my buddy John talked about his match.com dates as of late. Made me wonder why someone doesn't order a 12 pack of these for a 1st date. 6 each of these bad guys, and everyone will be in love. Anyways.....great beer. Wonder why Beer Advocate doesn't offer a dating website on the side. This could not fail...

 431 characters

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