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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.

1,193 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,193
Hads: 5,804
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 981
Gots: 1,652 | FT: 98
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: 1,193 | Hads: 5,804
Photo of mooseo
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into snifter.

A - Pitch black with a creamy khaki head.

S - Smoked dark malt, fresh black coffee, hints of vanilla and milk chocolate.

T - A delightful blend of black coffee, vanilla bean, chocolate, and sweet roasted malt. The vanilla becomes most prominent, especially as it warms. Finishes with a slight alcohol burn and light coffee bitterness.

M - Full, thick, creamy. Dry finish, warming alcohol.

O - Delicious. The flavor is bold, balanced, and complex. Dangerously drinkable at 10% ABV.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.71/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - Black with ruby highlights. Thin mocha head that settles into a lace cap that remains throughout.

Aroma - Coffee, can't smell anything past all that coffee.

Taste - Coffee, with a hint of vanilla. Bitter, but in a coffee way, not hops.

Mouthfeel - Full body with moderate carbonation. Finishes dry.

Overall - Well crafted porter, seek this one out!

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Photo of beerman207
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark - nice chocolate looking beer with a ruby reddish hue to it. Nice head and skim that remains for a while.

S: Nose is coffee, some vanilla, some bourbon, chocolate malt

T: Nice cocoa and vanilla profile with bitter dark chocolate

M: Carbonation is mild, smooth

D: A bit of a sipper. Could go for another but it's definately a bit boozy.

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.93/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter. Thanks for this one jodan

A - Black, very slight dark brown edging. Mocha coloured head, 2 fingers, excellent. Lacing was sticky and very nice

S - Strong vanilla, lesser coffee. Slight 'chemical' smell but very faint. Did not pick up very much bitterness but mostly just roast

T - smell followed the nose. Very strong, chemically vanilla, but not in too bad of a way. You do get the bold roasty coffee but it is more in the background. The vanilla is very dominant. I would have preferred the coffee to be the star of the show but it was a tasty brew

M - Medium to light heavy. Semi-sweet and slightly tacky

D - This beer is quite a bit of work to finish an entire bomber. I would not be able to have another. Tasty, just the vanilla was a bit much at time.

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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!

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Photo of majorbase2
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a huge, uneven brown head. Dissipates after a bit, leaving a ring of lacing around the edge and quite a bit on the glass as well.

Aroma is heavy on dark, burnt coffee and vanilla bean. Some sweet, almost bitter caramel malts.

Taste mostly follows the nose to a point. Vanilla bean comes on strong, along with more of the burnt coffee. A small amount of sweetness. There are a small amount of hops that become evident as it warms. Not the most complex taste, but the execution might the best I've ever seen taste wise. Simple, but done masterfully. And for a 10%er, little to no bite from the alcohol. Just incredible.

Mouthfeel is heavy. Little carbonation. One of the smoother 10% beers you'll find.

Overall, just an incredible beer.

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Photo of biglite351
3.58/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am re-reviewing this brew, and leaving my old review for reference. I emailed the brewer to let them not that I got a super-skunked bottle. To their extreme credit, a few days later a replacement bottle arrived at my house. Kudos to Ballast Point for very solid customer service.

L - nice and dark. Full long lasting foam.

S - mild but nice. Vanilla and coffee.

T - rich and deep. Certainly has coffee and vanilla. No real bitterness. Mild after taste.

M - tingle at the front of the tongue to start. The tingle then flows back into the throat for the after taste. Slight alcohol feel late.

D - this might be a little too much for an all nighter, but you could certainly have one or two during the evening.

I am not going to do my usual full review on this one. The brew looked great when I poured it. Very dark brew with a lasting full dark foam. The smell seemed a little off bit wasn't something rusting could place. The taste was the kicker. It actually took me back. It reminded me of a cheese that had been sitting out a a party for a bit too long. I really didn't get any coffee flavor at all. I truly hope that this was just an off bottle. It tasted nothing pike I expected. I actually did not finish it, I dumped it. Maybe in tje future I will try another bottle and re-review it. This was NOT a good bottle to grab though.

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Photo of sleuthdog
4.06/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoy by 11/13. Poured into Ballast Point tulip.

Appearance: This poured as black as night with three fingers of head that is light brown in color. Lacing is all over the place and I'm still waiting for the head to recede. Rocky head mixed with large bubbles too.

Smell: Big time bitter coffee in this with notes of vanilla and dark chocolate. Heavy roast and some char.

Taste: Again coffee takes center stage with some vanilla and dark chocolate in the background. The roast is a fairly dominating aspect in the taste. Coffee is quite bitter and alcohol leaves a slight burn.

Mouthfeel: From the appearance I would think this would have been a more full feel. It is surprisingly thin for the look but one that seems to fit the beer very well. I am not picking up much carbonation and this has a creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol does burn the gums some.

Overall: If you are a coffee drinker this would be up your alley. A big beer that is one that is best shared.

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Photo of xseanprimex
4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This dark, dark brew poured an awesome tan head that held some serious retention. The complexity to the flavors were apparent in the aroma. The smoky vanilla taste did a good job of hiding the 10% ABV. As good as can be expected. Looked as good as it tasted. 10/10 would drink again.

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


A - deep brown/ black, one finger very tan head and some nice sticky lacing

S - Coffee, vanilla, hop, wood, chocolate and tons of roastiness

T - tons of vanilla up front, tons of coffee, chocolate, very roasty, tons of malts, earth, wood, a funk (maybe yeast?), a big hop note and just tons of coffee. It even has the coffee acidity!

M - medium plus body, lots of acidity, not much complexity, not very balanced and a very long finish

D/O - this is a big beer and tons of coffee, if you don't like coffe this one, you will not be a fan of! Very enjoyable, love the flavor profiles and fun to drink from cold to room temp. Not refreshing at all, just a fun enjoyable imperial beer

Final thought - I really like ballast point and I have yet to try this beer, not a big porter fan, but this one is nice. $8 a pop and 10% is nice. Hope it ages well

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Photo of TheCuriograph
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

From a bomber, poured into a pint glass.

A - Pitch black, with a two-finger tan frothy head. Head aerates slightly, leaving nice spiderweb lacing.

S - Coffee and vanilla dominate with a sugary sweetness that masks any booze or bitterness.

T - The rich vanilla really rises to the top, leaving the coffee-malt body to follow. There's a sharp espresso bitterness the subsides nice and gentle. Behind all of it is a tangy alcohol, almost like dark cherry intermingling with caramel.

M - Mealy, oil mouthfeel. Substantial and heavy, a perfect desert-course unto itself.

O - One of the better coffee-focused beers I've had. The sweetness and bitterness are perfectly balanced, and it's full and quietly boozy. A great dessert beer.


Politics, Art, Beer. A Compendium of Worldly Facts
The Curiograph
Twitter: @TheCuriograph

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a Bruery glass, not overly cold.

Off-black, deep reddish-brown meniscus, small dark tan head, looks good.

Smells delicious, the vanilla and coffee are each quite distinct but at the same time the aroma is totally cohesive. The vanilla almost makes it seem barrel aged, like maybe rum barrel. Deep chocolatey roasty malt, too. NICE.

Tastes deep and roasty, well balanced with a good dose of sweetness. Lingering bittersweet coffee, cocoa, vanilla, quite a long finish. Very tasty.

Good medium-full texture, fine cushy carbonation makes it almost creamy, this and the balance make it very easy to drink.

Excellent beer, nice to finally review it.

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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.

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Photo of beerforpresident
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Revisited this one last night. Rich, of course, but also way more drinkable than I remember. Excellent coffee, chocolate. The vanilla is nice at first, but turns a touch too sweet towards the end.

Been a standby since the first time I had it. Even so, I'm looking forward to trying an even fresher bottle of this when it rolls into town again.

22oz (Enjoy by: 11/07/13) into tumbler

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Photo of mlockman
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Definitely not overpowered by the coffee and vanilla flavors, it reminded me of some an imperial stout with just barely more roast flavor. Deceptively smooth, it was easy drinking; no perceived alcohol presence.

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Photo of ranger7
4.7/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

L: Terrific. Black body, tan head with good retention. Great lacing.
S: Sweet vanilla and coffee beans.
T: Coffee. Vanilla. Roasted chocolate aftertaste. Nice.
F: Medium to light. Good for a Porter.
O: This packs a punch! 10 ABV is no joke and this brew hides it well. Great coffee and vanilla flavors. One of my new favorite Porters.

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Photo of Ieatlambfries
4.76/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

Poured a dark bronwnish red. Almost opaque until you hold it up to the light. Rocky dark tan head, which leaves clingy lace after each sup.

Big smell of roasted espresso on the nose. Followed by vanilla and roasted malts.

Tastes like a fresh brewed espresso. Bitter espresso gives way to vanilla, which lends to a milk chocolate or chocolate milk effect. Sweet lactic flavors, and roasted malts follow, with a slightly hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel is thinner than expected, medium to full bodied. Slight biting carbonation.

Overall an outstanding Porter. Without a doubt one of the best uses of coffee in beer I've tasted. This beer just works.

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Photo of greenmonstah
4.51/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle into tulip

A - Solid black with a solid finger of tan-brown head that sticks to the glass beautifully and lingers for ages. Really impressive.

S - Massive vanilla and coffee, plus a beautiful roasted malt base. Tiny hint of booze that doesn't detract. Some sweetness.

T - Oh my. The vanilla is magnificent. The coffee is dark and bitter but slightly sweet. There is a serious dark chocolate component that adds complexity. The deeply roasted coffee and the roasted malts work well together and are balanced by the sweetness and cocoa bean.

M - Medium-full body, smooth and fulfilling and with a slightly drying finish.

O - Overall a wonderful experience and one of the best beers I have had in a while. From teh first whiff I knew I'd love it, and it didn't let me down one bit.

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Photo of tut2528
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

had this one on 2 separate occasions, and I feel that this brew is extremely time sensitive because there was such drastic differences. I condensed both reviews. My review is based off the first time I tried this brew.

thanks to matttyce for helping me get my hands on these!

1st Review

A: poured into a GI tulip, it is jet black with about 2 fingers worth of mocha colored head. phenomenal lacing that is long lasting

S: big sweet vanilla, chocolate, dark fruits that are terrifically balanced. I also pick up on coffee and roasted malt.

T: similar to the nose, big chocolate and dark fruits up front, coffee and slight roasted malt in the middle with a terrific vanilla finish. alcohol is slightly present but is felt more during the mouthfeel than in the taste

M: perfect for this brew IMO. full bodied, leaves a nice light roasted coffee and dark chocolate character with a slight touch of alcohol heat

O: just a damn good all around brew. very well balanced and all the characters intermingle nicely together

2nd Review

S: huge coffee, dark chocolat,e dark fruits and roasted malt have come forward, and the vanilla is lying way in the back (4.0)

T: big coffee up front with a roasted malt backbone. dark fruits are present along with dark chocolate. the vanilla has really fallen off from what I remember. (4.0) No alcohol whatsoever

M: mostly the same as before, but a bit lighter than I remember and the alcohol is nowhere to be found. It has a more roasted malt character as well. (4.0)

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

Much thanks to beernerd81 for this one

A-Pours black with a nice one finger mocha colored head that has good retention and leaves nice lacing.

S-I am loving this nose. My nose is telling me this is an RIS. Strong vanilla and coffee aromas, roasty malt, chocolate. With apologies to Campbell's soup, this is mmmm, mmmm good.

T-Slightly sweet and a bit bitter at the same time. Follows the nose with vanilla, coffee, roasted malt, chocolate, along with a slightly bitter hoppy twist at the back end and a bit of booze. Man, this is REALLY good!

M-Medium bodied, but has a rich, lush mouthfeel. Slightly stinging carb bite works well.

D-This is a big beer make no mistake, but it is absolutely delicious making it almost dangerously easy to pound a bomber.

I really loved this beer. If I had ready access to it, I'd buy a case. A truly GREAT job by Ballast Point.

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Photo of JohnCassillo
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. bomber poured into pint glass

A: Almost black and completely opaque with zero head whatsoever. This is what a porter should look like.

S: The coffee and vanilla notes are immediate and pungent, with an underlying bit of chocolate as well.

T: Dark chocolate appears at both the front and back end of each sip, taking on different characteristics in each instance. First is sweet, the second almost comes off bitter (in a good way). Vanilla and coffee are top of mind at all times.

M: Warm, crisp and thick. It's got a decent amount of carbonation and ends up quite filling.

O: If you're looking for a quality porter with a boatload of flavor depth, this is your choice. Wouldn't call it a "dessert beer" necessarily, but a much easier drink post-dinner.

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Photo of callmescraps
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I somehow keep missing this beer. It's time to finally give it a try. Ran into it when purchasing some celebratory fruit for good friends.

Appearance- Black? Possibly very, very dark brown. It looks black. Two inches of mocha head settle down and laces somewhat. Only a thin cap remains.

Smell- Like a cup of coffee. Lots of roast. Deep, rich coffee notes. Some licorice. Not getting a lot of the vanilla bean. Roasty. A hint of cherries.

Taste- Comes forward with some nice chocolate covered cherry. That licorice. Then the roast comes in for real. Lots of bittersweet chocolate. The burnt aspect lingers. And lingers. Downright charred. I want more vanilla. It comes through at the start. But then it's burnt caramel and roast, and more roast. The vanilla comes out a touch better as it warms.

Mouthfeel- Nice carbonation. Seems a tad light.

Drinkability- No hint of the booze. So nice. Plenty of hints of burnt coffee.

Probably not meant to be. Not a huge coffee fan. Sometimes I find a coffee beer that does it for me (Speedway Stout comes to mind). This is not one of them. I was hoping the vanilla would balance things out, but it didn't seem to come through.

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Photo of craftbeersweden
4.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Dark, dark brown almoust black with just a little beige head.
Not much lacing on the glass.

Nose: Vanilla, milk chocolate, cream, yoghurt, chili, fudge, coffee and sweet licoriche.
Taste: Coffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, licoriche, soy sauce, wood, brown sugar, raisin and just a little bit of booze.
A full body with almoust no carbonation and so complex taste!

I just LOVE this!

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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.

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Photo of troegaarden
4.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This was poured from a Pizza Boy Brewing Co. 1L Growler into a snifter.

A: Pours a beautiful and creamy tan head, reminiscent of Founders Breakfast Stout. The beer itself is definitely a motor oil-consistency.

S: The coffee doesn't jump out at you with this brew, but it's certainly there. I get some dark fruits in there as well.

T: Up front, I definitely get the vanilla and slight hint of coffee. The finish is dry and contains the dark malt backbone of this beer. Excellent and smooth! Not hardly boozy which is weird considering this beer is 10% abv.

M: Creamy mouthfeel during each sip. It seems rather dry after, however.

O: Overall this beer kicks ass. Definitely my new favorite porter. I think this beer most likely better represents the Baltic Porters of long ago.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,193 ratings.