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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.

1,217 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,217
Hads: 5,915
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,004
Gots: 1,718 | FT: 92
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,217 | Hads: 5,915
Photo of AndrewSmith
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Saw this by the counter of my local beer spot, asked the cashier what he thought of it, he said it was "Fucking Awesome", had to get some.
Looks like chocolate syrup as it is poured, smells like a typical porter. Great taste as it goes down, you really get the hint of vanilla at the end, very good. Could not believe it was 10%.
Ballast Point strikes again....

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Photo of TBoneJones
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Near black with a thin finger of a espresso-colored head, but the lacing is obviously great off the bat here.
Smells milky dark chocolate with a rich roasted coffee flavor, nice vanilla hint, malt.
Wow this is a big tasting brew, like the nose but enhanced and ongoing with a dank coffee effect. Pleasant coffee-grinds type of burn, also a licorice aspect for me here (but without resembling strong anise or anything approaching that). Not as sweet as I thought it'd be, but not dry-finishing either. A lively dark beer indeed, not as thick-bodied in appearance as I expected either, although a bit sticky in the mouth. As this sipper warms...roasted coffee, chocolate, cherry-anise, all encapsulated by vanilla. Excellent.

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

22oz. bottle, poured into a snifter.

A-deep, dark brown/black, with a nice dense, tight tan head. Head dissipates quick due to the high alcohol content.

S- coffee, dark chocolate, brown sugar, and white pepper with some boozy notes.

T- some dark chocolate and smooth coffee, transition to a nice roasty middle, with vanilla coming into the mix, and a warming booze on the finish. The bitterness of the coffee is also very apparent middle to end. Very nice.

M- Pretty thick for a porter, but it's a big beer. The taste doesn't linger too long on the finish as well. Carbonation is spot on, as in light.

O- certainly a sipper, but a delicious sipper at that. Really like the dominating coffee presence, so if that is your thing, this should tickle your fancy.

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

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A – Black as night, and pours with the appearance of used motor oil. An outstanding thick, three finger, brown head that lasted a VERY long time. Patchy lacing.

S – Medium strength aroma of roasted malts, chocolate, espresso, and vanilla.

T – Taste definitely matches the smell here, with coffee, vanilla, and milk chocolate being the predominant flavors. Intense in its flavor presentation. Some alcohol warming in the finish, but overall the 10% abv is remarkably well hidden. Very sweet upfront, but just when it would have a tendency to become cloying, a little bittering hops kick in bringing balance, and leaving an aftertaste closer to dark/bittersweet chocolate. Maybe lacking complexity, but it sure delivers what’s advertised with gusto.

M – Thick and creamy, like a chocolate malt. Carbonation is extremely minimal and suits the flavors well, lending to a very “heavy feel” in the mouth. Sort of coats and hangs there. Just a tiny bit syrupy. Clearly a sipper.

O – I found this brew to be delicious, although with such strong coffee/roast flavors is closer to a stout than a porter. In fact, this rivals many a coffee stout that I have sampled!

As much as I enjoyed it, I could not have more than one of these in an evening. Took me the better part of an hour to finish it, and had me not even wanting another beer afterwards, it's flavors were that strong. Would be a fantastic dessert beer. Would be interested to try the barrel aged/oaked versions to see if they bring a little more depth and complexity.

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Photo of dmgeng
4.94/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Everything about this beer intrigued me and beer trading allowed me to get one of these. I was very pleased with this imperial porter.

A - Deep dark brown, that basically black but is very clear. It pours great with light brown creamy head and very strong lacing. Very much like a mocha-chino.

S - Initially the signature dark, black malt "porter" smell is the most predominant. After the beer warms to room temperature the rich dark roasted coffee and the deep vanilla tones come through beautifully. No discernible hops but the elixir sucks you in.

T - The first sip there is a very smooth but full flavored taste with all of the flavors that you would expect: dark roasted coffee, natural vanilla bean, chocolate, black malt, and sweet malt. No discernible alcohol or hops with the full flavor and smooth character that represents this great beer. The roasted bitterness is strong too allowing the balance of vanilla/cocoa sweetness. Complex and roasty but very smooth and flavorful.

M - High mouth-feel with moderate carbonation. A thick beer with much to offer. Not as thick as some but basically perfect in terms of the ABV and style.

Overall, this is one of the best beers that I've ever tasted. Great flavor with tremendous smoothness and full flavor. Definitely a porter with a distinct black malt flavor with less of the traditional burnt, roasted character of roasted malt stouts. I love the great coffee, vanilla, and chocolate flavor that comes through. Really a perfect example of taking a vanilla mocha and blending it with a full flavored porter. I strongly recommend this flavored imperial porter especially since it is less bitter, less harsh, and less alcoholic than many RIS's.

Glass- Snifter

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

Pours pitch black, like an imperial stout, with a respectable thick khaki foam head, with a hint of brown. Smells like a bourbon barrel painted with vanilla extract. Hints of coconut, vanilla, bourbon, roasted chocolate, french coffee. Tastes damn near like the perfect porter, smooth chocolate, bitter dark coffee, vanilla and bourbon, and just the slightest hint of coconut. This flavor can stand up to many BA imperial stouts out there. Amazing. Mouthfeel is thick and velvety, relative to a foreign stout but the sweetness could ave you believing you were drinking an imperial stout. An all around beautifully brewed beer that touches on a wide range of flavors that many beer geeks go nuts for. A must-have brew in the craft community.

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Photo of blakelive784
3.8/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pt 6 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live (2011 Vintage):

A - Pours a deep shade of brown/black with a thin, tan, one finger head. Retention is awful, though forgivable for the high ABV. Pretty standard.

S - Strong vanilla notes and cream. Strong roast throughout. Nicely roasted coffee. Moderate strength aroma. Very inviting given the heavy vanilla.

T - Malts are layered extremely well. Roasted, toasted, and sweet base malts all present. Muted coffee present throughout. The roasted malts are the star in this beer. A bit sweet. Delicious.

M - A bit too slick and smooth. Medium bodied. Could be more coarse.

D - A tasty beverage. I've not had it fresh, but it's definitely still highly drinkable. I'd definitely have it again.

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Photo of flayedandskinned
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2013 Vintage
Poured into a Duvel tulip

Appearance: (4.5)
Pours a pitch black with a thick and creamy 2.5 finger tall, dark tan head. The head has fantastic retention and leaves a multitude of sticky lacing behind as it recedes.

Aroma: (4.25)
As soon as you raise the glass to your lips, you're struck by waves and waves freshly roasted coffee beans and rich milk chocolate. As the beer warms, some aromas of marshmallow cream and sweet vanilla emerge alongside notes of baker's chocolate and roasted malts. For 10% the alcohol is very masked.

Taste: (4.5)
Just like in the nose, right away you're greeted by intense coffee and rich, creamy milk chocolate. These milk chocolate tones are overtaken by bittersweet dark roasted grains and a herbal hop edge. As the beer finishes dry, you're left notes of bitter baker's chocolate, coffee, caramel, vanilla and a toasted nuttiness left lingering on your palate. Just as in the nose, the alcohol is very well masked.

Heavy and creamy body with moderate to high carbonation. Very velvety and drinkable for 10%

Overall: (4.5)
Ballast Point does a fantastic job with this beer by delicately balancing the acidic, bitter tones of fresh coffee with the sweet notes of chocolate malt and vanilla, while still adhering to the structure of an "Imperial" Porter. This beer has garnered a cult-like following over the years and it is well deserved. Highly recommended.

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Photo of StevenMilligan
4.7/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Look: Pitch black motor oil, with a miniscule and dissipating dark khaki head.

Smell: Coffee, Coffee, Coffee. Dark chocolate notes and a hint of vanilla. The wife says, "Ehh...it smells like wood."

Taste: First notes reminds me of a strong black coffee in a paper cup. Monday mornings. Vanilla quickly sets it and it gives it an espresso or even cappuccino taste. Like if you were to sip sweet milk after a shot of espresso. The coffee quickly fades back in with bitterness. This is key, it's sweet in the middle, but doesn't last. Almost my favorite quality about this brew.

Feel: This is my favorite quality of this brew. It is velvety smooth, but without being frothy. Low carbonation.

Overall: An exceptional porter. My favorite to date. Vanilla bean is present, but the coffee steals the show. Would get again, especially at $2.50 a bottle.

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Photo of krisandajt
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A gentle pour from the bottle, the beer is black, dark and viscous. There is virtually no head atop this brew, only a thin ring of coffee colored foam where the beer meets the glass.

Smell: Nice roasted quality with some chocolate and coffee mixed in. I've been sitting on this one for a while, I get the impression the coffee has faded somewhat. Still, smells very good.

Taste: Some nice hints of vanilla, I really didn't get much of it in the nose so it's a bit of a surprise. The roasted quality isn't as pronounced as it was in the nose. Sweet, milk chocolate. Everything is pretty well balanced. Not getting much coffee, but again I think that's the result of the beer sitting down in my cellar.

Mouthfeel: Nice medium body, good carbonation. Very easy drinking beer given its potency.

Drinkability: A fine drinking porter perfect for a cold night like tonight. My one gripe is that I should have opened this one up sooner. I'd like to try it fresher and see if the coffee comes through more. Still, I'm enjoying it and I would recommend it to anybody.

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

Poured from a 2012 Bomber into a snifter glass. Second time having this awesome beer.

A: Pours extremely dark brown, very opaque. Very little light getting through this. Almost non exist dark khaki head. Does provide some nice lacing and alcohol legs.

S: This is where this beer shines the most IMO. Air freshener. Could smell this all day, esp once it warms up. Getting strong vanilla and coffee aromas along coco powder. Some of the roasted malts shinning through as well. Great aroma, really opens once it warms up a bit.

T: Taste strong in the categories advertised. Vanilla Coffee with a hint of what I can only describe as chalky chocolate (in a good way). Smooth as hell and delicious. Some slight alcohol taste pokes through.

M: Full bodied, and sweet on the tongue. Bit of a alcohol burn on the finish.

O: Fantastic beer. Loving every sip and a must try for any stout/coffee fan.

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Photo of BoldRulerVT
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into handblown tulip glasses.
Pours a very nice dark chocolate with a minimal roasted molasses colored head.
Smell was nice, coffee, some sweet vanilla notes, dankness, roasted malts.
Taste was intense, delicious. A very nice combination of coffee, vanilla, alcohol forward.
Mouthfeel was really nice. Not too think, just enough to chew on with minimal carb.
Ballast Point continues to impress me with incredibly high quality beers that are readily available nation wide.

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Photo of mobrado
4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A delicious coffee-vanilla bomb that hides 10% dangerously well. Only drawback, if you even want to call it that, is a fairly thin mouth feel, but if it was any thicker, they'd call it a stout and charge twice the price, so I'm okay with it.

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Photo of RAlmeida77
3.41/5  rDev -21.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Wasn't blow away by this beer. Thought it was pretty good. HInts of vanilla and coffee in the nose but definitely wanted more of a vanilla presence in the flavor.

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Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.67/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Go Ducks! Since I'm a CAL alum, I gotta pull for the PAC-10!!!

This beer is crazy already. Pours an inky black, with a dark tan head that basically fills the glass. It's a slowly billowing thing, too. Kinda like watching the Titanic sink in that lame movie starring that girl's boobs. It just keeps expanding until it reaches the pinnacle and then, ever more slowly, crumbles into a finger of marshmallow like beauty. Lacing is coating the galss like toffee. Amazing so far. Some nice, albeit not super robust aromas in here. Some coffee for sure, some vanilla, like a vanilla cappuccino in a way. Some sweetness, but it's really subdued. Something else I can't quite place. Like cinnamon roll...Holy mackerel, the flavor is crazy. It's certainly a porter, and it's certainly robust. The vanilla lends a bizarre character - it makes the middle and finish taste like burned coffee. Or, mayhaps, coffee w/Baileys, but unsweetened...The coffee notes don't really dominate until the end, where it blasts into you a little too forcefully. The finish is super bitter, and I'm not sure they wanted that. It's a mixture of hop bitterness and that coffee flavor. This beer is expensive at $7.49/bomber, 10% ABV so it's a sipping beer. The flavors get less punchy as it warms, but this is still really a beer for Imperial Stout lovers and their ilk...

What I like most: The crazy beautiful (like Kirsten's chest in that movie) pour

What I like least: The overpowering bitterness and price point...

Verdict: Good, albeit not fantastic, and unique. Worth trying if you see it but probably too crazy for most folks to enjoy..

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

Appearance: Aggressively poured into a  snifter. Head poured to a two-fingered thickness with a very creamy head that resembled a coffee with cream. Looked amazing to begin, but subsided quickly. Had good lacing down the side. The color is a deep stark black, even when held to sunlight.

Smell: The aroma is powerful. A friend about 5 feet from me immediately could smell the coffee aroma.  Smells like a rich coffee, with some sweet vanilla notes. The coffee hits first and then vanilla, with roasted chocolate underneath. As the brew warms, it opens so much, it's shocking. 

Taste: First sip is beyond what I even thought it would be. I could taste chocolatey vanilla at the start. Roasty flavor comes throughout, with bitterness at the end from the coffee, but not a heavy alcohol burn, which I like. So glad that the porter taste is throughout and not lost in all the flavors. Definitely get a constantly changing flavor throughout. What lingers is the roast coffee and chocolatey malts.

Mouthfeel: Really creamy, with little to no carbonation. Definitely makes you think your drinking a great coffee. Coats the mouth very well, and does not have an overwhelming alcohol feel or burn. So subtle, I couldn't believe it was 10% abv.

Overall: I had very high hopes for this, and not only did it live up to it, it exceeded it by far. I went out and bought another 6 to enjoy for the coming months. Lately brews have been falling short in expectations. It's good to see this exceed it and surprise me in how complex and wonderful a brew could be. 

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Photo of trappistlover
3.8/5  rDev -12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(22oz bottle). Pours thick and black with a nice caramel colored head. Aroma of darkly roasted coffee beans. Burnt coffee flavor with vanilla undercurrent that gets sweeter as it warms. I'm really enjoying this more as it warms because it balances out the heavy roast flavor.

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Photo of kiddynamite920
4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at the Blue Dog pub in Lansdale.

A: Poured a pitch black, wasn't too surprised here. The bar was a bit dark but not much light was going to get through this one anyway. About a fingers worth of tan head slumped down to a thin ring around the glass.

S: Huge roasty aroma, heavy on the coffee and a bit bitter smelling. Had a very nice sweet aroma as well of a sweetened coffee. The vanilla was noticeable but not overwhelming. Very nice. Good sweet malt profile.

T: Chocolate and coffee mingling well, mocha. The coffee tastes like a very dark roast and adds a very mild astringency. Good bitter flavors balanced with some sweet malts. One big, bad porter for sure.

M: Went down very smoothly with no burn from the alcohol content noticed at all. Good full bodied porter.

D: This one falls into the dangerous category. May be hard for some to stomach more than one of these, but I'm a fan of huge dark beers. Very drinkable and glad I had the opportunity to taste this on tap.

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Photo of johlac66
4.56/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a dark brown with a light beige head that stayed in port for a short visit, leaving a few dots and streaks of lacing.
Roasted cocoa vanilla up my nostrils. Taste follows. Hint of dark fruit.
Nicely carbonated. A bit more than medium mouthfeel. Slightly bitter roasty finish.
The coffee and malt are wonderfully balanced.

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Photo of CosmoHopHead
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured black as night with almost no head at all.

S: smells wonderful. like yummy vanilla coffee from your favorite coffee shop. BIG aroma!

T: tastes like smells actually. Coffee comes through a little more when drinking but you can still sense the vanilla.

M: silky smooth and velvety. A little heavy with good carbonation.

D: A sipper but drinkable for 10% abv. As it warms up in the glass it tasted even better. Would love to get another bottle for the winter time.

Would definitely buy again and very much recommend.

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Photo of taylorhamrick
3.85/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours out a pitch black color, barely letting any light through, maybe some highlights of dark brown. The head is huge, 2-3cm, brown with tight, dense bubbles that continue popping from the top of the head, lslowly leaving a little ring of bubbles around the edge which leaves some lacing on the glass. The smell is primarily coffee, with some vanilla notes. There's also some very strong dry, fruity esters coming to my nose, nice but not quite as robust as I expected. Wow, the tastes comes through in so many ways. Upfront I notice the coffee, not bitter, but full of flavor, also quite a bit of chocolate underneath the coffee. The vanilla shines through with a bit of a the esters, reminds me of dark plums, a little tart and dry with the taste of the flesh as well. I can sense some caramel sweetness underneath the dryness, and they seem to compete, making this one very interesting. I can't really detect the alcohol, but it slowly warms, making the experience better. Really a great tasting beer. The beer is pretty full, but it oscillates between a kind of slick estery feel and a thick syrupy feel, and I'm really not sure how I feel about the dryness once I get quite a way through this. The carbonation is spot on for the style, I'm a fan. The alcohol will slow you down, but the whole drink is enjoyable, and I'd recommend buying it if you see it. I'm kind of torn, I really love the flavors, but something about the dryness kept me from being in love with it.

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Photo of pants678
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown with a surprisingly thin head, perhaps due to my pour.

Alcohol creeps in with the malty smell of chocolate and sweet like caramel or fruit.

Despite being a rich genre, doesn't quite mask the booze on it but still a full bodied chocolate beer with less of a coffee edge than I'd figure. Very up-front brew as you'd imagine, vanilla is perfect compliment to this. Toasty and warm, not too much hop bite.

Heavy, carbonation is welcomed as a porter and not a stout making it easier to handle.

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Photo of stxSS07
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip. Split with lookitsmp

A- Pours a near-black with a 1 finger espresso-colored head that hangs around forever. Leaves great lacing and nice alcohol legs.

S- Sweet vanilla notes and a huge coffee background. Some roasted malts in there as well with a hint of booze.

T- Starts with huge waves of vanilla and coffee followed up by a roasted malt note and a small tinge a booze at the end. Fantastic.

M- Medium bodied with a nice amount of carbonation that lets the flavors linger just long enough.

O- The second best porter I've had behind Black Butte XXI. Amazing depth of flavors made possible by the contrasting vanilla/chocolate/coffee.

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Photo of OneEye78
4.41/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a wide mouth pint glass. Black body with a hint of light brown at the edges and a 1.4 inch white/brown head. The nose was true to its name with heavy coffee and vanilla scents, and a bit of tart fruitiness, maybe cranberry. Taste was very complex, with a blast of coffee up front, followed by a soft caramel, vanilla flavor and fruit that fades into a bit of bitterness. This is a substantial beer that coats the mouth and leaves behind a lingering flavor,. It really drinks more like a stout than a traditional porter. Overall, I would say that this is a very strong beer, definitely one of my favorites.

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Photo of Antg8989
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Look: Thick Mocha Creamy Head with considerable lacing. Deep brown in color.
Smell: Malty - smells like a cappuccino and the pleasant smell of an ice cream parlor. Tiny hints of alcohol detected.
Taste: A pleasant, yet bold and roasted coffee with sweet vanilla.
Feel: Smooth, creamy and medium balanced.
Overall: Breakfast Stout lovers, this could be the competition. While not an oatmeal stout, this beer has numerous comparisons to Breakfast Stout, with the addition of vanilla. Although I'm not a vanilla lover, this Porter was delightfully balanced in flavor. Ballast Point is becoming my go-to for stouts/porters. Grab some before the season is over!

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,217 ratings.