Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...
Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest BeerAdvocate updates delivered to your inbox.

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.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,180 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,180
Hads: 5,741
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 965
Gots: 1,624 | FT: 100
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: 1,180 | Hads: 5,741
Photo of ZeroSignal
4.72/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very dark pour with streaks of light brown; vigorous mocha colored head that settles quickly to a thin skim, edges lace nicely

S - Big roasted coffee aroma (Breakfast Blend), bits of milky chocolate and lots of roasted malts. Hints of espresso and vanilla, and a light hint of alcohol.

T&M - Extremely smooth and creamy...very decadent. Lot's of roasted coffee flavor, baker's chocolate and a woodsy vanilla. There is a somewhat ashy, malty presence, but it doesn't detract from the smoothness at all. The alcohol is extremely well hidden with just the slightest hint in the finish. Has a lot in common (flavor and feel wise) with Founders Breakfast Stout.

D - A very impressive beer. Delicious from start to finish and dangerously drinkable. (750 characters)

Photo of haazer
4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Hard pour puts up a towering, dense ash/light brown colored head. Lasts for quite some time and settles at about 2 1/2 fingers. Lacing all over the glass on this. Brew is a very dark brown, no light getting through.

S- Strong, delicious brown roast coffee up front. Blends with a good bit of regular mocha actually. The vanilla is there underneath the coffee, and the coffee comes in again in aftertaste. The malts are dark but take a backseat to the wonderful smelling coffee and vanilla, it's almost like an iced coffee with creamer. So good.

T- The taste is this amazing coffee, you San Diegan's are lucky for this "Caffe Colabria". Taste is much like the nose really. Mocha follows the coffee, then followed by vanilla beans. My only complaint is the 10% is felt on the backend with heat and some boozy taste.

M- Mouth is fully bodied, silky smooth with mid to high carbonation. As coffee does this appears to coat your mouth and teeth.

O- So often does a coffee stout/porter overpower you with burnt bitter roasted malt, this does not. This is a world class brew. This profiles the coffee and vanilla without killing you with roast. This is my favorite coffee stout/porter thus far. I will look for this always. (1,224 characters)

Photo of Qbdoo
3.84/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A beautiful looking black with a frothy gray head. Smell is a mixture of coffee, roasted malt, and a bit of chocolate. Taste is similar but not overwhelming with the coffee and chocolate. I don't really taste the vanilla. Mouthfeel is big for a porter. This is a really good beer, nicely understated with the coffee. But it's not quite the amazing beer the ratings here suggest it is. (384 characters)

Photo of Antg8989
4.77/5  rDev +9.7%
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! (656 characters)

Photo of brewdude1982
4.38/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a bomber poured into a snifter

A: 4.5 deep rich pour into my snifter with a deep dark rich head that dissipated quickly
S: 4.0 slight hop smell and then roasted malts
T: 4.5 such a warm pallet pleasing taste that turns into chocolate and coffee
MF: 4.5 good on the carbonation and very full body
O: 4.5 great beer that I would recommend to anyone. This brewery is really stepping up in my book and I want to try anything that they make in the imperial format. (469 characters)

Photo of comfortablynumb1
4.13/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Leaving for Florida in a few hours, and I wanted to start the trip strong by drinking a good solid beer...

Poured from bomber into a Ballast Point pint glass...

A - Pours black with a one finger brown head. Head retention is decent and there is alot of sexy lacing to be had...

S - The name says it all. Coffee and vanilla dominate...

T - Once again, I remember why I keep coming back to this one. One word sums it up best: delicious. Dark roasted malts, and dark chocolates followed by a smooth vanilla insurgence. Ends on slight coffee bitterness with next to no alcohol to be tasted...

M - Nice and creamy, but not thick. This is one of those beers that can get you into trouble with because it is so smooth. While I won't go as far to call this a session beer, my financial disposition wouldn't allow it to be even if it was, this one is smooth and light enough to put a couple back in one sitting...

D - Was looking foward to this release, and I wasn't disippointed. Have already put about 5 of these bad boys down in the last month or two, and I am bummed I only have one more left. If you see one of these on the shelf definitely give a try...

Cheers... (1,167 characters)

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

taste- chocolate, subtle dark roasted coffee flavors, caramel undertones

color- dark chestnut brown

clarity- clear

smell- cocoa, roasted malt, biscuits

body- sweet/tangy chocolate hop bite at the front and sides of the palette, soft, medium-heavy weight mouthfeel, smooth, medium-long finish

appearance- mocha-colored head, nice heavy lace, slight carbonation

overall impression- nice beer, almost a little too sweet but would pair well with desserts. the brewer says this is an imperial porter...i think it departs slightly from the style and tends to be a little "showy" with the vanilla imprint

notes and comments- the aroma is very one note...i may be mistaking the smell of vanilla for cocoa but it is very pronounced and delightful. killer label

glassware: tulip

song: my brother esau - 10/3/87 (809 characters)

Photo of oregonskibum
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass. Review from written notes.

A: Color is black with just a faint ruby color right along the edges. Pours with a 1-inch creamy tan head that dissipates slowly, leaving some good lacing.

S: Strong coffee and vanilla flavors dominate the smell. The smell is smooth and creamy. Solid cocoa backbone with a faint roasted coffee bitterness.

T: Smooth is the first impression. The roasted bitter coffee flavors are subdued, with just a nice coffee and chocolate malt flavor that is accompanied by some vanilla. Get a little warmth on the finish. Finish is long with a pleasant coffee flavor.

M: Big, full bodied, almost oily. Low carbonation and very smooth. Super easy to drink.

D: This was excellent. The flavors were well integrated and the beer very drinkable. I will definitely hunt this out again and wish I could score some of the special blends of this solid beer. (914 characters)

Photo of RAlmeida77
3.41/5  rDev -21.6%
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. (162 characters)

Photo of snpub540
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours such a dark brown that its almost black. Light brown head that leaves the slightest amount of lacing but I didn't expect much.

Aroma is of coffee and the slightest hint of vanilla or oak.

Taste is definitely reminiscent of a light RIS. Coffee and roasted flavors make up the bulk of the flavor. Alcohol fruitiness is definitely in the finish.

Mouthfeel is spot of for a porter. Smooth and silky with the flavor of a stout. This is for sure the biggest porter I have ever drank. (487 characters)

Photo of OlieIPA
4.72/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First of all, just wanted to say thanks to Gabe for putting together this phenomenal lineup of Ballast Point beers at his restaurant (Beachwood BBQ). Enjoyed this beverage on 3/24/09 and reviewed from notes taken that night.

A: Wow! The head retention from this beer is incredible! This dark beverage gave a very appealing appearance that enticed me even further.

S: Robust coffee, vanilla, and chocolate aroma; slightly boozy.

T: The vanilla and coffee reveal themselves a bit more in the flavor profile, while the chocolate seems to take a back seat. There also is a slight burnt finish that was tad too harsh and something I didn't enjoy too much.

M: Heavy carbonation, full-body, and very viscous.

D: The best way to describe this beer...easy to drink, but very potent in flavor! Yummy!

Overall: I absolutely loved this beer and was probably my favorite of the night. This is a can't miss beer that every beer lover should try. Cheers! (945 characters)

Photo of Elprico
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A-Deep black with a great, tan colored head. Mild carbonation can be seen.

S-Almost pure coffee for me. The vanilla is there, but takes a definite back seat to the coffee and chocolate flavors.

T-Tons of coffee right up front. Bitter, dark chocolate followed by a mellow and sweet vanilla aftertaste. This beer has one of the most perfect balances of coffee flavors in a beer that I've ever had. It tastes balanced and like quite a bit of work went into it.

M-Light to medium carbonation. Given the flavors I thought it would have a slightly heavier mouthfeel. I definitely would not call it watery, but would have appreciated a thicker body to this.

O-A beer that should not be passed up. The coffee in this beer makes it exceptional and although I wish it had a thicker body, I'd be hard pressed to insult this beer. (822 characters)

Photo of bcostner1
4.08/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Darker than some porters I have had; borders on black but does transmit at least a little bit of light. Nice tan head.

S: Some char, wood, cocoa, vanilla, chocolate, coffee. Coffee and vanilla do not come through as much as I would have thought/liked but still presents a decent aroma.

T: Very tasty. Everything blends together pretty well. Not quite as coffee-forward or vanilla-forward as I thought it would be but both elements are still evident. Almost has a kind of "malted milkshake" or "frappuccino" quality to it from the blending of the coffee and vanilla which I like. The finish is pretty dry and is predominantly bitter dark chocolate and/or bitter cocoa. All in all, this is a fairly complex beer. As I sit and sip it, I keep picking different subtleties.

M: Pretty easy drinker surprisingly. ABV is hidden very well. I would say that it is actually a little on the thick/viscous side for a porter but not so much so as an extremely viscous impy stout would be for example. I'm enjoying the body in this one.

Overall, I was very excited to try this one. It did live up to expectations but I do wish that the coffee and vanilla elements (in particular the coffee) were just a little bit more pronounced. I would definitely drink this again though. Recommended. (1,280 characters)

Photo of mocktm
4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Have wanted to try this for quite a while; was finally able to score one in Ocean Beach, San Diego. Big shout out to Mike at Olive Tree Marketplace for hooking me up with some Pliny while I was there as well.

Enormous khaki colored head off the pour, resting atop a espresso colored brew. Complete sheet of lacing as the head dyes down, while still prominently retaining.

There's some massive vanilla notes on this, like that of vanilla creamer I put in my coffee every morning. To be honest, I can't get enough of it; awesome! Plenty of dark roasted malts as well, providing the usual coffee, chocolate background.

Tastes just as I had hoped, serious vanilla upfront that lingers throughout rather brilliantly. Some coffee like bitterness on the back end as well. But again, love the vanilla forward flavor on this.

Medium in body with plenty of carbonation. Slick, creamy and delicious.

Hands down, my favorite porter I've ever had. Can't even imagine how good the bourbon aged version is. I'm gonna need to homebrew a clone asap. (1,038 characters)

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

thanks to choprite for this one.
22oz bottle poured into a tulip glass.

Pours a dark black with a one finger tan head with light retention and thin patchy lacing. Sweet vanilla, roasted malt, and freshly brewed coffee in the aroma, all very clean. Coffee, vanilla and brown sugar up front flavors with some alcohol warmth in the middle with a lemon/espresso bitter finish that fades to little aftertaste. Medium body and carbonation, this has a creamy mouth coating feel-excellent. Good drinkability, you know the alcohol is present but the clean flavors are the key.
A very well balanced porter, solid all the way through. (625 characters)

Photo of lordofstarside
4.26/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber to snifter, enjoy by 11/16/13

Pours jet black with a finger of khaki foam that's started receding. No visible carbonation, alright lacing- pretty run of the mill. Smells of dark roast coffee, cherry, fig, vanilla, caramel, some hops, alcohol, toasted malts, chocolate, and a mass of other dark fruity esters. Some definite complexity, not the most but stands out. Taste follows the nose, strong up front coffee and vanilla, a slight hop profile, toasted malt, cherry and other fruits, creme, caramel, and a touch of alcohol. Feel is full bodied and thick. Very creamy and rich, goes down easily. Overall this stuff is pretty good, despite not having much taste for coffee, which by far dominates the taste. Well crafted, must try if you're big on coffee (761 characters)

Photo of PhxHorn
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Got this one by mail order and couldn't wait to try it. This is the 10% version, part of the Robust series. It pours a dark dark brown, almost black, with two fingers of light brown lumpy head. Plenty of tan lacing. Smells strongly of coffee, roasted malt, a touch of smoke, and a touch of vanilla. Tastes pretty much as it smells: coffee, roasted malt, a touch of smoke, and a hint of vanilla. A bit more smoke than vanilla, actually, but that's not a criticism. This is a damn tasty porter with a lot of complexity going on. Carbonation was just a touch low for my tastes, but it was silky smooth and that's not a bad thing, either. Really, there's nothing to complain about and lots to praise with this beer. A real keeper. (726 characters)

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

I had this one last night for the first time for what will hopefully be a new annual Christmas tradition. Thanks to Jimmy for getting me one of these.

So, no formal review for me, but I liked this one so much that I need to at least review it and say something. It looked awesome in the glass and tasted delicious. Definitely a complex , quality beer. when it was all gone I wish I had more.

I am not even a really fan of porters, but both my brother-in-law and loved this beer. Well done Ballast Point! (505 characters)

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

On Cask at Surly Goat.

Pours black with low offwhite head, even a sparkler barley kicks up any foam on this.

Aroma is vanilla with low coffe undertones, roast comes through pretty strong as well.

Flavor follows the aroma pretty close, vanilla, coffee, chocolate, woody/nutty finish.

Always enjoy this beer, and out of the cask is no exception, the alcohol has a way of sneaking up on you in this, no real warming in the mouth, but my chest and stomach start feeling it a few sips in. (487 characters)

Photo of smonice
3.91/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a growler.

A- Black with a nice tan head and a little lacing

S- Mostly coffee and little vanilla

T- Great taste, the coffee comes through strong and the subtle vanilla evens it out. Slight booze burn but not bad.

M- Creamy in mouth, not too light and not too heavy

O- Really like this beer. Going to finish this growler and then age a bottle I have for a little bit and try it again to see if the burn minimizes a bit. (435 characters)

Photo of vic21234
4.55/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. Enjoy by date on the bottle reads 12/20/13.

A- Pours a very dark brown/ black with some very slight red hues if held to the light. A small amount of off white head quickly fades to the sides of the glass. Some lacing is noted too.

S- Awesome smelling beer. Tons of coffee notes immediately upon popping the cap. The coffee dominates the aroma and nothing more is really noted.

T- Starts off smooth with notes of vanilla and chocolate. Then comes the huge coffee flavor which takes over the rest of the taste. A heavy coffee bitterness is at the back of each taste.

M- Smooth, medium bodied, coffee forward, bitter aftertaste.

This is a great Porter, by far the best I've had. The coffee notes are fantastic. I'm glad BP is distributing to Illinois now. (797 characters)

Photo of gregshead
4.65/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A:Pours a thin black w/ a chocolate ice cream colored head, a good finger thick of it.

S: Roasted grain w/ hints of vanilla and coffee bean aromas stick in my nose. What a great smell

T: Thick of a nice consistent/mellow porter with vanilla following the roasted grains. Then deep roasted coffee bean taste to finish. Coffee bean after taste as well as the lush grain taste.

M: Very smooth with a light to medium carbonation. This is the my ideal mouthfeel for a porter.

D: Although huge abv, easy to drink. My favorite porter so far. The flavors go together so well. I am going to have a hard time aging a couple of these because I'm always going to want one. So good. (673 characters)

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

Appearance: Very dark brown, initially appears black but held towards a light you see it as dark brown. Has a modest medium beige head.

Smell: The coffee is upfront , with the vanilla following. As it warms the vanilla steps more towards the forefront.

Taste: Coffee, vanilla, and some roasted malt notes.
The beer finishes fairly dry with some slight hop and roasted malt notes. The alcohol presence is very subtle for the ABV.

Mouth-feel: Fairly thin bodied for an Imperial Porter with a generous level of carbonation for the style.

Overall: In the past I would have said the Deschutes Imperial Black Buttes were my favorite for the style, but I feel I would choose this over the latest incarnation (XXIII). Very tasty porter. (734 characters)

Photo of HopBomb515
4.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Black with a towering coffee colored head and great lacing. Notes of heavy coffee, caramel, toffee and light vanilla in the nose. Big coffee flavor, some toffee and vanilla working in the background smooth the flavor profile. Nice feel as it warmed, creamy, fuller side of medium body and very drinkable at 10%. This was one of, if not the most coffee forward beers I've ever had. Really fantastic. (403 characters)

Photo of chaz410
4.01/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep black body, light has no chance in this viscous black hole of shadows. A light kakhi head sits atop this solid black brick of fluid.
Smells of coffee, vanilla hints, caramel and toasted malt.
The taste is amazing. There's a huge amount of roasted mocha and coffee. Laced across this robust backbone is subtle caramel and a nice vanilla sweetness with a very bright toasted character toward the end. There is a slightly charred coffee-like bitterness at the end.
Very thick and silky mouthfeel.
A very drinkable but assertive Imperial porter! (554 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,180 ratings.