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

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,161 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,161
Hads: 5,650
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 948
Gots: 1,584 | FT: 108
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: 1,161 | Hads: 5,650
Photo of amphion1065
2.99/5  rDev -31.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Bomber purchased in 2011, poured into a Duvel tulip.

A really fantastic-looking beer. Pour is very dark brown, almost black. A two-finger mocha head (that is, appropriately enough, reminiscent of cappuccino foam) just won't go away. Very tight bubbles, great retention. Awesome lacing, too.

Tons of of roast coffee in the nose. Those roasted malts are very, very strong. There's a pretty clear alcohol element in the nose as well. Just a very slight hint of vanilla. Nice, if one-dimensional.

Unsurprisingly, the taste is basically all coffee. There's a persistent, acrid bitterness that really lingers. Thought there's not a lot of vanilla at work here, there is definitely a pronounced boozy taste. Some dark fruits, but that burnt coffee quality is overpowering.

The mouthfeel is too thin, with overactive carbonation. This really needs to settle down.

I remember loving the first bottle of Victory at Sea I tasted - a friend had brought one back to Boston from San Francisco back in February, and I can still recall both smelling and tasting caramel in this beer. This was just average, and I'm not sure that age is to blame given the fact that the coffee was so strong. A let down for me. (1,201 characters)

Photo of matttttYCE
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into my Deschutes snifter glass. I've had this for a little while but I don't know why I haven't drank/reviewed it yet.

Appearance - Aggressive pour yields a tan, creamy smooth looking 2 finger head that diminishes but not very quickly. Leaves some lace but not much. Color is pretty much thick black (maybe a little bit lighter than that) and opaque.

Smell - At first I'm getting mostly a soft pleasant coffee smell with vanilla like someone made me a cup of coffee that wasn't really strong at all and put some nice vanilla creamer in there. After that is some nice malt and that typical porter smell (not quite deep dark roasted malt like a stout but it's there). Also getting some toasty nutty smell in there a bit and some chocolate as it warms. It's a nice complex smell. Not really overpowering or overwhelming at all and I'm not sure whether I'd rather have more vanilla in it or not. But this one may be a bit old and the vanilla may have faded some.

Taste - It's sweet. It's got the other tastes like you would expect too. Lots of coffee, roasted malts and light vanilla and a bit of alcohol noticeable on the way down. Also feel like I'm getting some of the chocolate in the taste as well since I'm smelling it more in the nose as it warms. I could drink this so much more often if it was more available. A little bit of a bitter coffee note finishes off the taste on this one.

Mouthfeel - Mouthfeel is actually really good. Not thick and chewy like a big imperial stout, but more rich with a nice medium body. I guess this is bordering on a stout, but who cares. It's a damn good beer. Carbonation is probably light or creamy on par with a nice imperial stout. Finish is more wet and lasting but it doesn't last too long.

Overall - This is a very good beer. Of course, I feel like I'm on a roll with big flavorful beers that I'm reviewing. Maybe I've got a thing for vanilla or coffee flavored beers, I don't know. What I do know is this: If you think coffee or vanilla (or both) sound interesting in a beer, DO NOT hesitate to pick this one up if you see it. I doubt it will disappoint. (2,124 characters)

Photo of sjccmd
4.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Aroma is strong coffee. Some peppery notes. Cinnamon and spices, and a good dose of vanilla. Dark chocolate, some fruity esters and citrusy hops, but those are kept to a minimum. Vanilla comes out more and more.

Pours black with a dark tan/brown head. Medium sized head recedes leaving a good amount of lacing. Clarity is pretty good.

Taste is again big on coffee. Filled in with roasty malts and a hint of citrusy hops. Vanilla comes in on the finish with cinnamon and clove. Coffee is balanced nicely with robust dark malts, burnt toast, and some caramel. Very rich, but the coffee seems to keep it from being cloying. Vanilla adds a hint of sweetness.

Full bodied with medium low carbonation. Vanilla seems to add to the body. Some residual sweetness balanced with roasty bitterness.

Big and luscious. Coffee balanced nicely with the rich porter character. Heavy for the style. (884 characters)

Photo of RyFikes
4.96/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Unbelievably amount of flavor. The vanilla really stands out and the coffee compliments is perfectly. This beer could easily stand toe-to-toe with Founder's Breakfast Stout. (173 characters)

Photo of ryrust5301
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Everything is here for a great porter. Brownish black color with a thin tan head. Almost looks like an imperial stout after it sat in my glass for awhile. Strong vanilla notes in the nose, mixed with a bitter roast and soft chocolate. Taste is a bitter coffee at first with a little coco, but a little past halfway through, the vanilla consumes everything all the way to the finish. A real pleasure to sip on, and is a great addition to their big beer bottle series. (466 characters)

Photo of Trueant1
5/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What can I say? This one pours perfect! Thick head with gobs of lacing stuck on the sides of the glass. The aroma whiffs through the air as you pour this brew into your favorite glass.

Smells of fresh coffee up front. Many in this style have a "stale" coffee smell. This one is fresh and clean. Sweet chocolate and almost a red wine smell. Alcohol and a hint of "bong water" smells. Fresh wheat grass as well.

MMM! WOW! BLISS! Huge brew. Tastes of creamy chocolate liquid mouse. My BA friend in the room tastes milky way candy bars...and so do I. Bitter/burnt chocolate flavors. Alcoholic and very sugary sweet.

This brew is so thick, so creamy, so bitter, and so smooth. Every thing seems to blend together. The only thing that really stands out is the bitterness, and not in a bad way. One of the best brews I have ever had!
Drink this one warm from the start to get the full flavor profile. (897 characters)

Photo of pdoran10
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a mild black color with half a finger of tan head that fades pretty quickly and leaves decent lacing.

Smell is Reeces Peanut Butter Cup if it were made with delicious dark chocolate. Some roasty black coffee comes through as well.

Taste is big roasted malt. Slightly bitter coffee and hops come through with mild dark chocolate. Think Reeces Peanut butter cup, but more roasted than the smell indicated balanced out by bittness. The vanilla noted on the label is mostly lost on my palette, but perhaps lends some sweetness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is dry and substantial at the same time. Moderate carbonation. Really smooth and biting.

Overall a really unique and tasty flavor profile, with a biting dryness and just enough bitterness. An excellent porter. Will have to trade for more. (802 characters)

Photo of SensorySupernova
3.65/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black as night, with a low brown head.

Smell: A little bit of whiskey and caramel. Not too strong.

Taste: Very sweet all the way through. Caramel and whiskey, a bit woody. Roasted malts, although not as strong as the appearance would suggest. Reminds me of a Scotch ale. Plenty of vanilla in there. Some alcohol heat at the end; about what you would expect at 10% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, moderate carbonation.

Overall: Enjoyable, but too sweet for me. Maybe it would improve with a year of age; I had it fresh on tap so I don't know. Definitely lots of different flavors in here. Look and feel fit well with a big beer. (639 characters)

Photo of Gfunk720
3.83/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bomber shared with my roomate. 2010 bottle out of my Harpoon LE glass.

A- Dark black, almost stout like. Nice light mocha head, with good lacing.

S- Malt and coffee mostly. Little big of Vanilla too. A nice blend, and a strong smelling porter.

T- Very nice and smooth up front, transitions to dark coffee flavor. The aftertaste is coffee grounds and vanilla, little bit of chocolate too. Some malt, but the coffee is pretty overpowering.

M- Very nice, good for the style. Nice aftertaste, and smooth body.

D- Very drinkable, and quite tasty. The coffee is a little strong, but it's not too bad.

All in all one of the better Porters I've had recently, and nice complex beer all around. For the price, this one is a great buy (734 characters)

Photo of JamisonM
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2009

A: the body is black as night no light getting through with a tan head

S: Coffee with roasted notes and vanilla. Smells slightly sweet but not over the the top.

T: Great tasting beer! Big time coffee notes come though followed up with vanilla and some roasted notes. slightly sweet and finish a bit acidic. I think the vanilla really smooths the beer out. Alcohol is very well masked.

M: med mouth with med carbonation and very drinkable

O: Overall this is a very enjoyable beer and has aged very nicely a really well made craft beer. (554 characters)

Photo of StevenMilligan
4.7/5  rDev +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. (849 characters)

Photo of 05Harley
3.92/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoy by 11/16/13
Estimated calories - 300/12oz

Purchased through Let's pour

Price - $15.00/bomber

Pours midnight black with a two fingered creamy tan head, damn this is frothy. Pretty clingy too with thick lacing all around. A sexy looking beer which is easy on the eyes.

The smell is a full on assault of sweet vanilla followed by coffee beans, caramel and roasted malt. The vanilla is definitely dominant in this example and reminds me of a fine liquor scent.

The taste is boozy to say the least. Flavors of coffee, nuts and unsweetened chocolate are all but muted by the rich vanilla and alcohol aftertaste. A disappointment in this category.

The body is medium to thick with a slight syrupy feel. Starts off smooth and quickly changes hot due to the alcohol. The finish is bitter and dry. Usually I'm not bothered by this but here it seems more bitter and dry due to alcohol rather than fresh hops.

Overall the taste was a bit of a let down. The vanilla and alcohol just overpowered this for me. The nose however was awesome and the appearance led the way. I know it's high in octane but in the end it's just too hot for me. (1,137 characters)

Photo of keanex
4.88/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter from a 22 ounce bottle un-dated.

A: Beautiful pitch black body with a dense tan head that compliments this perfectly. This beer simply looks amazing.

S: This smells absolutely wonderful, there's a perfect balance of vanilla and fresh roasted coffee here, reminds me a lot of vanilla cake actually with coffee. This is wonderful, my only complaint is wishing it were a tad stronger.

T: Absolutely wonderful, there's bready vanilla flavor into a silky rich cocoa coffee flavor. It's as if I'm sipping on a mocha cappuccino with some vanilla flavoring. This is complex, intense, and very easy to drink.

M: Thick and syrupy with light carbonation, this is filling and feels great.

O: This is hands down the best porter I've ever had, I have no complaint with this and will be buying one every time I find one. (832 characters)

Photo of arfenhouse
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with brown head. Head can get too large with a vigorous pour. Good retention.

S: Overwhelming vanilla bean aroma with a bit of cafe mocha hiding behind it. Enjoyable to smell and keep on smelling.

T: First taste is a semi-sweet chocolate followed by black coffee that keeps this beer from being too sweet. Bitterness comes from the roasted grain, kind of like the charred part of toast. Vanilla in the aftertaste. Virtually no hop flavor.

M: Semi creamy with medium carbonation. Starts to feel too thick and syrupy as it warms. A little less carbonation and some more silkiness would've been better in my opinion.

O: Very tasty and strong imperial porter. Gonna get some more of these if I can. Definitely a must try if you like the style. (753 characters)

Photo of Wadsey
3.59/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Victory At Sea, vintage '08 or '09

Served in DFH signature glass

A: Pours black with modest light brown head that leaves little in the way of lacing. 

S: Milk chocolate and dry roasted maltiness. Earth, honey, vanilla and coffee bring up rear. Honestly, Ballast Point Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter smells like one of those iced coffee drinks from Starbuck's that has a ridiculously long name. 

T: Sweet milk chocolate and roasted malts mingle on palate before vanilla joins in. The vanilla tastes extracted. Coffee has faded and reminds me of the last cup after dwelling over the Sunday newspaper a little too long. Medium- high bitterness. Finish is bitter chocolate and coffee. 

M: Relatively big body and medium-light carbonation. Somewhat oily and mouthcoating. 

O: BPVASCVIP was one of the first beers for which I traded and that I loved. I'm sure this beer has lost a step or two after a couple years in my cellar, but it wasn't bad by any means. Recommended, but consume it within 18 months of bottling.  (1,038 characters)

Photo of DM1293
4.79/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Let's be real here; this is essentially a stout. It might SAY Porter, and it might be BREWED like a Porter...but this beer is pretty darn thick in mouthfeel, more than any other porter I've had.

The taste is phenomenal. It's very prominently sweet chocolate, hints of dark fruit, balanced out by a firm but unimposing coffee bitterness. It's like drinking dark chocolate really, with even hints of vanilla coming through. Fairly thick, but this is an Imperial-style so I expect it to be so.

For all the praise I give it, I'd probably still just drink it just as a "Dessert Beer" due to its 10% ABV. Regardless, it's definitely worth tracking down while you can. (663 characters)

Photo of 100floods
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a fizzy pitch black, you can't see through it when put up to light. It's followed by a thick yet bubbly mocha head that after the first sip goes away.

Smells of vanilla, espresso creme, and dark chocolate covered coffee beans. You can almost taste the texture of the beans, but that's more memory than anything.

Thick and full bodied texture.

That's espresso bean flavor comes strong, before the beer fully touches your lips, then it's mostly sweet and gentle roasted notes with a roasted strong finish that lingers in your mouth. Definitely a few things going on, yet nothing is hidden. This beer has sweet notes to it, but not the kind that make this beer too sweet. This beer provides a lot of balance for what it has to offer. Yes, it's that good. (760 characters)

Photo of punkrkr27
3.83/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black pour with brown highlights and a small loose white head. The aroma has loads of vanilla and coffee with some faint dark fruit. Thew flavor is smooth milk chocolate, vanilla, candied figs, smoke, wood and lots of alcohol. Thinnish body, oily, soft carbonation and some alcohol warming. (290 characters)

Photo of wpqx
5/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ballast Point has outdone themselves on this one. A mind-bogglingly good Imperial Porter that has pronounced vanilla flavor. One of the smoothest imperial porters you are likely to find. A definite coffee and vanilla taste and a wonderful aroma. This beer is incredibly smooth for 10% abv. Search it out, in bottle, on tap, anywhere this is simply put the finest porter I've ever tasted. (387 characters)

Photo of garbercury
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Super stoked to try this one, one of my top wants, always eluded me...

A--Plenty of lacing, nice opaque hue.

S--Coffee and chocolate really come through in the nose along with touch of vanilla, very nice.

T--I really can taste both the dark chocolate/mocha in this guy, not really a lot of vanilla which I was hoping for, but still very tasty...

M--nice silky mouthfeel.

D--I am really happy to get my hands on this, and look forward to more of it in an upcoming trade. Definitely an excellent brew, highly recommended... (526 characters)

Photo of fountainofyouth
4.16/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a rocket into a Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout tulip glass (20 oz.)

Appearance: Dang, this thing pours a HUGE thick, sticky head -- like four fingers after two minutes of waiting. The head is light brown and the body is solid brown-black. Held directly up to light it is totally opaque. Pretty intimidating.

Smell: The aroma is fairly complex. I get sweet mild-dark malt, spicy hops, and something a little metallic. It could use a little bit of smoke or roast to round it out. No real hints of coffee or vanilla.

Taste: Not quite what I expected -- or at least not the sequence I thought it would be. I was afraid it would be too hoppy off the bat and mask the malt. The hops are subdued, however, letting the malt sweetness start. Not much coffee, but I get some vanilla. The finish has a little bit of the roasty stout taste I love in my beer. Also a little bit of milk chocolate toward the end.

Mouthfeel: The feel is sugary up front with a light but prickly carb. The finish is very dry given how it starts -- almost acrid at points. Fairly heavy.

Overall: I wouldn't get it regularly, but I'd buy it again. If you like the genre, try it out. (1,156 characters)

Photo of titty_mcbitty
4.67/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

A: black as oil with a super thin dark tan head. Looks sexy.

S: man oh man this smells delicious. Vanilla and chocolate first off. Also some caramel. Roasted malts as well.

T: so good... vanilla soaked chocolate, espresso and cream, toast, bread crust, burnt caramel, toffee, cooked cherries, and deep roasted malts. It's got a bitter kick in the end.
M: thick. Creamy and delicious. It has a hint of booze though on the back end.

O: very very good brew by Ballast Point. Love the flavors of this. The only thing that is disappointing, but not even a big deal, is that boozy kick in the back end. This beer is awesome and worth the money. (EDIT: just had it on tap, and it blew my mind even further- more of a burnt marshmallow taste and a lot more cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in with that wonderful vanilla. Simply amazing. Also, none of that booziness mentioned above.) (876 characters)

Photo of drewba
4.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

New (2010?) batch poured into a coffee cup FFF HBI style.

A - opaque black with brown tints onthe edges. Looks deep, mildly menacing as a giant perfect mocha, two finger head pops up. The retention is far better than I would have expected; the lacing sticks like glue and she has legs fer days!

S - loads of bitter coffee grounds, milk chocolate, a healthy amount of roast, tobacco and a incredibly tiny amount of dark fruit.

T - The star of the show is this delicious Caffe Calabria (product placement!) coffee that offers up a nice bitter coffee ground flavor that maintains through the course of the taste, but at the same time there is a nice freshly roasted and very mild coffee flavor that rides under the bitterness. A lot of milk chocolate and vanilla combos nicely with some great roastiness and leather. Though coffee and chocolate are the predominant flavors, this isn't reminding me much of mocha; each flavor stands on it's own really making this complex with a great progression of flavors. Unbelievably, the hop profile can still stand against all the malt action with a low level of lemon zest and marijuana in the finish. Finishes with those coffee grounds and cocoa.

M - Smooth, creamy, with a silky carbonation that pops. The finish is a tad dry.

O - Ballast Point really found a nice mix here, with flavors that tend to dominate. None of the flavors are overpowering another (maybe the coffee is on the heavier side), instead they really compliment each other. I don't mean to geek out too hard, but it's as if there are four stages to V@S: coffee, chocolate, vanilla, cocoa (and hops). Each flavor stands on it's own, but is an experience all together. If you couldn't tell, I have a pretty massive hard on for this beer. Though I'll say I do prefer the first batch with some age on it. (1,814 characters)

Photo of fropones
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark as night with no light shining through. Very minimal mocha head. Smells of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, a little bit of caramel. Very little vanilla in the smell. The taste is more delicious roasted malt and coffee. A hint of dark fruits as well. The notes of vanilla are very subtle. Will let this one warm up for a bit to let more flavors come out. Mouthfeel is very full-bodied and creamy, with just the right amount of carbonation. Very drinkable, alcohol very well hidden. The only reason it'll take me a bit to drink this one is because I want to let it warm up. (588 characters)

Photo of radshoesbro
4.55/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

first and foremost, it is very important that i mention that this beer needs to open up to really get the full flavor. don't be fooled into thinking this is just average, cause the further into the bottle you get, the bigger the grin on your face will be!

it pours the typical charred black with the medium tan head and some pretty good lace. there was a good deal of carbonation after pouring, which was a bit surprising.

smells of creamy malts and some coffee. there's a slight fudge smell to it.

initial taste, i'm thinking i've had better, and the normal victory at sea is better (especially on tap). the more i'm drinking it it's just getting really good. i'm patting myself on the back for buying two bottles!

i seriously could drink this all night, it goes down uber smooth! this is really a fantastic beer! i keep having to remind myself this is a porter too, i keep expecting that big stout finish, but i'm very happy with this! (951 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,161 ratings.