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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.

1,216 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,216
Hads: 5,912
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,006
Gots: 1,717 | FT: 92
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,216 | Hads: 5,912
Photo of UrbanCaveman
4.16/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.25

22 oz bottle, poured into a snifter at approximately 45 degrees F.

A: Pours a deep, dark brown, verging on black. Once in the glass, no light whatsoever filters through the brew - it almost seems as though light rays that stray too close are sucked in and absorbed. A thick, fluffy dark tan head forms and hangs around for a while, slowly dying down to a cap and ring which leave clumps of lacing on the glass.

S: The aroma opens with dark, dark, dark roasted grain, not unlike burned bread, wreathed through with black coffee-espresso to form a miasma of the color black. Underlying that is a sort of earthen bitterness.

T: Oh, that thick, heavy, blunt, blackened roasted grain! The flavor opens with a veritable club of blackened, burned bread and grain, with traces of smoke and char. Unfiltered dark roast coffee takes not merely center stage, but also left, right, and the orchestral pit at times. There are notes to the flavor quite reminiscent of burnt firewood or campfire ashes, mixed with the scorched earth from the bottom of a firepit dug in the deep woods. Vanilla is hinted at, bringing no sweetness along with it whatsoever, not unlike sipping extract right from the bottle. Alcohol heat comes in during the bitter, slightly astringent finish.

M: Thin, far thinner than one might expect for a brew this heavy, dark, flavorful, and high ABV. It verges on watery at times as it moves across the palate.

O: While I'd have preferred a little more malt sweetness to come through the blackened flavorstorm, and a little more body and heft to the feel, this is definitely a tasty example of an imperial porter!

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Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – A super dark brown or black color that lets no light through. A thick, creamy head that sticks around for quite some time. Lots of lacing on the glass.

Smell – A wonderful sweet chocolate malt scent with coffee. Also some smokiness and a touch of vanilla.

Taste – Coffee, roasted chocolate malt, with a touch of hops.

Mouthfeel – Smooth, and creamy; fairly light on the carbonation in spite of its massive head.

Drinkability – Very nice; just a slightly bitter bite to an otherwise exceptional porter.

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Photo of ljbonadonna92
4.71/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pitch black with a thick off white head that doesn't dissappear at all. A strong coffee and hot pepper like aroma wafts out of my glass. Flavors of sweet vanilla and strong coffee coat my mouth with a moderatly chewy mouthfeel. Overall an excellent beer that dear to my heart.

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Photo of docoman
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

Was lucky enough to visit Ballast Point tasting room in Little Italy and had this along with 2 BA versions, all excellent beers. Liked it enough to include in my SD beers to be shipped home package, definitely recommend trying.

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Photo of Totalpackage411
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What a great beer. As good as any porter I've had. A nice hint of vanilla with a rich coffee flavor. Highly recommend for anyone who likes porters or stouts.

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Photo of dukedevil0
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Got this in a recent trade from cpferris, thanks man!

A: Pours a dark pitch black with a finger of mocha colored head that laces a little bit on the way down as it settles down to a light film on the top and a rim around the edge.

S: Smells delicious - roasted malts, dark coffee, chocolate, vanilla, latte like

T: Just like the scent - starts off with mainly roasted malts, then transitions into coffee, vanilla, chocolatey type flavors and finishes with a black coffee like bitterness

M: Super creamy almost imperial stout thickness, but just below that. It's a really nice smooth finish with

D: Pretty highly drinkable, really the only thing that takes it down for me is the bitterness of the dark coffee in the finish and it's a little too roasty at some points. There isn't really any alcohol flavor and overall it's very tasty.

I'm not really a porter guy from the ones I've had in the past, but this one is just a great beer and I would love to get my hands on some more.

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

Thanks to Mrvonzipper for saving this bottle to share with me.

pours a pitch black with a nice 1 finger light tan head. very nice retention leaving lacing all over the glass. looks oily and viscous.

great nose, has alot of roasted notes but no to overpowering that you can't pick out what else is in there. coffee and vanilla

Wow i love to taste. vanilla some caramel and coffee all accompanied but a powerful roasted flavor that hangs around in the mouth making you want more.

full bodied, light-medium carbonation smooth and viscous

overall this was a nice little treat that i am glad was shared with me. the roasted element to this was a highlight for me. it was powerful but didn't steal the show, and the vanilla was good touch.

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Photo of Pinknuggets
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

bottle to HFS sniffer

A: very dark but not quite black though completely opaque with a thick mocha head that dissipates into a thick lacing.

S: So the first thing that hits you in the face is massive vanilla scent it is nice and roasty, but almost overpowering all the other smells. I can definitely detect the coffee and a few hints of malt but thats about it. Good, but not great.

T: follows the nose with the vanilla but not as strong as in the nose there is definitely a lot more coffee flavor i can almost taste the ground beans great combination of flavors very strong and extremely robust RIS taste in a porter.

M: Very thick but also extremely smooth and creamy which seems to be caused by the vanilla. Milkshake status for sure and the alcohol is well hidden

O: This is probably second only to everett in terms of porters for me this is smooth with tons of strong coffee and vanilla flavor exactly what I want from a porter especially an imperial one I highly recommend this beer

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Photo of SensorySupernova
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
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.

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Photo of Nesued
3.95/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Obtained locally yesterday. Was thinking of storing it for a bit but the weather has turned back to the chilly side so I thought I'd crack this open.

Appearance - Big dark pour from this 22oz bottle. The lush tan head formed with a mix of large and small bubbles forming the landscape. Lacing is present as the head retracts to a thin tan ring around the edge of my Chimay chalice. Very inviting.

Smell - Robust coffee and vanilla are the first aromas that hit your nose. A very rich coffee aroma, unlike some other coffee beers where the coffee almost seems to be added for namesake rather than as a contribution to the overall flavor. Some caramel and a hit of alcohol as well.

Taste - Bittersweet chocolate, malty initial presentation with a nice vanilla presence as well. Just as advertized, so it delivers. A drying finish from the ample hop presence does a nice job finishing the current sip as you anticipate the next. As you finish you do notice the 10% ABV coming through at the end.

Mouthfeel - Medium mouthfeel. One of the few down-ticks for this offering. Was expecting a more. Perhaps the carbonation could use to be brought up a bit. Regardless these is a chewy quality to this beer with a nice presence.

Drinkability - One of the best in the style. The coffee presence is excellent. Not overdone nor a fake over-processed taste. My only down ticks is the medium body and the finishing alcohol burn. I would love to taste the BA version to see how it rounds out the corners of this beer. Well done.

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Photo of RedBrewer83
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Aggressively poured into tulip...

A: Pours a dark chocolate black, not jet black, has some nice roasted coffee chocolate brown on the edges. Big frothy two finger mocha head, nice staying power.

S: Big aroma of roasted coffee, vanilla, dark fruit, roasted malt, caramel. This is very complex and the flavors all seem very well balanced, not over competing.

T: Follows the nose, starts with the coffee which falls into the vanilla and almost creme brulee caramel malt with some bittersweet chocolate and just a hint of smoke like molasses. A little dark fruit mixed in as well, some raisin, and some date.

M: Incredibly smooth and creamy, a little bit lighter than I expected which is nice as it seems to fit the style. Rather than being a stout named a porter they truly crafted a porter mouthfeel and weight despite the 10%.

D: Incredibly drinkable for this big of a beer. Very delicious, would love to have this one again!

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Photo of toolbrew
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip glass. Bottle enjoy by date of December 2013. Poured deep brown with a thick fluffy brown head. Big nose of vanilla. Coffee aromas after agitation. Sweet taste with good vanilla flavor. Bitter finish. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. No alcohol burn whatsoever. Overall I really enjoyed this beer and will revisit. Would be a good one to lay down to see how it ages.

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Photo of AWolfAtTheDoor
4.8/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Split a bomber with beer buddy Phil. Live review.

Pours dark with ruby hues showing through when place infront of a light. Nice dark mocha colored head. Not a lot of lacing.

Cold vanilla and a blast of coffee on the nose. This is exciting.

Lots of coffee up front. As the coffee dissipates, the vanilla emerges tentatively. Roasted malts, bitter chocolate round this masterpiece out. Hint of alcohol in there as well.

Really smooth mouthfeel. Not heavy by any means, and certainly does not feel anywhere near 10%. Incredibly well crafted beer.

Overall I'd climb over your mother to get this beer. This beer has been sitting in my fridge for maybe 2 years? Absolutely incredible beer. It was a stretch not to give it full 5s.

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Photo of shacawgo24
4.61/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Black. Some dark brown. Thin tan head that dies quickly. Few bubbles of lacing if any at all. Quality dark beer appearance.

S-Roasted coffee. Creamy vanilla. Cocoa. Milk chocolate. Mocha. Black licorice. Root beer & horehound.

T-Coffee. Vanilla. Cream. Wow more coffee. Hop is there. Bitter. The darkest of chocolate. Raisin. Charcoal smoke. Woodsy. Bitter resinous finish. Licorice.

M-Moderate/medium body. Not too thick nor watery. Low to moderate carbonation. A bit literally flat. Nothing too exciting.

O-I want to retry this soon. A renowned beer for good reasons. One that needs to be sat with for a bit, to pluck out more flavors than just coffee, vanilla and chocolate. Probably a few better porters out there, but this has to be top ten easily on, Earth, maybe, not just the states.

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Photo of PieOhMy
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from 12 oz bottle into snifter
Dated 12/30/14

A Runny black with some head if poured aggressively, little head if poured slowly (I poured two!). No transparency, of course. Some brief lacing when tumbled a bit. Probably a little sticky.

S Espresso, chocolate milk, toffee, vanilla. A blitz of spices; clove, nutmeg, mint, and cinnamon. A cornucopia of aroma!

T Dark chocolate and roasted coffee. Very potent this. Vanilla bean, burnt sugar, mocha, and roasted malts. Grand flavor!

M Way more full than the pour would indicate. Very rich. Velvety and smooth, leaves a bitter follow.

O So good! The flavors mesh perfectly. You want a coffee stout/porter? This is it. You want a smooth sweet stout/porter? Yep. You want a big rich, high ABV impeccably crafted brew? This it. Top notch brew by Ballast Point!

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

22 ounce bottle in snifter

A: black, tan head diminished quickly.

S: coffee, vanilla in the back, malts mingled with subtle coffee.

T: first taste thought was "this reminds me of founders CBS" all the flavors are balanced making a wonderfully flavored beer

M: mild carbonation, dry bitter finish with lingering vanilla.

D: at 10% one bottle is good, and reasonably priced, high quality have paid twice this much for beer not at good.

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Photo of regspeir
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours almost black with a huge head which settled quickly. Good lacing remained throughout. The nose was milkshake - chocolate and vanilla, caramel, with a noticeable roasted malt and coffee. The mouthfeel was creamy and a perfect thickness for a porter. Taste was carmel, coffee, vanilla. The finish contained some bitterness, smoke and a mild and pleasant alcohol warming. i would not be able to sip at this all night but will definitely seek it out again - an excellent porter.

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Photo of Bobheed
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Deep black, very little light coming through. One finger mocha colored head, a little thick looking for a porter.

S: Got the coffee upfront, mostly. Really roasty, malty characteristics, vanilla is pretty small on the nose.

T: A lot more vanilla then on the nose, got a lot of coffee, kind of a roasted espresso flavor. Got some caramel type flavors in there as well.

M: Thick, medium carbonation. A bit dry as well.

Overall I like this one a lot. I would love to get some more bottles if it was more readily available. One of the best porters out there.

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Photo of BilbosNuts
4.6/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark black with a mocha colored head that has great retention, lasting throughout the drink. It leaves behind rings of lacing.

S: Where to begin? It starts off with a strong ground coffee bean aroma that gives way to sweet vanilla and a sort of woody scent. Chocolate and roasted malts then begin to make an appearance.

T: Quite similar to the aroma with strong coffee and sweet vanilla. The alcohol is very subtle but has a light presence.

M: Medium bodied with a light amount of carbonation. Very smooth to drink. I could drink this all day.

O: This may be one of my favorite beers I've ever had. The smell is orgasmic and the taste isn't far off. I wish this were available year round.

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Photo of jminsc76
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at Simmzy's in Manhattan Beach, California.

Pours a decently sized espresso head atop a black body. Very little lacing or legs at first, that is until I let it warm, then agitate, and then bam! out comes the head with thick legs as I tilt the glass.

Strong aromas of coffee, oak, and sweet vanilla beans, the last of which is the most prevalent in the bouquet. Wonderful smells.

Bitter coffee and vanilla on the front end, with bananas and darker fruits exhibiting toward the finish. Also accompanying those fruits is a slight quantity of booziness, which detracts slightly from the richness of all the other flavors. Grrr...

An incredibly thick mouthfeel as I swish, very full-bodied and pillowy. Love that feeling.

Overall, I was a little offset by the heat, as I have had this both from the bottle and from the cask and both consist of heaven on earth in deliciousness without the booziness. However, this is still a masterpiece of an imperial porter, and remains among my top five favorite beers of all time.

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Photo of CA_Infidel2o9
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber to a sam adams cup

A- jet black, 1 1/2" brown head

S- dark chocolate, coffee beans, vanilla, alcohol

T- bitter dark roast coffee, dark chocolate, cocoa nibs, booze, cream

M- velvety, silky, creamy, low carbonation, alcohol heat

O- She's a sipper! Be warned, fresh out of the fridge, the booze is almost overwhelming. Allow it to get close to room temp, once there the booze subsides and this brew becomes almost dangerously drinkable. It's amazingly creamy, making every sip a joy. It's boozy liquid dark chocolate, with a supporting cast of dark roasted coffee and vanilla beans. Sip responsibly, this thing is dangerous, i've never really been a fan of imperial stouts/porters. Frankly, i feel you can have a more enjoyable experience with a lower abv brew of the same style. This one has me second guessing.

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Photo of sjccmd
4.31/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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Photo of WhiteOak
3.76/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Dark coffee brown color with a cola edge. The expansive, foamy head is light brown.

S- From a bottle, there was a short-lived but wonderfully seductive initial aroma of espresso layer cake with caramel and creme brulee´, but unfortunately this aroma blew-off within mere minutes of the first pour. After this, the nose became muted and offered only a whiff of one-dimensional roasted malt. There were hints of some very nice aromatic notes here, but since they were so fragile, I had to score accordingly.

T- Flavors of roasted, slightly chocolatey malt attack the palate first, followed by a mid palate of bitter dark roasted coffee. The lingering finish is dominated by a bit too much coffee bitterness, but it is not unpleasant. A moderate amount of smokiness is present as well. The hops are restrained, as they should be with these added flavors.

M- The feel is creamy and moderately viscous; very pleasant.

D- ABV is masked behind its richness and structure, with only a warming touch. Certainly quite drinkable, and a nice interpretaion of a Porter.

Comment: Nice brew, and might have made a great candidate to spend some time in oak.

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Photo of Merkur
4.97/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at Tiger Tiger in San Diego.

Beer poured into a snifter glass.

Beer pours a very dark brown with a bit of light brown head.

Beer smells wonderful. First notes is that of vanilla, followed by a nice rich coffee smell.

Beer tastes even better than it smells. The vanilla sweetness at the front end of the sip give way to a nice malty chocolate, followed by some robust coffee flavors. This is hands down the best beer I have ever tasted.

Beer has a good mouthfeel and is not too thick and just the right smoothness.

Probably the best beer I have ever had. The richness of the coffee taste and how the vanilla adds the right amount of sweetness at the right time makes this beer excellent.

Highly, highly recommended.

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

Color- pure black. Slight head.

Aroma- vanilla espresso.

Taste- Starts rich and roasty with vanilla and coffee notes from start to middle,. The finish has some hoppy dryness complimented by bitter coffee tones. Excellent brew! The high ABV is well masked.

Poured from 650 ml bomber into a Liefmans Goudenband glass (my preferred all purpose beer tasting glass). Tasted on 10/14/2013.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,216 ratings.