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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter - Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

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1,180 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,180
Hads: 5,738
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 3.91%
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
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Reviews: 1,180 | Hads: 5,738
Photo of Totalpackage411
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
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. (159 characters)

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

Poured from a 12 oz bornw bottle into a clear glass snifter. No obvious born on/bottle on date, indecipherable code stamped on the front of the label and something unreadable on the bottom. Purchased in allocation from Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Black with soft dark brown opaque edges with 1/2-finger of beige head that has good retention for the ABV and leaves a lot of small dots of lacing.

S: Great aroma with heavy black coffee aroma, but dark fruit, cocoa, and roast malts plow through as well. The vanilla is more of a hint. Alcohol singes the nostrils barely. Maybe the fruity aromas are low-level yeast esters, maybe they are date and plum from the malts.

T: The flavor is good but the coffee could be ratcheted back by 10-20% to let more of the porter through. If I could get another bottle, I would hold onto it for about 3-4 more months and let the coffee fade more and let more porter come through. THat being said, it is still delicious and the coffee works very well with the no, more apparent vanilla component. The porter base is supplying some nutty flavors, roast for sure, and a light touch of caramel. THe alcohol is well hidden and mainly is a warmth in the throat and belly. Any yeast component is some very mild stone fruitiness like cherry or plum. A very good beer that I think would be a bit better with a lighter coffee hand. Bitterness is moderate, mainly from coffee and roast, not from hops which are hard even to detect.

M: I think thefeel could be a bit more lush, but the lighter body helps with the drinkability, which I am not sure is a good thing in a 10% beer. Carbonation is moderate.

O: BP Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla IMperial Porter is a stellar beer that I think has a few small fixes that could turn this into a very top-tier beer. I am very glad to have had the chance to try it, and do not overlook this beer -- it is special and still has potential. (1,919 characters)

Photo of 57md
4.09/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark brown with ruby edges. Both roasted malt and roasted coffee notes can be found in the nose. Roasted malts are present in the flavor but they take a back seat to the almost burnt coffee flavor that is center stage. I’m not really getting any vanilla at all. (266 characters)

Photo of timontheroad
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Poured a very dark opaque almost black color. Nice half inch head with great retention and lacing.
Smell: Aroma has a lot of coffee, with some slight dark roast malt and chocolate notes.
Taste: Very coffee forward, with great vanilla punch on the back end. Some slight roasty malt flavors also.
Mouthfeel: Nice thick and chewy, very full bodied for a porter.
Overall: Just an outstanding brew, really like the coffee and vanilla combination. (453 characters)

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

Appearance: Black, huge head.

Smell: Strong coffee aroma.

Taste: Big coffee and vanilla up front, then continues with lots of vanilla. Nice and sweet but not cloying.

Overall: I could swear this beer is bourbon barrel aged, but according to the description, it is the infused vanilla beans that give that impression. Big and bold, sweet and tasty. Very good! (368 characters)

Photo of CHickman
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

Pours pitch black color with a big 2 finger dark tan creamy head that faded very slowly and left excellent foamy lacing that left all kinds of designs and rings as it went down, as well as a layer on top.

Smells like very burnt coffee that burnt the coffee pot/container over a campfire, with chili pepper-like notes, coffee grinds that sat and cooked all day, light vanilla, charred wood, toffee, cocoa powder, dark chocolate and more roast aromas like a smoldering fire or a pile of cinders and ashes. Some sweetness peeks through like fruit and more vanilla, but the charred and ashy roasted notes dominate the nose.

Flavor is much better and much more complex than the nose, with the burnt coffee grinds and charred wood leading it off, but then the taste shifts to a burnt espresso sweetness with caramel, dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses, ash, toffee, cocoa powder, fire roasted nuts, piney hops, more very roasted coffee and toasted pumpernickel bread. The burnt coffee is so strong I feel like I won’t be able to sleep tonight from the caffeine jolt. There are so many aspects of coffee products and charred/roasted malts (mostly chocolate malts) working together that the sweetness almost slips by un-noticed and leaves a trail of vanilla, fudge brownie and toffee that then turns quite bitter like a Starbucks coffee. I love coffee and this flavor profile was so amped up like coffee on steroids in the brew that I had to force myself to stop from drinking this too fast; unbelievable flavor that is very complex and makes up for the complete lack of balance in this beer. I swear I smelt and tasted jalapeno pepper in this, and if my senses are correct then it was a nice addition to the beer as there was no offensive heat at all and the 10% ABV was generally well hidden.

Mouthfeel was smooth and on the mellow side for such a big beer, with average carbonation, a thick, chewy body that was like a coffee with heavy cream and chocolate milk mixed in it, and a very bitter finish that was ashy and on the dry side.

Pretty intense for a porter, this sets the bar a bit higher since the roasted elements and burnt coffee are just so strong that this brew commands respect and forces you to throttle back and drink it slower. Extremely enjoyable overall this is worthy of all the praise and a beer I will certainly seek out again. Any coffee beer fan out there should hunt down a bottle of this, it’s that good. (2,434 characters)

Photo of SierraFlight
4.66/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 or ’12 vintage bomber pulled from the Seal Beach Beachwood BBQ cellar. Thanks to Vito for knowing this was in stock when talking trade. Poured into a tulip. Appearance is deep opaque black with a tall tan head that eaves some patches of lace. We debated which aromas/flavors might have faded in aging and were pleasantly surprised immediately after we started. Aroma is coffee-powered with roast malt, some cocoa, and vanilla (which we though may have faded most, but was still holding its own). No astringency or strong booziness to indicate the 10% abv. Taste is off the charts, like a delicately carbonated vanilla frappuccino. Full bodied, creamy, thick, and filling texture, soft carbonation, a touch of heat and bitterness underlie a sweet finish. (760 characters)

Photo of cjgiant
4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Seriously?!? I haven't reviewed this after 3-4 bottles? Best intentions and all...
Bottle that was sitting in fridge for about another, no date:

Dark beer-I'd say black with confidence even though it is late when I am reviewing, and lighting is poor. Not a stretch given the brown head-foamy in nature upon settling. This our's lacing fairly substantial on a rinsed glass.

This revue I would perhaps drop the smell a notch, but given that this is a coffee stout and I still get a large coffee nose after at least a month, not touching my initial rating. Coffee, vanilla, cocoa not surprising int their makeup, but the strength is impressive. Some whiffs give me a marshmallow cocoa like impression. Upon further analysis, a 5 is the right rating.

Taste gets all the coffee notes from the smell. This is not to say it is the only flavor, but definitely the predominate taste, which is nice. When I dig beneath the coffee, it does get back to a porter with a lightly astringent roasted malt taste that just outlasts the coffee flavor. But the the beer counters with a sweet, vanilla flavor to extend my enjoyment. This flavor is somewhat fleeting, and I am left with a somewhat nutty, slightly oily slick taste and feel. In general, carbonation is a bit more than I want from this style.

I increased rating score slightly on this review, taste and overall. This is a culmination of a few times with this beer combined into this particular review. Definitely glad to see it available more regularly in my area. (1,522 characters)

Photo of Phigg1102
4.72/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I waited to try this for awhile and I was not disappointed. One of the best things I've ever tasted. Vanilla is in your face, but completely rounded out by all the great smokey flavors. (185 characters)

Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Love the bitter coffee, vanilla, and tar tastes and smells. You can't tell the alcohol at first, but it does warm up and start to kick in later. With just a tad more sweetness, it would be phenomenal. Delicious anyway. (218 characters)

Photo of digitalflood
3.57/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Summary: Too sweet... more candy than beer.

Pours a thick black color. Excellent tan head reducing to very good lacing. Perfect tan ring around the edge. Carbonation hard to see. The body is near solid black even when held up to light. Smells of vanilla ice cream shake, African coffee, caramel, and chocolate. On the nose, very sweet. Lots of sugars. Strong vanilla bean ice cream taste. Some chocolate and minor bitters. Overwhelming vanilla dilutes barley and biscuit notes inhibiting the overall flavor profile. This continues mid-palate where there is a bit more heavy cream coffee, but not enough to overwhelm the sweetness. I would like to see more porter notes. Maybe some bitter cocoa or malt. More balance to the coffee and less half & half. Instead the back palate and after taste are all vanilla milkshake with some coffee ice cream. It's almost sickening to the stomach. No real alcohol notes, but that's just because everything is overwhelmed by vanilla. I really think if they dialed back the vanilla the flavor profile would be extremely good, but as it is-- I cannot get beyond all that sweetness. It is just too much and really kills what could be an otherwise excellent porter if they'd let the rest of the flavors come through. I tried it cold. I drank it slightly chilled. I tried it near room temp. No difference. No change. Disappointing. 3.5 out of 5. (1,376 characters)

Photo of ZebraCakez
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured on 2/8/15 from 12oz bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a deep black color with a one finger khaki colored head that stays for the entire experience.

S: The aroma is somewhat subtle, but still inviting. Rich coffee and dark malt notes reign supreme here.

T: If you like coffee notes, this is an absolute must try. Fresh dark coffee, espresso, and vanilla all work together splendidly. There's some dark chocolate in the background, and it hides it's relatively high ABV beautifully. This is simply fantastic.

F: Thick and creamy, sticks to the mouth with pleasant carbonation. Nice.

O: I'm kicking myself for waiting so long to try this one, I'm hooked after my first bottle. (683 characters)

Photo of JMS1512
3.92/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured with force into my new favorite luxury-beer glass, my River Horse snifter. This hippo sports a cowbell and blotches belonging to the Oatmeal Milk Stout I’m very fond of.

Sight: Big bold black body like the ocean depths, with orange hues poking through. Tan head that sits firmly atop, persisting at 1 finger in height. It eventually settled down to thin cap of ½ finger. Lacing is thick and bandy.

Smell: Coffee and vanilla bean play a duet. Hops slept in and decided not to show up.

Taste: Wow. Just, wow. Coffee, coffee, and a bit of coffee (almost green coffee as opposed to roast... or I might be crazy from months at sea). I can parse out the other aspects after a few sips. I do get the vanilla, and a storm of roasted malt. Perhaps a bit of dark chocolate, perhaps not. I texted the hops, but I think they’re still sleeping. I do get a bit of heat, and after just a few sips, I’m starting to feel it, I swear. Wait, I think the hops are showing up late in their pajamas, but they definitely didn’t shower.

Feel: Oily, like a treated canvass sail. It coats your tongue and gives you a smooth, luxurious impression, like the interior decorating of the chicest cruise ships. Not as full as a high-abv stout though, which makes sense if it’s a porter. Had enough of the nautical references yet?

Overall: I feel very fortunate to try a single bottle of this much sought-after brew. I like it. Now, I can cross it off my list. Calling me a ticker? Fine, I’ll walk the plank. (1,525 characters)

4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Just had this for the first time...Thoroughly enjoyed it but every single sip I would get hit with the sensation of Vanilla Coke. I haven't drank or even thought about that stuff in like 12 years but seriously through the whole glass I was reminded of my junior high cafeteria and that dude from A Bronx Tale...
It was kind of distracting.

Will revisit. (356 characters)

Photo of majorbase2
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

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

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

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

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

Overall, just an incredible beer. (789 characters)

Photo of HattedClassic
4.66/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thee beer pours a decent creamy dark tan head that dissipates moderately quickly. The lacing is also very abundant. The beer itself is an opaque black color that has the slight appearance of being a very dark brown. The beer also has a nice sheen to it.

The beer smell has a very strong vanilla bean note to it that is almost unbeatable by other beers. The coffee smell is slight and bitter, which is curbed a bit by the vanilla bean sweetness. The beer also has some chocolate notes to it but it is largely obscured by the vanilla and coffee notes. No hop smell, but the beer does not lose out because of it.

The beer taste is pretty good and starts off simple but slowly becomes more complex as it warms up. Initially, the bitter and acidic coffee notes along with the sweet vanilla beans dominate the taste. However, as the beer warms up the chocolate note and a bitter hop note become present. In fact, the hop note along with the coffee note linger in the aftertaste.

The mouthfeel is heavy bodied and carbonated. The feel is pretty smooth with some tiny carbonation to give it a bit of texture.

Overall, a fantastic porter and worth it if you can find it. The flavor is pretty good and a good example of the style. (1,225 characters)

Photo of chrismann65
4.86/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a nice porter, coffee & vanilla blend. well done , very smooth and easy to drink. Take your time with this beer , it's a slow sipper @- (10%) is well hidden ..!!!! Wow I like this very much...!!! If you see this beer pick it up...!!! (240 characters)

Photo of dmgeng
4.94/5  rDev +13.6%
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 (1,721 characters)

Photo of mxchap
3.75/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

Overall: More on the roasty / coffee side than I remember. Vanilla very much takes a back seat. Not a bad beer overall, but I remember it being more balanced and nuanced previously. [3.75]

Look: Minimal head and dark brown in color. Minimal lacing [3.75]

Smell: Follows the taste, except the vanilla is somewhat noticeable [3.75]

Taste: Extreme coffee flavor. The debittered dark malts come in second. A smidge of bready sweetness and heat on the back end. Vanilla? [4]

Feel: Feels a litte strong on the carbonation, and a bit thin overall. Warming [2.75] (560 characters)

Photo of RoamingGnome
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Glad to have Ballast Point here in the Badger State. Enjoyed this brew at cellar temp. Served in a FFF Teku glass. A dark brown color with a mocha head that settles quickly to a collar. The aroma is a huge blast of fresh ground coffee. It was reminiscent of Big Bad Baptist. If you enjoy coffee, you will love this beer. The flavor is also very coffee forward. A wonderful blend of bitterness, with a kiss of of vanilla bean and caramel sweetness. The 10% ABV is amazingly well hidden. The mouthfeel is that of an easy drinking medium bodied brew. Slightly dry coffee ground finish. Overall, this is a world class Porter. I'd gladly recommend this brew. (653 characters)

Photo of breadwinner
4.29/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Coffee lover's delight here, along with a healthy dollop of vanilla. I thought it got perhaps a touch heavy with the vanilla, but and it's definitely a sipper, but I think it'll probably right in a lot of people's wheelhouses. (226 characters)

Photo of JohnP
3.9/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Dark brown with a diminishing tan head and heavy lace. Big aromas of coffee and dark roasted malt. Light sweet start leading to coffee/espresso. Mild vanilla and hint of oak. Light lactose in the finish. Linger is fairly dry with a hint of bitterness. If you like strong coffee you should really like this one. Fairly smooth and a bit sticky at times. (352 characters)

Photo of don1481
4.31/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22 oz poured into pint.

Pours a dark jet black with a mocha head that leaves a nice amount of lacing on the glass. Smells like a strong coffee with a hint of vanilla. Tastes like a strong coffee with a bit more vanilla. Mouthfeel is a bitter coffee taste, but not over the top. Alcohol is well hidden. I'll get more of this. (328 characters)

Photo of bassboneman
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I love this porter...
I am drinking it from the bottle...I know...bad me!
This is such a delicious beer!
It is sweet and savory and so full of beery wonderful-ness...
I will comment futher once I can get this beer into the proper vessel...
If you can find this brew - get it!
Up yours!

Sam (290 characters)

Photo of keithmurray
4.74/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - dark brown nearly black beer with dark khaki head

Smell - coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate

Taste - much the same as the aroma, coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate, roasted malts, molasses

Mouthfeel - full bodied, medium carbonation, sweetness upfront from the vanilla, coffee makes its presence known, hint of bitterness to try and balance things, flavors linger a good amount

Overall - this is a top notch imperial porter, very sweet upfront, teeters on the edge of cloying without ever going there. Porter and stout fans should be sure to try this

Price Point - $2.99/12 oz single (597 characters)

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