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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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1,195 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,195
Hads: 5,819
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 984
Gots: 1,663 | FT: 96
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: 1,195 | Hads: 5,819
Photo of marieli
3.83/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle. Dark in color, close to black, with dark tan head. Vanilla was lead aroma followed by some coffee, but coffee was the more dominant taste. The vanilla showed up more in taste as the beer warmed, but this is first and foremost a coffee porter, with a slight manageable bitterness. Smooth, some creaminess, closer to medium than thin. Started this at 48 degrees, maybe we should have started warmer given the alcohol content? A good beer, but honestly, my expectations were higher based on BA and RB ratings. Given the flavor profile, I think I'd rather have a stout. If I want a big alcohol porter, I'd go with something along the line of Black Butte XXV.

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Photo of ranger7
4.7/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

L: Terrific. Black body, tan head with good retention. Great lacing.
S: Sweet vanilla and coffee beans.
T: Coffee. Vanilla. Roasted chocolate aftertaste. Nice.
F: Medium to light. Good for a Porter.
O: This packs a punch! 10 ABV is no joke and this brew hides it well. Great coffee and vanilla flavors. One of my new favorite Porters.

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Photo of LancetherealLeader
4.63/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Wow! This is my first time drinking this and it blows every other porter I've had out of the water! It looks like a stout and has an unbelievably rich taste. The coffee and vanilla really compliment each other in this one. I will definitely have to try this one again. Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a tulip glass.

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

A: pitch black pour with a decent amount of head
S: smells very sweet with strong notes of coffee and vanilla
T: tastes very creamy with vanilla and coffee flavors mixed in
M: very smooth with mild carbonation, syrupy like
O: well balanced among the flavor profiles and has a superb aroma, very good porter!

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Photo of ThisWangsChung
4.12/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Re-review! 12 oz bottle into a teku.

Appearance: Pours a pitch-black color. The head is two fingers high and tan in shade. While the retention isn't stunningly long, it features a great texture. Decent amounts of lacing stick to my glass. (4)

Smell: The coffee notes are great - and so are the vanilla notes. These two elements combine together beautifully, and that's before I mention the aromas of chocolate, gingerbread, and graham cracker coming through. It's like the best damn latte in the world... (4.5)

Taste: Vanilla is stronger on the taste, especially on the initial flavors. Coffee gently crescendos on the finish. I also get a lot of chocolate, cream, and gingerbread in particular (I'd even call this brew a little spicy). 10%? Not here. Not at all. The vanilla is a touch strong for me, but the craftsmanship of this brew is spectacular. (3.75)

Mouthfeel: Fairly light on the palate, but also rich as well. Its residual sweetness is concealed extremely well. Just like the flavor profile (didn't) reveal, there isn't a hint of booze anywhere. Carbonation helps it go down far more easily than it should. (4.5)

Overall: When I first tried this, I liked it, but I never fully 'got' it. It's a great beer, but it's close to what I remembered - it has a bit too much vanilla for my tastes. This isn't a dismissal of this offering, just a subjective bugaboo. Objectively, this is a top-caliber imperial porter. A must have beer, especially now that's it in 6 packs. (4.25)

4.12/5: A vanilla lover's delight

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Photo of Gregaroo
4.64/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

Hello! TRIA Rittenhouse has this on tap. Great pour with 1/2 inch head in the tall stem tulip glass. Quick swirl and the head reappears. Close your eyes and remember when your Grandma put an extra drop or two of vanilla in whatever she was baking. That is this porter. I love you, Grandma.

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Photo of Ian_B
4.16/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black as the ocean's void at nighttime. Billowing, rocky brown head; large bubbles like swiss cheese. Great retention and lacing.

Smells strongly of chocolate malt and just enough coffee, with the vanilla fairly forward but blending beautifully into the roasty sweetness.

Taste is very well-balanced. Sweet, with vanilla-laced chocolate up front, followed by coffee and roasted malt with a perfect amount of acidity/bitterness to balance the (unknowably deep) sweetness. Long, lingering, and evolving flavour profile.

Overall, this is a fantastic "Imperial Porter." Thick and deliciously syrupy, this has the flavour of a stout. The chocolate and vanilla seems like they may be too sweet at the beginning of each sip, but are so wonderfully balanced by coffee and roasted malt acidity/salinity that you would have a hard time pinning this beer at 10% ABV.

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Photo of mjpolzin
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I love coffee beers. I think it is because of that then that I don't rank some of them very high because I have such big expectations.

After Ballast Point started showing up in Wisconsin, I found myself liking them a little more after each new beer I had. Victory at Sea helped raise my love for Ballast Point as this was one of the better coffee beers I have ever had.

The coffee was very strong and front and center without being overpowering. The vanilla added a nice sweet compliment as sometimes coffee beers will taste like nothing but coffee. The booze was noticeable but smooth. I look forward to drinking this again.

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Photo of RCM505
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Finally had the 12oz bottle. Always loved this beer....new label too :-)

Nice....Black and black! Nose is all vanilla. taste is mad vanilla with coffee and chocolate; body is sexy; nice and wholesome...Renaissance

All fun aside...this is one of the best out there.

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Photo of Eman17
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Dark black with tints of brown when held up to light. A solid finger head with a nice tan color that dissipated pretty quickly.

S: Beautiful, reminded me a lot of the '14 BCBCS, tons of coffee, chocolate, malts, very roasty. Not too much vanilla going on.

T: It didn't hold up as well as I thought it would considering the aromas but still very good. Obviously very malty, tons of coffee with some chocolate. Not getting much vanilla at all but hints came as it warmed. Also, a slight bitterness with the finish.

M: Very nice, not too heavy or too light, with light carbonation.

O: Very nice porter, the aromas are fantastic but had me overly ecstatic for the beer. Great coffee flavors despite not getting too much vanilla. Overall a very good coffee porter.

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Photo of LazyBas7ard
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Delicious! If you love stouts you will thoroughly enjoy this one. Drink this at a warmer temp, a guy told me 55 degrees so I just let it sit for 45 minutes (after refrigeration). It has a delicious taste, smooth on the pallet, and had a feel that warms the soul; close your eyes next sip if you don't believe me. Can't find a flaw in the taste, color, nor feel. Great beer, new personal favorite!

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Photo of Sandalwood
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2015 - Pours a very dark brown to black color with a huge three finger tannish head. There is quite a bit of lacing. The aroma is huge, coffee, roasted malts, bitter chocolate, vanilla, nutty, creamy, cinnamon, nutmeg. The taste up front is creamy vanilla, coffee, toffee, bitter chocolate, roasted malts, bitter dry on the back end.

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Photo of Brackh
4.64/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Great beer! Pours dark with a tan head. Smells like roasted coffee with a little bit of sweetness. This beer has all of the great taste of coffee without too much bitterness. You can taste that it has been roasted well. Coffee is up front but you can catch the vanilla too. Well balanced. Not overly watered down like lots of porters. Damn good beer.

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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 argock
4.31/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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Photo of 57md
4.09/5  rDev -6.2%
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.

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Photo of timontheroad
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

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Photo of Mdog
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
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!

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Photo of CHickman
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Photo of SierraFlight
4.66/5  rDev +6.9%
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.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
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.

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Photo of Phigg1102
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
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.

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Photo of Beer-A-Lot
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
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.

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Photo of digitalflood
3.57/5  rDev -18.1%
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.

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Photo of ZebraCakez
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
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.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,195 ratings.