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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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

3,710 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,710
Reviews: 917
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 8.88%
Wants: 658
Gots: 698 | FT: 56
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
"Imperial Porter"

(Beer added by: radshoesbro on 03-17-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,710 | Reviews: 917 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of amphion1065
amphion1065

Massachusetts

2.93/5  rDev -33.3%

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.

09-03-2011 21:26:04 | More by amphion1065
Photo of ehammond1
ehammond1


4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

On Tap (2010)

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

(Aged 1 year)

Jet black, shiny, with a thin light brown cap. Sheets of lacing down the glass. Thick and menacing.

Roasted malt, lots and lots of rich coffee, and some faint vanilla round out the nose. Complete and decadent aroma.

The flavors are a wrestling match between the rich, creamy, yet bitter coffee, and sweet, earthy vanilla. It's a wonderful wrestling match I'm happy to referee. Delicious, and in my opinion, better than the barrel aged nitro version.

Medium to thick bodied.

A vibrant, delicious, balanced, big, big stout. Lots of vanilla, coffee, and roast battle it out big time--good thing they're all delicious.

08-24-2011 19:51:48 | More by ehammond1
Photo of Wadsey
Wadsey

Indiana

3.58/5  rDev -18.5%

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. 

08-09-2011 05:19:29 | More by Wadsey
Photo of Chriscrundwell12
Chriscrundwell12

Minnesota

4.38/5  rDev -0.2%

22 0z bottle poured into a Darkness snifter.

A- One finger tan head dissipates quickly decent lacing, dark black, when held up to the light you cannot see through it.
S- Big coffee/espresso aroma, nice chocolate aroma as well, nice roasted notes, roasted malts.
T- Every sip is really smooth, the coffee flavor is delicious with hints of chocolate and vanilla, very balanced.
M- Medium/big, perfect amount of carbonation for this beer, a bit sticky, really smooth velvety finish.
O- Really impressed with this beer, huge coffee presence that goes down very smooth. This is a very tasty easy drinking brew, really impressed.

08-09-2011 04:38:46 | More by Chriscrundwell12
Photo of Bubba83
Bubba83

California

4.75/5  rDev +8.2%

Poured my last bottle of the most recent batch that made it up to the Bay Area probably 7-8 months ago. Poured into a tulip at about 50 degrees.

Poured with a good two fingers of tan, espresso like head, super fine, can't even really see the bubbles in the head at all. The body of the beer itself is completely opaque, even when held to a light source. The retention is not great, but the small ring of head does maintain itself rather nicely. Lacing is a lot better than when I've had it on tap.

Wow, the aromas wafting out of the glass are completely ridiculous. Hardcore coffee with some vanilla and a whole lot of dark chocolate. There's quite a lot of roast too. Undeniably amazing smell here. Every time I revisit this beer I expect it to underwhelm for some reason and every single time it impresses instead, especially in this department.

Tastes great too, everything from the smell, and aging this bottle a good number of months seems to have balanced out the normally rather heavy hand of vanilla into a nice balance with the coffee. This beer should theoretically be sweeter than I like, but there's such a good amount of roast that counterbalances the somewhat faded vanilla to make a delicious treat. Little to no alcohol flavor at all, little to no hop presence.

The mouthfeel is as good as it gets, a perfect consistency. The carbonation level is pretty mellow and just perfect for the style. Feels full in body and velvety in the mouth, can't be improved.

Overall this is just such a foreign experience from beginning to end. It's hard to explain because other breweries have used these types of ingredients in their beers, but nothing quite tastes like this one. The vanilla and coffee are at the forefront, but in a very nice balance, especially when aged for a little bit. I don't know how a company that can make such fantastic IPAs can also score such a success with a malt-dominant beer, but they do. Hats off to Ballast Point.

08-06-2011 07:42:37 | More by Bubba83
Photo of SkiBum22
SkiBum22

New York

4.47/5  rDev +1.8%

A - Very opaque, can't see any light through it. One finger light brown, mocha colored head. Decent head for such a strong beer.

S - Big coffee, vanilla and roasted malt notes off the bat. A little caramel too. I get a little of the alcohol but not too much.

T - Up front some very nice caramel notes, some breadiness, and some dark fruits. On the back end big roasted coffee notes and a lot of vanilla. The vanilla and the coffee play very well of each other.

M - Very creamy and smooth. A tiny alcohol burn. But overall a great mouthfeel for a porter.

O - This is my favorite porter by far. I wish Ballast Point released it more often.

08-04-2011 13:24:51 | More by SkiBum22
Photo of stxSS07
stxSS07

Illinois

4.35/5  rDev -0.9%

22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip. Split with lookitsmp

A- Pours a near-black with a 1 finger espresso-colored head that hangs around forever. Leaves great lacing and nice alcohol legs.

S- Sweet vanilla notes and a huge coffee background. Some roasted malts in there as well with a hint of booze.

T- Starts with huge waves of vanilla and coffee followed up by a roasted malt note and a small tinge a booze at the end. Fantastic.

M- Medium bodied with a nice amount of carbonation that lets the flavors linger just long enough.

O- The second best porter I've had behind Black Butte XXI. Amazing depth of flavors made possible by the contrasting vanilla/chocolate/coffee.

07-31-2011 02:57:44 | More by stxSS07
Photo of EgadBananas
EgadBananas

Louisiana

4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Big thanks to cbeer88 and Gushue3 for hooking me up!

This pours black as night, with a rich, foamy dark tan head of a finger +. Lacing is great and retention is very good. The aroma is intense! Raw coffee beans/black coffee is a huge contributor, along with big vanilla notes and and equally large roasted malt character. There's a slight char on the nose, some small contributions from chocolate and molasses. Tastes more like espresso, big woody vanilla notes, dark chocolate, huge roasted notes, slightly bittersweet to balance out the sweetness. Body is full, creamy and finishes clean, with only a bit of bittersweet linger. No alcohol to note in the aroma or taste, which adds to this already dangerously drinkable brew!

Fantastic. I've bought, traded for, eventually traded and extra'd each one of these that has crossed my path...absolutely wonderful to have finally cracked one for myself!

07-30-2011 13:09:21 | More by EgadBananas
Photo of AdamBear
AdamBear

Pennsylvania

4.9/5  rDev +11.6%

A-black with a thick tan head with good lacing

S-smells strong of creamy coffee. great smell.

T-oh boy oh boy...this comes in with a strong and unmistakable taste of vanilla and coffee. its a great full flavored taste that lasts and becomes an after-taste almost as strong as the initial hit...and it lasts for a long time. this beer is beautiful. i'm really impressed that the vanilla really comes through in this one. most beers i've experienced that claim to have vanilla don't have a lot of vanilla taste to them.

M-creamy medium carbonation with a good heavy finish

O-few beers do i want to savor as much as i wanted to savor this. i found myself so excited every time i went to take a sip....10% ??? i think not...it drinks more like 5%...this beer is just about everything you could ever want in your porter. i can't wait to find this again some day.

07-27-2011 04:37:26 | More by AdamBear
Photo of axeman9182
axeman9182

New Jersey

4.05/5  rDev -7.7%

22oz bottle from the generous BA Soonami. This one was allowed to warm a good bit before being poured into my Brooklyn Brewery tulip.

Victory at Sea pours a solid black, with a tan head that comes up to between two and three fingers in height. There's a decent amount of lacing left behind, and the foam takes its time in inching down the side of the glass. The nose is almost perfectly balanced. There's some sweet milk chocolate that's neck and neck with strong coffee in terms of flavors standing out. I think a lot of porters and stouts sometimes overdo it on roasty grain notes, but this beer is notable for it's pretty much complete lack of any. I actually wish there was a little bit of roast to give the nose more of an edge, but that's really nitpicking. That superior balance isn't found in the flavor, for the most part. Coffee jumps out and dominates any chocolaty notes on my palate. As the beer finishes approaching room temperature, the coffee and vanilla bean influences finally begin to even out again, but it's a bit too late to make this a truly great beer. The carbonation is appropriately subdued, but I expect a rich and full body from a 10% porter, and this one just doesn't deliver on that front. Victory at Sea is a very good beer, and one that I would gladly come back to, but it's just a step below true greatness.

07-24-2011 03:17:50 | More by axeman9182
Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
4DAloveofSTOUT

Illinois

4.28/5  rDev -2.5%

Got this awesome beer from Beerdy. Thanks Brien! can't wait to try this beer!

Poured into a tulip.

Appearance: Dark black beer with a dark mocha brown head. Super thick lacing sticks on side of the glass and a thick cap of tiny yet dense bubbles remains on top this awesome looking brew.

Smell: Roasty malts and massive coffee aromas. The vanilla is still pretty easy to find, but is not a strong as the coffee.

Taste: Upfront you get a strong coffee taste that has a bite to it. The bitterness recedes about mid taste and vanilla takes over; it is subtle yet still has a nice sweetness to balance the coffee. Milk chocolate, mild booze, and a mild bitterness returning in the finish.

Mouthfeel: This is a huge porter! Medium bodied beer with a silky feel to it. I am really amazed at just how well this beer has held up the carbonation is spot on for a porter! The vanilla accents the booze in the beer and the beers has a slightly boozey bite. I wonder what this beer was like fresh. It is a well made beer!

Overall: This is without a doubt the best Ballast Point beer that I have had! This is the only bottle of this beer that I have; looks like I will be trading to get more! Everything is really nice in this porter; great balance without any ingredients overpowering the other and I still has a bite. Which shows me this beers is still a bad ass!

07-21-2011 22:10:53 | More by 4DAloveofSTOUT
Photo of Knapp85
Knapp85

Pennsylvania

4/5  rDev -8.9%

This beer poured out as a thick black looking brew. I was pretty surprised because I would have said this was a stout just by looking at it. The smell of the beer was roasted with a few faint notes of vanilla. The taste of the beer was full of coffee flavors with a subtle aftertaste of vanilla dryness. The mouthfeel is lighter than I thought it'd be judging by the look of the beer. Overall though, I think this beer is quite good. I would drink this one again if I happen to stumble upon it.

07-18-2011 21:01:50 | More by Knapp85
Photo of thedindaniel
thedindaniel

California

4.08/5  rDev -7.1%

I've had this beer many times now but recently snatched up a bottle since it's been months from the last time I've seen it. Beer is a very dark brown, almost black with off white lacing, good amount of head but not very foamy. Scent is strong coffee beans with a hint of vanilla sweetness. Taste is very similar to scent but is dominated by a combo ofthe coffee, hop bitterness and the roasted malts, vanilla is present and tho not overwhelming seems to shine in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel has a nice amount of carbonation and the beer has a medium body, could be heavier for my tastes but doesn't hurt the beer, probably helps with the drinkability.

Overall, this beer is a great after dinner sipper. I can see myself drinking this by the fireplace around the holidays. Wish it was cheaper but understand why it isn't what with Ballast Point using coffee from a reputable local cafe and real vanilla. Seek it out if you haven't had it and hold on to a few when u need a break from the loved ones in the winter.

07-18-2011 05:27:20 | More by thedindaniel
Photo of azdback
azdback

Arizona

4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Poured into my large tulip. Not quite black, but extremely dark brown. A few hints of highlight around the edges. Gorgeous two fingers of cappuccino foam head. Lace is almost a solid sheet.

Smells like roasted coffee and vanilla with light notes of chocolate. A little bit of roasted barley. Not a whiff of booze, which is hard to believe at 10% ABV.

Tastes like coffee. I should have cracked this one at about 7AM and enjoyed it with some eggs benedict. There is definitely a lot of vanilla, and some sweet brown sugar. The roasted malts serve as a nice backbone, and really say that this is a porter. Very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is very rich and creamy and way closer to a stout or even an imperial stout than a porter. The ABV is well masked. There is a slight dryness at the end.

Overall, this must be the 7th or 8th one I have had this year. I cracked it because there have been some posts saying that the flavors are fading. I have to say they have a bit, but not to the point that I had to drink it before it turned into Black Butte. I can't wait for the next release to compare this to what I remember, and I might even age one for a year or more.

07-17-2011 05:53:32 | More by azdback
Photo of pmarlowe
pmarlowe

District of Columbia

4.63/5  rDev +5.5%

2010 bottling. Tulip glass.

Some days, you just need a victory... at sea. Pours a viscous very dark coffee brown with about a half finger of dark khaki foam. No lacing; retention is about as good as to be expected. Smell is a melange of vanilla and creamy caramel, cream, roasted malt, and I'm getting a distinct aroma of french toast (cinnamon and a crisp, burnt toasty note). Taste is a rich caramel, vanilla, kind of a spicy chocolate, roasted/smoked malt, and slight coffee bitter finish. Dry. Coffee has mostly faded by this point, but the remaining flavors are still delicious. The flavors are well balanced here, and for better or worse the vanilla is on the subtle end. Carbonation is soft and on the medium-light end; perfect. Overall, this is a super tasty porter, balanced, subtle, and very drinkable. It's a different beast aged than fresh, when the coffee is still prominent.

I think Ballast Point should be commended for the awesome name and artwork. A real contrast to their year-round offerings. They should replace the fish motif with more pirate themes.

07-14-2011 05:50:24 | More by pmarlowe
Photo of Treebs
Treebs

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Poured from a bomber into my Founders snifter. Split the bottle with my old man during the Homerun Derby.

A: Pours a very dark brown, almost black with a wonderful bubble dark brown head. Leaves some wonderful sheet lace behind with some bubbles trying to to keep the head afloat.

S: Big dark coffee beans. Roasted to the point where it's almost slighty burnt and bitter, but in a good way. Some slight dark chocolate notes are present as well.

T: Big coffee right up front. That same REALLY toasted flavor is even more present, but after the initial assault on the taste buds it makes way for some light sweet chocolate and vanilla. I'm also picking up a burnt sugar/caramel flavoring as well.

M: Medium to heavy bodied, almost chewy in nature. Leaves a great roasted coffee bean flavor with a mild sweetness on the tongue. Leaves an oily feeling on the palate which is highly enjoyable as it allows the taste to linger LONG after I've swallowed this black gold.

O: I'm becoming more and more a fan of brews with heavy coffee flavorings and this might be one of favorites. It's not as balanced as others I've had, but it's still a wonderfully crafted brew and I would LOVE to try this on draft.

07-12-2011 01:21:08 | More by Treebs
Photo of ChugginOil
ChugginOil

Illinois

4.43/5  rDev +0.9%

Thanks to GallowsThief for the trade!

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Maudite snifter

Pours a black color with 2 fingers of a mocha colored head.

The nose is sweet and malty. Chocolate, molasses, and vanilla stand out the most here. A bit of coffee lingers behind the rich cocoa and vanilla beans. It smells like a damn fine dessert, waiting for me to devour. Roasty beast for sure. The taste is much the same as the nose but a bit stronger. The chocolate stands out the most and is followed by vanilla and a bit of coffee that wasnt so easily discovered in the nose. A nice mixture of the flavors that play off each other quite nicely. The mouthfeel is full-bodied and beastly to say the least. A nice smooth oily liquid feels great on my palate and I cant put down my glass. Overall, this is a great brew here that creates pretty good balance throughout and has a bad-ass flavor profile. Boom!

07-11-2011 04:36:02 | More by ChugginOil
Photo of biegaman
biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.93/5  rDev +12.3%

As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so very different ingredients have led to this masterful creation. The coffee, however, undoubtedly, looks the most prominent. Victory At Sea is black and no light, no matter how bright, can change that fact. The head, once it casts its net, holds on to the glass forever.

Coffee, roasted malt and vanilla are all equally proportioned in the aroma and, I have to admit, I love them all equally - now I know how difficult a question it is for a parent to choose their favourite child. A scent like this makes you wonder why anyone bothers to barrel-age their stouts when they could achieve better results just adding coffee and vanilla.

Victory At Sea has the kind of profound, enduring, distinguished flavour that is so rich and intense it can be summoned days later. It is monumental. Not an aspect overlooked: lush vanilla bean, decadent chocolate cake, strong coffee, nuttiness, zesty hops and roasted malts. Starbucks could sell just this and be equally as popular and successful.

There are some things about this beer that cannot be overstated, one being how decadently, gratifyingly delicious it is. Another is how well the charred coffee is integrated with lusciously sweet vanilla. From a technical standpoint, the beer is near flawlessly engineered: bitter balances sweet and clean drinkability compensates for over-the-top richness.

One thing is for sure: my mouth and stomach are having a much more enjoyable time with this than my liver probably is. At 10% alcohol, this is surely one of the silkiest, most sensual double-digit strength beer I've had the pleasure of drinking. You'd never catch on if you weren't told. Calorie-counters would know better, but even they'd agree it's worth it.

Ballast Point is as constant as the North Star when it comes to putting out well-crafted, full-character, premier beers but this is not only arguably their greatest offering, but perhaps one of the best America has to offer up as well. Few beers this dark, this big and this rich could be this agreeably delicious and easily enjoyed. I'd swim across the sea if that's what it took to get another bottle. A special thanks to Ultraman9000 for this one!

07-07-2011 01:13:38 | More by biegaman
Photo of rlee1390
rlee1390

Indiana

4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Received in a beer trade, poured into a snifter.

A-Dark motor oil black, creamy brown heady that leaves some lacing.

S-Coffee and Roasted malt, not picking up the vanilla though.

T-Mainly coffee and roasted malt. Some vanilla is in there as well. However it really needs just a tad bit more vanilla to be perfect. Some bitterness in the finish but not much.

M-Heavy, syrupy with some carbonation.

O-A solid beer, but when Vanilla is in the title, I would like to see a tad bit more for my tastes. Still a great beer that I'm glad was included in the trade.

07-06-2011 16:44:55 | More by rlee1390
Photo of drewba
drewba

Illinois

4.68/5  rDev +6.6%

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.

07-01-2011 05:02:17 | More by drewba
Photo of marvin213
marvin213

North Carolina

4.58/5  rDev +4.3%

I don't really know how a porter could look better. Black as the pitch, it's the frothy, teeny-tiny bubbled tan froth that makes this liquid concoction appear so scintillating. The froth layers the glass each swirl, and it beckons. This beer looks like it came from Starbucks!

Served warm, I do indeed get the coffee, the vanilla, and the oh-so-lovely roasted malt presence on the nose. Wonder what this one would be like thru a vanilla bean randall. Oh how I'd love to try some of the crazy variations listed here on BA!

Served warm, that initial sip (gulp, really) comes through a little hot...I love it, and it tastes imperial! Not sure about the coffee--it should shine through a little better. Some original Dunkin Donuts or some Jittery Joe's (Terrapin WnB) would be a marked improvement. With a flavor like vanilla, I'm like always wanting more. What if they went tequila-style and replaced the worm w/ a big ol fat vanilla bean? I'd eat the bean for sure...especially sine the beer would cost $10 more! Really, though, this is an exemplary American Porter and a sure winner with any beer lover!

The feel is smooth, but more viscosity wouldn't hurt. What about a creamy Victory at Sea on a nitro pour? Thru a vanilla bean
randall? This beer is a medium/additive for all things good. It would be delicious as a substitue for gravy on my morning biscuits. :-0 Overall, it's just great! This is a classic brew that's always worth grabbing, and it represents some of the wonderfulness that is American craft beer!

Editor's note: I have never used so many exclamation points in a single beer review...!

06-24-2011 19:36:16 | More by marvin213
Photo of clegolfski
clegolfski

Ohio

4.55/5  rDev +3.6%

Fun Tasting at Jay's

Super black black with creamed coffee head, not great retention.

Big time carmelly vanilla really good coffee with a flavor shot

Acrid coffee up front and fades into Vanilla deliciousness

smooth and sexy with a nice warming at the end

06-19-2011 18:06:57 | More by clegolfski
Photo of armock
armock

New York

4.5/5  rDev +2.5%

Bottle from Perry's Liquor in Livermore, CA.

A - Poured a black color with a brown head that leaves lacing behind

S - Is of roasted malt that gives off coffee scents along with vanilla and as it warms the vanilla gets stronger

T - Starts off with some roastiness and coffee upfront then the vanilla comes out and sweetens things up a bit there's a little bit of alcohol that comes out in the finish

M - This beer has a fuller body with medium carbonation to it

O - This is one of the best tasting beers that I've had in a while now the coffee and vanilla flavors blend perfectly the mouthfeel is wonderful I'm not going to have any problem finishing this bomber while to me its no longer a porter and more of a double stout I'll let that slide and say this is one of those must try beers

06-17-2011 00:16:55 | More by armock
Photo of Pahn
Pahn

New York

3.93/5  rDev -10.5%

22oz bottle into Duvel tulip.

Appearance: Free pour yields a one and a half inch, frothy light tan head that sticks around a long time and leaves a tight arch of lacing when it goes. Pours solid black and leaves spots, lines, and large swatches of lacing.

Smell: From the bottle: black coffee. In the glass: same coffee, with some biscuity, bready aromas. Vanilla there too, though possibly imagined.

With warmth, a definite vanilla note emerges, along with a strong mocha coffee smell. Gets much more pastry like. Booziness heightens the smell... after awhile, the smell sort of settles into a constant mix of coffee/pastry/vanilla/liqueur goodness. Smells excellent.

Taste: Whoa, there's vanilla in there alright. First sip gives a strong hit of vanilla, leading to a tempering black coffee bitterness then roasted malt through the middle and finish. Long, hot aftertaste.

I'm not sold on the combination of coffee and vanilla here (and there's a smokiness there that hinders them both), but the proportion of coffee, vanilla, and porter flavors is perfect. Some great chocolate and cake notes come out in the long aftertaste.

The 4.0 I'm going to give this for taste feels a bit high. For me, this beer has several big flaws: the heat is too high and interferes with the flavor, the smoke/coffee/vanilla notes in the front don't compliment each other, and all of the non-aftertaste flavors are kind of garish. Still, the way each ingredient shines while still letting the strong, roasty porter underneath have a large role is very impressive, and some of the flavors in the aftertaste are excellent. I was going to give it a 3.5, but as I get deeper in the bottle the main flavors (which still don't *quite* work) are growing on me, so I'll give the 4.0.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied. A bit watery and sticky at the same time. Well carbonated, approaching over-carbonated. Very hot.

Overall: This beer is a bit of a conundrum for me. On the one hand, it's a major example of my main beer pet peeve: smelling better than it tastes. On the other, this beer smells so damn good I want to add overall points out of happiness that I get to smell it at all.

The flavor itself is a little confused, and I'm really not sold on it. Still, it's enjoyable as it goes, and it's a well-crafted beer. I think the flaws I find in the mouthfeel might be pretty subjective, me-oriented preference things as well. All this apologist stuff said, I still won't be very tempted to buy this again, which is a clear indicator that the overall score needs to drop a bit.

06-16-2011 01:37:05 | More by Pahn
Photo of Cylinsier
Cylinsier

Pennsylvania

4.33/5  rDev -1.4%

22

Pours jet black with an inch of coffee-and-cream head, pretty decent retention.

Smells of roasted coffee, smokey flavors, caramel and vanilla.

Tastes bitterly smokey with roasted coffee at the forefront, followed by hints of vanilla and caramel.

Feels full and creamy with smooth carbonation on the back of the tongue.

Delicious, avoids the sometimes too-acidic flavor of some coffee porters and remains smooth and mellow. The smoked notes are a nice touch. Hides its abv pretty well though there may be a hint of warmth at the end. All in all, a really enjoyable brew.

06-15-2011 23:42:05 | More by Cylinsier
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 3,710 ratings.