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

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

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,163 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,163
Hads: 5,655
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 949
Gots: 1,587 | FT: 108
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

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

Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,163 | Hads: 5,655
Photo of armock
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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 (792 characters)

Photo of Pahn
3.97/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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. (2,558 characters)

Photo of Cylinsier
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 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. (578 characters)

Photo of teamizm
3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Dark brown with minimal head that quickly recedes.

S - Roasted coffee, burnt chocolate, rummy, and a shitload of vanilla

T - Vanilla, coffee, chocolate, roasted malts.

M - More thinner and carbonated than i expected.

O - Great porter. I say great PR/marketing by the Ballast Point team not to call this a RIS because as a RIS this beer would be just ok. Don't you love the BJCP categories?? (401 characters)

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

Got this in from California last week and been wanting to try it.

Pours dark... like death dark with barely any brown around the edges.

Smell is intense; there's a lot going on here. Tons of lavish mocha and sweet, roasty malt everywhere.

Taste is a whiplash of flavor. Upfront, there are small notes of vanilla and sweetness, then during the middle is a rush of dark mocha + chocolate flavors. The tail leaves with the darkest and most intense of flavor. I love how this beer fades from light sweetness to extreme dark flavor.

Mouthfeel is full throughout.

This is a superb beer, and I wish it was more readily available up here. (635 characters)

Photo of IronCitySteve
4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep dark brown almost black color with no light coming through. Provides a thick brown foam head with excellent retention. Lots of lacing down the sides.

S: Ample amounts of sweet vanilla, chocolate, sugar with a small undertone of roasted coffee. Scents are quite potent.

T: Starts of rich and creamy and smooth. Lots of vanilla and chocolate blended nicely and not overly sweet. In the middle some mild undertones of roasted coffee that balance out the sweetness. The back end finishes with a rich deep roasted black coffee taste with some burnt wood and alcohol. The alcohol is not hot but slightly noticeable.

M: A nice rich full bodied beer. Nice amount carbonation. Leaves a roasted coffee taste on the palate that lingers for a long time.

O: This is a fantastic porter. Very complex with a lot going on but it is quite balanced. There is just a tad hint of alcohol but it is no means hot. Definitely a beer you must try if you enjoy imperial porters. (975 characters)

Photo of Jazzcrop
4.29/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tastes are, well, here ya go: vanilla extract (from the bottlem of course), darkly-roasted coffee beans, dark and white chocolates, dust, musty hops, roasted barley, green tea, real boozy goodness, marmalade, inverted sugars, saffron, some funk and spice. (255 characters)

Photo of Duff27
4.38/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Pours dark brown with an inch tall mocha head. Great lacing and head retention, especially given the style. I received the second half of this bomber and it contained a chocolate worm-like protein creature...I'm going to have nightmares for days.

S- Vanilla whiffs.

T- The vanilla is abundant, not quite cloyingly though. Very sweet. Nice chocolate and coffee notes as well.

M- Thick(!) and creamy mouthfeel. Good carbonation.

D/O- Overall this was a pleasure to try. For fans of huge vanilla/chocolate flavors. Over the top...but in a good way. Would seek out again. Thanks to the guy who traded me for this at Dark Lord Day! (633 characters)

Photo of ummswimmin
4.83/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

It was kind of weird opening an imperial porter, but I read on BA that this is not a cellaring beer. I picked this up a few weeks ago as a "find" in a great store an hour away from home.

I really like Ballast Point, as I used to live three blocks from their brew maker store. Since then I moved a little bit... to New Jersey. Every time I see a Ballast Point, I have to pick up a bottle.

I never had this beer before... so this should be a nice adventure.

I poured a bomber into a pint glass. There was a nice, brown two finger head. The beer is a very dark color, and I can not see through it (as you would expect from an imperial porter). The foam had a creamy consistency.

Off the pour I got the coffee and vanilla coming off the top. It was nice to get the vanilla scent from the beer.

The taste is luxurious. The vanilla and coffee balance really well. The coffee is not overwhelming, and I can taste the vanilla in each drink. The backend of each drink brings in the porter flavor. The aftertaste keeps the same flavors, and neither comes through.

This is an excellent beer. I thoroughly recommend it for anybody. (1,127 characters)

Photo of BarrytheBear
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle courtesy of a good trader....thank you Ryan. Also shared with the father-in-law over the weekend. I am happy with his progress :)

Pours black with crimson highlights and a sparse white webbing along the surface and a thin white collar. She looks the part.

Rich and sweet with the vanilla displayed prominently, though extract-ily. Dark chocolate and cola follow suit with some medium roast coffee lurking behind the curtains.

Thankfully, the coffee is far more dominant in the taste. Strong bitter roast envelops much of what follows. Vanilla and dark chocolate cloaked by coffee that hammers the palate. Roast is heavy with vanilla playing a twangy metallic along the way.

Heavy and lightly carbonated, this carries itself well.

In the end, this is a nice treat but not a beer to enjoy is quantity. Vanilla is tricky to pull off and when overdone tastes too metallic and, at times, fake. This beer plays with that line and borders on cloying after a few ounces. A great share with a group, but not an ever day drinker for this guy. (1,045 characters)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of ratedz
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to MrTopher for sending this my way...I have been wanting to try this for a long time. Thanks again, Chris!

A - Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with about an inch of light brown head. The head retention was fairly impressive and as it did subside, it left a lot of lacing on the glass.

S - Nose is full of coffee followed by some roasted malts and a little vanilla.

T - Some bitter coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and hints of vanilla. A little alcohol burn on the finish.

M - Fairly thick body, very creamy and smooth. Light carbonation, which feels perfect for this beer.

O - An excellent porter. Very smooth and easy to drink despite the 10% ABV. I would buy this fairly often if Ballast Point decided to send it the KS or MO. (752 characters)

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks Thickfreakness for the bottle!

A: A dark brown, almost black body, with a tan head and great lacing.

S: A nice and smooth nose of coffee & vanilla with a roasted malt background. Slightly boozy too.

T: Bitter coffee is the first flavor I taste, followed by some roasted dark chocolate malts and sweet vanilla. Very creamy with some caramel in there.

M: Although very smooth and creamy, the mouthfeel is a bit heavy like a stout; medium to full body; medium carbonation.

O: Really glad I got a bottle of this. Really good beer that I would love to get another one of. Definitely worth a try if you like coffee flavor brews. (634 characters)

Photo of beerfan99
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle consumed on 5/21/2011

A: Dark black in color and appears pretty thick. Standard pour created a lasting tall dark brown head.

S: Heavy coffee aroma at first, followed by the vanilla. Great combination. I kept trying to detect chocolate, but it did not happen.

T: Coffee and vanilla flavors mix well together. Balanced pretty well and masks the 10% alcohol. I liked the smell of the coffee and vanilla slightly better than it tasted.

M: A little thicker than medium bodied, but not as thick as an IRS. Alcohol is difficult to detect and is very easy to drink. Very smooth finish.

O: A solid coffee porter offering from Ballast Point and SoCal. This tasting review was for a bottle I picked up in San Francisco during beer week. Too bad this beer is not distributed to VA. Definitely a porter worth trying, if you have the chance. (844 characters)

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

Poured from bomber into a tulip glass. Pours black with a minimal khaki crown that shows little retention throughout the session. Aroma picks up loads of coffee and vanilla over a nicely roasted malt. Some chocolate makes an appearance but it’s more of a supporting role. Dry coffee and roasted malts flavors kick in along with some chocolate, leading the way to a bitter finish of roasted malts, coffee and vanilla. Medium to Thick bodied, good carbonation throughout and creamy! Great bold flavors! (502 characters)

Photo of UMNbeerhunter
4.63/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Darkness tulip on 6/10/11.

Poured like a can of oil leaving a frothy brown head that dissipates leaving a moderate to heavy lacing. Great color and nice head retention and lacing.

Smells of tons of coffee and vanilla and a bit of roasted malts. This is a great smelling brew I just want to put my nose in it.

Taste is a mocha blend coffee at first and then the coffee flavor gives over to the vanilla shortly after. Tastes like a chocolate cake as it warms, very delicious.

Mouthfeel is moderate in weight. Almost no bite at all and the 10% ABV is unnoticeable. Resin coats the mouth and I continue to taste chocolate cake.

Overall this is one hell of a porter. Perfect balance of coffee and vanilla, and a total lack of ETOH burn is just awesome. This beer is awesome, go get it. (799 characters)

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

Vintage 2009

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

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

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

M: med mouth with med carbonation and very drinkable

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

Photo of seand
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep opaque black or near-black brown, with a fair amount of dense foamy head. What's there retains pretty well, and leaves very nice webs of lacing.

S: A huge, rich, and decadent mix of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt, with a touch of cherry. Smells like a freshly baked dessert pastry.

T: Quite sweet, with a nice roasted malt body. Finish has a light coffee bitterness. It's like your dessert with coffee, all in one!

M: Rich and full bodied, with medium carbonation.

Overall it's extremely well done. It's very rich, but nicely put together, rather than just a straight up malt bomb. (615 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.38/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A black liqueur of a beer.

Nice to look at, with a topping of beige-tinted foam. Pleasant enough carbonation. Intense flavors. Hot with alcohol and tastes like rum, with a dollop of Bailey's Cream. Hops are a good touch and cut the sweet maltiness, leaving a bitter aftertaste. I just keep thinking of those flavored instant coffees.

I guess this boils down to whether you like coffee and ice cream in your beer. Maybe for dessert with a piece of angel food cake. (465 characters)

Photo of Soonami
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ballast Point Victory at Sea is a beer I've been hearing and reading about for almost as long as I've been a BA. This is a beer that lives up to the expectations. A coffee vanilla imperial porter, it has lost of the things I like in a beer. The beer is almost motor oil black, with a thin layer of lacy bubbles and sticky clingy scuzz on the glass.

The beer smells deeply of coffee, although it doesn't smell like the freshest coffee with a bit of acridity. The sweet chocolate and malt flavors carry through to give VaS a distinctly beery aroma. The hops provide only bitterness, but the coffee is very assertive up front with syrupy caramel flavors and a warming vanilla sweetness in the finish.

Tasty beer with a great integration of ingredients that match well. (767 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.03/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Victory At Sea, finally got to buy a bottle at, huh, don't remember? Either Wegman's in Princeton or Oak Tree in South Plainfield, both in New Jersey.

Appearance: Served in my Sierra snifter, Victory At Sea pours thick and creamy, producing an exuberant mocha-colored head that dies soon. Bubbles, a rim around the glass and some of the grandest lacing I've ever seen remain throughout, though.

Smell: Coffee, some bourbon and/or barreled liquor. Lots of vanilla, but sort of a fake vanilla scent, like liquid Mexican vanilla. Not bad but could be better (like Goose Island Bourbon Vanilla- pure vanilla pods). Some wood too.

Taste: More vanilla, again sort of fake but pleasant anyway. Gourmet coffee at the end, and liquid sugar. Some wood and smoke. Nice, but not terribly complex. And that "fake" vanilla buggers me a bit. Nice dry hoppiness at the end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy overall. VERY smooth indeed. Medium-to-full body, full flavor, medium (and very appropriate) carbonation. Dry woodsy finish. Elements of bourbon.

Overall: For a porter, this is superb. If it were an Imperial Stout (which, at 10%, it kind of should), then it might not be so great. Drinkable, smooth, balanced, never boozy. Not terribly interesting but very pleasant. The fake vanilla aroma/taste bothers me a little, but it doesn't hurt this overall good brew. Would love to try on tap and/or cask. (1,393 characters)

Photo of justintcoons
4.85/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours pitch black with a massive fluffy, tan head leaving behind excellent lacing.

N: Coffee, caramel, milk chocolate with subtle vanilla and booze.

T: Smooth dark roast coffee, French vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, caramel, molasses and maybe some dark fruit and oak. There are notes of floral hops in the finish.

M: Silky, smooth and decadent!

O: Dangerously drinkable and delicious! Nicely balanced flavors. Hands down, the best porter I’ve ever had. (463 characters)

Photo of plumcrazyfx
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark black with a 3/4" tan head. Smells of dark roast coffee and a little bit of sweet vanilla. Taste is heavy on the bitter coffee with a bit of smooth vanilla, round sweetness, and just a smooth, smooth enveloping finish. The coffee may be the best I've ever had in a beer - most coffee in beers have an oxidized metalic taste like it's been on the warmer in the break room too long. Not here, this is smooth velvety coffee and a round long, though quite bitter flavor, but with a little bit of a fizzy carbonation that accentuates the bitterness on the very back of the outside of the tongue and a little round vanilla/chocolate smoothness. The carbonation and medium, slightly viscous feel is perfect for the beer. This is the best porter?!?! I've ever had. I don't know if I'd really call it a porter due to the heavier mouthfeel and coffee - it's kinda stoutlike. Whatever it is it's a supreem beer and one that I'll be seeking more of. (956 characters)

Photo of theghost3
4.44/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep mahogany with a 3-finger fallow-colored head. A ring stays throughout with moderate lacing.

The smell is robust coffee and vanilla with toasted malts & slightly boozy scent. The taste is bitter, quality coffee with some caramel and burnt malts. Coffee gets more intense as the temperature rises. Mouthfeel is carbonated, medium-bodied. Just below a stout in terms of thickness.

This is a drinkable imperial porter. Expect an intense coffee character and an ABV that wields quite a punch. I really enjoyed it. (524 characters)

Photo of morimech
3.77/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chocolate color with two fingers of mocha colored head that had good retention before settling to a thin cap. Moderate amount of sticky lacing is left on the glass.

Intriguing aroma of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and a slight hint of alcohol.

Unfortunately the alchol that was detected in the aroma comes out fully in the flavor. A little hot. Other flavors include bitter coffee and chocolate. A lot of dark malt flavor.

The alcohol hurts the body by making it seem thinner than it really is. Nicely carbonated.

Did not quite live up to my expectations. Just too much booziness. (589 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,163 ratings.