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

Not Rated.
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,220 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,220
Hads: 5,929
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,006
Gots: 1,724 | FT: 91
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: 1,220 | Hads: 5,929
Photo of stakem
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

'09 bomber I purchased fresh that year it was released and completely forgot about it until today. Poured into a snifter, it appears dark brown in color with more than a finger of dark tan head. The cap recedes to a thin film across the top. A light swirl brings back a finger of dark khaki head. When held to the light, it shows some dark brown clarity around the edges with some indication of red through the body.

The smell includes everything you would expect based off of the aroma. Coffee, vanilla, roasty grain, chocolate and a bit of a citrus element that comes from a combination of hops and the citrus component of strong coffee. A little bit of mineral inclusion is present as well as a musty grain/coffee and sulfur inclusion towards the back. The more I smell this brew, the more it comes across like cocoa.

The taste of this brew is roasty initially that blends into a flavor of vanilla and coffee. The coffee is lightly musty and contains a bit of a citrus element. The roast is bitter and produces some unsweetened chocolate flavors. There is a bit of a mineral element present that blends into the citrus element of the hops and coffee. Each flavor is individually identifiable but collective comes together to make a fairly good brew.

This is a medium bodied brew with a modest level of carbonation. The 10% abv is felt with both flavor and warmth but it blends nicely with the character displayed throughout. Overall not a bad brew, this is something I wouldn't mind revisiting immediately after it's release to see how that coffee is while it is fresh.

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Photo of aorloski
3.76/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Drank at 9:30 am paired with vanilla yogurt and pomegranate granola

Appearance - incredibly viscous motor oil out of the bottle. Looks better than mosts stouts. this one poured vigoursly gave me a 2 finger mocha head that was fluffy.

Smell - Boozy, booze right up front that hides really great notes of coffee, vanilla and roasted malts.

Taste - Again, this one is a little hot and pretty booze forward. Incredibly sweet with not a ton of vanilla or coffee shining through but they are there. I was expecting more robust qualities of a porter mingled with vanilla and coffee, sounds better than executed.

Mouthfeel - Creamy as hell, silky and chewy.

Overall - A tad of a disappointment for me, wanted it to be more than it was probably, but still a very fine crafted brew regardless.

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Photo of ales4baldo
4.67/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

P-Being a metal fan i can really appreciate this image on the bottle. Nothing more hard core than a skeleton pirate captain.

A-Poured straight into a snifter glass. Poured out a little thin. Black as night. Really nice brown head with about a finger and a half. Looks delicious.

S-A really nice sweet coffee bean aroma. Makes me wanna drink this when i wake up. Lots of dark chocolate and subtle smoky flavors. The vanilla is in there but its a bit hidden.

T-Wow, really nice and robust. Lots of dark notes and smoke in this one. The vanilla sneaks in there quietly but adds a really nice sweetness. The alcohol presence on this one is remarkably strong. But it isnt overwhelming.

M-Draws very strong and robust. Really settles nicely and drinks easy. High carbonation and lots of flavor. The vanilla starts to kick it as it warms. Full bodied with a lot of charachter.

O-For being a beer that i really wanted to try i am impressed. Really smooth and very robust. Lots of flavors and warms up nicely. A very good beer.

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Photo of sweemzander
3.61/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks Beerwolf for another share!

(A)- Pours a pitch black. Some tan bubbles.

(S)- Some chalky cocoa and spicy pepper-like dusty funk.

(T)- Some nice vanilla with rich raisin, dusty cocoa, and caramel.

(M)- A mellow/smooth carbonation level. A nice balance albiet some chalky/dusty characters, but good.

(D)- A solid porter with some fun flavors, though a little weird smell-wise.

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

Have wanted to try this for quite a while; was finally able to score one in Ocean Beach, San Diego. Big shout out to Mike at Olive Tree Marketplace for hooking me up with some Pliny while I was there as well.

Enormous khaki colored head off the pour, resting atop a espresso colored brew. Complete sheet of lacing as the head dyes down, while still prominently retaining.

There's some massive vanilla notes on this, like that of vanilla creamer I put in my coffee every morning. To be honest, I can't get enough of it; awesome! Plenty of dark roasted malts as well, providing the usual coffee, chocolate background.

Tastes just as I had hoped, serious vanilla upfront that lingers throughout rather brilliantly. Some coffee like bitterness on the back end as well. But again, love the vanilla forward flavor on this.

Medium in body with plenty of carbonation. Slick, creamy and delicious.

Hands down, my favorite porter I've ever had. Can't even imagine how good the bourbon aged version is. I'm gonna need to homebrew a clone asap.

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Photo of projectflam86
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this as an extra from Plenum. Thanks for the brew!

22oz bomber poured into a tulip.

A- Pours a deep black color with a thick brown head that leaves great lacing. Nice rings of foam form all the way down.

S- Coffee leads the way in the nose with some roasted aromas and some bittersweet chocolate. The vanilla is there but the dark roasted coffee and malt aromas muscle it to the backseat.

T- Man, this baby throws it's weight around right from the start! Huge rush of roasted chocolate coffee beans and alcohol initially with some sweet vanilla and caramel flavors in the finish. Some light bitterness from the coffee helps to balance the sweetness throughout. As it warms, all of the flavors become more pronounced and the vanilla begins to shine.

M- Full bodied with creamy smooth carbonation. Very well integrated.

O- Really tasty stuff. I don't see a bottling date on this one, but I'm guessing it is relatively fresh considering the alcohol heat and sharp coffee flavor. This would probably age well enough, but I'm not sure that anyone should want to considering how nice the flavors come together fresh.

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Photo of CMB2012
4.2/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks go to Soonami for this one! Been sitting in the cellar for a few months. Poured into two stemless snifters at just above cellar temp. and shared with the lady.

A- Close to pitch black, you really have to search for any light coming through. Very nice and rich beige head that dissipates slowly. So far we are looking good.

S- Rich sweet malts with coffee in the background. I don't know for sure but I think this beer is around a year old. I've had it aging for at least 7 months and some of the coffee has faded. What is there smells good though, even if it is subtle. This mixes with a sweet vanilla and oat character, kinda like a sugar coated cereal. Finishes with that chocolate malted milk character I've come to love in a good porter.

T- Vanilla and roasted malts blend with some alcohol into coffee bitterness. Not as balanced as I would have hoped with the age and based on the aroma. I'm thinking either drinking fresh or waiting even longer might be the right decision here. Still it is good.

M- The mouth is great. Thick, creamy, somewhat viscous. Tight carbonation amounts to a fairly dry finish with some lingering sweetness. Slight alcohol burn on the end, but I expect this.

O- I would definitely like to try this beer fresh considering some of the flavors and aromas were muted. However, seeing as I only got one, I wanted to wait for the right time to drink it. I just finished my first semester of graduate school so I thought it was appropriate. It's a good porter and among the best I have had. I say try it if you can.

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Photo of Ungertaker
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Bomber poured into a Deschutes snifter.

S- Coffee, roasted malt, nuts, brown sugar

A- Deep black with a quickly-vanishing khaki head. A ring is left around the glass where the head once was. A bubbly lacing adheres to the glass with each sip.

T- Coffee hits immediately and remains throughout. It is accompanied at the front by a bitter dark chocolate that transitions to a sweeter, almost milk, chocolate with subtle hints of vanilla. Both the milk chocolate and vanilla dissipate, leaving a roasted coffee and hints of raisin at the finish.

M- On the thicker side of medium; a perfect consistency for a porter, IMHO. The carbonation is in the background throughout. 

O- Phenomenal! The balance and complexity have never been matched by anything I have had in a porter that has not been barrel-aged.

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Photo of brstls4drmrs
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - A nice dark brown pretty much black pour with an off white froth about 2" thick.

S - Wonderful coffee scents with vanilla and hints of dark chocolate. Just a great smelling brew that I could keep my nose in for hours.

T - Coffee, Vanilla Bean Dark chocolate. Some hints of booze in there too.

M - Good carbonation with a nice bitter, dry aftertaste.

O - A wonderful porter with excellent scents and solid taste.

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Photo of JohnPecod
3.38/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - not quite a stout and not quite a porter. The head doesn't stay around long but still overall a beauty.

S - Oak, coffee, with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Not an outstanding bouquet but perfectly acceptable.

T - Historically this has been one of my favorite beers, but this batch tastes distinctly different than the others I've had. The distinction/problem was the dominance of the oak flavor. Unlike previous batches that deftly balanced the chocolate, vanilla, and coffee flavors this lacked the depth and complexity I've come to expect. The oak muscled everything out.

M - A little extra pop of carbonation but perfectly in line with the style.

O - Maybe my buds we're having an off night. Luckily I have another bottle to do more "analysis."

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.64/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep brown with a minimal tan head that fades into non-existence.

Vanilla dominates the palate, but a bit of coffee and roasted malts stick as well.

Starts off with rich roasted chocolate notes and a bit of coffee. Vanilla peaks in a bit, but is very subdued compared to the nose. There's a roasty bitterness throughout and a vanilla sweetness in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is medium-high becoming better as it warmed. Medium-Low carbonation.

Very tasty beer. This one's been on my radar for while and it lived up to expectations. Good complexity throughout the flavor profile with a very solid mouthfeel.

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Photo of tdm168
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a thick mountain of brown head. The head has great retention. The nose has very strong notes of coffee and hints of cocoa. The taste is heavy coffee and light chocolatey, roasty notes followed by some faint vanilla. There is a faint hop bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is rich, smooth, full bodied though a little heavily carbonated.

Wow! This is well balanced, complex, and insanely drinkable. The ABV is hardly noticeable which made this bomber a dangerous one.

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Photo of Chizoad
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Stoked to find this at local ramen house Underbelly. Not exactly sure what an American/Imperial Porter is.

Paler than an imperial stout, but a nice head with ok retention.

Coffee, vanilla, strong malts, pretty much as expected. Smells great.

Very similar flavor, nicely bittered. Lacks a little complexity.

Love the weight of this beer. Definitely not the thickness of a stout, and that makes a big difference for drinkability. Carbonation was spot on. Not boozy in the least.

Certainly the best porter I have had, but it's not a style I drink a lot of.

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Photo of TheBrewViking
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A- Dark brown with a big tan head and delicate lacing on the glass

S- I smell vanilla first then coffee and roasted malts. I'm excited

T- Follows the nose. Sooo smooth and delicious. A roasty porter with vanilla and coffee that just balance this out perfectly.

M- Not exceptionally thick but nice and easy to drink

O- This beer is so well balanced and it has one of the best coffee flavors i've ever had in a beer. Very impressed, I want one for breakfast tomorrow

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Photo of lackenhauser
4.59/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Somewhat murky brown in color. Small tan head on top. Very, very pleasant aroma of rich coffee and faint vanilla. Great, great flavor-actually tastes like a porter before the rich coffee comes thru. Nice balance of vanilla against the coffee. Dark chocolate hints as well. Some hop bitterness and flavor. Pleasant roasted grain flavors. Nice body-not overly full or syrupy. LOVE this-going to be a permanent want for me. I love the way it comes thru as an actual porter, not some amped up, big, bad ass flavored something. A lot of flavor-well balanced and true to style for me. Yummo!!!

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Photo of korguy123
4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Special thanks to silverX for this one.
Bomber into CBS snifter.

A- Completely opaque black pour, heavy but not oily pouring. I got no head on this pour, that made me a little sad. Lacing is non-existent.

S- Huge dark roasted coffee. Subtle molasses but that is about it. I don't get any vanilla or sweetness. Maybe a little chocolate.

T- Monster amounts of coffee with brown sugar and molasses. Vanilla is there but really taking a back seat to everything else. Dark chocolate with hints of alcohol in the back end.

M- Medium to full bodied, chewy with a creamy start that quickly transitions to lively from the carbonation.

O- Other than how this looks (lack of head) This is a world class porter. The coffee is perfect, the vanilla is subtle.

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Photo of Thickfreakness
4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this in one of my first trades last year... thought it was about time I opened it.

A- Pours near pitch black into my DFH glass. Nice creamy, thin dark tan head with a nice amount of oily residue clinging to the glass.

S- Nice roasted malt and coffee is the first thing that hits the nose. Cocoa, vanilla bean, and a subtle touch of citrusy hop lies beneath.

T- Fresh pressed black coffee, beautiful roasted chocolate malts! Very nice vanilla notes than open up aas it warms. Tastes like real vanilla beans... not extract. Nice bitterness, probably from both the roasted malt and the citrusy hops.

M- Creamy and chalky at the same time. Rich vanilla and chocolate flavors mingle with the citrus from the hops. Really thick and creamy on the tongue without being sticky. No real sence of the 10% which is nice.

O- This is a fantastic porter! Wishing I had drank this fresher, but hopefully I get another bottle this year. Incredibly drinkable and delicious. The vanilla really shines thru as it warms up.

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Photo of mkotsayfan
4.92/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 vintage on tap in a snifter at the City Beer Store in SF. Pours a deep dark black with a finger of dark mocha head. The aroma has a very strong vanilla and chocolate presence, along with some roasted malts and coffee notes. The taste has those same pronounced vanilla and chocolate flavors along with a nice balance of coffee flavor. The mouthfeel is medium-thin bodied with decent carbonation, and is velvety smooth and rich.

A great porter, best porter I've ever had. Love to get my hands on some more of this.

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Photo of SirRuss
4/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Motor oil body with a robust, ferrous-tan head that eventually settles into a light skim and thick halo.

S: Huge amounts of coffee dominate, with fresh overtones or herbaceous hops reluctantly allowing the eager caramel, vanilla, dark chocolate, and burned sugar to partake in the complex, and throroughly satisfying first impression.

T: Incredibly close approximation of the nose: espresso bean, caramel, toffee, and vanilla shine forth, as hops help cut through the thickness. Burned barley notes add a secondary layer of bitterness strengthening the coalition mounting against the luscious sweetness, and bring the whole brew into a realm of respectable complexity.

M: As thick as expected, although not quite reaching the levels of RIS' of similar alcoholic ilk. Low carb, slightly sticky, and velvety smooth.

O: a very solid coffee- focussed brew that shows excellent complexity, staunch balance, and pleasing length.

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Photo of fnong2
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This is my first review for a beer after stalking this website for many months. I had to write about this because it was that good. I shared a bomber with a good friend who is also a BA after tasting a small flight at Tap Room a week ago!

A - Pours black with a finger tan head that lingers. Some lacing on the glass.

S - Strong roasted espresso smell with sweet chocolate and a slight hint of vanilla. If there was a perfect mocha chocolate chip cookie from Betty Crocker, this would be that smell from her oven. I had to smell this for about 30 seconds because it was so heavenly.

T - This beer is a "dude moment." Those moments are rare and they come natural. When you taste a beer that is so good to you, you just exclaim "Dude!" to your company. The taste follows the smell. It was a strong, sweet, roasted espresso in the start that followed with sweet, dark chocolate and a small taste of vanilla at the end. The alcohol is masked very well and only a hint of it comes at the end as the beer warms.

M - Very creamy, rich, and smooth. My taste buds were coated with a silky sweetness.

O - Ballast Point really did their best with this brew! I bought five bombers and wanted to decide if I should age a few after having one. I decided that I'm not going to age them and I will consume them in about a month. I was also planning on giving a few as gifts but I am reconsidering because I want to be greedy with this one! Fantastic beer! Very delicious!


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Photo of mdvatab
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Received 2011 Vintage in a recent trade.
Poured from 22oz bottle into Bordeaux glass.
Couldn't wait to try this one!

Aroma: Rich mocha plus a soft vanilla note work extremely well together. Molasses underneath, plus powdered cocoa. The vanilla comes through more and more over time.

Appearance: Pours like a porter with a dark, dark brown body. 1/2 finger light tan head thins to a layer of fine, splotchy patches of bubbles.

Flavor: Strong, yet smooth vanilla flavor up front. Sweet, roasty mocha maltiness with a touch of peppery alcohol. A slightly-acidic coffee note followed by a robust, bitter, espresso finish. Bitterness lingers, and vanilla then returns.

Mouthfeel: Medium body, medium carbonation, and light pepper in the mouth and throat afterward.

Overall: The combination of vanilla and coffee work exceptionally with what would be a delicious porter on its own. The only improvement I could see for this brew would be barrel aging. Give this one a try!

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

Love this beer, so I was very pleased to see this back again.
Poured into a snifter this beer comes out a very thick black and builds a tan head that sticks to the glass.
The nose is great, rich coffee, roastiness, vanilla and sugar sweetness.
The taste is fantastic altough I am picking up a little less vanilla then I did in last years, I love vanilla and wouldn't mind a bit more. Tons of coffee and malts.
Its medium bodied and a bit thicker then most porters which I enjoy, has lasting flavors and just a bit of alcohol heat.
Always look forward to this beer.

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

This will be the first beer I give a perfect score to and it has been the only one to date worth a 5

2011 version consumed a few days after the release

Look: Black and totally opaque with a perfect 1 inch foamy head and great retention with some circular lacing. As you drink the beer down it coats the glass and leaves behind a light brown coating. Just beautiful

Smell: Just wonderful gourmet coffee upfront and it might e the best coffee nose I have ever smelled traces of vanilla fill the background nice. Just perfect

Taste: God damn the flavors in this beer are in perfect harmony. The coffee melds so well together with the chocolate and finishes perfectly with just the right amount of vanilla and just a slight amount of alcohol. PERFECT

Mouthfeel: Medium to heavy body with the perfect amount of carbonation. Silky smooth going down and coats the mouth beautifully

Overall: This is truly a perfect imperial porter.

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Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.96/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to cbeer88 for this one. Poured in to Founder's tulip glass.

A - Poured dark black with one finger of bubbly espresso coloured head that quickly disappeared.

S - Bitter dark roasted coffee up front that dominates the nose. A touch of sweetness in the background but the vanilla is not specifically evident in the nose. Somewhat one dimensional nose.

T - Dark roasted coffee, brown sugar, roasted malts and a touch of vanilla. As the beer warms the coffee becomes less dominant and the the roasted malts and vanilla become more evident but the coffee remains the predominant flavour.

M - Medium body, light carbonation.

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Photo of Sideswipe
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Barley and Hops.

Victory at Sea arrives in a pint glass. The beer is pitch black with a finger of tan head. The foam recedes leaving wisps of beige bubbles atop the beer and sticky lacing on the sides of the glass. The aroma of fresh ground coffee beans wafts up from the glass. A closer whiff reveals hints of roasted malt, but the coffee overpowers it for the most part. Flavors of coffee and a huge vanilla presence dominate the palate. Sweet, roasted malt is detectable in the background, but the emphasis clearly is on the coffee and vanilla. The finish is semi-sweet wih a lingering aftertaste of... Yep.... Coffee and vanilla. VaS is full bodied, especially for a porter, with a nice, medium level of carbonation. The 10% ABV is quite well hidden by the exquisite melding of coffee vanilla and roasted malt flavors. Overall, a very tasty offering from Ballast Point. Reminiscent of a drink one might order at Starbuck's, but with bubbles and a bit of a kick to it . I enjoy this one every time I have it. Recommended.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,220 ratings.