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

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BA SCORE
97
world-class
1,342 Reviews
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BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,342
Ratings:
6,518
Avg:
4.35
pDev:
19.77%
 
 
Wants:
1,070
Gots:
2,069
For Trade:
92
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by radshoesbro on 03-17-2009

User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,342 | Ratings: 6,518
Photo of nickfl
4.03/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours with one and a half fingers of medium tan foam on top of an opaque, black body. The head settles slowly and leaves nice, thick lace on the glass.

S - Coffee, chocolate, dark sugar, and some vaguely spicy notes of pepper and chicory.

T - Sweet malt and dark sugar up front with notes of caramel, nutty toffee, and dark bread. Smoky coffee and chocolate in the middle with a hint of vanilla. The vanilla really comes out in the finish with more smoky coffee and spicy notes of clove and cinnamon.

M - Medium-thick body, moderate carbonation, and a sweet finish.

D - Thick and sweet, there is a lot going on here. The vanilla works well with the dark sugar and coffee flavors though it becomes a bit excessive in the finish. The finish is a bit too sweet for my taste and that, combined with the vanilla, puts it in the same category as Southern Tier's sweet stouts; it is a dessert beer and works well for one glass, but finishing a full bottle is a bit of a challenge.

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Photo of rodkin
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is extremely dark. Color barely comes through at the edges when held directly to the light. Half finger head, which dissipates pretty quickly and leaves a small lacing and some bubbles at the top.

Smell's great. Coffee, vanilla, a little sweet caramel, kind of a chocolate brownie smell.

Taste is really strong on the coffee. The sweet vanilla, caramel, and chocolate smells really don't come through as well. Still tasty, but kind of disappointing.

Mouthfeel is fine. Medium thick, good carb. A little thinner than I'd like.

Overall a decent beer, but there wasn't as much going on as I'd like. There was no freshness date on the bottle, so maybe it was old? Would like to try it again knowing it was fresh to see if the vanilla was more prominent.

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

bomber served in a snifter glass.

pours an opaque, motor oil black with a creamy khaki toned head that slowly recedes into a collar around the glass; nice walls of lacing. all around great looking imperial st- ah, porter.

nose opens with an unmistakable coffee presence, followed by roasted malts and chocolate, some vanilla. reminds me a little of founders breakfast stout. aroma characters largely pull through in the taste with plenty of coffee and roasted malts, but the vanilla is a bigger player here... coffee and a touch of caramel... slight bitterness to the finish. overall, a really tasty, dare i say delicious brew. well done.

smooth, velvety moutfeel... medium bodied, though a bit lighter than most similar-styled beers; appropriate carbonation. 10% ABV but it drinks so smooth, makes this one dangerously good.

originally reviewed: 11-26-2010

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Photo of rapidsequence
4.55/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle I bought at that beer/wine store on Wade Ave by Wellspring. $7.99. Poured into a snifter.

Appearance: Its black, basically opaque, but not the darkest black. Light brown head that faded quickly at first, but a little bit remained. Very nice lacing.

Smell: Big time mocha aroma. Rich cold coffee, caramel, vanilla, cocoa, a tiny hint of a smoky roastiness. Complex, fantastic.

Taste: Again, very much like a Starbucks iced mocha. Bitter, roasty coffee, vanilla, caramel, and chocolate. A bit of heat (just a bit) and bitterness from ethanol near the end.

Mouthfeel: This thing is big, soft,and unbelievably creamy. Incredible.

Overall: What a beer! I had one a few months ago on draft that was really good, but this is amazing.

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.97/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bomber that's been aged about 18 months; poured into a Duvel Tulip Style Glass. Liquid comes out very dark brown, pretty close to black in fact. There are brown highlights and edges. A darker than tan colored head that sticks around for a decent amount of time. The head and liquid itself produces a decent amount of lacing.

Wow does this beer smell great, every swirl makes the aromas dance and scream all the way to your nose. Nice malt backbone (as every porter should have). Huge waves of natural vanilla blended with dark roasted coffee. Smells sweet and big all around.

Taste is 100% truly outstanding in every aspect. I'll certainly put a disclaimer here, I was in the mood for something sweet and this totally hit the spot. As sweet as it is, there is a good balance. The name "Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter" is truly the perfect description. There may even been the slightest bit of chocolate flavor as well. If you were to wonder what that would taste like, this is exactly it. If this were ice coffee, imagine a dark fresh roasted cup and you're sipping it through a vanilla skewer straw. This is truly the best vanilla flavor in a beer that I've had in something that wasn't barrel aged.

Mouthfeel hit the nail on the head again. Full flavored, but only on the heavier end of medium bodied. Perfect carbonation level, and a great balance of bitter and sweet from the coffee and vanilla. Absolutely no detection of the alcohol, I would have never guessed 10% on this bad boy. Great drinkability here too. Worth sharing, but one person could easily polish it off in a night. Great value too, totally worth the purchase.

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Photo of Bendurgin
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle courtesy of Alec. Thanks homey! Poured into a tulip. This one pours black with a thick cap of beige foam that leaves some thick gobs of lace.

The aroma has a heavy vanilla aroma right up front with a robust coffee aroma lingering in the background. Seems to have notes of bitter chocolate in the background.n The pallet gives more of what the the aroma indicates. A little more subtle on the vanilla with more of an emphasis on the coffee. This one is rich and delicious.

The body is full and smooth with soft carbonation. A little bit of a lingering finish would I attribute to the coffee. Overall this one is real solid. Would love to end up with more of these guys anytime.

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.37/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bendurgin! Poured into a tulip. There is a large tan head atop a pitch black body. Nice stickyness.

The aroma has lots of sweet vanilla and chocolate with hints of sweet coffee.

While the aroma emphasizes the vanilla most, the coffee component dominates the flavor. There is a nice sweet vanilla finish that ends creamy.

This is very delicious. Want moar!

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Photo of Auracom
2.87/5  rDev -34%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

Extra from John, thanks man! 22 oz. bottle poured into a Jester King snifter on April 21st, 2012.

A - Deep brown coloring, a bit thin for a large porter. Medium khaki head with quick reduction and marginal lacing.

S - Big coffee bean and espresso as anticipated. Touches of roasted malts and vanilla underneath. Definitely more in the realm of an RIS than a porter in terms of aroma size and intensity.

T - Lots front palate carbonation followed by vanilla bean sweetness and honey. Mid to rear palate of stale coffee beans with cocoa bitterness. Some brown sugar sweetness blended into the mix, but it doesn't offset the poor coffee character.

M - Bizarre, and unfortunately lacking, for a porter. High carbonation, not at all smooth, medium body, dry bitter finish with a hefty espresso aftertaste.

D - I can't really forgive the taste and mouthfeel here. Huge disappointment. Bottle variation? I don't know that I'd revisit, but the hype on this one suggests I need to try it again.

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Photo of pigc
4.23/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours pitch black with three finger brown sugar colored head with good retention.

S - Toasted malts, chocolate, caramel, coffee, vanilla.

T - Starts out with smooth, rich, dark coffee followed by a wave of chocolate, vanilla and iced coffee bitterness with a touch of the alcohol heat in the end.

M - Medium body with plenty of carbonation to go around.

O - Definitely a world class imperial porter here. Very complex with all the notes. Just a tad bit hot on the alcohol. This one could benefit to be put away for a year or so and would certainly smooth out even more with age.

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

A: stout black, rich full head that leaves lotsa lace

S: roasted malt, espresso, some mocha and vanilla

T: very nice roasted malt with a vanilla syrupiness through it; burnt bitter back to the creamy sweetness gave it nice depth

M: crisp for a beer this rich; viscous body masks the abv

O: I was not as floored by this beer as some others - the beer started off with sweet vanilla flavors, and then dried into roasted espresso notes - a well-crafted beer for sure

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Photo of TheDinger
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The awaited review of VaS. Finally able to locate 2 bombers and have been waiting to crack this for quite some time. Poured from bomber into DFH snifter. Beautiful motor oil black pour with a bit of light making it through. Nice 2 finger mocca head, with excellent retention and great lacing throughout. Smell was spectacular. Vanilla with chocolate and coffee. Some burnt fruits notes and dark malts. Complex and inviting. Couldn't stop smelling it! Taste followed the nose with huge coffee on the front that fades to subtle bitter and vanilla finish. A great blend that is almost perfect. Hides the 10% well, but a definite sipper. Feel is very strong. Full bodied and great carbonation. Creamy and smooth. Overall- One of the best beers I have ever had. A great blend of coffee, dark fruits, hops and a touch of vanilla. Smell is outstanding and mouthfeel is spectacular. Top notch effort from Ballast Point. In my top 10 for sure-

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Photo of Falcon91Wolvrn03
4.65/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance – A super dark brown or black color that lets no light through. A thick, creamy head that sticks around for quite some time. Lots of lacing on the glass.

Smell – A wonderful sweet chocolate malt scent with coffee. Also some smokiness and a touch of vanilla.

Taste – Coffee, roasted chocolate malt, with a touch of hops.

Mouthfeel – Smooth, and creamy; fairly light on the carbonation in spite of its massive head.

Drinkability – Very nice; just a slightly bitter bite to an otherwise exceptional porter.

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Photo of beer2day
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark black pour, 1-fingeer of dense rich chocolate head. Not much in the way of retention. Decent, but sparse, lace.

Rich, decadent nose. Strong with roast coffee, vanilla bean, chocolate syrup, and cream. Really invites you in.

The taste doesn't fail the nose. Lots of roast coffee, but really strong vanilla flavor. Coffee bitters in the finish are very strong for a porter. Pretty nice chocolate malt balance, too, with roast flavors.

Feel is lighter than the rich flavor suggests, but this is porter not stout so that is quite welcome.

I'd get this again ... and again ...

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Photo of Ruds
4.75/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz/650ml bottle into a growler, thanks to Deeblo for packing this in his case and shifting it 6,000 miles for me!!!

Looks a real treat - pours a rich black with a decent beige/tan head after a straight glass/vigourous pour into a Belgian snifter. Head thins after a minute but retains. Lots of lacing above the beer line.

Served at room temperature.

Great smelling beer - coffee hits you immediately and when you withdraw your nose and savour the full spectrum you get the vanilla breaching through, sweet chocolate and malts.

Everything I want from an Imperial Porter in the taste! Chocolate, coffee, sweet and roasted malts and a decent hunk of vanilla in there. I've had a few vanilla porters where you just don't get that 'V' hit, but here you have no choice !!! A well balanced beer packing flavours and strength but disguising them all well.

The mouthfeel is perfection for a beer of this ilk. Full bodied with a little carbonation, every mouthful makes you return.

Overall - this beer is right up there for me, one of the best I've had !!!

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Photo of DSlim71
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Bomber pours pitch black with a dark tan head that hangs around for a few minutes. Some nice, spotty lacing is left behind after the head is gone.

S - Coffee right away with vanilla coming through pretty strongly. A little char, roastiness, and dark chocolate.

T - Same thing with the taste, you get the coffee up front but the vanilla takes over, maybe a little too much. The dark chocolate is there, and it's a little boozy, especially as it warms. Finishes with a roasted bitterness.

M - Creamy, medium bodied with a low to mid level of carbonation.

I picked this up in a bottle shop in PA, and I'm glad I did. It was a nice sipper to finish off the weekend, but the heavy vanilla kept it from being great in my opinion.

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Photo of CTBeerPope
4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this a while back

Pours black chocolate. 2 finger dense fluffy head that sticks around for a little bit great lacing. Really nice looking porter.

Smells a lot like a good RIS with coffee, vanilla and dark fruits standing out.

Very smooth for a 10% abv. Nice natural vanilla flavor upfront followed by a combination of coffee and chocolate with the coffee riding all the way thru to the back.

Full mouthfeel with modest carbonation

Have to travel to get this one but well worth the trip. One of the best, if not the best, porter's I've had.

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Photo of zeledonia
3.83/5  rDev -12%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm pretty sure this is from the most recent release. Best before 18 June 2012. One of my more wanted beers, pretty excited to try it.

Pours very dark brown, nearly black, and opaque except at the very edges. One finger of medium-tan head, good retention, some okay lacing. Looks like a stout. Or a very dark porter.

Smell is a cacophony of roast, vanilla, coffee, and more vanilla. It smells more like the additives than it does like beer. Very heavy on the vanilla - wish it were toned down so that I could enjoy some of the other smells I suspect are hidden behind it. Warm and fuzzy, but I want beer with my vanilla.

Same thing goes here. Holy vanilla, batman. I like the taste better than the smell, as there's more porter flavor in there to complement it. But I still think it's overdone. I get minimal coffee flavor, and I have to work to find the characteristics of the malts (a little char, a little nutty). Finishes roasty bitter. Good, but I think it could be a lot better. I will say, though, that it drinks well below its ABV. I can't even find the alcohol behind that bludgeoning of flavor.

Mouthfeel is really smooth. Body is surprisingly light, lifted up by a foamy mouth-filling expansion. It's like cotton candy in reverse - starts out relatively flat, but buoys up as it moves through my mouth. Long-lasting finish.

Drinkable, yes. Amazing, no. I think it would be a whole lot better with 1/2 the vanilla. It's unbalanced, with the vanilla enjoying the only spotlight, rather than sharing the stage with the rest of the cast. All that said, it's pretty tasty, and I'm liking it more as the bottle gets more empty.

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Photo of cvm4
4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle poured into a snifter

A - 2 finger tan head with a black body. Some lacing once drank down.

S - Picking up some huge notes of malt, dark chocolate and coffee.

T - Wow! A lot of coffee and dark bitter chocolate is coming through! There is a sweeter side of vanilla on the finish.

M - On the full side of medium. Very creamy!

O - What a porter! In everyday life, this could be a stout!

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Photo of dcloeren
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to my brother for sharing this bottle with me.

Pours pitch black with nothing but a cream colored ring around the edges.

The aroma is very nice and inviting. Rich notes of cocoa, coffee, caramel and vanilla.

The taste is dominated by coffee and cocoa... almost reminds me of dark chocolate covered coffee beans. Caramel and roasted/charred are present in the middle with vanilla beans rounding of this beer. Very tasty!

Medium to full in body with an appropriate amount of carbonation. Without this level of carbonation it could have taken this from a top notch brew to a sub par one in a hurry.

Overall, this was an excellent treat. Perfect after dinner beer for sure. I'm very happy I got to try this beer and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Photo of shleepy
3.62/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Handles in Pleasanton on 1/25/2012.

A: Black, with a creamy, tan-colored head.

S: Very pungent; heavy coffee smell, with roastiness, vanilla, and gingerbread in the mix.

T: Immediate but quickly fading alcohol notes up front, followed by the aforementioned vanilla/gingerbread/roastiness. An interesting balance of flavors. Surprisingly clean finish.

M: Fairly full-bodied, but not as heavy as an imperial stout.

O: Pretty unique for a coffee porter, but maybe just a little too boozy and unsubtle.

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Photo of Retail1LO
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into a CBS snifter. Let me start by saying I generally despise porters. Ok....GO!

This pours the darkest brown imaginable with a three finger espresso shaded crown that is simply beautiful. The head fades fairly quickly with minimal lacing. The nose is just fucking brilliant. It's all the coffee and vanilla it claims to be, with a nice rich roastiness and lush, sweet vanilla galore. The taste reinforces the nose. This is no fraud. What you smell is what you get. The coffee is perfect. It has a nice roastiness to it, but doesn't come across as burnt. The vanilla is subtle but present, making this a near perfect experience on the palate. The mouthfeel is glorious. Typically porters are entirely too thin and carbonated for my liking. This is thick, lush, and rich on the tongue with an aftertaste that isn't acrid like many coffee beers. Overall, this is a world championship caliber beer. I want. Lots.

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Photo of Teleweizen2
3.38/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours pitch black with a bubbly mocha head of foam. Two fingers worth. It dissipated rather quickly. Leaves streaks of lacing.

S - lots of oily espresso on first sniff along with varying degrees of roasted malt and a bit of milk chocolate. Some mild spice notes along with hints of vanilla and toasted coconut.

T - vaguely sweet on the front of the tongue. The roasty bitter flavors enter mid palate to balance the sweetness. There are hints of vanilla as well but it seems to be providing a counter notand e to the strong esprosso bean roasty flavors.

M - full bodied. medium carbonation. Creamy texture.

O - an interesting ale. I was expecting a little more desert beer
from this with the vanilla playing a larger role. But still flavorful and well produced.

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Photo of birchstick
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a black color with a nice one finger mocha head on it. Nose is freshly pressed coffee with loads of vanilla. Taste is similar. Lots of coffee and chocolates dominate the front and back. A lot of vanilla is in th middle. Pretty solid, really enjoys the taste profile on this. Solid mouthfeel taboot. Really good vanilla coffee porter here. Loved it and will seek out again.

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Photo of natemort13
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A heavy pour into my sculpin pint glass yields a slightly frothy mocha colored head that fades into a solid ring with a pocked uneven cap. The beer is viscous, nearly opaque with just the slightest highlights of ruby. The nose is smooth coffee with sweet vanilla tones. I also get milk chocolate and cocoa with the slightest hint of tobacco. The first taste brings a somewhat more abrasive coffee taste than the nose suggested that soon is mellowed out by chocolate milk and a finish with hints of cherry. The vanilla bean totally smooths the coffee out. The mouthfeel is carbonated chocolate milk, super smooth and just slightly oily.

Overall this is a massive coffee porter that somehow holds onto enough balance. The coffee is huge but palatable and not cloying at all. There is not any lingering old coffee finish like a lot of coffee porters/stouts. A real treat, great dessert/breakfast stout. Glad I have another bottle.

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

A - Pours a impenetrable deep brown/black with over two fingers of creamy tan head with great retention. The glass is covered with lacing.

S - Strong coffee aroma with lots of vanilla and cocoa. Also a hint of cola and a bit of cream in the aroma.

T - Taste starts out creamy and slightly sweet, quickly transitioning to slightly acidic coffee, with cocoa and vanilla. Finish is dry, somewhat earthy and bitter with some noticeable alcohol. Overall coffee is the most prominent flavor.

M - Medium/full creamy mouthfeel that turns bitter midway through and stays bitter through the finish.

O - Excellent imperial porter. Huge coffee presence with nice cocoa and vanilla. Bitterness comes close to being too much, but doesn't cross that line. Very enjoyable.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,342 ratings.