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

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

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1,195 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,195
Hads: 5,810
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 980
Gots: 1,654 | FT: 98
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.
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Reviews: 1,195 | Hads: 5,810
Photo of fastsrt
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle in snifter

A: black, tan head diminished quickly.

S: coffee, vanilla in the back, malts mingled with subtle coffee.

T: first taste thought was "this reminds me of founders CBS" all the flavors are balanced making a wonderfully flavored beer

M: mild carbonation, dry bitter finish with lingering vanilla.

D: at 10% one bottle is good, and reasonably priced, high quality have paid twice this much for beer not at good.

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Photo of Beerenauslese
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a large snifter, it easily produces a half inch head. Body is jet black, with a tan foamy head that quickly dissipates to a ring, leaving small soap clouds of lace on the glass.

Rich aroma of roasted malt, coffee, vanilla, and alcohol.

Tastes of charred malt and dark chocolate up front, with coffee and vanilla mid-palate, and ends with a burning dry finish on the tongue, mostly of bitter char and roasted coffee, and just a hint of smoke. Overall, it is a pleasant and well-balanced Porter.

Body is on the lighter side for a Porter, and carbonation is low, but it is enough to give this a slightly creamy mouthfeel.

This is a nice version of an Imperial Porter, very flavorful, and quite drinkable. The alcohol is slightly warming, but is matched by the great flavors.

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Photo of mattgreger
4.02/5  rDev -7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured this brew from a 22oz bomber. It poured a very dark, creamy black. It had a very thick, 2 inch head that had some great retention. It also had some very nice lacing as well. The head retention was very impressive, based on how high of an ABV this brew is.

The aroma on this brew is pretty good. Its got a nice rich smell of vanilla up front, that blends into a nice roasted coffee aroma. There is a bunch of milk chocolate aromas that come forth in the middle, then it all finishes with a bit of a hops aroma. It smells very good. I hope it tastes as good as it looks and smells.

The flavor on this brew is very creamy, the front is a great rush of smooth milk chocolate flavors, a rich vanilla, and a great rush of fresh coffee. Its a great flavor that mixes well with hops and give this brew a nice powerful punch. It does have a bit of a boozy hit a the end. But the creaminess of the brew makes it work.

Mouthful was great. It was thick and very creamy. It went down very easy, but had a nice alcohol bite at the end, that gaves you a nice warming feeling.

The drink on this brew was great. It had great roasted flavors, along with some good bitterness. It balances out this brew very well. Great brew by Ballast Point.

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Photo of ZeroSignal
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A - Very dark pour with streaks of light brown; vigorous mocha colored head that settles quickly to a thin skim, edges lace nicely

S - Big roasted coffee aroma (Breakfast Blend), bits of milky chocolate and lots of roasted malts. Hints of espresso and vanilla, and a light hint of alcohol.

T&M - Extremely smooth and creamy...very decadent. Lot's of roasted coffee flavor, baker's chocolate and a woodsy vanilla. There is a somewhat ashy, malty presence, but it doesn't detract from the smoothness at all. The alcohol is extremely well hidden with just the slightest hint in the finish. Has a lot in common (flavor and feel wise) with Founders Breakfast Stout.

D - A very impressive beer. Delicious from start to finish and dangerously drinkable.

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Photo of KAP1356
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a Weyerbacher tulip...

A - Poured a dark, creamy, opaque black. A nice tan color head, about 1.5 fingers thick, forms and sticks around for a bit. Nice head retention for such a big ABV beer.

S - Lots of vanilla right up front mixed with some delicious smelling coffee. Creamy milk chocolate mixes in there too. I think I get a bit of hops in there too.

T - Creamy, smooth milk chocolate, vanilla, and some great fresh coffee. Starts nice and sweet and then transitions to a nice bitter coffee taste. Very milk shake like and very nicely done.

M - Creamy, milkshake like, thick and hearty. Really nice feel. A little bit of alcohol heat at the end of the palate.

D - Nice and creamy, but the roasty/bitterness really cuts down a bit; especially since its a 22 oz. bottle. But it's really a great and well balanced beer.

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Photo of leakyfaucet12
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

a- Dark body with a huge caramel head that lasts for a long time. great looking beer.

s-tons of vanilla, tons of piny hops, definately boozy and definately smells good, I really cant wait to taste this.

t- Tons and tons and tons of vanilla. There is a mollasses tone in there. You can barely taste any of the booze, which I think that the coffee flavor is covering up.

m- This beer is smooth. I really think that the carbonation is perfect and the beer is almost thick without being to thick. Bravo!

d- This beer is an overall stunner. I really really really am impressed and happy to see that I have about four more of these in my cellar. The vanilla in this beer is making me want to try more beers that have vanilla because i feel it is such a great ingredient with this style.

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

I love this beer, its appearance, smell, taste, and even the cool bottle. it also has some nice carbonation. you get some nice smoke coming out of the bottle when you open it.

You smell and taste the vanilla, but not extreme at all, to me its more of a blend it softens the strong coffee flavor. I do agree that it is a bit acidic from all the coffee, witch to me its the dominant flavor in the beer, but it blends real nice with the vanilla. you can taste the alcohol but I don't get the burning that some talk about at all. maybe it's just me.

just wanted to add that this beer taste better and better as you drink more. as you know the taste of a beer changes by the time you get to the middle of the glass, and then to the bottom. it also changes even more with some beers, as you drink the second one. I din't get some of the flavors until I got to the middle, where their was a nice taste of chocolate that came into the blend.

you must drink the whole beer to get the best experience out of it. It wont be hard to do, with Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter!

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Photo of BigB415
4.26/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good thing I like vanilla because this beer is all about the vanilla. Labeled at an imperial vanilla porter, the label doesn't lie. It's been a while since I had a porter since I'm a stout guy but I figured I'd give it a try since Ballast Point makes great beers. Pours a pitch black with light lacing. Smells heavily of vanilla and I think I smell some alcohol which is expectant with this beer weighing in at 10% first sip I get more vanilla and some burn from the alcohol which doesn't over power. Very nice beer, I can see why it's on the top 100 and why it was sold out of most places that I went to.

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

Bomber, no date on bottle.

A: Jet black, nice finger head,very impressive looking porter, almost looks like a stout.

S: Big Big Coffee beans, molasses,malts, expresso notes, vanilla notes slightly in the bachground of the nose.

T: Chocolate notes, lots of coffee(not the usual burnt coffee you find in most beers, nice fresh coffee),little bits of dark fruits, i don't detect alot of vanilia and i heard that this batch had strong vanilla noted within.some bitterness. alcohol is just not there (its a 10% abv and you wouldn't know it).

M: creamy, i feel like i can chew it.

D & overall: So far, best porter I've had. my favorite was Smuttynose Robust porter but this has taken over. High drinkability since alcohol is completely hidden. I think I will buy more to age. thinking that some of the edges will mellow and it may bring out the vanilla.

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

Appearance: wall-to-wall black with a creamy beige head. Some coffee black shades show up on the edges when swirled in the glass. Some lacing.

Smell: vanilla beans, creamy chocolate, roasted malt and fruity coffee. There's a lot of good stuff going on. Some booze heat in this fresh bottle.

Taste: starts sweet like a chocolate milkshake and transitions to a bitter note combining roast and coffee. The finish is nicely bitter and sticks with you for awhile.

Mouthfeel: creamy, thick and wonderful. Some booze burn in the finish.

Drinkability: All of that roast, coffee and booze cuts down on the drinkability, but, given those qualities, it's pretty easy to drink. The soft feel helps a lot.

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Photo of Retsinis
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Bruery Tulip glass.

Pours a deep, rich black, with brown highlights when held to the light. Less than an inch of head, that fades to a light lacing that sits on top, and sticks to the side of the glass.

Smell is of vanilla, roasted coffee, burnt brown sugar, and a tinge of bitter hops, but comes across more as bitter coffee.

Taste follows the nose, coffee, vanilla, some tobacco, dark chocolate ( like 70% dark chocolate)

Mouth feel is a bit creamy, but doesn't linger on the palate. Heat of the 10% is well masked, but comes through more once it warms up.

Overall, one of the top coffee porters. The 2010 seems a bit too balanced in contrast to previous years, with the flavors melding to a point of masking what is a complex beer. Having sampled various variety's, the barrel aged tap version is delicious, as was last year's fresh, (Also aged last years for a year, vanialla comes through a lot, coffee fades quite a bit, was still present though) but last years cask version with Rum chips takes the prize.

Recommended in any variant though, great seasonal.

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Photo of n2185
3.6/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a deep viscous black with about a finger of coffee-colored frothy head that quickly recedes into a thin film. Very little lacing.

S: Smoked malt at first, but then a sweet vanilla smell overtakes it. Only a little coffee smell at the end.

T: Smoked peat up front followed by a strong, bitter coffee and bitter chocolate flavors somewhat sweetened with vanilla. There's a very apparent alcohol burn along with the bitterness in the aftertaste. As the beer warms, the vanilla begins to shine through in both the taste and aftertaste, though it doesn't mesh well with the bitterness or alcohol burn.

M: Surprisingly medium-bodied for such a dark beer with medium carbonation. It's not nearly as thick and creamy as it initially looks.

D: Very much a sipper--goes down bitter with a fairly strong alcohol burn. Not something I would want to drink multiples of.

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Photo of dwilson01
4.49/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

poured from a bomber (2010 release) into my new belgium tulip glass, dark mocha head tops the brew, a thin layer that dissipates quickly. The body the dark, when held up to light a brown tint appears around the edges.

The scent is one of the best I have ever had, dark roasted barley hits the nostrils giving a delicious coffee smell which is cooling instead of hot like a fresh cup of joe. Sweeter molasses and chocolate malt undertones give a soothing smell after the roasty one. No hop smells to speak of.

The flavor is amazing, one of the first things that strikes me is the vanilla, in the bottle this flavor really comes to maturity and I distinctly am able to pick it out. The roasted coffee and small amount of chocolate flavors combine into a nice balance which lends to the perfect naming of this beer.

The mouthfeel is great, creamy like a milkshake made of coffee and chocolate, not precisely cappuccino but very close to it. The drinkability is solid, it's a sipping beer but the nonexistent alcohol esters make it hard to believe this isn't an iced coffee.

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Photo of jpro
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had at 10oz draft at Closed for Business...

A: Black. Dark brown, dense head is formed on the pour; rings and sheets of lace get left on the sides of the glass.

S: Piney hops??! Not expecting that to be the first thing I noticed... Coffee and roasted malt; a dark chocolate sweetness; vanilla.

T: Starts with a short blast of vanilla; then transitions to roasted malts and a hoppy bitter; surprisingly bitter finish given the sweetness from the vanilla and chocolate malt.

M: Near full; creamy and slightly viscous; higher carbonation than expected.

D: Fairly drinkable considering the 10% abv (I had no idea... wow!); a lot of flavor going on (especially the sweetness) might wear out the ol' taste buds.

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Photo of kzoobrew
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to SpdKilz for hooking me up with this bottle. Cheers Carleton!

Poured into unbranded 12oz snifter. Deep walnut color from the bottle though settles into the glass an opaque black. One finger Cafe Au Lait head works its way back in short order. A nice ring is left around the perimeter, heavy lacing clings to the glass.

There are some beers that you find yourself admiring the aroma to a point that you have to remind yourself to take a sip, this is one of them. Medium roasted coffee bean with a bit of cinnamon up front. Fudgy dark chocolate wedges itself smack dab in the middle. Caramel vanilla cream lays underneath be delicately weaves its way into each sniff.

The aroma is an excellent indicator of things to come. The flavor is very reminiscent of the aroma but much more even. The java flavor is very clean, providing a nearly perfect level of roastiness. Molten chocolate is intertwined with the bean though moves towards a dry cocoa flavor towards the back of the palate. Sweet caramel creme provides a lighter sweetness to compliment the darker flavors. The vanilla is not overly obvious, the flavor smooths and blends the other flavors together.

Full bodied porter. The carbonation is a bit too lively, so far that is the only fault I can find in this beer. Very smooth and nearly creamy texture. The finish is moderately long, the flavors do not dig in to the tongue as much as I expected.

Quite the impressive beer. Flavors are very well integrated and smooth. Remarkably easy to drink for a 10% beer. Alcohol is well hidden. Drinking several servings may not be the best idea though it would be remarkably easy to accomplish. Well done Ballast Point!

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Photo of Gosox8787
3.61/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 22 oz. bottle poured into a Portsmouth Brewery tulip at room temperature.

Appearance: Dark brown to black in color with a two finger, caramel mocha head and impressive retention.

Aroma: Vanilla, roasted malt and a little bit of a burn. Definitely pick up a good deal of the alcohol heat. Definitely some coffee notes hidden behind the vanilla.

Taste: Coffee and vanilla are definitely present in the first sip. The vanilla really becomes more notciable as this sits. The coffee is a bit muddled by the baltic porter notes here. Definitely not as clean a taste as I imagined. I find this almost rotates between smooth, overly sweet vanilla, and overly bitter coffee. I wish they were better fused together as a whole.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and syrupy. Definitely a creamy undertone as well.

Drinkability: I definitely pick up the alcohol in the nose and taste, but I had no problem finishing a bomber of this.

Overall, I finmd the balance of sweetness of the vanilla and coffee bitterness a bit of a disppointment. Not a bad beer, but I don't think it lives up to the hype.

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Photo of VelvetExtract
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Looks and pours more like a Stout than a Porter. Very deep black with only a slight hint of brown on the edges. I can see bubbles rising along the glass up to the fluffy head. Nice lacing and retention.

S-Very roasty and chocolatey with hints of vanilla. This beer's scent is big and bold and nice.

T-Complex flavor assault on the tongue. Delicious mixture of tastes hit the palate. You get the coffee and chocolate. So very roasty, and the vanilla comes into play very well. Booze is there but muted and doesn't take away from the awesome flavors.

M-Surprisingly quite light. I guess thats why this is a Porter and not a Stout. Still pretty creamy however. I enjoy the lighter body on this beer. The mouthfeel I find to be more Porter-like than the other aspects of the brew (which are very Stout-like).

D-Booze is masked excellently. This lighter body of the beer also increases its drinkability. Quite happy.

Here I was thinking Ballast Point's only great beer was the Sculpin. Foolish, this one is amazing too. Christ, I may like this better than Sculpin.

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

On tap at Small Bar, San Diego.

A: Black pour, light tan head, good lacing.

S: Roasty, chocolate, coffee.

T: Chocolate, roasted coffee, vanilla, malty, hint of alcohol, nicely bitter finish.

M: Medium-full satisfying mouthfeel.

D: Excellent, very flavorful, good depth, lots of character.

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

Appearance - Pours a dark viscosity into a Bell's Tulip. About two fingers of head that dissipates slowly leaving amazing looking lacing on the sides of the glass.

Smell - Oh my gosh. Seriously, I freaking love the smell. I had this at Black Tuesday 2010 and have been trying to get my hands on this since. Amazing vanilla, fresh coffee, caramel, chocolate. Amazing.

Taste - Oh my gosh again. The flavor is on par with the aroma. An amazing fresh coffee, vanilla, and chocolate flavor. Slight fruits, flora, and hops. I can drink this all night.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, lower carbonation, great Mouthfeel.

Drinkability - Unbelievably so. For the ABV, I can't get over how easy this beer drinks. So glad I have multiples of this. An amazing beer.

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Photo of FosterJM
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

189th review on BA
bottle to pint

App- A very robust brown with lighter brown edges. A one finger light tan head on this developed quickly and left just as quick.

Smell- Big coffee with the sweetness of the vanilla . Arome is very subtle.

Taste- The flavor of this beer is amazing. The flavors are so layered and beautiful. The vanilla and the coffee are both not that overpowering and play off of eachother. Very well balanced and tasteful.

Mouth- Almost a light body to me but its a medium body with a medium carb level. No one flavor over powers the other.

Drink- An outstanding porter. So flavorful, rich and robust and very drinkable. "See my post about your glass and saying damn"

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

A-Pours jet black with nearly 2 inches of coffee colored head. Leaves intermittent streaks of soapy lacing.

S-Nose is phenolic at first. After letting it sit for a minute or two, deep, lush aromas of roasted coffee bean and caramel/toffee malt sweetness become apparent.

T/M-This is a big, roasty, complex beer. Big flavors of vanilla bean up front. The roasted flavor of the coffee adds a pleasant bitterness that butts up against the otherwise smooth body towards the finish. It's pretty boozy, but I don't mind it so much. The warming quality grew on me after a few sips.

D-One that I look forward to every year. If you can find it, grab it! And cellar it.

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Photo of wcudwight
4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thick black with a nice creamy mocha colored head with good retention. Mocha and chocolate aroma with a hint of vanilla. Flavor is very similar to the aroma with more vanilla. Dark chocolate with rich roasted coffee flavors and strong vanilla. The flavor just sits in the mouth and lingers for awhile. I love it. Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of heavy and coats the mouth. As drinkable as a 10% beer can be.

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Photo of nhindian
4.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber split with russwbeck and poured into a Great Lakes snifter.

A - Pours a pitch black body culminating in a finger's worth of khaki-colored head. Retention is moderately poor and when it leaves it doesn't leave much lacing in it's wake, just the occaisonal wisp here and there.

S - Smell is huge, huge coffee. Not sure I've gotten this much espresso in a beer before, especially not from a porter. A bit of vanilla, but the thing I'm also picking up is a lot of thick chocolate, reminding me of freshly-baked fudge and Southern Tier's 'Choklat'. Definitely a sweet smelling beer that also has a nice, hop finish to it as well. Delicious smelling.

T - As in the nose, this beer has a ton of coffee and chocolate up front in this beer, mixing together with silky smooth malts to make the taste utterly creamy and smooth. Again, drawing lots of comparison to 'Choklat' here without being overboard on the fudge and without much of the alcohol heat as well. The vanilla starts to come in around mid-taste and follows the coffee and chocolate nicely and provides a nice segue to the surprisingly hoppy finish. Not 'Storm King' or 'Yeti' hop, but still noticeable. Very little alcohol comes through here.

M - Mouthfeel is a lot thicker than Porters of the past, but still noticeably thinner than most Stouts I had. Rich and creamy the entire way. I feel the increased body really helps with such rich flavors in this beer and it leaves a nice coating on the palate. Pretty sweet throughout without being cloying. Big, long finish.

D - Drinkability is high. Especially following Infinium, this beer is just fantastic. The smell, taste, and mouthfeel are incredible and I could easily drink a bomber of this and come back for more. Only downside to this beer is the relatively weak appearance, but the rest more than make up for it. One of my favorites.

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Photo of Damian
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank from a 22 fl. oz./1 pint 6 fluid ounces/650 ml bottle purchased at Julio's Liquors, Westbooro, MA
Served in a snifter

The liquid poured a deep brown/black with a frothy, one-finger, cocoa-colored crown that faded to a lasting ring. A substantial amount of drippy lacing cascaded down the glass with every sip.

Super smooth, freshly brewed coffee dominated the aroma. The coffee was potent yet well balanced by a milky sweetness. Strong vanilla notes came through as well. Caramel malts trailed in the background. Although the aroma was not terribly complex, it was really pleasant and inviting.

The flavor profile was interesting (perhaps more so than the aroma) but lacked the intensity and smoothness of the nose. Deep and malty up front. French roast coffee beans appeared in the center. Some bakers chocolate notes came through as well. The finish was a bit more harsh than I anticipated it to be. Quite roasty and ashy (almost a touch acrid) with a generous dose of piney, bitter hops.

The mouthfeel was pillowy soft and frothy. Medium bodied with an average amount of carbonation. For a 10% ABV brew, I was hoping for a bit more heft however.

Drinkability was notable. This beer buried its alcohol quite well.

Victory at Sea has its strong points (aroma and flavor profile on the font end) as well as its shortcomings (finish and mouthfeel). This is a very good imperial porter (which is incorrectly categorized as an "American porter" here on BeerAdvocate) but there are a number of coffee infused beers out there which are better.

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

Thanks to nhindian for sharing this one! After we popped the bottle I think he wished he had the whole thing for himself...I know I sure did.

A: Dark pour, small beige head, that doesn't stay around for too long, but laces decently.

S: The smell is sweeter than I would expect. Coffee tones and roasted malts. Sweetness must be from the vanilla.

T: Taste is coffee forward, with the vanilla coming up after. Dry aftertaste, the coffee sticks around for a while.

MF: Full bodied and creamy, which I didn't expect. My last Vanilla porter was way too watery for me, this really surprised me in a good way.

D: I didn't want to put this down. Really, really good. I want another one already.

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