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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: 5,813
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 8.94%
Wants: 982
Gots: 1,659 | FT: 97
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: 1,195 | Hads: 5,813
Photo of THECPJ
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes 1/12/2011

A: vanilla is predominant, coffee, a hint of white chocolate

Ap: black with a 2 finger mocha colored head, very frothy, extreme lacing

B/T: mild carbonation, very smooth, medium body, slightly heavy

Af: chocolate, coffee, and vanilla, very sweet

O: makes an excellent after dinner beer, a perfect nightcap


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Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.67/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Go Ducks! Since I'm a CAL alum, I gotta pull for the PAC-10!!!

This beer is crazy already. Pours an inky black, with a dark tan head that basically fills the glass. It's a slowly billowing thing, too. Kinda like watching the Titanic sink in that lame movie starring that girl's boobs. It just keeps expanding until it reaches the pinnacle and then, ever more slowly, crumbles into a finger of marshmallow like beauty. Lacing is coating the galss like toffee. Amazing so far. Some nice, albeit not super robust aromas in here. Some coffee for sure, some vanilla, like a vanilla cappuccino in a way. Some sweetness, but it's really subdued. Something else I can't quite place. Like cinnamon roll...Holy mackerel, the flavor is crazy. It's certainly a porter, and it's certainly robust. The vanilla lends a bizarre character - it makes the middle and finish taste like burned coffee. Or, mayhaps, coffee w/Baileys, but unsweetened...The coffee notes don't really dominate until the end, where it blasts into you a little too forcefully. The finish is super bitter, and I'm not sure they wanted that. It's a mixture of hop bitterness and that coffee flavor. This beer is expensive at $7.49/bomber, 10% ABV so it's a sipping beer. The flavors get less punchy as it warms, but this is still really a beer for Imperial Stout lovers and their ilk...

What I like most: The crazy beautiful (like Kirsten's chest in that movie) pour

What I like least: The overpowering bitterness and price point...

Verdict: Good, albeit not fantastic, and unique. Worth trying if you see it but probably too crazy for most folks to enjoy..

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Photo of djeucalyptus
4.48/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

pours a rich, dark, oily rich brown. as with the style, not quite black. an intensely rich reddish caramel brown colored head is frothy and has impressive retention. ample dotted lacing is about as good as anything else near this viscosity. looks stunning.

rich dark malt sweetness and earthiness, lactose sweetness (maybe that's the vanilla?) and definite coffee on the nose. rich milk chocolate, hazelnuts, and more earthy espresso. aroma near turkish coffee. wow.

taste, not surprisingly, is stunning. smokey peat with a touch of sea salt up front. then rich dark roasty malts, caramel sweetness, roasted coffee. espresso and mocha. some fairly strong alcohol notes with an interesting sweetness not far from a sweet scotch. interesting. boozy and hot for me, but I'm really impressed by this one. the finish lingers with clean roasted coffee beans.

mouth is smooth, creamy, full. touch viscous, although also a touch slick. a lingering roasted cocoa bitterness in the finish.

given the abv, the style, and the unique flavors, this one is crazy drinkable. not quite as much vanilla as I'd hoped, or remember from past version, but I won't hold it much against this brew. It's stellar, and I personally would take one of these to an abyss, darklord, or the like any day of the week. I know it's a different ball game, but still... this one really impresses.

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Photo of garuda
4.32/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Thick, black, oily pour that only gets a tiny tan head with little retention and spotty lacing down the glass.

S/T - Rich, smooth roasted coffee in the forefront with touches of vanilla and chocolate creating a sweet underlying tone.

M - Full body, great low carbonation, creamy across the palate, with a little residual oiliness in the finish.

D - Wow, abv is hidden extremely well, with only a hint coming through as it warms. This is such a smooth easy drinker, I only wish the vanilla was a bit more prominent.

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

The resin left on glass from this thick, darkest brown, opaque elixir is worthy of a stout. A thin, dark beige head relaxes gradually to a skim that swirls as if upon syrup.

What an aroma, full of vanilla, with a less roasty coffee flavor, really smooth notes of fine dark caramel, but it's the vanilla that takes it here, sweet, and inviting.

Not a stout at all, perfectly described, this baby is all porter on the palate, BIGtime. Talk about delicious, the vanilla and sweet caramel start, then some chocolate into a medium roast coffee flavor. A lot going on here, but alcohol is absent (this can't be 10%). It seems a simple, winning combination, but there are subtle roasty notes, really clean and tasty, some floral hints, some fruitiness (cherry?) in there. None of these flavors want to dominate the taste, and at times all of them do. Quite sweet, but there's enough going on to make it an asset, and the finish has an edge of herbal bitter and roast to balance.
Wonderful taste!

Mouthfeel is on the stout side of modern porter sensibility, quite viscous, lasting resins, low carb., a slow sipper, wonderful finish. Too thick for style? I just don't know.

Drinkability is good for a big beer. It's one to sip and savor.

Impression: Another Stellar beer from BP. Thank you to them. Get this if you see it, it's a must try.

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

Appearance: pours a dark brown almost black color with a thick 3" milk chocolate colored head. Moderate lace paints the glass.

Smell: loads of vanilla, roasted malt, and chocolate is easy to detect.

Taste: big roasted malt flavors with a load of vanilla, some coffee tones, moderate amount of bitter chocolate, and some moderate bitterness. Alcohol is barely noticeable here.

Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit creamy at the finish. Aftertaste is long lasting.

Drinkability: this is a slow sipping beer, but the flavors keeps it interesting throughout. Definitely worth seeking out.

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Photo of Ego
3.92/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

the glass feels heavy....

cocoa head raises up 2 fingers and gurgles down at a reasonable rate, not pitch black but darn close, finally the head resides as a nice blanket of microbubble gauze leaving nice sheets down the side of the glass as I go. good looking brew.

hot cocoa powder with a vanilla side, coffee notes are punching me all upside the noggin, damn, this smells like a frappuccino on acid, one minute milky way bar, one minute some nice grind coffee, and underneath some dark european bitter chocolate.. jeebus ! nearly perfect here, I would like just a hint more coffee in the nose, but man that might be a bit picky.

taste etc...
nice and thick, the coffee flavor comes and goes in waves, at times there is a sweetness though that gets a little too sweet, I think it might have to do with the added vanilla. this tracks more towards chocolate milk with a bitter aftertaste than many porters, something about this just doesn't thrill me, it's good, but not blended enough, too many flavors are fighting each other. I gotta also report that the ABV is very well hidden here.

this is a tough call, I think some people will love this beer if it hits their flavour profile, it has character in spades, they just didn't all line up for me. definitely worth checking out if you dig big/interesting porters.

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Photo of ultimatedub
4.73/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - A day later and the lacing is still apparent in my glass. Looked very similar to FBS.

S - The vanilla was barely there. Just a hint. Smelled mostly like Chocolate with small hints of coffee. I was surprised how little I got from the smell, but who cares when it tastes this good.

T - Outstanding. It was like a melted candy bar mixed with coffee. 10% tasted like 5%. I even had a sip left the next day and it still tasted fantastic.

M - Lighter than you'd expect. Just the right amount of thickness, which I loved.

D - I paid 13 for this bomber, and it was worth every penny. Smooth, creamy, chocolate, coffee with subtle hints of vanilla. Possibly my new favorite Porter.

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

Thanks much to plenum for this bottle! (from my cellar to yours LIF) From notes, 1-6-2011

A - Very dark brown, not cloudy though, medium light brown head which dissipates to a thin layer just on the surface of the beer.

S - I smell wood, which seems mostly to be my confusion about the bitter and dry coffee in the nose. Theres some warming alcohol, and the vanilla comes out as it warms.

T - Very well in keeping with the nose, bitter coffee, very big flavor, with the vanilla coming out more as it warms.

M - big and robust, a bit drying.

D - this is a sipper, but I do like it quite a bit, so drinking it isn't bad at all.

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Photo of Urbancaver
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black with a good amount of head. Smells strongly of coffee with a bit of vanilla. A bit of vanilla as well... Tastes strongly of coffee and vanilla with a fairly thin background. Clean and smooth and a very light. Vry drinkable especially for 10%...

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Photo of punkrkr27
3.83/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Black pour with brown highlights and a small loose white head. The aroma has loads of vanilla and coffee with some faint dark fruit. Thew flavor is smooth milk chocolate, vanilla, candied figs, smoke, wood and lots of alcohol. Thinnish body, oily, soft carbonation and some alcohol warming.

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Photo of LevitatedEep
4.9/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

From a 22 oz bomber into my Chimay glass...shared with a friend.

A - Chocolate milk and pancake batter soup...looks so damn delicious my mouth is watering....tons of nice lacing too.

S - Nestles Quik, malted milk, caramel, oats, roasted coffee beans...wow this smells perfect...

T - Coffee upfront, Milky-way candy bar, Nestles Crunch bar, tasting the vanilla now, milk....this is heaven....delicious!

M - Perfect on the tongue...low carb, thick and yummy.

D - One of the smoothest beers not just Porters I have ever had...I will be getting a few more bottles of this tomorrow.

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Photo of Trueant1
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

What can I say? This one pours perfect! Thick head with gobs of lacing stuck on the sides of the glass. The aroma whiffs through the air as you pour this brew into your favorite glass.

Smells of fresh coffee up front. Many in this style have a "stale" coffee smell. This one is fresh and clean. Sweet chocolate and almost a red wine smell. Alcohol and a hint of "bong water" smells. Fresh wheat grass as well.

MMM! WOW! BLISS! Huge brew. Tastes of creamy chocolate liquid mouse. My BA friend in the room tastes milky way candy bars...and so do I. Bitter/burnt chocolate flavors. Alcoholic and very sugary sweet.

This brew is so thick, so creamy, so bitter, and so smooth. Every thing seems to blend together. The only thing that really stands out is the bitterness, and not in a bad way. One of the best brews I have ever had!
Drink this one warm from the start to get the full flavor profile.

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

This beer does everything well. black with a resilient tan head. Lacing all up and down the glass. Aromas of chocolate and coffee. Vanilla comes into play with the flavor along with the coffee and chocolate notes. Terrific mouthfeel, rich and full bodied. Alcohol is well hidden. Very drinkable, complex flavors. Worth the price tag. I will definitely pick this up whenever possible.

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

Pours black with a 1 finger coffee colored head. Laces out evenly across the top and clinging to the sides.

Smells like I just brewed a cup of joe and tossed in a white chocolate bar. A little nutty like candied roasted nuts.

Tastes of roasted french vanilla. A lot of deep malty undertones. A slight bitterness of chocolate. Also the malts have a faint smokey character.

The 10% is not that noticeable but you can tell there is a good amount of alcohol in this one.

Split a bomber with a friend and was satisfied with my half.

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Photo of xnicknj
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle poured into glass - 2009 vintage

Pours an inky black with a thinner tanned head. Fades out almost completely with sine spotty lacing and film.

A strong scent of cocoa with espresso, coffee, dark chocolate, and a hint of alcohol.

Plenty of chocolate and cocoa up front with a nice splash of vanilla flavor. Lighter tones of coffee and mocha mix in with an almost truffle- like sweetness. Roasted dark malts with caramel and some lingering warmth. Finishes toasty with a hint of booze.

Fuller medium body, mild carbonation, a little creamy and smooth. Really nice drinking, and some age helped mellow out the alcohol although some of the coffee and vanilla flavors faded.

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

poured from a bomber into a pint glass

This beer pour jet black with a very large frothy head that lingers for some time

The aromas coming from my glass were of strong coffee and sweet vanilla

The taste is mostly coffee with a little bitterness followed by smooth sweet vanilla finish. not much bitterness really just the right amount

This beer is big and has a fairly heavy feel to it, but that does not take away from its drinkability, could have had a second if it weren't so damn strong

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Photo of DavoleBomb
4.57/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a pint glass. Big thanks to Khazadum for this.

4.0 A: Pours a black color. Two fingers of light brown creamy/frothy hybrid head. Average retention and some lacing. Good enough.

4.5 S: Not surprisingly the strongest aromas are coffee and vanilla. Sweetness gives the illusion of coffee with cream. Plenty of toastiness, with some roastiness as well, some grainy malts, semisweet chocolate, and caramel. Very nice.

4.5 T: Tastes a lot like the nose which is a cup of strong coffee with vanilla cream. The bitterness seems to come from mostly the coffee and it's moderate strength at best. Again, roasty and toasty, grainy, caramel and toffee, and quite tasty. Booze is hidden well.

4.5 M: Heavier medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Super creamy and smooth. Nearly perfect.

5.0 D: This one drinks well from start to finish. Flavor is great as is the mouthfeel and this doens't seem like it's 10%. Good beer overall and easily the best I've had from BP. Sculpin doesn't even come close.

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Photo of GallowsThief
3.92/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bomber into my Duvel.

A - Coffee black pour with about a 3 inch head that is a nice creamy brown.

S - Wonderful coffee smell with just enough hint of vanilla. Smell comes across with just enough sweetness in it.

T - Big roasty taste. Great hints of vanilla as well. Comes cross the palate with just a touch of sweetness and caramel. Mocha along for the ride. The warmnesss of the ABV is very subtle on this. Cant help but getting a bit too much of a burnt wood out of it. Odd.

M - Medium bodied with a creamy feel. Coats the tongue in a velvety goodness.

D - High ABV but still pretty damn drinkable.

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Photo of wvsabbath
4.12/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Serving Type - 22oz Bottle

Appearance - Black as night, creamy tan 1 inch head, tons of lacing

SMell - Lots of coffee, smoke, vanilla, chocolate, malts, barley, spices, man they put alot of everything in this

Taste - Is this a porter or stout? Man its sweet. Lots of vanilla and malts. Tons of coffee mixed with smoked bitterness. Very strong, very sweet, intense in the flavor department.

Mouthfeel - Bold, sweet, intense. Mouth is all messed up over the flavors. Tounge gets a huge sugar kick , then palette gets some sugar and burn from alcohol. No way would i drink anything ipa or pale after this monster. Still i ask, is this a porter?

Drinkabilty - This 22oz was enough. This was very strong and high on flavor. Was fun to drink, alot going on. Wasnt expecting it to be so strong and sweet. Its really good,I want to age one and i need to drink another one cause it was good, and next time i will expect the flavors more.

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Photo of atremains
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Beautifully black with a strong dark head. Sweet lacing. Awesome looking beer. Very roasty nose with cocoa/vanilla highlights. Smells like an ice cream cake. Coffee is there as well.  Roooast in the taste. Vanilla is awesome and the coffee is right their with it. Feel is bulky, just what I was hoping for. Creamy and delicious. Very drinkable beer. Great flavors. Haven't had this in a year and judging from my buddy's notes it's a good thing we revisited it. 

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Photo of cbutova
4.73/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Re-review, drank this one almost exactly one year ago and my old review is below.

A- Amazing pour with an intensely creamy and foamy dark mocha head that has amazing retention. Can take chunks off the top like ice cream, still perfect. Lace pretty much sucks away 2oz of the beer.

S- Intensely dark roast coffee, malt and cocoa up front. Vanilla comes in big time behind these rounding it out very nicely. Don't know what I was smelling last year. Nice strength.

T- Monstrous vanilla atop very nice roast coffee beans/grounds, dark roast malts and milk chocolate notes. The balance of these flavors is pretty much a very good dessert. Some earthy hops.

MF- Thick and creamy, pretty much where I would want an "Imperial Porter" to be. Carbonation is moderate and silky smooth. Bitterness from cocoa.

DB- Alcohol hidden amazingly in a beer that rivals all dessert-oriented beers. The vanilla, coffee and cocoa combine to make this taste like a twist ice cream cone, don't know why the bottle I had last winter was underwhelming, first A+ in a long time.

Last year:
5 3.5 4 4 4 = 4.1
Pours amazingly with a pitch black body and a nice two finger dark tan coffee colored head that has great retention. Insanely thick lacing is left on my entire pint glass as I drink this one down. Smell is a bit weak on this one, in strength and complexity. Smells of lots of malts, cocoa and some vanilla. I pick up a pinch of alcohol too. The malt profile of this beer is gigantic. Taste is basically a strong version of the smell, like many beers. Lots of cocoa and some vanilla among the huge malts. There is just nothing too amazing sticking out on this one. Mouthfeel is moderate bodied and pretty oily with low carbonation and some good warming. Drinkability is alright, the taste is good, the price is not too bad for such a big beer, not sure if I would get this one again, probably on tap.

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Photo of beagle75
3.69/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.
2009 batch.

A: Opaque black color--turning clear, dark brown where light is allowed to penetrate around the edges of the less-full glass--with over one finger of diminishing beige foam head. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Rich chocolate forms the backbone of the smell, also with brown sugar, Irish cream, pipe tobacco, and spirituous vanilla. The combined effects of these smells are all-encompassing with endless depth--and make it hard to believe it didn't see the inside of a wooden barrel.

T: Begins sweet, briefly figgy, with roasted malt and an acidic burst of the tobacco from the smell. As acidity fades toward the middle, coffee emerges, eventually welcoming the drying bitter finish. Also featured in the finish are earth, herbaceous green stems, and a lingering whiff of vanilla. This beer presents restrained booziness throughout, but less than is expected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, leaving the palate burning either from acidity or alcohol, with surprisingly brisk carbonation.

D: Opening the bottle is made worthwhile just by the smell of this over-rated beer. While flavors generally match the intensity of the smells, the sharpness of early acidity is off-putting and difficult to ignore. Definitely a sipper--it's sensory qualities tower over other bottled imperial porters, such as Flying Dog's Gonzo.

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Photo of berebrando
4.82/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I really wanted to toss up straight fives. that is, the 2009 vintage aged, is a five star treat.

pours dark black with a nutty tan head that is almost nonexistent.I love the smell. the aged version has a heavier chocolate presence than the young version. I love the blend of vanilla and chocolate in the aged bottle. I highly recommend aging this and drinking it around sixty.

great beer. I love the thick viscous mouthfeel and the drinkability.

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Photo of mrmiles
3.37/5  rDev -22.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

One of my all time favorites. First time review. First bottle of the 2010 batch. Poured into my St. Bernardus goblet.

A: Pour is a dark brown. Very dark, almost black when held to the light. Slight foaming at edge of glass, but no real head to speak of. Small groupings of bubbles ride the surface.

S: Coffee first. Followed by vanilla and some chocolate notes. Some chocolate malt presence as well.

T: The vanilla comes first mixed with some roast coffee. Chocolate malt follows and then aftertaste picks up the coffee again. Boozy, but well hidden. Some bitterness present, most likely from the coffee.

M: Solid carbonation makes this beer feel lighter than it really is. Very deceptive. A bit viscous for a porter however.

D: Extremely drinkable. Even better after a year or 2 when alcohol mellows. Be careful though as the abv will catch up quickly.

Overall I love this beer. Like I said, one of my all time favorites and without a doubt my favorite porter. That being said, it very often doesn't feel like a porter. I will drink this beer again, and again, and again...

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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.