Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

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.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,178 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,178
Hads: 5,728
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 967
Gots: 1,618 | FT: 102
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,178 | Hads: 5,728
Photo of danielp215
4.92/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This is an interesting beer to say the least. Pours a dark black with light tan head. The smell is outstanding. Lots of bitter coffee and vanilla extract and some dark chocolate. Taste is out of this world delicious. Starts with big sweet vanilla and sweetened iced coffee and finishes with bitter unsweetened coffee and vanilla extract alcohol. This is one balanced beer. Bold flavors but everything gets a fair shake. Mouthfeel is slightly thin when compared to similar beers. This gives founders breakfast stout a run for its money. Hope you all can get your hands on some. (576 characters)

Photo of InstinctDecay
4.92/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this at Hamilton's Tavern during San Diego Beer Week, poured into a tulip glass.

Poured black with a small residual head, tan.

Aroma was phenomenal. Vanilla character, strong roasted malts, coffee. Much more refined and pungent than from the bottle.

Taste followed aroma rather closely. A near-perfect blend of coffee, toasted malt, chocolate, vanilla, with a warming but smooth presence brought on by the alcohol. Sweetness done right.

Mouthfeel was creamy, sticky, warming, with moderate carbonation. Compliments the taste well.

Overall: I've had this beer several times, and it is undoubtedly my favorite Porter. I couldn't pass down the opportunity to try it from the cask. This was a real treasure to try out. (727 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4.92/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so very different ingredients have led to this masterful creation. The coffee, however, undoubtedly, looks the most prominent. Victory At Sea is black and no light, no matter how bright, can change that fact. The head, once it casts its net, holds on to the glass forever.

Coffee, roasted malt and vanilla are all equally proportioned in the aroma and, I have to admit, I love them all equally - now I know how difficult a question it is for a parent to choose their favourite child. A scent like this makes you wonder why anyone bothers to barrel-age their stouts when they could achieve better results just adding coffee and vanilla.

Victory At Sea has the kind of profound, enduring, distinguished flavour that is so rich and intense it can be summoned days later. It is monumental. Not an aspect overlooked: lush vanilla bean, decadent chocolate cake, strong coffee, nuttiness, zesty hops and roasted malts. Starbucks could sell just this and be equally as popular and successful.

There are some things about this beer that cannot be overstated, one being how decadently, gratifyingly delicious it is. Another is how well the charred coffee is integrated with lusciously sweet vanilla. From a technical standpoint, the beer is near flawlessly engineered: bitter balances sweet and clean drinkability compensates for over-the-top richness.

One thing is for sure: my mouth and stomach are having a much more enjoyable time with this than my liver probably is. At 10% alcohol, this is surely one of the silkiest, most sensual double-digit strength beer I've had the pleasure of drinking. You'd never catch on if you weren't told. Calorie-counters would know better, but even they'd agree it's worth it.

Ballast Point is as constant as the North Star when it comes to putting out well-crafted, full-character, premier beers but this is not only arguably their greatest offering, but perhaps one of the best America has to offer up as well. Few beers this dark, this big and this rich could be this agreeably delicious and easily enjoyed. I'd swim across the sea if that's what it took to get another bottle. A special thanks to Ultraman9000 for this one! (2,245 characters)

Photo of nsg_beer_doc
4.91/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A big beer that is easy to drink (assuming you like coffee, which, let's face it, if you ordered this one up knowing you didn't like coffee you might not be the smartest person in the world). It's smell is intoxicating and its notes of coffee and vanilla are strong but not overpowering. You'll never forget this is a beer at its base, but it's one that is unique in its genre. (380 characters)

Photo of jcoleMA66
4.91/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a spectacular porter - enjoyed at Armsby Abbey. It is as good as it gets. Color is mahogany to black with a thick tan head. Lots of lacing. Initial smell is strong cocoa, coffee and caramel. Taste follows the nose with strong chocolate and coffee roast with some vanilla in the finish. Mouth feel is creamy. This beer is 10% but is in no way boozy, which ireally surprised me. This is an amazing beer. (409 characters)

Photo of ArtofBrewing
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

12/12/09
A: Extremely dark beer, light barely passes through, thick head (coffee w/ cream color) that falls slowly.
S: Rich scent of coffee and vanilla. Slight hints of cocoa and dark chocolate.
T: Perfectly balanced notes of bitter and sweet coffee. Vanilla adds a hint of sweetness for additional complexity.
M: Medium body, perfect carbonation and a smooth.
D: Possibly the best porter I have ever had. Highly recommended. (425 characters)

Photo of BryanReed
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Sooooo good. Vanilla and coffee aroma, tastes like a nice dark roast coffee with vanilla creamer. Nice solid body. I could drink this every friggin day. (152 characters)

Photo of bluehende
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%

This is an amazing beer. Tons of chocolate on the nose. The taste is all coffee. Especially when cold you do get a hint of bitterness in the middle. Thick chewy and outstanding. Had it on draft from a growler. This moves into my top 5 of all time. (254 characters)

Photo of LevitatedEep
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
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. (582 characters)

Photo of BastardKing24
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I love this beer, which is saying a lot because I love dark beers in general and this is no meer exception. This has to be my #2 favorite coffee porter, behind black butte anniversary.

Pours with a thick and lasting mocha head that leaves lots of lacing. Almost jet black in color, with a brown ring at the edges. This thing is massive and borders on being a stout.

Smell is heavenly. Rich dark roasted coffee is immediately recognizable. After that there is some chocolate and vanilla, but its mostly just espresso right up front. Some caramel notes as well but its hard to detect based upon, guess what, the HuGE coffee presence.

Taste is more complex than the smell. Right away big coffee notes, just a slight vanilla note, which is nice, and chocolate and toffee in the background. This thing has huge amounts of smell and flavor. If I were to choose a beer to promote based on coffee taste/smell, it would probably be this. Just my opinion, but Black butte anniversary has slightly more complexity due in part to it being barrel aged. I think I like this better than speedway stout.

Mouthfeel is damn near perfect. Medium carbonation and a light but viscous feel.

Overall a winner in my book. Can't make this beer any better really it is just perfect. (1,262 characters)

Photo of Frothtastic
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - this beer pours easy with two to three fingers of head after warming up for 10 to 15 minutes from fridge only can find it in a bomber. It looks like a picturesque dark beer with a opaque body and beautiful head that laced the whole glass.

S - Smells of coffee, vanilla and caramel

T - Vanilla with just the right amount of sweet then changes to dark chocolate and malt/caramel with a hint of alcohol the after taste is coffee and dark chocolate.

M - Smooth with some viscosity.

O - I will judge all other imperial porters by this beer it has great complexity and a rich taste. Perfect with vanilla ice cream or dessert by itself. The aftertaste lingers with a slight stickiness that is not unpleasant. (712 characters)

Photo of KDHicks1958
4.9/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Wow.

Pours pretty much black, with a nice two fingers of tan head. I wasn't expecting that much head from a 10% ABV beer

First aroma impression is coffee, with dark chocolate, and a hint of the vanilla.

First taste was dark roast coffee, chocolate, and a hint of vanilla lurking in the background. Pretty much what the nose promised. As it warms, it smooths out a bit, with the vanilla becoming more pronounced. Nice underlying bitterness of coffee and dark chocolate, and just a touch of alcohol. 10% is nicely hidden in this one, you wouldn't notice from the taste.

Mouthfeel is more carbonated than I would have expected.

Overall, this is an amazing beer. I may be making a mistake by drinking this bomber by myself, but nobody else here wants any, and I'm sure as hell not going to waste it! (811 characters)

Photo of Deuane
4.89/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to FooFaa for sharing a growler of this delicious nectar.

A-Deep, dark brown liquid with mahogany highlights. A thick, creamy tan head reduced to a thin cap and left attractive ringing lace.

S-Intoxicating vanilla, espresso, dark chocolate combination is well supported by rich roasted malt and an underlying earthy hop bitterness.

T-Like a vanilla and cocoa infused espresso drink from some high end coffee shop. A bitter hit of roasted malt and earthy hops keep this from becoming too sweet. Ends with an interesting toffee like swirl.

M-Medium-full bodied, very creamy and luscious with long lasting flavours and a bite of earthy bitterness.

D-One of the most amazing beers out there. I am amazed time and time again how great this beer is after each highly enjoyable encounter with it. Without question, one of my most favorite of brews on the planet! (871 characters)

Photo of m1ked
4.89/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one was a gift from my wife on Valentine's day....quite a pleasant surprise!

A- Pitch freaking black. There is absolutely no light getting through this guy. Created a healthy tan head. Looks like a black and tan almost, or like a cafe au lait. Foam eventually fades creating a beautiful sticky lacing along the sides of the glass.

S- A super rich oily coffee, dark chocolate with a barely detectable bitter tartness.

T- Mmmm, an obvious black coffee flavor, coffee bite/bitterness up front. Followed by the rich bittersweet chocolate.

M- Thick, chewy, oily

D- I imagine this warming up the soul by a fireplace, while it snowing outside. Luckily I live in San Diego, so I can drink this one on a 70 degree "winter" day. I love this beer. My favorite coffee porter by far. (780 characters)

Photo of chrisjws
4.89/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Served in a snifter from a 22oz bomber at ~45F.

A: Black, small amounts of light at the edges. Half a finger of light brown head.
S: Coffee and cocoa smack you in the face. Some vanilla in the background, but it smells like a vat of dark chocolate and coffee. Plain awesome.
T: Taste follows the nose well. Big dark chocolate and coffee upfront, chased by vanilla in the aftertaste. I detect a bit of spiciness in the background as well.
M: Full mouthfeel, medium carbonation. Coats your mouth and lingers between each sip.
O: Probably my favorite porter I've had. Tons of dark chocolate and coffee, just the way I like my dark beers. (635 characters)

Photo of MadScientist
4.88/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: A black beer that lets just a bit of light through a deep garnet beer. The creamy head is a deep espresso color with good retention.

S: Strong coffee and a rich dark chocolate pumped up with vanilla and a light roast aroma. A sweet, light alcohol note.

A: Rich, smooth vanilla, coffee and chocolate with a depth of flavors that just goes on. Some roast, caramel and a little burnt sugar. There is a high amount of malt sweetness but it's countered by a moderately strong hops bitterness giving a balance that is somewhat sweet. This beer doesn't dry out and finish about medium. There is lingering chocolate and vanilla flavors mixed with some hops bitterness.

M: A medium-full bodied beer with a lot of creaminess and a moderate carbonation. There is a noticeable amount of alcohol but it isn't boozy.

O: Well this outstanding beer sets a high water mark for Porters in my book. There's more going on here than in a lot of stouts (938 characters)

Photo of ConorDavidson
4.88/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

As a stout/porter fanatic, I must say, this beer is by far the best I've had the pleasure to try. Immediate notes of deep roasted java. But not too deep, not the point where it was overpowering. The perfect amount where I could taste and understand every point in the taste-curve. Every taste bud: hit. Every node: washed. Then came the undertones. A very subtly bitter espresso hint. Just enough spice for interest, but not enough to distract from the oily textures that engulfed my pallata. While this review may be a bit overly-wordy and pretentious, I really must admit that this beer is one-of-a-kind. I'm interested in tasting the coffee that they use. It must be brewed perfectly. Really, really, REALLY delicious. (721 characters)

Photo of keanex
4.88/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a snifter from a 22 ounce bottle un-dated.

A: Beautiful pitch black body with a dense tan head that compliments this perfectly. This beer simply looks amazing.

S: This smells absolutely wonderful, there's a perfect balance of vanilla and fresh roasted coffee here, reminds me a lot of vanilla cake actually with coffee. This is wonderful, my only complaint is wishing it were a tad stronger.

T: Absolutely wonderful, there's bready vanilla flavor into a silky rich cocoa coffee flavor. It's as if I'm sipping on a mocha cappuccino with some vanilla flavoring. This is complex, intense, and very easy to drink.

M: Thick and syrupy with light carbonation, this is filling and feels great.

O: This is hands down the best porter I've ever had, I have no complaint with this and will be buying one every time I find one. (832 characters)

Photo of AdamBear
4.88/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-black with a thick tan head with good lacing

S-smells strong of creamy coffee. great smell.

T-oh boy oh boy...this comes in with a strong and unmistakable taste of vanilla and coffee. its a great full flavored taste that lasts and becomes an after-taste almost as strong as the initial hit...and it lasts for a long time. this beer is beautiful. i'm really impressed that the vanilla really comes through in this one. most beers i've experienced that claim to have vanilla don't have a lot of vanilla taste to them.

M-creamy medium carbonation with a good heavy finish

O-few beers do i want to savor as much as i wanted to savor this. i found myself so excited every time i went to take a sip....10% ??? i think not...it drinks more like 5%...this beer is just about everything you could ever want in your porter. i can't wait to find this again some day. (861 characters)

Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.87/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle

Appearance: Pours dark, as expected with one finger of khaki head that eventually recedes.

Smell: Roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit.

Taste: A perfect blend of coffee, vanilla and roasted malt; that's what this is. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the best porter I've ever had. It's not cloying, and everything is balanced just right. Dangerously drinkable for this abv and the alcohol is hidden well.

Mouthfeel: Not quite as viscous as say a BCBS, but there's ample carbonation for the style and it's got some heaviness to it, but not too much.

Overall: Again, this is the best porter I've ever had. I feel so lucky to have discovered Ballast Point recently. Between this and Sculpin, I've added two heavy hitters to my regular rotation that I wish I'd had sooner and look forward to having much more of. (857 characters)

Photo of bohemiandonut
4.87/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is exactly how I like my porters. Rich and creamy, with no confusion for a chocolate soda. Strong bourbon backbone accentuates a dark semisweet chocolate nose and flavor. This is like drinking liquefied rum-soaked cacao bean.

The espresso jolt and texture carry the vanilla and booze nicely, but most impressive are again the notes of premium dark chocolate: Rain forest unripe berry with a back-of-the-throat sweetness. A warming sipper, I can't wait for more.
_
On cask into tulip. (489 characters)

Photo of MannyBats
4.86/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

My first review still learning

Look :Beautiful dark chocolate color with a tan topping staying faint as you drink
Aroma: Smells of chocolate coffee hint of vanilla
Taste: Taste just as it smells
Mouthfeel: Well balance a medium body but very smooth and silky like a cold vanilla frap

Overall: a very wonderful great porter will drink again (342 characters)

Photo of chrismann65
4.86/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

What a nice porter, coffee & vanilla blend. well done , very smooth and easy to drink. Take your time with this beer , it's a slow sipper @- (10%) is well hidden ..!!!! Wow I like this very much...!!! If you see this beer pick it up...!!! (240 characters)

Photo of jsh420
4.85/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

pours thick pitch black with a big 3 finger tan head that leaves spot lacing down the glass.

smell is strong coffee and sweet milk chocolate and as it warms up the vanilla is the first thing that hits your nose

taste is out of this world starts with bitter coffee and then comes in sweet smooth vanilla and creamy chocolate. you can not tell this beer has 10%abv until you are done with this bomber and you try to stand up.

this beer has the feel of a great imperial stout but with more carbonation.

drinkablilty - yes i want more but i got to hold tightly onto my 3 remaining bottles

overall this beer is world class sorry KBS, breakfast stout, and peche mortel but this beer owns you A++ (696 characters)

Photo of vickersspitfire
4.85/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance:
Dark brown body, almost black and sealed with a dark tan head that’s three fingers thick, foamy and just looks like a nice place to rest on. Thick lacing marks every sip you take.
Smell:
Dark roasted malts and coffee and a mild semi sweet odor of dark chocolate, brown sugar and butter with a touch of caramel.
Taste:
Strong roasted malts and coffee at first followed by the bitterness of dark chocolate. The aftertaste is a milder version of the taste itself minus the bitterness.
Mouthfeel:
Light bodied.
Overall:
This is a great tasting porter with plenty of malts to go around. (595 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,178 ratings.