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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,217 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,217
Hads: 5,918
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,006
Gots: 1,718 | FT: 92
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: 1,217 | Hads: 5,918
Photo of bamadog
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Extra special thanks to beerman207 for hooking me up with a sample of this one at the Superbowl party he and his wife hosted. Game came out all wrong, but this beer definitely came out all right. Review is from notes taken on 2/6/2011 and poured from the bottle to a pint glass.

Appearance: Pour is dark brown/near black; starts with a nice 1 and 1/2 finger dark tan head; body is dark and entirely opaque; head fades to a full cap and leaves a full curtain of lacing on the back of the glass that holds throughout most of the drink.

Smell: Creamy and milky chocolate and coffee/espresso roastiness; touch of smoke and sweet vanilla; slight bit of alcohol in the nose -- this beer comes across as very robust and it smells like a creamy Jamocha shake from Arby's.

Taste: Jesus, it doesn't just smell like a Jamocha shake, it really tastes like one with friend ground coffee and ample vanilla; lots of chocolate that is bittersweet combined with just a touch of a sweeter milk chocolate; lots of ground and burnt coffee and espresso that creates a nice earthy and nutty bitterness; definite presence of alcohol that's a little bourbony, but the heavy chocolate and coffee flavors remind me even more of Kahlua.

Mouthfeel: Mouth is thick and creamy, with spot on carbonation that provides just the right amount of liveliness to keep it interesting; a thick semi-dry coating and grittiness is left on the palate and teeth; does sit a little heavy, but it's super tasty and I'd be willing to have it sit in my tummy.

Drinkability: This is definitely a worthy offering -- great scents and flavors and a super creamy mouthfeel; ABV and weight do slow it down a bit, but this one is pretty tough to come around in these parts so ABV be damned, drink it while you can.

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

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Perfect Pint glass. Formed a thick, two finger, sandy colored head. The foam had great lasting power...the slow recession left large tufts behind, clinging to the glass. The body is brown/black. You can get light through the edges if you force it.

Strong aromas...roasted malts and cocoa up front. You can detect a sweet background...a mix of vanilla and caramel (read the label after I wrote this...I swear!).

A sweet caramel flavor comes out first. This fades into a strong roasted coffee taste that digs deep and burns into your palate. Very complex, but missing the sweetness the nose teased you with. Slightly boozy at the finish, but not unpleasant.

Awesome mouth feel. Thick and creamy with the perfect amount of carbonation for the style.

A great drinking beer. As it warms, the 10% ABV starts to come out stronger so it becomes a great sipping beer!

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Photo of IronLover
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Black in color. Poured with a short, light beige that slowly reduced to a wispy cap. Sweet milk chocolate, light roasted coffee, light roasted malt and vanilla aromas. No hop aromas. Medium bodied with a creamy smooth feel and rich, medium light carbonation. Dark roasted malt and dark chocolate flavors up front followed by roasted coffee, milk chocolate, and vanilla into the middle. No hop flavors but medium high bitterness through the middle. Flavors transition from bitter hops to dark chocolate, to dark roasted coffee. Finished with a vanilla sweetness followed by chocolate malt and a lingering hop bitterness. Intense malt flavors and vanilla sweetness are nicely balanced by the hop bitterness. Smooth and flavorful with very little alcohol presence for the 10% abv.

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Photo of delta490
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The body is an incredibly dark brown, nearly black, with a nice light brown head that has good retention and leaves nice tight sticky lacing. The aroma is rich with coffee and just a hint of the vanilla adding some counterbalance. The taste is a little dialed back from the aroma but with the same characteristics. The body is nicely weighted on the palate with a nice full smooth finish.

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Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 0z bottle poured into a Darkness snifter.

A- One finger tan head dissipates quickly decent lacing, dark black, when held up to the light you cannot see through it.
S- Big coffee/espresso aroma, nice chocolate aroma as well, nice roasted notes, roasted malts.
T- Every sip is really smooth, the coffee flavor is delicious with hints of chocolate and vanilla, very balanced.
M- Medium/big, perfect amount of carbonation for this beer, a bit sticky, really smooth velvety finish.
O- Really impressed with this beer, huge coffee presence that goes down very smooth. This is a very tasty easy drinking brew, really impressed.

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Photo of Beric
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Serving: Bottle into a tulip
Served: 5 August 2015

Appearance: Pours a thick, deep black color with a minimal tan head that quickly collapses to a sheen of bubbles under influence from the high alcohol content. Looks like your average imperial stout/porter.

Smell: Huge coffee notes, with a nice assertion of dark chocolate or cocoa notes as well. I wasn't able to pick up on much of the vanilla in the nose, but the beer smells absolutely fantastic.

Taste: Like the nose, big notes of coffee, though the vanilla is now evident as well. The roasted malt provides a nice, sharp roastiness- almost burnt- like French roast coffee. No one aspect of this beer is overdone, and the major flavor elements play well together, which is brilliant.

Mouthfeel: Big body, medium-low carbonation.

Overall: One of the best coffee beers I've had. Right up there with FBS, and quite possibly even better.

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

I cracked this one for Valentines Day to split with my wife... which she absolutely LOVED!!

A: Totally dark and then some... with a mocha head that stayed on the brew throughout the session.

S: Vanilla... dessert... a tinge of coffee and chocolate.... but not much more. Awesome!

T: Very thick dessert-like feel with tons of vanilla and maybe a tinge of coffee. A bit of salt, in a dessert-like way, but the cocoa was there and then some!

M: Thick as hell, yogurt-like almost tons or lacing on the glass which didn't translate to the palate.

D: I would drink this a lot if were available to me. However, it is only available to me every once in a while in my area...

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

Poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

A: A deep dark black color that does not allow any light to pass through. A small thin light brown head leaves bubble lacing throughout the glass.

S: Roasted smells with coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and some oak.

T: The porter roastiness comes through first with a large dose of coffee and espresso followed by flavors of milk chocolate and some caramel sweetness with the vanilla and woody oaky flavors near the end. A earthy hops bitterness leaves the tongue tingling a bit with the finish. Great beer, lots of flavors and very complex.

M: Full coating, creamy, and the alcohol is really well hidden.

D: Very good for a 10% beer. This beer is very drinkable and enjoyable for the entire bomber.

Overall a superb Impy porter that deserves the hype. Another award winner for Ballast Point. Well done.

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Photo of Florida9
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Fully opaque black in color. Forms a moderate sized, very dark tan, almost-mocha colored head. Decent retention. Some lighter lacing.

S: Aroma is coffee and heavily roasted malts. Chocolate, cocoa, espresso, char, and just the faintest hint of vanilla.

T: Taste is more of the same. Full of flavor. Dark, bitter, chocolate and cocoa seem to dominate, but there are also flavors of coffee and nearly burnt malt. Very mild sweetness. Cola. Hint of smoke. And some light vanilla notes.

M: Full bodied, lower carbonation, mild chalkiness, mild bitterness.

O: Yes, a very nice beer indeed.

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

Had the opportunity to try this during the Black Friday event at Capone's.

Appearance: Pours black with a minimal khaki crown that shows little retention or lace.

Smell: Wow this is one lovely smelling brew! Loads of coffee and vanilla over a nicely roasted malt. Some chocolate makes an appearance but it's more of a supporting role.

Taste: Very good blend of coffee, vanilla, roasted malt, and chocolate. So close to a 5.0

Mouthfeel: Enough carbonation and very creamy!

Drinkability: The flavors are bold and the abv is in double digits, but it's delicious tasting with a rewarding mouthfeel.

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

Poured into a pilsner glass to get the full effect of a dark porter.

A: So dark almost black with no sign of color around the edges of glass... thick
S: You could definitnetly smell the roadted malts, coffee and a hint of vanilla... Alcohol blends them well.
T: Very creamy as the roasted coffee hits the palate with a slight sweet caramel undertone to erase the bitterness.
M: Medium to heavy, with a creamy and smooth texture. Low carbonation adds to the creamyness. Drinkability is dangerous. This doesn't taste 10% at all, and I will easily finish this bomber myself.
D: Very drinkable as none of the robust flavors tire the palate, but the 10* ABV can creep up on you...

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Photo of andrewinski1
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
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 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 brstls4drmrs
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of alcstradamus
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A--Moderately hard pour into a pint glass yields a huge 3 finger mocha head that almost overflowed due to a bit of a cascade effect. This beer is pitch black with no visible highlights. The head recedes very slowly and leaves a half-finger on it that sits as long as you can hold out from drinking it. Leaves a good lacing on the glass...this is how a imperial porter/stout should look.

S--Strong mocha scent...gourmet coffee beans, cocoa powder, creamer.

T--Yum, this is why I love craft beer. Strong but not overpowering fresh-brewed coffee taste, some sweet vanilla pokes through but I wish there was more because damn its creamy and good. There is a strong piney hop bitterness on the back end to balance this one out. Aftertaste is mainly just that lingering hop bitterness. For a little while I thought it was too hoppy but as it warms the flavors peek through again. This beer is riding a fine line, I think it is "slightly" too hoppy, so I can't give it a 5 but if you are a hop head first and a stout/porter fan second then I can't can tell you that this is definitely the beer for you.

M--Creamy but not thick, just enough carbonation to make it lively. Look and mouthfeel are the two high points of this beer.

D--Easy to put away the bomber, extremely drinkable for an "imperial" anything. Solid beer overall, not my favorite porter by any means but it is so well rounded that I can't help but give it a very high score.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Reviewed from notes after enjoying on 1/18/14. Served out of a 22 oz brown bomber with an enjoy by date of 01/03/14, although this style should be fine with some age. Poured into a large 22 oz. snifter that looks sort of like a Teku glass without the flared lip.

Appearance - Body is midnight black--no light getting through capped with a half-finger mocha-tan head of predominantly tiny bubbles with a few medium-sized suds interspersed. Retention is moderate, with the foam fading to a line around the edge of the glass and a thin sparse film across the top of the glass. No lacing whatsoever.

Smell - At first, I was disappointed, thinking that I had left this in the back of my fridge a tad too long. Initially, there was very little coffee or vanilla, with the predominant notes being dark chocolate and dark-roasted malt and buckwheat. However, upon letting it warm a bit, the coffee and vanilla became a bit more present on the nose, even if subdued. The coffee element evokes roasted beans, before any grinding or brewing, just waiting to be unleashed.

Taste - I'm happy to report that the the marquee elements of the porter held up much better on the tongue than they did on the nose. Big, french roast coffee and bold bitterness that finishes with a pleasant vanilla sweetness, like the wonderful innards of a freshly-scored dried vanilla bean. Bittersweet, burnt caramel and waffle cone all add their voices to the mix as well in a complimentary role. It's situations like this where the advantages of a larger format bottle become clear. The first glass was good, but the second glass was great due to some patience and increased temperature.

Mouthfeel - Medium-bodied (which is a surprise for a non-BA porter with coffee and vanilla that clocks in at 10% abv), with low carbonation on this just-past-the-best-by-date bottle. In spite of the body being a bit lighter than expected, there is a viscous element that leaves a lingering bittersweet finish that is wonderfully complex.

Overall, a great offering from Ballast Point, and even though I've had a limited number of brews from them, this one is a clear favorite of mine. I have one more bottle that I will likely be opening sooner than later, to see just how much difference that best by date really makes.

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Photo of TempeBeerMan
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle into a pint glass.

A – Black as night, and pours with the appearance of used motor oil. An outstanding thick, three finger, brown head that lasted a VERY long time. Patchy lacing.

S – Medium strength aroma of roasted malts, chocolate, espresso, and vanilla.

T – Taste definitely matches the smell here, with coffee, vanilla, and milk chocolate being the predominant flavors. Intense in its flavor presentation. Some alcohol warming in the finish, but overall the 10% abv is remarkably well hidden. Very sweet upfront, but just when it would have a tendency to become cloying, a little bittering hops kick in bringing balance, and leaving an aftertaste closer to dark/bittersweet chocolate. Maybe lacking complexity, but it sure delivers what’s advertised with gusto.

M – Thick and creamy, like a chocolate malt. Carbonation is extremely minimal and suits the flavors well, lending to a very “heavy feel” in the mouth. Sort of coats and hangs there. Just a tiny bit syrupy. Clearly a sipper.

O – I found this brew to be delicious, although with such strong coffee/roast flavors is closer to a stout than a porter. In fact, this rivals many a coffee stout that I have sampled!

As much as I enjoyed it, I could not have more than one of these in an evening. Took me the better part of an hour to finish it, and had me not even wanting another beer afterwards, it's flavors were that strong. Would be a fantastic dessert beer. Would be interested to try the barrel aged/oaked versions to see if they bring a little more depth and complexity.

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Photo of bifrost17
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into a CBS snifter

A: Pretty much what you'd expect. Very dark, but I can't quite decide if I'd say it's black, or just a very dark brown...maybe like mahogany, or ebony. Nice light brown, cinnamon colored head that sticks around. Moderate lacing.

S: Smells like dessert. Vanilla, and coffee obviously, but also chocolate, cherries, and maybe like a woody...earthiness....? Smells amazing.

T: Tastes even better than it smells! Wow, so much going on, bitter coffee up front, followed by a chocolate/vanilla sweetness, and then finishes with a lingering coffee espresso type of bitterness. Really amazing how sweet the beer tastes but how bitter it finishes. Props to the brewers, this is crazy. Almost tastes like multiple different beers all rolled into one. The 10% abv is totally hidden.

M: Moderate carbonation, suuuper creamy. Feels nice. My only complaint is it's a tad thin, but I guess maybe that's how you can differentiate between an "imperial stout" and an "imperial porter." This is definitely not thick enough to be confused with an imperial stout.

O: Easily my favorite Ballast Point beer. I've had Sculpin numerous times, and I enjoy it, but I really don't understand the hype behind it. Victory at Sea on the other hand...A W E S O M E. Seek this beer out. I've always been skeptical of the "Imperial Porter" style, but this beer clearly defines it. Not as heavy and robust as an Imperial Stout...almost hard to describe, but if you want to know what an Impy Porter is just drink this and you'll know. Thank you Ballast Point.

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Photo of jvillefan
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

A: A dark brown beer that has a light brown half finger head that does not stick around very long.

S: Roasted malt is the primary aroma here. There are some coffee and vanilla flavors in the background of this beer's aroma.

T: Vanilla Coffee is dominate here. It is well balanced with the heavy roast malt with caramel undertones as well.

M: A little light for my liking and the carbonation is also a little light but overall good.

O: Great beer. Get it if you can. The roasted malt, coffee, and vanilla mix well together.

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Photo of tjkinate
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a great Imperial Porter!

A: Massive, light brown, frothy head that displayed great retention and loads of lacing that completely surrounds the glass above this black bodied brew.

S: Milk chocolate, coffee, subtle hints of vanilla and cocoa nibs. Far from being the most complex of beers, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

T: Cocoa nibs followed by bitter coffee flavors that mix perfectly with the sweet vanilla undertones. Reminded me of drinking hot chocolate on a cold winter evening.

M: Well carbonated, heavy bodied, yet slightly chalky.

O: Fantastic, best beer you can get for the price. Enough said!

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Photo of SawDog505
4.36/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a 16 oz snifter, struggling with the bottle date. Pours an opaque black, with a two inch light brown head, that leaves plenty of lace behind.

Smell is roasted coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla, toffee, and hazelnut.

Taste is as expected, bitter chocolate up front, with everything else in the finish, with lingering vanilla on the tongue for the finish.

Body is medium, plenty of life, a touch dry as it should be, and easy drinking for 10%, but a chill sipper of a brew.

Overall excellent, disappointed I didn't purchase more when I had the chance.

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Photo of mikey711
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Dark black, more stout like than porter like. Mocha colored head that was fluffy, retained well and left great lacing

S: Coffee, vanilla smokiness, gram cracker and burnt caramel. No flavor overwhelms and all are very present individually but also as a whole

T: Very much the same as the smell. The coffee is present and prvoides some bitterness, the creates a balance betweent the sweetness and bitterness, the smokiness provides more complexity and the gram cracker provides some chewiness.

M: A bit light in body but there is only a minimal amount of head and a nice creamy feel.

D: I think i could have this one everyday and a bomber would go down way to easy

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Photo of ThaneMcC
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: Pour from 12oz bottle into tulip class, solid inky brown with light brown foamy head which resolves to solid residual foam and lacing.
S: Strong coffee, unsweetened cocoa, soy sauce with hint of roasted malts – a pleasant blend of dark fruits.
T: first note of strong expresso with transition to a dark malty, unsweetened cocoa, piney mid to end note and a mild residual bitterness and slightly sticky finish
M: Medium bodied with minimal carbonation and a bitter, coffee/cocoa finish.
Overall this is a complex, tasty beer for savoring/sipping. I’m a dark beer fan – and this beer incorporates some a good mix of flavors without being overwhelming. As it warms, becomes even more enjoyable.
I would definitely pick this gem up again – and the price point is great for this quality beer.

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Photo of Bierguy5
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle, 10% ABV. Pours nearly pitch black, with a slight amount of visable sediment. Creamy mocha head holds together very well.

Vanilla, coffee, and milk chocolate all blend together very well in the nose. What a treat this is.

Good amount of sweetness up front, leading into a nice roast coffee note. Some vanilla comes in, along with nice chocolate notes. Very nice combonation.

Medium body, good amount of carbonation. Alcohol very well hidden. Very nice here.

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Photo of mooseo
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into snifter.

A - Pitch black with a creamy khaki head.

S - Smoked dark malt, fresh black coffee, hints of vanilla and milk chocolate.

T - A delightful blend of black coffee, vanilla bean, chocolate, and sweet roasted malt. The vanilla becomes most prominent, especially as it warms. Finishes with a slight alcohol burn and light coffee bitterness.

M - Full, thick, creamy. Dry finish, warming alcohol.

O - Delicious. The flavor is bold, balanced, and complex. Dangerously drinkable at 10% ABV.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,217 ratings.