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.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,195 | Hads: 5,810
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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Photo of AgentZero
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Black color, little brown on the edges, nice tan head that popped up and left some decent lace.

S - Someone told me the vanilla on this is not that big, but I found it to be huge. Nice coffee flavor and roasted malt smells, just slightly bitter. Little bit of chocolate in there as well.

T - Really like this one. Vanilla is very nice and rich, hints of chocolate, decent coffee taste, and a roasty malt backbone that doesn't get bitter like a big stout.

M - Full bodied, creamy. Pretty much perfecct.

D - A bit heavy, so it's not like it's a session beer, but pretty good for the style. Didn't have a problem getting through the bomber of this.

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

Poured from a 22 oz bottle into an Allagash goblet.

Pours black-black with no light showing through anywhere, and a two fingered light brown head (about the color of brown egges) that dwindles down to a thin cap. This is the blackest beer I've ever seen

The smell is robust dark roasted coffee, with a mild vanilla and faint dark chocolate. Smells fantastic

The taste starts with dark chocolate and vanilla beans, then strong dark coffee in the middle ending with more vanilla and some alcohol burn. A little more alcohol burn than I like, and less vanilla than I expected. Still great none the less.

Consistency is heavy with moderate carbonation and a nice juicy finish.

This is a huge beer with tons of flavor and character. If you love dark and heavy, this beer is for you

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Photo of aglose45
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz. Bomber

A: Pitch black with a half inch, mocha colored, head which dissipated over about a minute.

S: The bottle doesn't lie - tones of roasted coffee which eventually gives way to a hint of vanilla.

T: Tastes exactly as it smells. The bitterness from the coffee is offset extremely well by the sweetness of the vanilla. The bitterness does fight back though at the end. The brew is 10% abv, but you can't really tell until you get the warming feeling in your stomach. Some chocolate and caramel notes are also in there, but very subtly. Tastes more like a stout. Towards the end of the beer the vanilla really shines.

M: Medium bodied - this is where I could tell that it was a porter and not a stout.

D: I am a bit of a hop-head, but I put down a bomber of this in a bit over an hour and I want more. I bought two and I'm cellaring the other until at least the fall.


It is now fall and I'm enjoying this fine beverage that I set aside. I still get a hint of chocolate and caramel in there, but the main difference over the past year has been that the coffee has faded. In addition to that, the vanilla flavor has really become prominent. It still tastes phenominal and I still love this beer! Cheers!

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

A- dark and cloudy, I can't even see the light of day through my glass. There's little to no lacing but this is thick and rich when it came out of the tap.

S- it smells of toffee and breakfast coffe.It smells just like the dark malt it looks like ,I am smelling anise with just a bit of hybiscus.

T-creamy and sweet at first then big notes of dark coffee and chocolate. After aeration,you get the true thickness of this beer. I could have this as a meal.

M- there's no getting around the thickness of this big beer. I went right into the head as soon as it was poured and oh how the texture becomes so much more complex.

D- this is big so big I think I can only enjoy one right now. Man is this great.

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Photo of pants678
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very dark brown with a surprisingly thin head, perhaps due to my pour.

Alcohol creeps in with the malty smell of chocolate and sweet like caramel or fruit.

Despite being a rich genre, doesn't quite mask the booze on it but still a full bodied chocolate beer with less of a coffee edge than I'd figure. Very up-front brew as you'd imagine, vanilla is perfect compliment to this. Toasty and warm, not too much hop bite.

Heavy, carbonation is welcomed as a porter and not a stout making it easier to handle.

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Photo of gford217
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into a tulip.

Pours dark, dark brown out of the bottle and settles in black in the glass underneath a big tan head that leaves good lacing and hangs on as a cap for a while.

The aroma is really nice and big on this one with the subtle sweetness of the vanilla balancing perfectly with the massive roasted coffee smell. Lots of dark malts underlying the other aromas.

The taste is a bit sweeter than the aroma. The initial tastes are of big roasted coffee and dark malts. The vanilla is subtle to start but really comes on strong in the finish and leaves a very sweet finish.

The mouthfeel is medium bodied and very smooth with good carbonation. The finish is sweet but slightly dry with the roasted coffee character.

This is a very good porter with some very bold flavors and aromas, dominated by the coffee but with the vanilla reallyl coming through in the taste. Great beer.

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

Ballast Point "Victory At Sea." Thanks to NordBier for these! 12 oz. bottle, served in a Dark Horse tulip at fridge temp but allowed to warm to 58-60 degrees.

Too cold, but pretty and coal-black as it sits warming up. Head is gone after three or four minutes, but a stubborn lacing persists nicely.

Smell is coffee and vanilla upfront, unsurprisingly, followed by a carob-esque bitter scent, a rummy hint of booze. The aroma really doesn't open up unless the beer is served at cellar temp, naturally.

Also unsurprisingly, the first sip gives a blast of vanilla and espresso-roast coffee, hints of cinnamony spice, and a notable whiff of Dutch cocoa. I cannot emphasize enough how bracingly assertive and surprisingly dry that first vanilla-espresso hit is, either, as I get little hint of sweetness until the mid-palate, when more chocolate-cocoa flavors roll in, along with hints of black walnut, rummy booze, dark fruit (especially currants), spices, especially cinnamon and mace, and a touch of oakiness. This one has a bit of age on it, but the hops are still a detectable presence, bringing hints of grass and herbs, especially mint, and a ghost of juniper berries. Finish is still medium-dry, with more currants, a heavier spice presence, and a touch of maduro cigars. Medium-full bodied, lighter than one expects from 10% abv, but not watery or disappointing, just sufficiently lighter than a conparable imperial stour to justify the name. This is truly an excellent flavored imperial porter, surprisingly complex and rewarding.

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

I got this in a BIF, thanks Dunt. I poured from a 22 ounce bottle into a snifter. It pours a deep, jet black, no highlights. The head is wa sticky, little white thing that sticks around for a while. It smells like a Frapacino infused beer, which is not a bad thing. Bitter coffee hits up front and is mellowed by the very obvious vanilla. The roasted coffee follows you to the lingering finish. This brew is creamy and smooooth. The carbonation is on tap and the alcohol is hidden. This drinks like a much smaller beer. Highly recomended.

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Photo of larryi86
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 oz bottle poured into a tulip

A- Black with a two finger light tan head.

S- Roasted coffee, vanilla, some dark chocolate.

T- Roasted coffee, bitter finish, some dark chocolate, vanilla adds a nice sweetness, kind of boozy.

M- Smooth, light to medium body.

O- A tasty coffee beer, but a little boozy. Vanilla adds a nice touch to the beer. Good, but not sure if I would pick it up again. Gets better as it warms.

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

22 oz bottle poured into my snifter.

A- Opaque nearly black body that pours with a nice 2-3 finger tan head. Head fades eventually to a thick collar but leaves plenty of lacing behind in the glass.

S- Nose is very sweet and vanilla is certainly the main character. Coffee beans are definitely present as well and make up the background of the nose.

T-The initial flavor is subtle and offers a subtle vanilla sweetness with a touch of dark malt backbone. The finish is full of vanilla sweetness with some coffee undertones-but then just as the sweetness almost becomes too much a moderate roasted malt bitterness comes through to balance all the flavors. The slightest alcohol heat can be detected as well.

M-Medium to high carbonation and medium weight-silky smooth body.

D- This is 10%???? Really??? I thought I was drinking atwater vanilla java porter until the finish. This is a well rounded balanced coffee porter with ABV nearly undetectable.

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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.