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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.

1,220 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,220
Hads: 5,934
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,009
Gots: 1,726 | FT: 91
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: 1,220 | Hads: 5,934
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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Photo of CTBeerPope
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this a while back

Pours black chocolate. 2 finger dense fluffy head that sticks around for a little bit great lacing. Really nice looking porter.

Smells a lot like a good RIS with coffee, vanilla and dark fruits standing out.

Very smooth for a 10% abv. Nice natural vanilla flavor upfront followed by a combination of coffee and chocolate with the coffee riding all the way thru to the back.

Full mouthfeel with modest carbonation

Have to travel to get this one but well worth the trip. One of the best, if not the best, porter's I've had.

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Photo of inlimbo77
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz, 2012 vintage
Riedel tulip

A: Pours a deep dark black color. No light getting through. Initially two fingers of tight bubbled medium tan head. Like marshmallow sitting on top. Sticky lacing.

S: Smelled it as soon as I opened it. Delicious mocha. Coffee and vanilla. Dark coffee character is still ever present even after a year. Char.

T: Wow. Ages extremely well. Coffee is still present amazingly. Deep dark chocolate up front, mixing with dark roast coffee. The vanilla is slight, but as it warms it comes out more. Just delicious stuff. Finish is fairly dry because if the coffee and dark chocolate but LONG. Stick with you.

M: Full bodied brew. Vicious.

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Photo of oriolesfan4
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Shared a bomber of this with a friend. Pours a rich, dark black. Smells of roastiness and coffee. Taste is full bodied, great mouthfeel. The vanilla adds a great taste and complexity to this overall delicious tasting brew. Smooth and well hidden alcohol, this was a fantastic beer with the sips going down way too quickly and easily. Highly recommended, this brewery has yet to let me down in the least bit.

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

Lovely opaque black with khaki brown head. Nose is luxurious with layers of vanilla, chocolate ice cream, and a smoky/roasty quality. On the palate the vanilla is really in your face with a smooth roasty character that brings the malt forward, and an espresso/coffee like quality towards the finish and aftertaste.

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Photo of billab914
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Stone RIS glass. Pours pitch black with a two finger light brown head. The head retreated to the sides of the glass but left excellent lacing on the sides.

From the aroma it's very east to tell this is a coffee beer. There is a strong presence of coffee along with a decent amount of roastedness to it. There is a slight vanilla sweetness that helps balance it out nicely.

The bitter coffee is the first thing that you notice in the flavor, but the real draw for me is the subtle complex vanilla sweetness it has in it. There is some roasted grains and bittersweet chocolate to go along with the coffee and vanilla in the finish as well.

Mouthfeel is on the thicker side with moderate to low carbonation. I really enjoyed drinking this one and would definitely buy it again. The vanilla sweetness really helped balance out the bitter coffee and roast flavor making this one stand out from other coffee stouts.

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

I poured this rather vigorously into my Smuttynose snifter, and the head has the staying power, and the aromas are lofting strongly around the area. vanilla is by far the strongest airborne scent, even more so then the coffee. digging your nose into it just screams vanilla. The flavors are more balanced then the aromas and meld very very nicely. Chocolate is introduced here to support the coffee and vanilla. For some reason im getting some oaky notes and there is also alcohol notes too. Overall i have to say this is a very impressive Coffee beer, and this is a harshly graded class for me. mouthfeel is creamy and semi-dense, just a joy to drink all around.

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Photo of tectactoe
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Shared with Mike - thanks to GetMeAnIPA for sending this one my way. Pours a deep and dark obsidian-like color; very, very little brown on the edges with a solid, fine-bubbled tan head that fades much too fast. A quick swirl of the glass can coax it back, but only for a few moments.

The aroma on this one is very tantalizing; heavy, HEAVY roasted coffee beans - I'm talking burnt, scorched, charred, ashy. These beans smell super roasted and super bitter. This plays off of a delicate sweetness induced from the vanilla aromas that hang in the balance. Might be a tiny bit of cocoa somewhere deep in the abyss, but any attempt to further sniff it out is just met with more and more heaps of coffee beans, roasted malts, and light vanilla. I've always been partial to bitter porters rather than overly sweet ones. The nose on this beer tells me that my bias may be in effect.

...and right I was - the aroma is a perfect indication of the malt assessment in Victory At Sea. From the moment the beer hits your tongue, your palate is pile-driven with an enormous roasted, charred, and borderline burnt flavor. Coffee beans, coffee beans, coffee beans. Imaging taking a hand full of French Roast coffee beans, scorching them in a skillet, then shoving them in your face. A little overboard? Maybe.... but you get the idea. The alcohol is also noticeable from the first sip to the last, but at 10% ABV, I have no complaints. Some lightly sweet vanilla coats each and every sip also, providing a tiny bit of balance to the bitter-roasted brigade. Some chocolate definitely comes out more upon warming, although it was nearly absent in the aroma. The aftertaste is a compilation of mild charcoal flavors with some ashy and dry bitterness - a "balls to the walls", unadulterated coffee bean roast. Medium-thick body with a decent amount of carbonation; mildly creamy and smooth.

Hell yes. Victory at Sea gives the roasty bitterness lovers more of what they crave. Such a roasted, charred, and bitter stout with lovely little sweetness interruptions to keep things interesting. Very pleasantly surprised by this one - great way to end the night.

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Photo of ISmith87
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - 4 - Good looking dark brown-black beer with a nice dark tan head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. Bottle is classic Ballast Point.
S - 4.25 - The smell is very heavy on the coffee with maybe some hints of vanilla and dark fruits? Definitely roasted malts in there.
T - 4.5 - Super good coffee, vanilla, creamy flavor to it. Roasted malts. A slight taste of alcohol but it's good. Tastes like Breckinridge Vanilla Porter but better.
M - 4.25 - Medium mouthfeel. Lighter given that it's an imperial porter rather than a stout. Roasty coffee aftertaste. Alc is really well covered.
O - 4.25 - This is a good beer. It's what it says it is (a coffee vanilla porter), and it's good, but I don't know if I'd give it the 98 rating it has. I'd like to see a little thicker body on it and some more complexity.

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Photo of schoolboy
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Victory is a winner! A huge, roasty, porter that makes me want to go down to the sea side (we are eating at a marina later) ... Ok, I'll stop.

It pours almost black - very dark brown. The head comes up and then craters beautifully, like the surface of the moon. The aroma is of sweetness, vanilla and a hint of coffee.

The taste is wonderful - a mix of roasty coffee and vanilla at just the right levels. It is less sweet than many porters. It is a great balance. The aftertaste is a little harsh and bitter (compared to the smoothness of the rest of the experience). It all works well.

This is highly recommended.

Also (later) had this on tap/growler and it was, of course, quite good. The aftertaste was nicer for some reason. The finish was bitter with vanilla. Luscious.

 780 characters

Photo of BMMillsy
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours darkdark brown to blak with a very small mocha colored head. Earthy peppery coffe on the nose, some roast with a tad of vanilla and molasses. Biye up front that soothes into lots of chocolate on the palate. Second sip is a bit more earthy coffee. Don’t get a lot of vanilla, but it lingers in the aftertaste just a hint. Pretty prickly carbonation, but not too much. Medium mouthfeel but very drinkable (one of the lighter imperial porters i have had). Very nice beer.

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Photo of Furlinator
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Pours black with ¼ inch of khaki head and nice lacing.

Smell is of spent dark roast coffee grounds up front with vanilla and faint cocoa on the back end.

Taste is black coffee at first, then some bitter hops, followed by faint vanilla. There is a slight alcohol bite. The flavor of coffee and vanilla begin to intensify as the beer warms.

Mouthfeel is smooth and creamy allowing the flavors to linger on the tongue. Medium carbonation.

Impressive, although the vanilla flavor is a bit weak.

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Photo of far333
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Inky black and opaque with an inch high head of light brown dimpled and uneven foam that lingers long and rises up the sides of the glass.

Aroma of coffee and cocoa, some roasty malt and marshmallow.

Rich flavor of bitter chocolate and light cocoa, molasses and dark coffee. The coffee doesn't take over, it melds well with the other flavors. Vanilla is very subtle, almost hidden. Notes of licorice and leather, some grainy brown sugar, and firm bitterness in the background. Well hidden alcohol.

Firm and rich mouthfeel, slightly tangy, crisp and tingly. Very flavorful and rich, with high drinkability for such a bold beer.

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Photo of tdm168
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a thick mountain of brown head. The head has great retention. The nose has very strong notes of coffee and hints of cocoa. The taste is heavy coffee and light chocolatey, roasty notes followed by some faint vanilla. There is a faint hop bitterness in the finish. The mouthfeel is rich, smooth, full bodied though a little heavily carbonated.

Wow! This is well balanced, complex, and insanely drinkable. The ABV is hardly noticeable which made this bomber a dangerous one.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,220 ratings.