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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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,155 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 1,155
Hads: 5,629
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 950
Gots: 1,569 | FT: 108
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: 1,155 | Hads: 5,629
Photo of ryan1788a5
3.43/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

22oz bomber poured into an oversized snifter.

A: Pours black with a two-inch tan head. The head dies down after a few minutes, but never quite goes away. Lacing clings to the glass in rings.

S: Whole, roasted coffee beans with hints of vanilla bean and a roasted malt base. Malted milk balls. Faint dark chocolate. Not the most complex nose, but it still smells quite good.

T: Bitter and acidic coffee flavors kick things off. Darkfruit lingers underneath with almost a tart edge. Vanilla bean barely breaks through now and then. Kick of citric hops. More bitter coffee. Dark chocolate before the finish. Nutty and coffee tastes finish, along with some lingering bitterness.

M: Medium bodied. Creamy. Low carbonation. Good enough to get the job done, but it seems to be lacking some intangible dimension.

O: Too bitter, in my opinion, with a double dose coming from both the coffee and the ample hopping. Hop tastes were also very distracting and felt out of place. Good but not great, don't see what all the fuss is about.

Notes: This beer disappears from the shelves very quickly around here, and has quite a reputation. Not sure why. I can readily think of several similar and easier to find options at this price point or lower that I would rather have. (1,265 characters)

Photo of craytonic
3.43/5  rDev -21.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Bit of a letdown.

Appearance: Decent head and lacing; pour is of course near-black with some ruby/mahogany to it

Smell: Lots of dark, roasted malts, bittersweet chocolate, and coffee grounds. Hint of vanilla, but not much

Taste: Roasted malts, burnt coffee and espresso, dark chocolate, hint of vanilla. Title is fitting. A bit more bitter / acidic than I would have liked.

Mouthfeel: Smooth enough, but the coffee ground taste makes it feel a bit chewy.

Drinkability: Bitter / accidic element of the coffee and roast limits drinkability unless you are big on those elements. (580 characters)

Photo of dondeez21
3.48/5  rDev -20%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip glass.
A: Deep dark, black, Thin Tan head that disappeared rather fast
S: Smell is of coffee. This beer smells like a cool cup of joe.
T: Initial taste is of coffee. Not much is noticed of the vanilla that was used in the breweing
M: My main gripe with porters is the lack of body. It is prob mind over matter but I see black beer and I assume thick chewy body but this beer falls short.
D: Tasty beer. Not much is to be said of the Vanilla. Not sure Id want to drink more than a 22oz bottle in 1 sitting. (544 characters)

Photo of zhanson88
3.48/5  rDev -20%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Victory at Sea pours close to pitch black with about to 3 fingers of head. This beer definitely qualifies as opaque in the glass. Retention and lacing are great.

Smell: This beer smells of roasted malts, coffee, and vanilla. The coffee and vanilla components seem to be a bit out whack for me. Just a little out of balance, but still not bad at all.

Taste: I definitely get a bunch roasted malts and coffee on the front end, with vanilla and some acridness on the back end and finish. I'm really not a fan at all of the coffee component in this beer. It's just too acrid and seems artificial to me. After having a fair number of coffee-infused beers, I find that I'm pretty picky about how it is incorporated. It doesn't work in this beer for me.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Just a bit under full bodied and very smooth on the palate. Very nice. Overall I just don't find this beer overly drinkable due to how the coffee flavor fits in with the profile of this beer. Other components of the review are going to help carry the score on this beer for me, but I definitely feel like it's overrated. (1,107 characters)

Photo of kbeals
3.51/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to Nesued for this one!

A- Pours a deep black with a finger of brown, creamy head. Head sticks around nicely and forms nice lacing on the glass.

S- Lots of sweet caramel malts, bitter roasted coffee, dark chocolate and vanilla. It's all there, but it doesn't seem to work very well together. It's a tad cloying and bitter at the same time.

T- Resembles the smell flawlessly. The bitterness seems to show up more than anything however. The vanilla is a little too much also. Vanilla is one mf my favorite flavors in the world, but this almost tastes medicinal. Very average flavors, not at my expectations by any means.

M- A bit thin and a little too carbonated IMO. Still a good mouthfeel however, very smooth.

D- The smell and taste aren't the greatest, but it was still relatively easy to drink this beer. I'll probably be splitting my other bomber however. Thanks again Dan! (894 characters)

Photo of Zorro
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lightproof black colored beer with a small brown colored head.

Smell is coffee and chocolate with patent malt. Vanilla is there but the scent is more spiced rum than vanilla. Toffee and something else spicy, maybe allspice berry.

Starts out bitter chocolate with vanilla in the after taste, fairly bitter. Not a sweet beer. Chocolate and vanilla with a trace of ash in the taste. An OK Stout but they went overboard with the patent malt. Alcohol is quite detectable.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Overall it is at best OK. Too bad they didn't balance out the patent malt better. (569 characters)

Photo of maximum12
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to mrbubbler for shipping a bottle of this across the country, always happy to have Ballast Point in the house. Cut open to celebrate with my wife after returning from a short trip to Fabulous Las Vegas...where I was surprised to find good beer pretty available.

Poured into our new Devil's Backbone snifters (thanks Vickster & sholland119!!) this beer is a rather unsurprising black. Smell conforms with truth in advertising strictures: hard malts, bold coffee, liberal scoops of vanilla. That doesn't quite do it justice, very nicely medled bunch of aromas.

Victory at Sea brings the vanilla funk. Strangely, the taste isn't as tight as the smell. Vanilla is overriding & seems less honest than really good vanilla beers, a touch artificial. The coffee is good, serving the sweetness, understated. The base beer appears to be good, but it's buried beneath a mudslide of vanilla. A dropperful of chocolate causes this to veer towards what my wife calls "Tootsie Roll" territory.

Ultimately, this doesn't quite do it for me. Pretty good beer, but it taste like a candy whipped up in a big factory with robots vs. a confection whipped up by hand in the back of a local shop. Close for me. (1,200 characters)

Photo of brother_rebus
3.54/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

maybe i was tricked about this beer due to the fan hype, and notoriety. The first sip was virtually off-putting. I must admin it got better from there. They claim it has "just the right amount of sweetness". Thats my major problem with it. Its a malt pit. Not cool. Love porters. Love imperials. Not this one. (310 characters)

Photo of ktrillionaire
3.54/5  rDev -18.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

If you want to get the best flavor out of this brew, drink it straight from the bottle. Or let it air out for a day.

A - Dark as night, with a solid amount of tan froth that lasts and lasts, some sticky lace.

S - Whoa, someone went WAY overboard with the vanilla. That just about overwhelms all of the other strengths of the nose. The richly roasted malt and the cold-brewed coffee would be quite impactful, if they weren't drowning in vanilla. I had to let this air out for at least an hour.

T - The taste is a bit hot. And again, it is overly laden with vanilla. It is not very good as it pours out of the bottle. Once it airs out for several hours (I actually let it rest overnight) it tastes quite sublime; as the coffee and roasted malt show interesting flavors and dynamics, and the booze element settles down. Even on the second day, it drinks a bit hot. A beer should not have to rest for 24 hours in order to deliver optimum flavor, bottom line.

M - Pretty nice, except for just a little too 'hot'.

D - Very close to being a drain pour; instead I corked it and drank it the next day, when it was finally enjoyable. (1,128 characters)

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.55/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Deep, dark black pour with no light getting through at all. A quarter inch of deep tan head sits atop the brew. Aromas of huge, bold fresh brewed coffee, caramel and vanilla. Roasted malts and chocolate weave in and out underneath. Smells a bit sweet.

First sip brings dark, somewhat roasted malts swimming in bold, nearly abrasive coffee along with big vanilla extract. Chocolate and caramel come through with a bit too much sweetness. The bitter coffee kicks in on the way down but it still doesn't overtake the sweetness I get from the malts and vanilla here. A bit too much of everything going on for me here.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, creamy and smooth but with big alcohol puffs too. This is a bold brew and a bit too sweet for me, but it's a good bomber to share with a friend or two as drinking the whole thing to yourself would be a bit too much. Thanks to emerge for this one. (890 characters)

Photo of VTR
3.55/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Smells of coffee, slight vanilla, faint caramel. Taste is where this gets good. Coffee hits you hard right off the bat but mellows as the malts start to take over with some sweetness, followed with some slight vanilla. The bitterness was not too bad and carbonation was just right. It is expensive but I will pick this up again! (332 characters)

Photo of digitalflood
3.57/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Summary: Too sweet... more candy than beer.

Pours a thick black color. Excellent tan head reducing to very good lacing. Perfect tan ring around the edge. Carbonation hard to see. The body is near solid black even when held up to light. Smells of vanilla ice cream shake, African coffee, caramel, and chocolate. On the nose, very sweet. Lots of sugars. Strong vanilla bean ice cream taste. Some chocolate and minor bitters. Overwhelming vanilla dilutes barley and biscuit notes inhibiting the overall flavor profile. This continues mid-palate where there is a bit more heavy cream coffee, but not enough to overwhelm the sweetness. I would like to see more porter notes. Maybe some bitter cocoa or malt. More balance to the coffee and less half & half. Instead the back palate and after taste are all vanilla milkshake with some coffee ice cream. It's almost sickening to the stomach. No real alcohol notes, but that's just because everything is overwhelmed by vanilla. I really think if they dialed back the vanilla the flavor profile would be extremely good, but as it is-- I cannot get beyond all that sweetness. It is just too much and really kills what could be an otherwise excellent porter if they'd let the rest of the flavors come through. I tried it cold. I drank it slightly chilled. I tried it near room temp. No difference. No change. Disappointing. 3.5 out of 5. (1,376 characters)

Photo of Moose90
3.58/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

12oz Bottle Served Into 16oz Tulip

A – Pours a deep rich black with a thin and cream colored head, really nice lacing for a beer of this style.

S – Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, sugar, very very sweet.

T – Sweet notes of vanilla, cocoa, coffee, toffee, caramel, exceedingly sweet.

M – Medium bodied, moderately lasting finish.

O – Good overall, especially if you have a sweet tooth, this is borderline artificially sweet, but has a solid base. (456 characters)

Photo of biglite351
3.58/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am re-reviewing this brew, and leaving my old review for reference. I emailed the brewer to let them not that I got a super-skunked bottle. To their extreme credit, a few days later a replacement bottle arrived at my house. Kudos to Ballast Point for very solid customer service.

L - nice and dark. Full long lasting foam.

S - mild but nice. Vanilla and coffee.

T - rich and deep. Certainly has coffee and vanilla. No real bitterness. Mild after taste.

M - tingle at the front of the tongue to start. The tingle then flows back into the throat for the after taste. Slight alcohol feel late.

D - this might be a little too much for an all nighter, but you could certainly have one or two during the evening.

I am not going to do my usual full review on this one. The brew looked great when I poured it. Very dark brew with a lasting full dark foam. The smell seemed a little off bit wasn't something rusting could place. The taste was the kicker. It actually took me back. It reminded me of a cheese that had been sitting out a a party for a bit too long. I really didn't get any coffee flavor at all. I truly hope that this was just an off bottle. It tasted nothing pike I expected. I actually did not finish it, I dumped it. Maybe in tje future I will try another bottle and re-review it. This was NOT a good bottle to grab though. (1,340 characters)

Photo of younger35
3.58/5  rDev -17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Picked up a couple bombers of this from Friar Tucks in Bloomington IL probably a year-ish ago. I've had a couple bombers so far but haven't reviewed it now. This is my last bottle unfortunately. Drank from my Darkness snifter.

Appearance- Pours a pitch ass black with a nice one finger dark tan fizzy head. Not much of a cap remains but there is a nice thick collar and some random lacing that sticks around.
Smell- Not the most intense or overly complicated nose which is weird considering all stuff thrown in. The vanilla is noticeable right from the start but its light and somewhat artificial smelling. The coffee isn't real noticeable as there is just a deep roast in the beer. A bit of dark chocolate and caramel top everything off.
Taste- Starts with a sneaky little bite of alcohol and a bit of smooth vanilla goodness. The vanilla tastes much better than it smells and honestly it's much more subdued and incorporated than it was last time I had it (which has to be summer of '09). Plenty of milk chocolate remains along with some slightly sweet caramel and brown sugar. There is an underlying roastiness in the beer that's lightly acidic and almost harsh as it mixes with the alcohol. A bit of vanilla lingers and lingers.
Mouthfeel- Fairly nice and on the heavy side of medium with a nice crisp bite of carbonation. Despite the fact that the bubbles are fairly aggressive there is still a nice light creaminess to the mouthfeel.
Drinkability- Uggghhh... Not bad I suppose. I really love the concept of this beer and I think they are on the right path but something about this just isn't drinkable. The vanilla can get to be a bit much and there is a underlying sweetness that isn't necessarily cloying, but it's a bit much. Also, 10% for this beer is entirely too much. You can taste and feel every bit of it. A fun beer that I'm glad to have been able to try a couple times but make sure you have a friend around because a full bomber is too much. (1,960 characters)

Photo of Wadsey
3.59/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Victory At Sea, vintage '08 or '09

Served in DFH signature glass

A: Pours black with modest light brown head that leaves little in the way of lacing. 

S: Milk chocolate and dry roasted maltiness. Earth, honey, vanilla and coffee bring up rear. Honestly, Ballast Point Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter smells like one of those iced coffee drinks from Starbuck's that has a ridiculously long name. 

T: Sweet milk chocolate and roasted malts mingle on palate before vanilla joins in. The vanilla tastes extracted. Coffee has faded and reminds me of the last cup after dwelling over the Sunday newspaper a little too long. Medium- high bitterness. Finish is bitter chocolate and coffee. 

M: Relatively big body and medium-light carbonation. Somewhat oily and mouthcoating. 

O: BPVASCVIP was one of the first beers for which I traded and that I loved. I'm sure this beer has lost a step or two after a couple years in my cellar, but it wasn't bad by any means. Recommended, but consume it within 18 months of bottling.  (1,038 characters)

Photo of n2185
3.6/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a tulip.

A: Pours a deep viscous black with about a finger of coffee-colored frothy head that quickly recedes into a thin film. Very little lacing.

S: Smoked malt at first, but then a sweet vanilla smell overtakes it. Only a little coffee smell at the end.

T: Smoked peat up front followed by a strong, bitter coffee and bitter chocolate flavors somewhat sweetened with vanilla. There's a very apparent alcohol burn along with the bitterness in the aftertaste. As the beer warms, the vanilla begins to shine through in both the taste and aftertaste, though it doesn't mesh well with the bitterness or alcohol burn.

M: Surprisingly medium-bodied for such a dark beer with medium carbonation. It's not nearly as thick and creamy as it initially looks.

D: Very much a sipper--goes down bitter with a fairly strong alcohol burn. Not something I would want to drink multiples of. (911 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
3.61/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz. bottle poured into a snifter. Thanks Beerwolf for another share!

(A)- Pours a pitch black. Some tan bubbles.

(S)- Some chalky cocoa and spicy pepper-like dusty funk.

(T)- Some nice vanilla with rich raisin, dusty cocoa, and caramel.

(M)- A mellow/smooth carbonation level. A nice balance albiet some chalky/dusty characters, but good.

(D)- A solid porter with some fun flavors, though a little weird smell-wise. (422 characters)

Photo of Gosox8787
3.61/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 22 oz. bottle poured into a Portsmouth Brewery tulip at room temperature.

Appearance: Dark brown to black in color with a two finger, caramel mocha head and impressive retention.

Aroma: Vanilla, roasted malt and a little bit of a burn. Definitely pick up a good deal of the alcohol heat. Definitely some coffee notes hidden behind the vanilla.

Taste: Coffee and vanilla are definitely present in the first sip. The vanilla really becomes more notciable as this sits. The coffee is a bit muddled by the baltic porter notes here. Definitely not as clean a taste as I imagined. I find this almost rotates between smooth, overly sweet vanilla, and overly bitter coffee. I wish they were better fused together as a whole.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied and syrupy. Definitely a creamy undertone as well.

Drinkability: I definitely pick up the alcohol in the nose and taste, but I had no problem finishing a bomber of this.

Overall, I finmd the balance of sweetness of the vanilla and coffee bitterness a bit of a disppointment. Not a bad beer, but I don't think it lives up to the hype. (1,095 characters)

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.61/5  rDev -17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Undated bottle at 50 degrees into goblet
Head small (1.5 cm), creamy with some froth, light brown, mostly diminishing into a surface skin of bubbles
Lacing OK – continuous rings and clots covering most of the surface
Body dark brown/black with no light penetration
Aroma roasted malt, slightly burnt; hint of vanilla
Flavor begins as slightly burnt malt with a slight alcohol aftertaste mixed with coffee bitterness; no hops, no diacetyl, no vanilla
Palate medium to full, slightly creamy, soft carbonation

It succeeds in being a coffee flavored beer; unfortunately I could get the same effect cheaply by dumping some alcohol into a cup of stale coffee (655 characters)

Photo of ADZA
3.62/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Another beer I never thought I'd see locally so glad I was proven wrong and it pours a black coffee short black hue with a creamy two finger head and lacing everywhere,the smell is strong and I mean strong vanilla mixed with strong expresso and also massive hints of milk chocolate,the feel is full bodied with moderate carbonation and has tastes of strong vanilla,strong dark coffee,ripe berries and finished with a milk chocolate bittersweetness and overall it's nice but a little too sweet for sessionability and I feel the vanilla dominates a little too much cheers. (570 characters)

Photo of shleepy
3.62/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Handles in Pleasanton on 1/25/2012.

A: Black, with a creamy, tan-colored head.

S: Very pungent; heavy coffee smell, with roastiness, vanilla, and gingerbread in the mix.

T: Immediate but quickly fading alcohol notes up front, followed by the aforementioned vanilla/gingerbread/roastiness. An interesting balance of flavors. Surprisingly clean finish.

M: Fairly full-bodied, but not as heavy as an imperial stout.

O: Pretty unique for a coffee porter, but maybe just a little too boozy and unsubtle. (514 characters)

Photo of Christoffer91
3.62/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours nice, super dark with a small tan head. Smell for me is overwhelmingly coffee, a tad sweetish. Taste: coffee coffee coffee. I love coffee, roast at home and drink every day, but that is all I taste in this beer. I would have loved more dark malt taste, for a balance. But perhaps that is why this is classified as a porter rather than a stout. Mouthfeel is great, nice carb, a bit on the thin side but not in a bad way. Overall, I can see why people like this beer but just not my cup of joe for the reasons stated. (521 characters)

Photo of Gyle41386
3.63/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a bomber into a mug.

Dark, dark black pour. About a finger of mocha-colored foam retains pretty well and sticks nicely.

Very, very coffee nose. Light sweetness up front keeps it porter-y, with a light roasty bitter finish.

This is definitely a coffee beer. I'm not really tasting much of anything else. There's a little bit of boozy heat in the finish. Certainly an imperial porter. The vanilla doesn't come through right away, which is a bit of a bummer.

Body is maybe a little heavier than medium, just a step below what I'd expect from an imperial stout, so that seems right on the money. Low carbonation. Slick and chewy.

ABV is apparent, but never a bother. Definitely a sipper. Very nice beer. (717 characters)

Photo of callmescraps
3.65/5  rDev -16.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I somehow keep missing this beer. It's time to finally give it a try. Ran into it when purchasing some celebratory fruit for good friends.

Appearance- Black? Possibly very, very dark brown. It looks black. Two inches of mocha head settle down and laces somewhat. Only a thin cap remains.

Smell- Like a cup of coffee. Lots of roast. Deep, rich coffee notes. Some licorice. Not getting a lot of the vanilla bean. Roasty. A hint of cherries.

Taste- Comes forward with some nice chocolate covered cherry. That licorice. Then the roast comes in for real. Lots of bittersweet chocolate. The burnt aspect lingers. And lingers. Downright charred. I want more vanilla. It comes through at the start. But then it's burnt caramel and roast, and more roast. The vanilla comes out a touch better as it warms.

Mouthfeel- Nice carbonation. Seems a tad light.

Drinkability- No hint of the booze. So nice. Plenty of hints of burnt coffee.

Probably not meant to be. Not a huge coffee fan. Sometimes I find a coffee beer that does it for me (Speedway Stout comes to mind). This is not one of them. I was hoping the vanilla would balance things out, but it didn't seem to come through. (1,176 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,155 ratings.