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

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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
98
world-class

5,554 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,554
Reviews: 1,232
rAvg: 4.41
pDev: 8.84%
Wants: 948
Gots: 1,533 | FT: 104
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: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,554 | Reviews: 1,232
Photo of biglite351
3.58/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

Photo of calitrie1486
3.58/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

ehhhh. . . not my cup of tea!

Photo of younger35
3.58/5  rDev -18.8%
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.

Photo of Wadsey
3.59/5  rDev -18.6%
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. 

Photo of n2185
3.6/5  rDev -18.4%
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.

Photo of sweemzander
3.61/5  rDev -18.1%
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.

Photo of Gosox8787
3.61/5  rDev -18.1%
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.

Photo of Ozzylizard
3.61/5  rDev -18.1%
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

Photo of ADZA
3.62/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

Photo of shleepy
3.62/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

Photo of Christoffer91
3.62/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

Photo of Gyle41386
3.63/5  rDev -17.7%
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.

Photo of John_Beeryman
3.65/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A bit to harsh and burnt in the coffee flavor for me, couldn't really detect any vanilla.

Photo of callmescraps
3.65/5  rDev -17.2%
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.

Photo of SensorySupernova
3.65/5  rDev -17.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Black as night, with a low brown head.

Smell: A little bit of whiskey and caramel. Not too strong.

Taste: Very sweet all the way through. Caramel and whiskey, a bit woody. Roasted malts, although not as strong as the appearance would suggest. Reminds me of a Scotch ale. Plenty of vanilla in there. Some alcohol heat at the end; about what you would expect at 10% ABV.

Mouthfeel: Very thick, moderate carbonation.

Overall: Enjoyable, but too sweet for me. Maybe it would improve with a year of age; I had it fresh on tap so I don't know. Definitely lots of different flavors in here. Look and feel fit well with a big beer.

Photo of Chico1985
3.67/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours as black and mysterious as the bottom of the sea with a small tan head that sticks around, leaves decent lacing. Not picking up much coffee in the smell, but great scents of vanilla and caramel, and later on some chocolate. Unfortunately the taste is a little lackluster. Mostly a decent coffee taste, a little sweetness, but not much vanilla. A little roasty. But the thing that really kills the taste is the alcohol, it's there up front with every sip, 10% is too high for a porter in my opinion. A little vanilla and caramel is detectable in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel is fine for the style. It would be alot better if the alcohol was more hidden. I've had plenty of 10% beers and coffee beers that do it well.

Photo of corby112
3.67/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours a very deep dark brown while pouring out of the bottle but looks pitch black and completely opaque in the glass with only the slightest hint of mahogany edges when held to a light source. Foamy one finger light tan head that has decent retention, only slowly settling into a lasting cap and ring that leaves sheets of lacing in it's path.

Sweet chocolate malty aroma with a very nice roasty character and subtle vanilla. These combined aroma produce a tootsie roll like chocolate coffee scent that is mouthwatering. The roasted coffee bean presence becomes more prominent when it warms. Subtle hops become evident beneath the lactic, silky chocolate notes. Very complex aroma, hopefully the flavor lives up to it.

Chewy silky malt dominated full body with a huge roasted coffee bean presence. Lots of silky chocolate malt and some subtle mellow vanilla notes but the flavor is a bit overpowered by the very intensely strong deep roasted coffee, espresso bean. Hints of oatmeal, toffee, very burnt toast and licorice with a nice dry bitter hop character in the finish. I can't overemphasize how much of a strong burnt/roasted coffee presence there is. It's a bit too harsh for me and extremely bitter, taking away from the silky chocolate and vanilla notes that I liked so much. Alcohol heat mid-palate that becomes stronger at the end of the swallow and produces some warmth in the finish. Pretty complex but a bit one dimensional for me. Recommended for fans of roasted coffee and big coffee beers.

Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.67/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Go Ducks! Since I'm a CAL alum, I gotta pull for the PAC-10!!!

This beer is crazy already. Pours an inky black, with a dark tan head that basically fills the glass. It's a slowly billowing thing, too. Kinda like watching the Titanic sink in that lame movie starring that girl's boobs. It just keeps expanding until it reaches the pinnacle and then, ever more slowly, crumbles into a finger of marshmallow like beauty. Lacing is coating the galss like toffee. Amazing so far. Some nice, albeit not super robust aromas in here. Some coffee for sure, some vanilla, like a vanilla cappuccino in a way. Some sweetness, but it's really subdued. Something else I can't quite place. Like cinnamon roll...Holy mackerel, the flavor is crazy. It's certainly a porter, and it's certainly robust. The vanilla lends a bizarre character - it makes the middle and finish taste like burned coffee. Or, mayhaps, coffee w/Baileys, but unsweetened...The coffee notes don't really dominate until the end, where it blasts into you a little too forcefully. The finish is super bitter, and I'm not sure they wanted that. It's a mixture of hop bitterness and that coffee flavor. This beer is expensive at $7.49/bomber, 10% ABV so it's a sipping beer. The flavors get less punchy as it warms, but this is still really a beer for Imperial Stout lovers and their ilk...

What I like most: The crazy beautiful (like Kirsten's chest in that movie) pour

What I like least: The overpowering bitterness and price point...

Verdict: Good, albeit not fantastic, and unique. Worth trying if you see it but probably too crazy for most folks to enjoy..

Photo of beerad666
3.68/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

Pours a rich thick black with a heavy brown head. The aroma is sweet, lots of vanilla and chocolate. As for the coffee I feel like it is somewhat missing, just slightly there. I feel the same way about the taste. The chocolate and coffee were fighting it out and the chocolate is winning. They just weren't working together like they should. Very creamy and rich in the mouth. Good flavors and complex but I don't think it completely worked. I had to pass my glass onto someone else it just was too sweet for me, maybe would have been better after a meal.

Photo of WJVII
3.68/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2/23/11 review session hosted by Cdkrenz reviewed from notes- cdkrenz sample:
Poured into a pint glass this brew has a thick oil like black color with a nice 3 finger chocolate head. There is a strong aroma of burnt malts, coffee and caramel. The flavor is more mild than expected and not until a few sips do you notice the subtle but delicious vanilla that matches perfectly with the chocolate flavor. The coffee that is advertised is not very noticeable. This had a smooth milky body and was good but not the best we had that night. Strong brew and definitely recommend.

Photo of coreyfmcdonald
3.68/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

22oz bottle into a snifter

A: Pours a shade from pitch black with three fingers of thick tan head. The head slowly subsides with nice lacing and a thick film atop the beer.

S: Lots of smooth earthy coffee in here with some dark chocolate and a hint of vanilla and caramel sweetness - kind of like coffee and cream. Fairly straight-forward, but nice.

T: The coffee is still very present, but now dark chocolate comes out quite strong along with nice roast. The roast and coffee meet somewhere that almost makes them indistinguishable between the two, though the coffee remains very obviously there. Vanilla comes in fairly strong as well, but there is an acidic twang in the aftertaste. Without this acidity, this beer would be very good.

M: Medium thickness with fairly strong carbonation.

O: The coffee is very, very strong with this one, though it goes well with the beer. The beer remains fairly dry, though the vanilla sweetness is a nice touch. A bit acidic. A good coffee porter.

Photo of OWSLEY069
3.69/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours jet black, with a chocolate brown head. In the aroma, a light roast, chocolate and vanilla hints. In the taste, quite roasty, dry chocolate, and a dry coffee note. A small bite and a medium bodied mouthfeel, with a semi dry coffee aftertaste. Faint nose, not much vanilla, hides the alcohol, but just about average.

Photo of beagle75
3.69/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured from a bomber into a tulip glass.
2009 batch.

A: Opaque black color--turning clear, dark brown where light is allowed to penetrate around the edges of the less-full glass--with over one finger of diminishing beige foam head. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Rich chocolate forms the backbone of the smell, also with brown sugar, Irish cream, pipe tobacco, and spirituous vanilla. The combined effects of these smells are all-encompassing with endless depth--and make it hard to believe it didn't see the inside of a wooden barrel.

T: Begins sweet, briefly figgy, with roasted malt and an acidic burst of the tobacco from the smell. As acidity fades toward the middle, coffee emerges, eventually welcoming the drying bitter finish. Also featured in the finish are earth, herbaceous green stems, and a lingering whiff of vanilla. This beer presents restrained booziness throughout, but less than is expected.

M: Thin to medium viscosity, leaving the palate burning either from acidity or alcohol, with surprisingly brisk carbonation.

D: Opening the bottle is made worthwhile just by the smell of this over-rated beer. While flavors generally match the intensity of the smells, the sharpness of early acidity is off-putting and difficult to ignore. Definitely a sipper--it's sensory qualities tower over other bottled imperial porters, such as Flying Dog's Gonzo.

Photo of TwoPack
3.7/5  rDev -16.1%

A: Deep, Deep brown. Nice light brown head that dissipates but thin layer remains. A swirl easily produces another layer.
S: A hint of milk chocalate upfront that quickly turns to espresso. Short of a burnt coffee/espresso. A hint of vanilla extract.
T: Big hit of vanilla, especially at the very beginning and then also sharply lingering on the aftertaste. But most of the flavor is dominated by bitter coffee. Quite bitter. Also decently boozy. I don't smell the alcohol but I taste it.
M: Mouthfeel is nice, full and creamy. Not so rich that you feel like chewing but the right amount of body for a beer of this kind.
O: 3.7. It's very good, but I wanted to enjoy it more. I enjoy the slight chocolate, vanilla and coffee flavors, but it comes off a little too harsh and the bitterness lingers too long in a not so pleasant way.

Photo of bubseymour
3.71/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Way too ash/roasty for me. No sweetness at all. Just ashy and bitter finish. Ok, but not my style preference for a big porter/stout. I really don't understand the high ratings for this one at all.

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
98 out of 100 based on 5,554 ratings.