1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
97
world-class

3,761 Ratings
THE BROS
100
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,761
Reviews: 920
rAvg: 4.39
pDev: 8.88%
Wants: 680
Gots: 701 | FT: 55
Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  10.00% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes/Commercial Description:
"Imperial Porter"

(Beer added by: radshoesbro on 03-17-2009)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter Alström Bros
Ratings: 3,761 | Reviews: 920 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of krisandajt
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: A gentle pour from the bottle, the beer is black, dark and viscous. There is virtually no head atop this brew, only a thin ring of coffee colored foam where the beer meets the glass.

Smell: Nice roasted quality with some chocolate and coffee mixed in. I've been sitting on this one for a while, I get the impression the coffee has faded somewhat. Still, smells very good.

Taste: Some nice hints of vanilla, I really didn't get much of it in the nose so it's a bit of a surprise. The roasted quality isn't as pronounced as it was in the nose. Sweet, milk chocolate. Everything is pretty well balanced. Not getting much coffee, but again I think that's the result of the beer sitting down in my cellar.

Mouthfeel: Nice medium body, good carbonation. Very easy drinking beer given its potency.

Drinkability: A fine drinking porter perfect for a cold night like tonight. My one gripe is that I should have opened this one up sooner. I'd like to try it fresher and see if the coffee comes through more. Still, I'm enjoying it and I would recommend it to anybody.

krisandajt, Dec 05, 2010
Photo of BeerForMuscle
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A - Virtually black, with a sticky, thin layer of irregular bubbles on top. Looks strong.

S - Apple skin to black chocolate with cane sugar. Notes of alcohol and dark, rich sweetness. Maybe some steamed milk.

T - An assertive flavor profile with heavy coffee presence. Not much in the way of vanilla. There is a sweetness in the middle, but the strength of the coffee takes over. The 10% ABV is present; too strong for the rich flavors to mask.

M - Rich and strong, like a cappuccino. This beer is very sturdy and dry.

O - A hearty brew, but not sure this is a porter. This one seems like a coffee stout more or less.

BeerForMuscle, Apr 06, 2013
Photo of hreb
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle served in pint glass. Oh, *Imperial* porter? Oh my. Beer pours pitch black with a massive pillowy brown head on top. Big coffee aroma dominates everything else. A hint of caramel sweetness -- I guess I could believe vanilla in there. Flavor starts out coffee forward, with a caramelly, oaky (vanilla) sweetness up front, which progressively works its way back across the palate and ends up respectably bitter. There's not zero hops in here, but the real aftertaste is the earthy bitterness of black coffee, which leaves its residue on the lips. I think the vanilla provides caramel and oak flavors, neither of which are president, but the result is pretty complex, without bringing the harshness of oak, nor the sticky sweetness of adjunct sugars.

hreb, Mar 03, 2014
Photo of angrybabboon
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cheers to Goblinmunkey7 for sharing this. I've been meaning to review this for quite some time.

Consumed 2/18/14

Appearance: Surprisingly dark, I would legitimately call this jet black - pours with a large, rocky, beige head - keeps a solid cap - leaves webs of lacing

Smell: Big, bold coffee - roasty coffee beans and coffee grounds - tons of vanilla bean and vanilla - cooked, roasty, burnt malts - chocolate malts, dark chocolate, baker's chocolate - nutty in the finish

Taste: Coffee, chocolate, and vanilla - decidedly reminiscent of chocolate-covered coffee beans - espresso and some drip coffee - dark chocolate, baker's chocolate, and a touch of cocoa - the vanilla is definitely big, with some vanilla beans and vanilla extract, but I think it's a bit overshadowed by the coffee... or maybe I can't quite discern the two flavors since I add French vanilla to my coffee on a daily basis - whatever - nice level of sweetness balanced with some roast - finishes dry and roasty

Mouthfeel: On the heavy side of medium, definitely big for the style, nice carbonation, smooth

Overall: Yup, worth a try

This isn't the best porter I've had, and it's not the best application of coffee. But it is very good. It's fairly easy to find, so I'd say it's definitely worth a try.

angrybabboon, Feb 18, 2014
Photo of sommersb
4.06/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Tasted On: 06-28-2014
Freshness: Best by 12-12-2013
Packaging: 22 oz. brown bottle, pry-cap
Glassware: Tulip
Purchased: Received in a trade

Black, opaque beer that features a small tan head. Very good lacing and a low level of retention.

Aromas have vanilla and wood, rich dark fruits, coffee, chocolates and dark cherry fruit.

The taste has dark chocolate, rich malts and brown breads, bitterness of roasted coffee and earth hops and vanilla. Also get some alcohol warming and perhaps some oxidation from the age.

Thick-bodied mouthfeel with low carbonation. The finish has a pretty intense coffee flavor and bitterness.

A very rich and coffee-forward beer that I enjoyed, but it did seem to have some off flavors that may be attributed to the age.

sommersb, Jun 29, 2014
Photo of Shumista
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle shared three ways. From notes.

Pours black with a brown head, no surprises there. The smell is roasted coffee (the cheap stuff though, folgers maybe), chocolate and some vanilla. I was pretty taken aback by the flavor, I expected roasted coffee to dominate but this is an absolute vanilla bomb. Coffee, chocolate and a nuttiness are all underlying flavors as well. Everything combines to make a beer that reminds me more of a mocha vanilla milk shake than a porter. Creamy mouthfeel, very sweet but not to the point that drinkability suffers. Definitely some delicious stuff.

Shumista, Jul 16, 2010
Photo of emerge077
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Glugs into a half liter mug, jet black with a crisply defined line of mocha foam on top. The foam is sticky and leaves tan concentric rings around the edges. As it warms up, the aroma is very chocolate/vanilla like a milkshake. The flavor is also heavy on these notes, seeming like a melted kahlua milkshake on first impression. Some char and bitter coffee elements. Fairly dry and bitter dark chocolate aftertaste. Pretty beefy, one to sip for sure. Luckily there's no hint of 10% in here.

emerge077, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of JoeBloe
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

i tried this earlier today with friends, bottles were nicely chilled -
everybody loved this, and there were more remarks about chocolate flavor than coffee or vanilla - now i'm having a glass at home, served a little warmer -
pours a deep chestnut brown, nearly opaque
the 1 finger head recedes to form a 1/4 inch collar around the glass with spotty lacing on the sides and a swirly 'crema' on the surface -
not much aroma from this -
taste is complex and smoooothe - yes, i can taste the vanilla notes and the coffee, with a little choco/toffee on the finish -very well balanced - i cannot taste the alcohol in this 10% brew - damn! is this smooth!
mouthfeel is quite good with a creaminess that begs for the next sip - not sticky - medium/full bodied
drinks waaay too easy for the abv
great stuff!

JoeBloe, Dec 06, 2010
Photo of flagmantho
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from 22oz bomber into a tulip. Looking forward to this one!

Appearance: entirely black body -- not much else to be said here! Head pours a thick finger of rich, frothy, dark-tan foam. Retention is decent, and a nice lace is left on the glass. Bam!

Smell: rich, sweet coffee and roasty aroma. Very light and subtle hints of vanilla are indeed coming through. In general, there is not a lot of complexity to the aroma; however, it seems extremely clean and well-crafted. I like it a lot.

Taste: rich and heavy porter taste. Lots of roastiness with plenty of coffee thrown in; the coffee is nice but definitely adds its share of bitterness. Hop bitterness is also high; unfortunately, though, there is a quite a bit of vegetal hop character which detracts from the overall flavor in my book. Still a tasty beer, though.

Mouthfeel: big body with a rich, smooth and creamy texture. I like it a lot, but I feel like maybe there is a bit of missed opportunity here -- the beer is not a super silky and sleek as I feel it could be.

Overall: this is a great-looking and great-smelling beer; tasty, too, but I feel like the cleanliness of the flavor and the smoothness of the texture could be dialed in just a little bit more.

flagmantho, Aug 17, 2013
Photo of Phelps
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Looks: like breakfast. An overriding and abundant black liquid fills the glass while a powerful-looking head the color of brown sugar and the consistency of pancake batter slowly retreats to a thin but stubborn blanket. Sweet, sticky spatters of lace pepper the glass as it goes.

Smells: like Cappuccino gelato. Medium roast coffee, with milk. Sweet, dessert like. Subtle vanilla notes in the back, with some roasty delights. Bit of sourdough, brown sugar. More coffee than vanilla.

Tastes: like tiramisu. An excellent balance of bitter and sweet. Bitter medium roast coffee flavors play at the sides of the tongue, while a sweet vanilla and irish cream character builds at the front. Toast. Molasses. Alcohol heat rolls down the throat, noticeable but not overpowering. Sweet finish. Loving the play of coffee bitterness and sweet vanilla. Really comes together as it warms. The vanilla becomes more pronounced, making the overall drink sweeter.

Feels: creamy, smooth and luxurious over the tongue. At first I thought the body could be a touch more full, and the medium carbonation just a bit too heavy, but the beer again improves dramatically as it warms. The mouthfeel expands to a creamy delight.

Drinks: like dessert. Victory at sea is a treat that, while not terribly complex, is utterly drinkable. I foresee the flavors mingling even better with time; I look forward to revisiting an aged bottle in a year or so.

Phelps, Jun 20, 2010
Photo of Thickfreakness
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this in one of my first trades last year... thought it was about time I opened it.

A- Pours near pitch black into my DFH glass. Nice creamy, thin dark tan head with a nice amount of oily residue clinging to the glass.

S- Nice roasted malt and coffee is the first thing that hits the nose. Cocoa, vanilla bean, and a subtle touch of citrusy hop lies beneath.

T- Fresh pressed black coffee, beautiful roasted chocolate malts! Very nice vanilla notes than open up aas it warms. Tastes like real vanilla beans... not extract. Nice bitterness, probably from both the roasted malt and the citrusy hops.

M- Creamy and chalky at the same time. Rich vanilla and chocolate flavors mingle with the citrus from the hops. Really thick and creamy on the tongue without being sticky. No real sence of the 10% which is nice.

O- This is a fantastic porter! Wishing I had drank this fresher, but hopefully I get another bottle this year. Incredibly drinkable and delicious. The vanilla really shines thru as it warms up.

Thickfreakness, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of mltobin
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up a bomber of this over in Westchester NY.

Appearance is dark black with a short tan head. The nose of this imperial porter contains chocolate, vanilla and coffee. Vanilla really came out more than I expected in the aroma. For the taste, a fair amount of roasted malts are present, coffee and vanilla. Mouthfeel on this offering from Victory leans towards full with a velvet texture. If you have had some of Ballast Point`s ipas but not this one, you need to check it out, solid quality.

mltobin, Oct 07, 2011
Photo of MikesnoHSL
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%

MikesnoHSL, Sep 04, 2014
Photo of sentomaster
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Smith's 2-10-11

A- Dark black body with a thick two finger mocha brown head. Leaves nice legs.

S- Not a huge nose but very nice notes rising up. A bit of light coffee, roasted malts, a little sweet vanilla and dark fruit.

T- Wow. Lots of good stuff going on here. Starts out with dark bittersweet chocolate note, roasted/toasted grains, coagulated sticky molasses, a bit of smoke and understated coffee grounds on the sides. A bit of dark cherries and vanilla ride underneath. Earthy, resiny hops punch through just a bit along with a touch of alcohol spiciness. Finishes back where it started but with a lingering smooth espresso flavor.

M D- Nice creamy, velvety coating with minimal but lively carbonation. Yummy indeed. After my first I had to order another.

sentomaster, Feb 11, 2011
Photo of sleuthdog
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoy by 11/13. Poured into Ballast Point tulip.

Appearance: This poured as black as night with three fingers of head that is light brown in color. Lacing is all over the place and I'm still waiting for the head to recede. Rocky head mixed with large bubbles too.

Smell: Big time bitter coffee in this with notes of vanilla and dark chocolate. Heavy roast and some char.

Taste: Again coffee takes center stage with some vanilla and dark chocolate in the background. The roast is a fairly dominating aspect in the taste. Coffee is quite bitter and alcohol leaves a slight burn.

Mouthfeel: From the appearance I would think this would have been a more full feel. It is surprisingly thin for the look but one that seems to fit the beer very well. I am not picking up much carbonation and this has a creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol does burn the gums some.

Overall: If you are a coffee drinker this would be up your alley. A big beer that is one that is best shared.

sleuthdog, Nov 24, 2012
Photo of thedindaniel
4.08/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've had this beer many times now but recently snatched up a bottle since it's been months from the last time I've seen it. Beer is a very dark brown, almost black with off white lacing, good amount of head but not very foamy. Scent is strong coffee beans with a hint of vanilla sweetness. Taste is very similar to scent but is dominated by a combo ofthe coffee, hop bitterness and the roasted malts, vanilla is present and tho not overwhelming seems to shine in the aftertaste. Mouthfeel has a nice amount of carbonation and the beer has a medium body, could be heavier for my tastes but doesn't hurt the beer, probably helps with the drinkability.

Overall, this beer is a great after dinner sipper. I can see myself drinking this by the fireplace around the holidays. Wish it was cheaper but understand why it isn't what with Ballast Point using coffee from a reputable local cafe and real vanilla. Seek it out if you haven't had it and hold on to a few when u need a break from the loved ones in the winter.

thedindaniel, Jul 18, 2011
Photo of beeragent
4.09/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a snifter from a 22 oz bomber.

A - Pours a deep brown with ruby hues. Appears black in the glass. Very small mocha head with light lace.

S - Strong roasted coffee with a hint of vanilla and alcohol.

T - The coffee flavor coats the palate with a bitter cocoa presence. Slight hint of vanilla and bitter hops in the finish. Alcohol is well hidden considering the abv.

M - Thick bodied with low carbonation. Very smooth finish.

O - Definetly what comes to mind when thinking of an imperial coffee porter. I would have liked a more noticeable vanilla presence, but overall it is what it says it is. This will be an awesome beer to have during the winter!

beeragent, Jul 01, 2013
Photo of tempest
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Picked up a bomber at Abe's Cold Beer in Bethlehem, PA. Poured pitch black in my glass with a tan head. Right away in the aroma I'm hit by what becomes the most striking feature of this beer - fresh ground coffee beans. This beer doesn't smell or taste of brewed coffee, instead it's like you've just roasted beans into a coffee machine. Frankly I think this is actually more complex and pleasing. The vanilla quickly joins the coffee to smooth the flavor out and there's a touch of chocolate malt in the background. Man, if you like coffee beers, this one's for you. I'd have liked a little more depth of flavor, but it was fairly drinkable for the strength and a tasty after-dinner treat.

tempest, May 03, 2009
Photo of Gunslinger711
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Group tasting notes from 2-18-11
Poured out of a bottle.
Served in a goblet.

A- Pours out like motor oil with a beautiful tan head, at least 2 fingers. Lacing apparent through the entire drinking of the beer.

S- It smells like a coffee liqour, like a coffee/vanilla flavored vodka.

M- Heavy mouthfeel as you expect, coats the mouth like motor oil.

T- Coffee on the front end, slight hint of vanilla in the middle, then a heavy malty burn on the back end.

Food: The Chocolate Bacon Brownie calmed down the back end of this beer alot.

Overall: This beer fresh is a little bit hot, it's got a lot going on. It'd like to get another and age it a year or two, I feel like that would calm everything down and hopefully bring out that vanilla a little more.

Gunslinger711, Mar 09, 2011
Photo of akorsak
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to jleblanc for this 650 mL bomber.

A: The porter is dark and black, a murky and mysterious color. Completely opaque, the ale carries a finger and a half of coffee-and-cream colored head that slowly dissolves and laces as it goes.

S: The nose is is pungent, laiden with vanilla beans. The porter's aromas pair nicely, adding chocolate and coffee into the mix. Lots of vanilla though.

T: Man, that's a lot of vanilla. Luckily it pairs nicely with the darker porter flavors. Vanilla beans are strong, setting the stage with a mildly sweet presence. The porter offers coffee, chocolate and burnt toast. All the darker flavors struggle against the vanilla, trying to make themselves known. Roasted coffee, coming out as the ale warms, is a nice pairing with the vanilla. Dark malts, roasted and toasted, drive a long porter finish.

M: The porter is heavy-handed, full of coffee and vanilla. A pairing that works even though I don't like flavored syrup in my coffee. The vanilla leaves a long finish.

D: Another whopper that doesn't reveal its strength until it is too late. A nice pairing that doesn't skimp on the coffee or the vanilla.

akorsak, Sep 20, 2009
Photo of ThickNStout
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

22oz bottle from Halftime.com. 8.99. Enjoy by 11/07/13, which I believe is one year after bottling. Served in a Burnt Hickory snifter.

Pours flat black with a finger and a half of fluffy vanilla head that leaves large sheets of lace.

Smells of charred malts, creamed coffee and sweet vanilla.

Bold coffee leads the taste followed by roasty malts, earthy bark, cherry skins, vanilla and resinous pine. A bit of an alcohol bite but it is blended in well enough to make this pretty easy to drink.

Medium body with fairly sharp carbonation. Long, dry bitter piney hop and coffee aftertaste.

This is a great imperial porter and great coffee beer in general. I've had this a few times and I actually think I prefer it after a year or two once the coffee has faded to let the vanilla through a little more. All in all, it's a worthy brew at any age.

ThickNStout, Feb 21, 2013
Photo of Murchmac
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Been wanting to drink this beer for a while, thankfully got a chance.

Pours a 2 finger mocha head, dark beer. Carbonated bubbles travel upward while this beer looks creamy, interesting mix.

Great smells of Vanilla, coffee, caramel, roasted malts, chocolate, beautiful, cant wait to drink it.

Complex taste, very complex. Vanilla, citrus hops, coffee, chocolates, caramel.

Bitter, dry finish, carbonated yet smooth again, a little boozy, but great great beer.

Murchmac, Aug 03, 2010
Photo of fropones
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark as night with no light shining through. Very minimal mocha head. Smells of roasted malt, coffee, dark chocolate, a little bit of caramel. Very little vanilla in the smell. The taste is more delicious roasted malt and coffee. A hint of dark fruits as well. The notes of vanilla are very subtle. Will let this one warm up for a bit to let more flavors come out. Mouthfeel is very full-bodied and creamy, with just the right amount of carbonation. Very drinkable, alcohol very well hidden. The only reason it'll take me a bit to drink this one is because I want to let it warm up.

fropones, Oct 01, 2009
Photo of digita7693
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A typical deep dark black, nice inch of mocha head, little lacing.

S coffee, but not overwhelmingly so with a nice bit of sweet vanilla and some roasted notes

T following the nose, good bit of coffee, a bit bitter chocolate and and a good amount of vanilla (ive heard many people complain about the lack of vanilla smell and taste, while it wasnt overwhelming it is definitely there and very tasty)

M/D nice carbonation, very smooth and creamy, very drinkable, but I couldnt have more than a bomber as it is a bit heavy. But split between 2 people it was perfect.

digita7693, May 30, 2010
Photo of CuriousMonk
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from bomber into a tulip glass. Pours black with a minimal khaki crown that shows little retention throughout the session. Aroma picks up loads of coffee and vanilla over a nicely roasted malt. Some chocolate makes an appearance but it’s more of a supporting role. Dry coffee and roasted malts flavors kick in along with some chocolate, leading the way to a bitter finish of roasted malts, coffee and vanilla. Medium to Thick bodied, good carbonation throughout and creamy! Great bold flavors!

CuriousMonk, May 20, 2011
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 3,761 ratings.