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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

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,178 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,178
Hads: 5,729
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 967
Gots: 1,619 | FT: 100
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: 1,178 | Hads: 5,729
Photo of dcmchew
4.59/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Black pour with a really small tan head, pretty short-lasting, leaving a sticky lacing.
Roasted coffee bean on the nose, raw vanilla bean, cocoa powder and rich roasted malt. Simple, but intense.
Tons of coffee in the taste, the black kind, very lightly sugared, deeply roasted. A rich vanilla edge to it, too, not creamy, but raw vanilla extract. A bit of dark licorice, toffee, actually more like marshmallow. Dark chocolate and rich roasted malts, a bit smokey, turning really burnt and ashy in the finish, feeling amplified by some bitter hop.
Medium body, smooth carbonation. Aftertaste has coffee dregs, vanilla, roasted dark bread, some caramel and a nice more than mild bitterness stuck in the throat, but not the bad kind.
This will not surprise you, it's exactly what it says on the label, "porter with coffee and vanilla". But it's incredibly rich and balanced, one element compensating the other. So it seems that Ballast Point don't make just great IPAs, but also one of the best porters out there. Especially considering it's quite easy to get. (1,058 characters)

Photo of jjayjaye
4.59/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours an opaque darkness with a loose full finger tan head that fades quickly, leaving spotty patterns of Belgian lacing. The smell is really nice rich aggressive moderately roasted malt and high quality coffee...as it warms I sense a barrel aged vanilla sweetness. Full flavored, the high quality java notes are the bomb, second only to GI Coffee Stout that I recently had. The toasted malt and classy roast coffee lingers nicely in the after taste like i wish every cup of coffee would. Light-medium body from a lighter carbonation creamy smooth is a classic example of the style...I still really prefer the texture of a stout. This one is going down WAY TOO EASY...no way would I have guessed that this was even half the 10% ABV!! This one is drinking CRAZY!! Perfect accompaniment to the playoffs. Cheers! (809 characters)

Photo of BradMacMullin
4.59/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Salty Pig. This was such a big tasting bomb of a porter - amazing stuff. Enjoyed it while I listened to my buddy John talked about his match.com dates as of late. Made me wonder why someone doesn't order a 12 pack of these for a 1st date. 6 each of these bad guys, and everyone will be in love. Anyways.....great beer. Wonder why Beer Advocate doesn't offer a dating website on the side. This could not fail... (431 characters)

Photo of Marius
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A dark crimson pour with generous head and visible carbonation. Huge vanilla smell, together with coffee, chocolate, cocoa and caramel. The taste is quite complex and perfectly balanced, with vanilla up front, followed by coffee, alcohol spiciness and malt sweetness blended together with a soft bitterness. The soft carbonation makes for a very nice mouth-feel. Medium-dry finish with a strong vanilla feel that lasts on the palate. One of the best porters around, and I am quite picky about my porters. (504 characters)

Photo of dirtylou
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle, brawleys - charlotte. split during MNF

appearance: pours into a standard pint - dark ebony body with a creamy chocolate crest. very nice

smell: holy batmobile, rich roasty chocolate cap, strong roasted espresso, french roast, vanilla, alcohol

taste: awesome beer - robust and full bodied, huge espresso notes, vanilla, oak, dark chocolate and cocoa nibs. epic coffee beer - glad to see this one around

mouthfeel: huge body, creamy, robust - full flavor

drinkability: nice (489 characters)

Photo of ocelot2500
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a deep, black color with a fading tan head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of delicious roasted coffee.

Tastes of the delicious roasted notes. Notes of coffee, chocolate, and brown sugar. Vanilla notes come in the end and add a flair to the coffee. Everything is really well balanced. Alcohol is hardly noticeable at 10% and makes this brew a little dangerous.

Mouthfeel is full with a creamy amount of carbonation. (429 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

First off this is an exceptional beer. I had wanted to try it since it came out by missed all the bottles on sale, needless to say when I was able to trade for some it made my day. Served at a nice 55 degrees and poured into a pint glass, this one was consumed on 04/04/2009.

The pour was fantastic. Huge dark beer here, black as night as it pours out. A big cascading brown head comes up and over the top and then settles down into a half inch layer that hung around for the entire rest of the session. The aroma was vanilla, huge vanilla beer and light cafe like coffee notes. Some hints of roasted malts, but vanilla in a beer like I have never come across before. Not terribly sweet and fake, this was like whiffing good vanilla ice cream. As I take the first sip, wow. This beer is suprising the crap out of me. First off where is my 12 percent? This is soo smooth I really got caught off guard by my second glass. The vanilla explosion followed through on the taste, rich and creamy with light and sweet coffee notes following through on them as well. Really tight flavor here, smooth with a long drawn out finish that was sweet, delicate and drying enough to make me want another in a minute.

Overall this was a very unique beer, that falls squarely into the dessert category. I was very happy, and very suprised with how big this was and how good it was as well. A winner here for sure! (1,396 characters)

Photo of BilbosNuts
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a pint glass.

A: Pours a very dark black with a mocha colored head that has great retention, lasting throughout the drink. It leaves behind rings of lacing.

S: Where to begin? It starts off with a strong ground coffee bean aroma that gives way to sweet vanilla and a sort of woody scent. Chocolate and roasted malts then begin to make an appearance.

T: Quite similar to the aroma with strong coffee and sweet vanilla. The alcohol is very subtle but has a light presence.

M: Medium bodied with a light amount of carbonation. Very smooth to drink. I could drink this all day.

O: This may be one of my favorite beers I've ever had. The smell is orgasmic and the taste isn't far off. I wish this were available year round. (754 characters)

Photo of Thoroughbred88
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Head lingers at first then trails off as it's sipped. Smells like a typical coffee beer. Very pronounced Coffee at first hitting the palate then smooth vanilla for the finish. The finish was surprising, in fact. Smooth would be a good way to describe it again. (260 characters)

Photo of ryrust5301
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Everything is here for a great porter. Brownish black color with a thin tan head. Almost looks like an imperial stout after it sat in my glass for awhile. Strong vanilla notes in the nose, mixed with a bitter roast and soft chocolate. Taste is a bitter coffee at first with a little coco, but a little past halfway through, the vanilla consumes everything all the way to the finish. A real pleasure to sip on, and is a great addition to their big beer bottle series. (466 characters)

Photo of Siriusfisherman
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

L: Very dark, but still some glints of red around the edges, soapy mocha head, moderate lacing.

A: Big coffee and vanilla notes, as to be expected, as well as dark chocolate, dark fruit, cherry and a sweet caramel backdrop. Some noticeable alcohol, slightly spicy, perhaps from hops.

T/M: Smooth bitterness upfront, moves into a velvety mixture of coffee and chocolate notes, a sweet caramel middle, and a finish with more dark roasted coffee, chocolate, dark fruit, and a big dose of vanilla. Smooth, but fairly thin, with a fairly drying finish from the roasted malt.

Overall, a delicious and complex brew, very drinkable for the abv. I have a few more and look forward to cracking one open for desert on occasion. It is not as viscous as many Imperial Stouts, but the flavor is all there. One of the best coffee infused beers I have had. (843 characters)

Photo of rye726
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours near black with a silky tan head. Nice lace and retention.

Nose has vanilla, coffee, chocolate, roasted malts and dark fruits.

Taste also has a big vanilla presence that is well balanced by cocoa, espresso, molasses and dark malts.

Medium to full body is well carbonated. Tasty stuff, should age well. (310 characters)

Photo of AltBock
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

22 oz. bomber bottle with one cool slick black label. This black label has a sweet ass drawing of a pirate skeleton at the ship's wheel trying to steer his ghostly ship out of a hurricane. You can tell he's a pirate because he has the pirate standard long hair, a tri cornered hat, and he has his skeleton parrot on his shoulder. Above and below the pirate is the name of beer and brewery in bold blood red letters. To the far left of the label is where you can find all the mandatory US information and a picture of a ballast. To the far right of the label is the name of the coffee company and a long description of the beer. The only thing missing on this label is a brewed on date or vintage year.

Appearance: Pouring this beer into a Snifter would have been nice, but I decided to pour this Imperial Porter into my Sly Fox Imperial pint glass. This Ballast Point poured a bone chilling black as heavely coffee beans and as thick as crude oil. This beer is so black that you have to careful raising this glass up against any kind light source. This beer was so damn black that when I held it into my lamp, light bounced right off the beer and back into the light bulb almost causing the light bulb to explode it into a million pieces. Not only was the color impressive, but the head of foam as well. The initial head of foam was a good 2 inches in height and dark mocha in color. This dark mocha head of foam had excellent super slow retention that left behind an everlasting ¾ of mocha skim of foam and an insane amount of sticky streaks of lace around the glass. If you want to stare into utter darkness and you don't want to get up off the couch to flip off the light switch, then pour a glass of Victory At Sea.

Smell: If you ever visited a coffee shop before and smelled their finest most expensive coffee beans, then you already know what this Coffee Porter is going to smell like. This Porter was just bursting at the seams with fine heavily roasted coffee beans! This scent of coffee beans was so strong that there wasn't much of anything else backing up all of the coffee beans. The only thing my nose was able to pick was a subtle and I mean subtle whiff of French vanilla. I love the scent of coffee as much as the next coffee fan, but more of variety in the nose would have been nice.

Taste: If you think that the aroma put the word "coffee" into "Imperial Coffee Stout," then wait till you wrap your lips around this beer. If can't tell what this beer is going to taste like from the thick roasted coffee aroma, then let me tell you. The taste was thick, dry, and heavily roasted with some fine and expensive roasted coffee beans, a gentle touch of bitter dark chocolate, and a tiny little speck of French vanilla at the roasted coffee finish line. It was great where this beer stood, but a little more French vanilla would have made this beer even better, if that's possible. If you love the taste of coffee, then put down your cup of coffee and pour this Coffee Stout into your beer glass immediately!

Mouthfeel: This beer wasn't going to mask anything. This was a clearly a full bodied Imperial Porter with a low level of carbonation, and a full flavored roasted aftertaste. This long lasting aftertaste contained a ton of dry roasted coffee beans, a pinch of bitter dark chocolate, and a subtle hint of French vanilla. This aftertaste was so thick that it was take at least 2 liters of water to wash away the aftertaste. I could feel a little bit of the 10% ABV, but not enough where you could actually tell that it was a high ABV% beer.

Drinkability: Imperial Porter? You know it! Filled with coffee? You bet your ass it is! Vanilla? Sure, I'll give them that one. Delicious? Yep! This beer is a must have for all of you coffee drinkers or the type of people who enjoy a delicious craft beer. I wish I had bought more than one bottle of this great beer. Well, live and learn. (3,904 characters)

Photo of ShadesOfGray
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 22oz bottle into my Portsmouth snifter/tulip glass. Pours an almost solid black and fills the glass completely night black! Looks pretty thick for a porter, closer to a RIS by appearance. Head is decent size of a toffee color...VERY frothy/creamy. Tons of sticky non-sliding lacing, lasts nearly the entirety of the drink. Wonderful looking beer.

Aroma is pleasant, and strong. Tons of coffee, slight(very slight) bitter mid...and a very sweet vanilla backbone. Due to the HUGE coffee smell, booze doesn't really hit the nose...even though it's 10%...so...well hidden.

Wow, outstanding. Hits you quick with a slight kick/bitter hop...very creamy semi-thick mouthfeel and follows with tons of sweetness. Carbonation is strong, but no where near noticable to distract from the huge flavor of this beer! Again, booze is well hidden. Lot's of coffee and vanilla flavors mixing great together. The aftertaste is also outstanding. A few minutes after each mouthful, there's a great vanilla aroma still attacking the nostrils and coffee penetrating the taste buds. What a great tasting beer! Again though, this is a porter!? haha. (1,139 characters)

Photo of danieelol
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

It feels like they cheat a bit cause they absolutely bombard this beer with vanilla and coffee. Still, it tastes amazing, delicious and not artificial.

Nose is amazing- pure vanilla extract and coffee, taste is amazing and finishes with a fantastic roastiness, mouthfeel is all vanilla and is not overly sweet and in fact carries a heavy roast and bitterness. This beer is truly a classic example of the adjunct game and if it were limited release would command all the hype in the world. Fantastic beer which I'd drink anytime. (529 characters)

Photo of oglmcdgl
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle poured into a duvel tulip.
A- three fingers of head comes forth from a steady pour slowly fades to a slight froth. Very dark almost black with brown edges. Bit of lace stickage.
S- lots of vanilla and coffee, I guess that would make sense, but underneath caramel and dark bread. Hints of molasses and gram cracker. Super nice nose that just gets better as it warms.
T- bang this is some killer stuff. I've had it on tap and the barrel version this beer is good all around. Deep roasted coffee and sweet bourbon vanilla. Whole grain honey wheat bread, caramel and a touch of chocolate malt. I get a bit of char deep in there and it really helps balance out the sweetness. Yea its sweet big woop wana fight about it, but never to much. Lingers softly with a coffee and cream touch.
M- lightly carbed and super creamy. Maybe a bit thick a chewy but I like a full bodied porter and this is one rubenesque body.
D- for 10 abv and as big on flavor as this brew its rather drinkable. I could drink a bomber to myself and I am as I write this review.
I have to say ballast point is on the fing ball. They have yet to show me a product I did not enjoy. Keep up the good work and thanks for bring it to philly. (1,212 characters)

Photo of ChipMurray
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: Black as sin and twice as sexy, a beautiful look to my glass.

S: I smell vanilla and chocolate, some coffee, and oh so heavenly .

T: All I'm getting is a beautiful mellow chocolate. Some coffee, and perhaps my bottle has aged, but if it has it's all good as it goes to heaven..

M: So drinkable it's a sin, sweet, round, tasty, and down.

O: Is beergasm an accepted descriptive term? This will put a smile on your face if you have any love for stouts or porters. Simply beautiful, loved it. (496 characters)

Photo of damndirtyape
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

12oz bottle (no date I could find) served in a snifter.

Appearance: Pitch black - no light coming in even through the sides. 1/4" rocky tan foam upon pouring died back slowly to a thick ring and persistent skin across the top. Lots of fine lacing all over the glass.

Smell: Fresh roasted/brewed espresso and a hint of vanilla. Some cocoa powder as it warms up.

Taste: Wow! Deep and strong dark roast coffee/espresso up front. Reminds me of the taste of a chocolate covered espresso bean after you bite past the chocolate and get that hit of coffee bean. After that coffee hit, there is a nice sweetness of vanilla and malt that shows up. The finish has some more vanilla, cream, cocoa, and coffee flavors all combined into one. Well crafted and flavorful.

Mouthfeel: For all the strength of this beer you expect a stout and all that heavy creaminess, and instead you get the body of a porter. Carbonation is good, but not strong. There is a nice blend of slick and smoothness with a nice thickness that doesn't come across at stout-level thick.

Overall / Drinkability: An imperial porter indeed! I've had Russian Imperial Stouts that were not this strong in flavor and aroma before. Probably if I had not seen that this was listed as a porter I would not have guessed it was that style. All that aside, the depth and strength of the coffee and vanilla are just right - very strong to stick out, but not so strong as to be overpowering. Rich, but not cloying. Dangerously drinkable as the alcohol is well hidden, and yet I can feel this creeping up on me after half the glass, so I know better to not have another 12oz bottle, but I really wish I "had to finish a bomber because I can't recap it" sort of problem right now. Well done and I can see why so many people rate this so high. I would bet this beer would go well with a wide range of desserts, but it does work well as an after-dinner sipping beer as if it was its own dessert. (1,970 characters)

Photo of shacawgo24
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A-Black. Some dark brown. Thin tan head that dies quickly. Few bubbles of lacing if any at all. Quality dark beer appearance.

S-Roasted coffee. Creamy vanilla. Cocoa. Milk chocolate. Mocha. Black licorice. Root beer & horehound.

T-Coffee. Vanilla. Cream. Wow more coffee. Hop is there. Bitter. The darkest of chocolate. Raisin. Charcoal smoke. Woodsy. Bitter resinous finish. Licorice.

M-Moderate/medium body. Not too thick nor watery. Low to moderate carbonation. A bit literally flat. Nothing too exciting.

O-I want to retry this soon. A renowned beer for good reasons. One that needs to be sat with for a bit, to pluck out more flavors than just coffee, vanilla and chocolate. Probably a few better porters out there, but this has to be top ten easily on, Earth, maybe, not just the states. (797 characters)

Photo of tpaetow
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from a bomber into a tulip

A- dark dark dark with a nice creamy tan head

S- tons of coffee, bitter chocolate, less vanilla than expected, little caramel sweetness

T- toasty delicious coffee up front, biter chocolate and more vanilla around the middle, caramelly, light sweetness in the back

M- medium bodied, decent carbonation, this one is creamy and smooth

O- this is one tasty porter, if you're a fan of the style this is worth seeking out (457 characters)

Photo of arfenhouse
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with brown head. Head can get too large with a vigorous pour. Good retention.

S: Overwhelming vanilla bean aroma with a bit of cafe mocha hiding behind it. Enjoyable to smell and keep on smelling.

T: First taste is a semi-sweet chocolate followed by black coffee that keeps this beer from being too sweet. Bitterness comes from the roasted grain, kind of like the charred part of toast. Vanilla in the aftertaste. Virtually no hop flavor.

M: Semi creamy with medium carbonation. Starts to feel too thick and syrupy as it warms. A little less carbonation and some more silkiness would've been better in my opinion.

O: Very tasty and strong imperial porter. Gonna get some more of these if I can. Definitely a must try if you like the style. (753 characters)

Photo of mick303
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber bottle into a tulip glass, oily black colour with a great head of caramel head, solid retention and lacing. Gorgeous.

S - rich aromas of dark cocoa butter and chocolate syrup and vanilla, hazelnut, a subtle sweet dark chocolate, no astringency or heavy roast notes, just an incredibly complex and refined aroma mixing in some coffee, slight hints of black liquorice, and a rich velvety chocolate cake/fudgey notes, some almond, and the vanilla is excellent.

T - similar profile, with a very strong vanilla lead off the start, then more of the spirituous and nutty aspects come in, marzipan and coffee come to mind. Cocoa and rich dark chocolate emerge as it warms, indelibly rich and thick, showing a good load of hoppy bitterness, which is earthy, aggressive and herbal with some resiny kick on the finish, pine sap, also some rich dark maltiness that underpins the whole profile, but the roast is not astringent and I feel the bitterness is largely from the hops, which counter the alcohol warmth and give this a sensational flavour and profile.

M - Lovely and satisfying, huge body with a lot of oomph, coating creaminess, with a gentle carbonation, thick and full, but with a long drying finish full of dark malts land cocoa that demand another sip.

Inspired and lovely beer, the vanilla, while ever present, was in a supporting role and I thought the overall composition reflected well, too create a porter that was neither cloying nor overtly alcoholic, great tact indeed to combine the many flavours at play into such a robust, aggressive and also balanced brew. I did find I was slightly more blown away by the aroma though, but this is a seriously impressive beer. (1,698 characters)

Photo of AngryPenguinBrewCo
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A: Jet black pour with a soft mocha 1 1/2 finger head. Laces the glass nicely.

S: powerful aroma of fresh brewed coffee.

T: Upfront this tastes bitter and robust like Starbucks coffee, some dark chocolate with deep roasted malts, a little vanilla and alcohol warmth and some seeetness comes through towards the middle and finishes with licorice notes.

M: Surprisingly strong carbonation for the style, which shocks the palate and seems to hide a minor alcohol astringency. (477 characters)

Photo of sjones5045
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pour black with a frothy light brown head. The smell smacks you with a ton of vanilla and a burnt coffe smell. The taste is pretty much the same as the smell. Very nice notes of vanilla and coffee throughout the taste. Pretty smooth with maybe a bit high cardonation and even more importantly there is that burnt coffee taste that tends to burn out the tongue. Overall, it is a great beer with some minor flaws that is always worth having on hand. (447 characters)

Photo of yesterdayfaraway
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big coffee with vanilla, just like the bottle says. It comes in a 6 pack too, what a complete joke that most 12oz beers are in 4 packs now, but I digress. This is fantastic! I'll seek this out again. (202 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,178 ratings.