Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine and get 12 issues / year of fresh beer content delivered to your door each month.

Already subscribe? to manage your subscription.

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
96
world-class

1,178 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,178 | Hads: 5,729
Photo of matttttYCE
4.17/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bomber poured into my Deschutes snifter glass. I've had this for a little while but I don't know why I haven't drank/reviewed it yet.

Appearance - Aggressive pour yields a tan, creamy smooth looking 2 finger head that diminishes but not very quickly. Leaves some lace but not much. Color is pretty much thick black (maybe a little bit lighter than that) and opaque.

Smell - At first I'm getting mostly a soft pleasant coffee smell with vanilla like someone made me a cup of coffee that wasn't really strong at all and put some nice vanilla creamer in there. After that is some nice malt and that typical porter smell (not quite deep dark roasted malt like a stout but it's there). Also getting some toasty nutty smell in there a bit and some chocolate as it warms. It's a nice complex smell. Not really overpowering or overwhelming at all and I'm not sure whether I'd rather have more vanilla in it or not. But this one may be a bit old and the vanilla may have faded some.

Taste - It's sweet. It's got the other tastes like you would expect too. Lots of coffee, roasted malts and light vanilla and a bit of alcohol noticeable on the way down. Also feel like I'm getting some of the chocolate in the taste as well since I'm smelling it more in the nose as it warms. I could drink this so much more often if it was more available. A little bit of a bitter coffee note finishes off the taste on this one.

Mouthfeel - Mouthfeel is actually really good. Not thick and chewy like a big imperial stout, but more rich with a nice medium body. I guess this is bordering on a stout, but who cares. It's a damn good beer. Carbonation is probably light or creamy on par with a nice imperial stout. Finish is more wet and lasting but it doesn't last too long.

Overall - This is a very good beer. Of course, I feel like I'm on a roll with big flavorful beers that I'm reviewing. Maybe I've got a thing for vanilla or coffee flavored beers, I don't know. What I do know is this: If you think coffee or vanilla (or both) sound interesting in a beer, DO NOT hesitate to pick this one up if you see it. I doubt it will disappoint. (2,124 characters)

Photo of ratedz
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

HUGE thanks to MrTopher for sending this my way...I have been wanting to try this for a long time. Thanks again, Chris!

A - Pours a very dark brown, almost black, with about an inch of light brown head. The head retention was fairly impressive and as it did subside, it left a lot of lacing on the glass.

S - Nose is full of coffee followed by some roasted malts and a little vanilla.

T - Some bitter coffee, bittersweet chocolate, and hints of vanilla. A little alcohol burn on the finish.

M - Fairly thick body, very creamy and smooth. Light carbonation, which feels perfect for this beer.

O - An excellent porter. Very smooth and easy to drink despite the 10% ABV. I would buy this fairly often if Ballast Point decided to send it the KS or MO. (752 characters)

Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks Thickfreakness for the bottle!

A: A dark brown, almost black body, with a tan head and great lacing.

S: A nice and smooth nose of coffee & vanilla with a roasted malt background. Slightly boozy too.

T: Bitter coffee is the first flavor I taste, followed by some roasted dark chocolate malts and sweet vanilla. Very creamy with some caramel in there.

M: Although very smooth and creamy, the mouthfeel is a bit heavy like a stout; medium to full body; medium carbonation.

O: Really glad I got a bottle of this. Really good beer that I would love to get another one of. Definitely worth a try if you like coffee flavor brews. (634 characters)

Photo of beerfan99
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22oz bottle consumed on 5/21/2011

A: Dark black in color and appears pretty thick. Standard pour created a lasting tall dark brown head.

S: Heavy coffee aroma at first, followed by the vanilla. Great combination. I kept trying to detect chocolate, but it did not happen.

T: Coffee and vanilla flavors mix well together. Balanced pretty well and masks the 10% alcohol. I liked the smell of the coffee and vanilla slightly better than it tasted.

M: A little thicker than medium bodied, but not as thick as an IRS. Alcohol is difficult to detect and is very easy to drink. Very smooth finish.

O: A solid coffee porter offering from Ballast Point and SoCal. This tasting review was for a bottle I picked up in San Francisco during beer week. Too bad this beer is not distributed to VA. Definitely a porter worth trying, if you have the chance. (844 characters)

Photo of CuriousMonk
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
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! (502 characters)

Photo of UMNbeerhunter
4.63/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured into a Darkness tulip on 6/10/11.

Poured like a can of oil leaving a frothy brown head that dissipates leaving a moderate to heavy lacing. Great color and nice head retention and lacing.

Smells of tons of coffee and vanilla and a bit of roasted malts. This is a great smelling brew I just want to put my nose in it.

Taste is a mocha blend coffee at first and then the coffee flavor gives over to the vanilla shortly after. Tastes like a chocolate cake as it warms, very delicious.

Mouthfeel is moderate in weight. Almost no bite at all and the 10% ABV is unnoticeable. Resin coats the mouth and I continue to taste chocolate cake.

Overall this is one hell of a porter. Perfect balance of coffee and vanilla, and a total lack of ETOH burn is just awesome. This beer is awesome, go get it. (799 characters)

Photo of JamisonM
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Vintage 2009

A: the body is black as night no light getting through with a tan head

S: Coffee with roasted notes and vanilla. Smells slightly sweet but not over the the top.

T: Great tasting beer! Big time coffee notes come though followed up with vanilla and some roasted notes. slightly sweet and finish a bit acidic. I think the vanilla really smooths the beer out. Alcohol is very well masked.

M: med mouth with med carbonation and very drinkable

O: Overall this is a very enjoyable beer and has aged very nicely a really well made craft beer. (554 characters)

Photo of seand
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep opaque black or near-black brown, with a fair amount of dense foamy head. What's there retains pretty well, and leaves very nice webs of lacing.

S: A huge, rich, and decadent mix of vanilla, coffee, chocolate, and roasted malt, with a touch of cherry. Smells like a freshly baked dessert pastry.

T: Quite sweet, with a nice roasted malt body. Finish has a light coffee bitterness. It's like your dessert with coffee, all in one!

M: Rich and full bodied, with medium carbonation.

Overall it's extremely well done. It's very rich, but nicely put together, rather than just a straight up malt bomb. (615 characters)

Photo of mactrail
3.38/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A black liqueur of a beer.

Nice to look at, with a topping of beige-tinted foam. Pleasant enough carbonation. Intense flavors. Hot with alcohol and tastes like rum, with a dollop of Bailey's Cream. Hops are a good touch and cut the sweet maltiness, leaving a bitter aftertaste. I just keep thinking of those flavored instant coffees.

I guess this boils down to whether you like coffee and ice cream in your beer. Maybe for dessert with a piece of angel food cake. (465 characters)

Photo of Soonami
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ballast Point Victory at Sea is a beer I've been hearing and reading about for almost as long as I've been a BA. This is a beer that lives up to the expectations. A coffee vanilla imperial porter, it has lost of the things I like in a beer. The beer is almost motor oil black, with a thin layer of lacy bubbles and sticky clingy scuzz on the glass.

The beer smells deeply of coffee, although it doesn't smell like the freshest coffee with a bit of acridity. The sweet chocolate and malt flavors carry through to give VaS a distinctly beery aroma. The hops provide only bitterness, but the coffee is very assertive up front with syrupy caramel flavors and a warming vanilla sweetness in the finish.

Tasty beer with a great integration of ingredients that match well. (767 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.03/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Victory At Sea, finally got to buy a bottle at, huh, don't remember? Either Wegman's in Princeton or Oak Tree in South Plainfield, both in New Jersey.

Appearance: Served in my Sierra snifter, Victory At Sea pours thick and creamy, producing an exuberant mocha-colored head that dies soon. Bubbles, a rim around the glass and some of the grandest lacing I've ever seen remain throughout, though.

Smell: Coffee, some bourbon and/or barreled liquor. Lots of vanilla, but sort of a fake vanilla scent, like liquid Mexican vanilla. Not bad but could be better (like Goose Island Bourbon Vanilla- pure vanilla pods). Some wood too.

Taste: More vanilla, again sort of fake but pleasant anyway. Gourmet coffee at the end, and liquid sugar. Some wood and smoke. Nice, but not terribly complex. And that "fake" vanilla buggers me a bit. Nice dry hoppiness at the end.

Mouthfeel: Smooth and creamy overall. VERY smooth indeed. Medium-to-full body, full flavor, medium (and very appropriate) carbonation. Dry woodsy finish. Elements of bourbon.

Overall: For a porter, this is superb. If it were an Imperial Stout (which, at 10%, it kind of should), then it might not be so great. Drinkable, smooth, balanced, never boozy. Not terribly interesting but very pleasant. The fake vanilla aroma/taste bothers me a little, but it doesn't hurt this overall good brew. Would love to try on tap and/or cask. (1,393 characters)

Photo of justintcoons
4.85/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A: Pours pitch black with a massive fluffy, tan head leaving behind excellent lacing.

N: Coffee, caramel, milk chocolate with subtle vanilla and booze.

T: Smooth dark roast coffee, French vanilla, bitter dark chocolate, caramel, molasses and maybe some dark fruit and oak. There are notes of floral hops in the finish.

M: Silky, smooth and decadent!

O: Dangerously drinkable and delicious! Nicely balanced flavors. Hands down, the best porter I’ve ever had. (463 characters)

Photo of plumcrazyfx
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark, dark black with a 3/4" tan head. Smells of dark roast coffee and a little bit of sweet vanilla. Taste is heavy on the bitter coffee with a bit of smooth vanilla, round sweetness, and just a smooth, smooth enveloping finish. The coffee may be the best I've ever had in a beer - most coffee in beers have an oxidized metalic taste like it's been on the warmer in the break room too long. Not here, this is smooth velvety coffee and a round long, though quite bitter flavor, but with a little bit of a fizzy carbonation that accentuates the bitterness on the very back of the outside of the tongue and a little round vanilla/chocolate smoothness. The carbonation and medium, slightly viscous feel is perfect for the beer. This is the best porter?!?! I've ever had. I don't know if I'd really call it a porter due to the heavier mouthfeel and coffee - it's kinda stoutlike. Whatever it is it's a supreem beer and one that I'll be seeking more of. (956 characters)

Photo of theghost3
4.44/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep mahogany with a 3-finger fallow-colored head. A ring stays throughout with moderate lacing.

The smell is robust coffee and vanilla with toasted malts & slightly boozy scent. The taste is bitter, quality coffee with some caramel and burnt malts. Coffee gets more intense as the temperature rises. Mouthfeel is carbonated, medium-bodied. Just below a stout in terms of thickness.

This is a drinkable imperial porter. Expect an intense coffee character and an ABV that wields quite a punch. I really enjoyed it. (524 characters)

Photo of morimech
3.77/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Dark chocolate color with two fingers of mocha colored head that had good retention before settling to a thin cap. Moderate amount of sticky lacing is left on the glass.

Intriguing aroma of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and a slight hint of alcohol.

Unfortunately the alchol that was detected in the aroma comes out fully in the flavor. A little hot. Other flavors include bitter coffee and chocolate. A lot of dark malt flavor.

The alcohol hurts the body by making it seem thinner than it really is. Nicely carbonated.

Did not quite live up to my expectations. Just too much booziness. (589 characters)

Photo of dbossman
4.23/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Quite black with a thin brown head that holds quite well; lacing is great

S: Lots of alcohol, coffee, and sweet malts--roasted chocolate, vanilla and a touch of toffee

T: Lots of coffee and chocolate aromas but boy is this boozy--though as the glass airs out it becomes less hot; the vanilla and coffee really do take over toward the middle and then there is quite a bit of sweet chocolate toward the end

F: Creamy and sticky; nice overall mouth feel--good texture for a full-bodied brew

O: This is a delicious coffee beer but boy is it boozy--it gets better with time obviously but the alcohol makes its presence known and distracts slightly from the overall quality of the brew (686 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.74/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with a 2 inch chocolate milk colored head that lasts. Good rings of lace on the glass on the drink down. Smell is of bitter cocoa powder, coffee grounds after the coffee has been brewed, and raw vanilla beans. I keep sniffing this beer over and over - it smells so damn good. Taste is of dark chocolate syrup, bitter coffee, vanilla extract, and an earthy mineral taste. Only slight bitterness on the palate after each sip. Absolutely amazing. Beer is thick and creamy in the mouth. A bit of alcohol warming in the throat. Overall, this is a very tasty hard to find beer. There is a distinct smell and taste of Hershey's chocolate syrup in this beer that makes me very happy. I am glad I found a bottle to enjoy. Highly recommended if you can get your hands on one. (785 characters)

Photo of RonfromJersey
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

$8.33 bomber fro Liquor Outlet, Boonton.

Blackest body as can be, with a sliver of ruby highlights at the bottom of the glass. Big billowing dark tan foam. Very good inviting lacing.

Big alluring coffee aroma, with vanilla and hints of chocolate.

Rich roast coffee, deep chocolate, with a vanilla splash at the swallow. Earthy hops provide a tasty background.

Rich full mouthfeel coats the tongue, then the whole mouth.

Great overall package, rich, smooth, deep, with the alcohol completely buried.

Extremely recommended. Enjoy. (534 characters)

Photo of trappistlover
3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(22oz bottle). Pours thick and black with a nice caramel colored head. Aroma of darkly roasted coffee beans. Burnt coffee flavor with vanilla undercurrent that gets sweeter as it warms. I'm really enjoying this more as it warms because it balances out the heavy roast flavor. (275 characters)

Photo of brystmar
4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to claspada for the trade!

A: sexy black with tons of tan head and excellent retention. Copious lace on my glass. Gorgeous!

S: everything here is big and bold. Milk chocolate, roasted malts, coffee, sweet malts, booze.

T: wow, where to start? Everything described above shines through perfectly, with the vanilla and caramel finally showing up right in the middle of it all. Doesn't lean too hard in any direction, however, and its initial sweetness is balanced nicely by a dry, bitter coffee finish. Perfect amount of alcohol to bring these flavors together and provide mild warmth as it goes down.

M: big and hearty, perfectly carbonated, but still holding out for a nitro version. :)

A superb brew overall. I'm texting my friend in SD right now to pick up a few bottles next time he's out. (804 characters)

Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a thick dark brown foamy head with good retention and some very nice lacing. Aroma of aromatic coffee and light astringent note is more dominant at first then anticipated. Taste is also a nice mix between some dry roasted malt with dominant notes of aromatic coffee and with a dry finish. Body is quite full with a thick body and a creamy texture with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Very well brewed with loads of complexity while still sustaining a good drinkability factor. (532 characters)

Photo of jera1350
4.65/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Carter for sharing a bottle and then sending one home for me! Much appreciated.

A solid cola black color with a tan cap of foam and a bit of lacing.

Getting roasted coffee and vanilla in the nose. Some toasty notes as well.

The taste is outstanding and robust. Coffee? Check. Vanilla? Check. Imperial Porter? Oh yeah. What outstanding and full flavor this provides. The coffee is fresh and roasty and the vanilla is there big time in all its glory. Some cocoa nibs and dark chocolate notes perhaps. Not overly sweet like an IS would be. The blend is exceptional and the overall flavor sublime.

The mouthfeel is nice, but it does feel a tad thin for a ten percent beer. It is however smooth.

This puppy lives up to the hype. The flavor is the star here and it lives up to it's name. I will have to hold on to my other bottle for a while, but I may not be able to. Awesome brew! (891 characters)

Photo of pdoran10
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a mild black color with half a finger of tan head that fades pretty quickly and leaves decent lacing.

Smell is Reeces Peanut Butter Cup if it were made with delicious dark chocolate. Some roasty black coffee comes through as well.

Taste is big roasted malt. Slightly bitter coffee and hops come through with mild dark chocolate. Think Reeces Peanut butter cup, but more roasted than the smell indicated balanced out by bittness. The vanilla noted on the label is mostly lost on my palette, but perhaps lends some sweetness in the finish.

Mouthfeel is dry and substantial at the same time. Moderate carbonation. Really smooth and biting.

Overall a really unique and tasty flavor profile, with a biting dryness and just enough bitterness. An excellent porter. Will have to trade for more. (802 characters)

Photo of beerthulhu
4.16/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark heresy chocolate pour becomes coffee black in the tulip glass with a substantial and sturdy cinnamon colored head that refused to budge much. A thin spongy coating lines the interior for lace. Simple deep coloring, and a very nice head both color and structure wise gives this some lasting appeal.

S: Smooth roasty coffee for aroma, along with some dry bitter chocolate intermingles with a medium sense of strength. Freshly burnt firewood rounds things out.

T: The flavor is hearty and thick, creamy with substantial body highlighted with a dark coffee roast, dry vanilla bean, and freshly burnt timber. Dark roasted chocolate malts combine with a smooth, dry earthy bitterness of espresso beans providing a dark and heavenly coffee flavor that may make you forget your are drinking a beer and more like a fancy $10 cup of specialty coffee, especially when with a well concealed alcohol content of 10%abv drinking much lower like a 7% at best.

M: luscious, hearty and thick with a creaminess that adds both weight and resistance upon a swirl. Big burnt bitterness and dark roast coffee lingers long after the swallow, staying for quite a bit.

D: Wow, is there really 10%abv in this, with the heavenly dark coffee roast you wont even notice. Robust, hearty this is a big drink full of substance and flavor that will dare you to have more then one. (1,362 characters)

Photo of DovaliHops
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a pitch black with a medium brownish tan head that goes down slowly. Scent is very nice with a good amount of vanilla and coffee. Some roasty aromas with a bit of chocolate. Taste is WOW! They weren't kidding when they put VANILLA in the name of this beer. I get vanilla right up front that lingers throughout the whole taste. Nice blend of coffee and chocolate with the vanilla, along with a hint of dark licorice. The alcohol is well hidden, but it pops up to say hi sometimes. Mouthfeel is smooth and thick, but not syrupy. Drinkability is high. Outstanding porter! Bravo Ballast Point! (595 characters)

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