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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.

1,219 Reviews
no score

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Reviews: 1,219
Hads: 5,924
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 19.5%
Wants: 1,005
Gots: 1,721 | FT: 91
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: 1,219 | Hads: 5,924
Photo of Soonami
4.3/5  rDev -1.4%
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.

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Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
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.

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Photo of justintcoons
4.85/5  rDev +11.2%
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.

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Photo of plumcrazyfx
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of theghost3
4.44/5  rDev +1.8%
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.

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Photo of morimech
3.77/5  rDev -13.5%
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.

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Photo of dbossman
4.23/5  rDev -3%
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

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.74/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of trappistlover
3.8/5  rDev -12.8%
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.

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Photo of brystmar
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Photo of Phyl21ca
4/5  rDev -8.3%
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.

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Photo of jera1350
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
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!

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Photo of pdoran10
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

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Photo of beerthulhu
4.16/5  rDev -4.6%
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.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
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!

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Photo of scottfrie
4.06/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

22oz bottle into 25oz snifter.

A: Pours black with a couple fingers of creamy dense dark brown head that slowly faded into thick frothy layer that left rings of fine lacing down the glass.
S: Big notes of coffee with a hint of alcohol vapor and bitter chocolate.
T: Rich blast of coffee and dark chocolate assault the palate first with a touch of roasted malt, vanilla and marshmallow in the finish. Flavors are very bold yet well integrated. There is a bitterness to the aftertaste that lingers on the palate in a potent sort of way.
M: Thick full body with a slightly sharp mouthfeel from the bitter-sweet dark chocolate and acidic coffee. Alcohol pokes through with some spiciness, but for the most part this beer goes down smooth.
O: Overall this is one heck of a beer and definitely one worth seeking out. I'm not a huge coffee drinker but I can appreciate it when a brew like this integrates it so well. The vanilla adds a wonderful balance. Recommended.

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Photo of lnashsig
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Many thanks to AugustGarage for the chance to try this. This was an extra in a recent package from him- he consistently amazes me with his selection and generosity.

Poured into my DFH snifter, pours a dark brown/black color, with a tan/off white head that fills the top of the glass, and then slowly recedes. Excellent retention. Smell- dark chocolate, dark coffee, big hops on the nose. This one has it all! Taste- biting hops, followed by a roasty dark chocolate flavor, finished with a big almost espresso roasted coffee flavor. This beer reminds me of Founders Breakfast Stout, but beats it in a big way. This is a luscious, decadent beer that is well balanced, and exciting on all levels. Mouthfeel- I'm honestly surprised this is categorized as a porter- it has the rich syrupy thick mouthfeel of a stout, with perfect carbonation. Drinkabilty- as with most beers I get from AugustGarage, I'm saddened by the fact that I can't buy this easily again. It's an amazing beer and I will be looking for anything close to it that I can buy in Houston (but will probably come up short).

Thanks again- this one was the highlight of my night last night.

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Photo of BZero007
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Picked up a couple bottles from Vendome in Cali.
No dating is shown on the bottle anywhere.

Pours a very black tar color with a brown chocolate head forming with ease. The aroma is light but strong with sweet dark malt and a hint of vanilla in the background. The flavor has the sweet dark malt in the front showing strong as porter should, with the vanilla pushing it through. Body was a bit heavier then the baltic porters that I am used to. Very tasty brew with no taste of the alcohol at all in the brew.
Very enjoyable may pick up another some time in the future.

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Photo of shand
4.55/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a chalice.

This brew pours a thick black color with brown highlights. It has a finger of mocha head that goes away quickly. Lacing is nice. The smell is awesome. Roasted coffee and malts on the nose, with some nice vanilla and chocolate aspects too. The nose did nothing to prepare me for the taste though. This hits the tongue super-creamy, with the vanilla, chocolate and coffee working in tandem for a great flavor. The vanilla and chocolate fade to roasted malts, which don't stay for too long, leaving a great coffee aftertaste. This is seriously good.

The mouthfeel is very creamy with a pretty high level of carbonation for the style. 10% alcohol? No way. I don't taste a hint of the alcohol here. This is dangerously drinkable. This is seriously a good brew. I saw the tag of "imperial porter" and shrugged it out, but I can surely see the difference between this and an imperial stout. Highly recommended, especially if you love coffee beers like I do. This is seriously good.

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Photo of jsanford
4.62/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the Lodge in Hilton Head, SC on 3/4/11. Glad to finally be able to try this, it's eluded me for some time.

A - Inky black with a thin, creamy head of mocha-colored foam. Great retention, leaves a ton of sticky lacing.
S - Dark roasted malt, coffee-and-cream, vanilla beans, and caramel. Wow, what and amazing nose!
T - Dark malt and a lots of coffee dominate, along with more vanilla bean, dark chocolate malt, and caramel. Tastes like a Mocha Milkshake in the best possible way, so good!
M - Incredibly full, creamy and velvety, with low carbonation.
D - Really amazing, wish I could have had more but the keg kicked. Worth the wait!

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Photo of OakedCanuck
3.93/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

22oz bottle poured into snifter. Thanks for this one jodan

A - Black, very slight dark brown edging. Mocha coloured head, 2 fingers, excellent. Lacing was sticky and very nice

S - Strong vanilla, lesser coffee. Slight 'chemical' smell but very faint. Did not pick up very much bitterness but mostly just roast

T - smell followed the nose. Very strong, chemically vanilla, but not in too bad of a way. You do get the bold roasty coffee but it is more in the background. The vanilla is very dominant. I would have preferred the coffee to be the star of the show but it was a tasty brew

M - Medium to light heavy. Semi-sweet and slightly tacky

D - This beer is quite a bit of work to finish an entire bomber. I would not be able to have another. Tasty, just the vanilla was a bit much at time.

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Photo of stephens101
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Andewk for the exceptional trade and the hookup on this bonus beer.

Tall, thick, and dark tan head with a cluster of slowly popping bubbles at the top of the jet black brew. Staying power is excellent. In other words, this head don't need no Viagra. A tiered and multi-hued lace is left when the froth is spent.

Sweet and bitter chocolates to the nose initially, with an undercurrent of black coffee and furtive vanilla bean at the very end. Taste is complex with rich caramel malts, pine, espresso, vanilla, milk chocolate and oaken notes.

Creamy goodness going down with an unbroken but never overwhelming alcohol heat.

A stud of a perfectly balanced bittersweet brew that I find finishes off way to quick no matter how you cut it.

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Photo of July2Nov
4.03/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance: Poured a very dark brown (almost black) color with an ever so slight glimmer of light around the edges (ruby like in color). Had a nice two-finger, creamy head on it that soon went down to a half-finger.

Smell: Very coffee like with a big amount of chocolate and a tad bit of vanilla. Also has a syrupy hint. This smells very intoxicating.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Very robust! Big on flavor! Everything mentioned in the smell category is doubled - tripled in taste. Begins with a smooth, chalky coco/vanilla taste, then milds down with the syrup flavor...ends with mild to stronger bit of alcohol bite. The aftertaste is pure coffee.

Drinkabilty: For a 10.00% abv this is drinkable, but not to the point of having another one. Very good American Porter by a respectable brewing team. Ballast Point always tends to put out quality brews and for that, I salute you, Captain.

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Photo of TheDudeRules
4.5/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Served at a mini tasting.

Pours a ridiculous black. Tan almost coffee colored head. Smell is a full on coffee punch to the nostrils. If there is vanilla it gives way. Incredibly inviting. What a smooth robust coffee flavor. This brew is incredible. It envelops your tongue. Damn. I really dig this beer. The roasty coffee is superb. The carbonation is perfect. A beer I felt good sharing. Everyone enjoyed its splendor.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,219 ratings.