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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

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BA SCORE
96
world-class

1,178 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

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Reviews: 1,178
Hads: 5,728
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 967
Gots: 1,620 | FT: 102
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: 5,728
Photo of Halcyondays
4.24/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours black, with a full-finger light brown head.

S: Great smell of roasted coffee beans, one of the best smelling beers I have had in a while, I just want to keep smelling it until the volatiles dissapate.

T: The mix of coffee and roasted malt is real nice here, but is not as good as Speedway. Still it's a nice brew, and has excellent dark chocolate notes.

M: Smooth and full-bodied, it hides it's 10% very well, but you'll feel it by the end.

D: A nice finish to my BP round, 2nd best of the 5 IMO, it's nice to be able to try this stuff, though it sucks I may never have them again.

Edit - 2/8/10 - Got to have this again, yum. (666 characters)

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

Poured from the bottle into a nonic pint glass. Been trying to get this beer for ages! Thank you NYC!

A great dark coffee brown head forms so nicely and evenly foamy, rich looking, and dense. Body color is a classic dark brown walnut and doesn't even look like light gets through this thing at all. Aggressive looking, big. Looks wonderful.

Nose is coffee and cream with a nice balance. Some dark rolling malts and a hint of piped smoke. Smells like a great coffee beer is coming.

Palate hits with the wonder of the nose, but there's a catch. Rolling coffee notes mix with a nice light body and dark malts, but even a catch of fizz. Vanilla comes in a bit, but it comes off as a bit acidic and even slightly sour vanilla. Finish leaves a nice mix of all flavors, very VERY well balanced and not even hot or boozy for 10%.

Overall the palate is quite good, with just a slight minor flaw. But it drinks so well, great brew. (925 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

22 oz bottle shared with 321Jeff

I was fairly excited to try this but I'll cut to the chase and say I found this a little too sweet, rich and artificial tasting so I was happy this was being shared. Pours a dark, sludgy near black chocolate with a tan head which barely moves and covers the inside of the glass in sheets. Aroma is actually very pleasant, with little vanilla presence. Primarily a roasted malt, typical porter aroma with a pleasant punch of coffee beans. Unlike the aroma, the flavor begins with a potent vanilla sweetness. Body is very creamy and smooth, low carbonation and chewy finish. The vanilla slowly blends into a strong roast coffee flavor which lingers into a slightly bitter, hoppy burnt finish. Not much porter presence here, or alcohol presence. Not a bad beer, certainly unique, but too sweet and artificial for me to rate this much higher. (872 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Joe at Walnut Liquorette got this from the back for me. Thanks! On to the beer:

It is black. Very black. The head forms rocky on top, holds up well, and is tanned. Nice roasted coffee bean aroma....almost like Also a little smoke. Behind all that is a whisper of citrus hops. Now there's the addition of chocolate. It really changes are you keep inhaling.

Black Marlin Porter remains one of my all-time favorite porters, and the same folks who make that beer make this one as well. There are vanilla notes, but you need to squint hard enough to taste it. From the get-go, roasted, bitter coffee dominates. Bitter chocolate sits underneath the coffee. Astringent coffee and ash linger in the aftertaste. Alcohol is hidden incredibly well in this beer. There are the hops again, which squirt a little of its juice into the nectar (and a little hop bitterness). As for the liquid, it is smooth with a medium feel. It doesn't feel like its listed 10% ABV.

The aftertaste is the chink in this beer's armor. Otherwise, a good creation by Ballast Point, with the possibility of being wonderful. (1,092 characters)

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.05/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I would say this beer would be perfect first beer on a Saturday or Sunday morning tailgating.
Pours a dark dark brown, almost black. Off tan head is medium in size, looks a touch soapy.

Aroma is what makes me think of mornings. Coffee and roasted malt, like dark toast. Hints of vanilla smooth it out and calm down the roastiness.

Yum. Good flavors. Vanilla and coffee blend nicely with the coffee taking the upper hand. Dark roast and rich. Sweetness is halted by the warming alcohol, which would make drinking two or these a chore, but fun.
Smooth feel to it. Gimmie some pork and beans, grilled on an open flame with this stuff.
very nice. (649 characters)

Photo of Alieniloquium
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a CBS snifter.

Appearance - Slight transparency to the pour, but it's black once it's in the glass. Nice khaki head that settles and even seems to change to a lighter color. Probably just my foolishness there. Clings to the inside of the glass. Doesn't look particularly viscous.

Smell - Coffee most apparent, but it's pretty fudgy as well. Vanilla is faint in the nose. Every once in a while I get a hint of a metallic note.

Taste - Very chocolatey. Rich fudge. Coffee more subdued. It comes out in the finish where some of those roasted malts give it a bitter coffee finish. No metallic notes. Vanilla is much more prevalent here.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied. Not quite as chewy as I'd like. Smooth carbonation. No real heat from the alcohol.

Overall - It's a pretty stellar beer. I don't know about the whole "porter" thing. It drinks like a thin stout, but the flavors are great. (912 characters)

Photo of tempest
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
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. (690 characters)

Photo of Stinkypuss
4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Ballast Point Victory At Sea (Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter version)

Poured from a 22 oz bomber into a snifter. The darkest of browns with a light brown head. No peering through this beer, its about as dark as night. Attractive lacing that looks very ornate.

Aroma of coffee and faint vanilla sweetness.

Vanilla up front which gives way to a lingering coffee flavor. This beer also has some chocolate notes. Very decadant and full flavors. The aftertaste of coffee, cocoa and vanilla is truly remarkable. There are even some hints of oak in this beer.

Mouthfeel is smooth, full bodied with a lingering coffee/bitter chocolate finish. A little syrupy in nature.

Drinkability requires some respect for this sipper. It wasn't hot with alcohol at all. Overall, this beer is just great. (787 characters)

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.29/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A wonderful beer- hits all the right notes without overdoing it. Luscious and balanced, it really satisfies the sweet tooth without being too sweet. It's the nice vanilla richness that does it for me. The coffee flavor is wonderful. Obviously high quality coffee is used, and the fact that it's cold brewed undoubtedly helps create its smooth, clean flavor. Nicely balanced overall , with the coffee taking the lead, followed by a long slightly sweet vanilla note, some roastiness and a bitter finish. A nice package. (517 characters)

Photo of johnnnniee
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a solid black with a thinnish mocha head that sticks around for a bit. Smells of coffee right off, layers of vanilla, milk chocolate, and roasted grain hidden in there as well. Taste is like a half and half milkshake. Lots of milk chocolate and vanilla mix up front followed by some coffee and a lingering roasted coffee and chocolate finish. Full bodied with a creamy mouthfeel and light carbonation. Great Porter, maybe a bit on the sweet side, but certainly very tasty. Call it a desert porter. (503 characters)

Photo of corby112
3.67/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

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

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

Chewy silky malt dominated full body with a huge roasted coffee bean presence. Lots of silky chocolate malt and some subtle mellow vanilla notes but the flavor is a bit overpowered by the very intensely strong deep roasted coffee, espresso bean. Hints of oatmeal, toffee, very burnt toast and licorice with a nice dry bitter hop character in the finish. I can't overemphasize how much of a strong burnt/roasted coffee presence there is. It's a bit too harsh for me and extremely bitter, taking away from the silky chocolate and vanilla notes that I liked so much. Alcohol heat mid-palate that becomes stronger at the end of the swallow and produces some warmth in the finish. Pretty complex but a bit one dimensional for me. Recommended for fans of roasted coffee and big coffee beers. (1,507 characters)

Photo of weeare138
4.32/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Josh for this one...
Appears a dark brown, nearing black with a dark tan head that slowly fades into a mild cap. Spotty bits of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of vanilla, coffee, cream, and warmed barbados sugar.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a coffe and sugary whipped cream mixed together as the main focus of flavors.
Mouthfeel is viscuous, heavy, chewy, with mild bitterness found in the swallow. (430 characters)

Photo of HopHead84
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

I had this at Ballast Point's Old Grove location. It's black with a nice light brown head...good retention....good...lacing.

The aroma smells a lot like a breakfast stout with vanilla. Oatmeal and bitter coffee notes are pretty strong, along with a nice vanilla bean aroma. It smells sweet. The taste reminds me a lot of Founders Breakfast Stout. It's sweet, with oatmeal and a moderate bitterness, which I attribute to the strong coffee presence, but which probably has more to do with the hops that I can't taste. Vanilla is strong here as well.

Victory at Sea is full bodied with medium carbonation, and a smooth and creamy mouthfeel.

I'm not a big fan of the style, but this is well done. The coffee was strong, but nicely balanced with oatmeal and vanilla so it wasn't overwhelming.

*edit*

Looks like there are two entries for the same beer. The other one has the word Vanilla in the name, though they're the same beer. That's too bad. (946 characters)

Photo of Zorro
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lightproof black colored beer with a small brown colored head.

Smell is coffee and chocolate with patent malt. Vanilla is there but the scent is more spiced rum than vanilla. Toffee and something else spicy, maybe allspice berry.

Starts out bitter chocolate with vanilla in the after taste, fairly bitter. Not a sweet beer. Chocolate and vanilla with a trace of ash in the taste. An OK Stout but they went overboard with the patent malt. Alcohol is quite detectable.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Overall it is at best OK. Too bad they didn't balance out the patent malt better. (569 characters)

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 lacqueredmouse
4.19/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

220oz brown bomber purchased from Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, CA. Brought back to Sydney and shared with Sam and Rich.

Pours a decent brown-black colour, with a relatively light body that doesn't hold carbonation. Head forms a decent filmy crest of golden-crispened brown and the lacing is excellent. I'm a bit surprised at the body, but otherwise it looks pretty decent.

Nose is wonderful, and delivering on everything I expected. Lovely oaky vanilla characters, cut with a crisp, fruity coffee aroma and underpinned with rich dark chocolate and malts that give sweetness but nothing in the way of grassy graininess. It's sweet and luscious and impressive—I don't care if it's also something of a gimmick. Gimme gimme gimme.

Relatively smooth and light entry on the palate just peppered with a little coffee spiciness. Big rounded, slightly empty vanilla characters come through in the mid palate. The back palate is where the richness is: dark chocolate and red mole pricked with more of that coffee bite and everywhere fresh and vibrant from supple vanilla. It's very pleasant once you get here: a little bit lacklustre beforehand.

Feel is very good: light enough to remind you it's a porter, but with heft to remind you it's 10% ABV.

Overall, it's a lovely brew, but perhaps one that was always going to be lovely. The flavours are pronounced and are quite well balanced. It's drinkable and very tasty. Something perhaps stops me from gushing wholeheartedly about it, but there's no doubt that it's a very fine brew. (1,528 characters)

Photo of GarthDanielson
4.11/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a tumbler pint, the beer is a near black, with a thick, densely packed, tight bubbled, frothy tan head that sits a solid half an inch on the surface of this brew. Aromas are subtle and very well blended, with hints of day old coffee, vanilla, dark chocolate, and some earthy notes. Flavors are rich and bold, with a blast of bitter dark chocolate and subtle coffee backbone blasting away on the front of the tongue, and quickly covering the palate. Highlights of vanilla and woody characteristics abound, with an earthy overtone throughout, and some boozey profiles as well. The beer's flavors ride a creamy and light body that leaves a great many rings around the glass as you drink. The aftertaste is a bit of the booze, a touch of the vanilla, and a hint of the chocolate and coffee blend, giving highlights of everything that just danced across the palate. The finish is rather quick, with only a slight bitter linger at the very end. The alcohol and bitterness do a good job cleaning everything up and helping the beer to avoid the cloying or overpowering realm of flavor profiles. This is a heavy hitter, and definitely a sipper for the evening. Delicious beer. (1,193 characters)

Photo of PEIhop
4.75/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass.

A - This is the most viscous porter I have come across. Poured an oily, syrupy, and mesmerizing black. Thick, fluffy, brown head with intricate lacing.

S - The aroma released full of smoked/burnt malt with a robust coffee flavor. Vanilla and other spices are supporting with subtle notes.

T - Amazing! Coffee dominates but it isn't overpowering. During the end of the tasting, vanilla notes come through leaving a refreshing and satisfying finish.

M - Lusciously thick and full.

D - Without Question. This is executed with care and precision. Delicious! (606 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
4.38/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Port Carlsbad
Poured a deep, deep brown with a tannish head. Nose is sweet, lots of vanilla and chocolate but the coffee plays a backseat and it worked well. Taste is vanilla, cocoa, roasted malt, chewy, a tad nutty with coffee in the background. Mouthfeel is creamy and rich in the mouth. Tasty, well balanced, the ABV is well hidden and this is a great brew in every area. Ballast Point is becoming one of my fav breweries for great beers like this. (461 characters)

Photo of biegaman
4.92/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

As different streams having different sources all mingle their waters in the sea, so very different ingredients have led to this masterful creation. The coffee, however, undoubtedly, looks the most prominent. Victory At Sea is black and no light, no matter how bright, can change that fact. The head, once it casts its net, holds on to the glass forever.

Coffee, roasted malt and vanilla are all equally proportioned in the aroma and, I have to admit, I love them all equally - now I know how difficult a question it is for a parent to choose their favourite child. A scent like this makes you wonder why anyone bothers to barrel-age their stouts when they could achieve better results just adding coffee and vanilla.

Victory At Sea has the kind of profound, enduring, distinguished flavour that is so rich and intense it can be summoned days later. It is monumental. Not an aspect overlooked: lush vanilla bean, decadent chocolate cake, strong coffee, nuttiness, zesty hops and roasted malts. Starbucks could sell just this and be equally as popular and successful.

There are some things about this beer that cannot be overstated, one being how decadently, gratifyingly delicious it is. Another is how well the charred coffee is integrated with lusciously sweet vanilla. From a technical standpoint, the beer is near flawlessly engineered: bitter balances sweet and clean drinkability compensates for over-the-top richness.

One thing is for sure: my mouth and stomach are having a much more enjoyable time with this than my liver probably is. At 10% alcohol, this is surely one of the silkiest, most sensual double-digit strength beer I've had the pleasure of drinking. You'd never catch on if you weren't told. Calorie-counters would know better, but even they'd agree it's worth it.

Ballast Point is as constant as the North Star when it comes to putting out well-crafted, full-character, premier beers but this is not only arguably their greatest offering, but perhaps one of the best America has to offer up as well. Few beers this dark, this big and this rich could be this agreeably delicious and easily enjoyed. I'd swim across the sea if that's what it took to get another bottle. A special thanks to Ultraman9000 for this one! (2,245 characters)

Photo of liamt07
4.37/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle from Premier Gourmet, 650ml into a tulip. Best by November 26, 2013.

Black body, lofty mocha head. Great retention and lacing. Beautiful vanilla, brown sugar and medium-dark coffee roast on the nose. A creamy quality to this as well. Heavy roast and dark chocolate on the palate, a creamy vanilla quality contributes a moderate amount of balance. Carbonation a tad high to begin with, but this is easily remedied. Medium full feel. Delicious, might have wet dreams thinking about this on nitro or hand pump. (515 characters)

Photo of akorsak
4.12/5  rDev -5.3%
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. (1,145 characters)

Photo of Wasatch
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks goes out to portia99 for this brew.

22oz. Bomber

Pours a very nice dark brown color, nice carbonation, nice one-finger creamy tan head, with some very nice sticky lacing left behind. The nose is malty, lots of coffee/chocolate/toffee, sweet vanilla. The taste is sweet, malty, nice touch of vanilla, and lots of coffee/chocolate/toffee. Medium body, the ABV is hidden pretty well with this brew. Very drinkable, this one is very tasty. Thanks Bill. (457 characters)

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
3.96/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to cbeer88 for this one. Poured in to Founder's tulip glass.

A - Poured dark black with one finger of bubbly espresso coloured head that quickly disappeared.

S - Bitter dark roasted coffee up front that dominates the nose. A touch of sweetness in the background but the vanilla is not specifically evident in the nose. Somewhat one dimensional nose.

T - Dark roasted coffee, brown sugar, roasted malts and a touch of vanilla. As the beer warms the coffee becomes less dominant and the the roasted malts and vanilla become more evident but the coffee remains the predominant flavour.

M - Medium body, light carbonation. (632 characters)

Photo of WoodBrew
3.91/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is a bit rough for me.....very strong on the coffee and I really do not get a lot of vanilla. The look is very nice...dark, ecru head that is lacing. Scent and taste are dominated by coffee. The mouthfeel is not as creamy or full as I would prefer. Overall its decent....but no where near the best porter I have had. (325 characters)

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