Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter - Ballast Point Brewing Company
Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
Ratings: 3,715 | Reviews: 917 | Display Reviews Only:
3.78/5 rDev -13.9%
Sampled April 2009
A vigorous pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a dense, creamy, darkly browned crown of froth that rises three fingers in height. The head leaves copious amounts of dense lace on the sides of my glass as it slowly subsides. The beer is almost pure black in color, but does have a touch of brown to it. When held up to the light the beer shows just a touch of an amber hue to it around the edges, but I wouldn't really say that it is passing any light through. The aroma has the coffee leading off along with roasted malt notes, but it has a soft backdrop of vanilla that becomes more noticeable the longer I spend smelling the aroma (though it never goes beyond subtle). The vanilla accentuates a solid dark chocolate aromatic note here and it also helps to soften the sharp, roasted grain and coffee notes. The nose has quite a rich, satisfying, even satiating quality to it.
As the beer hits my tongue I notice that it has a rich, satisfying heft to it, though it is not quite as heavy as the nose might have suggested; it is still a sipping beer though. Vanilla flavors accentuate a malt sweetness as well as a dark chocolate flavor. Bitter, roasted coffee flavors are found in the finish and can get a touch acrid at times. The bitterness from the dark malt and coffee flavors really lingers on in the finish.
This beer has a nice balance to it, between the vanilla notes and sweetness up front and the roasted, biting notes towards the finish, but it can seem a little simplistic at times. The vanilla really helps this beer shine; the roast malt and coffee notes would be too aggressive, too acrid and too bitter without the vanilla. This is definitely a nice after dinner sipping brew and I find that I am quite enjoying it.
05-16-2009 17:13:45 | More by Gueuzedude
4.35/5 rDev -0.9%
Great ring lace on the glass from the substantive tan head. Dark, dark brown color where no lace passes.
Lots of coffee and a little bit of cream. Basically, mocha in aroma. Low level of sweetness...reminiscent of good cocoa.
Lots of powdered chocolate in the flavor. Sweet and bitter from the malt. Rich body with a relatively low level of carbonation. Almost chewy. The aftertaste is complicated: Notable hop bitterness with some dark chocolate malt and sweet milky flavor. Deceptively high in alcohol.
05-23-2009 00:34:58 | More by smcolw
4.2/5 rDev -4.3%
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.
03-25-2009 16:51:01 | More by Halcyondays
4.28/5 rDev -2.5%
Appearance: pours a dark brown almost black color with a thick 3" milk chocolate colored head. Moderate lace paints the glass.
Smell: loads of vanilla, roasted malt, and chocolate is easy to detect.
Taste: big roasted malt flavors with a load of vanilla, some coffee tones, moderate amount of bitter chocolate, and some moderate bitterness. Alcohol is barely noticeable here.
Mouthfeel: medium bodied. Lightly crisp to start, smooth and a bit creamy at the finish. Aftertaste is long lasting.
Drinkability: this is a slow sipping beer, but the flavors keeps it interesting throughout. Definitely worth seeking out.
01-08-2011 22:16:20 | More by Gavage
3.78/5 rDev -13.9%
Really excited for this one; I reviewed this on-draught last year and fell in love with it. Saw it on the shelf and had to revisit it. Enjoy by 11/08/13. 22 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Cost was $7.99; I also saw it tonight at Sunset Beer Co. for $8.99 10% ABV confirmed.
Served straight from the fridge but allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.
Presentation: I dig the label, which bears a skeleton manning the wheel of a ship. Cool art, and more inventive than Ballast Point's usual uninspired fish.
A: Pours a one finger rich tan colour head of gorgeous cream and thickness, and good retention for the high ABV (~2 minutes). Lacing is decent. Body colour is a solid jet black. Nontransparent and opaque. Looks precisely as it should for the style. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.
Sm: Complex and subtle vanilla notes are unquestionable dominant. Heavy coffee/java also comes through alongside a delightful roasted character - both from the coffee itself as well as from the barley. Cocoa powder on the backend. Coffee emerges more and more as it warms. Some clean malty sweetness. The vanilla has depth, as though from vanilla bean rather than vanilla extract or some of the artificial crap they use in poorer vanilla beers (see Tanilla). No yeast or alcohol is detectable. A moderately strong aroma, and certainly an inviting one.
T: Heavy vanilla throughout, coalescing with the malty sweetness right on the finish. The coffee is more buried in the body, layered between dark malts, but it lends a pleasant character that helps balance the vanilla. What's sorely missing is the roasted barley character from the nose. God, the ABV is nowhere in sight. Unfortunately, I get a somewhat metallic note about the climax that rings artificial next to the vanilla. I don't remember that being a problem with the draught version. No yeast character at all.
Mf: Smooth and wet, with adequate body. Not too thick. Carbonation is good, if slightly high - though I imagine this'll suit it well for aging. Good presence on the palate. She slides down easy enough.
Dr: Extremely drinkable for the high ABV. I'll have no trouble killing this bomber by myself. I think fresh maybe the vanilla is a bit too sweet; I'd give this a good three weeks to mellow out a bit. I've got a bottle aging from last year in my cellar and will post notes on that as soon as I get around to it. Another great beer from Ballast Point. One of my favourite porters, and quite possibly my favourite vanilla beer so far. A great dessert treat.
Please, serve it slightly chilled. It's best once as it warms to room temperature.
Would pair well with sweets.
12-15-2012 05:48:31 | More by kojevergas
4.38/5 rDev -0.2%
Shared a bomber of this with a friend. Pours a rich, dark black. Smells of roastiness and coffee. Taste is full bodied, great mouthfeel. The vanilla adds a great taste and complexity to this overall delicious tasting brew. Smooth and well hidden alcohol, this was a fantastic beer with the sips going down way too quickly and easily. Highly recommended, this brewery has yet to let me down in the least bit.
06-15-2012 22:58:06 | More by oriolesfan4
3.63/5 rDev -17.3%
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.
11-17-2009 05:08:06 | More by corby112
4.33/5 rDev -1.4%
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.
06-10-2009 00:31:00 | More by weeare138
District of Columbia
3.75/5 rDev -14.6%
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.
02-16-2010 02:13:13 | More by yourefragile
4.16/5 rDev -5.2%
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.
10-05-2013 03:26:01 | More by lacqueredmouse
4.43/5 rDev +0.9%
Thanks to petesuphi for sharing the rest of his bottle with me. One of my all time favorite porters.
A - Pours jet black with a fluffy two finger tall tan head leaving light streaks of lace down the glass.
S - Smells of rich coffee, sweet vanilla and chocolate and the ever present dark roasted malt. This ones nose is absolutely intoxicating.
T - Starts off with a big dose of dark roasted coffee slowly giving way to a nice mix of vanilla and milk chocolate sweetness. The smooth feel really makes this one easy to drink. Finish is a mix of sweetness and dark roast, lignering on the pallet for some time.
M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Smooth feel with a sweet / roasty finish that clings to the pallet. Goes a bit flat at the end of the glass otherwise pretty good.
O - I could drink this every day no problem. The flavors are spot on and the alcohol is all but undetectable. I am glad I picked up a few of these to last the the rest of the year.
02-10-2012 23:43:00 | More by orangesol
4.1/5 rDev -6.6%
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.
05-03-2009 20:19:10 | More by tempest
4.4/5 rDev +0.2%
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.
05-27-2009 03:08:42 | More by barleywinefiend
4.28/5 rDev -2.5%
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.
06-07-2013 00:56:02 | More by Georgiabeer
4.33/5 rDev -1.4%
$9.99 for the bomber at DeCicco's, Ardsley, NY.
Pours straight up black, dark mocha head, thats rich, dense and staying around. Thick sheeting and nice looking and well developed lacing left behind.
Nose resonates with coffee and more coffee. Also some dark grains, mocha, light chocolate.
Full flavor porter, lucious waves of coffee, chocolate, vanilla, and dark malty goodness. Rich, dense, boldly amped up and thoroughly tasty stuff. Heavy and viscious on the tongue and coating the mouth.
Over the top and highly worthy of seeking out.
12-02-2010 02:53:30 | More by Billolick
4.03/5 rDev -8.2%
'09 bomber I purchased fresh that year it was released and completely forgot about it until today. Poured into a snifter, it appears dark brown in color with more than a finger of dark tan head. The cap recedes to a thin film across the top. A light swirl brings back a finger of dark khaki head. When held to the light, it shows some dark brown clarity around the edges with some indication of red through the body.
The smell includes everything you would expect based off of the aroma. Coffee, vanilla, roasty grain, chocolate and a bit of a citrus element that comes from a combination of hops and the citrus component of strong coffee. A little bit of mineral inclusion is present as well as a musty grain/coffee and sulfur inclusion towards the back. The more I smell this brew, the more it comes across like cocoa.
The taste of this brew is roasty initially that blends into a flavor of vanilla and coffee. The coffee is lightly musty and contains a bit of a citrus element. The roast is bitter and produces some unsweetened chocolate flavors. There is a bit of a mineral element present that blends into the citrus element of the hops and coffee. Each flavor is individually identifiable but collective comes together to make a fairly good brew.
This is a medium bodied brew with a modest level of carbonation. The 10% abv is felt with both flavor and warmth but it blends nicely with the character displayed throughout. Overall not a bad brew, this is something I wouldn't mind revisiting immediately after it's release to see how that coffee is while it is fresh.
12-23-2011 02:20:19 | More by stakem
4.55/5 rDev +3.6%
A: Pours jet black with a two finger mocha head with large bubbles in it. The beer has very good head retention and significant lacing.
S: Roasty malts with hints of vanilla, coffee, and chocolate.
T: Starts with the taste of the vanilla, followed by coffee, then a little chocolatey, and finishes with a nice roasty maltiness... has a little bit of the bitter acidity that one would normally associate with coffee. The taste of the alcohol is hidden.
M: Very full bodied with very little carbonation, nicely coats the inside of your mouth while drinking it.
O: Wonderful example of the porter style and something I could definitely have over and over again.
01-21-2012 01:00:01 | More by dbrauneis
4.1/5 rDev -6.6%
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.
09-20-2009 21:17:17 | More by akorsak
3.45/5 rDev -21.4%
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.
12-24-2012 01:36:17 | More by Zorro
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 3,715 ratings.