Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

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

1,180 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,180
Hads: 5,737
rAvg: 4.35
pDev: 8.51%
Wants: 968
Gots: 1,621 | 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: 1,180 | Hads: 5,737
Photo of MadCat
3/5  rDev -31%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a nice dark black color with dark tan head, leaves good lacing

Smell: Strong medium roast coffee, some hints of roasted malts and earthy hops

Taste: Strong medium roast coffee dominates the taste. The faintest hints of vanilla, along with a little stronger hints of roasted malts and earthy hops. Good bitterness

Mouthfeel: Full body, good level of carbonation for the style

Overall: Disappointing. Severely. Even without all the hype it gets, picking up a bottle from a good brewery that says "Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter" you would expect something different. This tastes like you brewed a batch of beer replacing the water purely with coffee, and not a coffee with the kind of notes I prefer. If this didn't say vanilla on the label, I would have no idea it was there. And, you have to really know what you're looking for to tell that it is based on a porter. Now, maybe I had it too fresh? Maybe a little age will tone the coffee down? But still, where's the vanilla? I know its there, but it is so over powered by the coffee. I haven't had a ton of coffee beers, but what I have had is a bit more balance, a bit more toned down, and a bit more enjoyable. At $10 a bottle, I'm not going to try to figure out if I got a bad bottle. Still, this isn't a drain pour, but I can think of plenty of 4 pack or 6 pack beers I would rather have. (1,364 characters)

Photo of Givemebeer
3.83/5  rDev -12%
look: 3 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Good beer but I'm not as high on it as others. The vanilla tastes a bit fake and syrupy and the beer is a tad too sweet for my liking. That being said, it does a remarkable job of hiding its 10% and there is just enough coffee to balance out the vanilla. I'm not complaining, good beer to be drinking on a cold winters day in Vermont. (337 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 BradMacMullin
4.59/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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

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

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

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

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

Photo of WJVII
3.68/5  rDev -15.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2/23/11 review session hosted by Cdkrenz reviewed from notes- cdkrenz sample:
Poured into a pint glass this brew has a thick oil like black color with a nice 3 finger chocolate head. There is a strong aroma of burnt malts, coffee and caramel. The flavor is more mild than expected and not until a few sips do you notice the subtle but delicious vanilla that matches perfectly with the chocolate flavor. The coffee that is advertised is not very noticeable. This had a smooth milky body and was good but not the best we had that night. Strong brew and definitely recommend. (572 characters)

Photo of Popp24
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I just picked this up at the brewery last weekend. I really enjoyed this porter.

A - Dark; almost black with about a 1 finger khaki head.

S - I get a lot of vanilla and some coffee and cocoa.

T - What I got from the nose transfered over to the taste. Nice vanilla favors with some mild cocoa as well. The coffee is there but not too much which I like. The porter is so easy to drink for 10 percent; the alcohol is barley their at the finish.

M - Nice and creamy.

O - I really enjoyed this porter and it really had a lot of nice flavors to it. The vanilla and cocoa flavors give it sweetness and the coffee kinda balances that out so it's not too sweet. Was sad when my bomber was empty. (692 characters)

Photo of Barnoloid
4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle pour. Phenomenal - from the first sniff to the last sip. Big notes of roasted chocolate and huge swathes of vanilla pervade the nose and the taste. Beautiful tan foam head on the pour, with a medium body and mouthfeel. This is stellar. The coffee notes are not acrid at all - but provide a good dose of body and kick to this imperial porter. Booze is hidden at 10% - goes down almost too well here. This is a beer I have had my eye on for a while and it was worth the wait. (485 characters)

Photo of bifrost17
4.36/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber poured into a CBS snifter

A: Pretty much what you'd expect. Very dark, but I can't quite decide if I'd say it's black, or just a very dark brown...maybe like mahogany, or ebony. Nice light brown, cinnamon colored head that sticks around. Moderate lacing.

S: Smells like dessert. Vanilla, and coffee obviously, but also chocolate, cherries, and maybe like a woody...earthiness....? Smells amazing.

T: Tastes even better than it smells! Wow, so much going on, bitter coffee up front, followed by a chocolate/vanilla sweetness, and then finishes with a lingering coffee espresso type of bitterness. Really amazing how sweet the beer tastes but how bitter it finishes. Props to the brewers, this is crazy. Almost tastes like multiple different beers all rolled into one. The 10% abv is totally hidden.

M: Moderate carbonation, suuuper creamy. Feels nice. My only complaint is it's a tad thin, but I guess maybe that's how you can differentiate between an "imperial stout" and an "imperial porter." This is definitely not thick enough to be confused with an imperial stout.

O: Easily my favorite Ballast Point beer. I've had Sculpin numerous times, and I enjoy it, but I really don't understand the hype behind it. Victory at Sea on the other hand...A W E S O M E. Seek this beer out. I've always been skeptical of the "Imperial Porter" style, but this beer clearly defines it. Not as heavy and robust as an Imperial Stout...almost hard to describe, but if you want to know what an Impy Porter is just drink this and you'll know. Thank you Ballast Point. (1,561 characters)

Photo of BubalooBrewMaster
4.4/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22oz bottle

A: its like a cascade of molasses ,rich and dark.

S:obvious smell of coffee,toasted malts and a hint of chocalate.

T:a beautiful balance of coffee and vanilla.although not a strong taste of vanilla you can taste it if you wait for it.A bitter finish but not overwhelming.

M:very smooth.

O:Best porter I've had till now.A balance of quality flavors that you can expect from your favorite coffee house with the added bonus of alcohol.Need I say more.Highly recommend for 7.99$ for a 22oz. (517 characters)

Photo of ChrisMyhre
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a stemmed wine glass from the 22 oz. bottle. Enjoy by January 15, 2014.

a: Dark black, not sure if there's variation from batch to batch but I see no brown at all. Solid looking dark tan head, but not tall. Not much lacing.

s: Very vanilla forward, a little coffee, malt, and yeast though too.

t: Much less vanilla taste (I hate vanilla coffee so this is a very good thing to me), nice roasty, somewhat with lots of good coffee flavor .

m: Drinkable, just slightly on the drinkable side(for a 10.0 abv Imperial Stout at least), lower carbonation but still a very full feeling beer..

o: Excellent, the most balanced coffee stout/porter I've had, very subtle vanilla taste with nice scent, which is very rare. I will pick this up anytime I have extra dough lying around, would love to see in 12 oz bottles. (822 characters)

Photo of Axic10
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 22oz bottle into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours pitch black with two fingers of mocha foam that settles after a few minutes.

Smell: Bold coffee, dark chocolate, vanilla and some boozy notes at the end.

Taste: Coffee, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, vanilla. Tasty!

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and smooth.

Drinkability: Probably a neck and neck tie for my favorite beer from Ballast Point (Sculpin being the other). I've had this beer on tap and out of the bottle and it is really really good. Definitely one I order whenever I see it. (552 characters)

Photo of Teleweizen2
3.38/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - pours pitch black with a bubbly mocha head of foam. Two fingers worth. It dissipated rather quickly. Leaves streaks of lacing.

S - lots of oily espresso on first sniff along with varying degrees of roasted malt and a bit of milk chocolate. Some mild spice notes along with hints of vanilla and toasted coconut.

T - vaguely sweet on the front of the tongue. The roasty bitter flavors enter mid palate to balance the sweetness. There are hints of vanilla as well but it seems to be providing a counter notand e to the strong esprosso bean roasty flavors.

M - full bodied. medium carbonation. Creamy texture.

O - an interesting ale. I was expecting a little more desert beer
from this with the vanilla playing a larger role. But still flavorful and well produced. (772 characters)

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

Bomber poured into snifter

Black liquid with brown two finger foam cap, decent lacings

Aroma of coffee and chocolate


Taste of chocolate, roast coffee, vanilla, licorice

Good beer,mrepeatable (195 characters)

Photo of osant37
5/5  rDev +14.9%

Poured from a 12oz. Bottle into a dogfish head sniffter glass at fridge temp.
A - pours a jet black with just slight hints of brown around the edges. . Massive 3 finger pancake colored head. That sucks around for a while. Leaving substantial . Lacing with very present alcohol legs.

S - intense roasted Coffee grinds. French vanilla syrup. Hints of caramel candy. This beer smells unbelievably good. Very similar to southern tier creme Brulee in smell.

T - bitter roasted malts with a slight char. Tons of roasted coffee.middle of the mouth it becomes a vanilla bomb.finished with a strong caramel note with the alcohol present on the way down.

M - full bodied and creamy. Very slick and smooth.almost oatmeal stout feel to it.

O - another strong and solid offering from ballast point.these guys know beer. The best porter I have ever had. From the pour to the last drop in the glass. I'm so glad I picked up a few of these.The place I got them from is all sold out. 5 star good!

CHEERS! (993 characters)

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

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Bruery Tulip glass.

Pours a deep, rich black, with brown highlights when held to the light. Less than an inch of head, that fades to a light lacing that sits on top, and sticks to the side of the glass.

Smell is of vanilla, roasted coffee, burnt brown sugar, and a tinge of bitter hops, but comes across more as bitter coffee.

Taste follows the nose, coffee, vanilla, some tobacco, dark chocolate ( like 70% dark chocolate)

Mouth feel is a bit creamy, but doesn't linger on the palate. Heat of the 10% is well masked, but comes through more once it warms up.

Overall, one of the top coffee porters. The 2010 seems a bit too balanced in contrast to previous years, with the flavors melding to a point of masking what is a complex beer. Having sampled various variety's, the barrel aged tap version is delicious, as was last year's fresh, (Also aged last years for a year, vanialla comes through a lot, coffee fades quite a bit, was still present though) but last years cask version with Rum chips takes the prize.

Recommended in any variant though, great seasonal. (1,105 characters)

Photo of erushing
4.66/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I've had this fairly fresh and I've aged it to about 9 months to tone down the coffee. Fresh, it's a really above average porter that is very coffee forward. This review is more for the one that was about 9 months old where I thought it was incredibly complex and the coffee didn't dominate everything so much (for me). With a bit of age on it, it became one of best porter/stouts I've had. (393 characters)

Photo of Philousa
4.44/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very black, but has a tinge of coffee color against the light. takes some effort to produce head and what's there dissipates to leave very little on top of the drink. Aroma starts out with lots of caramel and a hint o licorice/anise. The Porter malt is strong with this one. Some chocolate and vanilla notes with a hint of oak. Sweet vanilla flavor fades quickly to bitter dark roast coffee. Dark chocolate follows and finishes bitter. Vanilla is in there the whole while, lingering. I got some tobacco in there too. Amazingly smooth for the ABV, the finish is dry.

This is one of my favorite porters. Complex and flavorful, I thought this was surely barrel aged at first. Adding chocolate and vanilla is a delicate process, which is why I like BA beers more. All this is to say that the flavors blend well together and are not overbearing. The ABV is very deceiving, too. You notice it when you stand up, not when you drink it. (935 characters)

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

Poured from a bomber into a tulip

A- dark dark dark with a nice creamy tan head

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

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

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

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

Photo of Gajo74
4.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a rich looking dark brown with a massive creamy light brown head that spilled over. (My bad. I poured a little too fast) Thick foamy lacing persists. Great complex aroma of dark sugars, roasted malts, coffee, caramel, raisins and nut cake. Taste of sweet roasted malts with a slightly dry bitter sweet and slight alcohol finish. As the bottle indicates, other strong flavors are coffee and vanilla extract. Feel is full bodied, hearty and robust. Minimal carbonation helps keep the flavors intact and makes this a great brew to warm you in the winter and/or drink with dessert. A thoroughly enjoyable brew and one of my favorite examples of porter! (654 characters)

Photo of jmalex
3.81/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Ballast Point has really exploded onto the scene in the past 6 months or so and I was excited for the chance to buy this limited release bomber of my favorite style.

APPEARANCE: Pours into a Duvel tulip a deep black with a one-finger, tan head. It's tightly-bubbled and eventually shrinks to a full coating of foam covering the surface of the beer. Lacing is spotty and abundant the full height of the glass.

SMELL: I haven't even picked up the glass yet and I can smell the intense aroma of coffee. It really dominates the nose and doesn't let much else through. Some roasted malt and a strong hint of vanilla show through, but that's about it. Not that it's entirely a bad thing because what's here smells awesome, if just a bit overwhelming. As the beer warms though, some distinct hop aroma adds some much-needed complexity to the beer.

TASTE: The coffee gives way much more in the taste but still dominates. Chocolate and caramel make their way through initially with the coffee coming up to meet it then passing it by. A roast barley flavor comes on toward the finish giving the beer a very stout-like quality. The roastiness continues on through the finish and takes on a bittering role in conjunction with the coffee. Again as the beer warms, hops show themselves and aid in both bittering and depth of flavor.

MOUTHFEEL: Medium-full body with a lower than average carbonation. Seems just about right for style with a minor syrupiness.

DRINKABILITY: The flavors individually are all really nice, but rather than creating depth, they seem to just muddle each other up. That coupled with the fact that it's impossible to get past the coffee flavor no matter how good it is makes this more of an amalgam of tastes rather than a finely-tuned, interconnected blend. It is worth noting however that the 10% ABV is really hard to find.

I like this beer. I really did. It's really all over the place though, and I feel like I can find much more cohesive restrained examples of the style that drink much better. Worth trying for sure. (2,039 characters)

Photo of Ford
4.79/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Nobi Public House in Webster, Texas.. served in a 9oz snifter.

First.. thanks Ballast Point for finally coming to Texas... howdy and welcome.

I love porters and stouts... I especially love them with big coffee smells and flavors.. I also like vanilla...

This one stands with the best I have had... so good... lots of coffee flavor.. a touch of vanilla is there also.. smells so dang good.

I don't know if this is year round.. the website doesn't show it, so I'm guessing it is seasonal.. I would love to see this year round...it's a great beer. (558 characters)

Photo of McStagger
4.41/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoy by 11/26/13. Whoops! Hope the vanilla hasn't faded too much.

A: Might as well be a stout. Pours out thick and inky. Dark. Dark dark dark. Put up to the light and you can get some small tiny bits of garnet on the edges. Head was half a finger that evaporated. A vigorous swirl brings us a touch more than a finger of dark, espresso creme colored foam. Still fades pretty quickly. Good lacing on the glass.

S: Deep roasted malts. Candied sugar in there. Toasted sugar in there as well. Think of toffee that's been brulee'd. Vanilla is still very present. As is the coffee. Coffee is a rich, full bodied roast. Super dark fruit under there. Dried black cherry, maybe some currant or casis. Back end has a woody/smoky characteristic with just a touch of alcohol heat.

T: Hell's bells. Flavors just explode! Entrance is sweet milk chocolate with big notes of vanilla! This is overtaken by a rush of dark fruit. dark fruit. Figs, dates, more of the dried black cherry. The malt bitterness picks up in the end, hitting you with huge notes of roasted and torched grain. Heat begins to show up in the finish, but it works so well with the vanilla sweetness. Very little coffee in this one. Just getting a tiny bit on the finish.

M: A little north of medium bodied. I understand that this is an Imperial Porter, but for with flavors that go pretty much toe to toe with an RIS, I guess I just expect the body of the beer to behave like an RIS.

O: Dunno why it took me so long to pick one of these up. The ten dollar price tag probably had something to do with it. Still, this one is defintely worth the money. An absolutely stellar beer for the chill winter nights. (1,670 characters)

Photo of SomethingClever
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%

A: Dark black in the appearance as it should be off white head decent lacing on the glass

S: Right up to the nose you get a dirt smell then you notice it's a roast coffee smell

T: Right up front you get coffee but then the vanilla softens the edges of the coffee very satisfying taste a little bitter on the finish but that might be the coffee

M: medium mouthfeel but it's supposedly a porter not a stout so maybe forgivable

O: Very solid beer I'm not a huge coffee stout/porter guy but the way the vanilla smooths out the roughness of the coffee taste it's not bad it's a one trick pony though no real depth here but better than the average bear (653 characters)

Photo of suspect
4.68/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 22oz bottle into a Dogfish Head Snifter.

A: Pitch black color. Center glug-glug pour leads to a slowly rising chocolate colored head the builds for about 10 seconds after I finished pouring. Head dissipates ever so slowly and leaves sticky slug-trail like lacing on down the glass.

S: Big time smells of coffee, toasted malts, cocoa, vanilla and at the end a touch of the alcohol. This is a big boy porter and it lets you know right away in the nose.

T: Toasted chocolate malts come through first with the coffee hitting hard just after. Faint flavors of bakers chocolate, vanilla, toasted oak and dark fruits come next. The fruits shine at the end of the sip with figs and dates being the most prevalent. What a flavor.

M: Big creamy finish. No alcohol burn. Perfectly carbonated.

O: This bad ass beer drinks like an Imperial Stout and it's tough to tell the difference. Regardless, this is a phenomenal beer. One that I would gladly buy in quantity. (970 characters)

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
96 out of 100 based on 1,180 ratings.