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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 Porter
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1,217 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,217
Hads: 5,918
Avg: 4.36
pDev: 8.94%
Wants: 1,006
Gots: 1,718 | 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: 1,217 | Hads: 5,918
Photo of jmalex
3.81/5  rDev -12.6%
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.

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Photo of TruePerception
3.34/5  rDev -23.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Ballast Point's Victory At Sea, porter brewed with coffee and vanilla. 10% ABV.

A: Almost two fingers of lighter chocolate milk colored head. Pitch black in the glass. Very dark brown in the dimple. A good amount of multi-layered lacing. Slight sheeting.

S: Deep roasted coffee up front. Vanilla is hard to make out against the coffee. Slight powdered cocoa.

T/MF: Very dark coffee, mixed with a bunch of char! And a heavy dose of hops. Quite heavy for a porter, all told.

Hmm. I'd heard good things about this one, but it is quite disappointing. I'll see how it warms up.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of suspect
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
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.

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Photo of joeseppy
4.42/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours black as I can get it with a continual amount of mocha frothiness.

Aromas of of dark cocoa, coffee, hops, roasty grain and milk sweetness.

Straight forward in your face-no doubt about it-Hello coffee! May I have some dark cocoa, vanilla bean, piney hop and alcohol put in there please.

Medium to heavy on the mouthfeel with alcohol resonating in the cranium with bitter coffee on the tongue and vanilla ringing on the palate.

Delivers as advertised with no frills or artificial ingredients. Pleasure to have tried and will get better with some time on it. Buyer beware, there is strong black coffee here in the mix. Plain outstanding!

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Photo of RedChrome
4.45/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pure onyx body. Thick and foamy toffee colored head held over and inch for about three minutes before slowly receding. To dark to note carbonation.

Roasted barley hits strong up front and brings a nice coating of vanilla with it. Coffee aroma is quite strong and bursts forth after a second on the nostrils.

Strong bitter coffee taste up front. Vanilla background to the overall flavor. A very nice balance between malt and vanilla sweetness and coffee bitter.

Thick feel on all mouth surfaces and flavor clings to the tongue. Carbonation is a nice light burst.

A great brew. Works well as a dessert beer. A true treat worth finding. Coffee lovers will enjoy this one twice as much.

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Photo of JamesShoemaker
4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

650 ml poured into a snifter and a tulip. I ordered two of these bottles from Holiday Wine Cellar, excellent selection; they will definitely get my business again when I need certain California brews.

A - very black, very little brown on the periphery. Huge head recedes very slowly. I'm reminded starkly of Guiness.

S - Definitely the worst aspect of the beer, but it's still pretty good. The alcohol content is a little overwhelming in the snifter, but the coffee plays a role.

T - very tasty. Chocolate, alcohol, coffee, and only a slight hint of vanilla. This reminds me quite a bit of ST's imperial stouts, like Choklat and Mokah. It isn't quite as up front and personal with its flavors, but that might be a good thing. A little too carbonated and a little too much alcohol are the only points off it gets.

M - very good, the alcohol and carbonation hug the mouth in a good way. Very drinkable.

O - excellent beer. I don't want to pay for shipping from California every time I buy this beer, so it may be a while before I get it again. I certainly will next time I'm on the west coast.

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Photo of NRo
3.29/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: beautiful black body with a nice light tan head

Smell: Like fresh coffee grounds

Taste: Seriously, all I can taste is coffee. This is marginally better than drinking cold coffee cause at least it's beer.

Mouth feel: nice and thick, smooth

Overall: I'd let it age and hope that the coffee dies down and let's other flavors come through.

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Photo of craftbeersweden
4.69/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Dark, dark brown almoust black with just a little beige head.
Not much lacing on the glass.

Nose: Vanilla, milk chocolate, cream, yoghurt, chili, fudge, coffee and sweet licoriche.
Taste: Coffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, licoriche, soy sauce, wood, brown sugar, raisin and just a little bit of booze.
A full body with almoust no carbonation and so complex taste!

I just LOVE this!

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Photo of BeerBuckeye
3.85/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - pours a dark brown with reddish tint. Small, one finger, mocha head.

S - Full roasted coffee, dark chocolate malt, a hint of a burnt vanilla cigar.

T - Prominent vanilla in the taste. It hits pretty hard, bitter coffee follows up before finishing with some baker's chocolate notes.

M - Smooth and creamy, very nice.

Overall - It's good, but it feels a little unbalanced. Almost too much vanilla to the point of masking other good flavors.

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Photo of mooseo
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into snifter.

A - Pitch black with a creamy khaki head.

S - Smoked dark malt, fresh black coffee, hints of vanilla and milk chocolate.

T - A delightful blend of black coffee, vanilla bean, chocolate, and sweet roasted malt. The vanilla becomes most prominent, especially as it warms. Finishes with a slight alcohol burn and light coffee bitterness.

M - Full, thick, creamy. Dry finish, warming alcohol.

O - Delicious. The flavor is bold, balanced, and complex. Dangerously drinkable at 10% ABV.

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

Poured into a duvel glass.

A- pours slick and black, with a nice two finger mocha colored head, looks so derrricious

S- VANILLA, then chocolate then coffee, the coffee becomes more and more pronounced as the beer warms, smells so derrricious!

T- the vanilla seems to be, as in the nose, to be the most pronounced, blending in deliciously with the coffe and roasty chocolate flavors, finishes like a ice mocha, almost a caramely taste where all the flavors meet.... It tastes so derrricious!

M- low carbonation, drinks creamy and smooth, almost a touch syrupy, but in a good way

O- a truley awesome brew, deffinatley my favorite ballast point brew I have tried to date. I feel like it may be a little heavy for an IMP porter, probably would have figured it for a stout, however the alcohol content is hidin incredible, I would have guessed 8.5 not 10,
I'm sorry Kyle.... But victory @ sea is tooo derrricious!

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Photo of Jesse13713
4.71/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A huge thanks to AwYeh for this bottle.

Appearance - The most chocolaty looking beer I've ever seen. Pours a very rich chocolate brown head that looks like chocolate whipped cream. A creamy vanilla froth rests at the top. It honestly looks like a galaxy of chocolate stars. Absolutely phenomenal lacing.

Smell - All chocolate and vanilla here. Quite a strong alcoholic smell with hints of dark spices as well. The vanilla outweighs much of the smell but is very pleasant.

Taste - One word. WOW. The absolute best porter I have ever tasted. Vanilla and chocolate swirl together in perfect bliss and harmony to create this dessert beer. The finishing taste on this is a bitter sweet treat. The alcohol is subtle and blends in perfectly with the sweet concoction. Perfectly blended hints of coffee, vanilla and chocolate. A good malty taste as well.

Mouthfeel / Drinkability - Absolutely perfect to sip any time of the year at night. The label art on this is one of the coolest I have ever seen. Absolutely delicious to sip. I am overwhelmed with flavors in every sip I take. A sweet and delicious harmony in your mouth.

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

This review is typed up from notes in my notebook. Growler from Greens in Piney Grove.

A - Black with a nice off white head

S - Coffee really stands out. Nice roasted malt with maybe a hint of vanilla.

T - Wow, what a great coffee flavor with hints of vanilla. Really reminds me of something from Starbucks. More sweet than bitter. Really a great coffee beer.

M - Heavy creamy body. Lightly carbonated.

D - Really easy to drink. Awesome coffee beer. Probably the best coffee flavored beer I've had. I really enjoyed this one and will grab it again if I ever see it.

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Photo of BrewCrew2010
4.25/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks Thickfreakness for the bottle!

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo of TheCuriograph
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

From a bomber, poured into a pint glass.

A - Pitch black, with a two-finger tan frothy head. Head aerates slightly, leaving nice spiderweb lacing.

S - Coffee and vanilla dominate with a sugary sweetness that masks any booze or bitterness.

T - The rich vanilla really rises to the top, leaving the coffee-malt body to follow. There's a sharp espresso bitterness the subsides nice and gentle. Behind all of it is a tangy alcohol, almost like dark cherry intermingling with caramel.

M - Mealy, oil mouthfeel. Substantial and heavy, a perfect desert-course unto itself.

O - One of the better coffee-focused beers I've had. The sweetness and bitterness are perfectly balanced, and it's full and quietly boozy. A great dessert beer.


Politics, Art, Beer. A Compendium of Worldly Facts
The Curiograph
Twitter: @TheCuriograph

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


A - deep brown/ black, one finger very tan head and some nice sticky lacing

S - Coffee, vanilla, hop, wood, chocolate and tons of roastiness

T - tons of vanilla up front, tons of coffee, chocolate, very roasty, tons of malts, earth, wood, a funk (maybe yeast?), a big hop note and just tons of coffee. It even has the coffee acidity!

M - medium plus body, lots of acidity, not much complexity, not very balanced and a very long finish

D/O - this is a big beer and tons of coffee, if you don't like coffe this one, you will not be a fan of! Very enjoyable, love the flavor profiles and fun to drink from cold to room temp. Not refreshing at all, just a fun enjoyable imperial beer

Final thought - I really like ballast point and I have yet to try this beer, not a big porter fan, but this one is nice. $8 a pop and 10% is nice. Hope it ages well

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Photo of JohnG190
4.71/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Appearance - Black with ruby highlights. Thin mocha head that settles into a lace cap that remains throughout.

Aroma - Coffee, can't smell anything past all that coffee.

Taste - Coffee, with a hint of vanilla. Bitter, but in a coffee way, not hops.

Mouthfeel - Full body with moderate carbonation. Finishes dry.

Overall - Well crafted porter, seek this one out!

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Photo of majorbase2
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours a very dark brown, almost black color with a huge, uneven brown head. Dissipates after a bit, leaving a ring of lacing around the edge and quite a bit on the glass as well.

Aroma is heavy on dark, burnt coffee and vanilla bean. Some sweet, almost bitter caramel malts.

Taste mostly follows the nose to a point. Vanilla bean comes on strong, along with more of the burnt coffee. A small amount of sweetness. There are a small amount of hops that become evident as it warms. Not the most complex taste, but the execution might the best I've ever seen taste wise. Simple, but done masterfully. And for a 10%er, little to no bite from the alcohol. Just incredible.

Mouthfeel is heavy. Little carbonation. One of the smoother 10% beers you'll find.

Overall, just an incredible beer.

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Photo of beerman207
4.17/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark - nice chocolate looking beer with a ruby reddish hue to it. Nice head and skim that remains for a while.

S: Nose is coffee, some vanilla, some bourbon, chocolate malt

T: Nice cocoa and vanilla profile with bitter dark chocolate

M: Carbonation is mild, smooth

D: A bit of a sipper. Could go for another but it's definately a bit boozy.

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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 biglite351
3.58/5  rDev -17.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I am re-reviewing this brew, and leaving my old review for reference. I emailed the brewer to let them not that I got a super-skunked bottle. To their extreme credit, a few days later a replacement bottle arrived at my house. Kudos to Ballast Point for very solid customer service.

L - nice and dark. Full long lasting foam.

S - mild but nice. Vanilla and coffee.

T - rich and deep. Certainly has coffee and vanilla. No real bitterness. Mild after taste.

M - tingle at the front of the tongue to start. The tingle then flows back into the throat for the after taste. Slight alcohol feel late.

D - this might be a little too much for an all nighter, but you could certainly have one or two during the evening.

I am not going to do my usual full review on this one. The brew looked great when I poured it. Very dark brew with a lasting full dark foam. The smell seemed a little off bit wasn't something rusting could place. The taste was the kicker. It actually took me back. It reminded me of a cheese that had been sitting out a a party for a bit too long. I really didn't get any coffee flavor at all. I truly hope that this was just an off bottle. It tasted nothing pike I expected. I actually did not finish it, I dumped it. Maybe in tje future I will try another bottle and re-review it. This was NOT a good bottle to grab though.

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Photo of sleuthdog
4.06/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Enjoy by 11/13. Poured into Ballast Point tulip.

Appearance: This poured as black as night with three fingers of head that is light brown in color. Lacing is all over the place and I'm still waiting for the head to recede. Rocky head mixed with large bubbles too.

Smell: Big time bitter coffee in this with notes of vanilla and dark chocolate. Heavy roast and some char.

Taste: Again coffee takes center stage with some vanilla and dark chocolate in the background. The roast is a fairly dominating aspect in the taste. Coffee is quite bitter and alcohol leaves a slight burn.

Mouthfeel: From the appearance I would think this would have been a more full feel. It is surprisingly thin for the look but one that seems to fit the beer very well. I am not picking up much carbonation and this has a creamy mouthfeel. Alcohol does burn the gums some.

Overall: If you are a coffee drinker this would be up your alley. A big beer that is one that is best shared.

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Photo of xseanprimex
4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This dark, dark brew poured an awesome tan head that held some serious retention. The complexity to the flavors were apparent in the aroma. The smoky vanilla taste did a good job of hiding the 10% ABV. As good as can be expected. Looked as good as it tasted. 10/10 would drink again.

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Photo of DoctorZombies
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Black with a scant amount of ruby on edge when held up to the light; thick tan to light brown head; great lace, cap, and carbonation. Roasted coffee and caramel malt nose with some oak notes too. Flavors of roasted coffee, bittersweet dark chocolate and a little wood; a little vanilla on the finish as the liquid warms. Dry medium lite mouthfeel, yet creamy tongue coating. Overall, I like how the vanilla comes out along with the roasted coffee, however, the linger is a bit wooden.

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Photo of Beerzebub
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a Bruery glass, not overly cold.

Off-black, deep reddish-brown meniscus, small dark tan head, looks good.

Smells delicious, the vanilla and coffee are each quite distinct but at the same time the aroma is totally cohesive. The vanilla almost makes it seem barrel aged, like maybe rum barrel. Deep chocolatey roasty malt, too. NICE.

Tastes deep and roasty, well balanced with a good dose of sweetness. Lingering bittersweet coffee, cocoa, vanilla, quite a long finish. Very tasty.

Good medium-full texture, fine cushy carbonation makes it almost creamy, this and the balance make it very easy to drink.

Excellent beer, nice to finally review it.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,217 ratings.