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Willy Vanilly - Alpine Beer Company

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Willy Vanilly
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very good

19 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 19
Hads: 135
Avg: 3.77
pDev: 11.67%
Wants: 3
Gots: 5 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Pale Wheat Ale |  4.90% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 06-21-2003

The base for this beer is Willy Wheat. They add Vanilla to the tanks during aging. Try mixing it with Alpine's Captain Stout for a Captain & Vanille.
Draft availability only.
View: Beers (46) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 19 | Hads: 135
Photo of pmarlowe
3.1/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

On tap at the brewpub.

Pours a pale straw color with a ring of pure white head; no lacing but decent retention. Nose is mostly vanilla with a touch of the base wheat beer and banana. Tastes like vanilla abstract in a wheat beer, a bridge too far in overpoweringness and artificiality. Light carbonation and creamy texture on a medium body. I don't get the existence of this beer. Artificial vanilla extract in a wheat beer which drowns any redeeming qualities.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.15/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at the brewery.

App: Hazy light gold, small white cap of foam. Average retention; spotty lacing.

Smell: Strong vanilla aroma dominates, mild wheat and maltiness underneath.

Taste: Very much like the nose; extremely vanilla-forward; a little bit artificial and extract-tasting; on the sweet side, with a thin, non-descript wheat flavor and next to no hop presence. Cream soda meets beer.

Mf: Crisp, fairly clean, but thin and watery. Vanilla sweetness lingers a bit in the aftertaste.

Overall: Just a bit too much vanilla for such a mild, easy-drinking thin-bodied beer. Felt like an odd combination; a light beer with vanilla extract. There’s no booziness and the flavoring is well integrated but it's just not all that good (to me), unfortunately.

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Photo of Klym
3.38/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the brewery. Review from notes.

Won't say much on this one as I don't think it was too complex or outstanding. Vanilla, nougat, and wheat in the nose. In the nose it very much had a vanilla-extract like smell to it and was a little off putting in its lack of full, natural vanilla-bean quality. In the taste it had a very lager like wheat character with a surprisingly rich vanilla sweetness, much like french vanilla icecream. Body was light and the carbonation was minimal. Interesting, but more of an underdeveloped ode to vanilla than a beer worth seeking.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.4/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Surpisingly good beer. The vanilla takes over this beer, but it is not overwhelming. The solid wheat base is a good choice. Very sweet beer, but in a natural way. I can't see drinking too much of this brew, but I would not turn it down in the future.

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Photo of corby112
3.55/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Draft at the brewpub.

Pours a pale golden yellow color with a one finger white foam head that slowly fades into a thin ring. Spotty lacing left behind.

Slightly spicy aroma with lots of vanilla complimenting the bready yeast notes. Subtle citrus presence compliments the prominent vanilla.

Medium bodied but fuller than expected with bready yeast, and lots of vanilla.  The vanilla flavor dominates providing a lot of sweetness that compliments the bread notes but takes away from the citrus and spice.  Some banana and lemon peel along with some subtle clove/pepper.  Could use a bit more balance.

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Photo of DocJitsu
3.7/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, classic golden color with a quickly evaporating yellow-white head. Vanilla aroma up front competing with wheat malt. A very light body with nice, but more carbonation than is usual for this style. I was concerned vanilla would be too powerful as evidenced by the aroma. Very nicely balanced as it turns out. Easy to drink and pleasant overall.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
3.71/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Raul is ineffable. Raul does not know what to think. To think that he likes a beer called "Willy Vanilly" is crazy; like, Lindsay Lohan behind a wheel "crazy!" Beautiful vanilla notes on the nose, and a small flourish of the same on the tongue.

Not an every day brew, or even a weekly one, but, woot!

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.73/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very light brown with a little bit of a haze; nice lacing as it goes down. The smell is dominated by the vanilla beans, which mix well with the wheat-beer style, but it just isn't quite the same as Alpine's fruit-infused beers. The taste is again primarily the vanilla bean, with a little bit of wheat-induced sweetness. The mouthfeel is fairly nice, light, and crisp, which leads to a fairly-nice drinkability.

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Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.75/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A recent visit to the Alpine Beer Company with fellow BA’s xlperro and EyeChartBrew, on 12th July 2003, gave me the opportunity to try several of the ABC beers that are not yet bottled (though this may alter). They are currently available to buy here in 5, or 15.5, Gallon Kegs, or just for filling up an ABC Growler which you can purchase for $5 and fill for $7.

ABC Name: Willy Vanilly.
ABC Description: Willy beer conditioned with Vanilla beans.
Listed Strength: 4.9%ABV.

Presentation: 4oz Sampler for 50¢.

Appearance: Light brown in appearance, had a very light haze to it.

Nose: Vanilla beans are the most obvious characteristic of the nose, but they are in no way overpowering. They merge well with the wheat aspects of the original Willy Beer.

Taste: Light wheat beer intermingled with Vanilla Beans that balance well, but it is rather one dimensional at times. However, the trick is getting the Vanilla to balance the tastes of the host Willy beer, which in itself is quite an achievement. It does have a lovely appealing character.

Mouthfeel: Average, given its relatively low strength, but the mouthfeel is clean, crisp and nicely structured.

Drinkability: Given the fact that the Vanilla was not over powering, this beer had the Drinkability of the Willy beer, mixed with the additional enticing flavors of the Vanilla Bean. At 4.9%ABV, it was easily imbibed without leaving any annoying lingering flavors.

Overall: The fourth and last of my ABC samples, I had left the Willy Vanilly until last, just in case they had overloaded the beer, so I would avoid overloading my palate with the bean taste. No such fear! All of my crappy English jokes about the band “Milli Vanilli” were understood but failed to raise a smile, but this beer most certainly did. It might be perceived as an experimental beer, or even a variant of an existing base beer, but it works! And it works extremely well. Well worth a try.

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Photo of dmsohyea
3.76/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Alpine brewpub, served in a taster glass.

A - Straw yellow with a bit of murk inside the glass. Very little head with no retention and no lacing.

S - Vanilla, orange peel, honey. The vanilla is very strong on the nose. Quite pleasant.

T - Taste follows the nose exactly. Tons of vanilla and orange flavors. For how bad the Willy was, this is great! I didn't have high hopes considering how much I didn't like the Willy, but with this addition of vanilla, there is a huge complexity added that makes a bland beer taste much better.

M - still watery like the normal Willy. Not terrible but nothing to write home about.

O - Since the Willy set the bar so low for me, I was very impressed. The flavor is there and it's still very drinkable.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.8/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ the brewery on 11/11/09.

Pours a clear gold, with a soft creamy covering of brite-white head. This stays rich on the edges, leaving some moderate foamy lacing behind. The aroma is floral hops and wheat, with a pronounced (yet not overdone) vanilla character, which gives this an agreeable creamy sweetness in the nose. Pretty cut & dry.

The taste matches this, with a nice overall sweet mix of toasted wheat, citrus notes, and then that vanilla, which creeps across the palate with a soft flush. Some light hop activity drys out the finish. Quite an easy and pleasant profile. The mouthfeel is light bodied, with a bit of a firm prickle to the proceedings but this is mostly very easy drinking.

This wasn't bad at all. Luckily the vanilla flavor here lacked a real artificial feel to it, which I think helped it from wearing on the palate and keeping this quite drinkable. Tasty stuff.

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Photo of Gusler
3.84/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Draught @ Alpine Brewery
The beer pours a slightly hazy gold, the head white and creamy with the lace a thin sheet to seal of the glass. Nose is rich in sweet vanilla; fresh, very pleasing, start is quite sweet, nicely malted and the top light. Fair to middling carbonation, lightly hopped and the sweet vanilla last to the end of the aftertaste. A nice beer, not something I’d drink all the time, but something nice at the end of a long day when you want something light.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.89/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Served with no head. Beer is a cloudy lemon that reveals ample carbonation. Little to no lacing with very little stick.

S: Nose is simple and sweet but very pleasant. Vanilla, wheat, citrus, and lemon with the first aroma coming on very strong and lasting through the entire glass.

T: Vanilla is big and creamy at the outset. Lemon, wheat sweetness lasts to the end. Cane sugar in the middle and slightly bready at the finish. Little to no aftertaste.

M: Light bodied and highly carbonated. Lively, abrasive, and coarse in the mouth. The same going down. Finish is slight messy with little aftertaste.

D: Very drinkable and an appreciable twist on a very familiar style. Vanilla is apparent here and Alpine makes it clear that they didn't just dabble with this flavor infusion. Definitely worth a try if you're in the area.

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Photo of kmcnair
3.92/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a keg of this to keep in my kegerator as something light and drinkable to offer my guests who don't enjoy the hoppy or stronger styles that I typically drink. It turned out to be a very good choice. Also, this pairs really well with cheesecake!

Pours a clean straw color and makes a solid white head that fades into a bubbled ring around the surface of the vanilla infused ale. The aroma has a rather pleasant sweet wheat tone and quite a bit of vanilla. Nice clean wheat flavor with a hint of sweetness and a very balanced blend of vanilla. The flavor instantly reminds me of those cheap rectangular vanilla waffle/wafer cookies that you probably had as a kid. Soft on the palate with a clean finish. Quite drinkable and rather good for an experimental beer, definitely worth a try if you have the chance.

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Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Alpine

A: The pour is a clear golden color with a fluffy white head.

S: The nose is sweet and has a strong vanilla presence. I still am able to pick up some of the wheat as well, which I was a bit surprised by.

T: While the vanilla flavor is pronounced, it is not overwhelming (like I feared it might be). The beer is definitely sweet, but not cloying. As with the nose, I was amazed by how much "beer" flavor was still there. It was almost reminiscent of a Nilla Wafer cookie.

M: The body is medium with a bit of crispness and a moderate level of carbonation.

D: I was expecting this to be just bad, but it was actually quite a nice balance of malt and sweet vanilla flavors. I don't think I'd suck down a growler, but a glass was nice.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.01/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at the Alpine brewpub. Cloudy yellow appearance, thin white head.

Tons of vanilla in the nose, man this is heavy. Possibly the most vanilla I've ever smelled in a beer.

Light wheat smoothness accompanied by the heavy dose of vanilla. Light orange in the mouthfeel. Pretty mild malt bill. The heavy vanilla probably obscures its minimalism.
Carbonation is probably a little lower than most wheat beers.

I think you really have to be a vanilla fan to be into this beer. I like vanilla, but I can't see drinking this in mass quantities like the hoppy offerings from Alpine. Its a soft wheat and massive vanilla bomb. I liked it, a vast improvement over the non vanilla willy.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.08/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap the the alpine brewery

A-straw yellow with white whispy head that quickly disapates

S-almost a syrupy vanilla. Thank goodness it tastes better than the smell

T-light body and very smooth. Sooo much vanilla. Little bit of wheat try to balance it out but fails

-medium body and smooth

O- if you like vanilla then this is for you. If not, better luck next time!

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Photo of FosterJM
4.21/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

264th review on BA
Draft to pint

On tap @ Alpine

App- A standard wheat color with some haze to it and some lighter yellow highlights. A pretty big two finger head on this one.

Smell- Light all the way around. Wheat is most prevalant but the vanilla will pick up on a huge whiff.

Taste- I can't deny I am a sucker for vanilla. This was pretty heavy vanilla and I was diggin on it. Nice wheat base on which it played from but dominant character was the vanilla.

Mouth- A bit thin with wasn't a huge suprise. The carbonation level was fairly high on this one.

Drink- I could drink this all day. It had a big punch of flavor and was super soft and not at all filling.

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Photo of nathanmiller
4.79/5  rDev +27.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

From look and feel, this is a pretty good wheat beer, basically as one would expect from a brewery with the pedigree that Alpine has. The head retention is fair, the color is hazy and clean, all in all, it's almost a textbook APWA - that is, in look and feel.

Taste and Aroma, however, are the outliers. The taste is pure vanilla (no shock based on the name) but not cloying or hot as might be expected. The aroma reminds me of baking cookies as a child.

Overall, this beer is wonderful.

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Willy Vanilly from Alpine Beer Company
85 out of 100 based on 19 ratings.