Atwater Vanilla Java Porter | Atwater Brewery

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Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter
1,811 Ratings
Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter

Brewed by:
Atwater Brewery
Michigan, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ypsifly on 10-21-2006

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,811 |  Reviews: 548
Photo of Talisker
1.69/5  rDev -51.2%
look: 3 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

I don't think this was a bad bottle, just a bad beer.

12oz bottle received as an extra in a trade.

Pours inky black, moderate tan head that dies quickly. Something is very off with the aroma, musty, medicinal. The taste compounds the problem - medicinal, bitter, like spoiled fruit. There's some evidence of coffe around, but no vanilla, no hops, and unfortunately everything is spoiled by this rancid off-flavor. Hard to gauge the texture, but seems thin in keeping with the style.

Definitely a style I'm in interested in - I like coffee beers. But this was a drain pour.

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Photo of PSUDREW
3.84/5  rDev +11%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

pours like pitch. little head and no real lacing. wonderful coffee aroma

very malty, but nice and roasted. somewhat chocolatey, but very roasted. you really don't get the vanilla till the aftertaste, but it sticks around. Chewy mouthfeel, pretty easy to drink.

dug it, get it if you can

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Photo of PittBeerGirl
3.8/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- deep brown body with foamy light tan head. Head dissapears quickly leaving no lacing behind in the glass.

S- Strong smell of bitter coffee beans hits the nose first. It masks other smells but chocolate malt can be noted in the smell too.

T- Not nearly as big as the smell. Bitter coffee beans with hints of chocolate malt are first in the taste followed by more chocolate and sweet vanilla. Sweet vanilla lingers. I was quite surprised by the lightness of this taste.

M- Low carbonation and medium weight body. Slightly thinner than expected but decent overall.

D- This is a very drinkable and quite enjoyable brew. Its not as heavy as other porters and is quite sessionable. Not the best of the style but still tasty and something I will definately have again.

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Photo of ohmybock
3.68/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Wow, the reviews and flavors encountered on this one seem to vary a lot. I wasn't expecting much at all after trying the dunkel and IPA. (The dunkel had a slight sour taste while the IPA was "all foam" when I poured it in a glass. The IPA was disappointing and probably infected...who knows maybe the dunkel was infected too.)

After pouring the porter into my glass, I smelled a strong mix of coffee and chocolate, yet there was a stinky (unpleasant) aroma mixed in as well. However, as the beer warmed the unpleasant character disappeared.

This beer poured with very little the dunkel, but not at all like the IPA. Upon first sip, I thought this beer was going to be sweet. When it first hits your tongue, it gives you that impression, but then it turns quite dry in the finish with a strong dry coffee and bittersweet chocolate flavor. I don't get much vanilla, but it might be lightly mixed in there somewhere.

I didn't get any of the sour taste some others have encountered, but I can certainly believe it could be present in some bottles of this beer...especially after previously tasting the problematic IPA and dunkel.

Overall, I was quite impressed with this beer. It was much more drinkable than I figured it would be. I rarely drink porters or stouts these days, but this one was enjoyable and makes me somewhat sad I don't have another one to drink. I won't buy the dunkel and IPA again, but I wouldn't mind trying another porter. Give this one a try, and hopefully you'll get a "good" bottle.

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Photo of Vancer
3.81/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This poured a dark mo’fo, black as night – and with a frothy tan head that died like a bluegill on a hot dock. Aroma was pretty wimpy too, just some subtle notes of chocolate malt and coffee.

Taste was the eye-opener. This porter really had a nice sour ale touch to it, with the vanilla and coffee to round ‘er out. Nice, really nice.

Full bodied fat daddy beer, a sixer of these will put a couple pounds on you – and I now weigh a few pounds more. I need to get another sixer of these in the winter for some football watching Sundays.

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Photo of Brent
2.9/5  rDev -16.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Hadn't really meant to buy this beer, but when I got home I discovered that someone had slipped this into a sixpack of the IPA. Poured an appropriate dark chestnut. Aroma was mildly sugary a waft of vanilla. Some roasted malt bittering and caramel-toffee sweetness. Vanilla was not overpowering, and more of a vanilla bean than extract flavoring. Coffee notes were present, but seemed too far in the background. I felt the coffee needed more presence to balance the vanilla. Net effect was a bit bland, not really punchy enough to qualify as an after dinner drink.

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Photo of peabody
3.3/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours out really dark. No light can get through this one. Nice two fingers of tan suds and very slight lacing.
Smell is sour grapes with coffee in behind that with sugary malts and slight yeast aromas.
Not smelling any vanilla here.
Taste is just not at all what I thought it was going to be. Really dirty here. No vanilla here either unless it's the nasty sour taste of the raw vanilla bean.
Mouthfeel starts out dirty then some semblance of coffee bitterness comes through.
Not a very good porter here.

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Photo of hammer09
2.09/5  rDev -39.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

I had such high hopes for this one...

Poured a brownish-black with a huge, 3" foamy head from a soft pour. Unfortunately, the head settled too quickly. Smell is slightly peppery and astringent. Some aroma of vanilla, but extremely faint. There is a sour smell associated with this, but I can't quite place it; maybe DMS. Taste is smoky and a bit sour. There is definitely some DMS going on here with a strong, cooked chili pepper flavor. No vanilla. No java. I can't get beyond the chili pepper taste. Mouthfeel is smooth, creamy and wll carbonated, but a little slick. Drinkability? Not very. I wish that the vanilla and java flavors were here, but I couldn't detect them. I drank half of this and poured the rest out. I don't like to give poor reviews, but there was something definitely wrong with this batch. With that in mind, I am willing to try this once more. I just hope that it's not a repeat of what is written here.

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Photo of Infamous7100
3.39/5  rDev -2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3

This was my first encounter with the Atwater Brewing Company, so I figured I might as well try something a little different, so Java it was. Let's get to business.
Appearance: This poured a dark brown, almost black, with a nice frothy head. Not much in the way of lacing though. You definitely could not see through the glass, it was looked like coffee, imagine that.
Smell: The smell of malt was present, but the overpowering smell, hands down, was the coffee beans. There was a hint of vanilla and I was kind of disapointed it wasn't more prevalent. If you like to smell coffee, this is right up your alley.
Taste: Very interesting. The first couple of drinks were a little odd going down, but eventually, I grew used to it. The coffee was dominant, just as it was in the smell. It masked the alcohol wonderfully, if that is what you are looking for. When tasted, the vanilla was a little more noticable than when smelling.
Mouthfeel: It was definitely thick and interesting on the tongue as you could feel where the coffee and vanilla were apparent on different parts of the tongue, it was different than anything else I had tried.
Drinkability: As I said, it was a little rough at first but grew easier with every taste. There was minor hang and it went down smooth. Not a session beer by any means, but good enough for try once and a while to change things up a bit.

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Photo of awall422
2.28/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 1.5

Looks like a typical stout, really dark, decent head at first but poor lacing. Strong coffee aroma, a little chocolatey, a little burnt. Taste was awful. Overwhelming vanilla that just didn't work well with the beer. Didn't finish the beer, that bad. I bought this as a single, so I can't say if this was just a bad batch or not. From what I've read from other reviews. maybe they are just a little inconsistent and this one was hit with too much vanilla. Don't think I'm going to buy another to find out though.

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Photo of natedoggsd
3.58/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

found this beer in a 6 pack at the grocery store here in cleveland. 12 ounce bottled poured into a pint glass.

appearance: a nice dark appearance, almost completely black, with a little brown showing in the light. Pours about a 1/8 inch of head that dissapates fairly quickly. It's a good looking beer.

smell: strong scent of coffee with hints of chocolate. Smells pretty much as advertised.

taste: beer is very robust in flavor with a strong taste of coffee to start, and the chocolate malts coming in late. I'm having trouble finding the vanilla.

mouthfeel: mouthfeel is rather thick and it stays with you for some time. I personally don't mind that at all, but for others it could be a negative.

drinkability: it takes awhile to get through one of these. Took me a few hours to get through 3. Not a session beer.

Overall, it's a pretty good beer. I'll try any porter I can get my hands on, and while this isn't among the best I've had, it's not bad at all, and I'd definitely try it again.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
2.86/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance - opaque black, not much head and even less retention. Manages a haphazard ring.

Aroma - coffee jumps right out. Not much of any roastiness to speak of, more like an average cup o' joe, detectable but indistinct. Vanilla comes in after a minute and plays well with the chocolate notes to provide good support with good resiliance.

Taste - roasted, charred malts; the bitterness of the coffee bean is there but the flavor misses a step. It's not bad, I just don't think the beans are presented as effectively as they could be. After drinking some delicious fresh-roasted premium coffee in Gatlinburg last week, the coffee in this tastes comparatively low-budget. At times it has a jalapeno kind of bite to it. The vanilla is a bit superficial and tries to blend in, partial success there. There are some good elements here but they aren't in sync. Despite all that - coffee, chocolate, and vanilla always get along pretty well in my book, and no part of this brew misses terribly. The taste finishes rather plainly but leaves a decent aftertaste of roasted malt and coffee.

Mouthfeel - lively carbonation, average to a tad thin in weight, would have preferred a little more body.

Drinkability - any bottle labeled vanilla Java porter gets an automatic try from me, but this was a little disappointing. It's okay but not on my short list.

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Photo of Drew966
2.93/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter pours a dark brown with a minimal head from a brown twelve ounce bottle. At first this beer was too cold and was exhibiting something that I'm finding a lot in these java flavored beers, it tasted like green pepper. I find this to be very unappealing in a beer. Fortunately, as it warmed the green pepper like flavor receded. This left me with something that was coffee flavored and there was a hint of vanilla too. I'd rate this a bit low on the drinkability scale, I split one with someone and had a hard time finishing it. Overall, I'd have to say I wouldn't buy this again.

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Photo of jkaufman
3.48/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a 12oz. bottle into a goblet.

A: Pours clear dark brown with a dense, dark, finger-thick tan head. Looks great.

S: Strong vanilla and roasted chocolate. Smells like a dessert.

T and M: Starts out sweet, creamy, and chocolatey, finishes syrupy with a coffee bite. There is an unidentifiable but strange aftertaste. The progression of flavors is interesting, but overall this porter is a tad sweet.

D: Pretty drinkable.

Worth a try.

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Photo of akorsak
3.21/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Capone's.

A: The porter is a thick oily black color that is accentuated by a slightly off-white head that measures around 1 finger.

S: The aroma is a cloyingly sweet vanilla extract flavor. The vanilla dominates any roasted notes that the porter might give off.

T: The taste brings me back to younger days (see below for more on that). The first notes to register are sweet vanilla, as though vanilla syrup had been added directly into the glass. Some roasted malt notes from the porter do make it through and they act as a nice chocolatey counterbalance to the sweetness of the vanilla. The finish mirrors the entire sip, full of vanilla sweetness.

M: The mouthfeel is very sweet, too sweet for a robust porter. This could be an ideal gateway beer into the darker stout and porter territory.

D: Several years ago I made several business trips to Detroit. Each time, I visited the MGM Grand and routinely ordered their vanilla porter. Here I am, six years later drinking something that is incredibly similar and what does my drinkin' companion, Deuane, say? "Atwater, yeah that is Detroit." Ahh! Yet another beer mystery solved, this is the MGM Grand Vanilla Porter.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.64/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I found this beer on tap at Capone's

This one pours a deep dark brown with a half inch of pale chocolate pudding looking head.

Smells of a dry and sandy milk chocolate that's wrapped around a creamy roasted barley with traces of honey in the background.

Tastes a little eclectic with now the flavor of chocolate pudding and a touch of oak that allows hints of bourbon to sneak in. It also gives me the impression that there's a scoop of vanilla ice cream floating in here. IN the finish an electric vaporous sting sneaks out of the carbonation. Also in the finish is a hint of bland, dry coffee. I thought this one was a little sweet for its own good.

The mouth feel is big and thick due to a minuscule carbonation. Kinda feels like... well, pudding again.

I think this one wins the award for most pudding references in a single review. I thought the flavors here were pretty solid, but slightly in disagreement with each other. Tasty for sure, but not mind blowing. Looking at other reviews, I feel grateful for trying this on draught and not out of the bottle.

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Photo of scott
2.69/5  rDev -22.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Dark pour with a robust head that is gone just after the bottle hits the trash. Lots of active carbonation. This looks exactly like a cola drink. Exactly the same on the tongue - wet, clean, with a dry finish. A palate cleanser.
Day old coffee, chocolate, and artificial tasting vanilla meet the nose and tongue. This is my third chance to try this, and the vanilla isn't aso offensive, but the first couple of bottles had a very overpowering, cheap vanilla taste that was beyond unpleasant. If I was rating the first couple of bottles, I'd be swearing at the brewer.
Drinkability is above average due to it's crisp & wet with a low ABV appeal, but that's where it ends.

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Photo of jettjon
3.33/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 oz bottle with no freshness date. Into a pint glass, it’s very dark black/brown, pretty much opaque even in the light. Attractive dark brown-tan head fades quickly leaving perhaps a minor ring behind but no lacing or cap. Nose dominated by coffee and dark toasted malt. There’s another scent as well that I can’t place; it’s not unpleasant, just odd. If that’s supposed to be vanilla, color me confused. Mouth is more of the same, with that odd “vanilla” flavor (I can see it a bit more now) but still plenty of coffee and toasted malts. Tastes similar to a Fuel Café porter I tried some time ago. Not a bad flavor, but not remarkable. Mouth is a bit thin for a porter, but is slightly creamy. Bubbly, wet, and satisfying. Drinkability is OK overall; it’s probably sessionable though ABV isn’t listed.

Overall: A good choice for coffee/java porter fans. Unremarkable overall but still a decent and enjoyable brew. Worth a try.

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Photo of matthewfuchs
4.2/5  rDev +21.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a dark chocolate with no head, sat at the bar too long i suppose. Roasted aroma, sweet taste and a smooth mouth feel. A little heavy. This beer is a great desert beer, or winter/chilly weather beer. I love to see this on tap or in bottle, gives me the option/opportunity to open the doors to non beer drinkers, and also is a good anchor beer, when indecisive.

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Photo of Bierguy5
2.78/5  rDev -19.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

12 oz. bottle, 6% ABV, 15 IBU. Label states it is brewed with coffee beans, and vanilla bean extract.

Very dark mahogany, nearly black in color, with some ruby edges. Thick tan fizzy head, which sounded like cola being poured. Head retention was very poor, as it trickled away very quickly.

Coffee grounds in the aroma, followe dup by an oversweet vanilla aroma, like cream soda, sourness and solvent aroma as well. Something seems not quite right.

Some faint chocolate and dark caramel, with a bit of coffee followed by a cloying artificial vanilla sweetness. Again, cream soda comes to mind. A bit of mocha flavor lingers at the end.

Thin and fizzy. This seemed like a great idea, but didn't seem to come together very well.

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Photo of brentk56
3.83/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a dark coffee brown color with a thick beige head that dots the pint glass with suds

Smell: Smells of mocha, more milk chocolate than coffee; vanilla aromatics are clearly apparent

Taste: Starts with a mocha vanilla flavor that builds in coffee bitterness, mid-palate; after the swallow, the sweeter flavors dry out, leaving a residual sweetness from the vanilla on the tip of the tongue

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: Not as challenging as other coffee beers, this is nevertheless an enjoyable brew that I liked better than most of the other reviewers to date

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.62/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

And the new brews keep rolling into Central Kentucky. Found this one at Wines on Vine (go figure.) This seems to be a beer with a lot of promise and potential... this means that it really isn't there yet. Opens up with a burst of roasted grains and coffee, with back-up notes of cocoa and cream. The color is a nearly opaque, dark brown with a somwhat fizzy head retention. Robust looking, jut a bit flat. The flavors are bold charcoal and coffee, but little after that. The vanilla is barely detected and there seems to be an overbearing coffee / fermentation sourness that won't let any other nuances shine enough to make a difference. The beer seems under-malted, which hurts the flavor roundedness and textrues. The beer is fast fleeting, leaving a powdery, dry coating and lingering coffee bitterness. The beer is intriguing and certainly worth the try, but would buy many more if improved.

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Photo of xav33
3.06/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
12 oz bottle
Recent brewing, beaned 01/07
Medium pour in a shaker

Poured black with a large frothy somewhat lasting light brown head.

Smelt of moderate vanilla, chocolate milk, light sweet mocha, faint anise.

Taste was upfront moderate sweet vanilla, licorice, light bitter roast, followed by a moderate sweet, sour and bitter coffee and dirty water on a medium finish. Palate was light to medium bodied, creamy yet watery, softly carbonated and lightly astringent.

Overall, a tasty porter upfront but disappoints in its lack of boldness, weak coffee taste and funky dirty water taste.

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Photo of walleye
3.34/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

from the bottle, poured black with a brown head. aroma bitter sweet chocolate, coffee, malt, some sourness, just got a hint of vanilla. flavor, roasted malt, chocolate, smoke, and than the vanilla sugar as it warms. a little thin on the mouth feel but not to bad

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Photo of Jredner
3.53/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

First an observation. If you freeze this what comes out tastes like a decent Imperial Stout. Eisporter! Ok on to bottle number two.

The aroma is dominated by coffee followed by lesser concentrations of roasted malt and some sweet cream and vanilla notes. The body is a dark ruddy brown and holds a diminishing thumb thick tan head.

It’s all spent coffee grounds through the fore and middle. Some roastiness and muted sweetness appear toward the backend. A hint of chocolate along with mild vanilla notes pops up in the aftertaste. It’s not a great beer, but it’s not great in an approachable way. It’s the kind of beer you’d never go out of your way for, but that you’d probably always finish a pint of. The mouthfeel is actually pretty good for the style, might even be slightly thicker than standard.

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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
Beer rating: 3.46 out of 5 with 1,811 ratings