Atwater Vanilla Java Porter | Atwater Brewery

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Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter
1,821 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

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,821 |  Reviews: 550
Photo of DackAchan
4.18/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A- Very good appearance, pours dark with a chocolate black two finger head that laces well.

S- Rich aromas, strong vanillia scent with a strong backing of roasted coffee.

T- Roasted coffee takes over with some hints of vanillia, a very nice combination.

M- Good mouthfeel, good bite at the end.

D- It was reasonably drinkable. The mouthfeel wasn't as good as I expected so it brought the beer down a little. Still, good flavor, good smell and good appearance makes is a beer I'd try again.

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Photo of longdivision
3.85/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Very interesting. This is definitely a desert beer. I don't think I could do more than one of these. It has a big vanilla smell. You smell more vanilla than you taste. The coffee flavor tastes like the "coffee" flavor, if that makes sense, maybe it's because of the vanilla. It almost doesn't even seem like a beer at times though. Mouthfeel isn't a heavy as I would expect either. I was expecting an oatmeal stout kind of mouthfeel. Definitely try it, but try it before you buy it.

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Photo of kirok1999
3.48/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Sounded like a nice combination. It poured a very dark garnet/black, darker than I had expected for a porter. Smell is very hollow, some vanilla as expected and very little coffee.
Taste is thin as well. More in the taste than the smell; lots of vanilla and very little coffee. It would be easy to let the coffee dominate the vanilla so I guess they toned it down a bit. Some grassy notes in the hops, a little earth and leather. Feels very thin and is pretty well carbonated, kinda bloating. Many better porters out there that don't use coffee to get more of a coffee taste and more vanilla taste without using vanilla extract.

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Photo of LeftyBWS
3.65/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12 oz. brown bottle into a Sam Adams pint glass.
A: A rich and dark chocolatey-brown color, quite dense. Pours with a thick bubbly cloud of light-brownish head that settles down fairly quickly and leaves a thin ring atop the beer the whole way down. Thin and spotty lacing, but still this beer is just asking to be drank.
S: Wow, this smell is terrible. It's like musty old gym socks, with a whiff of dirt. More precisely, it's kinda grassy and smoky, but there's no hint of vanilla or java. Mostly, though, there's an overwhelming mustiness that makes me jerk my nose away.
T: What a difference! This taste is much better than the smell. There's a creamy yet smoky chocolate flavor up front, very smooth. The midtaste reveals a subtle coffee flavor that gives way to the vanilla flavor that lingers thru the finish. Fairly sweet throughout, and in fact there's perhaps a tiny hop bite right up front, but it doesn't last long. All in all, a finely-balanced array of malty and rich flavors.
M: Creamy and smooth at first, and this remains true throughout the taste. Slightly filling, but not too much so. It does leave a chewy thickness in the mouth.
D: If I can ignore the smell, this beer is very drinkable for a strongish porter. Unfortunately, I can't, and it makes this one a bit tougher to handle.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
2.8/5  rDev -19.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Charred chestnut that falls just short of opacity (it's an overcast morning out there). The upper half of the pint glass is filled with a frothy, caramel nougat colored head that looks pretty good, both after the pour and as it deflates.

Most coffee-added beer smells like freshly brewed java. This one smells like that as well, but there's also an undercurrent of burnt coffee grounds. Thankfully, it isn't prominent enough to ruin things. I don't appreciate the vanilla extract at all.

Vanilla Java Porter sounds good on paper. In liquid form, however, it doesn't measure up. Because I've already had Atwater's Shaman's Porter, I can't say that I'm surprised. My hope was that the previous beer was an outlier. Instead, it looks like we have the beginnings of a trend.

First of all, VJP is significantly undermalted. As a result, there's no roasted barley flavor, no chocolatiness, nothing other than weak iced coffee to occupy the taste buds. Along for the ride is a mild, saccharine-like sweetness that mingles with a trace of dark fruity tartness. While the vanilla extract is now identifiable, it certainly isn't bold enough to earn inclusion in the name.

The mouthfeel can only be described as thin fading to watery. I'm not thrilled with the amount of carbonation either (too low). Even an ideal amount probably wouldn't have earned an average score.

Michigan is overrun with good-great breweries. After having had two of their offerings, I feel safe in saying that Atwater Block isn't among them. Not even close, really. Vanilla Java Porter needs a complete overhaul. Adding some malt to the hops, yeast and water would be a good place to start.

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Photo of matty
3/5  rDev -13.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Brown colored beer with an aroma of coffee beans.Taste is mostly of coffee and I'm having trouble detecting any vanilla.Aftertaste actually tastes like I just drank a 22oz.cup of coffee.This isn't a great beer but it doesn't suck either.I would drink again only if offered to me though.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.53/5  rDev -27.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pours a black body with a fizzy, short-lived head.

Smell: The aroma smells of gas station coffee left to scorch upon the burner for far too long. Oh, and with just a wisp of vanilla.

Taste: More of the roasty low-grade coffee with a light sweetness. There's really never more than just a hint of vanilla extract. Finishes watery with a bit of sourness.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Watery. Harshly spritzy.

Drinkability: Not overly pleasant, either in taste or aroma. Also, painfully overcarbonated.

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Photo of Marson
2.07/5  rDev -40.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Looks just like a porter should - it's dark, dark brown.

With a porter I expect a burnt smell/taste and a bit of sourness, but this one had a bit too much of both. Crossed the line from pleasantly smoky to downright charred.

Way overcarbonated (actually fizzes loudly like Coca-Cola when poured into a glass), so it's too sharp on the tongue. In my opinion a porter should be a bit softer & thicker.

Overall - an unusual flavor, so it was probably worth trying once, but it's not one I'll buy again.

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Photo of Umbra
1.42/5  rDev -59.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1

Appearance: Dark brown, almost opaque, brew with dark tan wispy head. Little carbonation in the body.
Aroma: Sourness?
Flavor/Mouthfeel/Drinkability: Infected, came off as a bretty sour mess. I don't usually do this, but after reading a few other reviews, it appears that this is not only common with Atwater brews, but with this one in particular. Hopefully, buyer beware, some of their other brews don't seem half bad.

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Photo of IPAcraig
1.87/5  rDev -46.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1

A - An excellent looking beer. It pours a nice deep brownish black with a massive light creamy-brown head. no lacing

S - Offputting to say the least. It has a nice bitter dark chocalate aroma, with a hint of sweetness. However that is hugely overpowered by the smell of vinegar and burnt coffee (not to be confused with a nice roasty coffee flavor).

T - It taste exactly the same as above ... except worse. It taste like watery burnt coffee at less than room temp. That is followed by the same vinegar flavor that seems to have a hint of worcestshire in it as well.

M - Okay - better than average. A slight creaminess. Its hard to concentrate on hte moutfeel, with a taste this off putting.

D - 1 ... poured down the drain.

This is a "quality control view". I have had this beer once before and it was nice; very sweet and creamy with hints of chocolate and coffee. However, I bought a 6 pack of this a few days ago and this is the second beer from the group. I was hoping the first beer was a fluke ... they were both terrible. This may or may not have been the breweries fault, but I write this review so that people can be aware (perhaps just people who buy their beer in Tallahassee or Publix) that this beer may not be up to par.

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Photo of Talisker
1.69/5  rDev -51.3%
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 +10.7%
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 +9.5%
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 +6.1%
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 +9.8%
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 -16.4%
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 -4.9%
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 -39.8%
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 -2.3%
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 -34.3%
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 +3.2%
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 -17.6%
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 -15.6%
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 +0.3%
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 -7.5%
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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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
Beer rating: 3.47 out of 5 with 1,821 ratings