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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter | Atwater Brewery

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Atwater Vanilla Java PorterAtwater Vanilla Java Porter
1,803 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: 1,803 |  Reviews: 547
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 dark...it 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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Photo of jopl
2.61/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 2 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Appearance: Poured a black with 2 finger of brown head that faded very quickly. It leaves no lacing or ring of head.

Smell: Nice smell of chocolate and vanilla. I can't really smell the coffee in there, but other then that a standard porter smell.

Taste: First initial taste is a too bitter chocolate. I smell a hint of vanilla but again, don't taste the supposed coffee in there. Nothing really too special about the taste.

Mouthfeel: Not too impressed. Pretty thin for a porter with decent carbonation.

Drinkability: I'm glad I only got one of these because that's all I could drink. I don't think I would drink another one.

Overall a pretty disappointing beer. Porters are my fav. type of beer and I like vanilla and coffee in my beer but this was just a pour mix of them. The whole beer just feels unbalanced.

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

Pours thick and black, with a dark brown, burnt brown sugar colored head. Soft roasted malt aromas, very coffee like, with a only a touch of vanilla. A flash of bitterness up front, sweet malts, and substantial but not overplayed bitter vanilla note. Full bodied with medium cabonation, but not overly heavy. This is a drinkable, sessionish vanilla porter, with some delectable vanilla notes but not so much that you're sick of the flavor halfway through the glass. Very good.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
2.88/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

served into a nonic glass from a 12 oz. brown long neck bottle with crimped-on cap.

Opaque,black slightist reddish hue when held to light. 4" thick, very creamy, head light tan towards white,dissapated quickly to 1/2 layer of foam.

Moderate aromas mostly of roasted coffee,a burnt wood aroma also,not a much of a vanilla scent if any. Nothing here to get me excited about tasting this beer.

Tastes of roasted coffee,chocolaty, tastes of smoke from a wood fire,a hint of vanillia.Clean,quick sharp bitter finish. Bits of tartness throughout.
Not a bad tasting beer, just very predictiable and uninteresting.

Meduim bodied, towards light for a porter. Smooth, good drinkability,easy going, just not a lot of reason for sessions. An average porter,nothing fancy,very predictable. Not a much of a vanilla presence as expected from the label. Not a bad beer. I think I just expected a little more from this offering.

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Photo of Illinick
3.25/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

On Tap at Rivertowne Inn
A: Extremely dark opaque brown with a smallish milk chocolate brown head that dissipates and remains as ring and slight island formation. Extremely good lacing as expected.
S: A little thin on the nose with definite roasted coffee, oak, and vanilla scents. Some slight bourbon scents in the background as well as some charred wood.
T: Smooth flavor profile with the vanilla and oak flavors up front followed by coffee and roasted coffee beans and finishing with bourbon-esque and vanilla flavors on the finish. Some slight bitterness on the finish, but it does a good job of offsetting the sweet vanilla and bourbon flavors. Flavors become thin at times, especially upon warming.
MF: Medium light at first that becomes too light about half way through consumption.
Overall: Quality flavors, a little one sided, and becomes way too light. A solid stab nonetheless. It is refreshing.

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Photo of mwalters
4.8/5  rDev +38.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Very pleased with the balance and overall taste of this fine beer. The color is black onyx, yet clear... not cloudy. The smell was very old world, with a hint of espresso. The taste reminded me of some of my first porters that were wonderful and full of mystery. Not real thick mouthfeel, just right.
Very nice beer to drink in the winter time!

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Photo of nortmand
3.03/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Pours dark black-brown with a fairly creamy head.

Smells like wet vanilla flavored pipe tobacco.

A little chocolate and vanilla up front, fairly subdued and nice, but it leaves a very unpreasant bitterness on the back of the tongue.

Full bodied, but not overly enjoyab;e. Worth a try, I guess.

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Photo of foureyedgeek
3.72/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass. Dark, not quite black body with a quick rise and fall of mocha head. Not as lasting as I'd like it to be, and when it dissipates it leaves little, if any, trace behind.

Aroma is of coffee, rich and dark, a little chocolate and a little vanilla. Good smelling beer and it smells just like its named.

Taste is a little disappointing. I get that taste of roasty, dark porter malts and a hint of coffee, but very little vanilla. I wish the presence of both of these were a little more prominent, especially if thats the beer's namesake. I've had another vanilla coffee porter before (from North Country) on tap and in a growler, and while freshness may be a factor, the flavors on that were not at all subdued. With this porter, they almost seem like an afterthought. A little bitter in the finish.

Mouthfeel is alright too, thick but not as rich and creamy as I'd like. The carbonation on it almost makes it feel like a soda.

I wish this was more drinkable, but the lack of flavors lead me to disappointment, I'm happy with this one but that may be enough.
Maybe I was set-up from excellent previous experience with coffee porters. I had high expectations for this beer and this beer didn't meet them.

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Photo of beerphan
2.98/5  rDev -13.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

12oz bottle -> goblet
no date

Pours dark dark brown with crimson tints. I fine full head recedes slowly down to a mocha blanket. The blanket is flattened to a thin cloud of suds, after a few sips. Minimal patchy lace.

Mostly a spicey nose with some chocolate malts, and coffee, but i'm not getting much vanilla.

Taste is in line with the nose, not too impressive. Still not finding any vanilla over the chocolate malt and coffee.

I got 2 of these and i think i give the other one away, too see if i'm missing something here.

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Atwater Vanilla Java Porter from Atwater Brewery
Beer rating: 3.46 out of 5 with 1,803 ratings
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