Dismiss Notice
We're celebrating 10 years of BeerAdvocate magazine with $10 print subscriptions for US residents.

Subscribe now!

Victory At Sea Imperial Porter - Barrel Aged | Ballast Point Brewing Company

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
53 Reviews
no score
Send samples
Victory At Sea Imperial Porter - Barrel AgedVictory At Sea Imperial Porter - Barrel Aged

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 12.20%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by scottoale on 01-29-2007

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 266
Photo of AltBock
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I was excited to see (you would be too) that on 6/28/2009, Teresa's Next Door was going to tap the Bourbon Barrel Aged Victory at Sea. I just recently had the regular Victory at Sea and I thought that was a great beer. On that day, I couldn't wait to see if the barrel aged version was going to be worse or better than the regular version. Let's find out if this beer was better or worse than the regular bottled version.

When poured into a large stemmed Tulip, I found out that this version was the same color as the regular version. That means that this beer was a thick pitch black colored beer with absolutely no sign of any kind of highlight. To create a highlight, that means light would have shine through the beer and that's physically impossible for any kind of light source to do. On top of this thick oil colored beer was a ¾ of an inch dark mocha head of foam. This creamy mocha head of foam had great retention that left behind a large foamy string of rings and a few blots of lace. Great dark appearance! If you want to stare into pure darkness, you can either put your head in a box or pour this beer into the glass. I suggest the second option.

The bottled version of this beer was just bursting out of the glass with dark roasted coffee beans. The Barrel Aged version was mellower and there were more aromas than just roasted coffee beans. The aroma was mellow with a touch of bourbon, a hint of oak, a pinch of dark chocolate, a few dark fruits, and then these aromas will then give way to a strong whiff of roasted coffee beans. This scent of roasted coffee beans was strong, but it was nowhere as strong as the same scent that can be found in the regular bottle version. I'm happy to say that the aroma wasn't done just yet. After the strong scent of roasted coffee beans, the aroma then finishes up with a subtle whiff of French vanilla. This is the aroma I look for when it comes to a Barrel Aged Coffee Porter. You get plenty of coffee as well as bourbon, oak, and even French vanilla. A pleasure to smell!

I originally thought that maybe the bourbon and oak would calm down the powerful taste of roasted coffee beans, but that wasn't the case. The taste was thick and dark with a super strong taste of bitter roasted coffee beans. This was the same taste that can be found in the regular bottled version, but there was more to this beer than just roasted coffee beans. The taste was also strong with the taste of bourbon, a hint of charred oak, a hint of dark chocolate, and a gentle touch of French vanilla at the finish line. Like I stated before, I honestly thought that the bourbon and oak would settle down the strong taste of roasted coffee beans, but the bourbon and oak let this beer keep its strong taste of coffee beans and just added their own little touch. If you've never had coffee beans with some bourbon and oak mixed into it, then you missing a treat.

Take your time with this beer because this is clearly a full bodied beer that just after a few sips, you'll feel this beer go to work on your body. The strong initial taste gave way to an everlasting thick strong aftertaste of roasted coffee beans, a touch of bourbon and charred oak, a splash of dark chocolate, and a gentle touch of French vanilla. Make sure you have a glass of water nearby because that might counter the effects of this beer and it will help clean off the strong taste of roasted coffee beans off of your taste buds.

Man, what a great Barrel Aged Coffee Porter! I mean, not only did I get a strong taste of roasted coffee beans, but also a taste of bourbon, oak, and even a subtle taste of vanilla. If this beer is on tap at your local bar, count your lucky stars and go get a glass or two.

 3,710 characters

Photo of beagle75
3.94/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Draft pour into a shaker pint glass at the Old Grove tasting room.

A: Opaque black color, dark brown light showing at the edges, with a ring of beige foam. No lacing remains on the glass.

S: Burnt sugar, dark dried fruit (plums, figs, and cherries), pipe tobacco, and restrained bourbon. Aside from the obvious smell of the bourbon, no other alcohol is detected.

T: Begins off-dry, with big dark-roasted grain flavors and faint dark chocolate. Flavors expand in the middle, with dark fruit, licorice, and bourbon that never becomes overpowering or off-putting. The finish is moderately bitter, with some herbal and citrus hop aromatics emerging late. The flavor of alcohol is frequently present but carefully disguised or managed, never becoming obnoxious.

M: Light to medium viscosity, briefly coating the palate, with moderate carbonation.

D: This variant of Victory at Sea does not hit the highs of the original, nor does it stoop to the same lows in certain areas. The smell of this beer is more balanced, despite the bourbon presence, featuring much less chocolate. Too bad! The intensity of the original's chocolate smell was so enveloping and comforting. On the other hand, acidity does not stand out here, making the front end of the taste as well as the sensation on the palate much more pleasant than in the original. Compared to Caldera's Mogli barrel-aged imperial porter, this is overall a much bigger beer--with more intense sensory qualities--but not necessarily better, lagging behind the Mogli in overall appeal.

 1,534 characters

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

Gotta love a barrel aged dark beer like this that still managed to maintain great foam/lacing. Delightful to look at. Nose is raisins, straight up raisins. Some barrel notes too, not so much coconut or caramel like some as those raisins and other dark fruit, laced with some bourbon/alcoholic zing. As someone who doesn't tend to like dark fruit-forward porters/stouts (I prefer them more chocolatey/roasty), this wasn't super up my alley, but it wasn't unpleasant. On the palate, that dark fruit remains forward, along with some bourbony heat. The coffee really just contributes a backing bitterness that actually works decently to offset some of the fruity sweetness. This is a solid beer, but I don't know that they really used the barrels to full effect or coaxed out of them all the flavors that the best barrel-aged brews do. As for me, gimme good 'ol regular [email protected]

 870 characters

Photo of seedyone
4.75/5  rDev +8.9%

02/24/13 On cask at Beer Authority, NYC. Surprisingly at just the right temperature. The coffee & vanilla notes in this well made brew are just that notes. They remain at a polite distance. Could drink his all night but for the 10% ABV. If it's a choice for you, choose it.

 273 characters

Photo of MisterClean
4.68/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Nitroed at Boonville.

A - Poured dark brown with a 2 fingered brown head. Doesn't really dissipate and leaves beautiful lacing.

S/T - Vanilla, notes of chocolate and hints of grass. The bourbon barrel is mellow and not overpowering.

M - Full-bodied and well-balanced. Shocked at how little alcohol flavor there is. The bourbon barrel really masks the alcohol sensation.

D - Wow! How can they improve on this? It's a complex, and yet outstanding beer.

 455 characters

Photo of RyanK252
4.37/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Lobrau

A: Pours dark brown, basically black, with a frothy tawny brown head that settles to a light layer and leaves some light lacing.

S: Bourbon, vanilla, molasses, roasted malt, and a hint of dark fruit.

T: Smooth bourbon, milk chocolate, roasted malt, molasses, vanilla, light coffee, a little spice, and just a hint of dark fruit.

M: Full body, mild carbonation. % is very well hidden.

O: Dare I say, this blows the standard version out of the water. Coffee has faded, but everything there is wonderful.

 527 characters

Photo of scottoale
5/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Ballast Point's: "Victory at Sea (Barrel Aged) Imperial Porter", name corrected.

WOW! Amazing Porter here. Special Barrel Aged version of the normally 11.0% ABV imperial porter. This stuff is bed and breakfast...seriously.

Sampled at the source today, this brew is limited to one taster per person, per day! Growler fill...YES please. Poured into a 13.5oz. tulip was damn-near black ass brown with a finger of froth-creamy cocoa fluffy topper. The head dies eventually to a ring around the glass and some fancy cling-lace...awesome black beer.

The smell is best described as one of the finest Kentucky Breakfast Stouts I have ever laid nostrils upon...big and bold to say the least. Sweet, strong and earthy with a mega dark roast, dark-ass premium coffee aroma dominating, with undertones of rich, dark bakers cocoa (chocolate),vanilla, oak, oak and a bit more of the same, followed by a wavering and warming alcohol of fair magnitude. Damn beautiful fragrance for a beer?

As for flavor...let me just say...this is the tastiest porter I have ever tasted, and I've tasted many. Tops the scale of porters and this is also one of my favorite styles. As it smells, it tastes __ (fill in the blank) times better than whatever (anything)...it unfolds more as it warms, rich and full with satisfaction in each sip and swallow.

Smooth and creamy with some zip...this brew is dangerously drinkable. I truly don't think they can improve this recipe and can only imagine how this stuff would age if it were bottled...I am fully impressed with Ballast Point's efforts here, long may they brew and succeed...Well Done!!!

 1,625 characters

Photo of mulder1010
3.75/5  rDev -14%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

on tap at Ballast Point

A-- Black as heck with no head at all. Just a bit of film

S-- Bourbon, coffee,Vanilla and a lot of vanilla

T-- Sweet Vanilla. Really overpowering vanilla.

M-- Excellent carbonation and good mouth feel. More coffee and bourbon in the mouth as opposed to the taste.

D-- Good but not outstanding. Too much vanilla for me. Needed more to round it out. What I had was 10% ABV Was very alcoholic.

 419 characters

Photo of jneiswender
4.77/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had as part of a tasting at the Ballast Point Brewing Company. Served on tap in a tasting glass.

A-tar black body, mocha brown head.

S-chocolate smell with some grain

T-coffee front, chocolate middle and a nice bitter finish

M-heavy mouthfeel

D-Such a complex beer. Exceptional on all counts. High alcohol is well hidden. Get it if you can.

 345 characters

Photo of TheMarkE
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Smooth and delicious. Great complimentary flavor from the rye whiskey. Coffee, vanilla, and bourbon... what a great combination. Goes down easy for such a high ABV.

 164 characters

Photo of brew3crew
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at ballast point during sdbw! What a treat!

A- dark body with a nice tan lacing head!

S-sweet bourbon notes but enough malt to hold it up

T-follows the nose. Very sweet and smooth bourbon with a little bit of vanilla.

M-excellent. Smooth and silky mouth feel.

O-phenominal brew. Absolutely.

 302 characters

Photo of mjpolzin
4.05/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

When this was first poured and served to me, the nose was phenomenal. Unfortunately the taste did not quite follow suit. Although it was a very complex tasting beer, the barrel taste did not do much to add to the base beer.

 223 characters

Photo of NittanyBeerFan
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Teresa's during their Ballast Point event this morning!

A: The description says pitch black, and I was skeptical. But wow. This is easily the darkest beer I have ever seen. 1/2 cm of head dark creamy head sits on top of this beer for an eternity. Some carbonation clings to the inside of the glass, looking like it can't push through the thick texture of the beer to make it to the top.

S: Strong coffee dominates, with muted boubon notes in the wings, adding character.

T: Alcohol is completely non-evident, as it is hidden well by roasted coffee and dark, chocolate malts. Bourbon taste does little more than linger in the background. Vanilla comes through in the middle. Intense coffee flavors, augmented by some bourbon notes fill the palate for the aftertaste.

M/D: Smooth as water, with a medium to heavy texture. Slightly different flavor than I had expected, as the bourbon was not nearly a focal point in the beer, but just added to enhance the character. Complexity is top notch. ABV is too high to have too many, but if I hadn't had to leave, I would have kicked back another one in a heartbeat.

 1,120 characters

Photo of juhl31
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

thanks toronado SD for the '08 vintage!

-black with a tan/brown head with some good retention, especially for an '08

-choco syrup taste. the chocolate is very strong which makes it very hard to pull other notes out of it

-that artificial chocolate is in there which makes sense. some coffee, and the vanilla rolls in through the back end. a lot like a candy drink

-would like it to be thicker, but it does work for the taste

-very drinkable. definitely a dessert style stout. also not too heavy like a lot of imperials are

 527 characters

Photo of Cavery
4.1/5  rDev -6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had on nitro-tap @ Blue Palms 3rd Anniversary party, another great offering!

review from notes 8/13/11.

A: Raven feather black with a thick vanilla coulis bubble head. Such a micro-- nay, nano-knit head that sits like milk fat. Super thick fatty creams sit atop the glass like snow that will never melt. I love your work nitro.

S: Barrel aged vanillas that dance with bourbon residues. Creamy murangs hang out for a bit deep in the nose. Light almond butter oils make it in the mix. Extremely whipped mousses are deeply embedded. It all comes to a close with an egg white whipped lightness.

T: The taste is surprisingly clear with iced coffees ruling. Vanilla adds to the theme of airy creams. Kashew milks give a nutty cream element to the flavor. It remains consistent in the nose with being a very whipped buttery milk chocolate treat. Though chilled coffee bean flavors really come forward for me. Along with a rather forward syrupy alcohol.

M: A very silty medium bodied mouth that coats with a thick unpasteurized nitro-cream sensation. The nitro silk blanket is a great match for the cream theme. Vanilla shows up as a flavoring of the creams in every form: froths, murangs, coulis, and mousses are experienced in the mouth sequentially.

O: This is really pretty good, but also very much a sipper. Every possible form of vanilla flavoring comes into play, but it actually doesn't become bludgeoning. Carmelized sugars do well to give an authentic yet light seasoning of sweetness. This comes off very balanced, with only some minor peaking from syrupy sweet alcohols. This is a lot like a good spiked cup of chilled coco. Worth a try for sure.

 1,660 characters

Photo of shangwang
4.7/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

tried this at Khyber Pass during their Philly Beer Week BP event.

Beautiful looking pour- dark viscous appearance with a creamy finger of head that lingered for a while. The smell was very potent- notes of chocolate, coffee, vanilla, toasted almond and wood. It was such a pleasant aroma that I continued to go back to the smell throughout drinking this. The taste mirrored the smell- very sweet at the beginning with some roasty bitterness at the end, but extremely balanced and smooth. It was like drinking a dessert, but it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet. This might be one of the best beers I've ever tasted. Great mouthfeel- not overly heavy but a solid consistency. Finished smoothly and was very easy to drink. I could have easily had a few more if not for the other BP selections I wanted to try. Awesome beer.

 816 characters

Photo of mfunk9786
3.84/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Had on tap at Capone's during PBW.

Incredible pour, lacing like a glass of milk. This'll be a recurring theme. Victory at Sea has so much depth between coffee, vanilla, and chocolate that this -bal version is a disappointment by default. The smell and taste are hugely lactic, like drinking chocolate milk - which while not usually an issue when drinking chocolate milk, is a bit disconcerting when expecting a complex vanilla and coffee porter. Bourbon flavor is way in the back. Very smooth and creamy on the mouth. Something you don't need a review for - you'll drink it if it's on tap anyway - but it was weirdly disappointing for me.

 639 characters

Photo of Kaiser81
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Had a pint in the Old Grove tasting room on 2/18.

A - It pours pitch black, with about a finger width of mocha colored head. It settles fairly quickly to a nice ring, and great lacing is left on the glass. I might have wanted just a touch more head, but it is barrel aged.

S - Bourbon! There is some roast and oak present mixed with a bit of coffee. It's delightful, though the bourbon dominates and the vanilla gets drowned out compared to the original.

T - I did not expect this, but the vanilla jumps out initially, and then fades fast to coffee and then a bourbon aftertaste. Really all around awesome. As the beer opens up a bit, the bourbon begins to dominate.

M - Heavy body, with the right amount of carbonation. It's got a creamy mouthfeel to it too. Just about right.

D - Too easy to drink...at first. You can feel and taste the bourbon once it warms and opens a bit, and then it becomes just a tad bit of a struggle to drink. But, I wouldn't turn this down...ever.

 980 characters

Photo of paytoplay
4.67/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Amazing beer. Ballast Pt's 13th anny, regular keg of this was also great, fresher coffee vanilla flavor compared to this barrel aged version, plus the mellowing nitro action. Super complex, winter warmer feel. Bourbon was very balanced, great texture and a super long finish. I believe this was also cask conditioned so they threw everything at this beer. Damn it was good.

 373 characters

Photo of alexhahn82
3.71/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On cask/nitro at the 15th Annual Booneville Beer festival.

A. Wow, crazy slow chased of nitrogen after the pour. Dark rich color, creamy head.

Smell. Smell is slightly tame, but hints at the rich creamy bourbon that is in store for you.

T/M Taste is creamy with medium viscosity, frothy for being an American Porter, moderately light tones of bourbon the end.

Overall. Very nice, I am not a huge porter fan, but am a huge bourbon barrel fan. This is a very unique blend of the both. I would definitely give it a shot. Does not disappoint!

 542 characters

Photo of arlo19
4.96/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Thanks to Tim for sharing this beer. We submitted a photo. Aged 11 months in Heaven Hills Bourbon Whiskey Barrels. 12.2 ABV, bottled Feb 2016.

Great amount of head on this. Aroma is bourbon, vanilla, and sweet caramel. Very unique aroma and taste compared to other BA beers since I'm used to traditional stouts. Taste is sticky sweet bourbon and chocolate. Coffee taste is left out of this one after aging. Reminiscent of the Victory at Cereal we had in Little Italy in 2015. Very delicious brew!

 497 characters

Photo of jamex
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap at Toronado.

Very dark pour that produced a quickly fading head.

Nice smells of vanilla, mocha, malt and bourbon. Not as amazing as the standard VaS but good.

Taste was good. The bourbon with this porter didn't add anything special for me. I prefer the original VaS over this one.

A little light bodied, but drinkable. VERY strong at 12%. Watch out.

 360 characters

Photo of Sir_Whats-his-face
4.11/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The normal Victory at Sea is so in-your-face, so you might assume that the barrel aged version would be akin to giant, brick-to-the-face intensity of beers like Tweak, Parabola or Bourbon County. Oddly enough, that isn't the case. Instead, the bourbon character smooths out a lot of the beer's rough edges, making for an altogether subtler experience. I have to admit this kind of took me aback, given how huge the normal version tastes, but thinking back on it, I might prefer it.

Bottom line, if you thought that the original was too in-your-face, you'll likely be pleasantly surprised by the barrel aged version. But if you expect something as big and burly, you might be a little disappointed.

 698 characters

Photo of urwatuh8
4.76/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had three samples of this at the Boonville beer fest, all pretty earlier. Probably the best beer I had at the fest. The folks at the Ballast Point booth were calling them half pours, but my tasting glass was probably 3/4 full each time. The beer was served on nitro tap, which seemed a little odd, but worked well.

The beer was black with a thin tan/brown head. Huge blast of vanilla. Coffee, chocolate, roasty. Of course this beer was thick, but it was very smooth and creamy. I think the nitro helped to make this beer ridiculously smooth, but the aromas were probably dulled a bit.

Aside from some alcohol warming, I had no idea how big this beer was. The alcohol was really well hidden. Just from being a big imperial porter, I was thinking maybe 8-9% or so, but well masked even at this level. Surprised to see it as high as 12% ! If you get a chance to try this beer, don't pass up the opportunity.

 908 characters

Photo of BoatsSinkBro
3.88/5  rDev -11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap during SF Beerweek 2012, at Public House.

It's everything like the normal Victory at Sea, except 2 things that I noticed personally;

-Bourbon/oak barrel flavor is strong and a noticeable aroma of it.
-Delicate Vanilla aroma and taste got smothered by the Bourbon/oak.

It's really up to personal state at this point, some people can taste vanilla out of barrel aged stuff, but when I had this, it seems the vanilla was pretty much "smothered" with that strong barrel flavor. Still was a good porter, but I wasn't tasting much of the more delicate vanilla flavors throughout the whole tulip and the barrel flavor (a rich off-dry smoky flavor) sort of overpowered the other flavors, which I felt took a bit away from the complexity.

 739 characters

firstprev| 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Victory At Sea Imperial Porter - Barrel Aged from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.36 out of 5 based on 266 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • Extreme Beer Fest® Cometh

    February 3-4, 2017. Boston, Mass. Limited tickets available. Prepare for epicness.

    Learn More
  • Free Trial Subscription

    Reside in the US? Interested in a free 1-month trial subscription to the print edition of BeerAdvocate magazine?

    Yes! Sign Me Up!