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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter | Ballast Point Brewing Company

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Our Victory at Sea Imperial Porter is a bold, smooth brew with just the right amount of sweetness. We infused this robust porter with whole vanilla beans and San Diego’s own Caffe Calabria coffee beans. The subtle roasted notes and minimal acidity of the cold brewed coffee, balances perfectly with the sweet caramel undertones of the malt, creating a winning combination for your palate.

Added by radshoesbro on 03-17-2009

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Reviews: 1,361 | Ratings: 6,627
Photo of MattSweatshirt
4.05/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Been hoping for this since Texas finally got Ballast Point this summer.

It pours out dark with a creamy fluffy cloud of a lightly browned head.

The aroma definitely tells you that there is coffee in this. Sweet milk chocolate and vanilla. Light roast and dark fruit notes. Everything is under the prevalent coffee aroma.

Coffee, roast, and alcohol are balanced a bit by the sweeter vanilla and chocolate flavors. The roasty coffee profile of the beer again exerts its dominance on this beer in the flavor department.

Has a big creamy silky smooth mouthfeel.

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Photo of BeerLover99
4.48/5  rDev +3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: dark brown/black, finger khaki head, awesome lacing

S: dark chocolate, sweet vanilla, nutty, toffee, malt, coffee

T: dark chocolate, roasted malt, toffee, mild roasted coffee, nutty

M: med/heavy, chewy, smooth mouth

O: OH MY! Ballast has hit a HR.
PORTER/STOUT fans should seek this gem out.


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Photo of Beerzebub
4.47/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured in a Bruery glass, not overly cold.

Off-black, deep reddish-brown meniscus, small dark tan head, looks good.

Smells delicious, the vanilla and coffee are each quite distinct but at the same time the aroma is totally cohesive. The vanilla almost makes it seem barrel aged, like maybe rum barrel. Deep chocolatey roasty malt, too. NICE.

Tastes deep and roasty, well balanced with a good dose of sweetness. Lingering bittersweet coffee, cocoa, vanilla, quite a long finish. Very tasty.

Good medium-full texture, fine cushy carbonation makes it almost creamy, this and the balance make it very easy to drink.

Excellent beer, nice to finally review it.

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Photo of macrosmatic
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to maximumu13 for bringing this along as an extra for our IP trade. Cheers, my friend! Reviewed from notes. Poured from bomber into an Upland pint glass.

A: Very dark brown to black, opaque, with a thin tan head, and low visible carbonation.

S: Dark black bitter coffee, sweet malt, some vanilla and a bit of dark cacao.

T: Coffee, some vanilla, with a touch of very dark cacao near the end. There is some hop bitterness as well.

M: Thick mouthfeel for porter, heavy-bodied, but a good amount of carbonation sensation, and a moderate alcohol presence.

O: This was pretty good, but I'm not sure it quite stands out among its peers. I expected more vanilla, but what was there was overshadowed by the coffee.

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Photo of gtermi
4.7/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

A: The beer pours a dark black body with a thin tan head that quickly fades and leaves a tiny bit of lacing on the glass.

S: The first thing I pick up is a nice sweet vanilla with a little bit of coffee and a chocolate fudge type smell.

T: Wow, I have to say that this is one of the best tasting porters I have ever had in my life. The vanilla and coffee go absolutely perfect together and there is a little bit of bitterness and also a bit of chocolate flavors that add a lot to the beer. It sort of reminds me of a vanilla latte from Starbucks.

M: The beer is super smooth and feels creamy going down. There is hardly any carbonation and I prefer that when I am drinking a higher alcohol beer.

O: This is just a fantastic beer from Ballast Point and the more I try their beers, the more I start to love this brewery.

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Photo of bum732
3.93/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

S: Vanilla sweetness, some roastiness including some light coffee

L: Black, tan creamy head that dissipates slightly. Ok lacing.

T: Vanilla sweetness up front with a chocolate note. Medium low malty bitterness leading to a rich dark chocolate flavors. Coffee is very muted, only making an appearance in the finish. Is very woody with some slight mint as it warms.

M: Medium full body, medium carbonation. Slight alcohol.

Pretty good, has a very unique flavor. Coffee very subtle with vanilla having a big role. Aroma was pretty lacking, surprisingly.

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Photo of OtherShoe2
4.42/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours dark brown, almost black, with a nice thick rocky tan head. Nice lace and retention.

Big coffee nose, with good hints of vanilla, but not overdone in this factor. Dark roasted malt, some dark chocolate round this out. A whiff of booze.

Nice balance between the roasted malt, carbonized bits, and coffee. There is some sweetness in here to bring some balance, but is not fruit. Vanilla extract (as there is an alcohol note), some wood, charred bits, bitterness, and a long coffee finish. Wonderfully complex.

Fuller bodied, appropriate carbonation.

Liked this a lot. Glad I found it. Nice complex porter.

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Photo of fountainofyouth
4.16/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a rocket into a Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout tulip glass (20 oz.)

Appearance: Dang, this thing pours a HUGE thick, sticky head -- like four fingers after two minutes of waiting. The head is light brown and the body is solid brown-black. Held directly up to light it is totally opaque. Pretty intimidating.

Smell: The aroma is fairly complex. I get sweet mild-dark malt, spicy hops, and something a little metallic. It could use a little bit of smoke or roast to round it out. No real hints of coffee or vanilla.

Taste: Not quite what I expected -- or at least not the sequence I thought it would be. I was afraid it would be too hoppy off the bat and mask the malt. The hops are subdued, however, letting the malt sweetness start. Not much coffee, but I get some vanilla. The finish has a little bit of the roasty stout taste I love in my beer. Also a little bit of milk chocolate toward the end.

Mouthfeel: The feel is sugary up front with a light but prickly carb. The finish is very dry given how it starts -- almost acrid at points. Fairly heavy.

Overall: I wouldn't get it regularly, but I'd buy it again. If you like the genre, try it out.

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Photo of BeerBuckeye
3.85/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - pours a dark brown with reddish tint. Small, one finger, mocha head.

S - Full roasted coffee, dark chocolate malt, a hint of a burnt vanilla cigar.

T - Prominent vanilla in the taste. It hits pretty hard, bitter coffee follows up before finishing with some baker's chocolate notes.

M - Smooth and creamy, very nice.

Overall - It's good, but it feels a little unbalanced. Almost too much vanilla to the point of masking other good flavors.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

650 mL bottle poured into a CBS snifter.

Appearance - Slight transparency to the pour, but it's black once it's in the glass. Nice khaki head that settles and even seems to change to a lighter color. Probably just my foolishness there. Clings to the inside of the glass. Doesn't look particularly viscous.

Smell - Coffee most apparent, but it's pretty fudgy as well. Vanilla is faint in the nose. Every once in a while I get a hint of a metallic note.

Taste - Very chocolatey. Rich fudge. Coffee more subdued. It comes out in the finish where some of those roasted malts give it a bitter coffee finish. No metallic notes. Vanilla is much more prevalent here.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied. Not quite as chewy as I'd like. Smooth carbonation. No real heat from the alcohol.

Overall - It's a pretty stellar beer. I don't know about the whole "porter" thing. It drinks like a thin stout, but the flavors are great.

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Photo of Justin_Neff
4.2/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- Pours dark black, with a tan, 2-finger head that fades quickly but has a beautiful full-glass lacing that hangs around for a while.

S- Whiff is mostly strong, black coffee. At the finish there is a subtle vanilla, which dulls out the coffee and compliments great.

T- Vanilla comes in stronger than the smell would suggest, but it's balances the coffee amazingly well. I dig it - a lot. What is amazing to me is how there isn't an overwhelming malt or booze taste for the high abv.

M- Full body, but a nice creamy feel. I love that it isn't so full that it's chewy, but not too thin at all.

O- Very pleased with this one. Glad I tried fresh, but definitely going to throw one in the cellar for a year or so, just to see what happens. The coffee will certainly fade, but thinking the vanilla will dominate, rather than compliment. Odds are that a year in the cellar will completely change this one - although I could argue that there needs to be no changes. I really like it.

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Photo of warrenout330
4.75/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22 oz bottle pour, 28oz snifter in hand

A- pours a deep black brown color.... black once all the beer is poured .. 2 finger thick khaki colored head... minimal lacing... minimal retention

S- whiffs of deep bold roasted coffee grounds.... bold hits of bakers chocolate .... sweet vanilla... coffee lingering throughout the smell

T- more pronounced than the smell.... deep complex flavor of coffee and chocolate... sweetness from the vanilla and chocolate .... roasty flavors

M- smooth and creamy... oily aspect on the mouth... bittness on the tongue .... no evidence of the 10% alcohol ...

O- big and bold complex flavors give this Porter depth ... this Porter leads in the pack of flavor and uniqueness on the craft movement ... now I see why this is so sought after and respected .... this is special .... savor every sip

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Photo of blakelive784
3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

1 pt 6 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a snifter, reviewed live (2011 Vintage):

A - Pours a deep shade of brown/black with a thin, tan, one finger head. Retention is awful, though forgivable for the high ABV. Pretty standard.

S - Strong vanilla notes and cream. Strong roast throughout. Nicely roasted coffee. Moderate strength aroma. Very inviting given the heavy vanilla.

T - Malts are layered extremely well. Roasted, toasted, and sweet base malts all present. Muted coffee present throughout. The roasted malts are the star in this beer. A bit sweet. Delicious.

M - A bit too slick and smooth. Medium bodied. Could be more coarse.

D - A tasty beverage. I've not had it fresh, but it's definitely still highly drinkable. I'd definitely have it again.

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Photo of sjones5045
4.62/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pour black with a frothy light brown head. The smell smacks you with a ton of vanilla and a burnt coffe smell. The taste is pretty much the same as the smell. Very nice notes of vanilla and coffee throughout the taste. Pretty smooth with maybe a bit high cardonation and even more importantly there is that burnt coffee taste that tends to burn out the tongue. Overall, it is a great beer with some minor flaws that is always worth having on hand.

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Photo of bluejacket74
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle, stamp says enjoy by 11/26/13. Served in a snifter, the beer pours dark brown/black with about a half inch tan head that sticked around for a while. There's also a good amount of lacing. Aroma is nice, the brew smells like coffee, vanilla, roasted malt, and bittersweet chocolate. The taste is pretty much just like the aroma, it tastes like coffee, roasted and burnt/charred malt, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, and a bit of caramel. It starts off bitter, and then the sweet flavors catch up to balance things out. Mouthfeel/body is medium/full, it's a bit creamy and has moderate carbonation. The 10% ABV is well hidden. I have to say this is a pretty good overall brew. As soon as I heard Ballast Point was coming to Ohio, this was the beer from them that I was wanting to try the most, and it hasn't disappointed! $8.99 a bomber, I know I'll be buying this again.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
4.27/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap at tha joint - Ballast Point Brewery in San Diego, CA.

Just crushed a sample of this bad boi and it got Raul thinking like he was a Seahawk and cruzin with Errol Flynn. Luscious vanilla coffee notes with a sweet delicate after balance. If you want to get loose, pop a bottle with ur grl n git at it.


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Photo of smonice
3.91/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a growler.

A- Black with a nice tan head and a little lacing

S- Mostly coffee and little vanilla

T- Great taste, the coffee comes through strong and the subtle vanilla evens it out. Slight booze burn but not bad.

M- Creamy in mouth, not too light and not too heavy

O- Really like this beer. Going to finish this growler and then age a bottle I have for a little bit and try it again to see if the burn minimizes a bit.

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Photo of arfenhouse
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Black with brown head. Head can get too large with a vigorous pour. Good retention.

S: Overwhelming vanilla bean aroma with a bit of cafe mocha hiding behind it. Enjoyable to smell and keep on smelling.

T: First taste is a semi-sweet chocolate followed by black coffee that keeps this beer from being too sweet. Bitterness comes from the roasted grain, kind of like the charred part of toast. Vanilla in the aftertaste. Virtually no hop flavor.

M: Semi creamy with medium carbonation. Starts to feel too thick and syrupy as it warms. A little less carbonation and some more silkiness would've been better in my opinion.

O: Very tasty and strong imperial porter. Gonna get some more of these if I can. Definitely a must try if you like the style.

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Photo of bigfnjoe
3.87/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Dogfish snifter

A- pours black with a one finger light tan head that fades quickly to leave a whispy, paper thin head with some lacing. Nice

S- coffee, and vanilla. Well, it delivers where it needs to there

T- nice punch of bitter coffee with a hint of booze. Not much vanilla coming out, though I do get a hint of it in the finish

M- viscous as all hell. That's what's up!

O- it's not bad by any means, but I just feel a little disappointed overall. Maybe I had my expectations set a little high

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Photo of Zorro
3.52/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Lightproof black colored beer with a small brown colored head.

Smell is coffee and chocolate with patent malt. Vanilla is there but the scent is more spiced rum than vanilla. Toffee and something else spicy, maybe allspice berry.

Starts out bitter chocolate with vanilla in the after taste, fairly bitter. Not a sweet beer. Chocolate and vanilla with a trace of ash in the taste. An OK Stout but they went overboard with the patent malt. Alcohol is quite detectable.

Mouthfeel is OK.

Overall it is at best OK. Too bad they didn't balance out the patent malt better.

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Photo of Resuin
4.41/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a Bomber into a Chimay chalice. This year's edition, so not much age on this one.

Appearance: Pours a pitch-black and leaves maybe half a finger of light brown head. I'm a fan of the darkness of this pour, and it looks to have a very nice consistency to it.

Smell: A light coffee and vanilla scent dominates the initial smell. Some hints of chocolate accompany; definitely a pleasant smell.

Taste: The taste matches the smell pretty well - a very well balanced flavor of coffee, vanilla and malts. This beer is absolutely delicious and the alcohol is extremely well balanced within the beer, this feels substantially lighter than a 10% ABV brew. This is a great sipper.

Mouth-feel: I would call this a perfect balance for a stout/porter. Definitely not too thin, but not thick or syrupy - the perfect balance. Still a good level of carbonation too - this beer has a lovely feel to it.

Overall: This is a porter to judge all porters by. Absolutely delicious and extremely well balanced. Neither the coffee or vanilla are overpowering, but they both add terrific aspects to this beer. I highly recommend this beer to everyone.

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Photo of KingEdward
5/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

This beer is great! Look is dark brown with nice lacing. Smell is of sugar cookie , milk chocolate, and vanilla. Taste is of milk chocolate, vanilla, and wow! I want this on nitro! Feel is velvet and creme! Awesome. Ballast point rocks! Can'!!!t wait to try more of there beers!

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Photo of DudMan
4/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours dark black with tan head and slight lacing. Smells of vanilla and coffee. Tastes of burnt coffee, cream and artificial sweetener. It is bitter throughout. I used to love this beer.

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Photo of kojevergas
3.8/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Really excited for this one; I reviewed this on-draught last year and fell in love with it. Saw it on the shelf and had to revisit it. Enjoy by 11/08/13. 22 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a New Belgium stem-goblet in me gaff in low altitude Los Feliz, Los Angeles, California. Reviewed live. Cost was $7.99; I also saw it tonight at Sunset Beer Co. for $8.99 10% ABV confirmed.

Served straight from the fridge but allowed to warm considerably over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Presentation: I dig the label, which bears a skeleton manning the wheel of a ship. Cool art, and more inventive than Ballast Point's usual uninspired fish.

A: Pours a one finger rich tan colour head of gorgeous cream and thickness, and good retention for the high ABV (~2 minutes). Lacing is decent. Body colour is a solid jet black. Nontransparent and opaque. Looks precisely as it should for the style. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Complex and subtle vanilla notes are unquestionable dominant. Heavy coffee/java also comes through alongside a delightful roasted character - both from the coffee itself as well as from the barley. Cocoa powder on the backend. Coffee emerges more and more as it warms. Some clean malty sweetness. The vanilla has depth, as though from vanilla bean rather than vanilla extract or some of the artificial crap they use in poorer vanilla beers (see Tanilla). No yeast or alcohol is detectable. A moderately strong aroma, and certainly an inviting one.

T: Heavy vanilla throughout, coalescing with the malty sweetness right on the finish. The coffee is more buried in the body, layered between dark malts, but it lends a pleasant character that helps balance the vanilla. What's sorely missing is the roasted barley character from the nose. God, the ABV is nowhere in sight. Unfortunately, I get a somewhat metallic note about the climax that rings artificial next to the vanilla. I don't remember that being a problem with the draught version. No yeast character at all.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with adequate body. Not too thick. Carbonation is good, if slightly high - though I imagine this'll suit it well for aging. Good presence on the palate. She slides down easy enough.

Dr: Extremely drinkable for the high ABV. I'll have no trouble killing this bomber by myself. I think fresh maybe the vanilla is a bit too sweet; I'd give this a good three weeks to mellow out a bit. I've got a bottle aging from last year in my cellar and will post notes on that as soon as I get around to it. Another great beer from Ballast Point. One of my favourite porters, and quite possibly my favourite vanilla beer so far. A great dessert treat.

Low B+

Please, serve it slightly chilled. It's best once as it warms to room temperature.

Would pair well with sweets.

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Photo of CommanderOfAwesome
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a 2012 Bomber into a snifter glass. Second time having this awesome beer.

A: Pours extremely dark brown, very opaque. Very little light getting through this. Almost non exist dark khaki head. Does provide some nice lacing and alcohol legs.

S: This is where this beer shines the most IMO. Air freshener. Could smell this all day, esp once it warms up. Getting strong vanilla and coffee aromas along coco powder. Some of the roasted malts shinning through as well. Great aroma, really opens once it warms up a bit.

T: Taste strong in the categories advertised. Vanilla Coffee with a hint of what I can only describe as chalky chocolate (in a good way). Smooth as hell and delicious. Some slight alcohol taste pokes through.

M: Full bodied, and sweet on the tongue. Bit of a alcohol burn on the finish.

O: Fantastic beer. Loving every sip and a must try for any stout/coffee fan.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.35 out of 5 based on 6,627 ratings.
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