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

Subscribe now!

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

Log in or Sign up to start rating.
1,368 Reviews
no score
Send samples
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

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,368 | Ratings: 6,678
Photo of Briken
3.62/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Deep chestnut brown and frothy brown head with good retention. Coffee and roasted aroma and faint hint of vanilla. Coffee and very bitter burnt nut upfront gradually give way to a light sweetness and the slightest hint of vanilla in the finish. Smooth, full bodied feel with a slight tack.

Roasted burnt coffee is a little too forward and overwhelming right off the bat. Unfortunately it continues in such a way that only hint of sweetness and vanilla break through at the end. Not a bad overall flavor but not completely as promised and just a little heavy handed on the roasted flavors.

 589 characters

Photo of gwguest
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle with no bottle date to be found; I think it's fair to assume that it's fresh as Ballast Point is making a return to my area after a long hiatus.

Look - Pours a deep dark brown with minimal foam. Even a heavy pour seems to yield little foam.

Smell - For a beer labeled "Coffee Vanilla" I smell surprisingly little of either. It's a well-crafted beer with notes of a typical porter roast and chocolate, but with time (and a little warmth) the sweetness and distinct coffee notes are there.

Taste - Again, like the smell, I really expect more coffee and vanilla from a beer labeled this way. However, it's a fantastic beer. Victory at Sea skews very bitter for the style. It's actually a blessing that Ballast Point was delicate with the coffee and vanilla; it's very much in balance with the expected porter roast and just makes this beer a little rounder with more depth. Any more of either and it would be a gimmick or dessert beer. This beer is intensely bitter, almost to the point of being some sort of Black DIPA. Almost. This beer is an imperial porter through and through.

Feel - Right on target for a beer like this. It has more body and feel than a porter, but they didn't bump up the viscosity for the sake of being chewy or heavy. It finishes remarkably without really coating the palette.

This beer would pair excellently with tomato and brown sugar beef-based BBQ from Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas. Victory at Sea with beef burnt ends might be a good last meal.

It took me several beers (over several days) to really understand Victory at Sea; It's an Imperial Porter with a distinct west coast slant. It's not a beer for everyone, nor a beer that I want every day. However, I enjoy this beer more every time I drink it, and that's quite rare. Outstanding.

 1,809 characters

Photo of Biggtriksta
4.59/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This has become a go-to beer for me. It was one of the initial high-ABV, robust beers that got me into dark, heavy stouts and porters. It's accessible and a great beer to persuade anyone who's looking to get into craft beer with. Lots of coffee and vanilla, dark and ominous, and perfect for breakfast!

 302 characters

Photo of BrownAleBollocks
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours an opaque oily black with a two finger mocha color head. Aroma is just like cold brewed black coffee with some roast and vanilla coming through as well. Taste follows with coffee, chocolate, vanilla, roast, and robust dark malts with a little bit of almost rye bread and dark chocolate on the fringes. Mouthfeel is medium and smooth, a little harsh when the beer is cold, but smooth as it warms. Overall, a very nice coffee brew that holds up with the porter backbone making it easy to drink and all the flavors coming through.

 537 characters

Photo of Bonkinishwa
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Ballast Point Brewing Company - Victory At Sea. 10% ABV. 12oz bottle poured into snifter.

Look: Settles a viscous pitch black, with some caramel highlights, albeit very minor. Non aggressive pour caused a small mocha colored head, which settles into lacing after a little.

Smell: Incredibly strong coffee grounds, very overpowering if you don't expect it. I assume it the particular blend of coffee used in it, which gives it a very earthy aroma with the coffee, almost like a fresh green pepper. Very strange smelling.

Feel: Thick, heavy body, but also very creamy and smooth at the same time. Has some decent amount of carbonation accompanying it.

Taste: Very strong and bitter coffee grounds immediately, but mellows out about midway through, allowing some caramel, brown sugar, vanilla, and dark malts to show up. Nice blend into the back end, but soon the rich coffee shows back up, accompanied by some dark chocolate into the aftertaste.

Overall: Been wanting to try this for a while, because it sounds amazing, and to see if it lives up to its high reputation. I was expecting a lot of coffee, and this still caught me off guard. Extreme amounts of robust bold coffee on the palate, but is balanced extremely well by the other flavors. The only thing I don't care for is the odd aroma of earthy green pepper in my nose every time I take a drink, but since it comes from the coffee that gives such an amazing taste, I would rather not change a thing.

 1,462 characters

Photo of Oldejoe
4.34/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Looks. Dark, dark, dark,with a frothy head.
Smell. Not my strong point, but lots of caramel, coffee, vanilla, sweet fruits and earthiness. Very nice.
Taste. A whole mouthful almost simultaneously; sweet malts up front to a smoky dry finish.
Feel. Full bodied, almost creamy, and sparkley.
Overall. A tad dry in the finish for me, but very small complaint, my newest favorite beer. Have one in the cellar, waiting for next year.

 431 characters

Photo of hopflyer
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 15329, November 25, 2015.

Pours dark brown with ruby and orangish highlights. Frothy light tan one finger head. Retains pretty well.

Wet, used coffee grounds heavy in the nose at first and then recedes to smooth vanilla undertones. But this screams coffee out of the gates.

And the first sip does just that. A lot of medium roast coffee backed with some semi sweet chocolate and toffee. More sweetness as it warms up and releases some creamy vanilla flavors. Slight coffee bitterness rounds it out, but this is all coffee through and through. I was hoping for something else to develop more than it did, light the vanilla or cocoa or caramel or roastiness.

Lights side of medium body, low to medium carbonation. Not sticky, but maybe a light mouth coating. Fits the porter style vs. a coffee stout.

This is for coffee beer lovers. A lot of medium roasted coffee dominates. The vanilla does show up, but not nearly enough to stand up to the coffee. It's an excellent coffee porter for sure. Maybe too much coffee thigh for my liking.

 1,057 characters

Photo of Shippy
4.39/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bottle. Pours black with a tan head. Smell is great and develops as the beer warms. Started with mostly roasty coffee aromas, followed by vanilla sweetness and some warmth, then more smokiness. Flavor has coffee notes throughout with some light sweetness that border on vanilla. Finish has some dark chocolatey bitterness. The ABV doesn't come through in the flavor. Mouth feel is lighter than I thought, but medium-heavy with low carbonation. Overall an excellent porter that develops nicely as it warms.

Update: 5/2016 - Doing a vertical tasting with 7 and 15 month old bottles. The younger has more of a chocolate, coffee, mocha aroma; while the older hits more of the vanilla and oaky notes. The younger has a little brighter flavor and has a lighter feel. Flavors of coffee and chocolate are prevalent. The older one has more depth of feel, is a little heavier, and the tastes of vanilla and wood come through much more, like in the aroma.

 959 characters

Photo of GreatStoutman
4.51/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This beer has very strong characteristics, even for a novice like me its pretty easy to break down.

Pours black with tan head, aroma hits you as soon as the bottle opens. Coffee and vanilla, as advertised. Full bodied and feels great on the tongue, finishes smooth. Its a little sweet and I might not be finish the entire 6-pack tonight, but thats probably a good thing since its a very, very sneaky 10% abv.

Overall, this is a very sweet and enjoyable dessert type porter. I've had this over the course of a couple months now, and while the vanilla and coffee flavors hang around, they do degrade and start to leave somewhat of a metallic aftertaste.

 653 characters

Photo of PCole
4.56/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle poured fairly aggressively into a pint glass.

Look: Black, mostly opaque. Vague crimson border when held to light. Fluffy caramel head, about 1.5 fingers. Outstanding head retention with moderate lacing.

Smell: Burnt barbecue, coffee, caramel, butterscotch, smoke. Not smelling much vanilla despite the name.

Taste: Roast and malt-forward. Coffee and caramel predominate. Vague indiscriminate sweetness on the back-end. Can't quite put my finger on it but, again, I wouldn't call it vanilla. Lingering bitterness reminds me of the charred bark on a brisket.

Feel: Low-moderate carbonation. A bit thin for what I look for in a porter. Wouldn't ever guess this was 10%; very well-hidden.

Overall: My first Ballast Point offering, and a great one at that. Would definitely revisit this regularly. Bought this as part of a make your own six pack and this may the best of the bunch.

 897 characters

Photo of Extol
4.25/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance - black in color, with a foamy brown head. Smell - mostly coffee and something else I can't put my finger on. Taste - blast of coffee with a subtle vanilla to smooth out the bitterness. Overall - this is good, can't wait to see as it warms a bit.

 257 characters

Photo of THSdrummer
4.77/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Look: Dark, light impervious beer with a thin cafe creme colored head. Leaves behind a little lace.

Smell: Opens up with coffee. Not an overwhelming sense of coffee, but it certainly lands and hits home.

Taste: Opens up with coffee, leading way to a vanilla flavor before disappearing. Great coffee flavor. Feels robust in its flavors.

Feel: Exceptional mouth feel. Really robust beer, and yet it's smooth and creamy. It certainly answers in this regard.

Overall: This is a great beer! I'm so glad I got to pick some up. It's so good, I'm tempted to buy some more. Highly recommended for those who like coffee beers, or want a more robust porter.

Served in a 12oz snifter.

 677 characters

Photo of mesotheliomans
4.07/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Maybe I've been drinking too many stouts lately, but this one wasn't as delicious as I remembered. Certainly solid but flavor seemed to be lacking somewhat. On second thought, what am I talking about. This is a very very good beer, I only hesitate putting it in the "great" category.

 286 characters

Photo of DMarlinJ
4.61/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I love the punch of flavors the hit you. Well balanced Bold coffee and not over the top vanilla, nor too sweet. Looks as it should but I really like the head that was very frothy and thick. Stayed around too, with lacing. Coffee and roasted malts in smell. Went down easy, not sticky in mouth and stayed clean on palette. Overall I am very impressed with Ballast Point's beers. For price of a six pack and the quality I have found a new go to.

 452 characters

Photo of geodonnokepyo
4.16/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Smell: vanilla and roast
Taste: vanilla at the forefront, followed by roasted coffee with a nice bitterness to it
Feel: really smooth, lightly carbed, a little tingly from the hop bitterness, abv is hidden very well.

 216 characters

Photo of Glanzman
4.41/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

12 ounce bottle served in a pint glass.

Pours a jet black color with 1 finger tan head. Nice lacing.

Smells of dark roasted (burnt really, but in a good way) malts and STRONG coffee aroma.

Taste like a bold, dark roasted coffee with beer bitterness from the hops, a bit of chocolate malt and vanilla bean to boot.

If you like dark roasted coffee, this is your beer! Not awesome but well done.

 396 characters

Photo of garymuchow
4.02/5  rDev -7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Doesn't pour thick and heavy like a RIS but it is black as night and a lighter darker head. :0)
Largely coffee aroma with a nice smooth fresh ground quality. Nice but not that complex.
Flavor has more depth. The coffee, of course, and the nice stream of vanilla. The vanilla seems to help bring out a little of the sweetness in both some chocolate and some caramel. Nice. Blends nicely. Quite prominent dryness and bitterness on the finish (tannin maybe, since I don't think this is hugely hopped). Many it hangs around a long, long time. The alcohol is well hidden.
Seems a tad thin and a tad carbonated for a big ass porter. Not a huge hindrance, but there nonetheless.
This is a nice beer. Not with the greats but good and satisfying.

 752 characters

Photo of RJLarse
4.49/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I bought a bottle of Victory at Sea in a bottle shop. Poured in to a pint glass.

Pours an black walnut color, opaque with a frothy toast brown head.

Smell is a sweet chocolate aroma, with a hint of an acerbic bourbon scent.

Taste is a sweet chocolate flavor up front, bitter coffee flavors in the middle, with a sweet chocolate and vanilla finish.

Mouthfeel is full-bodied, like a chocolate shake, with a smooth but bitter finish.

Overall a very tasty coffee porter. Not exactly session-able, but given the aroma, flavor an mouthfeel, I have to agree this is a very good brew.

 583 characters

Photo of SmashAdams
3.75/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The smell is faint nutty coffee. For such a light smell the flavor packs a punch. Smooth coffee and nutty vanilla over a toasty and slightly bitter background. This is a tasty beer for sure. nb

 193 characters

Photo of BradtheGreat7
4.56/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fantastic imperial porter. Big and black with a good head. Coffee bean add to the porter style in a rich dark way. Not harsh coffee bean like some stouts. Very smooth. Vanilla adds some depth to the sweetness and blends well with the infused coffee beans. Out of this world aroma. Flavor is top class as well, but the aroma is maybe the best I've seen in a porter. Great original style from Ballast Point. It's nice to finally get my hands on a Victory at Sea.

 460 characters

Photo of Suds
4.29/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

The appearance is nearly black, with an espresso crema head. The smell is amazing...coffee and vanilla, wood and grain, roasted grain and malt....and a little smoke. Great. The taste is balanced, with a roasted espresso bean bitterness. Full, thick,and luxurious in body. Warmth and slightly boozy. His is a wonderful beer for a cold winter night.

 354 characters

Photo of djuhnk
1.69/5  rDev -61.1%
look: 4 | smell: 1.25 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

Smell- green pepper stale coffee, the stale coffee aromas only got worse as it sat in the glass

Taste- stale coffee overrides everything else, there's quite a bit of roast and bitter coffee going on too, a very subtle sweet maltiness barely shows through.

Feel- feels thin, acrid, roasty, and bitter, not thick and velvety like a 10% porter should be. Not impressed

Overall- very disappointed, this is why coffee beers need to be done very carefully, they get out of control quickly

 485 characters

Photo of myveryown
4.43/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance-Dark brown/black with a tan head that stayed through the beer.

Nose-Coffee and chocolate with some light spice notes from hops

Taste-Very reminiscent of a chocolate covered espresso bean. Great balance between sweet and bitter with coffee being the main note and vanilla chocolate flavors supporting.

Mouthfeel-Creamy smooth and rich

Overall-Very good, too rich to have multiple in one go-but that just spreads out the enjoyment of several bottles. It is a very coffee flavored beer, don't expect anything else!

 526 characters

Photo of Masonz223
4.1/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Look: black with a two finger mocha brown head
Smell: Wow! loads of coffe upfront milk chocolate dark chocolate sweet vanilla
Taste: loads of bitter dark coffe upfront dark chocolate mild vanilla a touch of burnt coal finishes with a bittersweet hopiness
Feel: medium to big body creamy smooth mouth feel
Overall: the smell on this beer is great that taste doesnt follow the nose completely a lot more dark chocolate and bitterness when tasting. Overall a very good beer to sip on.

 482 characters

Photo of phrimplepoot
3.82/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

This is good. But not $13.49 a six pack good. The Big Eye IPA was is so very, very good (and cheaper here in Kansas) I was disappointed with this. The vanilla is subtle as any non-hops/malt flavor in a beer should be. It's quite pleasing. I was just put off with the value.

 273 characters

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.35 out of 5 based on 6,678 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.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • 10 Years of BeerAdvocate Magazine

    We're celebrating 10 years of BA mag with $10 print subscriptions for US residents!