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.
1,360 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: 1,360 | Ratings: 6,623
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.

 898 characters

Photo of Pete_IV
4.8/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

22oz bomber poured into tulip

Pours a nice black with a tan head around an inch high. Smell dark chocolate at first mixed with coffee. Taste starts with a nice roasty flavor with a bitter background. Chocolate sits on the tongue when you let your mouth sit empty a few seconds. Nice and smooth in the mouth.

All around I think a very nice smooth beer with a bit of bite for the price. Would buy again.

 404 characters

Photo of Jmikepow
4.72/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

THe sweet smell of vanilla beans and the wonderful taste of this makes this one of the best porters out there! Try it in a beer float and you will not be disappointed!

 167 characters

Photo of SolomonGrundy
3.67/5  rDev -15.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Go Ducks! Since I'm a CAL alum, I gotta pull for the PAC-10!!!

This beer is crazy already. Pours an inky black, with a dark tan head that basically fills the glass. It's a slowly billowing thing, too. Kinda like watching the Titanic sink in that lame movie starring that girl's boobs. It just keeps expanding until it reaches the pinnacle and then, ever more slowly, crumbles into a finger of marshmallow like beauty. Lacing is coating the galss like toffee. Amazing so far. Some nice, albeit not super robust aromas in here. Some coffee for sure, some vanilla, like a vanilla cappuccino in a way. Some sweetness, but it's really subdued. Something else I can't quite place. Like cinnamon roll...Holy mackerel, the flavor is crazy. It's certainly a porter, and it's certainly robust. The vanilla lends a bizarre character - it makes the middle and finish taste like burned coffee. Or, mayhaps, coffee w/Baileys, but unsweetened...The coffee notes don't really dominate until the end, where it blasts into you a little too forcefully. The finish is super bitter, and I'm not sure they wanted that. It's a mixture of hop bitterness and that coffee flavor. This beer is expensive at $7.49/bomber, 10% ABV so it's a sipping beer. The flavors get less punchy as it warms, but this is still really a beer for Imperial Stout lovers and their ilk...

What I like most: The crazy beautiful (like Kirsten's chest in that movie) pour

What I like least: The overpowering bitterness and price point...

Verdict: Good, albeit not fantastic, and unique. Worth trying if you see it but probably too crazy for most folks to enjoy..

 1,616 characters

Photo of AApparel
4.67/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Aggressively poured into a  snifter. Head poured to a two-fingered thickness with a very creamy head that resembled a coffee with cream. Looked amazing to begin, but subsided quickly. Had good lacing down the side. The color is a deep stark black, even when held to sunlight.

Smell: The aroma is powerful. A friend about 5 feet from me immediately could smell the coffee aroma.  Smells like a rich coffee, with some sweet vanilla notes. The coffee hits first and then vanilla, with roasted chocolate underneath. As the brew warms, it opens so much, it's shocking. 

Taste: First sip is beyond what I even thought it would be. I could taste chocolatey vanilla at the start. Roasty flavor comes throughout, with bitterness at the end from the coffee, but not a heavy alcohol burn, which I like. So glad that the porter taste is throughout and not lost in all the flavors. Definitely get a constantly changing flavor throughout. What lingers is the roast coffee and chocolatey malts.

Mouthfeel: Really creamy, with little to no carbonation. Definitely makes you think your drinking a great coffee. Coats the mouth very well, and does not have an overwhelming alcohol feel or burn. So subtle, I couldn't believe it was 10% abv.

Overall: I had very high hopes for this, and not only did it live up to it, it exceeded it by far. I went out and bought another 6 to enjoy for the coming months. Lately brews have been falling short in expectations. It's good to see this exceed it and surprise me in how complex and wonderful a brew could be. 

 1,554 characters

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

(22oz bottle). Pours thick and black with a nice caramel colored head. Aroma of darkly roasted coffee beans. Burnt coffee flavor with vanilla undercurrent that gets sweeter as it warms. I'm really enjoying this more as it warms because it balances out the heavy roast flavor.

 275 characters

Photo of kiddynamite920
4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap at the Blue Dog pub in Lansdale.

A: Poured a pitch black, wasn't too surprised here. The bar was a bit dark but not much light was going to get through this one anyway. About a fingers worth of tan head slumped down to a thin ring around the glass.

S: Huge roasty aroma, heavy on the coffee and a bit bitter smelling. Had a very nice sweet aroma as well of a sweetened coffee. The vanilla was noticeable but not overwhelming. Very nice. Good sweet malt profile.

T: Chocolate and coffee mingling well, mocha. The coffee tastes like a very dark roast and adds a very mild astringency. Good bitter flavors balanced with some sweet malts. One big, bad porter for sure.

M: Went down very smoothly with no burn from the alcohol content noticed at all. Good full bodied porter.

D: This one falls into the dangerous category. May be hard for some to stomach more than one of these, but I'm a fan of huge dark beers. Very drinkable and glad I had the opportunity to taste this on tap.

 1,000 characters

Photo of CosmoHopHead
4.44/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: poured black as night with almost no head at all.

S: smells wonderful. like yummy vanilla coffee from your favorite coffee shop. BIG aroma!

T: tastes like smells actually. Coffee comes through a little more when drinking but you can still sense the vanilla.

M: silky smooth and velvety. A little heavy with good carbonation.

D: A sipper but drinkable for 10% abv. As it warms up in the glass it tasted even better. Would love to get another bottle for the winter time.

Would definitely buy again and very much recommend.

 530 characters

Photo of taylorhamrick
3.85/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours out a pitch black color, barely letting any light through, maybe some highlights of dark brown. The head is huge, 2-3cm, brown with tight, dense bubbles that continue popping from the top of the head, lslowly leaving a little ring of bubbles around the edge which leaves some lacing on the glass. The smell is primarily coffee, with some vanilla notes. There's also some very strong dry, fruity esters coming to my nose, nice but not quite as robust as I expected. Wow, the tastes comes through in so many ways. Upfront I notice the coffee, not bitter, but full of flavor, also quite a bit of chocolate underneath the coffee. The vanilla shines through with a bit of a the esters, reminds me of dark plums, a little tart and dry with the taste of the flesh as well. I can sense some caramel sweetness underneath the dryness, and they seem to compete, making this one very interesting. I can't really detect the alcohol, but it slowly warms, making the experience better. Really a great tasting beer. The beer is pretty full, but it oscillates between a kind of slick estery feel and a thick syrupy feel, and I'm really not sure how I feel about the dryness once I get quite a way through this. The carbonation is spot on for the style, I'm a fan. The alcohol will slow you down, but the whole drink is enjoyable, and I'd recommend buying it if you see it. I'm kind of torn, I really love the flavors, but something about the dryness kept me from being in love with it.

 1,474 characters

Photo of stxSS07
4.33/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip. Split with lookitsmp

A- Pours a near-black with a 1 finger espresso-colored head that hangs around forever. Leaves great lacing and nice alcohol legs.

S- Sweet vanilla notes and a huge coffee background. Some roasted malts in there as well with a hint of booze.

T- Starts with huge waves of vanilla and coffee followed up by a roasted malt note and a small tinge a booze at the end. Fantastic.

M- Medium bodied with a nice amount of carbonation that lets the flavors linger just long enough.

O- The second best porter I've had behind Black Butte XXI. Amazing depth of flavors made possible by the contrasting vanilla/chocolate/coffee.

 672 characters

Photo of HopHunter19
4.75/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A - dark black beer with nice mocha he ad that leaves nice lacing
S - hardcore coffee, cocoa, vanilla, roasty malts
T - same as aroma, coffee, cocoa, roasted malts, vanilla
M - medium to thick mouthfeel. Alc covered aftertaste bitter coffee/cocoa/roastiness
O - another great coffee beer

 288 characters

Photo of m1ked
4.89/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This one was a gift from my wife on Valentine's day....quite a pleasant surprise!

A- Pitch freaking black. There is absolutely no light getting through this guy. Created a healthy tan head. Looks like a black and tan almost, or like a cafe au lait. Foam eventually fades creating a beautiful sticky lacing along the sides of the glass.

S- A super rich oily coffee, dark chocolate with a barely detectable bitter tartness.

T- Mmmm, an obvious black coffee flavor, coffee bite/bitterness up front. Followed by the rich bittersweet chocolate.

M- Thick, chewy, oily

D- I imagine this warming up the soul by a fireplace, while it snowing outside. Luckily I live in San Diego, so I can drink this one on a 70 degree "winter" day. I love this beer. My favorite coffee porter by far.

 780 characters

Photo of rodkin
3.98/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pour is extremely dark. Color barely comes through at the edges when held directly to the light. Half finger head, which dissipates pretty quickly and leaves a small lacing and some bubbles at the top.

Smell's great. Coffee, vanilla, a little sweet caramel, kind of a chocolate brownie smell.

Taste is really strong on the coffee. The sweet vanilla, caramel, and chocolate smells really don't come through as well. Still tasty, but kind of disappointing.

Mouthfeel is fine. Medium thick, good carb. A little thinner than I'd like.

Overall a decent beer, but there wasn't as much going on as I'd like. There was no freshness date on the bottle, so maybe it was old? Would like to try it again knowing it was fresh to see if the vanilla was more prominent.

 758 characters

Photo of infi
4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2010 release, 22 oz. bomber. Shared with BAs brun and NYManc.

Poured into a Corsendonk tulip.

A beautiful deep dark-brown color with a thin tan head of short retention. Barely translucent throughout. Smell is incredibly full of dark-roasted coffee bean, as it's the first thing to immediately hit the nose. After all that coffee, were some nice milk chocolate and vanilla bean sweetness notes that really amplified the drink experience. There were some small hints of toasted malt throughout too.

Taste was incredibly roasty with the coffee dictating most of this porter's flavors. The coffee beans were nicely roasted with no points of astringency found at all, which is a nice plus. There was a good amount of maltiness to the taste, as well as some smooth cocoa/chocolate aspects. Not much of a vanilla flavor as I hoped it to have, but the beer was substantial as is.

Mouthfeel felt silky all the way through with low amounts of carbonation. Medium in body and weight. Drinkability is incredible on this beer. One bomber was definitely not enough for us three. Very flavorful and smooth-drinking. The 10% ABV isn't found in the taste at all, but it'll keep you at bay in the long run. Another damn delicious gem from BP.

 1,228 characters

Photo of tjkinate
4.36/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

What a great Imperial Porter!

A: Massive, light brown, frothy head that displayed great retention and loads of lacing that completely surrounds the glass above this black bodied brew.

S: Milk chocolate, coffee, subtle hints of vanilla and cocoa nibs. Far from being the most complex of beers, but that doesn't make it any less enjoyable.

T: Cocoa nibs followed by bitter coffee flavors that mix perfectly with the sweet vanilla undertones. Reminded me of drinking hot chocolate on a cold winter evening.

M: Well carbonated, heavy bodied, yet slightly chalky.

O: Fantastic, best beer you can get for the price. Enough said!

 627 characters

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

Appearance: Very dark brown, initially appears black but held towards a light you see it as dark brown. Has a modest medium beige head.

Smell: The coffee is upfront , with the vanilla following. As it warms the vanilla steps more towards the forefront.

Taste: Coffee, vanilla, and some roasted malt notes.
The beer finishes fairly dry with some slight hop and roasted malt notes. The alcohol presence is very subtle for the ABV.

Mouth-feel: Fairly thin bodied for an Imperial Porter with a generous level of carbonation for the style.

Overall: In the past I would have said the Deschutes Imperial Black Buttes were my favorite for the style, but I feel I would choose this over the latest incarnation (XXIII). Very tasty porter.

 734 characters

Photo of beerandcycling88
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber into a snifter

A Pours a dark brown that borders on black. Topped off with a mocha head.

S A bit of roast and coffee

T Very strong vanilla notes that are followed with some coffee and a bit of roast. Tastes like some sort of sweet coffee drink from Starbucks or something with the vanilla masking much of the coffee.

M Decent body about right for a porter I suppose.

Overall this is quite an enjoyable beer that I would gladly pick up again.

 471 characters

Photo of Ranz
4.84/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A: Obsidian-black, this porter has it going on. In my stemless wine glass, it didn't create too much head, but the bubbles cling to the sides like the skeleton clutching its heart on the bottle. Speaking of which: great design.

S: Vanilla and Guatemalan coffee beans, both roasted, hit first. There's a slight alcohol pungency here, too. Spicy malt is just present enough as well. This thing is a winner.

T: My God this thing is fantastic. The roasted malt and coffee beans invite the alcohol singe which follows, and it ends so smoothly with the vanilla bean and caramel profile. If I didn't read the label, I would this this were a stout, maybe even imperial.

M: Creamy, lush, decadent; the syrupy quality still has some nice carbonation to balance it out.

O: It's so good that I can't decide to sip and enjoy or pound it and go buy another. I will certainly make another trip to the store and buy a few for storage. This has easily placed itself as a new all-time favorite.

 984 characters

Photo of ptykozoon
3.29/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours blackish, strong frothy head, sticky lacing, red hues in the light, pretty.

Sweet rich coffee, not much else.

Lots of luscious coffee, not gonna lie - can't find much of any vanilla. Detecting a bit of hops.

Lots of heat and sharp carbonation. Smooth density contrasts the alcohol bite and carbonation AND coffee bitterness too much. Could use some time in the cellar.

Not a bad beer, great coffee quality, rich and creamy.

 434 characters

Photo of vic21234
4.55/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber poured into a snifter. Enjoy by date on the bottle reads 12/20/13.

A- Pours a very dark brown/ black with some very slight red hues if held to the light. A small amount of off white head quickly fades to the sides of the glass. Some lacing is noted too.

S- Awesome smelling beer. Tons of coffee notes immediately upon popping the cap. The coffee dominates the aroma and nothing more is really noted.

T- Starts off smooth with notes of vanilla and chocolate. Then comes the huge coffee flavor which takes over the rest of the taste. A heavy coffee bitterness is at the back of each taste.

M- Smooth, medium bodied, coffee forward, bitter aftertaste.

This is a great Porter, by far the best I've had. The coffee notes are fantastic. I'm glad BP is distributing to Illinois now.

 797 characters

Photo of Rizalini
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - pours a very deep, dark black color. No light can be seen thru this one. Nice creamy 2 finger, light brown head that slowly disipates leaving a beautiful lacing.

S - great vanilla aroma, big and rich! Can't wait to taste this one

T - the coffee really comes thru on the front, and the vanilla really rounds this one out very nicely. maybe even some slight chocolate note as well. a little alcohol taste in the end, but not overpowering.

M - medium-heavy mouthfeel. perfect amount of carbonation.

D - extremely drinkable for 10%! Im actually kinda glad I have this bomber to myself, so I can have 2 glasses.

 614 characters

Photo of Totalpackage411
4.45/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

What a great beer. As good as any porter I've had. A nice hint of vanilla with a rich coffee flavor. Highly recommend for anyone who likes porters or stouts.

 159 characters

Photo of r0nyn
4.18/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into my Otter Creek nonic.

Pours big, dark and thick with a half-inch tan head that recedes slowly. There's a ton of sticky, stringy lacing that just completely coats the inside of the glass. Really a rather pretty beer. Smell is full of coffee beans, coffee beans, coffee beans. You've really got to whiff it good to detect the other nuanced scents in there. After a few deep sniffs, I get the titular vanilla along with some dark chocolate, berries and caramel.. Definitely one of the more complex-smelling beers I've ever sampled.

I thought I knew what to expect tastewise, but this beer totally surprises me. Tons of roasted malts dominate the flavor profile, along with the substantial coffee character. Not too much astringency. Can't really detect the vanilla, which is slightly disappointing, but not dealbreaking. There are notes of sweet, dark and bitter chocolate towards the end with maybe just a hint of alcohol warmth. Mouthfeel is really quite nice, with a medium body and smooth finish. Carbonation is pretty non-existent. Not really chewy, but has a nice amount of oomph that makes the drinking experience quite pleasant.

Drinkability is great with this beer. It looks great, smells and tastes very good and goes down easy. If you love coffee, you'll love this beer, because fresh, it tastes almost like an iced coffee. You'll just need to be careful, because unlike an iced coffee, this porter carries a very well-hidden 10% ABV that can be very dangerous. On the whole, a great beer to crack open with a few friends.

 1,559 characters

Photo of zshaft
4.58/5  rDev +5.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

this beer was a little easier for me to review. pours black with no light able to penetrate glass. minimal head but good lacing as beer gets consumed. smells like coffee and vanilla. tastes the same. great mouthfeel maybe slightly less thick than a stout would be. this is one great porter. could be a stout far as I am concerned. one of the best out there imo. seek and consume! beware the 10 percent. can't taste it.

 431 characters

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

Poured from a 22oz bomber into a Duvel tulip glass. Bottle enjoy by date of December 2013. Poured deep brown with a thick fluffy brown head. Big nose of vanilla. Coffee aromas after agitation. Sweet taste with good vanilla flavor. Bitter finish. Smooth, creamy mouthfeel. No alcohol burn whatsoever. Overall I really enjoyed this beer and will revisit. Would be a good one to lay down to see how it ages.

 404 characters

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.35 out of 5 based on 6,623 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!