Welcome to BeerAdvocate!

Looking to talk, rate or trade beer? Join today by creating your free account.

Dismiss Notice
Curious about recent updates to the site and app? Check the Announcements forum for updates.
Dismiss Notice
Love Belgian Beer?

Join us Sep 17 in Portland, Maine for Return of the Belgian Beer Fest, featuring hundreds of authentic Belgian beers and Belgian-inspired offerings.

Tickets + more: beeradvocate.com/belgian

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

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
97
world-class
1,347 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial PorterVictory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Ballast Point Brewing Company
California, United States | website

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,347
Ratings:
6,550
Avg:
4.35
pDev:
19.77%
 
 
Wants:
1,070
Gots:
2,074
For Trade:
94
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,347 | Ratings: 6,550
Photo of Kendo
4.54/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from the bottle into a Sam Smith's nonic-style pint glass. Body is black with a 2-finger, tannish/chocolate brown head that leaves behind nice thick rings of lace.

S: Not as strong as I'd expected, but I think that actually bodes well, as I've had plenty of vanilla-added beers that really overdo it and you note it right away in the nose. I get mainly roasty notes - roasted barley malt & coffee beans - with just a touch of vanilla.

T: "Roasty" is the first word that comes to mind. Some coffee, plenty of malt, a modest amount of vanilla and a touch of charcoal/char that provides bitterness. Finishes with a surprisingly solid bitterness that provides a nice offset of all the otherwise malty flavors (as well as the "added" flavors of vanilla and coffee). No trace whatsoever of the 10% ABV.

M: Good for an imperial porter - nearly full-bodied in heft, but with a good creaminess that makes it drink lighter.

O: Tremendous stuff. Nicely balanced and tasty.

 975 characters

Photo of Uncle_Jimmy
4.15/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance- deep brown color with dark brown fine white head. some lacing

Aroma- Vanilla, coffee roasted grain Graham cracker and chocolate

taste- Vanilla, coffee roasty malts. Not sure if the sweetness is from the vanilla or the alcohol. Molasses.

Mouthfeel- Buttery smooth texture, slight warming from the alcohol.

Overall- This one is extremely well done. The only beer I think that has a better use of vanilla is the Stone Smoked Vanilla Porter. The coffee plays seamlessly with the hops, mouthfeel is spot on alcohol is subtle but present. Of all the coffee stouts/porters I have had this week I would say that 1st is Black's Dawn , and tied for second is Victory at Sea and Lagunitas Cappuccino Stout. With Victory at sea maybe edging Lag out just a bit. A tasty Bev indeed

 785 characters

Photo of buschbeer
4.64/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

22 FL. OZ. bottle
Served in a snifter
Enjoy by: 12/10/13

A - It is black as night with an inch or two of mocha head.

S - I get a snoot full of coffee. It basically smells like iced coffee.

T - It starts out with vanilla. Then the taste is rich, flavorful, fresh roasted coffee. It don't get no better!

M - Full, smooth, and creamy.

O - This is just an awesome beer. I love it. The only way I could improve it would be to have it on tap on nitro again. That is perfection.

 478 characters

Photo of djjacobsen
4.57/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark brown, night shade with a one finger tan head, small-carbed head. Nose is of freshly roasted coffee beans. Not much vanilla on the nose. Taste a bit smoky/roasted getting much more of the fresh coffee note that Ballast has added. Vanilla beans show up on the back end of the drink, staying for a while and almost becoming gourmand. Mouthfeel is creamy and enjoyable. It is a bit heavy but is a nice after dinner, dessert beer in the winter. This is more reminiscent if a stout than an imperial porter. Definately a fun change of pace as far as normal smoky porters/stouts go. Pick one up and give it a try. Very much enjoyed by a true hop-head who normally doesn't deviate from IPA land.

 703 characters

Photo of ilikebeer03
4.93/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured a 2012 bottle into a snifter to share with my girlfriend. Right away the nose is amazing. The vanilla and coffee are very forward and delicious smelling. Pour is fairly dark, not quite opaque like a stout. A finger or two worth of head. Leaves a nice lacing. Taste is, obviously, the best part of this beer. It follows the nose well. Everything is blended perfectly. The 10% alcohol is completely masked. I wish this beer wasn't a four hour drive from me. I should have gotten more.

 489 characters

Photo of PsilohsaiBiN
4.87/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle

Appearance: Pours dark, as expected with one finger of khaki head that eventually recedes.

Smell: Roasted malts, coffee, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, dark fruit.

Taste: A perfect blend of coffee, vanilla and roasted malt; that's what this is. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the best porter I've ever had. It's not cloying, and everything is balanced just right. Dangerously drinkable for this abv and the alcohol is hidden well.

Mouthfeel: Not quite as viscous as say a BCBS, but there's ample carbonation for the style and it's got some heaviness to it, but not too much.

Overall: Again, this is the best porter I've ever had. I feel so lucky to have discovered Ballast Point recently. Between this and Sculpin, I've added two heavy hitters to my regular rotation that I wish I'd had sooner and look forward to having much more of.

 857 characters

Photo of Ford
4.79/5  rDev +10.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On tap at Nobi Public House in Webster, Texas.. served in a 9oz snifter.

First.. thanks Ballast Point for finally coming to Texas... howdy and welcome.

I love porters and stouts... I especially love them with big coffee smells and flavors.. I also like vanilla...

This one stands with the best I have had... so good... lots of coffee flavor.. a touch of vanilla is there also.. smells so dang good.

I don't know if this is year round.. the website doesn't show it, so I'm guessing it is seasonal.. I would love to see this year round...it's a great beer.

 558 characters

Photo of mooseo
4.35/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle into snifter.

A - Pitch black with a creamy khaki head.

S - Smoked dark malt, fresh black coffee, hints of vanilla and milk chocolate.

T - A delightful blend of black coffee, vanilla bean, chocolate, and sweet roasted malt. The vanilla becomes most prominent, especially as it warms. Finishes with a slight alcohol burn and light coffee bitterness.

M - Full, thick, creamy. Dry finish, warming alcohol.

O - Delicious. The flavor is bold, balanced, and complex. Dangerously drinkable at 10% ABV.

 512 characters

Photo of Oakenator
4.66/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours very dark - mostly black with a decent head. Head lingers a bit and some lacing. Smell is clearly vanilla and darker malts - prefect mix like chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Taste is sweet with coffee flavors coming through along with a sweetner like toffee or other brown sugar like sweetner. From front to back this is an enjoyable brew.

 346 characters

Photo of JohnnyMc
4.52/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a deep black with 2 fingers of mocha/tan head.

The aroma is dominated by vanilla bean, coffee, roasted malt notes and dark chocolate.

The taste is also mainly vanilla bean and coffee flavors along with notes of roasted malt and bittersweet dark chocolate. A slight hint of caramel towards the back of the beer, but mainly coffee and vanilla. No alcohol taste or smell apparent.

The mouthfeel is rich, creamy and smooth and the body is on the full side of medium. Extremely balanced between sweet and bitter and is very easy to drink.

Overall, this is a great beer that is very easy to drink and it has a lot of flavor and would be great as a desert beer.

 672 characters

Photo of ManOfTheDown
4.53/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Oh my god. Thats all I have to say about this world class beer.... Aroma full of roasted coffee and vanilla, nice lacing, great creamy mouthfeel, with a robust dark heavy stout flavor, notes of vanilla bean and coffee, HEAVY roast flavor... soooo good. I hope to find this in my local TEXAS beer haberdasher for times to come. Maybe my new favorite.

 349 characters

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.

 564 characters

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.

AMAZING; GET THIS TREAT!

 325 characters

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.

 659 characters

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.

 718 characters

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.

 823 characters

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.

 554 characters

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.

 613 characters

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.

 1,156 characters

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.

 447 characters

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.

 912 characters

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.

 980 characters

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

 827 characters

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.

 765 characters

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.

 447 characters

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,347 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.
  • Return of the Belgian Beer Fest

    BeerAdvocate Brings its All-Belgian Fest to Portland, Maine on September 17, 2016. Tickets are on sale now.

    Learn More
  • Get the Mag

    Become a BeerAdvocate magazine print subscriber today.

    Subscribe