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

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BA SCORE
97
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1,346 Reviews
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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:
1,346
Ratings:
6,548
Avg:
4.35
pDev:
19.77%
 
 
Wants:
1,069
Gots:
2,072
For Trade:
94
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,346 | Ratings: 6,548
Photo of Local390
4.56/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Thick, black and rich, poured into a cold glass produced a small 1cm head.
Smell - Sweet chocolate with mild coffee, not overpowering and surprisingly mellow, not overpowering at all.
Taste - Sweet malt taste with very mild coffee and vanilla, very sweet on the back end and very smooth. Taste is very moreish leading to small frequent sips.
Feel - Lighter than the alcohol content and appearance would suggest. Nice mild carbonation which may be the key to the lighter feel of this heavier beer.
Overall - Great beer and a new favorite. I love coffee but hate when it overpowers all other flavors and the balance here is just right for me.

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Photo of bushbeer75
4.29/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12 oz brown bottle

Ballast Point Victory at Sea filled my tulip glass with an opaque very dark brown almost black hue. Atop sat a milkshake like 1-1/2 finger tan that held well. The nose is dominated by coffee and roasted malts. Coffee and roasted malts are the first flavors detected followed by dark fruit, caramel, and chocolate. The coffee and roasted flavor seem to overpower the vanilla as only very little is noted. I was hoping for a stronger vanilla taste to come through. The mouth feel is rather full bodied, thick and creamy with a light bitter finish.

My first brew from Ballast Point and I am a fan. Good representation of the style. Remember, do not drink this Ale too cold as the flavor really comes out when it is warmer.

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Photo of Trevor11
4.5/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I cracked open this porter in the fall of 2015. Very deep and rich vanilla notes that pair well with the strong alcohol presence. Ballast Point does it again.

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Photo of Benjo87
3.32/5  rDev -23.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Look - jet black in the glass with a nice and fluffy 2 finger tan coloured head.

Smell - coffee is the dominant smell here. I'm getting a touch of the vanilla, roasted and malt and slight alcohol.

Taste - coffee coffee coffee. It's quite bitter. I was hoping for a bit more sweetness. Its that type of bitterness you get from an espresso with no sugar. Alcohol slightly present. I was expecting more.

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Photo of Bfarr
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
97 out of 100 based on 1,346 ratings.
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