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: 6,622
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

Photo of HopasaursRex08
4.56/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This is a very nice porter. Being a hop head, I appreciate the amount of beautiful hoppy bitterness. The beer doesn't taste very boozy despite the high abv (which could be dangerous). Probably the second best porter I've ever tried. Founders Porter is slightly better, but cheers to this brew. I buy it whenever I can find it.

 326 characters

Photo of Vogie
3.97/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

A massive porter with all the great flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, and vanilla. The finish is extremely bitter and hoppy. Definitely packs a good punch on those taste buds.

 178 characters

Photo of Drk93TT
4.07/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours pitch black w a nice khaki head. Lacing throughout. The smell is wonderful. Baked cookies, chocolate, maple syrupy-sugar, light vanilla bean. Taste follows wonderfully at first... but has a little too much back-end astringency with the typical roast/chocolate malt... that leads to a lackluster mouthfeel.

Overall its awesome.... A top notch/excellent porter! Glad its here to stay for a heavy porter in the winter.

 434 characters

Photo of HoneyLamb
4.22/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Got it for $12 a six pack of 12 ounce bottles from Meijer in Stephenville, Michigan on 12/12/15. Saw a few other reviews and besides the obvious flavors referenced, I tasted subtle smoke and pepper notes. Outstanding porter. So glad Ballast Point came to Michigan a couple weeks ago.

 286 characters

Photo of oldn00b
3.93/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks about perfect, nice tan head forms and sticks.

Nose is big on coffee and vanilla, exactly as expected.

Something about this doesn't live up for me - I feel like the vanilla and sweet combine for a bit of a cloying effect that gives the flavor a bit of an artificial tinge.

Feel is great, nice viscosity for a porter without being syrupy.

Overall, really great beer, but not sure I like it as much as most.

 417 characters

Photo of gandres
4.6/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured to wine glass, enjoyed with cheese, mixed nuts, crackes
Appearance: dark brown to black appearance in wine glass, deep brownish red color is viewed against the light, minimal head
Aroma: strong green coffee bean smell, not like brewing coffee, vanilla is not noticeable
Taste: Toasted malt taste, with hint of coffee, dominant lingering alcohol afterwards
Overall: Excellent beer, one of the best porters i have had

 436 characters

Photo of StoutHunter
4.3/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I picked up a bottle of Ballast Point's Victory At sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter last week for $2.49 at The Lager Mill. I've been wanting to try this beer for awhile and I'm interested to see how it turns out, so lets see how it goes. 2015 Vintage. Poured from a brown 12oz bottle into a snifter.

A- The label looks good, it's got a nice design, it goes well with the name and it's eye catching. It poured a nice dark black color that didn't let any light come through and it had a little over two fingers worth of fluffy and creamy dark tan head that died down to a thick ring that stayed till the end and it left some nice patchy lacing behind. This is a very nice looking beer, I have no complaints.

S- The aroma starts off with a medium amount of sweetness with the coffee being the first to show up and it imparts a big black coffee aroma which is the aspects that sticks out the most in this beer and it's followed by some roasted and slightly sweet malts showing up in the background. Up next comes just a little bit of fruit yeast and it leads into the vanilla which is nice and noticeable, but not too overpowering. This beer has a very good aroma that lives up to it's name.

T- The taste seems to be pretty similar to the aroma and it starts off with a medium amount of sweetness with the coffee still being the first to show up and it imparts that same big black coffee aspect that it did in the aroma and the roasted malts show up nicely in the background. Up next comes just a slight bit of that fruity yeast which leads into vanilla which is a lighter than it was in the aroma and on the finish there's a slightly higher amount of medium bitterness with with a little bit of noticeable alcohol and lots of coffee flavors coming through in the aftertaste. This is a pretty nice tasting beer, but I wish it had a little less bitterness with some more vanilla flavors.

M- Fairly smooth, a little crisp, a little creamy, the alcohol could be hidden just a little better, on the light side of being full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. The mouthfeel is good, but I wish it was a little smoother.

Overall I thought this was very nice and I thought it was a very nice example of the style, it had all the aspects that I was looking for, but when it came do it I wish it had a little better balance and I think a little more vanilla and a lees booze could have helped that. This beer had ok drinkability, one would be enough for me, it would get to be too much if I have more than that. What I like the most about this beer is the aroma and it's very nice and along with the coffee flavor it was the highlight of this beer. What I like the least about this beer is the mouthfeel and that the vanilla didn't show up more along with a little less booze. I would buy this beer again and I would be interested to see how it ages. I would recommend this beer, especially if you like strong coffee beers. All in all I was happy with this beer, given what I heard about it I thought it might be mind blowing and I think it would have been if the vanilla was a little more present with a little less booze, but it still turned out to be a very nice beer, it's just those aspects hold it back from being world class. It's up there with sculpin as my favorite beer from this brewery and it's a very nice example of the style. Good job guys, this is a pretty tasty beer.

 3,411 characters

Victory At Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter from Ballast Point Brewing Company
4.35 out of 5 based on 6,622 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!