Willy Vanilly | Alpine Beer Company

59 Reviews
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Willy VanillyWilly Vanilly

Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
The base for this beer is Willy Wheat. They add Vanilla to the tanks during aging. Try mixing it with Alpine's Captain Stout for a Captain & Vanille.
Draft availability only.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 06-21-2003

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Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 276
Photo of Bitterbill
3.78/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Best by July 17th. Hazy orange, an " of foam. Vanilla, wheat, light citrus smell. Big vanilla taste, sweet notes from the vanilla and maybe honey. Really low level of bitterness. Nice use of vanilla, me thinks.

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Photo of ocelot2500
3.27/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Pours a slightly hazy golden color with a tight, white head that leaves little bits of lacing.

Smells of vanilla mostly with some wheat underneath.

Tastes of the vanilla along with some pale malt and wheat. Vanilla leads off before pale malt grain adds in. Good bit of sweetness. Wheat adds towards the end before a fairly clean finish.

Mouthfeel is medium with a smooth amount of carbonation.

Overall, this is a one note beer, but it isn't bad by any means.

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Photo of cbutova
3.39/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

A- 12oz bottle poured into a chalice with a clarified medium golden body and a white cap. The head is puffy and foamy in consisntency ascending to about two inches high. Good head retention as a small ring remains leaving both webs and sheets of lace.

S- Pure vanilla off the top with a mostly authentic feel to it. The backdrop is a fairly plain wheat ale with a slight citrus touch and pale cracked whole grains coming to mind. Somehow the vanilla feels like it just needs a bit more to work with than the graininess.

T- Again fairly straightforward with a large vanilla bean presence overshadowing a solid golden wheat ale base. The vanilla just feels alone and it really shows you how vanilla tastes without something to play off of and compliment (like in most desserts). Pale cereal grain feel, slight pale fruits, faint citrus and a hint of bread. Nilla Wafers is probably what is most similar to. The vanilla fades off a bit later one allowing more pale fruits to upset the balance of the brew.

MF- A light to medium body with a texture between foamy and puffy. A rich creaminess might work better here. Carbonation is at a medium level and it ends with a light bitternses lingering with the vanilla; an apparent slickness. Overall comes off just a bit watery.

Vanilla is one of the best things in the culinary world. This beer is almost like a liquid Nilla Wafer and it starts off like a Pumpkin ale tricking your mind but the spices never arrive; perhaps a good thing to be honest. That being said, vanilla is rarely a solo act and there is a reason why: it works so much better in tandem with other ingredients (cocoa, cream, etc). A good overall beer but it just kind of leaves you wanting a little bit more with the vanilla.

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Photo of BB1313
3.69/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Best by 5/23/17. 12oz bottle poured into a tulip. Pours a light golden with nice clarity; fluffy eggshell white head that falls leaving nice retention and lacing. The aromas have lots of wheat notes along with some citrus. Some orange peel in the mix. The vanilla is definitely there without dominating. The flavors follow the nose. More wheat and citrus with some vanilla in the finish. The vanilla is balanced and doesn't dominate or diminish everything else that's going on. It's ultimately pretty clean and refreshing. Alcohol goes unnoticed. Mouthfeel is light with moderate carbonation. It's fluffy, smooth and easy to drink.

This is a solid pale wheat ale. They actually did a good job of letting the vanilla shine while remaining balanced. They stay true to style with a twist.

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Photo of archyquaffer
3.62/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a 12 ounce stubby into a small sampling glass. A oderate pour produces a half inch snowy white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The beer is a slightly hazy pale straw color, with light carbonation.

The aroma is rather bland with a slight vegetal quality, with the vanilla barely detectable. The vanilla is much more apparent in the flavor, and avoids becoming overbearing but does boost the sweet flavor. The finish is crisp with a pretty clean aftertaste, with just a hint of lingering vanilla.

I think this is a good option for the winter season for those who prefer a lighter body or have had their fill of heavy holiday beers but still want a spicy treat. This bottle was purchased for $2.29 at Front Street Market in Butte, Montana.

3.5 3.25 3.75 3.75 3.75

Reviewed 12-29-16

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Photo of BeerDawgs
3.4/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A 12oz bottle with a drink by date of 1.20.17

L - Straw yellow, with 1/2 a finger of white head and no lacing

S -Big notes of vanilla, and slight wheat aroma

T - Vanilla all the way through, with a slight trace of some bitter hops

F - Medium body and carbonation

O - A decent light wheat beer, probably better in the summer time

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Photo of Spikester
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Clear pale gold with one finger of white head that vanishes quickly. No lace.
Smell is bready malts with a hint of vanilla.
Taste is malts vanilla and hops.
Mouthfeel is light and well carbonated. Finish is ultra light and bitter sweet.
Overall a novelty beer that would be good in the summer. High end lawnmower beer.

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Photo of Tsar_Riga
3.65/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

A - Clear golden yellow body, thin white head, no lacing.

S - Malts, grains, sweet vanilla notes.

T - A pretty standard pale wheat, with vanilla notes that heighten the sweetness. Mild bitterness in the close.

M - Thin, a bit of lingering dryness in the close.

O - Decently crafted but not my thing.

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Photo of chinchill
3.57/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

12 fl. oz. bottle in a goblet on 19 November, 2016.

The pour is a slightly hazy golden color with a short, weak head. Minimal lacing.

Aroma: vanilla, light bread and spicy hops.
Flavor: lots of vanilla, perhaps too much, along with a faint toasted malt note and light, spicy hops.

Medium body.

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Photo of AndrewMichael
3.5/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured in a pint glass. Golden color, sweet aroma and flavors. I enjoy the taste of vanilla, so that is why I really enjoyed this beer and the way vanilla shined through. A crisp, refreshing American pale wheat ale.

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Photo of ordybill
4.6/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a pint glass. The appearance is a bright golden orange color with a small white head. The aroma is made up of vanilla, wheat, spice and some bread. The taste follows the nose. this is an outstanding beer.

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Photo of zshaft
3.73/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

pours nice hazy light orange. minimal head. nose is pretty tart with lemons and wheat noticeable. taste is rather interesting. up front I seem to get a sour like character with me thinking this is Gonna be a sour. not good for me. but then this beer takes an interesting twist wryly changing over to light orange and hops followed by transition to vanilla like flavors. subtle vanilla cleans this up and the coriander and sour from the start seems long gone. overall this beer is a nice refreshing beer changing from summer to fall with the flavors. the light vanilla at the end is wonderful but you have to get through the rest to get there. nice beer. worth a sixer.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.67/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured a cloudy yellow body with massive head that died slow and left some lace patches around glass. The two things I pick up in the aroma are vanilla and some yeast/wheat twang. The vanilla and wheat aspects give the beer a fluffy, vanilla feel and then this grassy bitterness comes in that leads to an unbalanced beer and has a not at all flattering finish.

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Photo of Tone
3.41/5  rDev -8.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy, gold color. One inch head of a white color. Decent retention and slight lacing. Smells of slight hops, slight vanilla, pale malt, hint of yeast, and a hint of wheat. Fits the style of an American Pale Wheat Ale. Mouth feel is smooth and clean, with an average carbonation level. Tastes of vanilla, slight wheat, hint of hop, and a hint of pale malt. Overall, weak appearance, decent aroma, good feel, and decent body.

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.54/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Crisp, refreshing and mellowly spiced with soothing vanilla- the Alpine brewers bring a flavor of fall to the Southern California palate with the familiar pale wheat beer that's designed to beat the heat, but this time with an autumn smoothness and lushness.

Willy Vanilly pours the expected pale straw color with a short white froth. Bold vanilla, whipping cream and dough rolls through the nose and lands at a taste of cereal, grain and husky pilsner malt. Sweetness is heightened due to the impressions of vanilla milkshake that the spice provides.

The middle is more balanced as the palate acclimates to the silky smooth vanilla and its sweet cream impressions start to sway. The taste of grain brings a sense of whole-wheat bread, husk and a raw cereal quality. Briefly citrusy, grassy and sprucy, the final taste is classic blonde ale with a hint of wheat and cream.

Finishing with a medium-light body and a crisp mineral graininess- the beer's pilsneresque character begins to show. Light grain derived astringency plays into a finish of lemongrass, fresh-cut grass, and an herbal leafiness akin to sassafras tea.

 1,123 characters

Photo of TheSixthRing
3.59/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

Tasting notes form Aug 12th, 2016
Had on-tap @ Alley Katz in Citrus Heights, CA

Appearance - The brew is hazy and pale straw yellow, served up in a pint with a white, finger width head. Fair retention, fading to a mostly barren surface. Fair lacing consisting of broken webbing.

Smell - Lots of wheat on the nose. Mild citrus. Faint vanilla.

Taste - Follows the nose. Mellow flavor profile comprised mostly of wheat, with lesser vanilla and a touch of citrus and then a bit of hop spice in the finish.

Mouthfeel - Very light in body with moderate carbonation. Smooth drinker with a crisp, resfreshing finish. The strong point of the beer.

Overall - A fair brew. Wheat and vanilla as promised, but the lack of strength in flavor simply doesn't work well for me.

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Photo of DrinkThemAll
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

I just wanted to note, that this beer totally smells, and taste like Lucky Charms cereal. It must be the willy wheat and vanilla combination. You can definetly smell some marshmallow and vanilla up front, along with the wheat. Very drinkable beer, but don't know how 6 would go down. Very light and session like. Not sure if I would reviset this one for the sole purpose of drinking, but with a friend who hasn't had it maybe. Alpine makes solid brews all around, this by no means is a bad beer, just a little different.

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Photo of Im4jojo
4.82/5  rDev +29.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Nice, warm, and toasty vanilla aroma. Although the taste was a bit syrupy and coated the tongue after it was swallowed. I was reminded of a good bourbon, and I drank it slowly from a glass. The color was a nice, light gold, with little retention. In fact, I think the glass was as clean as before I poured the beer into it. Would drink again, and maybe even with a nice stack of fluffy french toast.

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Photo of puboflyons
3.07/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

From the 12 fl. oz. bottle. Sampled on August 23, 2016.

The pour is a slightly hazy yellow with almost no head.

The aroma brings out a vibrant vanilla ester as expected considering what this is. I also get a little citrus and lemon spritzer character along with a muted toasted malt note.

Light body.

But the vanilla is far to prominent in the taste and it overtakes everything else that this beer has to offer. It finishes clean though.

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Photo of Todd
3.66/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Vanilla, Marshmallow, Bready, Vanilla

Golden straw in color with a slight haze and a fluffy white head. Deep notes of vanilla permeate the aroma. Creamy, surprisingly medium-bodied with a bit of chew. Crisp underneath with soft vanilla notes and a sugary marshmallow suggestion merge with some bready sweetness and wheat character. A mild bitterness provides balance while subtle citrus undertones bring things together. Residual vanilla in the end is accompanied by an oily feel. Willy Vanilly works, but drink it cold since the vanilla takes over as the beer warms and becomes a bit artificial.

As reviewed in BeerAdvocate magazine #115 (August 2016).

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Photo of Squire123
3.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Appearance is light hazy yellow with dense white cap and decent lacing, both of which soon dissipate.

Aroma is like a vanilla cookie, the inexpensive ones the college kids get from the dollar store. A pleasant scent but not especially beery. Underneath the vanilla I detect a bit of spice but not the normal hop spiciness, rather something bakery like. Maybe that's the idea.

Taste just like it smells, which is to say pleasantly vanilla waferish. It really drinks like a liquid cookie. There is malt present but I think my bakery analogy covers it. Yet the vanilla doesn't overpower, there's no cloying sweetness, and the total flavor is well balanced. Vanilla remains all through and into the aftertaste, which is brief.

Texture is medium. Appearances notwithstanding this actually has a bit of heft to it.

Overall this is a plus. It's not a simple vanilla flavored malt beverage, rather a well crafted wheat brew with vanilla. More nuanced than one suspects at first whif. According to the brewer this is their basic Willy brand wheat ale, itself a light bodied version of the genre, with vanilla added. A bit more alcohol (Willy is 4.9, this is 5.5) but I don't think they changed the hop level (4 IBU, yes, I said four) because the only thing I could find resembling hops was a hint of spice in the aroma. A plain vanilla contender tossed in the arena with a bunch of fruity wheat competitors this one holds it's own and doesn't get trampled.

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Photo of superspak
3.75/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, best before 12/24/2016. Pours fairly hazy/cloudy golden yellow color with a 1-2 finger fairly dense and fluffy white head with solid retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Light spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Good appearance. Aromas of vanilla, wheat, cracker, and biscuit; with lighter notes of lemon, apple, banana, clove, and yeast earthiness. Nice and pleasant aromas with good balance of vanilla, bready malt, and light fruity/spicy yeast notes; with solid strength. Taste of big vanilla, wheat, cracker, and biscuit; with lighter notes of lemon, apple, banana, clove, and yeast earthiness. Light bitterness/yeast spiciness on the finish; with lingering notes of vanilla, wheat, cracker, biscuit, light banana/clove, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Very nice robustness and balance of vanilla, bready malt, and light fruity/spicy yeast flavors; with a great malt/bitter/spiciness balance, and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and light-medium body; with a very smooth and moderately creamy/grainy mouthfeel that is nice. Zero warming alcohol as expected of 5.5%. Overall this is a very good pale wheat ale. All around good robustness and balance of vanilla, bready malt, and light fruity/spicy yeast flavors; very smooth and refreshing to drink. A very enjoyable offering.

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Photo of FriedSlug
3.61/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pale gold brew with a white head that fades quickly while leaving no trace. The aroma is wheat toast, sweet malt and vanilla. The taste is spicy wheat beer and sweet vanilla with a slight tanginess. The beer is light but has almost no carbonation which takes a lot away from the beer. The taste is ok but the rest of the beer seems to miss the mark of a wheat ale.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.2/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a bright golden orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. Slight finger of white head that fades fairly quick.

Smell: A bready and fairly sweet wheat driven aroma with a scent of vanilla, wheat, and spice. Good upfront scent of vanilla. Belgian yeast with a scent of pepper, coriander, and clove. Malt scent of wheat, grains, biscuit, and cracker. A pretty solid aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a bready and sweet wheat driven taste with notes of vanilla, wheat, and spice. Upfront presence of vanilla. Belgian yeast with notes of pepper, clove, and coriander. Bready malt notes of wheat, cracker, grains, and biscuit. A pretty nice taste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied with a moderate amount of carbonation. Creamy, slick, and smooth.

Overall: A pretty solid twist on a Wheat ale. Nice mix of vanilla and wheat notes.

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Photo of smakawhat
4.12/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from the bottle into a wheat ale glass.

Pale lemon body, with a bit of clarity and some nice amounts of carbonation, just a touch of haze and green color as well. Head is a bit fizzy, bright white, making maybe two fingers and dissolving pretty quickly. Leaves behind a thin topped puck, and a light white collar.

Definitely got a vanilla action going on. Nice mix with the malt as there is a sweet biscuit and even a dry crackery aroma to go along with it too. Definitely got that light digestive cookie thing going on here which is kind of neat. Solid and inviting.

Palate hits with a lot of fun. Crisp slightly and bubbly accenting lots of biscuit and cracker flavors on first sip. Lots of washing vanilla all over the palate making for nice cookies and almost cream flavor. A bit gaseous on the finish unexpectedly as well, and leaves behind a simple malt presence for going classic density.

A real fun brew, and what a good vanilla beer more importantly should taste like.

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Willy Vanilly from Alpine Beer Company
3.72 out of 5 based on 276 ratings.
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