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

Willy Vanilly | Alpine Beer Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
85
very good
35 Reviews
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Willy VanillyWilly Vanilly
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States | website

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
35
Ratings:
183
Avg:
3.75
pDev:
25.6%
 
 
Wants:
8
Gots:
13
For Trade:
1
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 183
Photo of nathanmiller
4.79/5  rDev +27.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.75

From look and feel, this is a pretty good wheat beer, basically as one would expect from a brewery with the pedigree that Alpine has. The head retention is fair, the color is hazy and clean, all in all, it's almost a textbook APWA - that is, in look and feel.

Taste and Aroma, however, are the outliers. The taste is pure vanilla (no shock based on the name) but not cloying or hot as might be expected. The aroma reminds me of baking cookies as a child.

Overall, this beer is wonderful.

 489 characters

Photo of FosterJM
4.21/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

264th review on BA
Draft to pint

On tap @ Alpine

App- A standard wheat color with some haze to it and some lighter yellow highlights. A pretty big two finger head on this one.

Smell- Light all the way around. Wheat is most prevalant but the vanilla will pick up on a huge whiff.

Taste- I can't deny I am a sucker for vanilla. This was pretty heavy vanilla and I was diggin on it. Nice wheat base on which it played from but dominant character was the vanilla.

Mouth- A bit thin with wasn't a huge suprise. The carbonation level was fairly high on this one.

Drink- I could drink this all day. It had a big punch of flavor and was super soft and not at all filling.

 669 characters

Photo of smakawhat
4.12/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

 996 characters

Photo of brew3crew
4.08/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap the the alpine brewery

A-straw yellow with white whispy head that quickly disapates

S-almost a syrupy vanilla. Thank goodness it tastes better than the smell

T-light body and very smooth. Sooo much vanilla. Little bit of wheat try to balance it out but fails

-medium body and smooth

O- if you like vanilla then this is for you. If not, better luck next time!

 370 characters

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.01/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at the Alpine brewpub. Cloudy yellow appearance, thin white head.

Tons of vanilla in the nose, man this is heavy. Possibly the most vanilla I've ever smelled in a beer.

Light wheat smoothness accompanied by the heavy dose of vanilla. Light orange in the mouthfeel. Pretty mild malt bill. The heavy vanilla probably obscures its minimalism.
Carbonation is probably a little lower than most wheat beers.

I think you really have to be a vanilla fan to be into this beer. I like vanilla, but I can't see drinking this in mass quantities like the hoppy offerings from Alpine. Its a soft wheat and massive vanilla bomb. I liked it, a vast improvement over the non vanilla willy.

 685 characters

Photo of DrDemento456
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really liked this beer the soft wheat taste really compliments the vanilla body which was constant but not strong. May want to try it again but was raped by the single price of $4.50 so if I can find a reasonable six pack I would drink it again.

 247 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Alpine

A: The pour is a clear golden color with a fluffy white head.

S: The nose is sweet and has a strong vanilla presence. I still am able to pick up some of the wheat as well, which I was a bit surprised by.

T: While the vanilla flavor is pronounced, it is not overwhelming (like I feared it might be). The beer is definitely sweet, but not cloying. As with the nose, I was amazed by how much "beer" flavor was still there. It was almost reminiscent of a Nilla Wafer cookie.

M: The body is medium with a bit of crispness and a moderate level of carbonation.

D: I was expecting this to be just bad, but it was actually quite a nice balance of malt and sweet vanilla flavors. I don't think I'd suck down a growler, but a glass was nice.

 752 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Yellow, plenty of chillz haze or whatever you call it. Smacks heavy of vanilla both in the aroma and taste. Really mild wheat presence to amplify the amount of vanilla ratio wise. Mildly carbonated. Just a vanilla bomb without much subtlety. I dig it, it does improve the base.

 282 characters

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

this is really good, its the right kind of sweet because the vanilla is real authentic, it makes this the new standard for pale vanilla beers in my mind. wheaty base, i have not had the base beer plain yet, but this is killer, and i couldnt imagine it without the vanilla after this one. a little haze to a pale yellow beer with an inch of white head served in a pint glass. it doesnt look anything out of the ordinary. the nose is sweet vanilla cream, supported by some nice cerealy wheat structure. in the taste the vanilla really does take over the beer, but its genuine, like whole beans, the difference between french vanilla ice cream with the specks and plain vanilla without them. just way better. medium body, some residual sugar but the flavorless yeast dries this up pretty well. i found it real easy down, and even refreshing still for something like this. i even was close to ordering a second one, which is unheard of for me int his style. way better than any of its peers in the vanilla cream or vanilla wheat categories. an outstanding offering from alpine, a little departure from their hoppy wheelhouse, but i like it a whole lot. not much could be improved upon here, this rules.

 1,198 characters

Photo of Dragginballs76
3.93/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours - Clear golden color decent white head good lacing.

Smell - Vanilla, wheat, sweet malts, little bit of honey.

Taste - The vanilla comes out much more in the taste than the smell, wheat, reminds me of a sweet cereal, very smooth.

Feel - Lighter body, great feel, good carbonation and very smooth.

Overall - I am not a big fan of wheat beers but I really like this one, great flavor.

 391 characters

Photo of kmcnair
3.92/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a keg of this to keep in my kegerator as something light and drinkable to offer my guests who don't enjoy the hoppy or stronger styles that I typically drink. It turned out to be a very good choice. Also, this pairs really well with cheesecake!

Pours a clean straw color and makes a solid white head that fades into a bubbled ring around the surface of the vanilla infused ale. The aroma has a rather pleasant sweet wheat tone and quite a bit of vanilla. Nice clean wheat flavor with a hint of sweetness and a very balanced blend of vanilla. The flavor instantly reminds me of those cheap rectangular vanilla waffle/wafer cookies that you probably had as a kid. Soft on the palate with a clean finish. Quite drinkable and rather good for an experimental beer, definitely worth a try if you have the chance.

 821 characters

Photo of avalon07
3.9/5  rDev +4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: Poured from a bottle to a weizen glass. Had a straw-gold color and a slightly hazy consistency. There was an inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Lacing is a bit spotty.

S: A nice aroma of a lot of vanilla and a lot of wheat, but not much else. Still, very pleasant.

T: Tasted of a ton of vanilla, a good shot of wheat, a little maltiness, some citrus (lemon), a creamy quality, a little honey, and some spices mingled in. The flavor here is definitely dominated by the vanilla and wheat, but the other ingredients help to balance it out. I thought it was a bit thin in the finish, but it seemed to be better as it went along.

F: A fair amount of carbonation with a smooth finish. Light-bodied.

O: Willy Vanilly is a solid APWA, light, refreshing and in general, well made.

 784 characters

Photo of SpeedwayJim
3.89/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the brewery. Poured into a pint glass.

A: Served with no head. Beer is a cloudy lemon that reveals ample carbonation. Little to no lacing with very little stick.

S: Nose is simple and sweet but very pleasant. Vanilla, wheat, citrus, and lemon with the first aroma coming on very strong and lasting through the entire glass.

T: Vanilla is big and creamy at the outset. Lemon, wheat sweetness lasts to the end. Cane sugar in the middle and slightly bready at the finish. Little to no aftertaste.

M: Light bodied and highly carbonated. Lively, abrasive, and coarse in the mouth. The same going down. Finish is slight messy with little aftertaste.

D: Very drinkable and an appreciable twist on a very familiar style. Vanilla is apparent here and Alpine makes it clear that they didn't just dabble with this flavor infusion. Definitely worth a try if you're in the area.

 885 characters

Photo of Gusler
3.84/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Draught @ Alpine Brewery
The beer pours a slightly hazy gold, the head white and creamy with the lace a thin sheet to seal of the glass. Nose is rich in sweet vanilla; fresh, very pleasing, start is quite sweet, nicely malted and the top light. Fair to middling carbonation, lightly hopped and the sweet vanilla last to the end of the aftertaste. A nice beer, not something I’d drink all the time, but something nice at the end of a long day when you want something light.

 474 characters

Photo of Kegatron
3.8/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap @ the brewery on 11/11/09.

Pours a clear gold, with a soft creamy covering of brite-white head. This stays rich on the edges, leaving some moderate foamy lacing behind. The aroma is floral hops and wheat, with a pronounced (yet not overdone) vanilla character, which gives this an agreeable creamy sweetness in the nose. Pretty cut & dry.

The taste matches this, with a nice overall sweet mix of toasted wheat, citrus notes, and then that vanilla, which creeps across the palate with a soft flush. Some light hop activity drys out the finish. Quite an easy and pleasant profile. The mouthfeel is light bodied, with a bit of a firm prickle to the proceedings but this is mostly very easy drinking.

This wasn't bad at all. Luckily the vanilla flavor here lacked a real artificial feel to it, which I think helped it from wearing on the palate and keeping this quite drinkable. Tasty stuff.

 900 characters

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.77/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bottle into a shaker pint, the beer is a hazy, pale, straw yellow coloring with a steady flow of carbonation going through the body, feeding a low profile, bubbly, clingy, white head. Aromas of toasted grains, with hints of lemon, and hints of sweet vanilla. Flavors are heavier on the vanilla than the aromas were, and this is a creamy, rich blast of vanilla, all on a toasted grain backbone, with some subtle bready and citrus highlights. Smooth bodied, with a creamy vanilla and sugary aftertaste. Light, smooth, slightly effervesced finish, with a subtle vanilla linger.

 588 characters

Photo of dmsohyea
3.76/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Alpine brewpub, served in a taster glass.

A - Straw yellow with a bit of murk inside the glass. Very little head with no retention and no lacing.

S - Vanilla, orange peel, honey. The vanilla is very strong on the nose. Quite pleasant.

T - Taste follows the nose exactly. Tons of vanilla and orange flavors. For how bad the Willy was, this is great! I didn't have high hopes considering how much I didn't like the Willy, but with this addition of vanilla, there is a huge complexity added that makes a bland beer taste much better.

M - still watery like the normal Willy. Not terrible but nothing to write home about.

O - Since the Willy set the bar so low for me, I was very impressed. The flavor is there and it's still very drinkable.

 751 characters

Photo of HattedClassic
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

The beer pours a nice fuzzy white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The beer itself is a nice gold color that is pretty pleasant to look at.

The smell is nice. It has a nice and strong vanilla note with a bit of wheat creaminess cut by a bitter floral hop note.

The taste is pretty good. It has a strong vanilla bean note that mixes well with the wheat but odd with the bitter hop note.

The feel is a light body with a bit more weight than you would expect. The feel is smooth with some nice biting carbonation.

Overall, I enjoyed this beer because of the vanilla notes despite the hop note constantly interrupting it. It's a bit of an awkward contrast but the strong vanilla wins out and makes it a decent beer to have or, at least, worth trying.

 754 characters

Photo of TheLongBeachBum
3.75/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A recent visit to the Alpine Beer Company with fellow BA’s xlperro and EyeChartBrew, on 12th July 2003, gave me the opportunity to try several of the ABC beers that are not yet bottled (though this may alter). They are currently available to buy here in 5, or 15.5, Gallon Kegs, or just for filling up an ABC Growler which you can purchase for $5 and fill for $7.

ABC Name: Willy Vanilly.
ABC Description: Willy beer conditioned with Vanilla beans.
Listed Strength: 4.9%ABV.

Presentation: 4oz Sampler for 50¢.

Appearance: Light brown in appearance, had a very light haze to it.

Nose: Vanilla beans are the most obvious characteristic of the nose, but they are in no way overpowering. They merge well with the wheat aspects of the original Willy Beer.

Taste: Light wheat beer intermingled with Vanilla Beans that balance well, but it is rather one dimensional at times. However, the trick is getting the Vanilla to balance the tastes of the host Willy beer, which in itself is quite an achievement. It does have a lovely appealing character.

Mouthfeel: Average, given its relatively low strength, but the mouthfeel is clean, crisp and nicely structured.

Drinkability: Given the fact that the Vanilla was not over powering, this beer had the Drinkability of the Willy beer, mixed with the additional enticing flavors of the Vanilla Bean. At 4.9%ABV, it was easily imbibed without leaving any annoying lingering flavors.

Overall: The fourth and last of my ABC samples, I had left the Willy Vanilly until last, just in case they had overloaded the beer, so I would avoid overloading my palate with the bean taste. No such fear! All of my crappy English jokes about the band “Milli Vanilli” were understood but failed to raise a smile, but this beer most certainly did. It might be perceived as an experimental beer, or even a variant of an existing base beer, but it works! And it works extremely well. Well worth a try.

 1,948 characters

Photo of Buck89
3.74/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Mildly hazy golden straw color. Almost nonexistent head with no retention. Aroma is wheat, bread, cracker, and a hint of vanilla. Much more vanilla on the taste - not overdone but the main player. Backed with bread, cracker, dough, and cereal. Lively carbonation and light-bodied.

 280 characters

Photo of Thorpe429
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a very light brown with a little bit of a haze; nice lacing as it goes down. The smell is dominated by the vanilla beans, which mix well with the wheat-beer style, but it just isn't quite the same as Alpine's fruit-infused beers. The taste is again primarily the vanilla bean, with a little bit of wheat-induced sweetness. The mouthfeel is fairly nice, light, and crisp, which leads to a fairly-nice drinkability.

 420 characters

Photo of BucannonXC5
3.73/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Type: 12-oz. bottle
Glass: Hardwood Artisans shaker pint glass
From: Bine & Vine in Normal Heights (San Diego), Calif.
Price: $2.34 (10 pct. off for 6-pack deal)
Purchased: May 4, 2016
Consumed: May 10, 2016
Misc.: Best by Oct 29, 2016 because of course Green Flash would do that to an Alpine bottle; Bottle reads 5.5 pct. ABV

I live in Alpine and had not yet tried this one yet, one of the only few of the regulars. Had been meaning to, but things just never worked out. Regretting that I am trying it out of a bottle with (most likely) Green Flash’s stank all over it. Will review it as is and hoping for the best.

Poured a golden, straw, semi-clear color with one finger of off-white, fizzy head. Multiple bubble streams coming up from the bottom of the glass. Poor lacing. Poor retention. (Sight - 2.75)

Smell reminded me basically of the Willy Wheat Ale base beer, getting cereal, honey, sourdough bread, grassy wheat, vanilla and saltine crackers. Did grow on me a bit with some more whiffs. (Smell - 3.50)

Tasted much better than the nose. Was like vanilla cream cereal. Getting vanilla, vanilla cream soda, sugary milk at the end of cereal (Lucky Charms coming to mind), sourdough bread, Kix, Honey Nut Cheerios, earthy grass, vanilla cookies and hints of saltine crackers. (Taste - 4.00)

Light body. Thin texture. Average carbonation. Abrupt finish. (Feel - 3.75)

Really enjoyed this one, much more than I thought I would. I’m sure the real Alpine was much better (saying that as I’m 80 percent sure this was a Green Flash job). Nice summer brew as well. (Overall - 3.75)

3.73 | 84 | B

 1,608 characters

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.71/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Raul is ineffable. Raul does not know what to think. To think that he likes a beer called "Willy Vanilly" is crazy; like, Lindsay Lohan behind a wheel "crazy!" Beautiful vanilla notes on the nose, and a small flourish of the same on the tongue.

Not an every day brew, or even a weekly one, but, woot!

 302 characters

Photo of DocJitsu
3.7/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a clear, classic golden color with a quickly evaporating yellow-white head. Vanilla aroma up front competing with wheat malt. A very light body with nice, but more carbonation than is usual for this style. I was concerned vanilla would be too powerful as evidenced by the aroma. Very nicely balanced as it turns out. Easy to drink and pleasant overall.

 358 characters

Photo of Suds
3.67/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

From a 12 ounce bottle, this hazy , yellow brew isn't visually attractive. The aroma is of grain, grass, and a hint of wheat twang. Bit of a woody, burnt smell. In spite of the name, there isn't any real aroma of vanilla. However, after a few sips, it comes out in the taste, after which, vanilla is inseparable from every aspect of the beer. Medium in body. Interesting, but not great.

 393 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50  | nextlast
Willy Vanilly from Alpine Beer Company
85 out of 100 based on 35 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.
  • Quick Navigation

    Open the Quick Navigation

  • 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