Willy Vanilly | Alpine Beer Company

BA SCORE
84
good
59 Reviews
THE BROS
83
good
Read the review
Willy VanillyWilly Vanilly
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Alpine Beer Company
California, United States
alpinebeerco.com

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
59
Ratings:
276
Avg:
3.72
pDev:
10.75%
 
 
Wants:
9
Gots:
33
For Trade:
0
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Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 276
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.

 446 characters

Photo of pmarlowe
3.1/5  rDev -16.7%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 2.75

On tap at the brewpub.

Pours a pale straw color with a ring of pure white head; no lacing but decent retention. Nose is mostly vanilla with a touch of the base wheat beer and banana. Tastes like vanilla abstract in a wheat beer, a bridge too far in overpoweringness and artificiality. Light carbonation and creamy texture on a medium body. I don't get the existence of this beer. Artificial vanilla extract in a wheat beer which drowns any redeeming qualities.

 462 characters

Photo of teromous
3.13/5  rDev -15.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

The left side of the wrap around label says "Best By: 05NOV16 F16132"

Appearance: It has a light straw colored body that is slightly hazy with a good deal of visible carbonation. The head stays up but it is rather short for a wheat beer. It is pure white and remains even across the surface.

Aroma: It has a tangy aroma that is very characteristic of wheat. There is a bit of a cereal sweetness to the scent of the beer. The label mentions that this beer is brewed with vanilla but it does not appear in the aroma.

Taste: There is a light sweet grain flavor and a bit of a nutty character as well. There is a light tangy bite to the beer. In the first sip I felt like I did taste some vanilla but after that the tangy character of the beer really overpowered the palate and I got no vanilla at all. Overall The beer just tastes like a decent wheat beer.

Mouthfeel: Nice and smooth with a medium thickness to the body. It doesn't weigh heavy on the palate but if feels thick while drinking it.

Overall: Any time you put vanilla on the label of a beer you need to have the chops to back it up. This beer doesn't have those chops. It is a decent wheat beer but it never escapes the realm of wheat. It's not really a beer I would buy again or recommend another person to buy but like most of these "middle of the road" beers I wouldn't turn it down if somebody handed it to me.

 1,378 characters

Photo of tobelerone
3.15/5  rDev -15.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

On tap at the brewery.

App: Hazy light gold, small white cap of foam. Average retention; spotty lacing.

Smell: Strong vanilla aroma dominates, mild wheat and maltiness underneath.

Taste: Very much like the nose; extremely vanilla-forward; a little bit artificial and extract-tasting; on the sweet side, with a thin, non-descript wheat flavor and next to no hop presence. Cream soda meets beer.

Mf: Crisp, fairly clean, but thin and watery. Vanilla sweetness lingers a bit in the aftertaste.

Overall: Just a bit too much vanilla for such a mild, easy-drinking thin-bodied beer. Felt like an odd combination; a light beer with vanilla extract. There’s no booziness and the flavoring is well integrated but it's just not all that good (to me), unfortunately.

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Photo of JamieDuncan
3.18/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Light clear golden pour, limited white, almost fizzy head that dissipated quickly and almost completely. More grainy than bready, not picking up much vanilla. Sweet grainy taste with a late vanilla punch that seemed artificial. Kinda sharp feel with a bit of a lingering hop. Overall I would give them credit for creativity but it really did not seem to work, everything seemed out of balance.

 399 characters

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.

 465 characters

Photo of Klym
3.38/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the brewery. Review from notes.

Won't say much on this one as I don't think it was too complex or outstanding. Vanilla, nougat, and wheat in the nose. In the nose it very much had a vanilla-extract like smell to it and was a little off putting in its lack of full, natural vanilla-bean quality. In the taste it had a very lager like wheat character with a surprisingly rich vanilla sweetness, much like french vanilla icecream. Body was light and the carbonation was minimal. Interesting, but more of an underdeveloped ode to vanilla than a beer worth seeking.

 571 characters

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.

 1,741 characters

Photo of magictrokini
3.4/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Surpisingly good beer. The vanilla takes over this beer, but it is not overwhelming. The solid wheat base is a good choice. Very sweet beer, but in a natural way. I can't see drinking too much of this brew, but I would not turn it down in the future.

 250 characters

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

 334 characters

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.

 438 characters

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.

 231 characters

Photo of jzlyo
3.52/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Aroma is vanilla and very grainy wheat. The flavor is wheat, vanilla, spices, light sweetness and a mix of slight sourness and graininess in the finish.

 153 characters

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

really wanted to try this one for awhile. pours an interesting head-y white which goes away quickly. got some vanilla off the pour but and adjunct-like grainy, corn-y whiff after that. taste is bland although i get the vanilla at the end and with the belch. not a great brew, but easy to drink and probably really likable by the girlfriend! i guess beer is made for everyone, right? my bottle says 5.5%, not 4.9%.....

 418 characters

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.

 318 characters

Photo of corby112
3.55/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Draft at the brewpub.

Pours a pale golden yellow color with a one finger white foam head that slowly fades into a thin ring. Spotty lacing left behind.

Slightly spicy aroma with lots of vanilla complimenting the bready yeast notes. Subtle citrus presence compliments the prominent vanilla.

Medium bodied but fuller than expected with bready yeast, and lots of vanilla.  The vanilla flavor dominates providing a lot of sweetness that compliments the bread notes but takes away from the citrus and spice.  Some banana and lemon peel along with some subtle clove/pepper.  Could use a bit more balance.

 606 characters

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.

 298 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.

 765 characters

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.

 364 characters

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

 811 characters

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.

 304 characters

Photo of Gobearswalter34
3.65/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a slightly hazy, straw gold with a thin, white head.
A slight vanilla smell.
Nice, refreshing wheat beer with a kiss of vanilla.
Very crisp and refreshing.

 161 characters

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).

 655 characters

Photo of Suds
3.67/5  rDev -1.3%
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

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