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Willy Vanilly | Alpine Beer Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
85
very good
35 Reviews
THE BROS
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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:
182
Avg:
3.75
pDev:
25.6%
 
 
Wants:
8
Gots:
13
For Trade:
1
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 35 | Ratings: 182
Photo of pmarlowe
3.1/5  rDev -17.3%
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.

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Photo of teromous
3.13/5  rDev -16.5%
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.

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Photo of tobelerone
3.15/5  rDev -16%
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 -15.2%
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.

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Photo of Klym
3.38/5  rDev -9.9%
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.

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Photo of magictrokini
3.4/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

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Photo of jzlyo
3.52/5  rDev -6.1%
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.

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Photo of pkalix
3.54/5  rDev -5.6%
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%.....

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Photo of corby112
3.55/5  rDev -5.3%
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.

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Photo of Gobearswalter34
3.65/5  rDev -2.7%
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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Willy Vanilly from Alpine Beer Company
85 out of 100 based on 35 ratings.
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