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Willy Vanilly | Alpine Beer Company

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47 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): 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

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Reviews: 47 | Ratings: 236
Photo of clayrock81
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

 362 characters

Photo of Tone
3.41/5  rDev -8.8%
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 -5.3%
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.

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Photo of TheSixthRing
3.59/5  rDev -4%
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 +0.3%
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 +28.9%
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 -17.9%
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 -2.1%
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 -0.5%
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 +0.3%
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 -3.5%
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 +12.3%
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 +10.2%
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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Photo of pkalix
3.54/5  rDev -5.3%
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 JamieDuncan
3.18/5  rDev -15%
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 jzlyo
3.52/5  rDev -5.9%
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 HattedClassic
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
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 Gobearswalter34
3.65/5  rDev -2.4%
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 avalon07
3.9/5  rDev +4.3%
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 GarthDanielson
3.77/5  rDev +0.8%
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 DrDemento456
4/5  rDev +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.

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Photo of Dragginballs76
3.93/5  rDev +5.1%
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.

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Photo of teromous
3.13/5  rDev -16.3%
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 StonedTrippin
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
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 Suds
3.67/5  rDev -1.9%
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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Willy Vanilly from Alpine Beer Company
3.74 out of 5 based on 236 ratings.
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