Willy Vanilly | Alpine Beer Company

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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: 235
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.

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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 Thorpe429
3.73/5  rDev -0.3%
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 nathanmiller
4.79/5  rDev +28.1%
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.

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Photo of Kegatron
3.8/5  rDev +1.6%
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 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 womencantsail
4/5  rDev +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.

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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 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 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 tobelerone
3.15/5  rDev -15.8%
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 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 corby112
3.55/5  rDev -5.1%
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 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.

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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 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.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.99/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.01/5  rDev +7.2%
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.

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Photo of Gusler
3.84/5  rDev +2.7%
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 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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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 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 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 TheLongBeachBum
3.75/5  rDev +0.3%
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 FosterJM
4.21/5  rDev +12.6%
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.

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Willy Vanilly from Alpine Beer Company
3.74 out of 5 based on 235 ratings.
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