Virginia Black Bear - Vanilla
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery

Virginia Black Bear - VanillaVirginia Black Bear - Vanilla
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American Imperial Stout
Ranked #1,947
Ranked #12,040
3.95 | pDev: 7.34%
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
Virginia, United States
Virginia Black Bear - VanillaVirginia Black Bear - Vanilla
Notes: Vanilla Virginia Black Bear is the yang to Virginia Black Bear’s yin. Ten Vanilla Specialty Grains comprise the backbone of the bear and high alpha American hops give the bear his teeth. Notes of dark chocolate and coffee abound and fresh vanilla rounds out the flavor. Used as the base beer for Illuminatos, the Vanilla Virginia Black Bear has casually drifted to meander where he wants. Watch out, he hugs.
Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 104 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of ajm5108
3.42/5  rDev -13.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Fluffy tan cap with good retention. Aroma has some chicory, a little burnt malt & anise - pretty sturdy, there is some vanilla to help smooth it out but could use more. The vanilla is less noticeable on the tongue, and while not a bad stout by any means, it is pretty pedestrian & anonymous. Roasted coffee, bitter hops, a little of the chicory flavor, a tad ashy on the end. Missing that stand-out note that the vanilla could have provided.

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Photo of EMV
4.02/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a Dogfish Head tulip. Love the pandabear art.

L: Dark, dark pour.. nearly black with light mahogany around the edges. Capped with thick foamy tan head... great lacing.

S: Rich and roasty... strong espresso. Lighter cocoa and vanilla bean.

T/F: Follows the nose. Big bitter roast flavor... coffee forward, with lighter dark chocolate and faint vanilla. Sweet burned sugars to balance out the roast... smooth and rich. Gets better as it warms... ABV subtle but nicely warming.

O: A very nicely done big Russian Imperial Stout. Good flavor, very drinkable... perfect winter beer.

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Photo of Dewsby
3.78/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L) Pours a dark espresso color, swirls like oil, and has a lovely dark khaki head with great retention and lacing.

S) The nose has tons of roast, some vanilla that comes across latte-like, almost some anisey notes and some herbal hoppage.

T) The taste has a similar profile to the nose, but I will emphasize the bitterness borders on acrid. It really is tastey, but the herbal hop profile and the astringent burnt bitterness from the malt somewhat takes away from the maltiness and pleasant vanilla profile.

F) The beer is creamy, but a tad over carbonated. It is great after sitting a wee while.

O) A really solid stout from one of my favorite VA breweries. Better than VA Blackbear in my opinion if it had a smidge less carbonation. An easy recommendation to vanilla stout lovers.

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Photo of Brew_42
4.28/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pours jet black with a thin tan head.

Smells like roasted malts with chocolate and vanilla

Taste is big roasted malts up front with just the right amount of vanilla towards the the tail end. Really tasty beer.

Mouthfeel-Thick is thick and oily.

Overall one of the better vanilla stouts I've come across, and I drink a lot of them.

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Photo of avalon07
3.77/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

L: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a dark brown color and a thick consistency. There was a half inch of foamy, tan-colored head that lasted an average amount of time. Not much lacing.

S: A decent, if a bit muted, aroma of chocolate, malt, vanilla and light coffee notes.

T: Tasted of a lot of malt, some dark chocolate (this is evident mostly in the finish), light coffee notes, a bunch of lactose, a light presence, and some vanilla. It seems to me - maybe it is just me - that the lactose seems to overpower what is a subtly done flavor. Not bad, but uneven.

F: A good amount of carbonation with a somewhat dry finish. Medium-bodied.

O: This is a solid beer, but not a standout. Still, it's worth a look.

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Photo of hophugger
3.87/5  rDev -2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Deep black in color with about a finger of off-white head. Vanilla is a player but does not overwhelm, nice essences of madagascsr vanilla beans and chocolate. Relatively clean finish with a hop bitterness and a decent balance

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Photo of delta490
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Almost completely black with a smudge of tan head that leaves spots of tan head. The aroma is slightly smokey with a hint of malty sweetness. The taste is the similar to the aroma with a nice vanilla addition. The body is fuller and very smooth.

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Photo of Griffin2
3.96/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bomber into a pint glass.
L - Pours a deep black with a frothy tan head.
S - Smells very malty.
T - Lots of vanilla and chocolate followed by a slight alcohol warmth.
F - Really nice mouthfeel.
O - Very enjoyable imperial stout.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.48/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

L: pours black, not too thick, a film of brown head
S: I get black licorice, molasses with slight sweetness
T: bitter/sweet chocolate, no vanilla, sharp-spicy notes of molasses or licorice. Not a fan of this
F: smooth and creamy with medium thickness. Too bad the flavors don't match

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Photo of Pourharddrinkslow
3.8/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Look - Absolutely gorgeous beer. Black with a medium tan colored head and a thin lacing that dissipates slowly.

Smell - Hops and dark malt, no vanilla that I can sense.

Taste - Biggest flavors follow the nose. Starts with dark malts and ends with slightly bitter hops. In between I get traces of vanilla, tobacco smoke, and dark chocolate.

Feel - Slightly thin, not quite as smooth as I hoped for a vanilla stout.

Overall - Solid stout, not as much depth as I had hoped for but a well done stout, on the hoppy end of the spectrum.

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Photo of gopens44
4.33/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Just look at that massive chocolate head. Big and frothy, recedes to about a finger behind massive lacing. Needless to say for an RIS, this one is black as night.

Nose is quite robust and busy as I immediately get chocolate, licorice, roasted malts and oddly enough, tequila? ???

Taste mirrors the nose with a special emphasis on mouth puckering chocolate richness backed by just a hint of the advertised vanilla.

Mouth feel begins silky, turns restless in carbonation turmoil before it exits dry with a smokey bitterness left on the tongue.

Wildly complex and rich, this hits all cylinders.

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Photo of teromous
4.01/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

No bottle date that I can see.

Appearance: Black body with a thick creamy dark brown head. Good head retention and lacing.

Aroma: It has a strong hop presence; earthy, woody, and pine. There is a bit of charred wood in the background as well as a bit of alcohol. I'm not picking up any vanilla but the hops smell very nice.

Taste: The vanilla hits right up's very strong. This is accompanied by a strong roasted flavor and a woody character. It's a very unique beer. The hops stand out here as well with a strong pine character...everything in this beer is just strong. While drinking the beer the bitterness starts to layer on stronger and stronger which starts to push the vanilla out of the way. I pick up some dark chocolate hidden among the strong bitterness.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is big, bold, and smooth. The bitterness in this beer is very strong and I would recommend a palate cleanser when drinking the beer, but it's great.

Overall: If you don't like bitter stouts I would not recommend this beer. If you like strong bitter beers...if you drink your coffee black...if you enjoy Black IPA's or whatever name you prefer to call them...this beer is for you. It is strong and bitter with a wonderful vanilla presence. It has a big roasted character married with a large hop presence. I wouldn't say the beer is perfect as it feels like it could use some balancing but this sipper is very enjoyable to drink. It's hard to say if I would buy it again. When I'm drinking it I am kicked in the face by all of this bitterness from both the malt and hops and then I am welcomed by a wonderful vanilla flavor at the beginning of the next sip. It's the type of beer that I would enjoy occasionally but probably not more than one of in a season. Overall I would highly recommend it.

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Photo of oskinker
3.11/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

Jet black pour with a good amount of carb. This bottle was from last winter, I believe February. No vanilla on the nose whatsoever. Very bitter chocolate notes, very roasty. This beer is very bitter and those hops come through, too much for my liking in a stout. Pretty disappointed by the lack of vanilla in this beer

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Photo of obywan59
4.68/5  rDev +18.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours an opaque, very dark brown to almost black in color with a 2 1/2 finger brownish tan head in my St. Bernadus chalice. Recedes leaving glorious lacing

Vanilla and oak and bourbon combine to give a very fruity aroma. Cherries and dark fruit with whiffs of smoke and caramel. Light alcohol. Hints of chocolate.

Caramel and vanilla compete for supremacy, with occasional blasts of fruity cherry. Dark chocolate and coffee follow with a hint of bourbon and oak. Bitter hops hold it all together.

Rather full and smooth in body with a slight bite of carbonation/alcohol. Warming, with light syrup.

A pretty spectacular beer with never a dull moment. Diverse in flavor and aroma. Extremely well rounded. The best beer I've sampled in some time.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured on-tap at the brewery, the beer is jet black and oily thick, with a thin halo of tan head. Nose of rich vanilla, black strap molasses, roasted coffee, and hints of char. Smooth, heavy, robust bodied, with a coffee, vanilla, and char aftertaste. Building warmth as you drink, with a smooth, slick finish, and a solid bitter roasted linger. Good beer.

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Photo of uvachief
3.94/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a chilled 750ml bottle into a snifter glass. Pours a dark, deep chocolate brown with 3 full fingers of tan head that lingered. Nice lacing throughout the drink. Aromas of hops, chocolate and roasted malts. Little to no vanilla detected. Taste is bitter on the front end - hoppy. You do get the roasted grains and malts, chocolate and subtle, very subtle, hint of vanilla. Perfect thickness in the mouth. However, the hop bitterness is some thing I do not desire in a stout. Thought it won have faded more by now but still has that bite. Great beer otherwise. Back end has that hop bite as well.

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Photo of AndrewMichael
4.25/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

750 mL bottled poured in a stemmed glass. 2015 release, vanilla on the nose, with dark chocolate and good bitterness. Outstanding Russian Imperial Stout from this great VA brewery!

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Photo of Big_V
4.53/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Bottle I had for about 6 months. Decided I was in the mode for a stout, so cracked open and poured into my snifter. Dark brown with minimal head. Aroma is chocolate and vanilla. Nice body not to thick with good carbonation. Very smooth, the chocolate and vanilla stood out for me. Got coffee on the finish with nice hoppy bitterness. Got this to trade initially, glad I kept it. Will get this if I see it again.

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Photo of Pencible
3.67/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

A: This poured an opaque black with thick dark tan head.
S: It smelled like dry cocoa and light roasted coffee, with a little citrus hops.
T: It tasted like bitter dark chocolate and espresso, with some licorice and citrus hops. It had a clean bitter aftertaste with some alcohol warming.
M: It was thick with a little fine carbonation. Nice big body.
D: This was a surprisingly bitter stout, without hardly any vanilla character. The scent and taste were good, but not what I was hoping for. The body was solid, but the finish was a little harsh, so it was better to sip. Age would probably help mellow. Fresh is ok, but not with it.

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Photo of cjgiant
3.74/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

The dark brown to black pour kept growing a deep tan (maybe a tad reddish) head as I poured. Although there was no settling, the resulting creamy head and lacing makes it seem like a nitro pour. The nose is roasted dark grain, with tobacco and coffee notes coming through - the nose of porter in my mind. With some warmth, a hint of vanilla starts to come out.

Colder, the beer tastes more like the coffee side of that roasted grain smell. The body is full, the beer's flavor enveloping the mouth, making you feel you could bite through it. There is some light carbonation to add to the feel and provide a light bite. As the beer warms, some dark nuttiness starts to come out more than the coffee, as does a bit of sweetness which almost seems a bit marshmallow-like (which I am guessing is the vanilla making an appearance). The beer ends a bit more bitter in taste than I'd like from my imperial stouts.

I'd have liked a little more sweetness or chocolate, preferably combined with a stronger vanilla taste. Some good things going on here, but the flavor seems a tad out of line with what I wanted and expected from this beer.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer has a nice vanilla bean note in addition to powdered cocoa smell and dark chocolate smell. Hop notes are also bitter and present. Same in the taste. Mouthfeel is a bit chalky, which is interesting in a good way. Overall, pretty good.

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Photo of Sludgeman
4.11/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured at Rustico Arlington and then rereviewed on 11/13/16 from a bottle at home. $13.99 @ Arrow Wine.

Lots of vanilla from the middle through to the finish.

A - Pours midnight black with a mousey three finger brown head. Nice sticky lacing. 4.75

S - Aromas of vanilla and licorice. The vanilla is more prevalent in the nose than in the taste. 4.25

T - Lightly sweet but balanced by the alcohol. Roasty bitterness - more bitter than expected. Vanilla is evident but not overwhelming. 4

MF - Heavy body. Coating, warming, a bit slick on the palate. Not as smooth as one might expect. Slightly sweet in the finish. 4

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Photo of argock
4/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 ml brown capped bottle into a clear glass tulip. No freshness date but 2015 vintage. Purchased at Wine Warehouse (Charlottesville, VA).

A: Black with 1-2 fingers of medium beige, sticky, tightly bubbled head with good retention and thick stripes of lacing down the glass.

S: Roast is strongest with piney, citrus C-hops and light vanilla undertone. There is a light amount of dark malt character, but mostly the roast and hoppiness dominate the aroma.

T: The flavor is strong with vanilla, hops provide mostly bitterness without a ton of flavor, maybe some mild pine, resin, and grapefruit citrus. The vanilla has some heft, which tones down with warming, and it seems to increase the charred, roast character in the finish which is strong but enjoyable. Bitterness is medium-high with very mild alcohol character. AN interesting and unique flavor combination.

M: Not syrupy but has a hefty body with thick feel on the palate despite at least moderate carbonation.

O: I enjoyed VVBB from Lickinghole Creek more than the majority of their offerings. This brew brings a strong roast, charred character without being ashy and this seems amped up by the vanilla when compared to the regular Virginia Black Bear, which was much hoppier.

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Photo of blindtiger24
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Obsidian black with mocha head. Sticky lacing along the glass. Chocolate, molasses, roasted coffee / espresso on the nose. Super bitter chocolate and even more bitter coffee flavors. A bit abbrassive on the mouth. There's enoguh sweetness from malt to not char your taste buds. As the base beer for Despot, you can tell how aging will mellow flavors and adde to booziness.

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Photo of chinchill
3.76/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Looks dark and thick. Minimal head.
Exceptionally flavorful, even for style. Particualr strong component of very dark roasted grains. Modearte vanilla. Bittersweet, turning more bitter and charred into the aftertaste.
Thick, full syrupy body with adequate carbonation.

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Virginia Black Bear - Vanilla from Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery
Beer rating: 90 out of 100 with 104 ratings