There comes a time in life where you stop pondering questions like “Should I buy this?” and “Will I like this?”. Those are both very important questions, especially when you’re talking about beer, but hopefully many of you out there have passed that point and can now fully trust your own judgement. For me, this is a new revelation. I used to stare at package store shelves and draught lists just racking my brain over what to choose. Do I really need to spend $10 on a beer that I know nothing about? Should I buy this beer just because I know I’ll never find it again? Tough questions. With experience though, you learn to trust your judgement. I know distribution channels, I know brewery reputations, and I know when I find a beer that’s special. What’s more, I know I what I like. So when I saw a new (to me) beer from Ballast Point the other day, brewers of one of my favorite beers in the world in the Sculpin IPA, I knocked people out of the way and shoved it into my basket without even a thought. I didn’t even know what I was buying, didn’t care. Sometimes, you just know what you need.
The Victory at Sea from Ballast Point is labeled as a Coffee Vanilla Imperial Porter. Not a lot of Imperial Porters out there to begin with, but a coffee vanilla version? Now I didn’t even care that it was from Ballast Point, I was just excited to see what the hell I was getting myself into.
BALLAST POINT VICTORY AT SEA
NOTES: 22oz, sitting at home watching the Sox start the season 0-4 (Hence the Imperial drinking)
STYLE: Imperial Porter
APPEARANCE: Blackity Black. Like, really black
HEAD: Crazy contrast of a solid tan disk atop the black body. Doesn’t stick around, but cool while it lasted
LACING: Sticky coating on the glass right till’ the last sip
NOSE: Whole lotta coffee coming through on this one. Smells like a tall glass of milk with a shot of Kahlua dumped over the top (And an espresso). Roasted, dark malts. Little bit of KBS action going on, if you’re lucky enough to know what the smells like. Rich dessert with a heavy helping of bitter hops.
TASTE: Woa, there’s the vanilla. I didn’t get any on the nose, thinking it would hit like an oaky Chardonnay, but man was it present in the taste. Vanilla really dominates the front of the taste, but it’s rounded out by the amazing bitter coffee and ample hop finish. Picture the creamiest milk chocolate up front, like a Lindt truffle, finished by a super-bitter dark chocolate. Oh, is there alcohol in here? None that I can find.
MOUTHFEEL: Deceptively light, just like a Porter should be. It’s got some weight, don’t get me wrong, but you’d expect some 10W40 going on and this guy drinks surprisingly smooth
DRINKABILITY: Here’s where the Victory at Sea steals an extra half-hop rating. It’s an Imperial Porter, it’s 10% ABV, there’s no need to have an entire bomber, yet all I wanted when I finished the bottle was just one more glass. It’s got a bit of carbonation, the alcohol is damn near impossible to find, and it’s amazingly complex for something that could have just been a vanilla-bomb. With that, the drinkability is criminally high.
RATING: 4 Hops.
This was a 3.5 hop beer right until my craving and longing set in for another Imperial Porter just like it. It just had to be a 4 hop brew after that.