Posted by: Scott | February 23, 2010

Victory at Sea Review

In last week’s beer fest report, I forgot to mention one particularly tasty sample: Ballast Point’s Victory at Sea. From what I heard after the festival, this coffee vanilla imperial porter upstaged many of the other beers. Unfortunately I didn’t remember what it tasted like (even though I did try it — probably late in the afternoon), so I rushed out to buy a bottle. And, because fortune favors the bold, I still bought it after seeing the label art, which doesn’t scream victory: It depicts a skeleton succumbing to a stormy sea whilst wearing one of those Jack Sparrow wig-hats from Disneyland (where pillaging is fun for the whole family!). Maybe they were going for irony.

I tilt the bottle, and stoutish liquid fills my glass. Victory at Sea looks dense. Blacker than the waters of the Challenger Deep. And the smell — it’s a treasure trove of dark chocolate and rich vanilla. My first sip adds sharp malt and bitter coffee to the list of flavors. As it warms, the vanilla expands and irons out the bitterness, enhancing the brew’s creamy body and lingering in the aftertaste for ages. If it weren’t for the alcohol content — which actually lacks bite for 10% ABV — I’d be tempted to call this a vanilla frappuccino porter. And I mean that as a compliment.

Yar! Here be a bottle that ain’t easily sunk. (Metaphor disclaimer: Don’t go tossing yours into a lake for proof.) Complex yet highly drinkable, Victory at Sea should delight newbies and beer nerds alike. I hadn’t tried many Ballast Point beers before this one — probably because of their odd, fish-themed labels — but this porter has made a fan of me.

Brewery: Ballast Point
Style: Imperial Porter
ABV: 10%
Glassware: Snifter, Mug/Stein
Serving Temp: 5o° F
Price Range: $7-$8 per 22 oz. bottle

Thursday: An addendum to my first Beer Pioneer article, complete with a Belgian beer tasting!



  1. Oh no . . you did not. You didn’t descend into pirate talk . . (shaking head) I’m so embarrased for you. Actually it sounds pretty good. I’ll have to try that one, even tho I’m not really into porters. Made a fan, huh? Would that be a ‘sea fan’? (^-^)

    • I will not apologize for pirate jargon!

      At least not after the sea fan comment 😀

  2. I can’t wait to try this one!

    • I can definitely endorse not waiting, especially since I think this is a seasonal beer. Buy it while you can!

  3. Ooh, this sounds nice. I’ll have to see if they ship to MO. I understand your cncern about the label though—it reminds me of a bad deathcore band.

    BTW, a beer of 10% ABV probably would float in the water! That’s what high-gravity beers are all about!

    • Huh, never thought of that — probably because I’ve never had a reason to test it. I guess it could still float away though … thanks for ruining my already so-so joke! 🙂

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