I thought I’d do a fun, “thematic” review for the 4th of July. I decided to go with an American brewery that had an unintentional title I could use to make a historic link to the holiday. Enter: Ballast Point Brewing‘s Victory At Sea!
The American Revolution, for those a little fuzzy on their history, was a long protracted affair that ultimately came to an end once France decided to seriously commit to the cause and send support. The biggest help came when the French Navy arrived to bring supplies and to create blockades so the British couldn’t resupply their troops and bring in further reinforcements. The Revolutionary War was, in a major part, won via a “Victory At Sea.” The label even features a tri-corner hat which was in fashion at the time. Although I can’t speak to the fashion sense of a skeleton parrot.
Ballast Point just started shipping beer to Oregon and Washington. For most fans of beer in the Northwest, that meant Sculpin IPA had arrived. Sculpin IPA’s reputation is deservedly big. Victory At Sea, however, seems to slip under the radar of mass name recognition. I guess it depends on your perspective if that’s a good or bad thing. To put it simply, Victory At Sea is outstanding.
Victory At Sea is an Imperial Porter brewed with cold brew coffee and vanilla. If you’re not familiar with the cold brew method of coffee brewing, it’s a fairly simple process. You basically pour your coffee grounds into cold water then let them steep in a refrigerator for an extended period of time, usually overnight. It leads to a coffee that is lower in acidity but has a very deep flavor with a bit of a thicker mouthfeel. If you live near a Stumptown Coffee, you can try their wonderful version of cold brew. You can also find it in stores in a stubby bottle. They even serve it on draft at some of their locations. Ballast Point gets their cold brew from local San Diego roaster Caffe Calabria. I’ll certainly look up this roaster the next time I’m in San Diego. While my passion for beer leads me to visit breweries wherever I go, I also search for great coffee too.
Appearance: Pitch black, brown head with great retention.
Aroma: Coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla, dark malt roastiness.
Taste: Caramel notes, coffee bitterness with vanilla on the finish. There’s a touch of alcoholic warmth in the finish.
Overall Impression: This is an impressive beer to drink. Despite the addition of so much malt and vanilla, this beer is very dry and balanced which makes it that much more drinkable. The dry finish leads into another drink. This is a very well made, wonderful beer. If you’re a fan of dark beers, you’ll love this one. On a personal note, I’d LOVE to see a rye whiskey barrel-aged version of this beer. I think the spiciness of the rye would blend perfectly with the various other influences of this beer.
Availability: In limited batches. Check locally with your Ballast Point carrying stores.