The past few months I’ve been really into coffee stouts and I’ve run through a lot of them some good, some not so good and some great. One thing I’ve come to realize is that its a challenge to find that coffee stout that has that great balance between coffee flavor, creamy texture and sweetness. Almost all of them master the first one of great coffee flavor but the other two have been super tricky for most breweries. There’s one beer that has it all, the brains and the looks, Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout), a sweetness that’s just right, a smooth velvety mouth feel and a great coffee flavor. Founders KBS is my reference beer and I use that as my standard by which all other coffee stouts are measured. That’s where I begin my write up of Ballast Point Victory At Sea Coffee Stout, from the point of view of a great beer looking down at a challenger. Does it have what it takes to take KBS down or is it just another contender that gets knocked out like Glass Joe in the first round?

Founders KBS and Ballast Point Victory At Sea are both coffee vanilla stouts so they are evenly matched and makes this comparison even that more worthy. The pour is pitch black with an oatmeal colored head. Take a whiff of this beer and you smell some AWESOME coffee aromas, it truly reminds me of waking up to the smell of fresh brewed coffee wafting through my kitchen. At first sip you get this coffee bomb explosion in your mouth with a nice velvety feel to it. Up to this point if you would have switched the labels on the bomber I would have never known it wasn’t KBS. Then comes that finish which is dry and slightly more bitter than the KBS and is sort of unpleasant. I guess this is the hops shining through but I could really have down without it and the dry finish just made me want to grab a glass of water. Its like that feeling you get after you brush your teeth and you yearn for a glass of water but know you shouldn’t because you’ll probably wet the bed in your sleep. To be completly honest, I don’t taste the vanilla, I mean I taste the sweetness and I guess that’s the vanilla but I don’t taste it, maybe its the bold coffee that overpowers it.

Overall this is a great brew by Ballast Point one that I’m happy I purchased. Speaking of purchasing I spent $10 on a bomber MUCH better than the $10 for a 12 ounce of KBS. So does this beer knock down Mr. Dream? No but damn it was close. The only quibble is the finish and the lack of any discernible vanilla flavor. Its a great brew that I’m thankful for having picked up and I will definitely pick it up again.