Dark Side Vanilla Porter - Empyrean Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
84
good

329 Ratings
THE BROS
75
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 329
Reviews: 144
rAvg: 3.71
pDev: 13.48%
Wants: 24
Gots: 47 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Empyrean Brewing Company visit their website
Nebraska, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  5.70% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-27-2002

An infusion of an old-world beer style and contemporary soul. Smooth, dark and roasted with highlights of chocolate, coffee and vanilla. Brewed with American, Canadian and English grown barley, American hops, Madagascar vanilla beans and natural vanilla extract.

23. IBU
View: Beers (27) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 329 | Reviews: 144
Reviews by kels:
Photo of kels
2.67/5  rDev -28%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

Looks great - dark chocolate brown and completely opaque off the pour. There's a nice 1 finger initial cocoa-brown head that fades to a pretty well-retained milky skim. Not much lace to speak of.

Very little nose to speak of. There's a hint of the vanilla, and a spent-coffee grounds sort of aroma. There's also a hint of something akin to old milk meets wilting vegetables. Not very pleasing at all.

The taste possesses many of the nice qualities of a porter - roasted malts, chocolatey sweetness, fullness without heaviness...BUT those are all offset with that veggie flavor. I don't get any of the vanilla, and there's a hit of metallic in there as well. The feel is well-carbonated, but can't make up for the unnerving off-tastes.

Drinkability is low simply because I don't want to drink it anymore.

More User Reviews:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #71 (December 2012):

“Where’s the vanilla?” Was the first thing that came to our minds. It’s barely noticeable and what is gets quickly scrubbed away by the dominate roasty notes, however once the beer warmed up considerably the vanilla notes began to pull through. Aside from this, and the short-lived head, the base is a decent Porter.

STYLE: American Porter
ABV: 5.7%
AVAILABILITY: Year-round

LOOK: Rich, opaque, dark brown, creamy tan head that quickly fizzles away

SMELL: Roasted malts, earth, vanilla beans

TASTE: Semi-chewy, malty, raisiny, bready, roasty, chocolate, bitter, acrid, coffee, faint vanilla, dry finish

Photo of Sintech
5/5  rDev +34.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Best porter made in Lincoln!

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep dark murky brown with a finger of khaki foam that quickly falls to a ring around the glass. Aromas of mellow roast with vanilla extract. A touch of coffee and cocoa along with some mineral notes. Kinda understated overall.

First sip brings a nice mellow roasted dark malt upfront alongside some sweet vanilla extract flavors. Hints of cocoa and a very light coffee work through as well. Flows down with more vanilla that lingers on into the finish of the brew.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and somewhat smooth with steady carbonation. A tad light but overall it's pretty well on. A bit to sweet for me and the vanilla seems a bit too heavy on the extract. Overall, glad I got to try it but not something I would drink regularly.

Photo of Beaver13
2.28/5  rDev -38.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle. Pours brown with a thinnish meringue tan head that goes to a thin film and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is sweet nutty malts and lots of vanilla and some lactose.

The flavor is sweet sugary nutty malts with some acidic vanilla and a little plastic roast in the finish. The mouthfeel is a bit on the thin and watery side.

Overall, lots of sweet vanilla with some off notes that become more pronounced the more I drink.

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to a77cj7 for sending me this bottle.

The beer pours a dark brown color with a tan head. The aroma is roasted malt with some vanilla and chocolate. The flavor is vanilla, chocolate and roasted/burnt malt. Medium to thick mouthfeel and medium carbonation.

The vanilla is very well done in this beer. It is present in both the aroma and flavor, but it is not overdone and doesn't taste artificial. This is what a vanilla porter should taste like.

Photo of pat61
4.17/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Brilliant deep dark brown under a 1” light tan foam collar that grips the side of the glass leaving sheets of lace.
S: Chocolate and vanilla, light grains, bread, faint esters.
T: The palate leads with chocolate and vanilla with malt and roast flavors underneath. Medium bitterness finishes things up. The vanilla is light and does not overpower the chocolate or the roast.
M: Very creamy carbonation with a medium to medium full body. There is some light chalkiness on the finish which could be from the added spice.
O: A refreshing, easy to drink porter.

Photo of far333
3.37/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark brown, nearly black with a light brown head. The head started very small, and then shrunk to nothing, and left no lacing on the glass. Aroma is strong, and is unmistakably vanilla. Mouthfeel is a bit slick, and the flavor is full on strong vanilla. Subtle hints of chocolate, some roasted malt, but very very sweet vanilla. Vanilla flavor is smooth and even, but leaves little room for anything else, and is way too sweet for me.

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

via trade from bditty thanks man, straight out of Nebraska. Appearance has a dark ruby brown almost black cola colored body with a tan head looks very appetizing. Aroma has a roasty dark malt redden tone gives off hints of dark chocolate and coffee roasts with a vanilla finish to it not overdone here touch of the vanilla, nice. Taste more dark roasts bring some bitterness to the table the vanilla finishes this solid stout it doesn't overpower blended with an herbal hop character, well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium bodied evenly carbonated goes down smooth with a bit of a creamy texture. Drinkability is very nice some flavored porters kill it this one does with ease pulls it off quite nicely props goes out to Nebraskan brewers.

Photo of Thundarollz
2.88/5  rDev -22.4%
look: 2 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

First Vanilla Porter. Beautiful dark color and impressive head. Would buy again.

Photo of CamuMahubah
4.15/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

What a corny label! Reminds me of a Broadway Musical poster. Fortunately a gorgeous porter flows from the bottle to the snifter. Don't judge a book by its cover!

Smells of dark cacao milk...

Nice cocoa splendor wrapped in a vanilla wisp...

Coats my mouth my chocolate milk!

This is not a quaffing porter. This is a dessert beer all the way. A local favorite that I have had many times before. Proud to serve this beer at dinner parties!

Photo of IntriqKen
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark amber with a nice full finger off white head that melts rather quickly to a ring of off white bubbles.

Aromas are coffee bean, cocoa bean, and a whiff of vanilla at the end to mellow out the scent nicely.

Taste is a blend of the chocolate and coffee from the aromas...rich and dark but again the finish is mellowed by a very nice vanilla presence. Some tobacco notes also present. Everything tastes fresh and clean...nothing artificial at all.

Mouthfeel is sufficient for a porter....creamy yet light and thin at the same time. Nice drying in the aftertaste with just a bit of chocolate coffee remaining on the tongue.

Very pleasant.

Photo of SMark
3.03/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drank this at a friends house where it was brought from Nebraska by his son. Not a lot going on with a typical dark pour, slight head and minimal lacing.

Vanilla came through but did not sense much else like coffee, nuts or chocolate. May have been beyond its best date.

Again not much coming through with the exception of vanilla.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability could have also been affected by the age of the bottle so will give the benefit of the doubt and rate as average. Could be a better brew if revisited but not sure.

Photo of distantmantra
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz. bottle poured into a straight pint glass.

A: The beer pours a very dark brown, almost black. As you titled the glass there are some tan and reddish-purple tones that become present. There is a dense head of tan foam which quickly dissipated down to nothing.

S: Very strong notes of coffee and vinegar in the nose. The vanilla is not present in the aroma whatsoever.

T: The vanilla is the dominant flavor here. There are hints of chocolate and coffee lingering the background, but Empyrean isn't joking when they call this a vanilla porter. Very smooth with nice sweet and bitter notes to balance it out.

M: The beer has a slightly thin/watery mouthfeel, I thought it would be bigger. Very drinkable.

O: This is a really nice porter, more on the light side of things. The vanilla is a nice change of pace and really makes this something that the non beer drinking might enjoy.

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, crimson-tinted deep mahogany body with a long standing and creamy off-white head. Lacing about the glass, unfortunately, is limited (possibly due to the oily nature of the real vanilla beans?). The nose delivers a combination of almond and vanilla over a chocolate-tinged caramel malt base that's welcoming but not necessarily natural. The body is light/medium and it's lightly creamy and quite smooth across the palate. In the flavor caramel and almond appear up-front with some chocolate and vanilla following mid-palate. It's a very soft beer that has the beautiful balance of not being sweet, but not necessarily being balanced by an underlying bitterness either. It's subtle and smooth with the exception of the way that the vanilla extract stands out as it warms. It finishes much as it starts, soft and smooth with a note of vanilla that just seems to slip away. Overall, it's a well-made and interesting beer.

Photo of beertooth
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Ben(madorb) for sharing this with me on the train ride down to Flossmoor last weekend. Review is from notes taken.

A cola brown liquid with a thin layer of white head that drops fast and forms a collar.

The nose is interesting and what you'd expect from a vanilla porter. Dark malts, coffee, sweet, but not cloying vanilla. There's isn't much else going on.

The first sip gives me some sugary vanilla up front followed by a mild coffe flavor and finishes with some more bitter burnt malts. It is enjoyable, but would fare better with a heavier malt bill.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and well carbonated.

I'm glad I was able to try this, although it reminded me more of a brown ale with coffee creamer in it. It's worth a try if you come across it.

Photo of dbossman
4/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Quite black with a one-inch light brown head and good lacing; looks like a nice medium bodied porter

S: Lots of roasted malts; it really smells like coffee initially and then bam! comes the vanilla which works so well with the roasted malts

T: Such deep dark roasted flavors here; vanilla of course on top of chocolate, coffee, and even a touch of smokey meats; this is a tasty porter

F: Decent creaminess and a medium to heavy body that holds up during the entire drinking experience

O: Really a nice porter; such a great subtle sweetness complementing such a dark roasty beer; this is a solid porter--really one of the better American porters available

Photo of russpowell
3.72/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a 1.5" tan head. Some head retention & lacing

Smell: Vanilla then toasted malt

Taste: Vanilla up followed by toasted malt, finishes dry

MF: A little light, especially for its abv & slightly undercarbonated

Drinks okay, makes a nice dessert beer

Photo of lawlerj
3.97/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on tap into a pint glass at a college bar in Lincoln, NE.

A - dark brown with a bit of head, didn't leave much lacing (to be fair, it was quite dark where I was, so I don't know how accurate my assessment here is going to be ).

S - strong roasted coffee and vanilla bean aroma. Interesting mix, and I really enjoy the smell.

T - again, coffee and vanilla are up front with a slight bit of spiciness on the back end. A very nice taste, and it improved as the beer warmed up while I was drinking it.

M - medium body, not too bad, just right for this porter. Carbonation was on the low end, but that was ok.

D - overall, I really enjoyed this beer and would love to try it again. It's a bit sweet for drinking on a regular basis, but I can see wanting to give this a shot when I have a sweet craving.

Photo of bditty187
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Blackish-red hue with a foamy head, very tiny with no retention. The nose is vanilla with malt undertones; very nice. The flavors on the palate are, not surprisingly, vanilla but by no means is it overwhelming or overpowering. There are some healthy toasted malt notes (kind of like bittersweet chocolate). This is a very nice porter, fairly robust, good consistency… enjoyable.

I wanted to drop a Star Wars joke in my review, you know, Dark Side… Darth Vader… The Empire… ah, hell…

Photo of beveritt
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: thanks to my wife for bringing this back, along with a sampling of other beers, from a recent road trip she took. Poured from a stubby 12 oz brown bottle into an Imperial pint glass. Label is a dull purple with a man in a top hat superimposed over an orange moon. Best enjoyed by 10/10.

Appearance: Pours with 1 finger of medium tan head. This settles slowly, leaving behind a still complete coating of foam. The beer itself is dark mahogany and allows a fair amount of light to penetrate the beer towards the edges. No sediment in the bottle.

Smell: Mild aroma of roasted barley with undertones of black coffee.

Taste: Mild roastiness with fairly strong vanilla flavor against a backdrop of lactose sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Lower than average carbonation. Body is decent; very creamy.

Drinkability: Average to above average. Nothing great, but I could see this being a periodic revisit if it were distributed here.

Photo of bashiba
2.95/5  rDev -20.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Poured cola brown with a soap ring of head.

Has a light roasty nose.

The flavors are mild, with a light touch of smoky and roasty malts with a light sweet vanilla finish. A bit of astrigency poking through.

Mouthfeel is a bit thin.

Just ok, not something I would look to drink again.

Photo of Vonerichs
3.37/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown but fairly light on the surface and edges. Minimal head that is short lasting.

It's not very aromatic. In fact, there's hardly any aroma but a light char and cardboard

The flavor picks up a little. The vanilla is definitely present with roasted malt. The finsnb has a slightly sour quality and is brief.

Body is a bit light but carbonation is good.

It's a very average porter.

Photo of GeoffRizzo
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A deep yet bright brown in color, some roasted malts detected on the nose. Awesome light roasted coffee beans, slight vanilla on the palate. Nothing fancy, medium bodied with a smokey finish, decent flavor maintains throughout. Pretty good.
Thanks to a good friend ditty187, mask and all.

Photo of Beertracker
3.57/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Empyrean's Dark Side Vanilla Porter pours up with a compact tannish-brown head that covers the dark brown-russet body. Head retention is slightly poor, but decent for a SHV beer. The aroma is lightly roasted with a some chocolate that underlies the wonderful Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean character. Hints of cocoa nibs & espresso beans only add to the wonderful aromatics. The flavor starts off with some chocolate & dried cocao powder before the vanilla bean character becomes predominate and moves towards a dry, rather thin finish. The aroma is far more generous than the flavor suggests, but pleasantly enjoyable nontheless. Light carbonation, body is medium-thin per style. Empyrean really showcases the vanilla in this beer with good finesse, but the lack of body is slightly distracting. More caramel character would certainly benefit. This beer would be great paired with a simple vanilla custard or crusted chocolate pudding.

CHEERS! Beertracker

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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
84 out of 100 based on 329 ratings.