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Dark Side Vanilla Porter - Empyrean Brewing Company

Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

232 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 232
Reviews: 124
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.59%

Brewed by:
Empyrean Brewing Company visit their website
Nebraska, United States

Style | ABV
American Porter |  5.70% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
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

(Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 11-27-2002)
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Ratings: 232 | Reviews: 124 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of tewaris


2/5  rDev -45.7%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Another state ticked, thanks Lowry!

Clear brown colored with a fizzy head. Aroma is faint roast, some acidity and vanilla, I assume. Tastes oddly bland and sharp with a very generic feel to it. Frankly, right from the pour and down to the taste, this beer is closest to Coke than any other that I have had. Thin and overcarbed, it did not excite me in any way. Except being from Nebraska.

Serving type: bottle

12-24-2012 08:28:56 | More by tewaris
Photo of Beaver13


2.23/5  rDev -39.4%
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.

Serving type: bottle

07-27-2012 04:11:06 | More by Beaver13
Photo of aforbes10


2.3/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This was a weird one for me to review. I love a good porter, and i get the sense that there was a good one in here somewhere. i just couldn't get past the vanilla. Beer looked great in a glass. very dark, with no much head. Odor of vanilla, but this was swamped out by vanilla. Taste was much of the same...kind of porter-ish with chocolate and roasted malt flavors but then the vanilla hits you and that's all you're left with. maybe im just not in favor of vanilla in beers but thats how i feel. I do not need to have this one again and i plead with brewers not to add weird shit to porters. Anything else, fine, but not porters.

Serving type: on-tap

01-07-2006 19:35:13 | More by aforbes10
Photo of mothman

United Kingdom (Wales)

2.48/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Color is a deep brown. Very light tan head.

Aroma: Artificial vanilla and chocolate. Caramel malt providing more sweetness on top of the vanilla. A light roast to it.

Taste: Mimics the nose. A lot of artificial vanilla. It stands out so much. Chocolate and some cocoa with roasted malts. Caramel.

Mouthfeel: Sticky sweet. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry.

Overall, I wasn't impressed with this porter. It tasted too fake for me. If you can get past that fact, it is okay.

Serving type: bottle

03-31-2012 13:53:43 | More by mothman
Photo of Scott17taylor


2.58/5  rDev -29.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Very flavorful but it was a bit strong on the coffee and I didn't pick up many other favors. It is an okay porter with big flavor, mostly cofee, there really isn't anything terrible about it but I overall didn't enjoy this beer. I would much rather drink something a little weaker on the coffee and stronger on other favors.

Serving type: bottle

02-08-2014 05:35:00 | More by Scott17taylor
Photo of mynie


2.65/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Medium ruby almost entirely without a head.

Smell some sweetness, but it's more of a plum and old fruit than a vanilla. Not much "porter" going on, here--there's just a little hint of instant coffee crystals.

Very wet start. Not much flavor. Moving into a decent smokey coffee and ending on a musty flavor that's inbetween imitation vanilla extra and dirty socks. Not very good.

Nothing much to see here, folks. Move along.

Serving type: bottle

02-16-2006 05:01:33 | More by mynie
Photo of kels


2.7/5  rDev -26.6%
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.

Serving type: bottle

10-08-2010 01:05:28 | More by kels
Photo of BieresDesMoines


2.78/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 3

I can't put my finger on it but the label for this beer couldn't be further from what I like in a beer label. Truly like something from the early 90's in the worst way possible. But this isn't ratelables.com now is it? What comes out of this silly looking bottle looks impressive enough It's got a very deep almost black color with a big tight head and some very good lace. The aroma is roasty and lightly smoky with some almost burnt toast kind of character. One thing I can certainly say that I like about the flavor is that the vanilla bean is very under control, this is in no way like the sickly vanilla character of say Breckenridge or others I've tried. The vanilla is there, you would be crazy not to notice it. But by no means does it dominate the flavor of this beer. Beyond that there is almost a cream soda kind of flavor here paired oddly with a very roasty burnt toast character that doesn't particularly mesh all that well. The palate is a bit thin. Overall I liked it more than I expected to, and I liked it a lot more than I dis-liked it.

Serving type: bottle

05-12-2010 05:54:39 | More by BieresDesMoines
Photo of orcasteve

North Carolina

2.8/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

poured a brownish black color with a small white head, the sent of this reminded me of green olives out of a jar, this turned me off instantley, the taste is a tuch sour in the begining (not what i'm use to in a porter), the midle is hops that come in to way to strong and a tuch each of coffie and vanilla, and the end is just bland. this is a beer that i dont think i will revisit any time soon

Serving type: bottle

11-28-2008 16:37:52 | More by orcasteve
Photo of sweemzander


2.83/5  rDev -23.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle poured into a nonic. Best by Jan. 2011. Thanks to beerwolf77 for tossing one my way.

(A)- Pours a very dark brown; almost black color. Produced a good fluffy tan head with good retention. Some lacing.

(S)- A mellow creamy nutty raisin roastedness. Slightly dry.

(T)- Similar to the smell in every way. It has a weird metallic aspect that comes through as it warms.

(M)- A good carbonation level and balance. It is a bit thin in the flavor department. Its good up front, but disappears in the mid palate into a metallic dry finish.

(D)- A decent porter. A bit thin and lacking flavor. Where is the vanilla? Maybe better fresher.

Serving type: bottle

11-24-2010 19:14:13 | More by sweemzander
Photo of bashiba


2.95/5  rDev -19.8%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-06-2011 02:40:47 | More by bashiba
Photo of Jayli


3/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Acquired this from a77cj7 via Under 100 Fishing for Minnows BIF so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!

A: This beer pours a deep ruddy brown with red hues around the edges. One finger of khaki colored head that recedes to a film that retains the entirety of the beer. Wispy chunks of lacing left on the glass.

S: Nose is charred malts, chocolate, and a good deal of vanilla.

T: Taste is ridiculously vanilla up front. It dominates the forefront on this one. Burnt malts and bitter chocolate come through in the middle. Finish has an odd vanilla, medicinal taste to it. Somewhat watery in the finish as well.

M: Lighter side of medium body, medium carbonation, watery, thin mouthfeel.

D: Goes down ok, not too filling, not much of a kick, I would opt for others of the style. Not a bad beer, but not one that I would reach for again.

Serving type: bottle

09-21-2010 02:44:31 | More by Jayli
Photo of SMark


3.03/5  rDev -17.7%
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.

Serving type: bottle

11-12-2006 14:34:45 | More by SMark
Photo of TheStoutAholic


3.08/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Poured into Samuel Adam's Perfect Pint Glass

A- Pours like a cola, with a thin light colored head.

S- Dark roasted malts and I am not sure if I smell the vanilla.

T- I also cannot really taste the vanilla, the beer seemed to average for a porter. It tastes like a malta without all of the sugar and with all of the after taste.

M- ..

D- This beer was nothing special. I probably will not buy it again, but if someone offers me one I would take it. I would not be able to drink a full six-pack of these and enjoy it all.

Serving type: bottle

02-23-2011 19:28:34 | More by TheStoutAholic
Photo of philbe311


3.08/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - A finger's worth of fizzy off-white colored head comprised of mainly medium-to-large sized bubbles... Very limited retention gives way to a splotchy lopsided lacing and uber thin collar... Mostly still with some very limited carbonation seen creeping towards the top of the glass... The color is a deep cola brown... Some unexpected floaties can be seen hanging around the bottom of the glass...

S - Please, but muted... Pleasant vanilla beans... Some faint cola... Very light cocoa... A hint weak coffee... Again, a very nice aroma, but very understated...

T - The nose was a very good indication of what to expect in terms of flavor... Understated with light notes of vanilla, coffee, cocoa, and flat cola...

M - Light to medium bodied... Just the slightest of carbonation... Thin... A bit chalky... Very uneventful... Pedestrian at best... I hate to use this descriptor, but quite boring...

D - A bit of a let down... A slightly above average appearance and aroma give way to a beer that is a disappointment in all other facets... The flavor is understated... The mouthfeel is down right poor... The end result is a brew that I would neither recommend or drink again... Sorry Empyrean, but this one was a big time miss for me...

Serving type: bottle

07-10-2012 01:35:56 | More by philbe311
Photo of kojevergas


3.1/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a nonical pint glass in me gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the style.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of fair cream, nice thickness, and average retention. Colour is a solid nontransparent black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Vanilla, dark malts, light vague chocolate malt, and some cream. A mild strength aroma.

T: Chocolate malt, light vanilla, dark malts, and some cream. Pretty nicely balanced and built, if simple and unremarkable. Lacks complexity or subtlety. The vanilla is surprisingly light.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but with some unwelcome dryness on the climax. A touch too thick considering its lack of flavours. Carbonation is off.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, but far from a great vanilla porter. It almost prioritizes its chocolate malt ahead of vanilla. I'd try it on draught - or ideally on nitro - but it's nothing to write home about. An enjoyable beer for the price.


Serving type: bottle

06-11-2012 03:43:42 | More by kojevergas
Photo of Smurf2055


3.1/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours very dark with a tan head about three fingers.

Smells of vanilla.

Super smooth, creamy, a little bit of stale bitter at the back end.

This is by no means a "good" porter, but I’m glad I got to try it. Rich without being strong. Not anything to seek out, but a great beer, none the less.

Serving type: bottle

05-28-2013 04:19:00 | More by Smurf2055
Photo of MaltyGoodness


3.13/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle courtesy of jhammerly

Pours a dark brown with a small tan head that fades. Mild lacing on the glass.

Aroma is very vanilla oriented with some roasted malt blended in the back. The strength of the vanilla is a little odd, it has a cream soda-ish smell.

It tastes like it smells, just not quite as good. The vanilla is very dominant form start to finish. There is a porter trapped in there somewhere, but it only makes a weak attempt to reveal itself.

Medium-light body, low carbonation.

An interesting brew, but just a bit too heavy on the vanilla for my personal taste.

Serving type: bottle

04-08-2006 04:12:07 | More by MaltyGoodness
Photo of DavoleBomb


3.2/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a perfect pint.

3.0 A: Clear deep amber brown color. One and a half fingers of frothy beige head. Retention is below average, but a small ring of lacing is left.

4.0 S: Vanilla is easily noticeable and blends extremely well with coffee and chocolate notes to give an almost creme brulee vibe. Graininess and a moderate roastiness underneath. Very pleasant.

3.0 T: This is tasty, but it doesn't have the depth of flavor that the nose hinted at. Vanilla is strongest again and there is a decent amount of coffee, but the chocolate is all but gone. This is really dry, which hurts what I think they should have been going for. Lacks sweetness, caramel, and chocolate - all of which complement vanilla quite well. In that sense, this drinks hollow. Light grain and roastiness.

3.0 M: Light to lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Lacking body and creaminess, which is what I love most in creme brulee type dark brews.

3.0 D: It's not bad, but it disappoints once you get past the nose. Easy to drink though.

Serving type: bottle

10-16-2012 01:46:44 | More by DavoleBomb
Photo of Mdog


3.23/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark brown with a quick fading head.

Smell: Faint roasted malt.

Taste: Slight roasted malt then vanilla is the main flavor. There are some chocolate/coffee undertones but the vanilla smoothes them over.

Mouthfeel: Pretty light for a porter.

Drinkability: Not too bad but kind of odd.

I picked this up recently in Nebraska. It's kind of a strange beer, the vanilla is there but is not overpowering. Hard to describe, but worth at least a try.

Serving type: bottle

07-08-2006 00:47:44 | More by Mdog
Photo of JackieTH


3.23/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours an attractive dark brown with tan foam that persists with spotty lace. Smell is roasted malt elements with light vanilla, pretty mild but straightforward. Taste is lightly roasted malt, vanilla, coffee but these flavor elements are not well enough integrated and the body is too light leaving a slightly sour, watery aftertaste. This beer could be more robust.

Serving type: bottle

04-06-2012 04:56:09 | More by JackieTH
Photo of GeoffRizzo


3.28/5  rDev -10.9%
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.

Serving type: bottle

06-14-2003 21:11:26 | More by GeoffRizzo
Photo of JohnGalt1


3.28/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Very cool extra received from a77cj7... Thanks a bunch Chris! Poured into my Old Guardian goblet while finishing up some late night lawn work.

2 finger tan head holds well .. pretty nice lacing.. cap sorta disintegrates quickly.. the brew is expected deep dark brown but with some good ruby highlites.

Nose is better than I was hoping for... I normally don't appreciate vanilla spiced brews.. and honestly, I normally don't really like standard porters either, but this is pretty pleasant and certainly inviting.. lite roasty malts, cocoa, and the vanilla gel well right up front... but that's about it... but the aroma really is pretty good.

Ooooh... ahhh.... ewww... the vanilla is too much for me at the front and seems too ambitious.. and a bit chemically or artificial... the rest of the regular porter flavors are there, but are stained by the lingering vanilla notes.... like a cream soda ... a pretty good cream soda, but it is too much for beer.

Body is solid medium with an about medium carbonation...

Ehh... this is a pretty good beer.... don't let my personal prejudices change your mind.... I still have a quarter of the bottle left, but I doubt my review will change much.


Thanks again Chris.... I wish I had saved this to try with by few beer buddies, but oh well. :-)

Serving type: bottle

09-15-2010 07:07:49 | More by JohnGalt1
Photo of beerwolf77


3.28/5  rDev -10.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Huge thanks to a77cj7 for the NE tick. Poured froma bottle into my duvel tulip.

A: Dark chocoalte brown. Huge three fingers of very light tan head. Solid web of sticky lace. Decent retention.

S: Mild bitter black coffee. Rossted malt and maybe a touch of chocoalte. That's about all I can pick out.

T: The flavor is much milder than the nose would have you believe. Light roast grains and coffee. The vanilla is much more pronounced. A bit of oxidation had taken place I think. I sure hope they didn't try for that flavor. Fairly muted overall.

M: Medium to light body. Low carbonation.

D: Overall nothing bad just nothing special. Drinkable simply because it lacks any real flavors.

Serving type: bottle

11-13-2010 01:07:16 | More by beerwolf77
Photo of katan


3.33/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz into a pint

A - Pours a deep dark brown color. Very opaque, almost fully dark. Head formation is light, a small film, mocha in color.

S - Roasted and almost burnt flavors, very edgy, almost woody astringent. Light amount of grainy husky notes.

T - Starts off with a roasted malt flavor, combined with just a little bit of 2 row sweetness. Very husky and grainy at times. Mid-stream is more bitter, but little hopping detected. Finishes with the lightest hint of the vanilla flavors - which only begins to build in the aftertaste.

M - Moderate beer body - strong carbonation profile. A bit biting on the tongue. Finishes with a clinging texture to the tongue.

D - Moderate drinkability. ABV is manageable. Flavors do become a bit overwhelming over time - needs more to counterbalance the burnt flavors. Not filling.

A solid beer - just not as potent in vanilla as I thought it would be.

Serving type: bottle

04-24-2010 22:23:54 | More by katan
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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 232 ratings.