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Dark Side Vanilla Porter - Empyrean Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

273 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 273
Reviews: 129
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.59%
Wants: 21
Gots: 21 | 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:
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 273 | Reviews: 129 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +8.7%

t0rin0, Sep 26, 2012
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.48/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pecan brown with generous burnt orange borders and a capable looking crown of golden ecru colored foam. A gentle rockiness with melting and some pretty attractive lace allow the good score to be granted.

The nose delivers a pleasant roastiness and more coffee beaniness than expected. Oddly enough, the Madagascar vanilla beans and natural vanilla extract don't make much of an impression. Sorry, points off for that. Well... a half-point anyway.

Dark Side Vanilla Porter is the best Empyrean Brewing beer that I've had to date. Trouble is, the bar was set pretty low with Burning Skye Scottish Ale and Third Stone Brown. All are incredibly simple, it's just that vanilla gives this particular ale a leg up since it adds another flavor facet.

It would be wonderful if DSVP tasted as roasted malty as it smells. 23 IBUs (EBC website) tastes and feels more like 46, which means that malt sugars are lacking. It's good that vanilla doesn't overwhelm the palate, but more would have been better. Cold coffee is still right upfront.

The mouthfeel is strictly average. It's light-medium, with poorly buried, slightly too fizzy bubbles. On a positive note, it doesn't make it all the way to watery, even on the finish.

Dark Side Vanilla Porter could have been so much better. On the other hand, it looks like Empyrean's goal is to brew mid-ABV standards that will appeal to those Midwesterners who don't want to be challenged by their beer. After all, there are more of them than there are of us.

BuckeyeNation, Oct 16, 2010
Photo of mikesgroove
3.9/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to Swid for sending me a fine selection of brews from NE to close out another state on my list. I went for this one first as it defintley seemed intresting to say the least. Served cold and poured into a pint glass. This one was consumed on 11/23/2008.

The pour was very nice. A rich dark brown color coming through on the initial pour. Almost opaque in its color, with just the slightest bit of light shining through on the tops and bottom on the glass. Nice touch of light tan head on top, this faded and left behind only a minimal crown and a small amount of side glass lacing.

The aroma was nice, hints of vanilla were layered on top of roasted malts and a nice touch of caramel. Some light touches of chocolate as it warmed up, but the aroma was a bit lighter then I was expecting. Decent flavor though, until it warmed when it really hit the spot. Nice touches of caramel and vanilla, especially in the finish. A very sweet porter, though an almost smokey note started to take over after a while, it was always checked in place by the dominance of vanilla. Smooth, creamy, medium bodied feel was just what the doc ordered this afternoon, and I could have easily thrown down another in the long run.

Overall for my first beer from Nebraska, I was somewhat impressed. This was a very solid beer, and something I would not hesitate to try again.

mikesgroove, Nov 23, 2008
Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BigDank for including this bottle as an extra in a recent trade.

A: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a glass to reveal a dark brown beer with a tan head.

S: The nose is primarily roasted malt with a few hints of vanilla and coffee.

T: Like the nose, the flavor is primarily roasted malt with a stronger vanilla presence. There is also some chocolate and a bit of coffee.

M: The body is medium and the body is medium.

D: A pretty decent beer with a really cool name. A nice porter and I like the addition of the vanilla as it adds a little bit "extra".

womencantsail, Jan 11, 2010
Photo of jaydoc
3.8/5  rDev +3.3%

jaydoc, Nov 16, 2013
Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a stark-colored brown with a bubbly, ivory white head.

Smell: Some slight dark, roasted notes in the aroma. Aromawise, the vanilla isn't overabundant, and mingles well with other scents of coffee and sweetened chocolate.

Taste: Faintly sweet malts upfront give way to a chocolate flavor and a roasted bitterness. The vanilla peaks through all the while, but really manages to emerge on the finish. Ultimately, all the light, sweet flavors and fizzy carbonation suggest a vanilla soda.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Carbonation is noticeably fizzy.

Drinkability: A fairly pleasant beer that makes for easy drinking.

ChainGangGuy, Jul 03, 2006
Photo of emerge077
3.71/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Thayer for this one!
Split on Christmas Eve.

Dark brown pour, black in the glass, thin layer of dark mocha foam around the edges that quickly dissipates. Some spotty flecks of foam left in the glass with a patchy skim on the surface.

Aroma has distinct notes of vanilla that meld well with a chocolatey malt base.

Taste is fairly bittersweet with subtle notes of vanilla, dark roast malt, bakers chocolate, and toast. Body is a little on the thin side, but the flavors make it a pleasant Porter to sip on. Too much vanilla and you risk verging on medicinal extract territory... Dark Side balances well in my opinion.

emerge077, Dec 26, 2013
Photo of NeroFiddled
3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
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.

NeroFiddled, Jun 12, 2003
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade from IntriqKen, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a large, dense, foamy tan head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is rich with vanilla, chocolate and coffee, along with some caramelized malt & smokiness mixed in.

T: The taste is creamy and smoky with a heavy vanilla flavor backed up with chocolate, coffee, nuts and roasted malt. There’s a little bit of hops present, but the beer is sweet enough to smother the hops flavor.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium-to-high carbonation especially for the style, clean finish.

D: Very tasty, extremely easy-to-drink, not very filling, I could stick with this beer for a long time and put away quite a few.

TheManiacalOne, Dec 30, 2006
Photo of WVbeergeek
3.85/5  rDev +4.6%
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.

WVbeergeek, Feb 15, 2006
Photo of russpowell
3.7/5  rDev +0.5%
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

russpowell, May 31, 2006
Photo of feloniousmonk
3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark, earthy brown color, lighter 'round the sides, with a grand, lasting, creamy head. Aroma: smack-full of vanilla, with some roasty elements, and additional flavors of nuts, cocoa, and more.
It stuff my nose in the glass to further get a feel for it, and then I'm left with a touch of rum...no, rum & coke...no, rum & vanilla coke? (Has anyone seen Chazz Palmentieri around?)
Vanilla feel is dominant on the palate, and while there is some of the bitterness I look for in any good porter, it's lying very low. All other parts of the picture do their job very well, but it's the particular vanilla flavor that this beer is all about, and it never quits. So, if you like vanilla, here you go. Me, I like porter-flavored porters.
Not bad, but it was too much vanilla for me. Thanks go to bditty187 for providing!

feloniousmonk, May 01, 2003
Photo of StonedTrippin
3.65/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i appreciate a vanilla beer that isnt over the top on the vanilla, and this fits that bill. it pours black as night, with a tiny tan head. the nose is vanilla yes, but also very very roasty, cocoa nibs, and raw sugar. the flavor is akin to the nose, with the vanilla weaving in and out of the taste journey. its there at the beginning and end, and also some sports in between, but it rests for the huge dark malts and delicate swiss chocolate flavors to permeate. its not an artificial vanilla either, its the real deal. feel is excellent, big body, even for a porter, and fine carbonation. sessionable because it isnt sweet like a lot of these are. impressed with my first few nebraska brews.

StonedTrippin, Aug 28, 2012
Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +8.7%
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.

Mora2000, Nov 18, 2010
Photo of Gueuzedude
3.5/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Best by January 2011; Sampled January 2011
A vigorous pour into my Lost Abbey Teku glass produces a four-finger thick, lightly brown tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a deep, dark brown color that shows a brilliantly clear, ruby-brown hue when held up to the light. Up front the beer smells of smooth roasted whole grain, a dark brown toasted bread character and even some coffee leaning roast notes towards the finish. I can't say that I get much in the way of vanilla in the nose, but the rich, toasted, whole grain character that this beer achieves is quite appetizing. Wait, there was a little something fleeting there that made me think of Bourbon, it disappeared pretty quickly, but I do believe it was some vanilla peaking through; in fact my nose just needed to adjust to the dark grain character as the vanilla is now easily noticeable.

Sweet tasting up front with a sweet accenting vanilla flavor to it, as the beer rolls across the tongue the beer dries out with an ample burnt, roast grain character (that can be a touch acrid and definitely bitter) as well as an almost creamy textured, vanilla infused flavor that lingers on the tongue for quite some time. The vanilla in the finish competes with the roast bitterness; at times it is more dominant and at others it is the opposite. A light carbonation tickles the tongue as the beer rolls through my mouth, the body of this beer is fairly light given the sweetness and I think much of this is because the vanilla accentuates the sweetness that is here. A touch of hop character in the finish contributes to some of the bitterness, but this is certainly not a hop focused beer. Somehow the vanilla character in the finish can come off as being manufactured, though I am not exactly sure why. Roasted malt notes remind me of slightly acidic, richly roasted coffee and toasted / burnt whole grain bread; the roasted character definitely plays a secondary role to the vanilla though.

Not bad, perhaps a touch simplistic as the vanilla really dominates the flavor of this beer; if you really like vanilla and you like coffee then this will likely be a flavor profile that you enjoy.

Gueuzedude, Jan 31, 2011
Photo of XmnwildX12
3/5  rDev -18.5%

XmnwildX12, May 09, 2014
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.

C+

kojevergas, Jun 11, 2012
Photo of Georgiabeer
3.35/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to RedHaze for the chance to try this. Pours black with brown highlights and a short head that fades to a ring. No lacing. Aroma and taste are virtually identical. Strange notes of scented pipe tobacco with dusty notes of vanilla, tobacco, and spice. Strange, but not owerwhelming or unpleasant. The mouthfeel is firm and dusty. I don't know if I could drink more than one of these. Definitely a bit bizarre.

Georgiabeer, Jun 26, 2008
Photo of mothman
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.

mothman, Mar 31, 2012
Photo of Wasatch
3.98/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to jhammerly for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear dark brown color, nice carbonation, little fizzy head, some sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malty, slightly roasted, some vanilla, toffee, and caramel. The taste is malty, sweet from the vanilla, a very slight roastyness, good dose of toffee/caramel. The finish is slightly dry and bitter. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a tasty porter, glad to have had a chance to try it.

Wasatch, Jul 27, 2007
Photo of LXIXME
3/5  rDev -18.5%

LXIXME, Aug 16, 2013
Photo of Viggo
3.45/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to RedHaze for hooking me up in a recent trade.

Pours a lightly hazed dark ruby red/brown, nice tight thick tan head forms, dense, drops some nice lacing on the glass, settles to a thin ring. Smell is neat, brown sugar, some light chocolate and roast, vanilla beans, dark fruits, yeast, a bit bready, quite sweet, some aroma going on I can't place. Taste is a little weird, like a mix between root beer and cream soda. Tons of vanilla, some brown sugar, light bit of maltiness and a bit of dark fruit, but mostly sugary vanilla. Kind of neat actually, not sure I would call this a porter, but I'm quite enjoying it. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, very smooth, medium carbonation. Very easy to drink, especially for someone who likes cream soda/root beer. I wouldn't mind getting this on a regular basis. Scorewise I'm not sure because its a crap porter, but a very good and drinkable beer. Thanks Chris!

Viggo, Sep 23, 2008
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.

3.5/4/3/3.5/3

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

JohnGalt1, Sep 15, 2010
Photo of scruffwhor
4.2/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours a medium brown to a deep garnet when held to the light. Very quick head recedes to nothing after a few sips. A drop of vanilla extract and some morning roast Folgers hit the nostrils in subtle ways. Not too mention the havy roast and light smoke aroma as well. The taste starts out subtle upfront. Light vanilla and coffee, then dark chocolate and coffee gorunds hit the middle. By the finis, theres a light vanilla liquer flavor on the back burner keeping the roasted malts in check....a little. Nice session ale with tons of flavo and not palate busting.

scruffwhor, Oct 17, 2009
Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.63/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 oz bottle poured into a Sierra Nevada imperial pint. Best if stored cool - below 40°, Best if served cool at 40°, OG: 14.5, IBU: 23, 5.8% ABV, Best Enjoyed by MO. 01 YR. 11 notched on the label.

Thanks to Beerwolf77 for hooking up the tickerazzi with another state to try!

A - Definitely dark, this one is near black. Slivers of clear amber show through the bottom. A gray-ish tan head reaches a good two-finger level then lowers leaving thick patterns of webbing behind.

S - Vanilla beans make an early entrance to the aroma but never get strong. They are a nice bean aroma though, not extract. Smooth bitter coffee doesn't get aggressive either and the roasted malt profile has a mellow sweetness I'm looking forward to tasting. No hops in the nose.

T - Not as much sweetness as the nose let on but the very roasted malt character is smooth, not harsh. Mellow coffee and chocolate with a faint vanilla bean flavor.

M - Medium-light bodied and somewhat crisp for this style, it has a decently carbonated finish and a roasted bitter quality that's also dry and lingers upon the swallow.

D - Good vanilla nose, a little lacking in the flavor though. Nice American Porter out of Nebraska though. Definitely not a bad offering.

BeerFMAndy, Nov 25, 2010
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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 273 ratings.