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
Photo of Rossmeister23
4.81/5  rDev +29.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Have had this beer on several occasions. On tap at Lazlo's, and in bottles in several places throughout Nebraska. Love, love, love this beer.

Appearance: Pours a lovely dark, dark brown that mingles with pure black ever so slightly. Pours a decent size khaki-tan head for me. Excellent retention as well!

Scent: Strong scents of vanilla, roasted barley, and faint notes of chocolate. The chocolate and vanilla duality is one that I find works well in this brew.

Taste: More of the same. Vanilla taste doesn't cut through as much as the scent implies, but to me, that's okay. It provides a nice balance to everything else going rather than allowing any one flavor to be the dominant force. Additional flavors of coffee, barley, chocolate are found. All excellent, and all typical of a good porter.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, and moderate-light to moderate carbonation. Goes down easy and definitely makes you want more!

Overall: Strong history with this beer. Empyrean and Lazlo's hold a strong place in my heart, and this is my favorite offering from them. Great color, great flavor, great memories. Love it!

Photo of UnicornProfessor
4.52/5  rDev +21.8%

Empyrean is my favorite brewing co, and their Dark Side Vanilla Porter is my favorite beer from them. It's always awesome and fulfilling.

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 kw_pip
4/5  rDev +7.8%

Good filing porter with a bitter vanilla sweetness.

Photo of corywalston
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

A. Easy poor ¼ inch thin head dissipated quickly. Looks of cola.
S. Raisins, roasty, old coffee.
T. Roasty, cola, light taste of vanilla, light caramel, can barley taste the alcohol. Taste a little like chocolate when chugged.
M. Crisp, watery.
O. Good for drinking all day long without getting full. The buzz isn’t to strong, you could drink all day and not get to drunk. Recommend for people who like Left Hands Milk stout.

Photo of TheCondor
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

In my second installment of rating Empyrean products, we go to my favorite style, the American Porter. When I peruse the top porters on this site, I see I have drank and reviewed a lot of good porters, so I am familiar with what they are supposed to taste like. Side poured with standard intensity from the bottle into a goblet.

Appearance - Like many porters, pours a dark brown with an off white head that is less than one finger. Head dissipates rapidly, and leaves little lacing. I like the packaging on this beer, and the little saying on the side.

Smell - Despite the advertisement, I detect a relatively small nose on this beer. There are some malty notes, a little roast, and thats about it. I detect very little in the way of aroma. There may be a bit of coffee in there, but I really have to dig, and that may be my imagination too.

Taste - Much like the aroma, the taste leaves much to be desired. There is a pronounced bitterness, which drowns out what may be a decent brew. I detect little of the vanilla and chocolate with which the beer is made. TO me, the coffee bitterness really dominates the palate. There is a hint of sweetness and roast, but the flavor is one-dimensional.

Mouthfeel- Very thin and watery, finishes bitter. My least favorite part, I want a porter to be thick and creamy.

Overall - As with Burning Skye, I would not recommend this, nor would I buy it again. Ever. There are too many good porters out there to drink this one. I am glad I drank it, but coming off my recent out-of-body experience with Anchor Porter, maybe this was a bad choice, too much of a drop off. I ended up pouring the last 1/4 or so of it, just go bored with it.

Photo of sheeley
4.2/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Caramel-like, dark brown in color. Not very impressive head.
Smell: Pleasant smell. Notes of caramel and vanilla shine through.
Taste/mouthfeel: Delicious. Chocolate, vanilla, and subtle coffee flavors are present. Partway into the glass, the caramel comes out more, as well as the coffee. The whole mouthfeel is quite pleasing.
Overall, this beer is very good and easy to drink. Not one of the best beers I have had, but one that I would likely purchase again.

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.05/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

Appearance - Poured into a Miller Fortune 8 oz glass. 1 finger head. Retention not so much.

Smell (4) - Roasted coffee beans, stout, hint of vanilla bean.

Taste (2.75) - Not bad, but a little too bitter for me. The bitterness tastes like old vanilla coffee beans. Dark stout.

Mouthfeel (3.25) - Like drinking an iced coffee but it's a beer. A hint of carbonation spritzes it up just enough to give it a subtle pop. Mildly creamy. Nice bite and finish, a step up from the taste.

Overall - Definitely a session beer. I can tell this one is heavy on the alcohol. Giving me an almost instant headache. But overall it's a feels like winner even if it is a little too bitter and aggressive. Hard to finish so that tanks the rating but I can respect this beer for what it is.

Photo of sulldaddy
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampling a cellar temp bottle poured into a snifter. The beer pours a deep rich brown hue, with no light passing through the glass. This bottle has been in my cellar for a year or two.
A creamy tan head of 2 cm foams up with a gentle pour and recedes to a wispy surface layer with denser edges.
Aroma is some chocolate malt and vanilla hits, not really sweet though. I also get a little brown sugar mixed in for a generally appealing nose, it is fairly mild but pleasant.
First sip reveals a smooth silky texture on an average body and gentle rolling carbonation. All of the physical qualities make it very easy to drink.
Flavor is sweeter than I anticipated from the nose. Brown sugar and vanilla mix with milk chocolate flavors, not so much roasted dark chocolate. I dont get any hits of alcohol or hops anywhere on this beer. Definitely a malt lovers brew and the sweeter flavor may get cloying after a second bottle. I do enjoy this one and would have it again if in Nebraska or the neighboring area.

Photo of ThickNStout
2.92/5  rDev -21.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle from LambicPentameter (thank you!). Best by 7/14. Served in a goblet.

Pours deep brown with three fingers of pale, sand-hued head. A fluffy half finger cap longers and leaves large sheets of lace.

Smells a bit musky with roast malts, caramel and vague vanilla.

Taste is overall bittersweet with dark roasted malts, coffee, cocoa powder, burnt sugar, fruit skins and very mild vanilla bean. It suffers from being just a bit too bitter to let the vanilla through and unfortunately that vanilla flavor comes across to me as more sharp extract than smooth bean in nature.

Fairly thin yet near-creamy feel with a strong seeming dose of carbonation. The finish is roasty with a little lingering vanilla character.

Far from offensive but this didn't deliver near as much vanilla as I would like. Far more roasty and bitter with a body much too thin to be something I'd look to drink much of.

Photo of Kris450
3.71/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I received this beer on tap at a concert. This is my first vanilla porter so I wasn't completely sure what to expect. What I got was a stout-like coffee flavor with an aftertaste of vanilla. Strong coffee taste at the forefront with little aftertaste following the drink. I was ambitious enough to go back for seconds, however it being a heavy and rather dark beer, by the end of the second, I was ready to be done. Have a glass and treat yourself, however, be prepared to follow it up with something else that is lighter and more drinkable.

Photo of Scott17taylor
2.63/5  rDev -29.1%
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.

Photo of emerge077
3.74/5  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.

Photo of PieOhMy
4.14/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A. Datk brown with a hint of amber in the light. White head - this is different for the style. Head fades but leaves a nice lacing.

S. Coffee grounds. Cocoa. Vanilla. Very rich.

T. Coffee and chocolate. Dark and bitter cocoa. Vanilla ice cream. Some bitter hop/malt in the end.

M. Medium. It goes down easy. Big coffee aftertaste.

O. Excellent. Drinks more like a stout (Obsidian comes to mind). Very rich and flavorful. Well done.

Photo of jdhowe
3.63/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. No idea how old this beer is -- bottle showed an area for a "drink by" label but it was not labeled. Bottle courtesy of Duffman929.

A: Pours a clear deep brown with very little light showing through with one and a half fingers of light tan colored head that recedes to a film. Good looking porter.

S: Roasty, lightly fruity, but full of creamy chocolate character alongside vanilla. A little smokiness shows through behind the sweetness, but it's mild. Alcohol is slightly evident. Fruitiness maybe just a little pungent, but otherwise a very nice aroma.

T/M: Thin, roasty, and well carbonated. Fruity character is more muted than in the nose, thankfully. Mouthfeel is definitely a little too thin. Little to no vanilla is detectable, making this a slightly disappointing vanilla porter, but a fine porter... maybe just a hint of vanilla is in the aftertaste, but I definitely want more of it.

O: This one was a little disappointing, but is still very drinkable and enjoyable. I always get so excited about flavors I like being in beers, and then let down if the beer does not deliver on that flavor. Here I am missing vanilla. Otherwise, this is a pretty good porter... pretty much right on for the style, but just a little thin in the mouthfeel. I wish I knew how old this bottle was... it could easily be years given that it was a "cleaning my cellar" addition to a box I received.

Photo of yeastlovehoppiness_greg
3.68/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm not much of a coffee or chocolate beer fan. This beer has both with a little vanilla. It is pretty much black. could not see any light through the glass. it has a tight smooth head. There is not a bitter aftertaste. I would not be able to drink a lot of these but one or two would do well.

Photo of yeastlovehoppiness_jess
4.1/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark, almost-black brown. One finger of beige head. Little retention. No lacing.

S: Dark chocolate. Malt. Roasted coffee. Vanilla. Smoky.

T: Dark chocolate. Vanilla. Coffee. Malty. Creamy.

M: Thin. Smooth. Dry. Chocolate aftertaste. Drinkable. Not much carbonation.

O: I love the combination of dark chocolate, vanilla, malts, and coffee in this beer. It's delicious and rich, but earthy, drinkable, and smooth enough to drink all night... which I often have.

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 Smurf2055
3.12/5  rDev -15.9%
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.

Photo of ButterflyBethie
4.57/5  rDev +23.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer smells great!! You can use it for aromatherapy. Smells of sweet vanilla with a hint of chocolate. The taste is like the smell and goes down very smooth with light carbonation. Not overly sweet in taste but also no bitterness. The beer has a small head with no lacing and is very dark. The appearance is typical of a porter. This is like drinking a great dessert.

Photo of vette2006c5r
3.79/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark Side Porter pours a black color, with a small lacing head. There is a strong smokey aroma, smells almost burnt. The taste has a mellow vanilla flavor, on a smokey, almost burnt malty backbone. Smooth combination of flavors, and good full flavor. Overall a nice porter, nothing overpowering, but nice and enjoyable.

Photo of tewaris
2/5  rDev -46.1%
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.

Photo of acelin
4.23/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Beer Kitchen, poured into a tasting glass.

Pours dark nut brown with minimal head that disappeared quickly, ok lacing.

Smelled of roasted malt, almost coffeish.

The malt was very roasted, with hints of coffee, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, more vanilla... balanced to the point that it almost tasted like candy. Hope profile was light with no specific character.

Mouthfeel was perfect for the style.

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.55/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip pint glass.

The beer is dark brown when settled, but really light brown otherwise. A nice dark cream colored head takes a while to settle, leaving a group of bubbles when it does. Nice lines of lacing coat the glass, somewhat light.

The aroma is somewhat infused with vanilla, also a faint woody, oak aroma. Some alcohol, even though the ABV is only 5.7%.

The taste is a shadow of the aroma. Somewhat of a watered down quality, nothing really stands out, but some woody oak and faint vanilla. SOme bitterness in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium to light, very drinkable.

Overall, there's just not enough to push this over the edge of memorable.

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.24/5  rDev -12.7%
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.

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