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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.

265 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 265
Reviews: 129
rAvg: 3.68
pDev: 13.32%
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: 265 | Reviews: 129 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of antlerwrestler19


3.78/5  rDev +2.7%

Pours the darkest deep brown almost black with a decent pillowy tan head that held for awhile - once it disspiated it left a lot of thick lacing around the glass. Not picking up a huge aroma but I am getting some, faint roasted malt and hint of vanilla and toffee. The taste steps it up with a nice subtle malt bill that is chocolatey, roasty, sweet, and creamy, the vanilla is there. This creamy smooth medium bodied beer is an easy drinker - nice and pleasant. I've had this many times before and I'm glad it's readily available in case I wanted a darker beer that isn't so brutal with a lower abv and subtleness to it.


08-29-2011 03:48:47 | More by antlerwrestler19
Photo of tvv375ia


4.18/5  rDev +13.6%

Poured from 12oz bottle into pint glass 2 finger head that leaves a lot of lacing as it goes to about a1/4 inch head that sticks around for a while
A-dark almost black, a little ruby color if it is held up to the light
S-Coffee up front maybe something like a vanilla latte
T-lots of roasted flavors followed up by a hint of vanilla
M- not over carbonated just a nice creamy texture
O- I really like this one and I think that it will become a regular in my fridge

08-11-2011 00:07:16 | More by tvv375ia
Photo of dbossman


4/5  rDev +8.7%

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

08-10-2011 01:43:08 | More by dbossman
Photo of StoneTSR


4.28/5  rDev +16.3%

A: Black until held up to the light when a touch of tan light gets through the beer. The head is stark white, a bit unusual for a porter. Good looking beer.

S: Strong coffee aroma with a hint of smokiness.

T: Very smoky with a mildly and pleasant coffee flavor. Some notes of oak and a slight hoppiness with a subtle presence of vanilla. Mellow, dry, smooth and very delicious.

M: Very bubbly and sparkling for a porter. It also sits fairly easy for such a dark, robust and flavorful brew.

O: Fantastic. Every time I'm back in Lincoln I try to stop in at Lazlo's for a few pints and a sixer to go. This is an extremely flavorful, yet pleasantly easy-drinking porter.

EDIT: Pretty low ABV I know, but I thought I would try aging this one and popped one open yesterday that was about six months old. I've got another coming in six more months as well. Anyhow, here's what I found:

The vanilla notes were completely gone, but a Sheri-like flavor too it's place. Also, some strong citrus was present, especially lemon. Overall it seemed a bit harsh and boozy despite the 5.7%. At the same time, it seemed as though it could be on it's way to being more mellow and drinkable in another six months. I'll update this post then.

07-25-2011 07:07:55 | More by StoneTSR
Photo of siradmiralnelson


3.73/5  rDev +1.4%

Poured from 12oz bottle into Globe glass.

A. Poured 3 fingers of light tan head. Good retention. Moderate lacing. Color is very dark brown.

S. Yeast, mustiness, roasted malt, dark chocolate, vanilla, a little coffee. Pretty good porter smell. A little more vanilla as it warms.

T. Roasted malt, dark chocolate, a litlle milk chocolate, vanilla hides in the background. Not overpowering vanilla flavor which is nice. Pretty easy drinking.

M. Medium bodied. Medium carbonation.

O. Overall a pretty smooth easy drinking porter that has a nice touch of vanilla. You can easily put down a few of these in a sitting. Not incredibly deep in terms of aroma or flavor, but a good beer.

07-12-2011 01:11:19 | More by siradmiralnelson
Photo of Forb


3.58/5  rDev -2.7%

Poured from a 12oz bottle...

Appearance: Pours a pitch black body.

Smell: Roast malt, caramel, vanilla bean.

Taste: Sweet coffee in the roast malt and subtle vanilla that is strikingly notable compared to most "vanilla" porters I've tasted.

Mouthfeel: Quite smooth and mellow with a creamy chewiness.

Overall: The vanilla essence is the big thumbs up from me.

06-26-2011 04:28:25 | More by Forb
Photo of icecube


3.88/5  rDev +5.4%

12 oz bottle poured into a warm glass

A: Pours a very dark rich black color

S: A lot of roast, some caramel, and vanilla is there but in a nice subtle way.

T: Light coffee and roast flavors and there is the vanilla and it’s not the bad artificial tasting vanilla. It blends well into this beer and can be tasted in every sip. It doesn't linger on the finish.

M:On the thinner side of other porters, but still very drinkable.

O: Enjoyed this beer very much. I will reach for this again and again. Well done

06-18-2011 17:07:44 | More by icecube
Photo of rundocrun


4.33/5  rDev +17.7%

Had this beer on-tap at Old Capitol Brew Works in Iowa City.

A - Pours dark, dark brown. Almost black, with root beer-like highlights. Light tan head that dissipates fairly quickly.

S - Deep, rich toasted malts with a definite whiff of vanilla. Enticing!

T - Some bitter, coffee-like notes up front that fade slightly but last through the finish. Wow! A definite dollop of vanilla flavor right after the swallow. Nice, balanced hop notes to round it out. Very impressed!

M - Thicker than some stouts i've tried, that's for sure! Only beef is that it's slightly over-carbonated. That may just be personal preference talking though.

04-10-2011 05:21:39 | More by rundocrun
Photo of lawlerj


3.98/5  rDev +8.2%

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.

04-09-2011 13:13:06 | More by lawlerj
Photo of FosterJM


3.33/5  rDev -9.5%

374th review on BA
bottle to pint
12 oz

App- This was after a long night of drinking. Please forgive me. It's brown, so its lending towards porter territory. A little bit of head not much there

Smell- Two things are here. Roasted notes and a faint vanilla.

Taste- Its's fairly sweet with a bit of vanilla and just a touch of some bitter aciditic coffee

Mouth- It's a little flat but leaning towards a medium body with a lower carb feel.

D- It was okay. I think it was fatigue. Just a bit bland and not overly enjoyable.

04-09-2011 04:28:57 | More by FosterJM
Photo of ForWhatAlesYou


4.45/5  rDev +20.9%

12 oz bottle into a pint glass

A: 2 finger foamy head of a nice khaki-beige color. Nearly black in color.

S: Sweet malt, dark beries, candy sugar, vanilla.

T: Rich coffeeish flavor with the best vanilla infuson I've ever had in a beer. Tight, dark malt. Nice aftertaste.

M: A little dry but overall a nice chewy presence.

D: Nearly perfect. I've enjoyed Breckenridge Vanilla Porter for years but this is better (still really like Breckenridge, though). Right up there with all of my favorite porters/stouts.

02-24-2011 18:00:06 | More by ForWhatAlesYou
Photo of TheStoutAholic


3.08/5  rDev -16.3%

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.

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


3.5/5  rDev -4.9%

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.

01-31-2011 14:23:54 | More by Gueuzedude
Photo of Wisconsinality


4.15/5  rDev +12.8%

Thanks to Beerwolf77 for this one.

12oz bottle poured into standard pint.

A- Pours a deep cola brown with a small half finger head that dies down almost immediately and leaves some spotty lacing on the side of the glass.

S- Big roasted malts, black coffee, and slight hints of vanilla. There is also some dark chocolate that finishes this one off.

T- There is a good amount going on here and that is a good thing. Dark chocolate, hints of tobacco, coffee, vanilla and leather. The crazy thing is there is great balance here with no flavor dominating.

M- Medium bodied but a little lighter than I was expecting. It almost feels like a flat soda but it works.

D- This is one complex beer. I didn't really have any expectations going in but this flavor profile is great. A little lacking on on the body but overall a pretty damn good beer. Nebraska, you have yourself a winner.

01-30-2011 14:43:08 | More by Wisconsinality
Photo of HopsNPot


4.45/5  rDev +20.9%

APP- virtual space black with just a tad of light flooding through the thinnest part of the glass when directly held in front of light.
SMELL- roasted coffee and vanilla beans are apparent. malty aroma. rich.
TASTE- smooth initial hit of rich malt. followed by somewhat creamy coffee/vanilla aftertaste.
MF- full bodied and very clean.
DRINKBLTY- so smooth, for a porter this is extremely accessible and outrageously smooth.

overall, this is a great brew, and its not just the nebraska bias. Im not sure how many states empyrean caters to, but if you get a chance at any of their brews, this is a great first pic.

01-11-2011 01:28:15 | More by HopsNPot
Photo of Vdubb86


3.85/5  rDev +4.6%

Served in a pint glass

Thanks to TheManiacalOne for letting me tick NE with this one.

This beer pours a dark brown with reddish tints and a light beige head on the surface. The smell is heavily of roast and not much else. The taste is rather nice, the vanilla on the palate with the coffee roast flavors really works wonders together. It's not an overtly complex beer, but it sure qualifies as both tasty and drinkable from my perspective. It's a tad on the watery side for my liking but then again, I confuse porters and stouts all the time, so take that for what it's worth. It is a pleasant little slice of the grain belt and a tasty beer if I do say so.

12-18-2010 20:33:12 | More by Vdubb86
Photo of FreshHawk


3.58/5  rDev -2.7%

A - Deep mahogany brown, nearing black, with ruby hues. Good sized, sticky, full, creamy, frothy, light beige head. Not quite meringue-like, but close. Average retention leaving a thin speckled layer of lace.

S - Strong vanilla along with plenty of coffee. Lightly burnt malt. Bitter coffee and dark bitter chocolate. Some sweet creaminess and caramel. It alters from sweet vanilla coke like aroma and bitter chocolate/coffee.

T - Watered down, coffee grounds are a lot of the flavor. A lot of vanilla also comes out. Hints of chocolate in the back, and some lightly roasted malt. Some sweet caramel and creaminess. A little cloying.

M - Light body with average carbonation. Sticky and thin mouthfeel.

D - A little too sweet to be too drinkable. Not great coffee flavor either.

Notes: I had somewhat high hopes, and the description sounded nice. Unfortunately once I started drinking it, I was slightly let down. Strong vanilla and coffee, but it was not necessarily great flavors from those. Also lacks a bit of that roasted flavor. Not bad, but not great either, and it could have been much better.

12-10-2010 03:14:51 | More by FreshHawk
Photo of BeerFMAndy


3.63/5  rDev -1.4%

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.

11-25-2010 15:50:08 | More by BeerFMAndy
Photo of sweemzander


2.83/5  rDev -23.1%

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.

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


3.58/5  rDev -2.7%

Presentation: 12 oz. bottle into a nonic. Thanks to beveritt's wife for procuring this (from SD?).

A- Dark brown and essentially opaque.Pours with ~2 fingers of light brown head, which fades quickly to a thin cap.

S- Roasty coffee, and hints of chocolate and malty sweetness.

T- Fairly acrid, bitter coffee with vanilla notes and a solid malty sweetness.

M- Fairly low carbonation. Medium feel. Somewhat creamy.

D- Pretty good. Pleasant and easy drinking.

Future outlook: A decent beer, but just another one-off, out of stater for me.

11-20-2010 04:11:48 | More by DoctorDog
Photo of Mora2000


4/5  rDev +8.7%

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.

11-18-2010 05:16:41 | More by Mora2000
Photo of scarfield


3.85/5  rDev +4.6%

Pours a dark brown into a pint glass. Half an inch of rocky tan head. Moderate lacing occurs as the glass is emptied.

Smell is mostly vanilla, but also there is a bit of coffee and (dark) chocolate also noticeable.

Taste is of coffee, cocoa and vanilla beans, and a bit of the bitterness that you would get if you were to bite into one of these beans. The bitterness is in no way off-putting. The vanilla extract is the dominant aftertaste, but also a lingering "roasted" flavor also is there.

Despite the bitterness that i've spoken about in the taste, the beer is quite easy to drink. It has an overall smooth feel when drinking it, and multiple bottles of this can be enjoyed without causing too much trauma to your tongue.

(If you get to Lazlo's, try it with their Chocolate Excess Brownie.)

11-15-2010 23:29:11 | More by scarfield
Photo of beerwolf77


3.28/5  rDev -10.9%

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.

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


3.48/5  rDev -5.4%

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.

10-16-2010 11:54:11 | More by BuckeyeNation
Photo of kels


2.7/5  rDev -26.6%

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.

10-08-2010 01:05:28 | More by kels
Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 265 ratings.