Dismiss Notice
Sneak peek! BeerAdvocate magazine #104 (September 2015) featuring Leah & Oscar from Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Learn more ...

Dark Side Vanilla Porter - Empyrean Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
83
good

137 Reviews
THE BROS
75
okay

(Read More)
Reviews: 137
Hads: 336
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 14.17%
Wants: 24
Gots: 49 | 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 (25) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Read the Alström Bros Beer Reviews and Beer Ratings of Dark Side Vanilla Porter Alström Bros
Reviews: 137 | Hads: 336
Photo of acelin
4.23/5  rDev +15.3%
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. (418 characters)

Photo of JuicesFlowing
3.55/5  rDev -3.3%
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. (673 characters)

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.24/5  rDev -11.7%
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. (1,031 characters)

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid black bodied with a short, yet creamy head of light tan foam that leaves a few rings of lace.

The nose is a touch light, but what is there is nice. Very light roasted malt, hint of molasses sweetness and ever so slight vanilla extract.

A lovely blend of lightly roasted malt, bit of dusty cocoa powder, malt sweetness and vanilla. Almost a vanilla buttercream taste. Much less roast than vanilla. The vanilla comes on strong at the end and is mostly a vanilla extract as opposed to a vanilla bean. Very nice flavor overall.

Light-medium body, very smooth, bordering on a light slickness. Very clean finish on the tongue.

I really like this beer overall. The vanilla is great and the overall beer has terrific drinkability. Great flavor to abv ratio going on. (768 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (693 characters)

Photo of scratch69
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance- Dark brown color with a fingers worth of tan head. Light amount of lacing.

Smell- Dark roasted malt with hints of coffee, chocolate and vanilla.

Taste- Roasted malt flavor with notes of chocolate and cocoa. Subtle vanilla flavor at the finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied and smooth with a fair amount of carbonation.

Overall- Needs a little more vanilla but still pretty good. This should be labeled as a chocolate porter instead of a vanilla porter. (503 characters)

Photo of Beaver13
2.28/5  rDev -37.9%
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. (439 characters)

Photo of philbe311
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
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... (1,240 characters)

Photo of kojevergas
3.1/5  rDev -15.5%
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+ (1,213 characters)

Photo of JackieTH
3.21/5  rDev -12.5%
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. (366 characters)

Photo of mothman
2.48/5  rDev -32.4%
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. (513 characters)

Photo of cliveklg
5/5  rDev +36.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Love this artisan beer. Starts off a nice bold rich flavor, that goes down smooth. It is definitely a porter with it's flavor with a hint of vanilla going down.

But after it goes down the truly great surprise of this beer takes hold and the taste left in your mouth is the sweet vanilla flavor. No bitter after taste. (319 characters)

Photo of TippySelenoid
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Dark brown, hazy, cream colored head with little retention or lacing.

Roasted malt in the nose as well ad vanilla. Kind of nutmeggy.

Vanilla is up front. This beer is pretty sweet. Some roastiness comes through as well as some bittering hops.

This beer is medium bodied with a subtle carbonation. This beer leaves a film that I find cloying and unpleasant.

This beer is a bit above average. Not my thing though. (446 characters)

Photo of budgood1
3.43/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours out of the twelve ounce stubby bottle a nearly opaque brownish-red colour with some cloudy russet highlights. frothy head dies to some scant bubbles and lingering lace. aroma is of lightly sweetened cocoa and some dark roasted malts. not picking up any vanilla and the overall nose is quite restrained. the taste profile picks things up a bit with the vanilla and milk chocolate notes complimenting the overall roastiness of the malts. even though this is bottle conditioned/unfiltered, it has very little yeast character. mildly astringent...medium sweetness...meekly hopped. true to the porter style with a lagerish body and easy to please mouthfeel. very nice drinkability. it's going to be easy to put away a handful of these.

overall a solid, but unspectacular vanilla porter, and i mean that in a postive way. no flavour dominates; supremely balanced and cleverly nuanced. as it warms a bit the overall profile is allowed to shine. recommended. (957 characters)

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.72/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle courtesy of SurlyTwinsFan. Pours a very dark brown color with a modest cap of tan head. Not much for retention, but lacing is decent.

Nose is, as expected, dusty chocolate and vanilla. Smells good, natural, clean and fresh...I like where this is headed.

Taste is pretty good, although I would like to see a little more sweetness and chocolate flavors. The vanilla comes through loud and clear, and there is a moderate nutty yeast presence. Finishes dry and the body is decent, but wouldnt hurt to be a little fuller and creamier. Some cereal grains come out as it warms. I think this one is pretty similar to Breckenridge Vanilla Porter...so if you like that, I see no reason why you wouldnt like this. (717 characters)

Photo of 4DAloveofSTOUT
3.67/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into tulip glass.

Appearance: dark brown to light black bodied beer that lets a little light through on the edges. 1 full finger of head that falls to a thin cap. Not much lacing to speak of here.

Smell: The vanilla is first to greet your nose. Not a heavy vanilla, just enough to let you know its there. Little coffee roasty note and cocoa.

Taste: This beer is actually not what I expected it to taste like based on the nose of this beer. The roasty malts with a mild coffee note overpowers the vanilla at the beginning of the beer. I thought the vanilla was going to be a quite a bit more substantial. Cocoa and bakers chocolate are prevalent mid palate. The vanilla notes are found in the aftertaste and they are not that sweet, but you know its vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Its on the light end of a medium bodied brew. The carbonation is at moderate levels. It an easy drinking porter. Might be just a little bit overcarbonated for my liking, but not by very much.

Overall: I always love the use of vanilla in dark beers. This beer is a really approachable porter that is simple, straight forward, and fairly tasty. It would be a good dark beer for someone who wants to introduce someone to dark beer or someone who wants an easy drinking vanilla porter. (1,264 characters)

Photo of distantmantra
3.56/5  rDev -3%
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. (887 characters)

Photo of bashiba
2.95/5  rDev -19.6%
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. (287 characters)

Photo of kjyost
3.58/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz bottle, BB 01-12, poured cold (~4C) into a tulip.

A: Rich deep brown to black with a light tan head that leaves light lacing.
S: Light vanilla, roasted malts, hints of coffee. Nose develops as beer warms, initially very muted.
T: Chocolate, coffee, maybe some vanilla in there. A hint of earthiness... Needs a little more here to be a solid example. Once again it develops as it warms.
M: Fairly strong carbonation, nice sweetness that lingers.
O: A decent porter, though nothing special. I have no clue why they would suggest serving the porter as cold as they to (below 40F), as this beer needs a bit of warmth to make it into something beyond a run of the mill beer. (679 characters)

Photo of vande
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: what do you get when you mix a pepsi and a coffee --> essentially the appearance of what is in my pint.. a nice dark brown/black in hue, with the remaining evidence of a light lacing of head

S: rich roasted malt, hints of vanilla blended in nicely, with a coffee laced underton

T: tad smokey... light coffee..roasted malt.. would have liked the vanilla to be a bit more prevalent.. maybe as it warms?

M: light to medium in body, carbonated well..

O: Overall, fairly tasty.. (484 characters)

Photo of DrinkinTim
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Picked a local brew for my first review on BA! Here goes...

Poured from 12oz. bottle to a glass.
A - Very, very dark brown. Almost black. There really is no seeing through it. There is a little deep red around the edges when the glass is held up to the light. The beer poured with a thick, densely bubbled two finger head, light cream in color. This is a really tasty looking beer. Can't wait.
S - So much coffee in the nose. To my as-yet-pretty-untrained nose, I really can't pick out too much in the way of this beer's namesake vanilla. Just a lot of sweet smokiness. Though the beer is not as aromatic as one would have thought by the look of it.
T - Very sweet. Vanilla is in there, full force, as is the coffee. Despite it's initial sweetness, there is some bitterness in there too, which helps to balance it out.
M - I really expected a very thick mouthfeel. Appearance, taste and its classification as a porter seemed to point to that. But surprisingly, it was fairly thin. That's not to say that this is a bad thing in my book. To me, that goes a long way in making this beer so drinkable. But it is a tad bit disappointing I guess.
O - Overall, this was a pretty good brew. Good for the one glass of it that I had, but don't expect me to go running out to buy a six pack of it. In reality, I'll probably forget about it pretty quickly. Fantastic look, average in all other aspects. (1,391 characters)

Photo of ZAP
3.5/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A-Dark brownish black....light chocolate head..

S-A lot of java....deep roasted malt....deep roasted coffee...very light vanilla and caramel notes but evident.

T-More vanilla on the taste than the nose but still not overdone...the java is much lighter on the taste...decent roasted maltiness but a just a little bit thin feeling in flavor...

M-Not expecting a huge beer but this is a little light in the shorts...I've had brown ales with more heft...I've also had brown ales with less heft so I am not saying this is annoyingly thin in body but it could use a little more substance to it...just a tich of acidic feel perhaps from the lower weight..

O-This is Ok..fine...decent...whatever....has some ok flavors...not tremendously assertive but nothing tremendously wrong with it either....

Would I buy a sixer of this? Probably not. (837 characters)

Photo of antlerwrestler19
3.74/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.

Cheers! (631 characters)

Photo of tvv375ia
4.18/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

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 (463 characters)

Photo of dbossman
4/5  rDev +9%
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 (661 characters)

Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 137 ratings.