Dark Side Vanilla Porter - Empyrean Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter

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298 Ratings

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Ratings: 298
Reviews: 134
rAvg: 3.69
pDev: 13.55%
Wants: 21
Gots: 31 | 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)
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Ratings: 298 | Reviews: 134 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of orcasteve
2.8/5  rDev -24.1%
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

Photo of tpd975
3.98/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A big thanks goes out to swid for this one, and an assload more NE brews. It is a state I have been wanting to cross off the list and he more than took care of it.

A: Pours a nice nutty brown hue with a nice tall creamy tan head. The retention is good with some spotty lace noted.

S: Aromas of nice toasty malt with notes of sweet caramel, chocolate, and vanilla beans.

T: Rather flavorful, but nothing overpowers. What this one is, is a wonderful mix of flavors. Wonderful caramel malt with hints of darkened brown sugar. Vanilla comes next with slight tones of chocolate and coffee. A touch of smokiness seems to peek thru as well. Very complex, one NE should be proud of.

M: Medium in body, smooth, creamy, with great carbonation.

D: Wish they bomered this one. Just got home from a trip to San Fran and dropped this one in the ice box for a few min to put a touch of chill on it. It is the perfect way to end the night. Smooth and tasty goodness in a bottle. Thanks swid!

Photo of mikesgroove
3.9/5  rDev +5.7%
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.

Photo of Viggo
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
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!

Photo of treyrab
3.45/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass

A: Deep brown with much ruby hues that come through. Rather light looking for a porter

S: Smell is rather light with black and chocolate malts with no vanilla noticed yet

T: The vanilla comes through very slightly, barely any at all. The coffee and light cocoa is what I feel, but it is extremely light and watery

M,D: Very watery for my expectations, and not enough vanilla.

Photo of Georgiabeer
3.35/5  rDev -9.2%
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.

Photo of CamuMahubah
4.18/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

What a corny label! Reminds me of a Broadway Musical poster. Fortunately a gorgeous porter flows from the bottle to the snifter. Don't judge a book by its cover!

Smells of dark cacao milk...

Nice cocoa splendor wrapped in a vanilla wisp...

Coats my mouth my chocolate milk!

This is not a quaffing porter. This is a dessert beer all the way. A local favorite that I have had many times before. Proud to serve this beer at dinner parties!

Photo of tayner
3.68/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz stubby twist off brown bottle with a nice label design but no date.

poured a dark fizzy brown, almost like cola colored with a white head that died quickly, no lacing.

smell is of vanilla beans and roasted malt. Mostly sweet vanilla though.

Taste was vanilla right up front, almost like i was sucking on fresh vanilla beans. Beyond that there are some roasted grains, but not burnt grains. There is an earthy undertone to it i cant put my finger on.

The mouthfeel was pretty thin. when i smelled it i expected more. Not alot of coating or thickness at all.

Drinkability i went a little lower. It is easy to drink, but it is pretty sweet, almost like a dessert beer, so 1 at a time is my limit, although the abv would allow for more if you were into the sweetness.

Photo of NClifestyle
4.33/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really like this beer. got this in a trade from jhammerly (thanks). i had been trying to talk one of my brewing buddies into letting me brew a vanilla beer, and he thought the idea was worthless.
anyway, this beer pours up a lovely dark color, not quite black, but definitely not brown, purple and blood red hints when held up to the light. thick tan head dwindles to a nice layer over the dark contents.
first smell is vanilla, but not super slick or sweet, just about right, less like some scented candle. also, a hint of hop in there, with some bread aroma as well.
taste is just a brush of vanilla prior to a well made malt/coffee flavor with just enough dry hop in the back of the mouth to keep the beer from becoming sweet. a really GREAT mix and perfect touch of vanilla.
not a ton of bubbles, but enough to keep things lively.
you can't drink too many porters at one sitting, less so if the beer is super sweet, but i could have had a few of these.
if this was a local brew, and the temperature was under 60 degrees, i'd drink this all the time.

This is the last of the dsvp's I received in a trade long ago. Been holding off, but finally had to break it open, for fear of it going bad.

This is a wonderful beer, if you're a fan of vanilla. Not too over the top, but you definitely notice it. A bit more sweet than most porters, and a tad too thin for my like, but otherwise, it's one of my dream sub-styles that just aren't around, at least where I am.


Photo of EGledhill
3.5/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to jhammerly for this extra

A. dark brown with a slight off white head

S. roasted malts, vanilla, caramel, and dark chocolate

T. Sweet vanilla is heavy on the start but fades on the finish to a bitter chocolate. Tastes a little watered down the whole way through though.

M. Mouthfeel was a little thin.

D. Drinkability was very good. Smooth, has a nice flavor, except for the watered down part.

Photo of Jagcorps
4.18/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark pour with slight head and little carbonation play. Minimal lacing. Various colors ranging from nearly black to red-brown.

S: Great roasted smell, without smelling burnt. Though it is a vanilla porter, the vanilla is not the main thrust, acting as only a slight overtone. Coffee and chocolate are more prevalent.

T: Most enjoyable part of this beer, it gives much in terms of flavors. Coffee and chocolate, with a vanilla sweet finish and a hint of spice. Paired with a tandoori chicken kabob, this was really nice.

M: Carbonation is nice; not too harsh or too flat. However, the beer has a thin feel to it, having all the taste of a porter, but half its texture.

D: Good beer to drink with strong foods. It holds its own against spicy, tangy and sweet. I had two in one evening, but probably wouldn't have enjoyed a third as much.

Photo of Wasatch
3.98/5  rDev +7.9%
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.

Photo of IntriqKen
4/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark amber with a nice full finger off white head that melts rather quickly to a ring of off white bubbles.

Aromas are coffee bean, cocoa bean, and a whiff of vanilla at the end to mellow out the scent nicely.

Taste is a blend of the chocolate and coffee from the aromas...rich and dark but again the finish is mellowed by a very nice vanilla presence. Some tobacco notes also present. Everything tastes fresh and clean...nothing artificial at all.

Mouthfeel is sufficient for a porter....creamy yet light and thin at the same time. Nice drying in the aftertaste with just a bit of chocolate coffee remaining on the tongue.

Very pleasant.

Photo of Vancer
4.2/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Holy moly, what a fine drinkin’ frosty. I could sip on these 24X7, winter or summer. BUT, most likely only one for me down here in STL.

Dark mahogany, but a quick dying ivory head. Nice pop of vanilla malt in the aroma, and the taste was knockout good. Bitter dark chocolates, vanilla and a finish with a dry gritty choc. malt.

Medium bodied and robust – MAYBE a sixer would be too sweet by the end, but I’ll not be able to check this out.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.3/5  rDev +16.5%
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.

Photo of bort11
4.3/5  rDev +16.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Fugazme for this one
12 oz bottle with no freshness date. Poured into an Imperial pint glass. Color is a rich dark brown with faint ruby highlights when held to the light. Tight tan colored head that recedes to a minimal lace.
Smell is a sweetened bitter malt with coffee and floral notes. The vanilla is subtle. Taste is very bold, but not overpowering. Espresso coffee bean sweetened with the vanilla bean. The vanilla accentuates rather than dominates the flavor. Surprisingly, it finishes with a hops bitterness.
Mouthfeel is full and creamy. This is a very nice evening sipper.

Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.33/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a snifter at 50 degrees. Picked up in a trade from swid - thanks!!

A - Pours a beautiful deep brown with red highlights. Small-to-medium tan head that quickly melted away but left a small lacing for awhile.

S - Roasted coffee and vanilla dominates the scent. Powerful aroma.

T - Delicious blend of vanilla, nuts, and mild-roast coffee beans. Nut flavor really comes out on the aftertaste. The use of vanilla is excellent as it's not overpowering - more of a vanilla/nutty flavor than anything. Wonderful!

M - Medium, creamy body that washes down very smooth. Excellent aftertastes.

D - Thanks to swid for including two of these - I'll be saving the other for just the right time. Definitely recommended!

Photo of dogfooddog
3.58/5  rDev -3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this one of a large number of bottles received from MABZ recently. Thanks again for the chance to try this beer.

pours into a pint glass with a large tan head; nose is a bit sour, notably roasted, with a hint of something I cannot name though obviously I wonder if it is the vanilla beans.

taste is a bit mild for a porter; the vanilla is present here more notably, though subtle and unsweetened. hops round out the roasted malt and certainly balance the beer.

Like many of the novel-ingredient beers, I am not terribly impressed with this one. It is drinkable and pleasant, but nothing special.

Photo of drewbage
4.13/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straight from a fresh bottle into an imperial pint glass.

Black with ruby highlights visible against the light with a short whitish head.

Aroma is roasted coffee playing behind the giant wallop of vanilla. Smells lik a really good coffee vanilla ice cream. Has the aroma of natural vanilla (which the label confirms)

Flavor is clean and brisk with a zesty hoppiness that provides a good counterbalance to the sweetness that is enhanced by the vanilla.

Overall, a very drinkable, vanilla infused brew. Be nicer if the beer was more subtle with the orchid, but hey.. it works well here.

Photo of SMark
3.03/5  rDev -17.9%
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.

Photo of Adamthome1
4.1/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of my favorites, largely because of the availability here, the ability to visit the brewery, oh and because it's a darn good beer.

Poors dark, thick, coffee looking brew into snifter glass. Head foams up and dissipates and usually some small lace remains throughout. Aroma is that of coffee and roasted vanilla beans. Taste is rich, nutty, and roasted beans. Very good cofeelike aftertaste. Leaves a feeling on the mouth of vanilla oil, very silky and refreshing. Taste is enhanced as the beer warms, best served at about 50 degrees or about 15 minutes out of refrigerator.

Not as good as some of the other porters like some you could get from Rogue or Sierra Nevada but if you are ever in the Nebraska area it's worth trying or if you live here remember to support your local breweries.

Photo of Romulus141
3.48/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured in a stout glass. Picked up a six-pack of this from Lazlo's South.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown/black. If held up to a light, one can slightly see the light through it in a red hue. The head isn't that heavy, and leaves a thin layer of foam on the surface. Lacing is readily apparent.

Smell: Slight roast aroma with a strong mix of vanilla. It's an interesting smell for a stout, as they typically don't smell this sweet.

Taste: An instant burst of a roast flavor, finished off with a small, faint burst of bitterness as the drink finishes. When the drink is at a warmer temperature, the vanilla taste is quite present and overpowers the porter portion of this brew. This is "sweeter" tasting than other stouts I've had. The slight bitterness on the end is welcome, although nothing to get overly excited over. Good, but not great.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as I was expecting. The beer is still heavy, but not quite as full as some other porters I've sampled. There is also carbonation present, which gives the porter an interesting zing. I'm not a huge fan of my thicker, darker beers being highly carbonated, and this one has just a little too much.

Drinkability: Quite good, and I could have a couple in a session. However, out of the Empyrean beers I've tried, I've liked this one the least. It's a strange entry for its genre, and the carbonation mixed with overly sweet flavor made it slightly disappointing. I'll reach for another brew from this factory first.

Photo of Mdog
3.23/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

Photo of russpowell
3.7/5  rDev +0.3%
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

Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 298 ratings.