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

136 Reviews
THE BROS
75
okay

(Read More)
Reviews: 136
Hads: 330
rAvg: 3.67
pDev: 8.99%
Wants: 24
Gots: 48 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 136 | Hads: 330
Photo of siradmiralnelson
3.7/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

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. (683 characters)

Photo of Forb
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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. (364 characters)

Photo of icecube
3.9/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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 (513 characters)

Photo of rundocrun
4.32/5  rDev +17.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (634 characters)

Photo of lawlerj
3.97/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

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. (810 characters)

Photo of FosterJM
3.3/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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. (524 characters)

Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
4.45/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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. (512 characters)

Photo of TheStoutAholic
3.09/5  rDev -15.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

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. (524 characters)

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.53/5  rDev -3.8%
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. (2,147 characters)

Photo of Wisconsinality
4.12/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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. (881 characters)

Photo of HopsNPot
4.45/5  rDev +21.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

POURED INTO PINT GLASS
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. (638 characters)

Photo of Vdubb86
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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. (659 characters)

Photo of FreshHawk
3.6/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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. (1,105 characters)

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.65/5  rDev -0.5%
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. (1,235 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
2.86/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

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. (647 characters)

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

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. (540 characters)

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9%
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. (454 characters)

Photo of scarfield
3.83/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

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.) (802 characters)

Photo of beerwolf77
3.31/5  rDev -9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

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. (690 characters)

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.48/5  rDev -5.2%
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. (1,494 characters)

Photo of kels
2.67/5  rDev -27.2%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2

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. (808 characters)

Photo of Beertracker
3.57/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Empyrean's Dark Side Vanilla Porter pours up with a compact tannish-brown head that covers the dark brown-russet body. Head retention is slightly poor, but decent for a SHV beer. The aroma is lightly roasted with a some chocolate that underlies the wonderful Madagascar bourbon vanilla bean character. Hints of cocoa nibs & espresso beans only add to the wonderful aromatics. The flavor starts off with some chocolate & dried cocao powder before the vanilla bean character becomes predominate and moves towards a dry, rather thin finish. The aroma is far more generous than the flavor suggests, but pleasantly enjoyable nontheless. Light carbonation, body is medium-thin per style. Empyrean really showcases the vanilla in this beer with good finesse, but the lack of body is slightly distracting. More caramel character would certainly benefit. This beer would be great paired with a simple vanilla custard or crusted chocolate pudding.

CHEERS! Beertracker (958 characters)

Photo of Jayli
3.01/5  rDev -18%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Acquired this from a77cj7 via Under 100 Fishing for Minnows BIF so a big THANK YOU goes out to him!

A: This beer pours a deep ruddy brown with red hues around the edges. One finger of khaki colored head that recedes to a film that retains the entirety of the beer. Wispy chunks of lacing left on the glass.

S: Nose is charred malts, chocolate, and a good deal of vanilla.

T: Taste is ridiculously vanilla up front. It dominates the forefront on this one. Burnt malts and bitter chocolate come through in the middle. Finish has an odd vanilla, medicinal taste to it. Somewhat watery in the finish as well.

M: Lighter side of medium body, medium carbonation, watery, thin mouthfeel.

D: Goes down ok, not too filling, not much of a kick, I would opt for others of the style. Not a bad beer, but not one that I would reach for again. (836 characters)

Photo of JohnGalt1
3.32/5  rDev -9.5%
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. :-) (1,305 characters)

Photo of orbitalr0x
3.38/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Deep dark murky brown with a finger of khaki foam that quickly falls to a ring around the glass. Aromas of mellow roast with vanilla extract. A touch of coffee and cocoa along with some mineral notes. Kinda understated overall.

First sip brings a nice mellow roasted dark malt upfront alongside some sweet vanilla extract flavors. Hints of cocoa and a very light coffee work through as well. Flows down with more vanilla that lingers on into the finish of the brew.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and somewhat smooth with steady carbonation. A tad light but overall it's pretty well on. A bit to sweet for me and the vanilla seems a bit too heavy on the extract. Overall, glad I got to try it but not something I would drink regularly. (734 characters)

Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 136 ratings.