Imperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla Bean
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.

Imperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla BeanImperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla Bean
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Stout - American Imperial
Ranked #182
Ranked #703
4.38 | pDev: 8.9%
FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
California, United States
Imperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla BeanImperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla Bean
Reviews: 56 | Ratings: 245 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Roguer
Roguer from Connecticut

4.23/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2017 bottle, reviewed in 2021

Slow-building head, but it ends up quite impressive, with excellent retention. Foam color is a dark tan, and the body is as dark and foreboding as you might expect.

Despite the age on the bottle, the vanilla comes through quite well. The bourbon has certainly faded, leaving behind much more oak than mash. Dark notes of molasses, espresso, and light char.

Surprisingly light and almost thin on the palate - almost. Certainly a relative concept when you're talking about a nearly 12% ABV imperial stout. Flavor has aged marvelously, a balance of roasty and toasty malt tones, caramel, honey, vanilla, bourbon, and oak. I'm not sure how much the bourbon and vanilla have faded over the years, but any harshness has almost surely mellowed as well. The result: an imperial stout that is not going to suffer deleterious effects from aging. I suspect this bottle would be just as good with another two or three years of age, if properly cared for.

Jul 25, 2021
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mikeinportc from New York

4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch v/2 2015.

Dark mahogany brown with a finger & 1/2 of tan head. Surprising, given the abv.

Smells of cocoa and vanilla from the bottle, more towards (dark, barely-sweet) chocolate liqueur from the glass.

Taste is semi-sweet chocolate, burnt vanilla, and oak. Towards finish, & beyond, I get some of the flavor of the brownies Mom used to make, that had some sour cream in them. Not as sweet as the aroma would indicate. No noticeable alcohol , despite its presence in the aroma.

Feel is smooth and oily, as expected, with some light, very,very fine carbonation. Slight warming in the chest, but otherwise , no indication of the high abv.

Overall, really nice , especially as it was a gift from the beer guy, and shared with co-worker/friends. :) Having read some of the less-than-complimentary reviews, from when it was fresh, and some of the later, more positive ones, I'd guess that this, at 5yrs old, is a bit past the sweet spot, but it's still damned good.

Oct 03, 2020
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mschrei from Illinois

4.56/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

2017 version. Very tasty. Well balanced blend of vanilla and barrel. Sweet smooth vanilla forefront with a strong barrel presence. Subtle chocolate and hints of dark fruit. Big, bold, and full bodied, creamy, slightly oily, mouth watering, balanced. Excellent beer.

Jul 26, 2020
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StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.67/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2016 vintage

Notes of creamy vanilla frosting, vanilla beans, dark fruits, roasted malt, chocolate, nutty oak barrel, fresh honey, caramel, dark toffee, molasses, tobacco leaf, cigar box, maple, with some earthy piney hops to balance

Apr 24, 2020
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flipper2gv from Canada (QC)

4.36/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a very dark brown/black color with a tan colored head. Head volume is low, retention is good and lacing is decent.

S: Strong smell. Vanilla dominates the smell and it's a nice natural vanilla smell, nothing like vanillin. Chocolate milk, dates, prunes, cinnamon and light oak are present. Very very nice.

T: Strong taste too. Vanilla again dominates here but milk chocolate and powdered cocoa balances it very well. Dates, prunes, cinnamon and oak tannins are also present to balance out the chocolate/vanilla duo. Burnt marshmallows. Some very light residual piney hops are there too.

M: Starts medium but bizarrely switch to very heavy in the mouth. Never had that before. Carbonation is a tiny bit too strong for the flavors, but nothing really problematic (I do like my big stouts almost flat TBH).

O: This is a very very good beer. Not sure it is worth the 30 CAD I paid for it but it definitely is a great beer.

Mar 21, 2020
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Phyl21ca from Canada (QC)

3.86/5  rDev -11.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle: Poured a pitch-black color stout with a large dark brown foamy head with good retention and light lacing. Aroma of sweet black chocolate notes with some strong vanilla notes. Taste is also a mix of string sweet black chocolate notes with some dominant large vanilla extract notes with a sweet finish. Body is full with oily like texture with good carbonation and light warming alcohol notes. A bit too sweet and cloying for my taste.

Mar 01, 2020
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Diet-z from Washington

4.3/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a bomber, two years old. The vanilla has definitely faded a little but is still present. Very tasty, but definitely overpriced. Would recommend trying at least once if you can get it.

Sep 07, 2019
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.39/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2017 vintage, pretty incredible beer, 55 bucks for this on a menu in new york city seems somewhat reasonable for what it is, how far its come, and how limited and special this stuff is. the vanilla is insane in here, its over the top by any reasonable measure, makes this desserty like none of the others have been in my experience, and i think brings the honey even more to the fore, a great combination of flavors here, but it sure is sweet to me, and i get near the bottom of my half of the bottle and find myself sugared out. the vanilla makes it linger, trumps some of the balance thats natural in other versions of this, and i think the whiksey on it is pretty pungent too, heavies it up a bit even though the body isnt enormous this time around. a charred note, subtle coffee too which makes me want coffee to actually be blended into this, i think they did a vanilla coffee version, which would be more well rounded i think, i have to find that one. this is amazingly high quality and bold, but maybe a little more vanilla than i need, natural as it is, i think the coffee would be perfect with it. we liked this a lot, i mean how can you not. super well hidden alcohol, long rich finish, a pleasant aftertaste, straight vanilla for days. this continues to be one of the most compelling series of beers in the game!

Dec 15, 2018
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maximum12 from Minnesota

4.27/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

While visiting a local in Carlsbad, CA I found this old friend on the shelf. Used to mail order (is that still a phrase?) by the case, but it’s been years. Ivory waxed 22 oz. 2017 bottle split with my wife.

The pour looks like every other FiftyFifty stout that’s ever appeared in my glass. That is, black. Smell is deep sweetness & plenty of vanilla.

FiftyFifty Eclipse – Vanilla belongs to a different historical epoch, when imperial stouts didn’t have to have the consistency of brownie batter & the hulk of the hypebeast. Here the vanilla extracted (ha!) from the barrel mingles with the added vanilla beans to present vanilla on all sides. Solid roast, that deep malt sweetness noted in the smell (or perhaps the advertised honey), with only a gentle inhale of bourbon, more of a breath of liquor through the nose. Supremely smooth, dry.

Throwback stout to the max, this would have won 2011 in my house. As is, still an excellent beer.

Oct 06, 2018
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Buck89 from Tennessee

4.23/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a snifter. Nearly opaque dark brown color with a modest tan head. Faint wispy lacing in the glass. The aroma featured somewhat muted vanilla bean, whiskey, caramel, and milk chocolate. Much more vanilla on the palate - plenty up front and then balanced out with the base beer and the barrel. Somewhat warm on the finish but not overly boozy. There is a great, soft, east feel to this one. Very well done.

Jan 06, 2018
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

4.33/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Wow, what a legend I am going to review here. So many imitators since. Anyways, I dunno, 5-8 years ago by now, 5050 released this as a party bottle after the Eclipse party. It was awesome. Then they made it a regular. Good move.

Pours the usual not the blackest of black, but a dark and black beer. Brown head, 1/3". Aroma wafts vanilla nicely. Mild bourbon on the back end. The vanilla extract or bean (don't care) seems to cover up the roasty Totality base and the barrel (EC or EW I believe, Elijah Craig/Evan Williams for those playing at home).

Taste and mouth feel are where this beer excels. Just a beautiful harmony of roasted malt, bourbon, chocolate, vanilla and oak. I can crush these all day. The abv is probably hid on these better than any other version. I also reviewed Avery's bourbon barrel coconut porter today. I don't buy as much of this beer as I do that one anymore because of the price point. Is this beer "better"? Sure. Slightly. But the cost is 3x as much. That hurts the wallet and the overall score. Slightly.

Aug 22, 2017
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IKR from California

4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2016 Vintage
11.9% ABV

Appearance: Very dark brown bordering on black with a fairly generous dark beige head that gradually faded.

Smell: Vanilla, mild Whiskey, and mild brown sugar notes. The vanilla is the star here.

Taste: The taste profile features vanilla notes, roast malts, mild honey, and some tannic oak notes. The finish is fairly dry ending with some bitter tannic notes. The beer taste finishes on a bitter mildly acrid note.

Mouth-feel: On the light side of medium bodied with a moderate level of carbonation.

Overall: The vanilla and bal-aging notes are tasty but the bitter tannic finish is somewhat distracting.

Aug 22, 2017
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Phineasco from Massachusetts

4.66/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a dark brown with a thin khaki head that has decent retention. It has low carbonation. The beer smells of vanilla beans, honey, oak, and a touch of coconut. It was tastes of vanilla beans, honey, oak, with a little coconut. The mouthfeel is very light and smooth, but nuanced. Despite the high price tag, this is been my favorite shelf beer for a few years. Imo, this beer should be consumed as fresh as possible.

Aug 05, 2017
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edthehead from New York

4.4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

One of 50/50 Eclipse best offerings. Jet black, nice thick head and good lacing, noticeable vanilla and barrel characteristics, and medium but acceptable mouth feel.

May 14, 2017
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biboergosum from Canada (AB)

4.1/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle (2016 edition), thanks be once again to the ever affable rogerdandy, for procuring this for me from his wide web of globe-trotting beer contacts, when no one else locally would. That said, this US-sourced version has a wee label on it that specifies it as the vanilla variant, so take a lesson from that, lazy-ass Alberta FiftyFifty importer.

This beer pours a fairly solid black abyss, yet with prominent red cola basal edges, and three fingers of puffy, rocky, and bubbly brown head, which leaves some well-eroded limestone cliff lace around the glass as it lazily subsides.

It smells of marshmallow-forward vanilla, lightly roasted bready and doughy caramel malt, gentle cafe-au-lait, a touch of bittersweet cocoa powder, subtle anise spice, ethereal woody barrel notes, and a mildly perfumed floral and musty hoppiness. The taste is bready and grainy caramel malt, some free-range ashiness, vanilla cookies, heavy cream, ephemeral black coffee, still hard to pin down Bourbon cask essences (toastiness and spicy rye, mostly), medium dark chocolate wafers, and more understated leafy, earthy and sauced-up floral hop bitters.

The carbonation is quite tame in its low-fi frothiness, the body a solid medium-heavy weight, and mostly smooth, but for a sense of boozy woodiness making a few unwelcome inroads here. It finishes well off-dry, the vanilla, cocoa, malt, and creamed coffee essences ruling the lingering day.

Overall, this is a pretty stellar version of the style, even if the vanilla character doesn't exactly rise above what one might expect from the exposure to the wood. A heady offering, one that I am glad to finally have had the chance to make an acquaintance with - so thanks again to those who performed the legwork for me!

Apr 28, 2017
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Ciocanelu from Romania

4.2/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Dark brown color with tan head. Aroma has some chocolate dessert notes and some propolis. Taste is sweet at first with some dessert notes but couldn't really say it's vanilla. Finish has some bitter baker's chocolate notes. Body is quite light for the style but it's really smooth. Overall it's a nice stout but not one of the best in the Eclipse series.

Apr 07, 2017
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dar482 from New York

4.01/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

The beer hits of marshmallow, vanilla ice cream, vanilla frosting, cream soda for days. Followed with some brown sugar and honey sweetness, without much roast to back up the beer. Bourbon melds with the light notes of milk chocolate with a sharp tannic oak finish and alcohol drying and warming on the way down.

Mar 27, 2017
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BWood from California

4.52/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

L: midnight, slightly carbonated, decent head, good lace.

S: great vanilla aroma. Marshmallow is there too. Melted all together with the barrel. Very good smell. One of my favorites.

T: strong vanilla bean front. Soon backed up by roasted malt and oak. There is a slight spice at the end. Almost clove like. Very faint.

F: melts on the tongue. Slightly a little more bitter at the end than I would like. But still nice.

O: fantastic beer. Just like every other eclipse variant. Very costly though. Black Tuesday is the same price for a 750 and is a little better.

Mar 15, 2017
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BEERchitect from Kentucky

4.25/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bitter and sweet, the cream filled flavor of Vanilla Bean Imperial Eclipse Stout comes with severe roasty brunt but with the soothing vanilla cream flavor to balance. Its assertive roast and dry sensibility comes together in harmony on the palate.

Pitch black and completely opaque, ominous looking beer swirls with a short mocha froth, looking off espresso in nature. Scents of all things burnt lead with espresso, dark chocolate, black walnut, toast and sweet cream. Its taste is lightly sweet, but robust with the carbonized taste of burnt milk, molasses, brown sugar and marshmallow.

As the stout pangs away at the tastebuds, the flavors trend roastier and roastier. Sweetness fades and the taste of extreme espresso, charred oak, bourbon, campfire and burnt toast continues its intense dominance while the stout continues to dry. Caramel, cream, and bitter baker's chocolate apply a soothing and then bitter medley on the back end of taste.

Full, roasty and deviantly dark, the finish is filled with char and heavy whipping cream. The vanilla is no match for the burnt malt, its smoky cocoa counterpart or its tannic oak aridness. Though it takes an edge off the the severe roast, its balance only takes it so far en route to a taste of over wrought coffee deep in aftertaste.

Feb 24, 2017
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DaverCS from Arizona

4.28/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours pitch black with a 1.5 finger head that is caramel colored. Great lacing with ample alcohol legs. Bottled 2016.

Aroma reminds me of vanilla scented potpourri. A bit artificial smelling in regards to the vanilla. Some strong, almost burnt coffee notes, marshmallow, and bitter/unsweetened cocoa. However, really phenomenal smelling beer!

Taste, to be honest, is a substantial letdown. For 30$, I would take many others before this one. I must also state that this beer is best consumed out of the fridge, do not over-chill this beer. The beers feel is on the thinner side. The beer starts with a strong roasted bitterness, dark chocolate, and burnt espresso. The middle of the moth gets some charred oak notes, with maybe just a kiss of vanilla. I’m surprised on how much this beer is lacking vanilla on the palate compared to the nose. The finish is a bit conflicted, it starts off slightly sweet, but quickly transitions into an alcohol burn and hop-like bitterness.

Overall, I probably won’t spring for another bottle from eclipse after this showing. I would happily try it at an event, but the cost is nowhere near the final product. My biggest complaint is that the beer is just too thin. It isn’t sweet enough to handle the vanilla flavor, and there just isn’t enough actual vanilla taste overall. I see this pairing well with a simple scoop of vanilla ice cream. It gets an 85.5/100.

Feb 01, 2017
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metter98 from New York

4.26/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: The beer is jet black in color. It poured with a short, dense tan head that died down, leaving traces of wispy lacing on the surface and a narrow collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to moderate aromas of vanilla beans are present in the nose along with notes of chocolate fudge. The smell becomes a little stronger as the beer warms up.
T: The taste is similar to the smell and has flavors of vanilla beans along with strong notes of bittersweet chocolate, the latter of which also imparts a light amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium- to full-bodied on the palate and has a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a little dryness and alcohol warmth towards the finish.
O: Although the vanilla really stands out in this beer, I liked how it doesn't overpower the other flavors in this stout and there is a good mix with the underlying chocolatey flavors (making it almost seem like vanilla cake with chocolate frosting). This makes for a really nice dessert beer. The beer does a very good job of masking any traces of alcohol from the taste.

Note: 2016 Batch 2

Serving type: bottle

Jan 14, 2017
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BeersandBread from California

1.37/5  rDev -68.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1 | feel: 1 | overall: 1.25

Top 5 worst beers I have ever had. For $30 this should not happen.
Look: This got me excited, dark, nice head
Smell: not much. Not much vanilla. That is why I bought this beer.
Taste: HORRIBLE! Bitter upfront followed by alcohol burn of artificial vanilla extract. Ends with a bitterness that sucks.
Mouthfeel: Thinner than water.
Overall: considering going to small claims court. Worst beer I have ever had for the money.

Dec 13, 2016
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Jwale73 from Rhode Island

3.83/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Pours one shade shy of black with an oily tight band that coalesces around the shoulders. Nose reveals ethanol, cocoa and artificial vanilla notes. Taste follows nose; however, it comes off a bit watered down. Mouthfeel is light-medium in body (closer to light) with an almost still carbonation. All and all, decent; however, a bit thin.

Nov 24, 2016
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Stevem68 from Ohio

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is just a strait delicious beer. Pours a deepdark chocolate color. Aroma is sweet vanilla and honey with minamalroasted malt notes. Flavor is great. Sweet honey and vanilla with light bourbon and deep rich roasted malts. Has a very silky smooth feel and overall delicious.

Sep 03, 2016
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yesterdayfaraway from Missouri

4.28/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

L: pours thick and black. No head
S: some bourbon spice, solid vanilla. Not a huge or bold aroma, but real nice.
T: very solid vanilla, nice bourbon, but a bite of spice that I'm not a fan of.
F: decent thickness, and smooth

Jul 17, 2016
Imperial Eclipse Stout - Vanilla Bean from FiftyFifty Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 96 out of 100 with 245 ratings