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Dark Side Vanilla Porter | Empyrean Brewing Company

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
83
good
143 Reviews
THE BROS
75
okay
Read the review
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Empyrean Brewing Company
Nebraska, United States | website

Style: American Porter

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.70%

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

Added by BeerAdvocate on 11-27-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
143
Ratings:
360
Avg:
3.65
pDev:
21.64%
 
 
Wants:
26
Gots:
66
For Trade:
0
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 143 | Ratings: 360
Photo of Evilyak
3.28/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

This didn't need the vanilla. This needed a tweak to the base beer.

Color is right. Smells of vanilla and imperfect coffee. Taste is vanilla and acidic coffee with raisins.

We don't drink raisins and coffee with vanilla. I'm glad I have something to clean my palate.

 270 characters

Photo of AleMan66
2.94/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

I poured this beer into a clear teardrop glass. It is dark black with little head. The vanilla taste was a bit like mosquito repellant and I didn't care for it. Carbination is medium. After taste just fine. I wouldn't buy this one again.

 242 characters

Photo of jw4free
3.67/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 12oz bottle into a Weizen glass. L: medium brown, clear, limited head, limited lacing. S: good sweet maltiness aroma, vanilla, barrel oak, caramel does present. T: nice whiskey barrel, alcohol flavor. Caramel and vanilla. No real coffee notes. F: decent mouthfeel. O: good beer worth trying.

 305 characters

Photo of UrbanCaveman
2.75/5  rDev -24.7%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.75

On tap at Short's in Iowa City. Arrived in a shaker pint.

Appearance: Arrived as a glass of black (in the bar lighting) liquid, with almost no head - just a thin, patchy cap.

Smell: Sweet caramel and blackstrap, with hints of a lightly roasted coffee and a heavy dose of vanilla extract.

Taste: Actually, somewhat bland. There are flavors of light coffee, chocolate, and vanilla, but they seem rather thin and dispersed. Supporting them is quite possibly the lightest malt backbone I've tasted in a porter, almost not present.

Mouthfeel: Quite light and thin, and light on the carbonation as well. This goes down quickly, as it feels as though it has little substance.

Overall: Not exactly a game-changer or favorite for me. I'll likely not repeat this one.

 762 characters

Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.98/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

It pours a dark chocolate brown with lighter brown accents. Head is 4 fingers, beige, and bubbly. Opacity 100%.

It smells of vanilla, roast coffee, barley malt, a fruity fig note here or there.

Tastes of coffee with faint vanilla accents, cocoa malts, and a bit of raisin.

Feel is the best part, it's so crushable and goes down smooth. This is the porter to drink when you're not thinking about drinking a porter. Still creamy enough to satisfy, but easy enough to not exhaust the palate.

Overall the vanilla porter is a decent beer. I'd have it again, it's a nice sessionable porter.

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Photo of superspak
3.29/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12 ounce bottle into pint glass, best before 9/2015. Pours lightly hazy very dark brown color with a 1-2 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Aromas of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light dark fruit, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Okay aromas with solid balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt, vanilla, and light earthy hop notes; with very poor strength. Taste of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, toast, brown sugar, brown bread, light dark fruit, and herbal/toasted earthiness. Light herbal/roasted bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of milk chocolate, cocoa, coffee, vanilla, brown bread, and herbal/toasted earthiness on the finish for a short bit. Good balance, robustness, and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt, vanilla, and light earthy hop flavors; with a good malt/bitterness balanced and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth, fairly creamy/bready, and slightly chalky mouthfeel that is good. Alcohol is very well hidden with zero warming present after the finish. Overall this is was a pretty solid English porter style. All around good complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt, vanilla, and light earthy hop flavors; and very smooth and easy to drink. The aromas were nearly non existent, but the flavors were well done and pleasantly enjoyable.

 1,560 characters

Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.19/5  rDev -12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Black beer with no head. Smells like sweet bread and vanilla. Disappointingly not much flavor. It's a very sweet beer, not much vanilla, no coffee no chocolate like the bottle suggests though.

 192 characters

Photo of BigDaddyWarbuxx
3.73/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

There's a bit more to this than what I was expecting. I'm tasting a decent amount of blueberries in this. A really interesting porter with a great berry kick.

 160 characters

Photo of pat61
4.17/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: Brilliant deep dark brown under a 1” light tan foam collar that grips the side of the glass leaving sheets of lace.
S: Chocolate and vanilla, light grains, bread, faint esters.
T: The palate leads with chocolate and vanilla with malt and roast flavors underneath. Medium bitterness finishes things up. The vanilla is light and does not overpower the chocolate or the roast.
M: Very creamy carbonation with a medium to medium full body. There is some light chalkiness on the finish which could be from the added spice.
O: A refreshing, easy to drink porter.

 566 characters

Photo of Brutaltruth
3.44/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Enjoyed from the 12 oz bottle in a pint glass. This porter pours a dark brownish cola with a moderate light tan head that dissipates to a thin layer and light ring with little lacing. Nose of deeply roasted malts, some bread, toffee, light raisins, and vanilla---with warmth. Flavors follow the nose with bready deeply roasted malts overpowering most of the other flavors with very little vanilla without substantial warmth, which in my book is not necessarily a bad thing. Vanilla and medium hop bitterness comes through on the back rounding it all together with a light bitter malt and hop flavor along with a subtle vanilla that finishes a hair dry yet coating. Moderate carbonation makes for a modestly lively mouth feel. Decent brew from Randy.

Cheers!

 766 characters

Photo of BeerWithMike
5/5  rDev +37%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Last sampled yesterday on 3/18/15 but had this one several times before including on tap. Bought a 6-pack yesterday at the local Hy-Vee for $6.99. Chilled down to 36 degrees F in my beer cooler and poured in to a "Dark Side Vanilla Porter" pint glass.

Brew pours close to a pitch black in color with a thin beige cap. A decent amount of lacing is seen when sipped that sticks to the sides of the glass. Sediment is seen in the bottom of the bottle after the pour. The aroma is very pleasant and is of chocolate, vanilla beans and dark roasted malts. Bit more going on with the taste as there is a light hint of coffee also but not overpowering at all like some similar style Porters. Very smooth and goes down easy. Nice finish and is medium-bodied with perfect carbonation. One of my favorite porters!

 803 characters

Photo of beergoot
3.77/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Unique label information: BEST ENJOYED BY (notched) FEB (no year indicated)

Dark, coffee bean brown color with a thick, bumpy, creamy head. Mild aroma of charred grain and chocolate with a teensy edge of vanilla; cocoa powder. The flavor blend together nicely, reflecting much of the sweetness indicated by the aroma; slightly astringent bitterness to cut the malt sweetness. Medium bodied yet somewhat watery in character.

All-in-all, a pretty decent vanilla porter. The flavors blend and balance well and deliver a very respectable complexity. Refreshing and delectable...

 577 characters

Photo of Rossmeister23
4.81/5  rDev +31.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Have had this beer on several occasions. On tap at Lazlo's, and in bottles in several places throughout Nebraska. Love, love, love this beer.

Appearance: Pours a lovely dark, dark brown that mingles with pure black ever so slightly. Pours a decent size khaki-tan head for me. Excellent retention as well!

Scent: Strong scents of vanilla, roasted barley, and faint notes of chocolate. The chocolate and vanilla duality is one that I find works well in this brew.

Taste: More of the same. Vanilla taste doesn't cut through as much as the scent implies, but to me, that's okay. It provides a nice balance to everything else going rather than allowing any one flavor to be the dominant force. Additional flavors of coffee, barley, chocolate are found. All excellent, and all typical of a good porter.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, and moderate-light to moderate carbonation. Goes down easy and definitely makes you want more!

Overall: Strong history with this beer. Empyrean and Lazlo's hold a strong place in my heart, and this is my favorite offering from them. Great color, great flavor, great memories. Love it!

 1,114 characters

Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.25/5  rDev -11%

From BeerAdvocate magazine Issue #71 (December 2012):

“Where’s the vanilla?” Was the first thing that came to our minds. It’s barely noticeable and what is gets quickly scrubbed away by the dominate roasty notes, however once the beer warmed up considerably the vanilla notes began to pull through. Aside from this, and the short-lived head, the base is a decent Porter.

STYLE: American Porter
ABV: 5.7%
AVAILABILITY: Year-round

LOOK: Rich, opaque, dark brown, creamy tan head that quickly fizzles away

SMELL: Roasted malts, earth, vanilla beans

TASTE: Semi-chewy, malty, raisiny, bready, roasty, chocolate, bitter, acrid, coffee, faint vanilla, dry finish

 669 characters

Photo of corywalston
3.56/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.25

A. Easy poor ¼ inch thin head dissipated quickly. Looks of cola.
S. Raisins, roasty, old coffee.
T. Roasty, cola, light taste of vanilla, light caramel, can barley taste the alcohol. Taste a little like chocolate when chugged.
M. Crisp, watery.
O. Good for drinking all day long without getting full. The buzz isn’t to strong, you could drink all day and not get to drunk. Recommend for people who like Left Hands Milk stout.

 428 characters

Photo of TheCondor
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

In my second installment of rating Empyrean products, we go to my favorite style, the American Porter. When I peruse the top porters on this site, I see I have drank and reviewed a lot of good porters, so I am familiar with what they are supposed to taste like. Side poured with standard intensity from the bottle into a goblet.

Appearance - Like many porters, pours a dark brown with an off white head that is less than one finger. Head dissipates rapidly, and leaves little lacing. I like the packaging on this beer, and the little saying on the side.

Smell - Despite the advertisement, I detect a relatively small nose on this beer. There are some malty notes, a little roast, and thats about it. I detect very little in the way of aroma. There may be a bit of coffee in there, but I really have to dig, and that may be my imagination too.

Taste - Much like the aroma, the taste leaves much to be desired. There is a pronounced bitterness, which drowns out what may be a decent brew. I detect little of the vanilla and chocolate with which the beer is made. TO me, the coffee bitterness really dominates the palate. There is a hint of sweetness and roast, but the flavor is one-dimensional.

Mouthfeel- Very thin and watery, finishes bitter. My least favorite part, I want a porter to be thick and creamy.

Overall - As with Burning Skye, I would not recommend this, nor would I buy it again. Ever. There are too many good porters out there to drink this one. I am glad I drank it, but coming off my recent out-of-body experience with Anchor Porter, maybe this was a bad choice, too much of a drop off. I ended up pouring the last 1/4 or so of it, just go bored with it.

 1,676 characters

Photo of sheeley
4.2/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Appearance: Caramel-like, dark brown in color. Not very impressive head.
Smell: Pleasant smell. Notes of caramel and vanilla shine through.
Taste/mouthfeel: Delicious. Chocolate, vanilla, and subtle coffee flavors are present. Partway into the glass, the caramel comes out more, as well as the coffee. The whole mouthfeel is quite pleasing.
Overall, this beer is very good and easy to drink. Not one of the best beers I have had, but one that I would likely purchase again.

 475 characters

Photo of sulldaddy
3.92/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Sampling a cellar temp bottle poured into a snifter. The beer pours a deep rich brown hue, with no light passing through the glass. This bottle has been in my cellar for a year or two.
A creamy tan head of 2 cm foams up with a gentle pour and recedes to a wispy surface layer with denser edges.
Aroma is some chocolate malt and vanilla hits, not really sweet though. I also get a little brown sugar mixed in for a generally appealing nose, it is fairly mild but pleasant.
First sip reveals a smooth silky texture on an average body and gentle rolling carbonation. All of the physical qualities make it very easy to drink.
Flavor is sweeter than I anticipated from the nose. Brown sugar and vanilla mix with milk chocolate flavors, not so much roasted dark chocolate. I dont get any hits of alcohol or hops anywhere on this beer. Definitely a malt lovers brew and the sweeter flavor may get cloying after a second bottle. I do enjoy this one and would have it again if in Nebraska or the neighboring area.

 1,004 characters

Photo of ThickNStout
2.92/5  rDev -20%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

12oz bottle from LambicPentameter (thank you!). Best by 7/14. Served in a goblet.

Pours deep brown with three fingers of pale, sand-hued head. A fluffy half finger cap longers and leaves large sheets of lace.

Smells a bit musky with roast malts, caramel and vague vanilla.

Taste is overall bittersweet with dark roasted malts, coffee, cocoa powder, burnt sugar, fruit skins and very mild vanilla bean. It suffers from being just a bit too bitter to let the vanilla through and unfortunately that vanilla flavor comes across to me as more sharp extract than smooth bean in nature.

Fairly thin yet near-creamy feel with a strong seeming dose of carbonation. The finish is roasty with a little lingering vanilla character.

Far from offensive but this didn't deliver near as much vanilla as I would like. Far more roasty and bitter with a body much too thin to be something I'd look to drink much of.

 906 characters

Photo of Kris450
3.71/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

I received this beer on tap at a concert. This is my first vanilla porter so I wasn't completely sure what to expect. What I got was a stout-like coffee flavor with an aftertaste of vanilla. Strong coffee taste at the forefront with little aftertaste following the drink. I was ambitious enough to go back for seconds, however it being a heavy and rather dark beer, by the end of the second, I was ready to be done. Have a glass and treat yourself, however, be prepared to follow it up with something else that is lighter and more drinkable.

 541 characters

Photo of Scott17taylor
2.63/5  rDev -27.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Very flavorful but it was a bit strong on the coffee and I didn't pick up many other favors. It is an okay porter with big flavor, mostly cofee, there really isn't anything terrible about it but I overall didn't enjoy this beer. I would much rather drink something a little weaker on the coffee and stronger on other favors.

 324 characters

Photo of emerge077
3.74/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Thayer for this one!
Split on Christmas Eve.

Dark brown pour, black in the glass, thin layer of dark mocha foam around the edges that quickly dissipates. Some spotty flecks of foam left in the glass with a patchy skim on the surface.

Aroma has distinct notes of vanilla that meld well with a chocolatey malt base.

Taste is fairly bittersweet with subtle notes of vanilla, dark roast malt, bakers chocolate, and toast. Body is a little on the thin side, but the flavors make it a pleasant Porter to sip on. Too much vanilla and you risk verging on medicinal extract territory... Dark Side balances well in my opinion.

 629 characters

Photo of PieOhMy
4.14/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A. Datk brown with a hint of amber in the light. White head - this is different for the style. Head fades but leaves a nice lacing.

S. Coffee grounds. Cocoa. Vanilla. Very rich.

T. Coffee and chocolate. Dark and bitter cocoa. Vanilla ice cream. Some bitter hop/malt in the end.

M. Medium. It goes down easy. Big coffee aftertaste.

O. Excellent. Drinks more like a stout (Obsidian comes to mind). Very rich and flavorful. Well done.

 437 characters

Photo of jdhowe
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass. No idea how old this beer is -- bottle showed an area for a "drink by" label but it was not labeled. Bottle courtesy of Duffman929.

A: Pours a clear deep brown with very little light showing through with one and a half fingers of light tan colored head that recedes to a film. Good looking porter.

S: Roasty, lightly fruity, but full of creamy chocolate character alongside vanilla. A little smokiness shows through behind the sweetness, but it's mild. Alcohol is slightly evident. Fruitiness maybe just a little pungent, but otherwise a very nice aroma.

T/M: Thin, roasty, and well carbonated. Fruity character is more muted than in the nose, thankfully. Mouthfeel is definitely a little too thin. Little to no vanilla is detectable, making this a slightly disappointing vanilla porter, but a fine porter... maybe just a hint of vanilla is in the aftertaste, but I definitely want more of it.

O: This one was a little disappointing, but is still very drinkable and enjoyable. I always get so excited about flavors I like being in beers, and then let down if the beer does not deliver on that flavor. Here I am missing vanilla. Otherwise, this is a pretty good porter... pretty much right on for the style, but just a little thin in the mouthfeel. I wish I knew how old this bottle was... it could easily be years given that it was a "cleaning my cellar" addition to a box I received.

 1,426 characters

Photo of yeastlovehoppiness_greg
3.68/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

I'm not much of a coffee or chocolate beer fan. This beer has both with a little vanilla. It is pretty much black. could not see any light through the glass. it has a tight smooth head. There is not a bitter aftertaste. I would not be able to drink a lot of these but one or two would do well.

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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
83 out of 100 based on 143 ratings.
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