Dark Side Vanilla Porter
Empyrean Brewing Company

Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter
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American Porter
Ranked #966
Ranked #35,350
3.71 | pDev: 12.94%
Empyrean Brewing Company
Nebraska, United States
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter
Notes: 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
Reviews: 152 | Ratings: 381 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Jelitikasez
3.33/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This is probably a better porter than I'm giving it credit for due to my own tastes. The foam was pretty loose, more like bubble bath bubbles than creamy stout bubbles. If you like thin, crisp and bitter without much weight, depth and roundness, I guess you'll like it. More like an IPA than a porter, except for color.

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Photo of Burgy
4.06/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours very dark with almost no head (from a tap). This beer's best attribute is its smell - significant cacao notes with undertones of vanilla. The vanilla comes through more at the finish. Overall a solid vanilla Porter.

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Photo of Proteus93
3.56/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Jet black pour, as per the norm. The head was a little hesitant in forming at first, but once it rose up, it became a creamy and retentive animal.

S + T: Roasted malts at the forefront, with very little vanilla detected. Rather than the rich chocolate and coffee that may be expected from the malts, it has a pretty grainy, 'barley scent.' Taste is a little more along the lines of what is expected--dark chocolate, though the vanilla is again somewhat muted.

M + O: Full-medium body, complemented by an appropriate amount of carbonation for the weight of the body. It finishes smooth and even a little dry.

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Photo of Captain69
4.14/5  rDev +11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4


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Photo of MonDak_Joe1953
3.38/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from 12oz bottle into glass. Marked best by 'April 2017'.
Very dark body, just a little light passes through at the glass bottom. Very light tan, thin head, minimal lacing.
Aroma of dark roasted malt, dark chocolate, with a whiff of sweet vanilla.
Taste of dark malt, sour apple like fruit (maybe from the coffee aspect), very little chocolate or vanilla.
Rather thin mouth feel, dry.
Not an expressive taste, and dry aftertaste.

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Photo of Jimbob-gbr
4.39/5  rDev +18.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

One of my favorite local beer. A very good porter. Pours dark and tan head with good lacing. Smells of roasted chocolate and faint vanilla. Tasted of roasted chocolate vanilla and coffee. It is not to robust like some porters. Overall one of my favorites

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Photo of GuyFawkes
3.92/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Had this on draft several years ago; from my notes:

Brown/black color; some light passes around the edges.

Nice khaki head; strong lacing.

Vanilla & coffee in the nose.

Medium/thick mouthfeel.

A vanilla blast in the taste upfront; smooth cream on the back end with a smattering of hops. Delicious.

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Photo of bbtkd
3.32/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I'm more of a stout fan, as I find many porters to be just too bland. Some porters are more robust and fall more towards stout, but Dark Side did not fit into that category. I found it bland and slightly bitter, could not really pick up the taste of the promised vanilla at all. If a beer is going to have a flavor in the name, then you should be able to at least detect it.

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Photo of Evilyak
3.28/5  rDev -11.6%
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.

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Photo of AleMan66
2.94/5  rDev -20.8%
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.

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Photo of jw4free
3.67/5  rDev -1.1%
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.

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Photo of UrbanCaveman
2.75/5  rDev -25.9%
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.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.98/5  rDev +7.3%
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 -11.3%
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.

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Photo of yesterdayfaraway
3.19/5  rDev -14%
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.

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Photo of zeff80
3.85/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle. Poured out an opaque, jet-black color with a small, off-white head of foam. It smelled of vanilla, chocolate and toffee. Sweet chocolate, caramel with vanilla and a nice bitterness for balance.

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Photo of BigDaddyWarbuxx
3.73/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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Photo of pat61
4.17/5  rDev +12.4%
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.

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Photo of Brutaltruth
3.44/5  rDev -7.3%
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.


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Photo of BeerWithMike
5/5  rDev +34.8%
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!

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Photo of beergoot
3.77/5  rDev +1.6%
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...

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Photo of Rossmeister23
4.81/5  rDev +29.6%
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!

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Photo of BeerAdvocate
3.25/5  rDev -12.4%

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%

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

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Photo of corywalston
3.56/5  rDev -4%
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.

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Photo of TheCondor
3.5/5  rDev -5.7%

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.

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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
Beer rating: 84 out of 100 with 381 ratings