Dark Side Vanilla Porter | Empyrean Brewing Company

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Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter
370 Ratings
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter

Brewed by:
Empyrean Brewing Company
Nebraska, United States

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

Bros Score:
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 370 |  Reviews: 147
Photo of cliveklg
5/5  rDev +35.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Love this artisan beer. Starts off a nice bold rich flavor, that goes down smooth. It is definitely a porter with it's flavor with a hint of vanilla going down.

But after it goes down the truly great surprise of this beer takes hold and the taste left in your mouth is the sweet vanilla flavor. No bitter after taste.

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Photo of thisladyluck
5/5  rDev +35.1%

Photo of BeerWithMike
5/5  rDev +35.1%
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 TwoForty
5/5  rDev +35.1%

Photo of Rossmeister23
4.81/5  rDev +30%
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 Jamie_Steffen
4.8/5  rDev +29.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Good brew for the price.

Dark in color.

Stiff vanilla scent.

Great taste with many undertones.


Great overall porter.

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Photo of shanem
4.77/5  rDev +28.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this in Lincoln on a cross country road trip and finally obtained some bottles! Best beer we had on the trip through random discovery. Not quite the same as the draft I had there, but it never is...

A: dark brown(light shines thru towards the bottom} with tiny light head

S: vanilla with some roasted malts and bit of chocolate

T: The vanilla is definitely the star, but not overpowering at all, very well balanced with the other flavors of chocolate, and maybe caramelish taste also with a bit of nuttiness

M: has a darn good feel. almost perfect for a porter

D: Very good, I enjoy this with just about anything. I really like the sweetness to it, with everything else. Much more of a complex beer than I expected, has a lot going on

Highly recommend!

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of stringodelqueso
4.75/5  rDev +28.4%

Photo of Cosmos83
4.75/5  rDev +28.4%

Photo of Zthorseth
4.73/5  rDev +27.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Excellent beer. Definitely one of my favorite go to's if I'm looking for something dark, tasty, and easy to drink.

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.69/5  rDev +26.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I was quite impressed by this little brewery out of Lincoln, NE. I've been meaning to try their beers for quite a while, but I always end up finding something else whenever I'm back in the Omaha area. I'm glad that I finally ended up picking something up from Empyrean, however, as this is one of the best brews I've ever had, and the best porter I've ever had with the exception of Sinebrychoff (though it is a baltic porter, thus totally different).

The beer pours to a very dark brown color (almost black) with a creamy white head that sticks around for quite a while, but fails to create a decent lacing.

The smell is one of the best beer aromas I've ever had the pleasure of sniffing. The vanilla beans take the forefront along with a hint of coffee and very gently roasted chocolate malt. I wish I could make a candle that smelled like this. The taste stays very similar to the nose. The vanilla flavor is PERFECTLY balanced with the typical porter flavor. It tastes almost as if it was served from an oak cask. Brilliant!

The mouthfeel is very creamy and smooth. This was quite a crowd pleaser amongst my friends who have a bias against "dark beer." I wish I could get Empyrean brews here in Iowa City. This beer could only be more drinkable if I had a clue as the ABV, because I had 4 the other night over the course of two hours and was afraid to drive home for several more hours.

 1,399 characters

Photo of NodakEric
4.64/5  rDev +25.4%

Photo of ButterflyBethie
4.57/5  rDev +23.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This beer smells great!! You can use it for aromatherapy. Smells of sweet vanilla with a hint of chocolate. The taste is like the smell and goes down very smooth with light carbonation. Not overly sweet in taste but also no bitterness. The beer has a small head with no lacing and is very dark. The appearance is typical of a porter. This is like drinking a great dessert.

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Photo of UnicornProfessor
4.52/5  rDev +22.2%

Empyrean is my favorite brewing co, and their Dark Side Vanilla Porter is my favorite beer from them. It's always awesome and fulfilling.

137 characters

Photo of jacobn4k
4.51/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Very good. Last second decision. Great quality for the price.

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Photo of Kobbla
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of blackcows
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of 6demonbag
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of Jabartheljr
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of nebill
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Mild chocolate, vanilla overtones with full body taste. Very good porter.

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Photo of k8_mcgowan
4.5/5  rDev +21.6%

Photo of gpflepsen
4.47/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I can concur with the previous reviewers on this great vanilla porter. I will dissent on only one aspect from them.

I will review the Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Ales on draught from the brewhouse/restaurant Laslo's, as I notice others have reviewed the bottled version.

Very little head resides on this beer. By the time it makes it to the table it is gone but for a light ring at the edge. The color is very dark and clear, not murky in the least. The nose brings a blend of vanilla and chocolate. Over the tongue, the first impact is again vanilla followed by a smooth chocolate malt and an ever so slight bitter hops finish. Not much coffee to speak of. An air of vanilla still lingers in the nose.

Fresh from the tap on premises, this is a very smooth porter and dare I say a good candidate for the beginner in the realm of porters. Very smooth and refined. I return often just to have another pint.

To wrap this up, I finally bought a six-pack from the supermarket to have at home. The bottled version easily loses .25 to .5 ratings points from the draught type. The only improvement in the bottled Dark Side is the appearance of head. The vanilla essence is very subdued, as is the chocolate malt. A coffee taste is evident and a very pronounced hops finish is made known. Everything making the tap Vanilla Porter is absent in the bottled variety.

To compare the tap and bottled version is difficult. They are different enough that a blind test would hardly show them to be the "same" beer.

I would welcome the other reviewers to compare the tap and bottled versions of this beer.

 1,616 characters

Photo of ForWhatAlesYou
4.45/5  rDev +20.3%
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.

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Photo of HopsNPot
4.45/5  rDev +20.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

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.

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Photo of LukeGude
4.4/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
Beer rating: 3.7 out of 5 with 370 ratings
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