Dark Side Vanilla Porter | Empyrean Brewing Company

BA SCORE
83
good
367 Ratings
THE BROS
75
okay
Read the review
Dark Side Vanilla PorterDark Side Vanilla Porter
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Empyrean Brewing Company
Nebraska, United States
empyreanbrewingco.com

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
Ratings:
367
Reviews:
146
Avg:
3.65
pDev:
13.42%
 
 
Wants:
26
Gots:
72
For Trade:
0
User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 367 |  Reviews: 146
Photo of jaydoc
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%

Photo of spycow
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%

Photo of StonedTrippin
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

i appreciate a vanilla beer that isnt over the top on the vanilla, and this fits that bill. it pours black as night, with a tiny tan head. the nose is vanilla yes, but also very very roasty, cocoa nibs, and raw sugar. the flavor is akin to the nose, with the vanilla weaving in and out of the taste journey. its there at the beginning and end, and also some sports in between, but it rests for the huge dark malts and delicate swiss chocolate flavors to permeate. its not an artificial vanilla either, its the real deal. feel is excellent, big body, even for a porter, and fine carbonation. sessionable because it isnt sweet like a lot of these are. impressed with my first few nebraska brews.

 693 characters

Photo of t0rin0
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of kojevergas
3.1/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 fl oz brown glass bottle with standard pressure cap served into a nonical pint glass in me gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are above average given the style.

Served straight from the refrigerator and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: Pours a one finger head of fair cream, nice thickness, and average retention. Colour is a solid nontransparent black. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show.

Sm: Vanilla, dark malts, light vague chocolate malt, and some cream. A mild strength aroma.

T: Chocolate malt, light vanilla, dark malts, and some cream. Pretty nicely balanced and built, if simple and unremarkable. Lacks complexity or subtlety. The vanilla is surprisingly light.

Mf: Smooth and wet, but with some unwelcome dryness on the climax. A touch too thick considering its lack of flavours. Carbonation is off.

Dr: Drinkable and enjoyable, but far from a great vanilla porter. It almost prioritizes its chocolate malt ahead of vanilla. I'd try it on draught - or ideally on nitro - but it's nothing to write home about. An enjoyable beer for the price.

C+

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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 zeff80
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Photo of LXIXME
3.62/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

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 mothman
2.48/5  rDev -32.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Color is a deep brown. Very light tan head.

Aroma: Artificial vanilla and chocolate. Caramel malt providing more sweetness on top of the vanilla. A light roast to it.

Taste: Mimics the nose. A lot of artificial vanilla. It stands out so much. Chocolate and some cocoa with roasted malts. Caramel.

Mouthfeel: Sticky sweet. Medium bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends a little dry.

Overall, I wasn't impressed with this porter. It tasted too fake for me. If you can get past that fact, it is okay.

 513 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a clear, crimson-tinted deep mahogany body with a long standing and creamy off-white head. Lacing about the glass, unfortunately, is limited (possibly due to the oily nature of the real vanilla beans?). The nose delivers a combination of almond and vanilla over a chocolate-tinged caramel malt base that's welcoming but not necessarily natural. The body is light/medium and it's lightly creamy and quite smooth across the palate. In the flavor caramel and almond appear up-front with some chocolate and vanilla following mid-palate. It's a very soft beer that has the beautiful balance of not being sweet, but not necessarily being balanced by an underlying bitterness either. It's subtle and smooth with the exception of the way that the vanilla extract stands out as it warms. It finishes much as it starts, soft and smooth with a note of vanilla that just seems to slip away. Overall, it's a well-made and interesting beer.

 932 characters

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.28/5  rDev +17.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Acquired via trade from IntriqKen, so a big “Thank you” goes out to him.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep reddish brown color, with a large, dense, foamy tan head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is rich with vanilla, chocolate and coffee, along with some caramelized malt & smokiness mixed in.

T: The taste is creamy and smoky with a heavy vanilla flavor backed up with chocolate, coffee, nuts and roasted malt. There’s a little bit of hops present, but the beer is sweet enough to smother the hops flavor.

M: Crisp and very smooth, medium body, medium-to-high carbonation especially for the style, clean finish.

D: Very tasty, extremely easy-to-drink, not very filling, I could stick with this beer for a long time and put away quite a few.

 841 characters

Photo of XmnwildX12
3/5  rDev -17.8%

Photo of russpowell
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark brown with a 1.5" tan head. Some head retention & lacing

Smell: Vanilla then toasted malt

Taste: Vanilla up followed by toasted malt, finishes dry

MF: A little light, especially for its abv & slightly undercarbonated

Drinks okay, makes a nice dessert beer

 278 characters

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.72/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a stark-colored brown with a bubbly, ivory white head.

Smell: Some slight dark, roasted notes in the aroma. Aromawise, the vanilla isn't overabundant, and mingles well with other scents of coffee and sweetened chocolate.

Taste: Faintly sweet malts upfront give way to a chocolate flavor and a roasted bitterness. The vanilla peaks through all the while, but really manages to emerge on the finish. Ultimately, all the light, sweet flavors and fizzy carbonation suggest a vanilla soda.

Mouthfeel: Medium-thin body. Carbonation is noticeably fizzy.

Drinkability: A fairly pleasant beer that makes for easy drinking.

 643 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
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 mikesgroove
3.88/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks goes out to Swid for sending me a fine selection of brews from NE to close out another state on my list. I went for this one first as it defintley seemed intresting to say the least. Served cold and poured into a pint glass. This one was consumed on 11/23/2008.

The pour was very nice. A rich dark brown color coming through on the initial pour. Almost opaque in its color, with just the slightest bit of light shining through on the tops and bottom on the glass. Nice touch of light tan head on top, this faded and left behind only a minimal crown and a small amount of side glass lacing.

The aroma was nice, hints of vanilla were layered on top of roasted malts and a nice touch of caramel. Some light touches of chocolate as it warmed up, but the aroma was a bit lighter then I was expecting. Decent flavor though, until it warmed when it really hit the spot. Nice touches of caramel and vanilla, especially in the finish. A very sweet porter, though an almost smokey note started to take over after a while, it was always checked in place by the dominance of vanilla. Smooth, creamy, medium bodied feel was just what the doc ordered this afternoon, and I could have easily thrown down another in the long run.

Overall for my first beer from Nebraska, I was somewhat impressed. This was a very solid beer, and something I would not hesitate to try again.

 1,371 characters

Photo of womencantsail
3.78/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to BigDank for including this bottle as an extra in a recent trade.

A: Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a glass to reveal a dark brown beer with a tan head.

S: The nose is primarily roasted malt with a few hints of vanilla and coffee.

T: Like the nose, the flavor is primarily roasted malt with a stronger vanilla presence. There is also some chocolate and a bit of coffee.

M: The body is medium and the body is medium.

D: A pretty decent beer with a really cool name. A nice porter and I like the addition of the vanilla as it adds a little bit "extra".

 565 characters

Photo of PA-Michigander
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.85/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

via trade from bditty thanks man, straight out of Nebraska. Appearance has a dark ruby brown almost black cola colored body with a tan head looks very appetizing. Aroma has a roasty dark malt redden tone gives off hints of dark chocolate and coffee roasts with a vanilla finish to it not overdone here touch of the vanilla, nice. Taste more dark roasts bring some bitterness to the table the vanilla finishes this solid stout it doesn't overpower blended with an herbal hop character, well balanced. Mouthfeel is medium bodied evenly carbonated goes down smooth with a bit of a creamy texture. Drinkability is very nice some flavored porters kill it this one does with ease pulls it off quite nicely props goes out to Nebraskan brewers.

 736 characters

Photo of feloniousmonk
3.55/5  rDev -2.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Dark, earthy brown color, lighter 'round the sides, with a grand, lasting, creamy head. Aroma: smack-full of vanilla, with some roasty elements, and additional flavors of nuts, cocoa, and more.
It stuff my nose in the glass to further get a feel for it, and then I'm left with a touch of rum...no, rum & coke...no, rum & vanilla coke? (Has anyone seen Chazz Palmentieri around?)
Vanilla feel is dominant on the palate, and while there is some of the bitterness I look for in any good porter, it's lying very low. All other parts of the picture do their job very well, but it's the particular vanilla flavor that this beer is all about, and it never quits. So, if you like vanilla, here you go. Me, I like porter-flavored porters.
Not bad, but it was too much vanilla for me. Thanks go to bditty187 for providing!

 816 characters

Photo of a77cj7
4/5  rDev +9.6%

Photo of Wasatch
3.97/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks goes out to jhammerly for this brew.

Pours a nice clean/clear dark brown color, nice carbonation, little fizzy head, some sticky lacing around the edges. The nose is malty, slightly roasted, some vanilla, toffee, and caramel. The taste is malty, sweet from the vanilla, a very slight roastyness, good dose of toffee/caramel. The finish is slightly dry and bitter. Medium body. Drinkable, this is a tasty porter, glad to have had a chance to try it.

 458 characters

Photo of Whiskeydeez
3.25/5  rDev -11%

Photo of Mora2000
4/5  rDev +9.6%
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.

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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
3.65 out of 5 based on 367 ratings.
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