Dark Side Vanilla Porter | Empyrean Brewing Company

144 Reviews
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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

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Reviews: 144 | Ratings: 363
Photo of treyrab
3.48/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a pint glass

A: Deep brown with much ruby hues that come through. Rather light looking for a porter

S: Smell is rather light with black and chocolate malts with no vanilla noticed yet

T: The vanilla comes through very slightly, barely any at all. The coffee and light cocoa is what I feel, but it is extremely light and watery

M,D: Very watery for my expectations, and not enough vanilla.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
3.35/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to RedHaze for the chance to try this. Pours black with brown highlights and a short head that fades to a ring. No lacing. Aroma and taste are virtually identical. Strange notes of scented pipe tobacco with dusty notes of vanilla, tobacco, and spice. Strange, but not owerwhelming or unpleasant. The mouthfeel is firm and dusty. I don't know if I could drink more than one of these. Definitely a bit bizarre.

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Photo of CamuMahubah
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

What a corny label! Reminds me of a Broadway Musical poster. Fortunately a gorgeous porter flows from the bottle to the snifter. Don't judge a book by its cover!

Smells of dark cacao milk...

Nice cocoa splendor wrapped in a vanilla wisp...

Coats my mouth my chocolate milk!

This is not a quaffing porter. This is a dessert beer all the way. A local favorite that I have had many times before. Proud to serve this beer at dinner parties!

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Photo of tayner
3.65/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

12 oz stubby twist off brown bottle with a nice label design but no date.

poured a dark fizzy brown, almost like cola colored with a white head that died quickly, no lacing.

smell is of vanilla beans and roasted malt. Mostly sweet vanilla though.

Taste was vanilla right up front, almost like i was sucking on fresh vanilla beans. Beyond that there are some roasted grains, but not burnt grains. There is an earthy undertone to it i cant put my finger on.

The mouthfeel was pretty thin. when i smelled it i expected more. Not alot of coating or thickness at all.

Drinkability i went a little lower. It is easy to drink, but it is pretty sweet, almost like a dessert beer, so 1 at a time is my limit, although the abv would allow for more if you were into the sweetness.

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Photo of NClifestyle
4.32/5  rDev +18.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I really like this beer. got this in a trade from jhammerly (thanks). i had been trying to talk one of my brewing buddies into letting me brew a vanilla beer, and he thought the idea was worthless.
anyway, this beer pours up a lovely dark color, not quite black, but definitely not brown, purple and blood red hints when held up to the light. thick tan head dwindles to a nice layer over the dark contents.
first smell is vanilla, but not super slick or sweet, just about right, less like some scented candle. also, a hint of hop in there, with some bread aroma as well.
taste is just a brush of vanilla prior to a well made malt/coffee flavor with just enough dry hop in the back of the mouth to keep the beer from becoming sweet. a really GREAT mix and perfect touch of vanilla.
not a ton of bubbles, but enough to keep things lively.
you can't drink too many porters at one sitting, less so if the beer is super sweet, but i could have had a few of these.
if this was a local brew, and the temperature was under 60 degrees, i'd drink this all the time.

This is the last of the dsvp's I received in a trade long ago. Been holding off, but finally had to break it open, for fear of it going bad.

This is a wonderful beer, if you're a fan of vanilla. Not too over the top, but you definitely notice it. A bit more sweet than most porters, and a tad too thin for my like, but otherwise, it's one of my dream sub-styles that just aren't around, at least where I am.


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

Thanks to jhammerly for this extra

A. dark brown with a slight off white head

S. roasted malts, vanilla, caramel, and dark chocolate

T. Sweet vanilla is heavy on the start but fades on the finish to a bitter chocolate. Tastes a little watered down the whole way through though.

M. Mouthfeel was a little thin.

D. Drinkability was very good. Smooth, has a nice flavor, except for the watered down part.

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Photo of Jagcorps
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Dark pour with slight head and little carbonation play. Minimal lacing. Various colors ranging from nearly black to red-brown.

S: Great roasted smell, without smelling burnt. Though it is a vanilla porter, the vanilla is not the main thrust, acting as only a slight overtone. Coffee and chocolate are more prevalent.

T: Most enjoyable part of this beer, it gives much in terms of flavors. Coffee and chocolate, with a vanilla sweet finish and a hint of spice. Paired with a tandoori chicken kabob, this was really nice.

M: Carbonation is nice; not too harsh or too flat. However, the beer has a thin feel to it, having all the taste of a porter, but half its texture.

D: Good beer to drink with strong foods. It holds its own against spicy, tangy and sweet. I had two in one evening, but probably wouldn't have enjoyed a third as much.

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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.

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Photo of IntriqKen
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a deep, dark amber with a nice full finger off white head that melts rather quickly to a ring of off white bubbles.

Aromas are coffee bean, cocoa bean, and a whiff of vanilla at the end to mellow out the scent nicely.

Taste is a blend of the chocolate and coffee from the aromas...rich and dark but again the finish is mellowed by a very nice vanilla presence. Some tobacco notes also present. Everything tastes fresh and clean...nothing artificial at all.

Mouthfeel is sufficient for a porter....creamy yet light and thin at the same time. Nice drying in the aftertaste with just a bit of chocolate coffee remaining on the tongue.

Very pleasant.

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Photo of Vancer
4.22/5  rDev +15.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Holy moly, what a fine drinkin’ frosty. I could sip on these 24X7, winter or summer. BUT, most likely only one for me down here in STL.

Dark mahogany, but a quick dying ivory head. Nice pop of vanilla malt in the aroma, and the taste was knockout good. Bitter dark chocolates, vanilla and a finish with a dry gritty choc. malt.

Medium bodied and robust – MAYBE a sixer would be too sweet by the end, but I’ll not be able to check this out.

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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.

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Photo of bort11
4.27/5  rDev +17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Thanks to Fugazme for this one
12 oz bottle with no freshness date. Poured into an Imperial pint glass. Color is a rich dark brown with faint ruby highlights when held to the light. Tight tan colored head that recedes to a minimal lace.
Smell is a sweetened bitter malt with coffee and floral notes. The vanilla is subtle. Taste is very bold, but not overpowering. Espresso coffee bean sweetened with the vanilla bean. The vanilla accentuates rather than dominates the flavor. Surprisingly, it finishes with a hops bitterness.
Mouthfeel is full and creamy. This is a very nice evening sipper.

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Photo of JohnnyM2002
4.3/5  rDev +17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sampled from a 12 oz bottle, poured into a snifter at 50 degrees. Picked up in a trade from swid - thanks!!

A - Pours a beautiful deep brown with red highlights. Small-to-medium tan head that quickly melted away but left a small lacing for awhile.

S - Roasted coffee and vanilla dominates the scent. Powerful aroma.

T - Delicious blend of vanilla, nuts, and mild-roast coffee beans. Nut flavor really comes out on the aftertaste. The use of vanilla is excellent as it's not overpowering - more of a vanilla/nutty flavor than anything. Wonderful!

M - Medium, creamy body that washes down very smooth. Excellent aftertastes.

D - Thanks to swid for including two of these - I'll be saving the other for just the right time. Definitely recommended!

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Photo of dogfooddog
3.58/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

this one of a large number of bottles received from MABZ recently. Thanks again for the chance to try this beer.

pours into a pint glass with a large tan head; nose is a bit sour, notably roasted, with a hint of something I cannot name though obviously I wonder if it is the vanilla beans.

taste is a bit mild for a porter; the vanilla is present here more notably, though subtle and unsweetened. hops round out the roasted malt and certainly balance the beer.

Like many of the novel-ingredient beers, I am not terribly impressed with this one. It is drinkable and pleasant, but nothing special.

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Photo of drewbage
4.15/5  rDev +13.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Straight from a fresh bottle into an imperial pint glass.

Black with ruby highlights visible against the light with a short whitish head.

Aroma is roasted coffee playing behind the giant wallop of vanilla. Smells lik a really good coffee vanilla ice cream. Has the aroma of natural vanilla (which the label confirms)

Flavor is clean and brisk with a zesty hoppiness that provides a good counterbalance to the sweetness that is enhanced by the vanilla.

Overall, a very drinkable, vanilla infused brew. Be nicer if the beer was more subtle with the orchid, but hey.. it works well here.

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Photo of SMark
3.03/5  rDev -17%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Drank this at a friends house where it was brought from Nebraska by his son. Not a lot going on with a typical dark pour, slight head and minimal lacing.

Vanilla came through but did not sense much else like coffee, nuts or chocolate. May have been beyond its best date.

Again not much coming through with the exception of vanilla.

Mouthfeel and Drinkability could have also been affected by the age of the bottle so will give the benefit of the doubt and rate as average. Could be a better brew if revisited but not sure.

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Photo of Adamthome1
4.06/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

One of my favorites, largely because of the availability here, the ability to visit the brewery, oh and because it's a darn good beer.

Poors dark, thick, coffee looking brew into snifter glass. Head foams up and dissipates and usually some small lace remains throughout. Aroma is that of coffee and roasted vanilla beans. Taste is rich, nutty, and roasted beans. Very good cofeelike aftertaste. Leaves a feeling on the mouth of vanilla oil, very silky and refreshing. Taste is enhanced as the beer warms, best served at about 50 degrees or about 15 minutes out of refrigerator.

Not as good as some of the other porters like some you could get from Rogue or Sierra Nevada but if you are ever in the Nebraska area it's worth trying or if you live here remember to support your local breweries.

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Photo of Romulus141
3.5/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured in a stout glass. Picked up a six-pack of this from Lazlo's South.

Appearance: Pours a deep brown/black. If held up to a light, one can slightly see the light through it in a red hue. The head isn't that heavy, and leaves a thin layer of foam on the surface. Lacing is readily apparent.

Smell: Slight roast aroma with a strong mix of vanilla. It's an interesting smell for a stout, as they typically don't smell this sweet.

Taste: An instant burst of a roast flavor, finished off with a small, faint burst of bitterness as the drink finishes. When the drink is at a warmer temperature, the vanilla taste is quite present and overpowers the porter portion of this brew. This is "sweeter" tasting than other stouts I've had. The slight bitterness on the end is welcome, although nothing to get overly excited over. Good, but not great.

Mouthfeel: Not as thick as I was expecting. The beer is still heavy, but not quite as full as some other porters I've sampled. There is also carbonation present, which gives the porter an interesting zing. I'm not a huge fan of my thicker, darker beers being highly carbonated, and this one has just a little too much.

Drinkability: Quite good, and I could have a couple in a session. However, out of the Empyrean beers I've tried, I've liked this one the least. It's a strange entry for its genre, and the carbonation mixed with overly sweet flavor made it slightly disappointing. I'll reach for another brew from this factory first.

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Photo of Mdog
3.2/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance: Dark brown with a quick fading head.

Smell: Faint roasted malt.

Taste: Slight roasted malt then vanilla is the main flavor. There are some chocolate/coffee undertones but the vanilla smoothes them over.

Mouthfeel: Pretty light for a porter.

Drinkability: Not too bad but kind of odd.

I picked this up recently in Nebraska. It's kind of a strange beer, the vanilla is there but is not overpowering. Hard to describe, but worth at least a try.

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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.

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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

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Photo of MaltyGoodness
3.15/5  rDev -13.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

12oz. bottle courtesy of jhammerly

Pours a dark brown with a small tan head that fades. Mild lacing on the glass.

Aroma is very vanilla oriented with some roasted malt blended in the back. The strength of the vanilla is a little odd, it has a cream soda-ish smell.

It tastes like it smells, just not quite as good. The vanilla is very dominant form start to finish. There is a porter trapped in there somewhere, but it only makes a weak attempt to reveal itself.

Medium-light body, low carbonation.

An interesting brew, but just a bit too heavy on the vanilla for my personal taste.

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Photo of BigRedN
3.63/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Served to me in a pint glass. A thin off white head sits atop a dark liquid. The beer is nearly black. What little head there is falls to a thin cloud with some decent lacing.

Smell: I do not know if this is being served too cold, but I am not getting a very pronounced vanilla scent (which to me is good). Predominant aromas are roasted malts, burnt coffee and chocolate scent. As I mentioned the vanilla is faded into the background.

Taste: A bitter sweet taste to me. Burnt coffee and chocolate as expected, but the vanilla comes through a little more in the taste and makes it a little sweet. A nice bitterness on the finish.

Mouthfeel: Borders on medium bodied, a touch light for the style IMO. Slight carbonation, still it is good enough to keep me coming back.

Drinkability: Thankfully this one is not over powered by vanilla scents and taste, IMO. It is easily drinkable, and I try to have one every now and then when I eat at Lazlo's.

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Photo of mynie
2.7/5  rDev -26%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

Medium ruby almost entirely without a head.

Smell some sweetness, but it's more of a plum and old fruit than a vanilla. Not much "porter" going on, here--there's just a little hint of instant coffee crystals.

Very wet start. Not much flavor. Moving into a decent smokey coffee and ending on a musty flavor that's inbetween imitation vanilla extra and dirty socks. Not very good.

Nothing much to see here, folks. Move along.

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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.

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Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
3.65 out of 5 based on 363 ratings.
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