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Dark Side Vanilla Porter | Empyrean Brewing Company

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143 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: 143 | Ratings: 361
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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Photo of yeastlovehoppiness_jess
4.1/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Very dark, almost-black brown. One finger of beige head. Little retention. No lacing.

S: Dark chocolate. Malt. Roasted coffee. Vanilla. Smoky.

T: Dark chocolate. Vanilla. Coffee. Malty. Creamy.

M: Thin. Smooth. Dry. Chocolate aftertaste. Drinkable. Not much carbonation.

O: I love the combination of dark chocolate, vanilla, malts, and coffee in this beer. It's delicious and rich, but earthy, drinkable, and smooth enough to drink all night... which I often have.

 471 characters

Photo of Vonerichs
3.37/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Dark brown but fairly light on the surface and edges. Minimal head that is short lasting.

It's not very aromatic. In fact, there's hardly any aroma but a light char and cardboard

The flavor picks up a little. The vanilla is definitely present with roasted malt. The finsnb has a slightly sour quality and is brief.

Body is a bit light but carbonation is good.

It's a very average porter.

 394 characters

Photo of Smurf2055
3.12/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours very dark with a tan head about three fingers.

Smells of vanilla.

Super smooth, creamy, a little bit of stale bitter at the back end.

This is by no means a "good" porter, but I’m glad I got to try it. Rich without being strong. Not anything to seek out, but a great beer, none the less.

 300 characters

Photo of ButterflyBethie
4.57/5  rDev +25.2%
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.

 372 characters

Photo of vette2006c5r
3.79/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Dark Side Porter pours a black color, with a small lacing head. There is a strong smokey aroma, smells almost burnt. The taste has a mellow vanilla flavor, on a smokey, almost burnt malty backbone. Smooth combination of flavors, and good full flavor. Overall a nice porter, nothing overpowering, but nice and enjoyable.

 319 characters

Photo of tewaris
2/5  rDev -45.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Another state ticked, thanks Lowry!

Clear brown colored with a fizzy head. Aroma is faint roast, some acidity and vanilla, I assume. Tastes oddly bland and sharp with a very generic feel to it. Frankly, right from the pour and down to the taste, this beer is closest to Coke than any other that I have had. Thin and overcarbed, it did not excite me in any way. Except being from Nebraska.

 389 characters

Photo of acelin
4.23/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Beer Kitchen, poured into a tasting glass.

Pours dark nut brown with minimal head that disappeared quickly, ok lacing.

Smelled of roasted malt, almost coffeish.

The malt was very roasted, with hints of coffee, vanilla, caramel, chocolate, more vanilla... balanced to the point that it almost tasted like candy. Hope profile was light with no specific character.

Mouthfeel was perfect for the style.

 418 characters

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

Poured into a tulip pint glass.

The beer is dark brown when settled, but really light brown otherwise. A nice dark cream colored head takes a while to settle, leaving a group of bubbles when it does. Nice lines of lacing coat the glass, somewhat light.

The aroma is somewhat infused with vanilla, also a faint woody, oak aroma. Some alcohol, even though the ABV is only 5.7%.

The taste is a shadow of the aroma. Somewhat of a watered down quality, nothing really stands out, but some woody oak and faint vanilla. SOme bitterness in the finish.

The mouthfeel is medium to light, very drinkable.

Overall, there's just not enough to push this over the edge of memorable.

 673 characters

Photo of DavoleBomb
3.24/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a perfect pint.

3.0 A: Clear deep amber brown color. One and a half fingers of frothy beige head. Retention is below average, but a small ring of lacing is left.

4.0 S: Vanilla is easily noticeable and blends extremely well with coffee and chocolate notes to give an almost creme brulee vibe. Graininess and a moderate roastiness underneath. Very pleasant.

3.0 T: This is tasty, but it doesn't have the depth of flavor that the nose hinted at. Vanilla is strongest again and there is a decent amount of coffee, but the chocolate is all but gone. This is really dry, which hurts what I think they should have been going for. Lacks sweetness, caramel, and chocolate - all of which complement vanilla quite well. In that sense, this drinks hollow. Light grain and roastiness.

3.0 M: Light to lighter medium body. Good moderate carbonation. Lacking body and creaminess, which is what I love most in creme brulee type dark brews.

3.0 D: It's not bad, but it disappoints once you get past the nose. Easy to drink though.

 1,031 characters

Photo of jera1350
4/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Solid black bodied with a short, yet creamy head of light tan foam that leaves a few rings of lace.

The nose is a touch light, but what is there is nice. Very light roasted malt, hint of molasses sweetness and ever so slight vanilla extract.

A lovely blend of lightly roasted malt, bit of dusty cocoa powder, malt sweetness and vanilla. Almost a vanilla buttercream taste. Much less roast than vanilla. The vanilla comes on strong at the end and is mostly a vanilla extract as opposed to a vanilla bean. Very nice flavor overall.

Light-medium body, very smooth, bordering on a light slickness. Very clean finish on the tongue.

I really like this beer overall. The vanilla is great and the overall beer has terrific drinkability. Great flavor to abv ratio going on.

 768 characters

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 scratch69
3.7/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I poured a bottle into a pint glass.

Appearance- Dark brown color with a fingers worth of tan head. Light amount of lacing.

Smell- Dark roasted malt with hints of coffee, chocolate and vanilla.

Taste- Roasted malt flavor with notes of chocolate and cocoa. Subtle vanilla flavor at the finish.

Mouthfeel- Medium bodied and smooth with a fair amount of carbonation.

Overall- Needs a little more vanilla but still pretty good. This should be labeled as a chocolate porter instead of a vanilla porter.

 503 characters

Photo of Beaver13
2.28/5  rDev -37.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2

12 oz bottle. Pours brown with a thinnish meringue tan head that goes to a thin film and leaves a little lacing.

The aroma is sweet nutty malts and lots of vanilla and some lactose.

The flavor is sweet sugary nutty malts with some acidic vanilla and a little plastic roast in the finish. The mouthfeel is a bit on the thin and watery side.

Overall, lots of sweet vanilla with some off notes that become more pronounced the more I drink.

 439 characters

Photo of philbe311
3.1/5  rDev -15.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A - A finger's worth of fizzy off-white colored head comprised of mainly medium-to-large sized bubbles... Very limited retention gives way to a splotchy lopsided lacing and uber thin collar... Mostly still with some very limited carbonation seen creeping towards the top of the glass... The color is a deep cola brown... Some unexpected floaties can be seen hanging around the bottom of the glass...

S - Please, but muted... Pleasant vanilla beans... Some faint cola... Very light cocoa... A hint weak coffee... Again, a very nice aroma, but very understated...

T - The nose was a very good indication of what to expect in terms of flavor... Understated with light notes of vanilla, coffee, cocoa, and flat cola...

M - Light to medium bodied... Just the slightest of carbonation... Thin... A bit chalky... Very uneventful... Pedestrian at best... I hate to use this descriptor, but quite boring...

D - A bit of a let down... A slightly above average appearance and aroma give way to a beer that is a disappointment in all other facets... The flavor is understated... The mouthfeel is down right poor... The end result is a brew that I would neither recommend or drink again... Sorry Empyrean, but this one was a big time miss for me...

 1,240 characters

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.


 1,213 characters

Photo of JackieTH
3.21/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Pours an attractive dark brown with tan foam that persists with spotty lace. Smell is roasted malt elements with light vanilla, pretty mild but straightforward. Taste is lightly roasted malt, vanilla, coffee but these flavor elements are not well enough integrated and the body is too light leaving a slightly sour, watery aftertaste. This beer could be more robust.

 366 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 cliveklg
5/5  rDev +37%
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.

 319 characters

Photo of TippySelenoid
3.6/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass.

Dark brown, hazy, cream colored head with little retention or lacing.

Roasted malt in the nose as well ad vanilla. Kind of nutmeggy.

Vanilla is up front. This beer is pretty sweet. Some roastiness comes through as well as some bittering hops.

This beer is medium bodied with a subtle carbonation. This beer leaves a film that I find cloying and unpleasant.

This beer is a bit above average. Not my thing though.

 446 characters

Photo of budgood1
3.43/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

pours out of the twelve ounce stubby bottle a nearly opaque brownish-red colour with some cloudy russet highlights. frothy head dies to some scant bubbles and lingering lace. aroma is of lightly sweetened cocoa and some dark roasted malts. not picking up any vanilla and the overall nose is quite restrained. the taste profile picks things up a bit with the vanilla and milk chocolate notes complimenting the overall roastiness of the malts. even though this is bottle conditioned/unfiltered, it has very little yeast character. mildly astringent...medium sweetness...meekly hopped. true to the porter style with a lagerish body and easy to please mouthfeel. very nice drinkability. it's going to be easy to put away a handful of these.

overall a solid, but unspectacular vanilla porter, and i mean that in a postive way. no flavour dominates; supremely balanced and cleverly nuanced. as it warms a bit the overall profile is allowed to shine. recommended.

 957 characters

Dark Side Vanilla Porter from Empyrean Brewing Company
3.65 out of 5 based on 361 ratings.
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