Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Empyrean Dark Side Vanilla Porter review

Empyrean Dark Side Vanilla PorterNebraska may be known for its Cornhuskers and 500 mile long borders, but soon it will also be known for its craft beer. Colorado was recently "invaded" by our neighbor to the northeast. They go by the name of Empyrean Brewing Company of Lincoln, Nebraska and they're bringing a selection of brews to Colorado shelves.

I was recently approached by Empyrean Brewing to receive a couple of their sampler beers in exchange for an open and candid review. This is not a paid review, but rather one done of out of courtesy. I'm happy to offer up a review of Empyrean Dark Side Vanilla Porter.

Dark Side is self-described by Empyrean as "An infusion of an old-world beer style and contemporary soul. Smooth, dark and roasted with highlights of chocolate, coffee and vanilla." It weighed in at 5.7% ABV and 23 IBUs. It was made with 2-row, Carastan, Chocolate malts and bittered with Perle and Cascade hops for flavor, and Tettnanger hops for aroma.

I received this sample today and I was eager to give them that night. I chilled it down to around 40 degrees (as recommended) and sampled it from a pint glass.

Appearance: Dark Side poured a very dark brown with ruby edgings. A modest 1.5 finger tan head rose in my pint glass and melted away within a minute or so. Swirling the glass only brought back a minor head with a slight lacing that slid quickly off the side of the glass. There was a decent hiss when I popped the cap and it appeared decently carbonated.

Aroma: I could definitely pick up on a nice roasty aroma mixed with a hint of vanilla. Yes, Dark Side did remind me of coffee and chocolate as good dark malts should. The Tettnanger aroma hops added a bit of floral and spice to the nose as well.

Taste: This medium-bodied porter had a smooth feel without being too heavy on the roasted side. I could really get into the blend of Chocolate and Carastan malts they put in. It had a touch of caramel, chocolate and coffee up front and glided easily down. It was lowly bittered as a porter should be, and just enough so to match the sweet malts in this brew. There was no after taste from this dark brew and felt very easy drinking. It left my mouth watering, not drying. It tasted just as good cold as it did warmed up.

Overall: For a guy who is used to big bold beers, it was nice to have a good change of pace, down to earth porter for a change. It's wasn't heavy, it felt lighter and refreshing and still able to offer a kick at the end of the bottle. Vanilla beans can be a tricky thing to blend well into a porter and Empyrean Brewing did a commendable job in making sure it was mixed well with the other ingredients.

I'd call this vanilla porter as good as other vanilla porters I've had. It stood by itself just fine. I had no trouble finishing the bottle and I look forward to enjoying the second bottle they sent me later on. Ratebeer gave this a 74 average rating, but I'd be willing to give it an 79. It's a good beer to start the Fall with. It would make a good dessert beer or go well with a steak. For those curious about the dark side, this would make a good introductory beer to porters and stouts.

Pouring the Dark Side Vanilla Porter:

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Related articles:
- Empyrean Brewing coming to Colorado.
- Breckenridge Vanilla Porter review.
- Ska Ten Pin Porter review.

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