The bottle looks like a cross between a Woodstock look and the 1950’s homemaker/June Cleaver design. The lightning bolt company logo is awesome and the vanilla flower seems like it’s out of a naturalist’s book, but the bottle is a little boring overall. If I had a collection of bottles similarly designed to this one I might display them on a shelf, but as an individual I wouldn’t keep it.
The beer pours a nice and dark amber caramel, almost black at its middle with a cream browned head that starts tall and wheedles down to a half a fingers length, which retains for quite some time. The smell is actually quite weak… I really had to dig to find it. In the end I detected a sweet with caramel malts. The slightest tinge of vanilla can be found, but nothing near what I was hoping for. There is also a slight tingle in the back which seems bready with a slight ouch of fruit.
The taste is also underwhelming with vanilla, if it is there, it is in the faint lingering sweetness of the beer. This is definitely a solid porter, though, with a good chocolatey malt taste and slight breadiness in the back of the mouth. The more you sip it the more you think you taste the vanilla on the edges of the tongue, and it definitely builds into an actual vanilla taste by the end of the beer, but it still is not the leading flavor in the beer.
The beer is very clean on the mouth, leaving little to no tingle or taste, but the initial sip has a little harsh kick of carbonation but then washes away entirely. The tongue is left with sap-like strings of vanilla streaking over it after the beer has washed down. This is a terrific porter with great subtle tastes, just not the kick of vanilla I was hoping for from something called a “vanilla porter.” Maybe I am just unfamiliar with the vanilla porter style but I feel like you should be able to get more of a vanilla flavor than this beer delivers. I’d call it a vanilla-kissed/touched porter rather than a straight up vanilla porter. This is a great beer but is just labeled incorrectly.
(By the way, I had a lovely photo shoot with this beer, so I decided to display quite a few pics… Enjoy, I suppose…)