Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord - 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark LordBourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

1,207 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,207
Reviews: 252
rAvg: 4.72
pDev: 9.32%
Wants: 3,707
Gots: 220 | FT: 13
Brewed by:
3 Floyds Brewing Co. visit their website
Indiana, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  15.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mcallister on 04-27-2008

Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout aged in a variety of Bourbon barrels with vanilla beans.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,207 | Reviews: 252
Reviews by cradke:
Photo of cradke
4.5/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pitch black. A thin head around the edge. Very little carbonation.

Smell: Roasty dark notes with super sweet bourbon. Almost like smelling toasted marshmallow smores.

Taste: Very bourbon forward. Sweet. Integrated very well.

Mouthfeel: A bit thinner than I would have expected or hoped for. Spreads very well across the palate.

Overall: This was a very good beer. Was this a world beater? Na uh. Extremely well integrated and wonderful bourbon notes, but lacking in complexity compared to the Port BA Dl and not as well integrated or as BCS. Sidebar: Cuvee de Port BA DL+BVDL+BCBCS was without a doubt the best beer I have ever had. Hands down.

Notes:2012 edition, Bottle #413/934

More User Reviews:
Photo of StevenSpringer
4.98/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Worth the hype. Marshmallow bourbon chocolate nose. Taste matches the nose. There needs to be more of this in the world.

Photo of Stevedore
4.94/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Was able to try the 2013 vintage of this thanks to Dustin at a whale tasting 7/13/2013. Poured into a BCBS snifter, probably 5 ounces.

Basically this beer smelled like bourbon chocolate marshmallows but in liquid form. It has such a strong, pungent aroma that makes me smile. There is a bit of the barrel here but for the most part it is a delicious smelling bourbon marshmallow.

It pours a pitch black, incredibly thick and viscous body that comes with a minimal head & retention. Not a ton of lacing.

The flavour is straight up sweet chocolate marshmallows with some bourbon and hints of coffee in the background. This beer is not subtle at all. I wouldn't call it complex but everything it does, it goes beyond what anyone would expect even of Three Floyds. Insanely rich and savoury but not necessarily instant diabeetus like the regular Dark Lord is, if that makes sense. Its super sweet but it comes together in a good way.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Smooth, rich, roasty and carbonated well enough. Aftertaste is a slick bourbony marshmallow feel that makes me smile.

Overall, this beer gets super hyped for a reason which I now understand completely. It is so ridiculously unbalanced and complex, it's awesome. I don't have the trade ammo and it probably isn't worth all the craziness surrounding it but it is an incredible beer, probably the best imperial stout I've ever had the chance to drink. And that includes the BCS Rare we drank at the same tasting.

Re-review: the 4 of us bought into a single 2012 vintage bottle of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Lord aged in Vanilla Beans. Bottle # 58/934. So its about a year and half old now. Poured into an unlabeled snifter today, 12/8/2013.

Still pours a perfect opaque black body, with a nice mocha collar that sticks around with good retention. And well, the nose is still intense 100% bourbon chocolate marshmallows, one of the best smelling beers I've ever had. Its not the most complex, but it is the most incredible nose out there. And of course the flavour is incredible- the vanilla does cover up some of the complexity of the base beer, but it replaces it with bourbon chocolate marshmallows that is just so sweet yet not the type of sweet that Grey Monday brings; its easily drinkable and so enjoyable. Mouthfeel is definitely full bodied, silky and smooth drinking without much discernible heat. Again, this is a beer that is phenomenal and one of the best I've ever had. I can't believe I've had this beer twice in the span of less than a year, but it is well worth it. The main difference between the 2012 and 2013 vintage is that the bourbon is a bit more muted in the 2012 vintage compared to the fresh version. This beer is probably still best drank fresh, but it will certainly hold up over time if cellared properly. As before, I understand the hype and trade value behind this beer 100%. Thank you Matt, for being generous enough to send this one to our group.

Re-review: 2014 vintage poured into a FFF/DMC snifter 6/21/2014. Essentially, I am finding this year's vintage to be significantly sweeter than the last two vintages. There is more of the base Dark Lord and less of the vanilla bean contribution. The vanilla bean comes out more as it warms up, but even then it's still a shadow in comparison to 2012 and 2013. I felt the same way when I drank this at this year's Dark Lord Day, and I am now able to confirm this opinion with the pour I got tonight. While I won't tweak the scoring here, I certainly would not recommend trading for this year's if you've had this one in years past. Honestly, if I were to change the scoring, it'd be something like a 4.4/5, just a tick above regular Dark Lord. I'd even argue that the '14 Brandy Dark Lord we drank right after this beer was more interesting. That's how disappointing this year's vintage was compared to the last 2 years, with 2013 being the superior vintage.

Photo of CuriousMonk
4.37/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The '13 DL was a major let down as it was too cherry/sweet for my tastes, so I was eager to try a '13 BBAVB DL. Pours motor oil black/brownish with a thin mocha head that quickly dissipates without leaving any trace on the glass. Smell is sweet with roasted malts, tons of vanilla, quality dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, vanilla fudge, bourbon, charred wood, coconuts, molasses, caramel, honey, toffee, burnt cookies and hints of sweet soy sauce. The cherry taste from the regular DL is very present along with sweet with roasted malts, tons of vanilla, quality dark chocolate, sweetened dark roast coffee, honey, vanilla fudge, caramel, toffee, fresh oak, bourbon, charred wood, roasted nuts, sweet soy sauce and sweet liquorice candy. Mouthfeel is silky, sticky sweet, round, slightly boozy and near full bodied. Finish is sweet and tiny bitter with roasted malts, dark roast coffee, vanilla essence, bitter chocolate, vanilla fudge, toffee, caramel, bourbon and charred wood. Probably a bit too sweet for my taste, but glad to have tasted the vanilla beans which made this DL a better beer!

Photo of jstunna24
4.99/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Absolutely amazing. The aroma is incredible. One of the best smelling beer I've ever tried. It smells like liquid marshmallows. The taste is sweet but complex. Vanilla, bourbon,chocolate, and toffee intoxicate your mouth. Truly a treat. Definitely worth seeking out!

Photo of wpqx
4.75/5  rDev +0.6%

I got to finally capture my white whale at Dark Lord Day 2014, so my review is of the most recent batch. I drank this August 10th, poured into my FFF Teku glass.

The color is similar to regular Dark Lord with a sweet dark layer of head.

Smells incredibly sweet, more vanilla on the nose than bourbon.

Taste is almost unbearably sweet. The vanilla was incredibly strong in this one and to go along with the natural diabetes bomb regular DL is, it was like drinking dessert. Not enough bourbon character, perhaps it needs more time.

Overall, this was a damn good beer. I'm a fan of regular Dark Lord so although it's sweet I would certainly enjoy another bottle. However due to the insane hype and absurd asking price I'd resist the urge to trade half your cellar for a bottle. Maybe I set my expectations far too high, but this just came a little short of the beer I was expecting.

Photo of rudzud
4.79/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Shared with JLindros and Kyle. 2012 vintage 706/934.

A - Poured into a Kate the Great tulip a great oily black hue with big legs and and a good halo. Beautiful.

S - Aromas of fudgy chocolate, nuts, bourbon, caramel, very little booze, loads of fudge and bourbon barrels. The vanilla is super faint.

T - Taste is loads off chocolate, caramel, chocolate cake, rich bourbon, finish of vanilla, super rich, loads of nutty chocolate and bourbon, nice semi sweet sugars and toffee caramel, just delicious.

M - Mouthfeel is really creamy, silky, velvet, no booze.

O - Overall this beer was incredible, great chocolate, super rich bourbon and fudgy chocolate. Glorious, this isn't hype...this is real.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of BWCampbell
4.53/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours like motor oil with a khaki head that quickly disappears. Smells of soy sauce, vanilla sugar, and some barrel (which I think is slightly lost). Taste is similar, exceptionally sweet. Honestly, I was kind of underwhelmed. Vanilla Rye was universally preferred at our tasting.

Photo of smb
5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

More than worthy of the hype. There is literally nothing I can think of to change that would improve this beer.

It even maintains a half-inch thick mocha head. There's a depth of flavor and complexity that's richer than any other barrel aged beer I've had... including BCBS Vanilla, Rare, Parabola, BA Vietnamese Speedway, etc... This is just more enjoyable. At 15% you taste no alcohol and only get a slight, but pleasing warming sensation as it goes down, with massive marshmallow, chocolate and vanilla-oak goodness forever lingering.

I can't do it justice by attempting to analyze and explain. It really is the Dark Lord of barrel aged beers. I need more.

Photo of brownbeer
4.47/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the brewpub and I think it would be the 09 vintage. The beer is midnight black in the glass with no head at all. The taste and aroma still has the goodness of Dark Lord, meaning the burnt chocolate, coffee, and dark red fruit aspect is still there, just with an added blast of vanilla, smoothing everything out. It had a nice and chewy mouthfeel, and though the carbonation was low, it had just enough. I tried it next to the oak-aged, which I wasn't a huge fan of, but this one I liked a lot. They should bottle or growler some since everyone puts up with so much hassle to try it.

Photo of SkiBum22
4.44/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 346? / 934
Stone Imperial Russian Stout Snifter

A - Pours jet black and is completely opaque except for a thin film of brown atop the glass when held up to light. Half a finger of creamy dark mocha/milk chocolate colored head. Decent lacing

S - Big sweet aroma, lots of vanilla and bourbon but also some caramel, dark fruits, cherry, chocolate, a bit of coffee and oak from the barrel, smells pretty delicious.

T - Tons of creamy sweet vanilla up front blending into a mix of chocolate covered dark fruits, molasses, and coffee. The finish is a slight hint of licorice coupled with a deep warming from the alcohol.

M - Big mouth feel, not overly carbonated but enough to make this beer delicious, coats the palate, very smooth drinking.

O - This is by far the sweetest beer I've ever had and I just had Chocolate Rain recently. This beer almost lived up to the hype but just too sweet for me to put it on the same level as Rare, Bourbon County, Black Tuesday and other top barrel aged stouts.

Photo of tjthresh
4.06/5  rDev -14%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The pour is rich and black with some nice brown head, just as you'd expect from Dark Lord. I get mostly vanilla and coconut with just a bit of coffee in the nose. I get more bourbon in the flavor than anything. Full and rich body as usual. Dry roasted finish.

Photo of badbeer
4.52/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black with a tan head that does a decent job sticking around. Aroma is of vanilla, molasses, only a touch of bourbon, licorice, and caramel. Taste has plenty of vanilla in it, bourbon is hidden pretty well, some syrupy flavors, and dark fruit. Full bodied with light carbonation. I liked this better than the Oak Aged Dark Lord this year, seemed a lot smoother.

Photo of standardcherry
4.72/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle 305/934. Shared with a friend, split into our snifters.

A: Jet black beer with minimal beige head. Thick and syrupy in the glass.
S: Brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, cookie dough, bourbon. The smell is just delicious, my friend said it immediately reminded him of s'mores.
T: TONS of vanilla in the first sip that later blends with bourbon and chocolate. Bourbon and vanilla aftertaste. Taste definitely reminds me of some kind of cookie. Delicious!
M: Thick and full bodied. A bit sticky. Very smooth though with absolutely no alcohol burn. Surprising for this massive 15% beer.
O: This is one sweet beer. It was amazing but I think I would split it more than 2 ways next time. Glad to have tried it but I doubt I would trade for it again.

Photo of deebo
4.75/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014. Still sweet but the bourbon and vanilla beans really work well here and cut the sweetness intensity a bit. This is a delicious big brew. No hint of alcohol whatsoever. Well done.

Photo of CaptinRedBeard
4.77/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled on tap at Dark Lord Day. I got in line to get into the brewpub as soon as I got through the gates. This was a smart move. Because, the rest of the day the line to get in was insanely long. After a short wait outside of the pub I was allowed inside. As I approached the bar a tall thin man, with his face tattooed, that looked eerily similar to Dez Farrara from Devil Driver, held out an extened hand holding a small glass of thick, dark liquid. "Vanilla Bean Dark Lord?" He asked. I gladly took the glass from his hand to begin my experience with this fantastic beer.

A: Black, like burnt motor oil. Black, like Satan's soul. No head, no lacing, just legs that stain my glass.

S: Vanilla, sweet vanilla comes wafting from my glass. It's hard to decipher anything in the nose beyond this. But, there are hints of coffee and chocolate. If you search for them.

T: Very sweet, but simply fantastic. An incredible creation of an Imperial Stout. The vanilla is still the flavor that clearly stands out the most here. But, it is balanced and rounded out with flavors of burnt sugars, chocolate, coffee and roasted malts.

M: Used motor oil. Very thick and mouth coating, but very smooth as well. Something like the greatest milkshake that you've ever had.

O: A wonderful beer, that was worth the trip alone. I'm ready to go back to Dark Lord Day next year, just to get another glass of this phenomenal brew. If this was ever bottled, I'm afraid that I would do evil things to get my hands on a bottle(s). I'm not the biggest fan of regular Dark Lord. But this, is a whole different animal entirely.

Photo of ehammond1
4.57/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On Tap

2012 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest
Paso Robles, CA

Black throughout and thick in body, though it appears thinner than untreated Dark Lord. Very small brown head on my pour that leaves the glassy oily and spotted with lace.

Rich and sweet aroma of dark chocolate, sweet and earthy vanilla, oak, whipped cream, coffee creamer, and a little bit of brown sugar. Really, really nice.

The flavor is incredibly well integrated and marvelousy smooth and drinkable given this beer's astonishingly high ABV. The vanilla, oak, and whipped cream flavors are dominant, along with big notes of dark chocolate, and mild roast. Pretty amazing stuff.

Medium to nearly full bodied with low carbonation.

A beer I'd written off as one I simply would never be able to try: it's worth the hype (whatever that means).

Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4.92/5  rDev +4.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Never thought I would see this in California, but, yeah, the FW Invitational sure did deliver to say the least.

After the mad dash to the booth, we chilled for about 15-20 minutes before getting our pour, a black sludge with a super thin cherry cola head on the top of it 1/8" in depth that didn't stay around for too long, but the colors were amazing.

Vanilla bean, chocolate, bourbon, oak, these are the smells you want, all delivered in a huge Dark Lord kind of way.

Taste, more of the same, tons of sweetness, no doubt to drown out the massivity of the beer. Every aspect of it is big, like Black Tuesday or Chocolate Rain. You get a little more of the bittersweet dark fruit aspect on this though, the dividing line between RIS and the roastier American double stouts. Any coffee like roast aspect is really left to drown in the high sugar content here. Bourbon is present, but the vanilla and malt heft keep it from becoming a too hot concoction.

A slight tobacco/ash/mild leather feeling in the mouthfeel, that is only so slight. Low carbonation, which I think is just right for this beer.

I think this is significantly better than regular or even the brandy barrel dark lord. For me, the vanilla was really what uplifted this beer into one of the greatest of the greats from an already great brewery. Phenomenal stuff.

Photo of rudylaw
4.87/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap @ DLD, GTOM

Dark Lord + vanilla. It's just about that simple. Looks like DL, smells like DL what with the molasses, cocoa, dark fruits, brown sugar plus a vanilla-infused explosion of creamy goodness right off the bat!

It's a pretty boozy incarnation, but the vanilla smooths it out to where this is just a pleasure. It's a chewy, viscous stout that goes down smooth as can be, even on a 90 degree day.

If you love DL, this will take that love to another level. A perfect example where tinkering with a recipe that's already a winner can sometimes yield incredible results.

Photo of jeonseh
4.73/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A - Dark chocolate brown with a thick syrupy body

S - Bourbon with tons of vanilla, marshmallow and caramel. Light bourbon and oak to it as well

T - Caramel, marshmallow, tons of vanilla, nice bourbon presence to it. Good vanilla and sweetness in the finish. Oaky bourbon presence to it that gives it a slight kick as well as a slight booziness. Good balance between the sweetness and booze

M - Thick syrupy body to it with light tinge of oak to it in the finish

O - Great BA vanilla beer with a good vanilla sweetness to it that is crossed with a nice bourbon spiciness. Definitely worth tracking down a bottle

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a semi-transparent plastic cup)

A- This beer had an inky black body that stains the cup with every slosh and no sign of carbonation or light is visible. There is a bit of a dark tan head that fades before it makes it to my hand. The thin ring of dark tan head last for the beer.

S- The first smell is like a black molasses custard with a soft fusel heat at the finish. There is a nice black roasted malt nose with hints of tar, and charcoal. The vanilla comes through softer and has a slight sweetness to it.

T- The big black bitter inky taste of black malt has notes of black-strap molasses without the metallic or sweet notes, tar, and black prunes. The finish is has a nice bitterness with a good amount of fusel alcohol taste. After a few sips I notice the vanilla bean that taste a bit sweeter and does a nice job of off-setting the dark malt flavors.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel that is sticky in texture but thins out nicely with the alcohol heat at the finish.

D- This monster is all dark lord with some nice accents from the vanilla bean. I don't think it would be possible to have the vanilla flavor overpower the beer. This is a young beer and the fusel alcohol is pretty hot, and I think age could really help this beer get cleaned up.

Photo of pwoods
5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Sampled at DLD '09.

One of the best beers I've ever had.

Pours completely jet black, thick as hell. A bit of a head stays for a little bit. Decent lacing in the snifter. Tons on vanilla in the nose but it's not too much and doesn't get in the way. How they did this, I don't know. Great roasted and burnt malts with a very smooth rich coffee aroma. Sweet but not overwhelming. Taste is outstanding. The vanilla plays so well with everything. Lots of coffee and caramel with nice barrel aging and a very complex alcohol tone. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden, more of a friendly taste without any sting. Body is as full as it gets yet not cloying. Carbonation was just strong enough to make everything very smooth and velvety. It drinks every well for as big as it is but it's not something to be taken lightly, lol :D

Photo of mdaschaf
4.62/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Big thank you to Aaron for opening this up! Review from notes.

A: Pours a dark black with a very thin tan head on top that quickly reduces to nothing. No lacing either.

S: Lots of vanilla, more than almost any other vanilla beer I have had thus far. Mixed with the vanilla is a strong bourbon aroma - caramel, brown sugar, and molasses with a little bit of oak. A little sweet, but not cloyingly so.

T: Like the aroma, a great combination of stout, vanilla, and bourbon. Some rich chocolate, bourbon, caramel, burnt sugar, with a little bit of dark fruit.

M: Extremely smooth, rather full bodied. On the thicker side, but not a surprise compared to other Dark Lords I have had.

O: A great beer, loved how present the vanilla was. Definitely savored it.

Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.43/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Denise for this one. Side-by-side with all the other BA Dark Lords. Bottle 650/934 into a snifter. From notes.

No head, spotty lace, pitch black, with big, oily legs.

Notes of bourbon, vanilla, mint, and marshmallow. Very lively in the nose. Fresh too.

Sweet plum, vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, sweet prune, fudge, smores. Sugary finish. Delicious! Not at all hot either.

Medium bodied with low carbonation. Oily and smooth with a bit of heat going down. Sticky, lingering aftertaste. Complements the flavor perfectly.

This was the best of the 8 variations for me. Amazing taste that wasn't too heavy with a fantastic, clean, fresh, enticing aroma.

Photo of hooliganlife
4.77/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 dark lord day, shared by a nice drunk guy inside the warehouse. apparently, they had a bunch of this. gotta love the locals...

pour was jet black with zero head and zero lacing and retention.

very sweet on the nose. the vanilla was there but not as in your face as i would have expected. light roasted malts, light floral hoppiness. a wee bit of booze.

flavor was huge, quite complex. the vanilla was there but it balanced this out. it cut back on the sweetness a bit of the regular dark lord, it mixed perfectly with the roasted malts, coffee, and hops to bring all of the flavors together. this was the booziest of the bunch though.

very thick, coats your mouth and teeth. a bit of alcohol burn. light carbonation.

this was my favorite of the bunch. it was the most complex and the most fun to drink. nothing was overpowering and everything was balanced.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 1,207 ratings.