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

Not Rated.
Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark LordBourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord

Educational use only; do not reuse.

265 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 265
Hads: 1,299
Avg: 4.64
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 3,915
Gots: 235 | FT: 8
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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 265 | Hads: 1,299
Photo of pwoods
5/5  rDev +7.8%
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

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Photo of larryarms847
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours motor oil black with a thin layer of caramel tinged foam, thick and viscous, one of the most enticing pours I've ever had.

Heavy and sweet vanilla on the forefront, but not overpowering, is soon met with a sweet and spicy hint of bourbon. Perfectly balanced, if I could smell this all day I would love that.

Smooth and sweet vanilla sits gently upon a rich bourbon backbone. Perfect sipper.

Viscous, sweet, sticky, but enough bourbon to cut through the dessert like flavors to make this a real treat.

Overall, this one will sit in my Top 5 for a long, long time.

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Photo of jegross2
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Today I finished law school. I decided to celebrate in epic style. This is review #250. How fitting that all the epicness align.

Reviewing the incredibly rare and highly sought after Vanilla Bean Aged Dark Lord from Three Floyds Brewing Company. This is bottle number 500 out of 934.
Score: 100

2012 vintage bottle from the April 28, 2012 Dark Lord Day release. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 05/11/12.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color that is completely opaque save 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 at pour settles into a ring around the glass. Average lacing, but awesome retention and cling. 5/5

Smell: Rich and sugary vanilla and bourbon-y molasses. Lots of sweet raisin, brown sugar and creamy milk chocolate. Dark fruit and a little caramel. A little wood too. No booziness whatsoever despite 13% ABV. 5/5

Taste: Rich and sweet, but not overly sweet. Sweet, creamy vanilla and milk chocolate upfront and in the finish. A little warmth on the palate, but no booziness. Ample doses of sweet raisin on midpalate and in the finish as well. Sugary vanilla frosting and sweet brown sugar on the midpalate too. There's a smooth, somewhat subtle bourbon backbone. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full-medium bodied, no carbonation. Syrupy mouthfeel. Sugary sweet finish. Not overly heavy, which works perfectly with the flavor profile. 5/5

Overall: This beer is decadent. Rich and delicious, this is the ultimate digestif. This beer was a little hard to finish by myself at 13% ABV given the level of sweetness (it is not diabetes-inducing like the regular Dark Lord), but that is why I enjoyed this one with a few friends. This is truly one of the most tasty beers made, and it's completely on par with how Bourbon County Vanilla is currently drinking. I think I ever slightly prefer the Bourbon County Rare to this, however.

Recommendation: Seek a bottle of this out, but don't trade your rare to get it.

Pairings: Digestif. Seriously. Just enjoy this one on it's own.

Cost: $50 for a 750 ml bottle.

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Photo of 3_floyds_local_13
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The absolute perfect beer for me. Poured pitch black with no head. Just a straight vanilla bomb in the best way possible. Just delicious toasted marshmallow and vanilla fudgy amazingness. Could not give this thing better marks or I would.

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Photo of jdflyer06
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at DLD '09. Drawing a bit from memory and from the fact that its probably still hiding in my mouth somewhere.

A: Black. Light does not penetrate this bad boy. Small bit of head, but nothing substantial and it doesn't stick around. It really does look like an oil slick once touched by human lips.

S: The dark fruits, cherry and alcohol that are present in the standard DL give way to the vanilla and smooth bourbon notes here. Very nice indeed.

M: Smooth, silky and full bodied. It's rich and creamy and finishes nicely with far less carbonation than the standard DL.

T: Plenty of vanilla to be sure. The dark fruits and cherry are not quite there but show up after it has warmed up. I would love for them to bottle this one as well. However, I doubt they ever will. Its sweet and rich and would be great with a slice of cheesecake. This beer was second only to the Canadian Breakfast Stout also tapped at DLD.

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Photo of tippebrewcrew2
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Taken from notes from dld 2011.

This is it folks. This is the mythical beer. I went through line (I didn't win on my scratch off), bought my darklord and went back out into the masses. My friend was waiting for me with a plastic cup of darklord. "Thank you my friend", wait a second, this is dark lord? This is Vanilla bean dark lord! YES! There is a so much vanilla in this brew. It resembled pure vanilla ice cream with coffee and dark german chocolate covered cherries. It was amazing. It was the best IRS I've ever had. It doesn't get any better than this for me.

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5/5  rDev +7.8%

AMAZING... We popped open a 2014 bottle this weekend. Everyone was a little nervous, would it live up to the hype or fall flat on its face. We cut around the wax and POP FEEZ...AROMA.! beautiful strong bourbon barrel with hints of coffee and sweetness.. POUR (snifters) as we all expected thick dark color with a small caramel head that did not stick around long. TASTE... It took a while for everyone to bring the glass to our mouths, even tho the AROMA and POUR gave us more hope that it WAS going to live up to the hype.. So we went for it and AMAZING.. every flavor comes out.. the bourbon barrel..vanilla..coffee and dark fruit sweetness.. beautifully well balanced... it lived up to the hype!!!

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Photo of zookerman182
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So much brownie and vanilla.
More bourbon as it warms up and a slight roast coffee bitterness on the end that balances this beer out perfectly. Best barrel aged stout I have ever tasted.

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Photo of mportnoy
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I wasn’t sure what to expect with this one given the hype. Boy was I surprised. We shared the 2015 vintage and it was amazing. Vanilla, marshmallow, and bourbon are incredibly well integrated. Creamy, wonderful mouthfeel. Nice and thick. We opened BC Vanilla Rye right after it (one of my personal favorites) and it was one noted and almost undrinkable next to the BVDL. World class.

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Photo of brewdlyhooked13
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance - um, dark...opaque. Seems a small crime to serve this kind of beer in a plastic cup, but when you're surrounded by 4000 of your closest friends, whaddya gonna do? Minimal lacing, no cover and just a scant presence of dark mocha bubbling on the collar.

Aroma - intense vanilla and roasty malts. Wow. We purchased several oak and vanilla samples and you could always tell which one was the vanilla by smell alone.

Taste - big vanilla blending with the dark roasted, chocolatey malts.. the essence of the bean is fantastic. The swallow is very roasty, with espresso notes and some smooth abv as well. Molasses and licorice on the aftertaste. The finish is long, heady, and delicious. Feel free to lash the dark lord with vanilla beans whenever you please.

Mouthfeel - thick, oily, bring it on.

Drinkability - what a fantastic brew. Megathanks to Robert the Lithuanian for the righteous hookups. May your new Beer & Sweat glass enjoy many fills of fine brew.

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Photo of Damian
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Drank on-tap at Dark Lord Day 2009
Served in a gobelet

The beer poured a super dense and oily, absolute pitch black with a small, caramel-colored ring of lace.

The aroma was simply breathtaking. I know the whole "If I could give a score of 6, I would" phrase is rather cliched, but I cannot remember a time that I would request this figure more than right now. Ultra smooth, sweet and rich with an in-your-face aroma of bourbon-soaked, Madagascar vanilla beans. Slightly boozy. Coffee and brown sugar notes appeared as well.

The taste was every bit as impressive as the aroma. Sweet vanilla was instantly recognizable and it dominated the flavor profile. Dark chocolate and coffee notes were apparent. Lots of bourbon and sweet cream too. Brown sugar was also noticeable. Roasted malts came through in the lingering, oaky finish.

The mouthfeel was outstanding. Ultra heavy and rich. Super creamy, frothy and oily with a fine, mild carbonation.

Drinkability was terrific. The beer was incredibility smooth and flavorful yet quite sweet. Originally, I was planning on giving it a "4" in this category. That is, until I found out that this monster clocks in at a whopping 15% ABV. Any beer that disguises its alcohol content so well deserves nothing less than a perfect score.

Flavor wise, I slightly preferred the regular oak-aged version to this because of its more noticeable complexities. That being said, I simply could not find a single fault in this beer either. Vanilla Bean Aged Dark Lord was definitely the icing on the cake to a truly memorable time at Dark Lord Day 2009.

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Photo of dar482
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer is black with barely any head

The aroma comes out from just pouring it. Fudge, chocolate, vanilla.

The flavor follows with licorice, huge vanilla bean (like French vanilla ice cream), fudge, brownie, dark fruit, cherry, coconut. The beer is sweet like a dessert beer, but still balanced compared to the base. The beer is extremely clean with a touch of bourbon heat.

This one did not disappoint and is one of the best beers I've ever had. Dangerously delicious and drinkable.

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Photo of iconoklaztor
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Alrighty, so...I was able to try this at DLD 2011! I was able to grab 2 glasses at the pub and enjoy them slowly!

First the appearance is what you would expect! BLACK and THICK like you would expect from an ebony porn star!

The smell was sweet and malty! I couldn't wait to taste this brew!

The taste was sweet, heavy, and very filling! It was damn near perfect!

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have this year round and quite frankly its damn near the only thing that keeps me going back to DLD. It sure isnt the hassle of getting tickets!

Overall this is possibly the best beers Ive ever had!!!


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Photo of Steamhead
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Dark Lord Day 2009

This beer alone makes the trip to Munster, Indiana worthwhile. After VBDL '08 being very close to perfection, I came to the conclusion this year that if I had a true number one beer in the world then this would be it. Visually, it shares the same distinctive blackness of Dark Lord. Aromatically, though, instead of the roasted Intelligentsia coffee notes, it exhibits a creamy, old-fashioned vanilla milkshake note that I associate with top porters. It was so pleasing and intellectually stimulating that I just sat in amazement at this beer in the Three Floyds brewpub. VBDL was even more intriguing than I remembered. The decadent, palate-coating goodness...the unmistakable weight...the textural mystery of Dark Lord was all there, but deeper, more mellow, and indescribably subtle. The wood tannin has integrated perfectly into the structure. The finish just goes on and on and on into a silent resolution that this is one of the benchmarks of modern brewing. Few other examples could sit side by side with VBDL and take one's attention away from this giant. It is inspiring to see Three Floyds go one step further in perfecting the Dark Lord recipe. This beer carries 13% alcohol the way a top-notch vintage of Lafite-Rothschild carries 13% and that is to say with an impossible juxtaposition of rich, thick extract and ethereal lightness. It is quite a feat that I feel privileged to witness. I marked Dark Lord Day 2010 down in my calendar.

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Photo of Hesscabob
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The story, I think is just as good as the beer...

Waited in line at DLD for drafts. Saw BA Plead the 5th, figure lets get that. That tap ran out with about 5 people in front of us... double sunshine appears on the dry erase board. Get 2, and figure we waited long enough lets get 120 minute - 2... The crowd goes crazy on the right hand side and I see BA Vanilla Bean get put on the bored... I was speechless and my buddy handed the dude $20 and we had BA Vanilla Bean in our presence. Best part of DLD '14.

A - Black, impermeable, abyss, tan head.

S - Vanilla, roasted marshmallow, subtle (perfect in my opinion) bourbon oakiness, more vanilla, sweet aroma.

T - Although we had about 15 other notable stouts prior to BA VB DL, this stood out with the vanilla being smoother than a clean shave. Coats the palate with an everlasting sense of campfire marshmallow, mixed with bourbon, and sublte dark fruits. (Every grown mans wet dream), hides the 15% very well until you have a few ;)

M - Although enters as if motor oil, the draft was carbonated perfectly, smoothest mouthfeel on the front end, the chewing I cant help to do to taste the fruits of 3 Floyd's labor and the finish was, wait for it, LEGENDARY!

O - That question that gets asked throughout life about what 3 things I would bring if I were trapped on a deserted island, I now know for sure 1 of them. Best beer in the world, hands down.

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Photo of brdc
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

DLD on tap, both at DLD 08 and 09, unfortunately served in a plastic cup.

Pitch black, with a foamy but small head, caramel colored.
Great aroma, bringing dark fruits, roasted malts and coffee, but the vanilla mixed very well, a lot better than I expected.
It is very creamy, with the same notes expected from the aroma. I usually do not think vanilla adds that much to beers, but I believe given the overall strength of this one, it made for a nice variation, incredibly well balanced.
I would love to get a bottle of something like this, but I guess I should be happy enough I got the regular bottle.
Very well done, another spectacular DL version.

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Photo of monitorpop
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Dark Lord Day 2011.

A- Solid black w/ subtle red/gold glow in the light.

S- Bourbon, vanilla.

T- Sweet vanilla, light bourbon, dark chocolate. Alcohol is almost completely hidden. Thankfully no hop bitterness. Surprisingly sweeter than the standard or BBA versions.

M- Syrup like. Low carbonation.

Pretty much the best beer I've ever had. Well worth the wait in line.

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Photo of MrShake
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thick, Sticky, Sweet, Malty, Vanillaiey(?), AMAZING.

I had this beer on tap at the 2014 Dark Lord Day, and its amazing. Dark Lord is a great beer on its own, but the vanilla character accentuates all that is good about this beer.

It pours thick and DARK, and VERY VERY sticky

Aroma is filled with vanilla, sweet caramel and malt, along with a bourbon note

Taste is HUGE... BIG malt, BIG Vanilla, BIG Bourbon, BIG Sweet, BIG Everything!

Mouthfeel is as huge as the taste!!!

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Photo of marchoftheclouds
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A - Black as being inside of a cave

S - It was love at first sniff ... a vanilla BOMB

T - Vanilla beer, no, not beer ... DESSERT! This should be sold to pour over ice cream as a topping ... to be sipped slowly and enjoyed and savored

M - perfect ... A standard for all other beers

O - A great beer and extremely memorable. 

I had it on Dark Lord Day after waiting for hours to get into the brew pub for DL on tap. The regular DL was great, but this kicked its butt ... From notes

Until I have a better beer ... this is perfection

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Photo of Huhzubendah
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Thanks to Brad for sharing this at his tasting on Saturday!

2010 vintage, served side by side with Dark Lord and Oak Aged Dark Lord.

Consumed again at DLD 2011.

Vanilla Bean Dark Lord pours a near jet black, with hints of brown visible at the upper edges of the glass when held to the light. Head and lacing are somewhat subdued, but given the serving medium, I couldn't ask for more. Ok, here's where I was floored. The aroma was perhaps the most distinguishable and awesome smell I have ever received from a beer. Huge vanilla - and authentic. This beer smells like someone is baking fresh flan or crème brûlée inside the glass. Fantastic. It's incredibly rich, yet remarkably smooth and easy to drink. Though it is sweet, I couldn't see this becoming cloying as it is balanced so well and frankly, done to perfection. Alcohol is barely noticeable. I'd love to get some more of this. This is one of the best beers I have ever tasted.

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Photo of ThaBobfather
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

*Notes from DLD*

Pours the basically perfect opaque, black that its basic version does. Also has the thick, frothy dark chocolate colored head that makes it so beautiful.
Smell is hypnotizing of roasted and sweet malts, chocolate, coffee, caramel, and that twinge of vanilla that adds such an extra layer of complexity to it.
Taste gives me the roast and coffee up front then finishes, blended well, into the chocolate and vanilla.
Finish is crisp and refreshing, the after-taste is astounding with a complex blend of all of the beers flavors, not just the vanilla of malt, but also the coffee and chocolate stay around.
The vanilla flavor mellows out any bite a previous version might have, it goes down incredibly smooth.

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Photo of themaj
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So my first review was of the 2011 vbdl I had on draft at dld 2014. Was lucky enough to get a 14 vbdl and sat on it until today. 2 weeks before dld 2015 so almost exactly 1 yyear.pure perfection!!

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Photo of Dreadnaught33
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

OK, let me preface this review by saying, I did not take notes on this, but I have had it twice: At Dark Lord Day 2010, and at Pizzaria Paradiso in Georgetown (DC) for a Three Floyds Dinner.

This is the best beer I've ever had, and probably ever will have. I will travel anywhere to get this if it's available, and would trade anything if they ever bottle this.

The appearance is perfect, jet black, very dark lingering head, lots of lacing.

Smell is crazy, it is like every good thing in a barrel aged RIS beer thrown together, with huge vanilla, chocolate, malt, alcohol, etc. all at once. It's the type of beer you know will be huge, and you hope it even comes close to tasting how good it smells. I kept a plastic cup from dark lord day, and seriously it smelled of the aroma of this beer for weeks, that is how pungent and beautiful the smell is.

The taste fulfills all expectations of the smell and much more. Massive flavors of vanilla, oak, malt, chocolate, coffee, alcohol burn and more go on in some sort of harmony that is hard to understand. I know i am a guy who likes big flavors in general, but this is unreal. Seriously unreal. This is the type of thing that makes you feel unworthy but at the same time so glad you have the privilege to have this divine liquid. This is the type of thing you do not forget.

Mouthfeel is absolutely awesome. Completely covers your mouth and throat. It lingers so long it's unbelievable. You could taste it minutes after you had it, it seems you could get up take a nice walk and come back and i'd still be there.

Drinkability I gave a 4 because this thing is just huge. There is no way you could even try to have two of these next to each other because its just too much to take in that quantity. That being said, if I had to pick one beer only to have forever, this (at this point) is it. << Edit. I will give this a 5 now because I crave this beer all the time. If It was at a bar, I would only drink this. Therefor, It's getting a perfect 5 from me.

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Photo of RMelyon
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap on DLD 2013, and at a bottle share in May 2015. Beer doesn't get any better than this. It looks like it should, smells like it should, and tastes even better than it should. No perceivable burn, even at 15%. Simply the best beer I've had. It lives up to the hype.

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Photo of ryanfolty
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

July 3, 2013 - bottle shared by Joe. This will be rating 1492 for me (on RB), the year that Columbus discovered America. Fitting since this beer marks my discovery of something that is at the same level as Goose Island’s BCS Rare. Yes, what I thought was my one and only 5.0 rating now has a companion. How can I say this is as good as Rare? Well after drinking, my wife and I say to Joe that it is one of the best beers we have ever had, but not sure it is better than Rare. What does Joe go and do, yes he pulls a Rare out of his cellar and we do a blind impromptu tasting!!! I admit on this day the Vanilla DL was better than the Rare (I was able to choose each correctly), but the Rare did not taste quite as good as when I had it initially. I can’t thank Joe enough for his generosity on this night. I guess I will put some actual beer comments in now. Of course this was a black pour with tan head. The aroma and taste were magical blends of chocolate, vanilla and bourbon. Each one in perfect harmony that created an other worldly experience. 2012 vintage, bottle 408 of 934.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 265 ratings.