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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.

266 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 266
Hads: 1,301
Avg: 4.64
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 3,918
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 266 | Hads: 1,301
Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev -3%
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.

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Photo of Rutager
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Rodkin for this long time want. 2013 bottle (492/711) drank with the 2013 base beer and shared between 6 at last night's tasting.

Appearance. Pours thick and black with just a ring of light brown head.

Smell. Big vanilla and sweet chocolate. Much sweeter nose than the base beer. Marshmallows (maybe toasted marshmallows), toffee, and a touch of molasses. Had my nose in this one for a while and kept coming back for more.

Taste. Sweet toffee, vanilla and marshmallows, light amount of cherries and dark fruit, and burnt sugar. Sweet, but not like syrup. The level of sweetness goes really well with the flavours.

Mouthfeel. Full body, low carbonation, a little bit sticky.

Overall. Great beer. Very sweet with flavours reminiscent of candy, a great desert. This was shared between 6 of us and was about the right amount. I couldn't imagine drinking even half a bottle to myself. Would love to have it again but certainly won't be seeking out another for what it trades for.

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Photo of Etan
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle (2012) shared graciously by Oscar and Caitlin at their Stout Night. Thanks a bunch!

A: Pours black with some amber hues.

S: Lots of bourbon, rich chocolate, and palpable vanilla notes. Very smooth.

T: Booze-laced white chocolate, bourbon, thickly sweet vanilla, marshmallow, caramel, raisins.

M: Decently thick with fine carbonation.

O: Wow, this is an incredible step up from regular DL and my favorite barreled variant so far. Very smooth, rich, and sweet, but not in an overpowering way.

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Photo of cradke
4.5/5  rDev -3%
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

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Photo of brownbeer
4.47/5  rDev -3.7%
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.

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Photo of iadler
4.47/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to immobilisme for bringing this over to our recent tasting. Bottle #606/934.

A- Pours a standard DL pitch black color with a one finger dark mocha head that leaves minimal lacing behind.

S- Rich fudge, bourbon, vanilla syrup, with hints of wood, burnt caramel, raisins and plumb. Judging from the aroma, I'm assuming this is going to be fairly sweet.

T- Rich, sweet and decadent with Chocolate malt balls, uncooked brownie batter, vanilla, cream, smooth bourbon, caramel and raisins. Bordering on being too sweet, but the bourbon helps keep the sweetness in check.

M- Thick syrupy body with a low to medium carbonation. The abv. is nowhere to be seen.

O- A liquid form of dessert. Tons of chocolate and vanilla mingled with bourbon makes this a very flavorful beer. While very sweet, this was not as sugary as the regular DL. A bit too sweet to have more than a few ounces, but still one of my favorites of this year's BA treatments.

Thanks again, Todd!

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Photo of Mojua
4.47/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Exactly as advertised...a bourbon vanilla marshmallow bomb. Smells absolutely incredible...but it's totally one dimensionally sweet. Like a Bruery stout with more body. Glad I had it, wouldn't chase it down again.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.46/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Rutager for opening this up as part of a bottle share. 2013 vintage (492/711).

A: Pours completely black with about 1 finger of tan coloured hear which quickly dissipated.

S: Huge upfront notes of vanilla, burnt toffee and sweet sugars - similar to a toasted marshmallow. Background notes of milk chocolate, sweet malts and molasses.

T: Follows the scent with vanilla, toffee and toasted marshmallows. Notes of dark dried fruit of plums and cherries in the background.

M: Thick and oily body with minal to non-existent carbonation.

O: This was an amazing dessert beer and while sweet, it wasn't offputting in any way. Perfect to share with friends in front of a fire on a cold winter night.

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Photo of TurdFurgison
4.45/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I had this on tap at DLD 2008. This looked and tasted like 2007 Dark Lord (to the best of my recollection) with a nice vanilla component (a la Haagendaaz vanilla flavor). Very thick and jet black, reeking of rich malty aromas. God this is a massive beer, so thick and oily and flavorful, and the vanilla flavor came through as a nice compliment. The real draw is the mouthfeel, this was as thick as the final pour from a DL bottle, very coating when you drink it.

This and the Oak-aged were selling for $5/sample (not sure of the size, but it was a small cup <12oz). Unfortunately I'm guessing it will be quite difficult to find this beer again.

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Photo of csaxon128
4.44/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Pretty disappointing with this. Very little vanilla in the nose just lots of sweetness and barrel character.

Taste: Lots and lots of sweetness with a pretty thin mouthfeel. Marshmellows. Glad I got to try it.

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.43/5  rDev -4.5%
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.

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Photo of woosterbill
4.43/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap in the brewpub during DLD '11; I can't believe I got a seat at the bar! Review #700.

A: Fully black, motor-oil like body. Just a hint of brown foam. Viscous, dark, and intimidating.

S: Sweet vanilla, and not much else. Maybe some chocolate, but pretty much pure vanilla. Crazy, but a little underwhelming for such an elusive and storied brew.

T: Hole shite, that's incredible. Yeah, it's sweeter than diabeetus, but god damn is it good. Vanilla and chocolate open things up, followed closely by coffee, caramel, more chocolate, more vanilla, and even more vanilla. So, so sweet, but that' exactly what I expect from this beer, and the roasted notes actually do lend a modicum of - I can't possibly use the word "balance" for this one... - counterweight to the vanilla onslaught. Amazing.

M: Sticky, thick, and surprisingly well-carbonated. Lovely.

O: I missed out on this one at DLD '10, and swore if I ever made it back I wouldn't miss out again. I'm glad I made that vow and carried it out, as this was a truly incredible experience. I think there's something about the sweetness coming from actual vanilla beans that keeps the cloyingness somehow at bay, since I truly loved every single sip of this freakishly sweet beer. If it weren't for the plethora of other amazing choices, I would gladly drink another and another.


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Photo of vacax
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Vanilla Bean Dark Lord pours the same oily black substance as the standard Dark Lord, stickily coats the glass in brown film and alcohol, and has a few tight beads of foam along the extremities of the glass. The vanilla is immediately present in the nose, but at an excellent level of balance. Oak or vanilla beans can be readily overwhelming, but the vanilla here is robust yet delicately sweet. The vanilla nicely matches the variety of thick sugary malts present, dates, figs, also a bit savory and some molasses.

The flavor has the same base thick maltiness of all varieties of Dark Lord, but the vanilla bean helps to blend the sweet elements together and smooth out the rough edges. The vanilla is up front and emphasizes sweet dark fruit, brings out a bit of sherry-like oxidation and smooths out soy-sauce like features leaving a finish rich with cocoa and cookies. Body is of course robust and palate drenching, which is nice with the lovely vanilla flavors. Carbonation stays low to moderate, allowing the thickness and flavors to linger. A delicious beer and of course rich, as tasty as it is it can weigh heavily on the palate.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Notes taken from DLD on 4/26/2008. Finally made it to my 75th review and here it is...

Appearance: Pours SUPER, UBER thick. Definitely the thickest, chunkiest beer I have ever seen in a glass. If fact, it's so thick, it reminds me of the blob, because when you shake it in the small glass, legs don't form on the walls, but rather a brownish sludge with like black specks of the Mexican Vanilla bean, beige granules, etc. Blackish brown, ominous and murky. No sunlight can penetrate through this badboy. It looks like the grim reaper fermented some Dinty Moore beef stew!

Smell: Smell was amazing. A super creamy, natural vanilla bean and alcohol hit me first. Further sniffing yielded almost a slight cherriness, black licorice and heavily roasted malts.

Taste: Cream and vanilla jumped out at first. This, as can be expected, is FULL bodied and a dinner all unto itself. Flavors are SO rich, dark and flavorful, my brain was doing somersaults. Again, extremely rich and hearty with flavors with linger in your mouth for some time. Moderate alcohol, after vanilla burst subsided. Vanilla enriched Dark Lord says it all. Lots and lots going on.

Mouthfeel: Thick, thick, thick and full body with many levels of complex dark flavors. Flavor lasted a while after drinking it. Little to no carbonation, just super gooey and rich.

Drinkability: Great sipper, but by no means a sessionable beer. I really enjoyed the portion given to me off tap, but I think one was enough for my palate.

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Photo of Treebs
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml waxed bottle, 552/934, served in a Deschutes snifter. Big thanks to Andrew (nasty31) for the share.

A: Pours a jet black color with a nice sized dark mocha head forming on the pour. It recedes a medium sized ring and leaves some splotchy lace along the way.

S: Light bourbon up front, but the sweet vanilla pushes right through that. A great toasted malt presence follows that with some light milk chocolate on the finish.

T: Instead of bourbon up front the vanilla is the star here (obviously). There is a mild background bourbon that is incredibly smooth. As Dark Lord is already a pretty sweet beer (especially the 2011) I felt the added vanilla bean made this border on cloyingly sweet. Thankfully there was enough roast and dark chocolate on the finish to cut through some of the sweetness.

M: Heavy bodied with a light chew to it. Teeth coating sweetness with a medium to low carbonation. Definite warming as it goes down.

O: I think if the vanilla bean was slightly restrained it would have been an even bigger homerun. That being said, this was absolutely delicious and I would not hesitate to try this again. The 4-5 ounce pour I received was just perfect.

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Photo of kbutler1
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Draft. Finally found my notes for DLD and getting these in to review! Draft. Poured into a plastic cup which I then put in my Founders KBS tulip glass. Poured straight black with a slight dark tan head. The initial aroma is the vanilla followed by a sublte sweetness and dark malts. The taste is amazing IMO. The vanilla is so smooth in this one. Dark chocolate notes as well. Love to see it bottled. The only thing to date to compare to this was the BCBVS that I had at Great Taste.

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Photo of Atron67
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had this on tap at DLD. just found my notes and so putting it in.

A- dead black body with only the tinyest amount of head anywhere on it.

S- huge huge vanilla character that is almost overwhelming. it is kept really good however though because even though the vanilla is really strong, the roasted dark malts underneath stay with it and give it a great complexity.

T- the taste of the vanilla is much more subdued here. it blends in really well with the rest. a little sweeter than i was expecting but not really sweet either. strong roasted characther. very strong and delicious. a great sipper that was highly enjoyed

M- hugely creamy as well. very light carbonation, lingers on the tongue a long while

D- pretty damn awesome, one of the many great DLD brews i got to drink but sadly none to bring home

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.41/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Chad...thank you very much for the opportunity.

Dark and mostly still

Smells of sweet vanilla and melted chocolate

An extremely rich and sweet beer that has its bourbon presence overshadowed by the gobs of vanilla and marshmallow that throw their blanket all over the base beer. Bourbon plays a gentle but distant second fiddle. Residual sugars hang out like the tough guys they are...thumbing their jeans and smoking their heaters. Really rich but handles its abv well.

There are some nice flavors here that mark a definite improvement on the base and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try this bottle without giving up what this beer would require in a trade. That said, unless you're one of those fortunate BA's who has unlimited funds and/or cellars, no beer is worth what this beer demands. I personally thought the TG Assassin we drank prior was a more enjoyable overall beer. Drink your great beers, don't chase whales...stupid term anyways...and if your life's happiness really depends on whether you have the chance to drink this beer...find good people who like to share.

A nice beer...but not a life changer.

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Photo of maximum12
4.41/5  rDev -5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So...transfer over my comments about the regular Dark Lord, which is fantastic, & add some vanilla sweetness to it.

I'm not sure the vanilla adds to Dark Lord in a positive manner, but it sure changes the character of the brew. The vanilla makes what was a smooth, drinkable, fiery, malty RIS into a sweeter, even smoother, tamer version of the 'Lord. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but this is still a first-class beer. Excellent, & one I'd love to have a few glasses of some day.

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Photo of jsh420
4.4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap DLD

while i could not track down where in the hell this beer was at in the clusterf*** known as DLD - some kind people i met shared some with me

black black shiny motor oil black with small tan film of head

smells you guessed it vanilla with dark roasted chocolate malts

taste could not live up to the nose or maybe it did - the beer was just too sweet - big flavors of vanilla chocolate coffee and the sugar!

mouthfeel was much thinner then regular DL - very slick

drinkability - while i savored every sniff and sip it just was not as good as the regular DL

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4.4/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Once again the same big thick blackness as regular oak aged DL. It has legs like trunks that stick to the side of the glass. No head at all. The nose is distincly sweater than the regular oak aged with a noticeable sweet vanilla base. The sweet vanilla up front and very prominent with first sip, but approachable. The super syrupy sweetness then yields to some slight sour feel on the back of the tongue and seems a bit thicker than the regular also. Almost honey like. Mouthfeel is a big sweet thickness. Nicely drinkable but maybe a bit to much tingle to the sweetness on the back of the tongue. You only need a little of this one.

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Photo of brystmar
4.39/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened the 2011 & 2012 Vanillas next to each other to kick off our tasting with all 8 BA DLs. Thanks to Denise for bringing this one!

Gloops out of the bottle with minimal head and lace. Boozy and sweet aroma opens up bourbon-forward, concluding with a pleasant vanilla finish. Deserves a 4.25, but I'll round up.

While the '11 was predominantly sweet marshmallows, this one starts off as a bourbon-infused stout with vanilla support showing up towards the end. Dark fruits, heavily roasted malt, candy sweetness, and more robust bourbon round things out midway through. Body is thick, but not as viscous as the '11 Vanilla.

Swallowing summons a fantastic blend of flavors in the back of your throat which is initially boozy but quickly melts into a smooth, vanilla-infused nectar. This aftertaste is magical, rivaled only by Apple Brandy BA Huna & b1 Chocolate Rain.

The '11 Brandy Vanilla ended up being my favorite of the 8 variants, followed by '12 Cognac, then this '12 Bourbon Vanilla. Our group seemed in agreement that Vanilla DL was the best of the treatments, but we were divided in choosing a superior vintage. Both were fantastic!

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Photo of Patrick999
4.39/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Hand-bottled. Sampled courtesy of Maltzilla. It's thick and dark as you would expect, not a ton of head.

Aroma? I bow down to the vanilla gods. Never smelled that much vanilla in a beer before.

This is some intense, sweet bourbon vanilla. Some of those I was drinking with thought it too sweet, but I thought it was on point. It tasted like candy, but to me that's to its credit. I don't think it bore too much resemblance to regular Dark Lord, this was all about the vanilla. 13% alcohol? Buried under vanilla sweetness.

I think I had about a 2-3 oz pour, and even that was a bit too much. An ounce and change is probably all I needed....not too "drinkable" in the normal sense of the word. Tasty, with a godly aroma, but pretty sweet. So, I'm "only" giving a 4.38 A rating.

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Photo of aasher
4.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was enjoyed at DLD. I was walking around with a couple bottles of Cisco sours in my hands and this random BA asked me if I wanted to try Vanilla Bean Dark Lord. That's a funny question to ask someone haha. The beer was a viscous midnight black with a dark khaki foamy lacing around the edges. The aromas were a nice mix of chocolate, coffee, caramel malts, and sweet vanilla. It tasted like a well aged BCBS. It was a little sweet however, as you'd expect. It was smoother than any Dark Lord that I've had out of a bottle and very drinkable. The sweetness is the only thing holding this one back but it's the best over the top vanilla beer that I've had yet.

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Photo of antoines15
4.38/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

had on tap at DLD '10. Very delicious. Is it the fifth best beer in the world? probably not but that's the rarity factor I suppose.

Pours dark as, well, dark lord, with minimal head but it was in a small plastic cup.

Smells awesome, like dark lord and a little bit of vanilla, hmm...

Tastes like dark lord and a little bit of vanilla, hmm....

Mouthfeel is again similar to dark lord, thick and sweet and sticky, eww.

Not highly drinkable, in fact, I probably couldn't have more than the sample draft that I had. But that's probably on par for the style.

Very good, not my favorite, but glad I get to drink it every year, if only for bragging rights.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 266 ratings.