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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: 21.12%
Wants: 3,912
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 phantastiic
2/5  rDev -56.9%

2013 vintage with the orange wax.

Opened on 10/17/14

The 2013 vintage was awful. It smelled like rotten milk and tasted infected. I had 2014 side by side with the 2013 vintage and 2014 blew 2013 bvdl out of the water. Sadly, 2013 was an expensive drain pour for my entire tasting g group. Did not get any marshmallow smell or taste, but lots of the rotten milk smell and taste. Was disgusting.

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Photo of Prospero
2.33/5  rDev -49.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.75

2013 vintage, bottle 156/711 - Little to no head when poured, super sweet initial taste & aroma, followed by green apple (slight sourness) on the finish with a slimy mouthfeel, barely vanilla and any signs of barrel are completely masked by INFECTION. Glad I got to tick this with a very generous friend, but looking forward to trying it as FFF intended.

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Photo of Jeffo
2.56/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to a few people we were able to put together the entire vertical and almost all the BA variants. Lots of fun gents!

From a 750 into a snifter
2012 vintage
Bottle 921 of 934

APPEARANCE: Just like all the rest of them. Pours relatively clear for an imperial stout. Produces a small, one finger medium-looking head that quickly fades to a wisp and ring. Black body in the glass with some carbonation evident. Only a ring remains until the end and leaves no real lacing down the glass. A little too light a pour and an average head at best.

SMELL: Vanilla extract reminding me of those vanilla candles you buy at bath stores. Artificial and somewhat off-putting. A touch of bourbon barrel under the chemical vanilla aroma, but not much. Unfortunately this is one-dimensional and artificial, especially compared to the brandy vanilla version.

TASTE: Touches of bourbon barrel and oak peek through, but this is a one-dimensional vanilla extract bomb if there ever was one. All vanilla up front and into the swallow, then a big, vanilla dominated aftertaste with some oak and sweet caramel trying in vain to get through. Tough going and very little complexity.

PALATE: Slightly lighter than the base beer, but still big enough. Just like the other DL variants as well. Medium body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy enough, goes down fine and finishes rather sticky on the palate. A bit of a burn and some heat lingers.

OVERALL: I can see why some people might like this. There is lots of vanilla, much like a vanilla cake or something like that. As a beer though, this is not something I'd want more than a small taste of. One dimensional, artificial and quickly tiring, this is not something I'd get too excited about drinking again. The brandy vanilla version was more natural than this one. Still, definitely a fun pair to try. Cheers gents!

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Photo of craytonic
2.99/5  rDev -35.6%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pitch black, oil slick black, just what you would expect.

Smell: Oddly not vanilla, I only get that on the taste. Bit of alcohol with some other aromas I can't pinpoint. Chocolate cake batter or chocolate-vanilla pudding? Best I can do.

Taste: I get tons of fake vanilla poured into a regular dark lord. Also tastes a good bit sweeter to me. Alcohol, molasses, karo syrup, melted chocolate, brown sugar, roasted malt, semi-sweet chocolate (the kind you would put in a chocolate chip cookie). Please cut the vanilla by 2/3.

Mouthfeel: Exceptionally smooth, somehow smoother than the regular version?

Drinkability: I have always been picky about vanilla, and I don't get vanilla bean, I don't get vanilla extract, I get the cheap fake vanilla, in mass. I don't see the appeal, for me this is regular DL with some fake vanilla and sugar added. Mouthfeel is much improved though, somehow. Probably would be good on ice cream. By itself, a sweet fake vanilla mess; I need a pliny to clean my palate. I hate to have the lowest rating for this ever, but I find it to be a sugar and fake vanilla trainwreck. It is good for 2-3oz and then you need an IPA.

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Photo of chaz01
3.06/5  rDev -34.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

I got to taste a couple of sample pours while standing in line at DLD thanks to the friendly folks in Columbus who were able to get a couple of full cups out of the brewpub. Re-poured into a 4 ounce tasting glass.

A: Milky off black color. Beer still had a thin brown collar around the rim.

S: Tons of Vanilla, boozy alcohol and very sweet syrupy aromas. I took a couple of whiffs of this -- very pleasant on the nose.

T: This tasted like a frozen ice cream drink with creme de cacao (such as a Brandy Alexander) that had melted.

M: Very thick and rich, low carbonation. Mouthfeel was very much like melted milkshake -- certainly interesting but not what I want in a beer. Very chalky, chocolate finish.

D: I realize drinkability is not the same as availability, but how drinkable can a beer be that's only available at one place for about 45 minutes a year, and then only in 3 ounce pours? I consider this a gimmicky beer -- if it were more readily available it would be something you would want to try once, but then move on to something that taste more like beer than a vanilla milkshake.

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Photo of drseamus
3.12/5  rDev -32.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

On tap at DLD. 9 bucks a snifter...pretty steep.

Dark black with no head. Not syrupy looking. Just looks like dark water. Vanilla heavy in the nose. Nice but too heavy. Same with the flavor. Supplemental flavors are supposed to complement the beer, not dominate it. Still some hotness in there but somewhat smooth. Not worth the time in the line or the price.

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Photo of ramay86
3.14/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Too incredibly sweet to justify such high esteem. Overbearing, cloying, oily.

It's a fine beer, but I honestly don't understand the allure. It's a gimmick, if anything.

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Photo of Kayn169
3.51/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Dark Lord Day 2011.

A- Typical of the style, deep dark black. With the smallest layer of khaki head. Almost no carbonation to be seen

S- Hits hard and dominates with the smell of pure Vanilla extract, undertones of Espresso grounds, bittersweet chocolate, and just a touch of bourbon.

T- Wow, it's like taking a bottle of pure Mexican vanilla, and dumping it in a glass of DL, with a large spoon of molasses for sweetness. Insanely sweet, too much for me.

M- I have heard it described as a motor oil consistency, and although it isn't quite that bad, it is pretty syrupy.

O- Overdone. I am a firm believer in accenting a beer with things like vanilla, not making them the star. DL is a good beer that is struggling to even be noticed here. Everyone I talked to in the Pub agreed, it was just to sweet and had too much vanilla. Glad I tried it though. I would say if the vanilla sweetness was cut down it would be an easy A review

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Photo of dgilks
3.58/5  rDev -22.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Simply not an amazing beer. Overly boozy without delivering the sort of magic one expects of such a hyper stout. Vanilla bean is not substantial in presence.

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Photo of hombrepalo
3.64/5  rDev -21.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

8oz pour at Dark Lord Day a few years back. A total mess in my opinion. Thick and clumpy with very little head, left a coat of motor oil sheet on the plastic cup. Smells of vanilla extract, chocolate and licorice. Taste is similar with a strong Kick of alcohol, finish is nausiating with a thick sweetness left in the back of the mouth. Really hard to finish 8oz, can't see why this is so highly rated, would like to retry this for a second look.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2014 vintage side by side with regular '11 DL.

Dark black-brown pour, with a minimal head that held at a tiny ringlet. In the nose, vanilla and mildly sour milk, light notes of roast/coffee. Sweet chocolate and vanilla in the taste, good bourbony warmth, molasses, ashy marshmallow, some icky soy sauce and sour milk, leaving a stale aftertaste and making me want to rinse my mouth out. Still, not overly sweet as I expected. Medium body, not as sumptuous as I like a big stout to be. Decent overall, but not really that great compared to other BA stouts. And certainly nowhere near the value it typically costs to obtain. (Fortunately I got it for basically next to nothing.)

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Photo of bashiba
3.8/5  rDev -18.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a thick and syrupy black with a couple bubbles of head.

The smell is sweet and vanilla, very boozy with hints of dark fruits and figs.

The flavor is super sweet and almost desert like, big hits of vanilla with a light bit of chocolate and big dark fruit flavors, just a hint of any roasty or smokey stout flavors. A big of alcohol comes through as well.

The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy.

This one is just to sweet for me, not enough stouty goodness survives through the vanilla sweetness. Still good, but not nearly as good as the original.

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Photo of Mcj6986
3.88/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

The body , aroma and look of this thing were beautiful... The taste is where it falls flat. People blast regular Dark Lord for sweetness, and while I haven't that, this one says enough to make that assessment true. It is way way way too sweet... Like make my teeth hurt after drinking just 8 ozs of it sweet. Maybe the best body I've had on a beer, but I can rank this up there with some of the other beers I love (DB Huna, Prop, etc) when the act of drinking it, just isn't very enjoyable.

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Photo of ChadQuest
3.95/5  rDev -14.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Alewatcher, Nuff said.

So looks wise this looks like darklord does, inky black and very viscous and opaque, when i turned the glass on it's side a bit it was so viscous that it slowly crept down the glass.
The aroma is hit so hard by the vanilla, the bean addition creates such a huge strong presence you cant miss it or smell very much else in comparison. super sweet as expected.
The flavors see to it that the vanilla is a bit more incorperated, so you can pick up some roasty espresso, syrupy chocolate, and a bit of heat bit not alot. Honestly it stops just short of cloying, a bomber would be too much for 2 people even, good for a group pour.

Honestly, i think of the Oak'd, Vanilla, and normal, this is the lesser of the three.(oak's/bourbon is #1)

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Photo of pepsican
3.98/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

Served on tap at the Great Taste of the Midwest. Black pour with a small tan head. Vanilla and chocolate dominated the aroma. Flavor was vanilla, coffee, toffee, caramel and maple syrup. Viscous, syrupy sweet, big, boozy. Ouch. 3 oz was plenty but man was it good.

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Photo of kevanb
3.98/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle, 2012 vintage, poured into a Three Floyds mini snifter.

The beer pours a deep black color, but with obvious hues of brown, a thick khaki head appears briefly but vanishes quickly, leaving no lace or retention behind. The aroma is of heavy marshmallow character, bourbon, light oak, vanilla and lots of cane sugar. The flavors are right in line with the nose, vanilla, burnt marshmallow, bourbon, some charred barrel that plays nicely with the marshmallow, cane sugar and a bit of chocolate. The body is luscious, silky, rich and super smooth, coats the mouth well and finishes with a nice warming tingle.

Verdict: An interesting take on Dark Lord. The marshmallow profile is quite nice, but the beer is shockingly sugary and sweet, even for Dark Lord, and for that fact alone, I struggled to finish more than 2 ounces. The balance is decent, but each flavor and nuance seems to make this beer sweeter and more decadent, which isn't really my thing. I can understand the buzz and the hype surrounding this beer, but it's just not for me.

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Photo of Phelps
4.05/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed, of course, at Three Floyd's brewpub during DLD '10.

The beer comes to me in a small tasting glass a cloudy deep burgundy. The beer is lighter in color yet thicker than the original, and has all the color and consistency of melted dark chocolate. Zero head to speak of, but a sheen of oils swirls over the surface layer of the liquid, much like you'd find in a french press coffee.

The taste and aroma are both overpowered by a prevailing vanilla bourbon sweetness. It is as if I took a shot of vanilla extract. This thing is killer sweet, and killer hot. The burn of alcohol singes my throat and sets my nostrils ablaze. Molasses, raisins and savory almond and peanut notes are noticeable.

The mouthfeel is milkshake thick, with a body more akin to melted ice cream than beer. This seems more dessert than drink.

I was told that it was of utmost import that I go to all lengths on Dark Lord Day to try this beer. I have to say I preferred the non-aged version, surprisingly, but was supremely impressed with all of the '10 iterations of the Dark Lord. Drinking it was an experience I won't soon forget.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.05/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle split quite a few ways

A: Pours pitch black with a bit of off white head.

S: Vanilla bean upfront, much stronger than any other aroma. I get bourbon behind the vanilla - coconut and caramel mostly. I get a nice amount of dark chocolate as well. The flavors meld very well together, but the vanilla is a bit strong for me.

T: Strong vanilla bean upfront with coconut and caramel just behind. I get some dark chocolate, but the vanilla is certainly the strongest flavor. Extremely sweet and quite boozy.

M: Thick and oily with low carbonation.

O: This is a great stout, though I'm not sure I'd say its one of the best beers in the world. The vanilla is quite strong, a bit overpowering. It leads to a very sweet beer that could use a bit of balance in my opinion.

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Photo of tjthresh
4.06/5  rDev -12.5%
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.

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Photo of Luk13
4.07/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pours a dark opaque black with reddish highlights and minimal head. Aroma is decadent withbourbon, fudge, hazelnut, vanilla and some spices. Very good. Flavor is more straightforward with bourbon, chocolate and hazelnut. Intense sweetness, not too cloying because of the bourbon and alcohol. Palate is a little thin for such a big beer. Not up to GI Rare standards. A slightly better than average bourbon barrel stout.

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Photo of DocJitsu
4.07/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a dark brown with minimal head. Mind you, the beer was painstakingly poured, so no real head ever developed to be evaluated. Sorghum and chocolate dominate the aroma. Powerful chocolate and wood flavors nearly assaults the palate. The alcohol warmth and taste are undeniable. The mouthfeel is viscous, but becomes thin as the alcohol prevails.

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Photo of thebigredone
4.1/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many, many thanks to Chris for popping this sucker. 2013 batch, let's skip straight to taste.

I imagine if you took a lot of dark fruits, stewed them together, and then added a ton of sugar, you'd have something very similar in flavor to this Dark Lord variant. The vanilla does come through, but unfortunately almost no roast or char flavors are present. I personally did not pick up a very strong barrel presence. The flavors are certainly complex and enjoyable, but the sweetness is really off the charts.

Overall, this is a solid beer. However, I can't help but feel that the sky high ratings are solely a factor of the rarity and expense of this beer. I was glad we were sharing this bottle with another 10 gents, as the couple ounces I drank were about as much as I could handle.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.12/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Hunahpu Day. Served in a taster.

Appearance - Jet black. No head. Small island of foam.

Smell - Vanilla and bourbon. Bit surprise. Lots of sweet malts. Some traditional Dark Lord soy sauce.

Taste - Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon. No real barrel character beyond the bourbon flavor. Lots of bourbon and vanilla though. Lots of fudgy chocolate. Big soy sauce flavor and booze hinder it.

Mouthfeel - Boozy but very tasty. Low in carbonation and huge in body.

Overall- Classic example of over the top beer covering up the flaws. It's delicious only because of adjuncts.

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Photo of Agold
4.17/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Huge thanks to willcarrera for cracking this gem. Pitch black motor oil. Has a surprising thin layer of head. I am sort of expecting a sweet bomb like in DL but in the aroma I actually can pick out a bit of coffee, lots of vanilla, mild heat, some Bourbon, and a lot of caramel. Flavor is very vanilla as well. Lots of caramel and dark dark fruit. Booziness emerges but for the most part is very under control. Also a bit fruity. Mouthfeel is thick and viscous but by no means as viscous as dark lord. Sits on a fine line between very viscous and too viscous. Having more than a glass becomes a bit of a chore. Outstanding beer though. Vast improvementover the regular stuff.

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Photo of grub
4.2/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

sampled on tap at three floyds on dark lord day, april 25/09.

pours deep opaque and inky black with a small dense dark brown head. the head drops fairly fast but leaves spotty lace behind.

aroma is great. big blast of vanilla, anise, caramel, and fruity citrus sweetness. light alcohol. lightly toasted whole wheat bread. biscuit. crackers. dark and bittersweet chocolate. bit of coffee with cream. light lactic sweet and sour character too.

taste is good. my first thought is actually white chocolate rather than the dark and bittersweet chocolate i got in the aroma. sure, they are there too, but the vanilla and the light lactic sweetness makes me think more of white chocolate. light coffee with cream again. biscuit and whole wheat bread. light alcohol. light citrus - orange and tangerine mostly. anise and vanilla.

mouthfeel is great. silky smooth medium-low carbonation level. nice big chewy body.

drinkability is surprisingly good. it hides almost all of its alcohol with a near-perfect balance. nice level of vanilla that compliments rather than dominates. good stuff. that said, i wasn't as blown away by this one as i was with the oak aged dark lord. maybe it's just my palate at this late stage of the day, or maybe it's my lack of appreciation for vanilla, but i'd take regular dark lord or even the oak aged version over this one.

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