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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: 3,910
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: 265 | Hads: 1,299
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 Urbancaver
4.9/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I, like dreadnaught33, am writing this review considerably after having had it. I took some basic notes so the review is a combination of notes and memory. Poured at Dark Lord Day 2010. Got in right before it kicked. Pours pitch black much like dark lord but with more head. Rich and thick and pretty. Smells sulime. Tns of vanilla and oak. Te bourbon is heavy on the nose and overpowers most of the malt complexity. Sme dark fruit and hints of roast peak through, tastes sweet, thick, and vanilla strong. The oak presence is secondary t massive vanilla on my palette. There are to s of other things going on in this beer as well. Dark fruits, roasted malts, some sweet chocolate and possibly caramel as well. Very complex and very vert tasty

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to EVonHoff. Bottle 407/934, 2012 vintage. Poured from a 22 oz red waxed bottle into a 8 oz snifter.

A- Pours black with a 1 finger dark tan head. Thick coating of lacing resides quickly.

S- Big vanilla and chocolate, sweet syrup, bourbon.

T- Sweet maple syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and almost a hot chocolate-like flavor.

M- Full body and medium carbonation. Very smooth and not much of a alcohol burn for a 15% beer.

O- Amazing beer that stands up to it's rating. Great balance of sweetness, vanilla, bourbon, and chocolate. Just below apple brandy huna for me.

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Photo of starrdogg
4.84/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Hand bottle brought back from DLD (don't worry, it was still amazing). Thanks guys for bringing back this loooong-time Want.

Beer pours like motor-oil, incredibly thick and black with no head whatsoever. Smell is amazing, bourbon, chocolate and vanilla combine together to make this one of the most decadent-smelling beers I've ever encountered. Taste follows the smell, the bourbon and vanilla along with the Dark Lord base makes for an incredible beer. This really tastes like dessert in the best way. It's sweet, but not cloyingly so. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy. Overall, this beer absolutely lived up to my expectations. The Vanilla is more prominent here than in BCBVS, which was one of my all-time favorite beers. Overall fantastic, I want a bottle!

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours pure black with a small tan head.

Scent of vanilla, chocolate, and roasted malts. Doesn't seem like much but it smells excellent, like dessert in a glass.

Taste is great, but not quite as good as the scent; vanilla, chocolate, and roasted malts are there in full force. Better than Oak Aged Dark Lord.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied, thick, and smooth with very little carbonation.

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Photo of vinny21bal
4.94/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I can't say much more then this is the best Stout out there if you get the chance to try it. The nose, mouth, flavor, everything is almost flawless. We opened it with a year of age on it and it was amazing. I was very pleased with it. And $50.00 is a steal to try this beer.

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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 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 MuenchenerKindl
4.92/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from the taps at 3F's, DLD-08. The liquid is opaque black, with lots of sediment and mild carbonation. Not much of a chocolate mocha head and minimal lace.

The smell is just beautiful, mildly sweet and creamy vanilla beans in a thick stout of dark chocolate and coffee.

The taste is exceptional, really a smooth and easy drinking big beer. The flavor of DL aged with Vanilla is very good indeed. I might even like it more then the original and Oak Aged.

The mouthfeel is big and thick not too sticky but the sediment does not help, the carbonation is trapped in the thick liquid just trying to escape.

The drinkability is very very good, I thought this one would be good but did not think it would be this good.

Prosit und Zum Wohl, MK

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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 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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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at DLD'09.

I've been holding out hope that this would reappear for this years event after having missed it at last years.
Pours very dark brown almost black with a nice quarter inch of head forming on the pour. Smell is vanilla. Check that. The vanilla in this beer is so decadent and inviting I can't put it into words. Taste is among the best beers I have every had. Very nice creme vanilla in the flavor, plenty of roastiness and coffee show up underneath. This is a monstrosity of a beer. Incredibly smooth and velvety. This was easily among the top beers of the entire weekend. This beer is right up my alley. I could drink a whole lot of this stuff. No sign of the abv in this. Exceptional beer that I could drink everyday.

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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 DaftCaskBC
4.92/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A: Black as night with minimal head.

S: Vanilla, marshmallows, bourbon.

T: Bourbon, marshmallows, vanilla, candy, toffee, caramel, chocolate.

M: thick with low carbonation.

O: magic in a glass. It could use more carbonation, however. Very smooth considering the alcohol content.

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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 younger35
4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this yesterday at Dark Lord Day '09. It was so nice to be able to get a glass of Vanilla Bean Dark Lord and Oak Aged Dark Lord, plop down on a couch and compare/review them. Great job by FFF this year. Drank from a classy plastic cup.

Appearance- Pours a jet black with a sort of soft, creamy dark tan head that sticks around for quite some time. A weak cap and thick collar remain the rest of the beer leaving a light bit of lacing.
Smell- Vanilla. Very pungent with lightly sweet and semi floral vanilla. I think the vanilla really sort of drowns out some of those other qualities of Dark Lord. Some extremely dark roasted malts and/or overly roasted coffee that so dominate regular Dark Lord are still plenty present here. I think the vanilla really works as it cuts into the inherent sweetness of the brew. A bit of caramel and chocolate hide in the background along with bit of booze.
Taste- Starts slightly sweet with a big burst of smooth caramel and vanilla. Sort of the good version of Southern Tier's Crème Brulee. Reminds me a bit of ice cream with just a hint of chocolate syrup on top. Perhaps a bit of toasted marshmallow as the roasted sort of aspect you get in regular Dark Lord is really drowned out by the vanilla. Not much coffee or alcohol but a nice smooth vanilla finish.
Mouthfeel- Supremely smooth and creamy with a thick rich body and very light carbonation.
Drinkability- Insanely good beer. My only smidgen of a problem is that it's a bit too sweet to enjoy more than one glass. Much better than the original Dark Lord and WAY better than the Oak Aged Dark Lord I think they need to bottle this. Just allow one bottler per ticket next year. So good and the world needs to try this!! So glad I got the opportunity this year.

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Photo of kimcgolf
4.34/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed at FFF pub on Dark Lord Day '09. Pours from the tap to a very brownish=black color with thin skim of a dark brown head that lingers thru mid-glass. Aroma is an overwhelmingly pleasant mix of vanilla, roasted nuts, chocolate and molasses, with just the right amount of the 14% alcohol. Mouthfeel is almost syrupy full, and the vanilla explodes in the taste. Nice, long warming finish. Didn't enjoy quite as much as the Bourbon Barrel aged DL, but a damn good beer.

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Photo of coldmeat23
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: approx 45 - 50 degrees
VINTAGE 2009 (Had @ DLD)

Like it's brothers, this one is also black. Less than a finger of foam forms the head and quickly disappears. It leaves a few bubbles around the edge, but that's about it. No real lacing to speak of, but the slick oiliness still coats the glass.

Hey whadda' ya' know? It smells like vanilla!
Seriously though, the vanilla scent practically jumps out of the glass and grabs you. It's wonderful. It's not an artficial scent either, it smells like true vanilla extract, as it should. This mixes in with the nice roasted malt scents. The large chocolate and Intelligentsia coffee notes are still here, but they are dwarfed by the vanilla presence. Light hints of bourbon-ey oak are detectable. Dark fruits, molasses and caramel can be found, if you look.
This one should get a rating of 6 for the smell.

Oh yeah, that's the stuff. Man, is this good!
The smooth, tasty vanilla just melds with the bold chocolate and coffee flavors and creates something amazing. I don't believe that I can describe it accurately. It's that good.
That which I found to be perfect has been made more than perfect.
This one should get a rating of 7 for the taste.

The mouthfeel loses nothing with this one. It is still that huge, rich, thick feeling. Beautiful.

3Floyds have taken their own perfect creation and made it rich and decadent. This is amazing. While it would best serve as a dessert or special occasion brew, I wouldn't be able to stay out of it, if I had it at home.
This might be the only brew that I drink, next DLD.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Poured from a growler into a tasting glass. 2010 version. From notes.

Appearance: Pours pitch black all the way through. No light edges, just pure unadulterated evil. Due to light carbonation, there is nearly no head here.

Smell: The aroma here is like Dark Lord, only slightly better. Maybe due to bottle vs. growler issues, the aroma is lighter, but the vanilla adds a great aroma. Vanilla lays on top of fully roasted malt, chocolate, molasses, and espresso.

Taste: The flavor just blows me away. Dark Lord improves drastically with a year on it, and the vanilla beans just take it to another level. Smooth vanilla beans up front and center, with dark roasted malt and espresso up next. Caramel soaked fudge is a delight, but the sweetness never overpowers, a brewing feat for sure. The aftertaste is softly sweet and a little bitter, with a big dose of vanilla.

Mouthfeel: Thick and just a touch more syrupy than the regular version, but the vanilla bean flavor makes it worth it. Chewy like fudge. The only .5 point knock here is that the carbonation could be increased just a little bit.

Overall: One of the top beers I have ever tasted, for sure. Taking a beer I love and inserting the perfect amount of vanilla beans shows the artistry that goes into this beer.

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Photo of zrab11
4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at DLD 2011

A- Pours a thick oily black with a small tan head.

S- Wow the sweet vanilla really comes out in the nose. also cathing some coffe and maybe some chocolate along with some alchol

T- WOW this is delicious. It starts out with a nice chocolate and vanilla flavor then moves on to come carmel and vanilla then come the roasted malts and finishes with a nice alchol vanilla flavor

M-Full bodied with nice carbonation

O-Overall this was my fav. beer i had at DLD i absoultly loved this brew. The vanilla was strong and there the whole way through but it wasn't undrikable like creme brulee. The vanilla was there but not too sweet. I loved this brew an will get more than just one glass next year. By far one of my fav beers ever. Try this if u havent.

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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 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 SportsandJorts
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours syrupy and oily. Pitch black. No head and viscous boozy legs. Dark as night.

Smell: super sweet marshmallow and chocolate. Notes of molasses and syrup. Roasted malts and dark fruits.

Taste: opens up with molasses. Lots of marshmallows and brownies. Some notes of syrup and dark fruits. Light roast.

Mouthfeel: slick and syrupy. Not very boozy. Sweet but balanced by roast at the end

Overall: after tasting regular dark lord I did not have high hopes for this one. amazingly it does a good job of living up to its reputation, although I would not give up the amount of amazing beers that this trades for, great complexity and great flavor. glad I got to try it but until the value decreases, the face value is actually too much for me, I will not be revisiting this unless at the generosity of a friend.

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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 MrMcGibblets
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

finally, after several DLDs and much waiting and effort, got to have a couple of these. had it in the pub, so it was served in proper glassware to boot. not much head though. has all of the flavors, aromas, mouthfeel, etc. of reglar DL along with huge vanilla flavors and aromas, harmonized with attributes from the oak barrel aging. sweeter than regular DL, with big warming vanilla flavors crawling down your throat. alcohol/booze manage to stay relatively well hidden. lots of big charred ripened dark fruit. hands down the best and most complex, balls to the wall RIS i've ever had. if you go to DLD, make it your #1 priority to taste this. heard they only made two barrels.

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