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

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

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

254 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 254
Hads: 1,234
rAvg: 4.62
pDev: 9.31%
Wants: 3,759
Gots: 220 | FT: 10
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: 254 | Hads: 1,234
Photo of Weebay
4.79/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Very dark brown,

S- Strong vanilla aroma and burbon and sweet chocolate.

T- Vanilla up front that fades to a burbon sweetness. Really very excellent.

M- Not as viscous as I expected, very nice.

This was an excellent beer, considering the ABV it went down very easily. Well worth the trip and ticket related stress to get to try it. (341 characters)

Photo of CaptinRedBeard
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

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

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

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

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

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

O: A wonderful beer, that was worth the trip alone. I'm ready to go back to Dark Lord Day next year, just to get another glass of this phenomenal brew. If this was ever bottled, I'm afraid that I would do evil things to get my hands on a bottle(s). I'm not the biggest fan of regular Dark Lord. But this, is a whole different animal entirely. (1,603 characters)

Photo of Hesscabob
5/5  rDev +8.2%
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. (1,405 characters)

Photo of cradke
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%
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 (698 characters)

Photo of atrus138
4.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Note: Some of this is copied from my review of the original Dark Lord, since it shares a lot as far as appearance and mouthfeel go.

Everytime I've described a beer as looking like motor oil has been a lie. THIS is a beer that looks like motor oil. No head whatsoever. This beast is far too dense for a head. It has its own gravity and pulls any head into itself. The glass is absolutely stained yellow after drinking. Epic. As far as smell goes, I've never been more excited to drink a beer after smelling this. It's rare to smell a beer so aggressive in its sweetness. However, despite the extreme sweetness of the smell, it's not TOO sweet. It's more of a naturally sweet smell. Taste is absolutely delicious. For me, it was a glimpse of heaven. Pure sweetness. Everything I could hope for in a beer. Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, brown sugar, and dark fruits. Sheer bliss. After swallowing, it's like my entire digestive system up to and including my stomach is coated with this stuff. Normally, with such a huge beer, I'm a bit more conservative with dropping a 5, but I would have this anytime I can.

This is a totally, and in my opinion, much better beer than Dark Lord, and that is saying something. The scores are the same for each, but the 5s on the smell and taste on these have more teeth to them. (1,308 characters)

Photo of cpmichael
4.8/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On tap at DLD.

A: Pours a thick dark black, by time our server brought it out there was no discernible head, just like the BBA DL we had side by side.

S: Very sweet smelling with lots of vanilla ascents, dark chocolate, some oak and booze and malts.

T: Sweet, with vanilla, creamy chocolate, some raisins,coffee and roasted malts and some booze, but not as hot as the nose would suggest.

M/D: thick, syrup-like, with lower carbonation. It went down very smooth and highly drinkable, even for as sweet as it was. One of the best beers I have had the opportunity to try. (572 characters)

Photo of tippebrewcrew2
5/5  rDev +8.2%
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. (568 characters)

Photo of BAstoutsNsours
4.86/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at Hunaphu's Day 2013. 6oz serving. Although I'm unaware of 2011 Bourbon Vanilla DL being bottled, this was listed as such. Staff swore it was Bourbon Vanilla (not Brandy) and it was 2011 vintage. Anywho

A: Dark pitch black motor oil appearance with only a little head.

S: TONS of vanilla on the nose, very raw vanilla bean up front, small hints of cocoa, not much booze considering this is ~15%

T: Taste like a chocolate birthday cake with chocolate butter cream with vanilla bean ice cream on top. LOADS of vanilla, they did not short this thing and I've really never had a beer with so much vanilla in it. If you like your vanilla subtle or as an afterthought, this beer is not for you. Chocolate, espresso, and marshmallow are all there.

M: Thick, viscous, just a tiny bit of carb. Really coats the mouth and encourages the drinker to do so.

O: A very very good beer, this is such an in-your-face beer that it would be hard to drink more than a pour or two. That being said, its delicious and drinks like liquid cake. Like cake, there is only so much you can handle before the diabeetus settles in. (1,119 characters)

Photo of spoons
4.84/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at dld

Black and syrupy looking with no head anywhere to be found.

Smells like a black vanilla milkshake, only with more vanilla. Some dark chocolaty roasted bits underneath all that vanilla. Vanilla beans, need I say more.

Tastes amazing. Syrupy and smooth mouthfeell. Coats everything that it comes in contact with. Tons of vanilla flavor. Doesnt just taste like beans though, lots of extract almost bourbon like in there. Fantastic beer. Cant wait to have it again. (478 characters)

Photo of owenbrau
4.98/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Very excited to try this and it did not disappoint! 2014 version, big toasted marshmallow smell with a little bourbon. Taste is chocolate and vanilla up front with a marshmallow finish lingering on the tongue. So drinkable it's scary for 15%. It is one of, if not the best beer, I have ever consumed. Bourbon Barrel stout is my favorite style though I can not see how anyone could not love this beer. (403 characters)

Photo of znichols
4.85/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Exclusive Tapping at Argus Lounge (Madison, WI)- 8/12/11.

Appearance -- A black as night stout with a surprisingly tight head. Eggshell color head with opaque body. Lacing doesn't stick around long.

Smell -- Dark, juicy fruits. Figs, blueberries, etc. The vanilla is very present in the aroma with a slight alcohol tinge and wood. A slight bit of dark cocoa in there too. An extremely complex aroma in this one with little to no hop smell.

Taste -- Dark roast and sharp vanilla right off the bat. This beer punishes your taste buds, but in a good way. Notes of chocolate, smooth coffee, plum, wood, maple, creme brule, and a little foreign spice as well. An extreme amount of flavor and a decadently light alcohol burn.

Mouthfeel -- Uber thick and pretty sticky. Low to moderate carbonation. Think molasses.

Overall -- A truly exceptional beer. As cliche as it sounds, likely the best beer i've ever had. Over the top flavor. The grandaddy of Russian Imperial Stouts. Wish i could have seen the look on my face when i took the first sip!

Serving type: Tap (1,061 characters)

Photo of hrking
4.95/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

had this on DLD 08 @ The FFF pub..I think I was the 5th person through the door when it opened!...This one was the main target on my list even though I had the Bourbon Barrel and the Vanilla at the same time just so I didn't half to wait for the attention to come my way again..
The Vanilla was very present up front and was noticeable immediately from the first sip. There was a thick mouth feel,very thick almost the consistency of drinking thick pear juice..Pitch black ,over due motor oil change black with a small dark tan quickly dissipated almost non existent head..The taste was awesome to say the least..I have never had anything like it and probably never will again. Surprisingly easy to drink ,but this one is a sipper for sure, just goes down leaving you wanting another. I did notice the pours coming from the bar were getting a little bigger as other cups and glassware came out..They started with 4-5oz pours and quickly started going to 6-8oz pours so I grabbed 2 to go for my buddies in line outside and shared with them!
Might as well forget about putting this one on your want list it was a 1 barrel thing on that day and is gone..It was $6 a pour and if I had a bottle and the $ I could have probably filled a growler..But my $ was spoken for from the bottled Dark Lord..Long live the mid evil madness! (1,325 characters)

Photo of bierenutz
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure of trying this brew at FFF on DLD in the brewpub.
A-Coming from the tap with minimal head and lacing, it was black and thick.
S-Chocolate, roasted malts and vanilla with some sweet molasses and bourbon.
T-Very rich blend of mocha and syrup, and of course vanilla, although I would have expected more and found this flavor to be more of a background player in this complex concoction.
M-Rich and creamy with minimal carbonation and an overall great feel each sip.
D-Loved this beer, although right after this one I had the Oak Aged and, IMO, was better overall. Both these beers are great and well worth the hype. (631 characters)

Photo of themaj
5/5  rDev +8.2%
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!! (196 characters)

Photo of dboon
4.88/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle # 766. Dark brown pour with a tan head. Coco puff nose. Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. This beer is freakin’ awesome with all kinds of chocolate, caramel, and smooth roasted malt goodness. Sweet and delicious with a great body and mouthfeel. Outstanding.... (262 characters)

Photo of bgramer
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at DLD on tap.

This is a hell of a beer. Black as Satan's spawn with a tan ring around my plastic cup coating it's thick inkiness. Thick and creamy, with a slight wooden taste, but the vanilla really mixed well with the chocolate, dark fruits, caramel, and coffee flavors. The hops weren't as pronounced, and this was pretty smooth - dangerously drinkable. (366 characters)

Photo of ramay86
3.14/5  rDev -32%
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. (170 characters)

Photo of betsona
4.68/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had on-tap DLD 2011. Served in a plastic cup.

A- Oil black. Absolutely no head. Swirled to produce a thin hair of mocha head. No lacing on the glass as to be expected.

S- Huge explosion of vanilla with bourbon, coffee and ever so slight hint of cherries. The bourbon aroma was strongest when I first was handed it. By the time I had my last sip, the vanilla had completely dominated the nose, too much in the end.

T- The vanilla that was too much in the nose, is dead on in the taste. Almost lie having a scoop of ice cream drizzled in bourbon with a dash of ground coffee. Though the vanilla hides most of the alcohol, it still comes through.

M- Viscous syrup thick with low carbonation. Leaves the tongue feeling thick and slow. Slight alcohol burn at the end of the drink.

O- I prefer this variant of the two that were on-tap (Oak aged). Its nose was a tad too much, but the taste is exceptional. The vanilla is not too intense, which allows for multiple drinks. Even at the price--9 dollars for 8oz--it was still worth it. (1,031 characters)

Photo of thickerfreakness
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served in a short, squat glass at DLD 08.

This beer was black as night with no head at all. A very small, dark brown ring of foam lined the glass. This smells incredible, coffee and chocolate with a great vanilla smell taking over everything. The taste combined with the mouthfeel make this like an amazing chocolate and coffee milk shake with the right amount of vanilla to balance out the flavors from the regular dark lord. After sharing this sample and the oak aged dark lord with a friend I felt pretty good. An exceptional beer. (535 characters)

Photo of bainard
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Let's preface this review with some backstory:

I biked to DLD 2008 from the near NW side of Chicago. It was about 30 miles down to Munster. After leaving at about 8AM, arriving at 11, the one thing I needed the most upon my arrival on a very windy day was a friggin' beer. Luckily, I'd come to the right place. I grabbed a Dreadnaught on cask and a Vanilla Dark Lord while my comrades held me a place in line. I gladly shared the Dreadnaught while hording the Dark Lord for my own, exhausted self. I just recently found my notes for this wonderful treat.

A - The plastic cup gives this one a more collegiate feel. Weird, but charming. Black, Black, Black beer (maybe a sepia note) with sediment lacing the sides of the cup, like sediment while one pans for gold, except you're drinking the gold. Minimal khaki head.

T - Dark Lord. With Vanilla. That's all you really need to know. Roasty malt, soy sauce, molasses, coffee are the dominating notes here besides the indomitable vanilla.

M - If you told me this was a milkshake made with vanilla ice cream and dark lord, I would not have argued with you.

D - One of these had me forgetting about the 45-50 km/h wind and the bike-ride exhaustion. One's all you need. This ruled. (1,229 characters)

Photo of PrinceDarren
4.95/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure of trying this at DLD 2010. I had it once before a couple of years ago and it was every bit as delicious as I remember. While regular Dark Lord may be arguably over-hyped, the Vanilla Bean is deserving of the highest praise, in my opinion.

Some would say that the VBDL can simply be described as regular Dark Lord with the addition of some vanilla notes. I have to somewhat disagree. The vanilla bean is like a kinder, gentler version of something that is known for being brutally massive. In much the same way that Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout can be thought of as a more delicate version of KBS. That could be good or bad, depending on your perspective. I overheard some folks commenting that they like the sharper edge and complexity of regular DL. Those features are somewhat softened here. Personally, I prefer this version as it is that much more drinkable.

At first, the vanilla aroma attacks your nose and dominates the senses. No surprise, it smells like fresh vanilla ice cream. However, after a moment, that aroma fades nicely into the background and becomes much less detectable. In the end, it is properly balanced - well done!

In terms of taste, that famous "soy sauce" character of regular DL is what is missing most here. Again, I am fine with that as long as I can continue to enjoy the regular version at home.

The only minor downside to the VBDL was that there was a slight more detectable alcohol on the finish. I think this has more to do with it being fresh from the keg (or it could be the higher alcohol percentage in this particular vintage). Most of the time when I drink Dark Lord, it is from a bottle that has had lots of time to rest. Therefore, the only thing that I would suggest to improve this further would be to produce a bottle version or otherwise age it for a few more months to allow it to mellow out a touch more.

Otherwise, Vanilla Bean Dark Lord is a superb beverage that has earned its high accolades. (1,973 characters)

Photo of bmanning
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown before and during the 3Floyds beer dinner.

A: Pours jet black with thin dark brown head that leaves good lacing.

S: Hot damn, this smells exceptional! There is so much dark chocolate and vanilla in the nose balanced by bourbon (I'm told it's Woodford Reserve), dark fruits, and coffee. It can't get any better than this.

T: Simply incredible. This is the best bourbon barrel aged beer I've ever had. And I thought the Oak Aged Dark Lord was the best - no, this one blows it out of the water with the delectable vanilla flavor that perfectly balances with the bourbon, chocolate, and dark fruits. And as it warms, it gets better and better with graham cracker and caramel flavors adding to the mix of intense chocolate and vanilla.

M: So creamy smooth and thick, it's like motor oil and completely coats the mouth, intensifying the flavors. Carbonation level is perfect for this beer - on the low side, but existent.

D: Only knock is the slightest alcohol burn, otherwise I could drink these all night long.

Overall this beer blew me away. I was not expecting the simple presence of vanilla beans to add so much more to the already incredible Oak Aged Dark Lord, but the extra vanilla is what makes this beer the best, and deserving of it's high review. I really hope 3Floyds decides to bottle this beer one day - it's phenomenal. (1,381 characters)

Photo of pepsican
3.98/5  rDev -13.9%
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. (264 characters)

Photo of marchoftheclouds
5/5  rDev +8.2%
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 (536 characters)

Photo of MrShake
5/5  rDev +8.2%
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!!! (477 characters)

Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 254 ratings.