1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord - Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub

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

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
100
world-class

996 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 996
Reviews: 218
rAvg: 4.71
pDev: 9.55%
Wants: 3,125
Gots: 171 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub visit their website
Indiana, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  15.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout aged in a variety of Bourbon barrels with vanilla beans.

(Beer added by: mcallister on 04-27-2008)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 996 | Reviews: 218 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of jkball01
5/5  rDev +6.2%

jkball01, Apr 29, 2014
Photo of kimcgolf
4.35/5  rDev -7.6%
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.

kimcgolf, Aug 23, 2009
Photo of coldmeat23
4.97/5  rDev +5.5%
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.

coldmeat23, May 01, 2009
Photo of Dreadnaught33
5/5  rDev +6.2%
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.

Dreadnaught33, Aug 30, 2010
Photo of Nolen12
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%

Nolen12, Apr 29, 2014
Photo of paco1029384756
4.53/5  rDev -3.8%
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.

paco1029384756, Apr 30, 2009
Photo of BeerThursdays
4.25/5  rDev -9.8%

BeerThursdays, Nov 17, 2011
Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.8/5  rDev +1.9%
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.

KickInTheChalice, Jul 15, 2011
Photo of dfillius
4.5/5  rDev -4.5%

dfillius, Apr 27, 2013
Photo of IpeeA
5/5  rDev +6.2%

IpeeA, Oct 04, 2014
Photo of antoines15
3.93/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

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.

antoines15, May 26, 2010
Photo of ObeMaltKinobee
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%

ObeMaltKinobee, Apr 12, 2014
Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.93/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

DaftCaskBC, Oct 27, 2013
Photo of cfrances33
4.75/5  rDev +0.8%

cfrances33, Apr 30, 2013
Photo of craytonic
3/5  rDev -36.3%
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.

craytonic, Aug 14, 2009
Photo of PHBoiler
4.55/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh is best with this beer having had one on the day of the release in 2013 as well as having a year old version of the bottle. Fresh, this beer is jet black with loads of vanilla and booze on the nose. You get a bit of the coffee and dark roast of the beer with the vanilla being the star of the show. The 2013 bottle after 14 months had a bit of an acidic finish as well as the vanilla coming off as extract-like. The body seems to have thinned somehow as well. Fresh, this beer is world class, but the change over a year knocks it a bit for me.

PHBoiler, Apr 30, 2013
Photo of pwoods
5/5  rDev +6.2%
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

pwoods, Apr 27, 2009
Photo of Beertracker
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Beertracker, Nov 22, 2011
Photo of coz
5/5  rDev +6.2%

coz, Jul 07, 2013
Photo of Yeti1979
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Yeti1979, Aug 29, 2013
Photo of CityofBals
4.25/5  rDev -9.8%

CityofBals, Jan 31, 2013
Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.78/5  rDev +1.5%
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.

MrMcGibblets, Apr 25, 2010
Photo of scotv
5/5  rDev +6.2%

scotv, Oct 27, 2013
Photo of Nightrain87
5/5  rDev +6.2%

Nightrain87, Jun 11, 2012
Photo of LotsofLupulin
4.64/5  rDev -1.5%

LotsofLupulin, Oct 04, 2014
Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub
100 out of 100 based on 996 ratings.