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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no score

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Reviews: 254
Hads: 1,232
rAvg: 4.62
pDev: 4.33%
Wants: 3,759
Gots: 219 | 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: 1,232
Photo of DocJitsu
4.07/5  rDev -11.9%
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. (349 characters)

Photo of Rau71
4.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Tried this on tap at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest on 6/9/12.
Pours a dark black with almost zero head. Smells like Vanilla and a hint of the bourbon barrel. Tastes like dessert. Wonderful smoothness of Vanilla and Bourbon on the mouth. Thick and creamy beer, I wanted to make an Ice Cream float with it. at 15% there was ZERO alcohol flavor or feel which is an amazing testament to how great this beer is. (420 characters)

Photo of yourefragile
4.54/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a viscous, oily black with a trace amount of thin brown head. Aroma is rich and sweet without being cloying or boozy. Intense vanilla, molasses and sugar blends with bourbon, dark fruit and chocolate. Vanilla and milk chocolate dominate the flavor of the Dark Lord base; again minimal booze or heat. Very tasty, but reminds me of a melted down cup of ice cream which starts to grow tiresome despite the small sample size. (427 characters)

Photo of starrdogg
4.84/5  rDev +4.8%
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! (759 characters)

Photo of jegross2
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Today I finished law school. I decided to celebrate in epic style. This is review #250. How fitting that all the epicness align.

Reviewing the incredibly rare and highly sought after Vanilla Bean Aged Dark Lord from Three Floyds Brewing Company. This is bottle number 500 out of 934.
Score: 100

2012 vintage bottle from the April 28, 2012 Dark Lord Day release. Served in a Surly Darkness snifter and enjoyed on 05/11/12.

Appearance: Pours a jet black color that is completely opaque save for a thin film of brown atop the glass when held up to light. Half a finger of creamy dark mocha/milk chocolate colored head at pour settles into a ring around the glass. Average lacing, but awesome retention and cling. 5/5

Smell: Rich and sugary vanilla and bourbon-y molasses. Lots of sweet raisin, brown sugar and creamy milk chocolate. Dark fruit and a little caramel. A little wood too. No booziness whatsoever despite 13% ABV. 5/5

Taste: Rich and sweet, but not overly sweet. Sweet, creamy vanilla and milk chocolate upfront and in the finish. A little warmth on the palate, but no booziness. Ample doses of sweet raisin on midpalate and in the finish as well. Sugary vanilla frosting and sweet brown sugar on the midpalate too. There's a smooth, somewhat subtle bourbon backbone. 5/5

Mouthfeel: Full-medium bodied, no carbonation. Syrupy mouthfeel. Sugary sweet finish. Not overly heavy, which works perfectly with the flavor profile. 5/5

Overall: This beer is decadent. Rich and delicious, this is the ultimate digestif. This beer was a little hard to finish by myself at 13% ABV given the level of sweetness (it is not diabetes-inducing like the regular Dark Lord), but that is why I enjoyed this one with a few friends. This is truly one of the most tasty beers made, and it's completely on par with how Bourbon County Vanilla is currently drinking. I think I ever slightly prefer the Bourbon County Rare to this, however.

Recommendation: Seek a bottle of this out, but don't trade your rare to get it.

Pairings: Digestif. Seriously. Just enjoy this one on it's own.

Cost: $50 for a 750 ml bottle. (2,107 characters)

Photo of WillCarrera
4.6/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle, number 127 of 934 from 2012, poured into a tulip glass.

A- Pours pitch black, absolutely no light gets through, produces a thin brown layer of head that dissipates quickly, which is honestly more than I was expecting, leaves some spotty lacing.

S- Big sweet aroma, lots of vanilla and bourbon but also some caramel, chocolate, a bit of coffee and oak from the barrel, smells pretty delicious.

T- Flavor follows the nose, a really wonderful vanilla flavor, oak and bourbon, which gives a pleasant warmth, juicy dark fruits, a bit of coffee, and some dark chocolate and molasses sweetness. Vanilla really shines in this beer.

M- Full-bodied, has a thick, heavy feel. I still think it's a bit lighter than regular Dark Lord, which is like motor oil, and the slightly lighter body helps keep drinkability somewhat higher.

O- A really top notch beer, it's sweet as hell, verging on about as sweet as I can stand a beer to be, but is still considerably less sweet than and also vastly, vastly superior to normal Dark Lord. I split a bottle with Agold and we had a tough time killing it on our own, which is the main reason this isn't approaching a 5/5 for me. It's definitely a dessert beer that should be shared with a few friends. Having said that, it's an incredibly delicious beer, the flavors are amazing. It also tastes great on top of vanilla ice cream... (1,376 characters)

Photo of Agold
4.17/5  rDev -9.7%
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. (675 characters)

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

Finally getting around to review this. Had it yet again on tap at Dark Lord Day (and got a chance to tick it out of the bottle as well). Poured into an oddly shaped glass inside the FFF brewpub on DLD.

A - Completely dense viscous blackness. Very little carbonation.

S - Vanilla. Vanilla. Vanilla. Slight roasted coffee. Vanilla.

T - Vanilla. Vanilla. Vanilla. Just incredible flavoring of pure vanilla. You get some of that smokiness and some roastiness, but this is a vanilla dominated beer.

M - Incredibly decadent and rich yet smooth for such a high alcohol beer.

O - One of the best beers I have ever had. This beer is just incredible. I could drink the hell out of this beer. All the hype this beer has ever got is completely deserved. I am glad they bottled it so that some people could get some without going to DLD. It's just as good out of the bottle. (867 characters)

Photo of cccupps3
4.88/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had it on tap at Capone's in Montgomery County, P.A. I had a 10oz. tulip poor and it was a fantastic coloring for an Imperial Stout. Very smooth throughout and I felt the bittering hops can into play much, much more as it warmed about ten minutes. Good Vanilla usage! Could have had a little stronger aroma. Overall it is one of the most well balanced stouts I have had in a few years. (385 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 islandboi8204
4.64/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Pours without much carbonation, leaves staining on the glass as it is swirled. Mahogany color.

Smells of chocolate cherry, fruit, vanilla, coffee. Wonderful.

Tastes similar to the smell, but velvety, rich, creamy, savory. Vanilla more present in the taste, but not cloyingly sweet either. Really decadent as a dessert.

Alcohol is very well masked. Not too heavy in the mouth, but a little more carbonation would help make it less syrupy. It's probably missing some from the hand bottling.

Overall, this is incredible. I would drink this all day long, glad I could try it. Looking forward to opening up my other growler, and trying this on tap some day. (658 characters)

Photo of hombrepalo
3.64/5  rDev -21.2%
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. (446 characters)

Photo of Simmy7000
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to StoutFest!
Served into a snifter

A- Pours a very dark brown with no head present. Body appears black but the edges are a ruby-brown color when light strikes them.

S- Definitely has the characteristic Dark Lord smell with a twist. Loads of dark fruit, chocolate, booze combine with a massive vanilla presence. Can't wait to taste it!

T- Waves of creamy, sweet vanilla up front blending into a mix of chocolate covered dark fruits, molasses, and coffee. The finish is a slight hint of licorice coupled with a deep warming from the alcohol. Just decadent, to say the least.

M- Thick, syrup-like body that is on the low side of carbonation. Overall though, it has a silky, smooth feel that coats the mouth while drinking. No hint of the 15% alcohol besides some warmth.

O- What a phenomenal beer, certainly one of the best I have ever had. I am a huge fan of regular Dark Lord and the vanilla seems to blend in perfectly with the base beer, giving it a creamy, marshmallow type flavor on top of an already monster of a beer. Can't wait to have this on-tap directly at DLD next year. (1,097 characters)

Photo of godfathermg57
4.82/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Got a growler in trade thanks to StoutFest.

An incredible beer. There was absolutely no head or carbonation when i poured it which was a bit surprising, however after tasting I can see why. This beer isn't even a beer; it's like a vanilla, chocolate, malt syrup and I mean that in the best way possible. Incredibly smooth, thick, and complex in taste. Definitely one I had to split with friends but one I was glad I had a chance to try. 5 Star beer. (450 characters)

Photo of AleWatcher
4.59/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Reviewed from notes-- still trying to get caught up!
Shared by stoutfest
served in a snifter.

Looks kinda like root beer. Very little head. Smells of sweet vanilla bean, black licorice, oak, chocolate, and a bit of booze.
The carbonation level is low so it helps it to feel smooth and creamy.
The aftertaste hits some of those black licorice notes, but it works for me. The flavor has a good dose of molassesy chocolate and vanilla sweetness with the anise blending into the boozy bite at the back end. Nice warmth, but not over-powering.

Exceptionally tasty.
This is a very very fine beer. I look forward to having more if it! (629 characters)

Photo of bashiba
3.8/5  rDev -17.7%
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. (552 characters)

Photo of Chriscrundwell12
4.69/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pre Party for Great Taste of the midwest at Argus Lounge Bar in Madision, WI. Five oz pour into a glass.

A- Dark Pitch black color, opaque body, ½ finger brown head that dissipates quickly to nothing, very minimal lacing and retention.
S- The aroma is fantastic, very sweet chocolaty aroma, dark fruits (raisins, blueberries) are present with a nice oakiness added in, nice bourbon oak notes as well, although the aroma is still very sweet its not as rich and cloying as the regular dark lord which is surprising since Vanilla was added to this beer.
T- This beer is fantastic, huge vanilla presence, that’s balanced a little with the oak flavor from the barrels, chocolate, molasses, dark fruits, slight coffee taste, slight roasted notes, cocoa nibs, slight bourbon taste, a little warming as it goes down but very smooth, very complex.
M- Big mouth feel, not overly carbonated but enough to make this beer delicious, coats the palate, smooth drinking.
O- I was surprised with this beer, from drinking the normal versions of Dark Lord I was expecting the Vanilla Barrel Aged version to be over the top sweet. I was blown away by how tasty this brew was, much more complex and tasty than the original Dark Lord, loved it. (1,227 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 yeahnatenelson
4.8/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Back Lion - 2011 BA Dark Lord Voltron Tasting, 07/15/2011.

Appearance -- Pours a deep, dark brown with slim chestnut highlights and a slim creamy eggshell head that dissipated into a persistent purity ring.

Smell -- Loads of vanilla, rich dark fruits, cocoa, unrefined sugars, and a lot of spicy Woodford Reserve barrel character. As the beer warmed I began to pick up the rich smell of blueberry pancakes.

Taste -- Roast malt, chocolate, candied dark fruits and burnt sugars, vibrant vanilla beans and sweet/spicy Woodford Reserve bourbon. Rich and decadent without approaching saccharine. As with the nose, there was this big blueberry note that reminded my of pancakes, or possibly muffins.

Mouthfeel -- VERY thick with somewhat mild carbonation. No burn, but mild bourbon heat in the throat. Pretty damn nice.

Overall -- The finest barrel-aged Dark Lord version, edges out even the best bottled versions. Everything marries so well, and this particular version revealed the most new facets of flavor as the beer warmed. Stunning. (1,038 characters)

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
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. (1,274 characters)

Photo of ajsdad06
4.55/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Draft at DLD 11.

Pours a viscous oil like black with a smal ldense tan head.

The aroma is everything the original is and then some: sweet, chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, oak, bourbon, and light coffee.

The flavor is much of the same: chewy sweet malt, vanilla, dark fruits, chocolate, some roasted at times, and light coffee.

Everything mentioned would be enough to classify this as an excellent beer, but for me the mouthfeel pushes it into another category. This is sooo smooth and creamy I could kick back and savor this all day (if it weren’t 14%). It is easy to forget about the alcohol with this one. (617 characters)

Photo of zrab11
4.67/5  rDev +1.1%
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. (770 characters)

Photo of iconoklaztor
5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Alrighty, so...I was able to try this at DLD 2011! I was able to grab 2 glasses at the pub and enjoy them slowly!

First the appearance is what you would expect! BLACK and THICK like you would expect from an ebony porn star!

The smell was sweet and malty! I couldn't wait to taste this brew!

The taste was sweet, heavy, and very filling! It was damn near perfect!

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to have this year round and quite frankly its damn near the only thing that keeps me going back to DLD. It sure isnt the hassle of getting tickets!

Overall this is possibly the best beers Ive ever had!!!

Fantastic!!! (609 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 ktrillionaire
4.94/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On-tap at DLD 2011. I must say I was skeptical about this beer as I do not hold regular DL in the highest esteem, but after trying delicious Oak-Aged DL, my expectations are lofty...

A - Pours an exceptionally oily black hue, and is capped with only a modicum of black bubbles. Many beers are compared to used motor oil, but this one is the doppelganger.

S - Holy (unholy) sweet vanilla! I mean, this is completely insane; the nose is a paradigm of vanilla-laden decadence. The vanilla is so rich and intense that it saturates (and nearly overwhelms) my sensory faculties. Vanilla orchids in bloom do not smell this potent. The qualities of the base beer (and barrel), in an aromatic sense, are mere minutiae that bring added layers of complexity.

T - The taste is amazingly delicious; truly beyond superlative. It is tremendously sweet and ridiculously indulgent, and yet it has a huge amount of sophistication. Notes of vanilla saturate every nuance of this beer, though not as much flavor-wise, as compared to the aroma. Under the rich vanilla I get a plethora of sublime notes including coffee, toffee, caramel, oak, sweet booze, coconut, milk chocolate, creme brulee, burnt sugar and date puree.

M - Silky and satiny and ultra-enhancing.

O - Amazing stuff; totally beyond worthy of the hype.

Review #1100 (1,315 characters)

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