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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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261 Reviews
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Reviews: 261
Hads: 1,270
Avg: 4.64
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 3,864
Gots: 229 | FT: 9
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: 261 | Hads: 1,270
Photo of orangesol
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

HUGE thanks to foofaa for sharing this one with us all at ffej of july. Never thought I would get a chance to try this one.

A - Pours pitch black with a nice one finger tall tan head leaving small trails of lace down parts of the glass.

S - Smells of smooth bourbon, coffee, chocolate, dark fruit, molasses, dark malt and a nice vanilla sweetness. The vanilla is a little weak toward the end of the glass, otherwise a very nice nose.

T - Starts off with a perfectly balanced mix of sweet vanilla, warm bourbon and dark roasted chocolate malt. Hints of coffee, dark fruits and molasses follow close behind. Finish has some sweetness and dark roast combining to linger on the palate long after the finish. Booze is extremely well hidden, only really becoming noticeable toward the end of the glass.

M - It is definitely a big beer with plenty of flavor and a moderate amount of carbonation. It is much smoother than I thought it would be.

O - I honestly never thought I would have the chance to try this beer. It takes a very good beer and makes it something amazing. I can only hope to have this again in the future. Thanks again Dan!

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Photo of SpeedwayJim
4.43/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 2 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Denise for this one. Side-by-side with all the other BA Dark Lords. Bottle 650/934 into a snifter. From notes.

No head, spotty lace, pitch black, with big, oily legs.

Notes of bourbon, vanilla, mint, and marshmallow. Very lively in the nose. Fresh too.

Sweet plum, vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, sweet prune, fudge, smores. Sugary finish. Delicious! Not at all hot either.

Medium bodied with low carbonation. Oily and smooth with a bit of heat going down. Sticky, lingering aftertaste. Complements the flavor perfectly.

This was the best of the 8 variations for me. Amazing taste that wasn't too heavy with a fantastic, clean, fresh, enticing aroma.

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Photo of brystmar
4.39/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Opened the 2011 & 2012 Vanillas next to each other to kick off our tasting with all 8 BA DLs. Thanks to Denise for bringing this one!

Gloops out of the bottle with minimal head and lace. Boozy and sweet aroma opens up bourbon-forward, concluding with a pleasant vanilla finish. Deserves a 4.25, but I'll round up.

While the '11 was predominantly sweet marshmallows, this one starts off as a bourbon-infused stout with vanilla support showing up towards the end. Dark fruits, heavily roasted malt, candy sweetness, and more robust bourbon round things out midway through. Body is thick, but not as viscous as the '11 Vanilla.

Swallowing summons a fantastic blend of flavors in the back of your throat which is initially boozy but quickly melts into a smooth, vanilla-infused nectar. This aftertaste is magical, rivaled only by Apple Brandy BA Huna & b1 Chocolate Rain.

The '11 Brandy Vanilla ended up being my favorite of the 8 variants, followed by '12 Cognac, then this '12 Bourbon Vanilla. Our group seemed in agreement that Vanilla DL was the best of the treatments, but we were divided in choosing a superior vintage. Both were fantastic!

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Photo of iadler
4.47/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to immobilisme for bringing this over to our recent tasting. Bottle #606/934.

A- Pours a standard DL pitch black color with a one finger dark mocha head that leaves minimal lacing behind.

S- Rich fudge, bourbon, vanilla syrup, with hints of wood, burnt caramel, raisins and plumb. Judging from the aroma, I'm assuming this is going to be fairly sweet.

T- Rich, sweet and decadent with Chocolate malt balls, uncooked brownie batter, vanilla, cream, smooth bourbon, caramel and raisins. Bordering on being too sweet, but the bourbon helps keep the sweetness in check.

M- Thick syrupy body with a low to medium carbonation. The abv. is nowhere to be seen.

O- A liquid form of dessert. Tons of chocolate and vanilla mingled with bourbon makes this a very flavorful beer. While very sweet, this was not as sugary as the regular DL. A bit too sweet to have more than a few ounces, but still one of my favorites of this year's BA treatments.

Thanks again, Todd!

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Photo of jmarsh123
4.33/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours pitch black with a very small brown head fading away into an oily ring. Good sludgy lacing down the glass.

Intensely sweet aroma. Dark chocolate, vanilla and molasses. Maybe a touch of oak.

Major sweetness bomb. Loads of dark chocolate, fudge and vanilla with just a touch of roastiness. Very dessert like quality although it's hard to drink more than a few ounces of this. The addition of vanilla and booze helps balance out the rough flavors of the base beer.

Very thick mouthfeel although maybe not as much as I'd expect. Low carbonation.

Great beer although drinkability is low due to the intense sweetness. Much better than regular Dark Lord, but probably not quite worth the hype.

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Photo of birderbeerer
4.7/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

won at DLD 2012! Drank about six weeks later. Friend won another won that we'll let age for a year or three.

Pitch black and syrupy with a thin but stubborn head.

Beautiful smell, the bourbon isn't too huge and vanilla and cocoa come through. Very sweet smell.

The taste is just as sweet. All sweet in fact. It's an enormous dessert beer at this point, and it lacks the dark fruit and roast flavors that come through in a dark lord that's been aged a few years. Over the course of splitting the bottle, the sweetness just dominated, and the beer became somewhat one-noted.

Great thick, creamy mouthfeel. An amazing and huge beer. Can't wait to have another. I imagine this is hard to beat once it has aged a long while.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.57/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On Tap

2012 Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Fest
Paso Robles, CA

Black throughout and thick in body, though it appears thinner than untreated Dark Lord. Very small brown head on my pour that leaves the glassy oily and spotted with lace.

Rich and sweet aroma of dark chocolate, sweet and earthy vanilla, oak, whipped cream, coffee creamer, and a little bit of brown sugar. Really, really nice.

The flavor is incredibly well integrated and marvelousy smooth and drinkable given this beer's astonishingly high ABV. The vanilla, oak, and whipped cream flavors are dominant, along with big notes of dark chocolate, and mild roast. Pretty amazing stuff.

Medium to nearly full bodied with low carbonation.

A beer I'd written off as one I simply would never be able to try: it's worth the hype (whatever that means).

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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 Rau71
4.92/5  rDev +6%
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.

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Photo of yourefragile
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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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 jegross2
5/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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Photo of WillCarrera
4.6/5  rDev -0.9%
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...

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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 raveskdr
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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Photo of cccupps3
4.88/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

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Photo of marchoftheclouds
5/5  rDev +7.8%
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

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Photo of islandboi8204
4.64/5  rDev 0%
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.

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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 Simmy7000
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of godfathermg57
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Photo of AleWatcher
4.59/5  rDev -1.1%
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!

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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 Chriscrundwell12
4.69/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of znichols
4.85/5  rDev +4.5%
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

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 261 ratings.