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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.

266 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 266
Hads: 1,301
Avg: 4.64
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 3,918
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: 266 | Hads: 1,301
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 Beerandraiderfan
4.92/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Never thought I would see this in California, but, yeah, the FW Invitational sure did deliver to say the least.

After the mad dash to the booth, we chilled for about 15-20 minutes before getting our pour, a black sludge with a super thin cherry cola head on the top of it 1/8" in depth that didn't stay around for too long, but the colors were amazing.

Vanilla bean, chocolate, bourbon, oak, these are the smells you want, all delivered in a huge Dark Lord kind of way.

Taste, more of the same, tons of sweetness, no doubt to drown out the massivity of the beer. Every aspect of it is big, like Black Tuesday or Chocolate Rain. You get a little more of the bittersweet dark fruit aspect on this though, the dividing line between RIS and the roastier American double stouts. Any coffee like roast aspect is really left to drown in the high sugar content here. Bourbon is present, but the vanilla and malt heft keep it from becoming a too hot concoction.

A slight tobacco/ash/mild leather feeling in the mouthfeel, that is only so slight. Low carbonation, which I think is just right for this beer.

I think this is significantly better than regular or even the brandy barrel dark lord. For me, the vanilla was really what uplifted this beer into one of the greatest of the greats from an already great brewery. Phenomenal stuff.

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

Bottle shared at the RBSG 2012 Grand Tasting. This is incredible. Smells like chocolate and vanilla and molasses with rich bourbon. Flavor is full of vanilla and caramel with -- seriously -- huge candy corn notes. May as well have aged it in a trick-or-treat goodie bag. As someone who likes candy corn, this was awesome.

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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 cosmicevan
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Consumed on 7/28 as part of the NYC BA DarkLord Voltron tasting!!! thanks to blatantdream for providing this gem.
bottle #650 / 934

a - black with minimal off brown tan head. soft of what i was expecting for a barrel aged dark lord.

s - bourbon and vanilla. not as nice as the brandy vanilla that i just sampled, but damn near close and a great combo for the nose. i've been fortunate to have the bourbon DL on a few occassions (most recently last night) and that one smells incredible...the vanilla takes that and gives it a bit of a marshmellow twist. great sweetness and the vanilla is not over the top...melds nicely.

t - taste is insane. marshmellow, but bourbon soaked marshmellows. not as rich as the brandy but the vanilla is an incredible addition to the bourbon dark lord and gives a great vanilla marshmellow twist. the vanilla amount is tasteful and this is not a vanilla bomb, but it adds appropriate sweetness to the beer.

m - smooth and easy drinking. great after taste that coats the mouth. not as sweet and cloying as the brandy.

o - super awesome!!! chocolate, vanilla, bourbon marshmellows! REALLY nice. hard to really say which i like better, this or the brandy vanilla...as this has a superior mouth, but the brandy has a superior smell.

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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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Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 266 ratings.