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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 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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Photo of yeahnatenelson
4.8/5  rDev +3.4%
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.

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Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of ajsdad06
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of zrab11
4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
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.

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Photo of iconoklaztor
5/5  rDev +7.8%
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!!!


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Photo of tippebrewcrew2
5/5  rDev +7.8%
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.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.94/5  rDev +6.5%
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

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Photo of woosterbill
4.43/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap in the brewpub during DLD '11; I can't believe I got a seat at the bar! Review #700.

A: Fully black, motor-oil like body. Just a hint of brown foam. Viscous, dark, and intimidating.

S: Sweet vanilla, and not much else. Maybe some chocolate, but pretty much pure vanilla. Crazy, but a little underwhelming for such an elusive and storied brew.

T: Hole shite, that's incredible. Yeah, it's sweeter than diabeetus, but god damn is it good. Vanilla and chocolate open things up, followed closely by coffee, caramel, more chocolate, more vanilla, and even more vanilla. So, so sweet, but that' exactly what I expect from this beer, and the roasted notes actually do lend a modicum of - I can't possibly use the word "balance" for this one... - counterweight to the vanilla onslaught. Amazing.

M: Sticky, thick, and surprisingly well-carbonated. Lovely.

O: I missed out on this one at DLD '10, and swore if I ever made it back I wouldn't miss out again. I'm glad I made that vow and carried it out, as this was a truly incredible experience. I think there's something about the sweetness coming from actual vanilla beans that keeps the cloyingness somehow at bay, since I truly loved every single sip of this freakishly sweet beer. If it weren't for the plethora of other amazing choices, I would gladly drink another and another.


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Photo of Kayn169
3.51/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Dark Lord Day 2011.

A- Typical of the style, deep dark black. With the smallest layer of khaki head. Almost no carbonation to be seen

S- Hits hard and dominates with the smell of pure Vanilla extract, undertones of Espresso grounds, bittersweet chocolate, and just a touch of bourbon.

T- Wow, it's like taking a bottle of pure Mexican vanilla, and dumping it in a glass of DL, with a large spoon of molasses for sweetness. Insanely sweet, too much for me.

M- I have heard it described as a motor oil consistency, and although it isn't quite that bad, it is pretty syrupy.

O- Overdone. I am a firm believer in accenting a beer with things like vanilla, not making them the star. DL is a good beer that is struggling to even be noticed here. Everyone I talked to in the Pub agreed, it was just to sweet and had too much vanilla. Glad I tried it though. I would say if the vanilla sweetness was cut down it would be an easy A review

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Photo of Alpar
4.62/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at DLD 2011. 2beerornot2beer and I got the last pours on the keg, or so we were told. Regardless after waiting for 3.5 hours in line we were ready to do this up:)

A: Jet black, very little carbonation, similar to the regular Dark Lord treatments.

S: AWESOME! Huge vanilla notes and some cocoa. I didn't notice any alcohol in the smell.

T: Better than the smell! I was expecting a nuclear vanilla attack but instead go a really sweet balanced marshmallow flavor, it was out of this world!

O: This really took me by surprise, I am not a huge fan of the regular Dark Lord beers but this beer really hit home for me, one of the best I have had to date.

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Photo of stakem
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to CaptinRedBeard for making this happen on DLD 2011. Corey managed his way into the brewpub and came out with something like 4 or 5 glasses of this stuff so everyone in our group got some.

Served in a plastic cup, this brew appears black in color with a thin film of very dark brown bubbles around the rim. There is not much of a head and even a swirl only releases a few bubbles that hardly hold long enough to gravitate to the edges of the glass. Holding this glass up to the light doesn't really do much of anything...it's very dark and even through the edges light cannot penetrate.

The smell of this brew is bold with dark sweet chocolate. Absolutely loaded with tons of vanilla and a minor note of coffee. This brew is already deep, complex and sweet smelling, I simply cannot imagine how many vanilla beans it takes to make the vanilla come forward like this. Some fusel booze hides underneath with almost a meaty twang of booze and fruity hop character.

The taste is sweet with vanilla right upfront that coats and sticks to the inside of the mouth. Again, I have to wonder just how much vanilla is used for it to be this evident in this offering. Big boozy warmth is hidden under the chocolate-like sweetness. The aftertaste showcases the booziness with more of the roastiness of the grain finally coming through.

This is a full bodied brew that is very lightly carbonated. It is borderline cloyingly sweet but I honestly found it to be excessively drinkable in a liquid dessert kind of way. As it warms, it shows off more of that big booze character but it's balanced well with residual sweetness. While I found this to be awesome and everything I hoped it would be, it is not a beer that I could drink more than say 6-8 ounces of.

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Photo of Patrick999
4.39/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Hand-bottled. Sampled courtesy of Maltzilla. It's thick and dark as you would expect, not a ton of head.

Aroma? I bow down to the vanilla gods. Never smelled that much vanilla in a beer before.

This is some intense, sweet bourbon vanilla. Some of those I was drinking with thought it too sweet, but I thought it was on point. It tasted like candy, but to me that's to its credit. I don't think it bore too much resemblance to regular Dark Lord, this was all about the vanilla. 13% alcohol? Buried under vanilla sweetness.

I think I had about a 2-3 oz pour, and even that was a bit too much. An ounce and change is probably all I needed....not too "drinkable" in the normal sense of the word. Tasty, with a godly aroma, but pretty sweet. So, I'm "only" giving a 4.38 A rating.

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Photo of Weebay
4.79/5  rDev +3.2%
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.

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Photo of brew3crew
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at DLD 11. had to wait about an hour to try it but it was worth the wait.

A-Dark, dark black
S-Vanilla and awesomeness
T-I love vanilla in my beers. I love this taste. Great vanilla and smooth body makes jason a happy boy
M-Medium bodied and oh so smooth
O-One of the best beers I have had in a long time. Wish they bottled it more.

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Photo of MarkIntihar
4.68/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Review #10, figured I'd make it a good one!

Enjoyed on tap at DLD, review is from my notes.

A - Pours jet black with virtually no head. Motor oil consistency. Can't wait to chew on it.

S - Very vanilla up front, dominating the scent. Picking up slight hints of dark fruits but the vanilla overpowers it.

T - Taste is very vanilla as well. Hardly allows the other flavors through. The vanilla fades to more of a bourbon vanilla hint in the finish.

M - Very smooth and almost silky. Wonderful texture going down. Very little burn, if any.

O - Overall a phenomenal beer. Definitely on the sweeter side, but I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Photo of CaptinRedBeard
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

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Photo of oline73
4.8/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had this on-tap in the brewpub during Dark Lord Day.

Appearance: Pours a dark black color with no light coming through with hardly any head at all.

Smell: Very sweet. I can definitely pick up the vanilla along with some roast and dark chocolate.

Taste: This beer is super sweet with lots of vanilla and some dark chocolate notes coming through. There is some roast and the finish is sweet and full of warming alcohol.

Mouthfeel: The body is thick and smooth. The carbonation is mild and the finish has a very mild dryness to it.

Overall: I love vanilla beers, and this is among that best. The roast and sweetness compliment each other nicely. All the flavors work together quite well.

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Photo of monitorpop
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at Dark Lord Day 2011.

A- Solid black w/ subtle red/gold glow in the light.

S- Bourbon, vanilla.

T- Sweet vanilla, light bourbon, dark chocolate. Alcohol is almost completely hidden. Thankfully no hop bitterness. Surprisingly sweeter than the standard or BBA versions.

M- Syrup like. Low carbonation.

Pretty much the best beer I've ever had. Well worth the wait in line.

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Photo of aerozeppl
4.35/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On tap in the pub during DLD. I had one and liked it but had to have a second to make sure.

A:Black. That is it. There was no head. Only bubbles. It straight up looked like motor oil and both variants had legs when swirled in the glass.

S: The nose was that of ok that is what vanilla smells like Even with a big a beer as Dark Lord is the vanilla was up front. Alcohol. Molasses. Chocolate. Roast. Insane complexity.

T: Vanilla was huge up front. It had so much going on it tasted like it was barrel aged. What impressed me the most about the barrel aged versions of Dl was they played down on the beers weaknesses while bringing out their strengths. The vanilla cut down on the booziness and brought it into a whole different level.

M: Motor oil. Super thick. No carbonation.

D: I had 2 tasters of this then carried a grown man out of a mosh pit. All day. One of the best vanilla bean beers I have ever had. Makes VBBCS seem like ginger beer. That being said I cared for the bourbon version more but I was in the minority in my group.

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Photo of betsona
4.68/5  rDev +0.9%
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.

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