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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world-class

254 Reviews
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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 rhinos00
4.54/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Sample @ DLD 2009

A- Jet, black with a slight mocha colored head.

S- Absolutely fantastic! Huge vanilla notes infiltrate the nose and just linger. While it has a huge presence, nice caramel and roasted coffee aromas were still able to come through. Probably one of the best smelling beers ever.

T- Very rich, almost too rich. The vanilla was nice in the scent, but could have been less intense on the mouth. Aside from the extreme sweetness of the vanilla beans, there was a roasted, oak flavor that complimented the vanilla quite well. There was a lot of complexity going on here, just wish the vanilla was turned down a notch so I could enjoy it all.

M- Perfect. Thick, chewy and velvety smooth. Not much more you can ask for with this one.

D- Alcohol was pretty well hidden. What really affected the drinkability was the sweetness, most likely a combination of the vanilla and caramel like flavors. I found myself being overwhelmed, especially towards the end of the beer.

Overall, glad to have the opportunity to try this one. (1,037 characters)

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

Sampled at DLD '09.

One of the best beers I've ever had.

Pours completely jet black, thick as hell. A bit of a head stays for a little bit. Decent lacing in the snifter. Tons on vanilla in the nose but it's not too much and doesn't get in the way. How they did this, I don't know. Great roasted and burnt malts with a very smooth rich coffee aroma. Sweet but not overwhelming. Taste is outstanding. The vanilla plays so well with everything. Lots of coffee and caramel with nice barrel aging and a very complex alcohol tone. Alcohol is surprisingly well hidden, more of a friendly taste without any sting. Body is as full as it gets yet not cloying. Carbonation was just strong enough to make everything very smooth and velvety. It drinks every well for as big as it is but it's not something to be taken lightly, lol :D (822 characters)

Photo of younger35
4.67/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had this yesterday at Dark Lord Day '09. It was so nice to be able to get a glass of Vanilla Bean Dark Lord and Oak Aged Dark Lord, plop down on a couch and compare/review them. Great job by FFF this year. Drank from a classy plastic cup.

Appearance- Pours a jet black with a sort of soft, creamy dark tan head that sticks around for quite some time. A weak cap and thick collar remain the rest of the beer leaving a light bit of lacing.
Smell- Vanilla. Very pungent with lightly sweet and semi floral vanilla. I think the vanilla really sort of drowns out some of those other qualities of Dark Lord. Some extremely dark roasted malts and/or overly roasted coffee that so dominate regular Dark Lord are still plenty present here. I think the vanilla really works as it cuts into the inherent sweetness of the brew. A bit of caramel and chocolate hide in the background along with bit of booze.
Taste- Starts slightly sweet with a big burst of smooth caramel and vanilla. Sort of the good version of Southern Tier's Crème Brulee. Reminds me a bit of ice cream with just a hint of chocolate syrup on top. Perhaps a bit of toasted marshmallow as the roasted sort of aspect you get in regular Dark Lord is really drowned out by the vanilla. Not much coffee or alcohol but a nice smooth vanilla finish.
Mouthfeel- Supremely smooth and creamy with a thick rich body and very light carbonation.
Drinkability- Insanely good beer. My only smidgen of a problem is that it's a bit too sweet to enjoy more than one glass. Much better than the original Dark Lord and WAY better than the Oak Aged Dark Lord I think they need to bottle this. Just allow one bottler per ticket next year. So good and the world needs to try this!! So glad I got the opportunity this year. (1,756 characters)

Photo of Sean9689
4.29/5  rDev -7.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap @ DLD '09.

Pours black with a brown head which leaves some nice lacing, once gone. Smells amazing...VANILLA...lots of it! Some malts and milk chocolate in there as well. Tastes exactly like DL + vanilla which is a wonderful combo! Mouthfeel is perfect, an awesome beer to swirl around and savor. I would go for this again and again (I did so @ DLD)...awesome/epic beer! (377 characters)

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

I've had this two years in a row in a plastic cup pour. I took some brief notes this year, so here it goes - a lot of this will be complementary to my review of Dark Lord (when I finally get around to reviewing the regular variety).

A - Think quick-dissolving mocha foam, nice ring of lace, pitch black with a hint of red at the edges. It's about all I expect from a 13% RIS.

S - Vanilla! Plus it still maintains all the other great notes from the Dark Lord aroma - roasted malt, leather, tobacco, coffee, booze, etc. The authentic and potent vanilla just pushes an already great-smelling brew to the next level.

T - The taste is a tiny step down from the smell, with the vanilla overpowering some of the more subtle elements. There's still plenty of burnt malt, tobacco, leather, and surprisingly very little heat.

M - Thick, near milk-shake consistency, with tons of residual stickiness, and low carbonation. This is the way RISes should be down - other brewer's take note.

D - The vanilla gets a little palate fatiguing, and the high ABV is also a limiting factor, but my wife and I had no problems finishing a few pours of this one. Highly recommended. (1,161 characters)

Photo of bulldogp04
4.55/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours pitch black with a minimal head, very similar to regular Dark Lord.

Smell: Aromas of chocolate, slightly roasted malt, and of course VANILLA....not overpowering on the vanilla like some might indicate.

Taste: The best bottle of Dark Lord you have ever had with an amazing hint of sweet vanilla. Roasted malts, chocolate malt, burnt sugar, slight bit of hops and dark fruit, although not nearly as much as in years past. Vanilla was simply a fantastic addition to this thick and viscous beer.

Mouthfeel: Full-bodied, viscous, chewy....everything you'd expect from the king of stouts. (603 characters)

Photo of badbeer
4.52/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Black with a tan head that does a decent job sticking around. Aroma is of vanilla, molasses, only a touch of bourbon, licorice, and caramel. Taste has plenty of vanilla in it, bourbon is hidden pretty well, some syrupy flavors, and dark fruit. Full bodied with light carbonation. I liked this better than the Oak Aged Dark Lord this year, seemed a lot smoother. (361 characters)

Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.72/5  rDev +2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Onyx black body with a small tan head. In both aroma and taste, it's everything you've come to expect from dose of Dark Lord, but now crammed to the brim with vanilla, though definitely moreso in the aroma than taste. Jaw-droppingly smooth body and an absolute joy to have enjoyed this well before noon. Helped to soothe the hectic nature of this year's DLD. Hats off to you, Three Floyds. (389 characters)

Photo of bainard
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Let's preface this review with some backstory:

I biked to DLD 2008 from the near NW side of Chicago. It was about 30 miles down to Munster. After leaving at about 8AM, arriving at 11, the one thing I needed the most upon my arrival on a very windy day was a friggin' beer. Luckily, I'd come to the right place. I grabbed a Dreadnaught on cask and a Vanilla Dark Lord while my comrades held me a place in line. I gladly shared the Dreadnaught while hording the Dark Lord for my own, exhausted self. I just recently found my notes for this wonderful treat.

A - The plastic cup gives this one a more collegiate feel. Weird, but charming. Black, Black, Black beer (maybe a sepia note) with sediment lacing the sides of the cup, like sediment while one pans for gold, except you're drinking the gold. Minimal khaki head.

T - Dark Lord. With Vanilla. That's all you really need to know. Roasty malt, soy sauce, molasses, coffee are the dominating notes here besides the indomitable vanilla.

M - If you told me this was a milkshake made with vanilla ice cream and dark lord, I would not have argued with you.

D - One of these had me forgetting about the 45-50 km/h wind and the bike-ride exhaustion. One's all you need. This ruled. (1,229 characters)

Photo of atrus138
4.97/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Note: Some of this is copied from my review of the original Dark Lord, since it shares a lot as far as appearance and mouthfeel go.

Everytime I've described a beer as looking like motor oil has been a lie. THIS is a beer that looks like motor oil. No head whatsoever. This beast is far too dense for a head. It has its own gravity and pulls any head into itself. The glass is absolutely stained yellow after drinking. Epic. As far as smell goes, I've never been more excited to drink a beer after smelling this. It's rare to smell a beer so aggressive in its sweetness. However, despite the extreme sweetness of the smell, it's not TOO sweet. It's more of a naturally sweet smell. Taste is absolutely delicious. For me, it was a glimpse of heaven. Pure sweetness. Everything I could hope for in a beer. Chocolate, coffee, vanilla, brown sugar, and dark fruits. Sheer bliss. After swallowing, it's like my entire digestive system up to and including my stomach is coated with this stuff. Normally, with such a huge beer, I'm a bit more conservative with dropping a 5, but I would have this anytime I can.

This is a totally, and in my opinion, much better beer than Dark Lord, and that is saying something. The scores are the same for each, but the 5s on the smell and taste on these have more teeth to them. (1,308 characters)

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

Poured into a plastic cup at DLD. Pitch black again, and a rich smell of vanilla and chocolate and sweet malt. Fresh scraped vanilla bean flavor in this one. Creamy, chocolately decadent flavor. Very light carbonation, but enough. Like dessert in a cup, but still somewhat balanced. Less soy sauce like character in this one, which I liked. My favorite version of DL. (367 characters)

Photo of beachbum1975
4.42/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Notes taken from DLD on 4/26/2008. Finally made it to my 75th review and here it is...

Appearance: Pours SUPER, UBER thick. Definitely the thickest, chunkiest beer I have ever seen in a glass. If fact, it's so thick, it reminds me of the blob, because when you shake it in the small glass, legs don't form on the walls, but rather a brownish sludge with like black specks of the Mexican Vanilla bean, beige granules, etc. Blackish brown, ominous and murky. No sunlight can penetrate through this badboy. It looks like the grim reaper fermented some Dinty Moore beef stew!

Smell: Smell was amazing. A super creamy, natural vanilla bean and alcohol hit me first. Further sniffing yielded almost a slight cherriness, black licorice and heavily roasted malts.

Taste: Cream and vanilla jumped out at first. This, as can be expected, is FULL bodied and a dinner all unto itself. Flavors are SO rich, dark and flavorful, my brain was doing somersaults. Again, extremely rich and hearty with flavors with linger in your mouth for some time. Moderate alcohol, after vanilla burst subsided. Vanilla enriched Dark Lord says it all. Lots and lots going on.

Mouthfeel: Thick, thick, thick and full body with many levels of complex dark flavors. Flavor lasted a while after drinking it. Little to no carbonation, just super gooey and rich.

Drinkability: Great sipper, but by no means a sessionable beer. I really enjoyed the portion given to me off tap, but I think one was enough for my palate. (1,486 characters)

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

Poured from the taps at 3F's, DLD-08. The liquid is opaque black, with lots of sediment and mild carbonation. Not much of a chocolate mocha head and minimal lace.

The smell is just beautiful, mildly sweet and creamy vanilla beans in a thick stout of dark chocolate and coffee.

The taste is exceptional, really a smooth and easy drinking big beer. The flavor of DL aged with Vanilla is very good indeed. I might even like it more then the original and Oak Aged.

The mouthfeel is big and thick not too sticky but the sediment does not help, the carbonation is trapped in the thick liquid just trying to escape.

The drinkability is very very good, I thought this one would be good but did not think it would be this good.

Prosit und Zum Wohl, MK (747 characters)

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.5/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

(Served in a semi-transparent plastic cup)

A- This beer had an inky black body that stains the cup with every slosh and no sign of carbonation or light is visible. There is a bit of a dark tan head that fades before it makes it to my hand. The thin ring of dark tan head last for the beer.

S- The first smell is like a black molasses custard with a soft fusel heat at the finish. There is a nice black roasted malt nose with hints of tar, and charcoal. The vanilla comes through softer and has a slight sweetness to it.

T- The big black bitter inky taste of black malt has notes of black-strap molasses without the metallic or sweet notes, tar, and black prunes. The finish is has a nice bitterness with a good amount of fusel alcohol taste. After a few sips I notice the vanilla bean that taste a bit sweeter and does a nice job of off-setting the dark malt flavors.

M- This beer has a medium mouthfeel that is sticky in texture but thins out nicely with the alcohol heat at the finish.

D- This monster is all dark lord with some nice accents from the vanilla bean. I don't think it would be possible to have the vanilla flavor overpower the beer. This is a young beer and the fusel alcohol is pretty hot, and I think age could really help this beer get cleaned up. (1,274 characters)

Photo of kkipple
4.8/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Ok. Alright. Stop the presses. This may just have been the best beer I've had, ever. Read my over-long review of Dark Lord. Sublime. Then tack on an absurd smoothness and some new flavors courtesy of the vanilla beans, and you have this masterpiece. Somehow, it's even sweeter and smoother than the pedestrian (ha!) Dark Lord. A dessert beer? A deathbed beer? Who knows or cares when you're tasting this?

I may never have it again, but stars above, this was heavenly. If you attended Dark Lord Day '08, and tried it... well brother, you KNOW.

Absolutely spectacular. I cannot praise it enough. (595 characters)

Photo of Slatetank
4.87/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I am glad I had the opportunity to try this at Dark Lord Day. Review taken from notes.

A - Markedly dark as used motor oil w/ a faint chestnut rim, headless w/ legs that stick like dark brown sugar water or port wine.

S - Creme brulee, vanilla as intense custard - slightly floral like the bean derived from the opium plant. Sweet dry sponge cake/angel food w/ a slight bean and sugar cookie like aroma dipped in melted chocolate.

M - Thick, syrupy and gently sweet for all of the malt fullness. Relatively still as far as carbonation goes, w/ dry earthiness and oily bean in the finish w/ subtle booziness.

T - A fine custardy and light cream taste w/ hints at eggcream and creme brulee w/ sweet toasted graham cracker and caramelize brown sugar and perhaps a smattering of bittersweet cocoa and more super concentrated pure vanilla bean goodness infused in custardy stout w/ caramel accents. The flavor is rummy w/ a hint of hops. The pine notes of the hops make the taste far from cloying, just nice and sippable - The taste is intense to say the least. A veery dessert like vanilla flavor that lingers coating the mouth and allowing the dessert impression last for a long while.

D - I loved this sweet, but more vanilla version of Dark Lord. The vanilla intensity was great and undeniable in the ale, bordering on spirits in flavor w/ rich smooth maltiness and possibly less drinkable than the more dry oaked version, but still tenacious and intense all the way through. The kind of beer you want to sip and savor for hours (1,532 characters)

Photo of hrking
4.95/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

had this on DLD 08 @ The FFF pub..I think I was the 5th person through the door when it opened!...This one was the main target on my list even though I had the Bourbon Barrel and the Vanilla at the same time just so I didn't half to wait for the attention to come my way again..
The Vanilla was very present up front and was noticeable immediately from the first sip. There was a thick mouth feel,very thick almost the consistency of drinking thick pear juice..Pitch black ,over due motor oil change black with a small dark tan quickly dissipated almost non existent head..The taste was awesome to say the least..I have never had anything like it and probably never will again. Surprisingly easy to drink ,but this one is a sipper for sure, just goes down leaving you wanting another. I did notice the pours coming from the bar were getting a little bigger as other cups and glassware came out..They started with 4-5oz pours and quickly started going to 6-8oz pours so I grabbed 2 to go for my buddies in line outside and shared with them!
Might as well forget about putting this one on your want list it was a 1 barrel thing on that day and is gone..It was $6 a pour and if I had a bottle and the $ I could have probably filled a growler..But my $ was spoken for from the bottled Dark Lord..Long live the mid evil madness! (1,325 characters)

Photo of Atron67
4.42/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

had this on tap at DLD. just found my notes and so putting it in.

A- dead black body with only the tinyest amount of head anywhere on it.

S- huge huge vanilla character that is almost overwhelming. it is kept really good however though because even though the vanilla is really strong, the roasted dark malts underneath stay with it and give it a great complexity.

T- the taste of the vanilla is much more subdued here. it blends in really well with the rest. a little sweeter than i was expecting but not really sweet either. strong roasted characther. very strong and delicious. a great sipper that was highly enjoyed

M- hugely creamy as well. very light carbonation, lingers on the tongue a long while

D- pretty damn awesome, one of the many great DLD brews i got to drink but sadly none to bring home (810 characters)

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

On tap at DLD, 2008.

Opaque, black. In the light of day with the sun shining brightly, had just a bit of brown at the edges. Thick & viscous, lots of leg and no lacing. No head, just a few stray bubbles at the edge, dark brown in color.

Scent that first struck me was vanilla, very strong. This was a very sweet smelling beer. Roast character was not really coming through a whole lot. The dark fruit character was present, somewhere between the regular DL and the OADL.

Taste was more sweet than bitter, and was similar to the aroma. Vanilla, , dark chocolate, hint of coffee and molasses. Fruit character very strong, like a port. Very mild herbal bittering at the finish.

Mouthfeel was fantastic, but again, to me, not quite as good as the bottled version. Thick, smooth body. Minimal carbonation. Quite sweet. Alcohol starts to warm you up quickly.

An exceptional stout, and with the exception of the mouthfeel, every bit as good as the regular DL. Unlike the OA, which to me covers up some of the complexity that I enjoyed in the regular version, the vanilla just adds additional flavor notes. (1,104 characters)

Photo of GbVDave
4.9/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a 16oz cup at Three Floyds 4/26/08. Thanks to HeatherAnn for the assist!

A: Black, black, black. Used motor oil from a Diesel engine black. Small and creamy dark brown head.

S: Unbelievable aromas of chocolate, vanilla, dark fruit, brown sugar/molassas, rye bread, cherry, and a bit of booze.

T: See above. It's crazy how so much flavor is packed inside this beer.

M: Sticky! This sticks to everything. Like drinking a RIS milkshake.

D: Suffers slightly, like all the other Dark Lords, from the appearance of alcohol towards the end of the glass. (562 characters)

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

sampled at DLD 08. I am a huge vanilla fan. This was the smoothest richest best tasting beer i have every had. It let me CRAVING more. color was very dark just a shade under black. Smell was as good as the taste. The vanilla to me wasnt overwhelming, just enough during the aftertaste. They need to think about doing think again. (329 characters)

Photo of beckje01
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

So I must have been lucky or something I was served this on DLD 08 in an actual glass which was a Goblet with a short stem.

It has wonderful nose which has lots of vanilla and malt very inviting and nice. It was very black with a thin left over of some head maybe this pour sat a bit before being sold not sure. But the taste is amazing everything very well balanced and just a nice extra layer over top DL. It is a very drinkable beer and has no need for aging. The mouth feel is perfect a great thick coating that is just really enjoyable to drink.

Overall I would love to see this bottled as well but not sure that will ever happen. (639 characters)

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

DLD on tap, both at DLD 08 and 09, unfortunately served in a plastic cup.

Pitch black, with a foamy but small head, caramel colored.
Great aroma, bringing dark fruits, roasted malts and coffee, but the vanilla mixed very well, a lot better than I expected.
It is very creamy, with the same notes expected from the aroma. I usually do not think vanilla adds that much to beers, but I believe given the overall strength of this one, it made for a nice variation, incredibly well balanced.
I would love to get a bottle of something like this, but I guess I should be happy enough I got the regular bottle.
Very well done, another spectacular DL version. (654 characters)

Photo of bgramer
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had this at DLD on tap.

This is a hell of a beer. Black as Satan's spawn with a tan ring around my plastic cup coating it's thick inkiness. Thick and creamy, with a slight wooden taste, but the vanilla really mixed well with the chocolate, dark fruits, caramel, and coffee flavors. The hops weren't as pronounced, and this was pretty smooth - dangerously drinkable. (366 characters)

Photo of thickerfreakness
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Served in a short, squat glass at DLD 08.

This beer was black as night with no head at all. A very small, dark brown ring of foam lined the glass. This smells incredible, coffee and chocolate with a great vanilla smell taking over everything. The taste combined with the mouthfeel make this like an amazing chocolate and coffee milk shake with the right amount of vanilla to balance out the flavors from the regular dark lord. After sharing this sample and the oak aged dark lord with a friend I felt pretty good. An exceptional beer. (535 characters)

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