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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: 3,923
Gots: 236 | 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 mikesgroove
4.77/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I am thrilled to finally be able to try this one. Long, long time I have waited to be able to type up this review, but alas, the beer has finally been enjoyed!

The pour was black as night with a deep, dark color that no light could penetrate. Nice chocolate head of about an inch cameup initially but then settled down to a bare top that just lookedlike an evil pit of doom The aroma was rich with blackstrap molasses,vanilla beans,hints of alcohol and a ton of roasted malts, interesting, I must go in fora closer look. Theflavor was equally as rich, dare I say wonderful Super sweet notes here of vanilla, molasses, hints of oak and a touch of almost bourbon as it warms. This was an amazingly complex beer. Super full bodied with that huge feel that you really only find in the dark lord, you know what I mean. A huge beer that you know is every bit as strong as you thought it would be, but for some reason is just soo damn smooth, you just cannot stop drinking it. Wonderful, simply wonderful.

Overall all I can say is I am glad I could finally try this beer. I have been waiting forever to tackle this one, it has been a good day.

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Photo of paco1029384756
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Pours pure black with a small tan head.

Scent of vanilla, chocolate, and roasted malts. Doesn't seem like much but it smells excellent, like dessert in a glass.

Taste is great, but not quite as good as the scent; vanilla, chocolate, and roasted malts are there in full force. Better than Oak Aged Dark Lord.

Mouthfeel is heavy bodied, thick, and smooth with very little carbonation.

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Photo of youngblood
4.92/5  rDev +6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A - Poured a dark brown. Reminded me of Cocoa. Had a small tannish head.
S - Smelled strongly of vanilla (duh), cream, espresso, chocolate, slight alcohol. Very complex, vanilla might be a bit over the top though.
T - Woah. Very creamy vanilla flows onto the tongue. Has an amazing depth to it. Chocolate, coffee, slight nut, flavors really go on and on here.
M - Great mouthfeel. Very full and smooth. Slightly chewy.
D - Way high drinkability for a 13%+ beer. Alcohol is hidden very well.

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Photo of nrbw23
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I missed this one at '08 Dark Lord Day so this is one that was must for this year.

A- Pretty much like the DL that I drank on tap minutes before this one. Pitch black with a nice brown head.

S- Just like the regular version with the exception of vanilla. Wow make that a ton of vanilla.

T- Thought it tasted just like DL with an up in your face vanilla. Wonderful my favorite of the three DL.

M- Big full and I think a little bit lighter in carbonation than the regular.

D- Very awesome beer wish I had some more.

I had all three of these pretty much back to back and gonna give the edge to the vanilla bean but I don't think you could go wrong with any of them. Nice work!

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.59/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Dark Lord Day 2009.

A: Very dark, nearing black, with a small dark tan head.

S: Very similar to regular Dark Lord, but not with an overpowering--in a very, very good way--scent of vanilla.

T: Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. Wow. Tastes of vanilla cake, brown sugar, hints of chocolate. Dark malts galore as hints of coffee and sweetness make their way through.

M: Unbelievably smooth. Little carbonation and sublimely creamy. Again, only modest hints of the presumably-high abv. Creamy vanilla throughout the finish.

D: Simply put, this is by far the best damn beer that I have ever had. Hats off to Three Floyds for taking one of the best beers in the world and making it exponentially better.

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Photo of FtownThrowDown
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

On tap at DLD'09.

I've been holding out hope that this would reappear for this years event after having missed it at last years.
Pours very dark brown almost black with a nice quarter inch of head forming on the pour. Smell is vanilla. Check that. The vanilla in this beer is so decadent and inviting I can't put it into words. Taste is among the best beers I have every had. Very nice creme vanilla in the flavor, plenty of roastiness and coffee show up underneath. This is a monstrosity of a beer. Incredibly smooth and velvety. This was easily among the top beers of the entire weekend. This beer is right up my alley. I could drink a whole lot of this stuff. No sign of the abv in this. Exceptional beer that I could drink everyday.

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

This one and the 08 barrel aged DL will have to come from memory, as I am not going to be that guy to carry around a notebook. I was in DLD for the experience not to walk away with reviews. With that said, what an awesome event!

A: A healthy pour into my plastic cup, really should have brought glassware, but it would have inevitable broke on the parking lot floor. Big and black, minimal head, oily looking, with nice brown swirl on top.

S: Roasted malts, vanilla, tobacco, pleasant sweetness.

T: I focus on the vanilla, the sweetness of this and chocolate really shines. Other elements of the DL are there, but more subtle with the sweetness: Roasted malts, burnt molasses, etc. The vanilla adds a layer of creamy sweetness to an already good beer.

M: Thick as you can be boy! Motor Oil + alcohol :D

D: High ABV presents the biggest challenge to drinking a lot of this stuff, but it's mouthfeel is amazing.

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Photo of Deuane
4.89/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

BIG thanks to Kegatron for getting our group the hookup at DLD.

A-Much like Dark Lord with a deep black/brown body and a reddish tinted dark brown head that reduced to a thin veil and left spotty lace.

S-My verbatim comment upon the initial whiff...This smells just like my grandma's meat and raisin pie WITH vanilla! Wow, this is so nice.

T-Mmmm, mmm. The vanilla really smooths things out and takes the harsh edge off. Lots of vanilla, dark chocolate, brown sugar, caramel and dark roast.

M-Heavy bodied but amazingly smooth and viscous. Long lasting flavours.

D-Off the hook! This takes DL and ramps it up a notch, Without question one of the most tasty, drinkable and interesting beers I have had. Amazing!

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

At DLD '09. What an event and I knew this was going to be available and fortunate enough to have tasted and rated it.

Poured into a plastic cup. It pours like a thick black almost like motor oil. A dark brown head forms minimally but disappears leaving minimal lacing. What I love is the discoloration that is left on the cup when you're finished.

The aroma was as expected with fairly heavy notes of vanilla. The chocolatey tastes are defintely still present with a nice component of brown sugar, which I didn't quite expect.

The taste was a bit too much vanilla for me. I expected a large amount but not quite that much, which overwhelmed me slightly. However, the glorious chocolate and malty sweetness with some coffee still makes it quite good.

The mouthfeel comes across as the standard dark lord. It is very full bodied with a good level of carbonation. It is quite thick but stays reasonably smooth to me. The vanilla again dominated a bit too much and I felt it played out here as well.

It's Dark Lord, need I say more. For my palate, I would have liked the vanilla to be a bit gentler but wow, it is a very good beer and although I probably could not drink a lot of it in a sitting, I will definitely be trying to get my hands on it again at DLD '10.

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Photo of Viggo
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

At DLD 09. Missed this last year and wasn't about to do it again.

Looks like DL, very black, some dark brown highlights, dark brown head, left some lacing on the plastic cup, definitely a RIS. Smell is godly, I feel like the vanilla and age really smoothed it out, big vanilla, chocolate, toffee, roast, brown sugar, cake, very complex. Taste is similar, reminds me of a better and more complex ST Creme Brulee, very heavy vanilla, chocolate, toffee, alcohol, brown sugar, all sorts of good stuff. Mouthfeel is thick and chewy, low to medium carbonation, some warmth but insane drinkable. Wow this stuff was good. I like regular DL and oaked DL but for me this was better.

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

This is the 08 vintage, aged a whole year.

Here's what my notes say:

"God's cum. With Vanilla."

That's stupidly vulgar. Even when I was in high school I wouldn't have thought it was clever. It's the kind of thing a frat boy might say if he were trying to sound hilariously deep. By all rights, I should have tossed it out and written up some better notes.

But here's the thing--it was written in earnest. This beer is vulgar and it is divine, simultaneously the most pornographic and heavenly foodstuff to have ever entered my mouth. This beer is so great it makes even the most juvenile metaphor seem poetic.

There's nothing else for me to say about this beer. I'm not a poet. It was life affirming, how about that? It made me happy to be not dead, and it gave me a reason to keep on living because I will someday get another chance to drink it.

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Photo of jdflyer06
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had this on tap at DLD '09. Drawing a bit from memory and from the fact that its probably still hiding in my mouth somewhere.

A: Black. Light does not penetrate this bad boy. Small bit of head, but nothing substantial and it doesn't stick around. It really does look like an oil slick once touched by human lips.

S: The dark fruits, cherry and alcohol that are present in the standard DL give way to the vanilla and smooth bourbon notes here. Very nice indeed.

M: Smooth, silky and full bodied. It's rich and creamy and finishes nicely with far less carbonation than the standard DL.

T: Plenty of vanilla to be sure. The dark fruits and cherry are not quite there but show up after it has warmed up. I would love for them to bottle this one as well. However, I doubt they ever will. Its sweet and rich and would be great with a slice of cheesecake. This beer was second only to the Canadian Breakfast Stout also tapped at DLD.

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Photo of rhinos00
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of pwoods
5/5  rDev +7.8%
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

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Photo of younger35
4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
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.

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Photo of Sean9689
4.29/5  rDev -7.5%
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!

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Photo of MasterSki
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
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.

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Photo of bulldogp04
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of badbeer
4.52/5  rDev -2.6%
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.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
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.

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Photo of bainard
4.87/5  rDev +5%
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.

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Photo of atrus138
4.97/5  rDev +7.1%
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.

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Photo of JDV
4.55/5  rDev -1.9%
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.

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Photo of beachbum1975
4.42/5  rDev -4.7%
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.

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Photo of MuenchenerKindl
4.92/5  rDev +6%
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

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