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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

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261 Reviews
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Reviews: 261
Hads: 1,270
Avg: 4.64
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 3,863
Gots: 229 | FT: 9
Brewed by:
3 Floyds Brewing Co. visit their website
Indiana, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  15.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: mcallister on 04-27-2008

Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout aged in a variety of Bourbon barrels with vanilla beans.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 261 | Hads: 1,270
Photo of roger617
4.79/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Acquired Dark Lord Day 2014 with a lucky scratch off. The bottle number scratched off, I know it was in the 300's ending in a 9. Bottle poured into snifter glass, consumed and reviewed on 6/14/14.

A: Pours very thick with a thin layer of mocha colored head that reduces quickly and leaves no lacing. The color is definitely black, but it appeared slightly brown during the pour.
S: Very strong aroma of toasted marshmallow, vanilla and chocolate. The bourbon is subtle, even as the glass warms up.
T: This beer unbelievably tastes like a roasted marshmallow. The 15% is masked so well I wouldn't believe it if I didn't know going in. All the other flavors take a back seat, but have enough of a presence to compliment nicely. Chocolate, bourbon, some dark fruits, and sugar. I get the base coming through more as the beer warms up.
M: The feel is thick and rich. Carbed well for a heavy beer. It feels silky smooth.
O: This is an incredible upgrade from the base beer. The additional elements blend nicely, and I love the marshmallow presence all the way through. I do wish the bourbon had a stronger presence though, however that is just personal preference.

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Photo of mr_g00dkat
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

The last beer that I had at DLD 2014. An amazing representation of a BA RIS, the vanilla was prevalent but not overwhelming.

A - jet black, little to no head at all, super thick.

S - smells of dark fruit, bourbon, hints of vanilla.

T - syrupy heaven with vanilla and BA characteristics.

M - viscus and velvety, coats the entire mouth, very chewy and lingering.

O - excellent beer, one of my favorite BA RIS. I just wish I would have been about to try this beer first instead of last. Cannot wait to get my hands on a bottle of this, come hell or high water.

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Photo of Jd2391
4.94/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Figure the best beer to write my first full review!

2013 bottle #344 of 711

A: Pitch black motor oil with no head at all

S: Vanilla punch with chocolate and marshmallow

T: Here is where it lives up to the hype. Amazing taste. Sweet vanilla chocolate bourbon marshmallow. Get the base dark lord beer in the background which was just okay when I had it but then multiplies that quality of the taste by 200 percent with the addition of vanilla and bourbon.

M: Is thick as you would expect from any high quality stout

O: Amazing beer and very lucky to have won with my golden ticket. Just hope this won't be the last time that I get to try this amazing beer.

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Photo of gueuzedreg
4.76/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2014 mini-rereview: bottle tasted like vanilla extract compared with '13. Bottle #2

2013 bottle #535

A- Black motor oil viscous with faint yellow

S- So much vanilla and marshmallow. Bourbon background, fig, caramel in background.

T- By far the biggest vanilla that I have ever had out of any beer. You have to drink this one fresh. I can't imagine how aging does anything for this beer. My favorite BB Stout that I have had. Where Chocolate Rain has the vanilla, but it goes overboard on the sweetness diabetes; this beer is just right.

M- Nothing too special here. Run of the mill top tier BA Stout feel.

O- Definitely worth a try once in your lifetime. Would I go back for another bottle? Probably not due to what it takes to get this bottle, and the fact that you can't age this beer in your cellar; but worth the try just on the vanilla aspect itself.

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Photo of Sandbarunner
4.59/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a 2012. Got it from a friend and held onto it for a while.

Is it worth the hype??? Well, this beer is awesome! Super heavy booze note when opening. Drank it at 65 degrees. But it fell completely off almost instantly. It hits really hard and then...Gone!

To be perfectly honest! Find a Blendiculous#1 and trade your Dark Lord for it!

Even an Event Horizon from the same date would be better serve. I really wanted this beer to be perfect. Not every beer is perfect!


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Photo of IrishColonial
4.69/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Many thanks to siege06nd for snagging this bottle for my 30th bday.

A: inky black motor oil, not much head. The head that is there is nice eggshell creamy color.

S: chocolate covered marshmallow, lots of vanilla, still some wood hanging around. Liquid candy.

T: liquid chocolate marshmallows with some smooth bourbon flavor. No heat from the bourbon at all. Still some base Dark Lord taste comes through-molasses, asphalt, soy sauce-which is not my favorite, but easily overcome by the barrel and vanilla. A bit sweet but not syrupy.

M: thick creamy viscous engine oil. Dark and coats the tongue but a light feeling keeps it from being cloying.

O: one of the best beers I've had. It would likely be better if fresher but this is outstanding. The mouthfeel and the way the bourbon and vanilla flavors integrate but also mostly blot out the offensive base Dark Lord flavors.

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Photo of homebrew311
4.52/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Sampled 2012 and 2013 side by side. Will review the 2012 vintage. Pours a thick brownish black. The nose is loaded with vanilla bean paired with deep dark fruits, currants, chocolate, berries, and boozy bourbon. The vanilla bean manages to stand above the rest of the flavors which is impressive considering how bold of a beer Dark Lord is. The taste is very sweet like the base beer, but the barrel aging and addition of vanilla take it to a much different level. I find the base beer to be a bit too sweet, but when the sweetness is tempered with bourbon and vanilla, it just works. There is still a fair amount of boozieness, but it is tame compared to the base. Mouthfeel is thick and mildly carbonated. Overall, this beer is very good. I don't know that it meets the monumental level of hype it has surrounding it, but it is delicious nonetheless.

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Photo of BarrytheBear
4.41/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared by Chad...thank you very much for the opportunity.

Dark and mostly still

Smells of sweet vanilla and melted chocolate

An extremely rich and sweet beer that has its bourbon presence overshadowed by the gobs of vanilla and marshmallow that throw their blanket all over the base beer. Bourbon plays a gentle but distant second fiddle. Residual sugars hang out like the tough guys they are...thumbing their jeans and smoking their heaters. Really rich but handles its abv well.

There are some nice flavors here that mark a definite improvement on the base and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to try this bottle without giving up what this beer would require in a trade. That said, unless you're one of those fortunate BA's who has unlimited funds and/or cellars, no beer is worth what this beer demands. I personally thought the TG Assassin we drank prior was a more enjoyable overall beer. Drink your great beers, don't chase whales...stupid term anyways...and if your life's happiness really depends on whether you have the chance to drink this beer...find good people who like to share.

A nice beer...but not a life changer.

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Photo of MCain04
4.21/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks Kieran for opening this up for us! 2013 vintage. Poured out at slightly below cellar temp.

The pour is surprisingly light, was expecting a darker motor oil pour. Little head, if any.

The smell on this is heavy, heavy on the vanilla. Definitely a lot of sweetness, from vanilla, malts, and bourbon. You get some additional toffee, caramel, and roasty notes, but dominated by vanilla.

The taste is so vanilla-heavy it's insane. It really does overpower most of the other flavor profiles. The bourbon and barrel notes play nicely off the base beer, which is cloyingly sweet at baseline. Unfortunately there is a pretty apparent metallic taste that doesn't fully resolve with warming.

Mouthfeel is smooth, low carb, medium bodied. Sticky finish.

Overall, this is a sweet, sweet beer, which is one of the most vanilla-forward beers I've ever tried. The metallic taste was a big set back for me though. This was beat out by Black Tuesday and Melange 1 in our tasting, in my opinion. Given the price of admission, between what it takes to trade for and even the price tag for purchasing, there are better beers out there. This is overhyped, in my humble opinion!

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Photo of starshockey9
4.58/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This was my birthday brew, full bottle to the dome.
2012 version. Bottle #695 of 934.

A. While pouring seems a tad light but once it's in the glass, perfectly black with barely any head.

S. The aroma hits you as soon as the cap comes off and my god, one of the best smells ever. Nice bourbon, raisin, and vanilla.

T. Holy cow! This is top notch. The bourbon flavor comes through real nicely. Then you get hit with the vanilla in the end. The two flavors mingle excellently.

M. If the appearence, smell, and taste doesn't win you over, the mouthfeel will. Not too thick but in no means light. It is just perfect. It coats your mouth leaving you craving more.

O. Im a sucker for barrel aged beers and vanilla beers but this one takes the cake. Alcohol is very well hidden, not to boozy, and not too sweet. I now truly understand why it trades so high. Wish i could get another bottle. Best beer I've had to date. Thank you three floyds!

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Photo of vinny21bal
4.94/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I can't say much more then this is the best Stout out there if you get the chance to try it. The nose, mouth, flavor, everything is almost flawless. We opened it with a year of age on it and it was amazing. I was very pleased with it. And $50.00 is a steal to try this beer.

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Photo of nrs207
4.95/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Had alongside the base beer. 2013 vintages for both.

A - Quite dark, has a little tan head. It looks a little darker and a little better than the base beer.

S - Smells like some sort of vanilla/brownie mixture. Incredible. There's just a hint of the barrel, but it's nice because it lets the vanilla and chocolatey aromas shine through. I have no idea how this is the same beer as the non-barrel aged version.

T - Just like the smell. Loads of vanilla and fudge. It's truly a dessert beer, but at the same time I could've had the entire bottle. The bourbon barrel is just barely there, cutting the sweetness just a bit. It's as sweet as I'd like this type of beer to be. When it's around room temp, I get a little alcohol, but very light and only when it's very warm. Hides it extremely well.

M - Smooth, rich, creamy, no burn from the alcohol. It's almost perfect. I think if it was just a tiny bit fuller it would've gotten a 5.

O - I'm so happy this lived up to the hype. Took a lot to get, but I think it was worthwhile. One of the best beers I've had.

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Photo of FondueVoodoo
4.46/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Rutager for opening this up as part of a bottle share. 2013 vintage (492/711).

A: Pours completely black with about 1 finger of tan coloured hear which quickly dissipated.

S: Huge upfront notes of vanilla, burnt toffee and sweet sugars - similar to a toasted marshmallow. Background notes of milk chocolate, sweet malts and molasses.

T: Follows the scent with vanilla, toffee and toasted marshmallows. Notes of dark dried fruit of plums and cherries in the background.

M: Thick and oily body with minal to non-existent carbonation.

O: This was an amazing dessert beer and while sweet, it wasn't offputting in any way. Perfect to share with friends in front of a fire on a cold winter night.

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Photo of Rutager
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Rodkin for this long time want. 2013 bottle (492/711) drank with the 2013 base beer and shared between 6 at last night's tasting.

Appearance. Pours thick and black with just a ring of light brown head.

Smell. Big vanilla and sweet chocolate. Much sweeter nose than the base beer. Marshmallows (maybe toasted marshmallows), toffee, and a touch of molasses. Had my nose in this one for a while and kept coming back for more.

Taste. Sweet toffee, vanilla and marshmallows, light amount of cherries and dark fruit, and burnt sugar. Sweet, but not like syrup. The level of sweetness goes really well with the flavours.

Mouthfeel. Full body, low carbonation, a little bit sticky.

Overall. Great beer. Very sweet with flavours reminiscent of candy, a great desert. This was shared between 6 of us and was about the right amount. I couldn't imagine drinking even half a bottle to myself. Would love to have it again but certainly won't be seeking out another for what it trades for.

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

A: Black as night with minimal head.

S: Vanilla, marshmallows, bourbon.

T: Bourbon, marshmallows, vanilla, candy, toffee, caramel, chocolate.

M: thick with low carbonation.

O: magic in a glass. It could use more carbonation, however. Very smooth considering the alcohol content.

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Photo of TheBronze
4.96/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2013 bottle #216 of 711
Opened on 9/14/13 and shared with three friends.
Poured into a Hill Farmstead raised snifter.

A - Pours dark and viscous as you would expect. Little to no head with slight bubbles forming. It was hard to spend much time on the appearance because of…

S - The smell. Dear Dark Lord, the smell. Toasted marshmallows soaked in bourbon, vanilla, toffee, carmel, chocolate. I waited to take my first sip for some time. The experience of smelling this beer was just so enjoyable, I didn’t want it to pass.

T - Taste mostly follows the nose but the marshmallow is not as present. Vanilla leads but is well integrated. A viscous, creamy blend of vanilla, chocolate, toffee, carmel, bourbon with very subtle features of the base Dark Lord pleasantly present in the background to remind you of the beer’s origins. Decadent, but by no means over the top. I could have easily and happily handled at least half the bottle of this if not more. The stout is somewhat sweet, but again the sweetness is simply a feature of it and is not dominant. Just delicious.

M - Lightly carbonated and full bodied. Coats the mouth nicely, and there is nothing cloying about this. Very smooth, and easy to sip and savor. Alcohol is well hidden. A very full bodied stout.

O – This is probably the best beer I’ve ever had. It is hard for beers such as this to live up to the hype, but I must say that this one does. I even sealed the empty bottle overnight just so I could smell it again the next day. I certainly hope to enjoy it again someday.

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Photo of cradke
4.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Pitch black. A thin head around the edge. Very little carbonation.

Smell: Roasty dark notes with super sweet bourbon. Almost like smelling toasted marshmallow smores.

Taste: Very bourbon forward. Sweet. Integrated very well.

Mouthfeel: A bit thinner than I would have expected or hoped for. Spreads very well across the palate.

Overall: This was a very good beer. Was this a world beater? Na uh. Extremely well integrated and wonderful bourbon notes, but lacking in complexity compared to the Port BA Dl and not as well integrated or as BCS. Sidebar: Cuvee de Port BA DL+BVDL+BCBCS was without a doubt the best beer I have ever had. Hands down.

Notes:2012 edition, Bottle #413/934

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Photo of dboon
4.88/5  rDev +5.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle # 766. Dark brown pour with a tan head. Coco puff nose. Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. This beer is freakin’ awesome with all kinds of chocolate, caramel, and smooth roasted malt goodness. Sweet and delicious with a great body and mouthfeel. Outstanding....

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Photo of Luk13
4.07/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle. Pours a dark opaque black with reddish highlights and minimal head. Aroma is decadent withbourbon, fudge, hazelnut, vanilla and some spices. Very good. Flavor is more straightforward with bourbon, chocolate and hazelnut. Intense sweetness, not too cloying because of the bourbon and alcohol. Palate is a little thin for such a big beer. Not up to GI Rare standards. A slightly better than average bourbon barrel stout.

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Photo of beerhan
4.66/5  rDev +0.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Bottle shared in celebration of my birthday. Think cocoa marshmallows being slowly churned while bourbon is dripped in one drop at a time.

A-Jet black, virtually no head but a faint tan lacing.

S-Char, vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, molasses, and plum

T-So much going on here. Initially there is a bourbon/dark fruit kick. The bourbon however is very muted in comparison to the standard bourbon barrel dark lord. Once this initial flash is gone there is a overpowering vanilla bean flavor with some toffee and hershey like milk chocolate that is very subtle.

M-This beer is dangerously smooth. Almost no burn for the alcohol content. Very light body in comparison to other bourbon barrel aged stouts. Beautiful, 'nuff said.

O-It really is that good. The only thing I disliked really about this beer is that it is hardly reminiscent of the base beer. I enjoy the dark fruit flavors of the standard version and it seems like those are completely gone. Amazing, delicious and I could drink a gallon of it. Cheers!

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Photo of kdmcguire10
4.67/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Gorgeous beer with silky appearance and a half finger mocha head.

Smell is obviously tons of fresh vanilla bean. Also a big roasty profile and some booze soaked figs.

Taste is like an incredible dessert beer. Super sweet, to the point of being cloying. The vanilla comments the beer perfectly but the residual sugars start to overpower the beer. A little less and the beer would be more balanced

Luxurious mouthfeel. Thick, coats your mouth and lingers. The sugar sticks to your lips long after your swallow. Woke up the next morning and it still coated my mouth

Overall this is a great beer. My preference would be to get the sugar level down just a tad to let the other aspects of this beer come into the spotlight a bit more

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Photo of kevanb
3.98/5  rDev -14.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.75

750ml bottle, 2012 vintage, poured into a Three Floyds mini snifter.

The beer pours a deep black color, but with obvious hues of brown, a thick khaki head appears briefly but vanishes quickly, leaving no lace or retention behind. The aroma is of heavy marshmallow character, bourbon, light oak, vanilla and lots of cane sugar. The flavors are right in line with the nose, vanilla, burnt marshmallow, bourbon, some charred barrel that plays nicely with the marshmallow, cane sugar and a bit of chocolate. The body is luscious, silky, rich and super smooth, coats the mouth well and finishes with a nice warming tingle.

Verdict: An interesting take on Dark Lord. The marshmallow profile is quite nice, but the beer is shockingly sugary and sweet, even for Dark Lord, and for that fact alone, I struggled to finish more than 2 ounces. The balance is decent, but each flavor and nuance seems to make this beer sweeter and more decadent, which isn't really my thing. I can understand the buzz and the hype surrounding this beer, but it's just not for me.

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

July 3, 2013 - bottle shared by Joe. This will be rating 1492 for me (on RB), the year that Columbus discovered America. Fitting since this beer marks my discovery of something that is at the same level as Goose Island’s BCS Rare. Yes, what I thought was my one and only 5.0 rating now has a companion. How can I say this is as good as Rare? Well after drinking, my wife and I say to Joe that it is one of the best beers we have ever had, but not sure it is better than Rare. What does Joe go and do, yes he pulls a Rare out of his cellar and we do a blind impromptu tasting!!! I admit on this day the Vanilla DL was better than the Rare (I was able to choose each correctly), but the Rare did not taste quite as good as when I had it initially. I can’t thank Joe enough for his generosity on this night. I guess I will put some actual beer comments in now. Of course this was a black pour with tan head. The aroma and taste were magical blends of chocolate, vanilla and bourbon. Each one in perfect harmony that created an other worldly experience. 2012 vintage, bottle 408 of 934.

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Photo of ThickNStout
4.54/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

22oz (ish- it seems larger than a 22oz but smaller than a 750mL) bottle scored at Dark Lord Day 2013. Served in a Dogfish Head snifter.

Pours oil black with a thin wisp of brown foan. "Head" recedes to a tiny halo that leaves no lace.

Aromas of vanilla, kalua, oaky bourbon and booze. Nice!

Smooth sweet mix of vanilla, mellow bourbon, creamed coffee, caramel, alcohol, cherries and syrup. It's still sweet like the base Dark Lord but with so much more going on to carry the sweetness. Fantastic vanilla notes that play well off of the booze. Good stuff.

Rich, thick, syrupy full feel, light on carbonation. Vanilla bean ice cream finish.

Outstanding. A fantastic variation and upgrade to an already excellent base stout. Incredibly sweet and complex. Super glad I got to try this.

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

Had on tap on DLD 2013, and at a bottle share in May 2015. Beer doesn't get any better than this. It looks like it should, smells like it should, and tastes even better than it should. No perceivable burn, even at 15%. Simply the best beer I've had. It lives up to the hype.

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