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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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(Send Samples)
Reviews: 261
Hads: 1,270
Avg: 4.64
pDev: 9.48%
Wants: 3,857
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 rlee1390
4.7/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Great vanilla flavor. Bourbon is there but mild, some oak. Chocolate as well. The soy sauce present in regular Dark Lord is not found at all. Thick as motor oil. The real deal.

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Photo of Rifugium
3.75/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

2014 vintage side by side with regular '11 DL.

Dark black-brown pour, with a minimal head that held at a tiny ringlet. In the nose, vanilla and mildly sour milk, light notes of roast/coffee. Sweet chocolate and vanilla in the taste, good bourbony warmth, molasses, ashy marshmallow, some icky soy sauce and sour milk, leaving a stale aftertaste and making me want to rinse my mouth out. Still, not overly sweet as I expected. Medium body, not as sumptuous as I like a big stout to be. Decent overall, but not really that great compared to other BA stouts. And certainly nowhere near the value it typically costs to obtain. (Fortunately I got it for basically next to nothing.)

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Photo of TampaRainman
4.76/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

VBDL '14

A: Pours deep dark brown, a shade lighter than the pitch black I suspected and not as oily and thick as I was expecting. Still looks damn good. Not much head. A faint rim.

S: Vanilla, cinnamon, molasses, Vegemite. Marshmallows. Delightfully odd and intriguing. The savory/salty soy-esque notes are in the background of the sweeter smells.

T: Sweet burnt vanilla caramels and dark chocolate Hershey's syrup. Back end bourbon, but make no mistake--this beer belongs on a Sundae.

F: Really soft, nicely viscous and creamy. Full bodied and very pleasant.

O: This is a really tasty beer and the barrel and vanilla treatment surely transforms and elevates the base DL (which I typically enjoy). The sweetness made KBBS (enjoyed side-by-side) taste bitter by comparison. This beer is meant to be shared and enjoyed among several people. You'd have to have a serious sweet tooth to dome this beast.

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Photo of 3_floyds_local_13
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The absolute perfect beer for me. Poured pitch black with no head. Just a straight vanilla bomb in the best way possible. Just delicious toasted marshmallow and vanilla fudgy amazingness. Could not give this thing better marks or I would.

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Photo of ramay86
3.14/5  rDev -32.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Too incredibly sweet to justify such high esteem. Overbearing, cloying, oily.

It's a fine beer, but I honestly don't understand the allure. It's a gimmick, if anything.

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Photo of dar482
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

The beer is black with barely any head

The aroma comes out from just pouring it. Fudge, chocolate, vanilla.

The flavor follows with licorice, huge vanilla bean (like French vanilla ice cream), fudge, brownie, dark fruit, cherry, coconut. The beer is sweet like a dessert beer, but still balanced compared to the base. The beer is extremely clean with a touch of bourbon heat.

This one did not disappoint and is one of the best beers I've ever had. Dangerously delicious and drinkable.

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

So my first review was of the 2011 vbdl I had on draft at dld 2014. Was lucky enough to get a 14 vbdl and sat on it until today. 2 weeks before dld 2015 so almost exactly 1 yyear.pure perfection!!

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Photo of owenbrau
4.98/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Very excited to try this and it did not disappoint! 2014 version, big toasted marshmallow smell with a little bourbon. Taste is chocolate and vanilla up front with a marshmallow finish lingering on the tongue. So drinkable it's scary for 15%. It is one of, if not the best beer, I have ever consumed. Bourbon Barrel stout is my favorite style though I can not see how anyone could not love this beer.

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Photo of deebo
4.75/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2014. Still sweet but the bourbon and vanilla beans really work well here and cut the sweetness intensity a bit. This is a delicious big brew. No hint of alcohol whatsoever. Well done.

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Photo of JonathanC
4.32/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

BVDL 2012, 8 oz pour, nice motor oil pour with dark brown lacing. Vanilla was present in the scent as well as a sweet bourbon aroma.
Beer was very smooth, and hid original dl taste with the vanilla and bourbon. Having a small pour may make this one seem greater than it is, having a glass really allows one to break it down. I am not much of a dl fan and thought that having the vanilla and bourbon was an improvement, but to say the least I have had better stouts. The base beer becomes increasingly present as one drinks. It is a great beer, but one that is overhyped.

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Photo of CuriousMonk
4.37/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The '13 DL was a major let down as it was too cherry/sweet for my tastes, so I was eager to try a '13 BBAVB DL. Pours motor oil black/brownish with a thin mocha head that quickly dissipates without leaving any trace on the glass. Smell is sweet with roasted malts, tons of vanilla, quality dark chocolate, dark roast coffee, vanilla fudge, bourbon, charred wood, coconuts, molasses, caramel, honey, toffee, burnt cookies and hints of sweet soy sauce. The cherry taste from the regular DL is very present along with sweet with roasted malts, tons of vanilla, quality dark chocolate, sweetened dark roast coffee, honey, vanilla fudge, caramel, toffee, fresh oak, bourbon, charred wood, roasted nuts, sweet soy sauce and sweet liquorice candy. Mouthfeel is silky, sticky sweet, round, slightly boozy and near full bodied. Finish is sweet and tiny bitter with roasted malts, dark roast coffee, vanilla essence, bitter chocolate, vanilla fudge, toffee, caramel, bourbon and charred wood. Probably a bit too sweet for my taste, but glad to have tasted the vanilla beans which made this DL a better beer!

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Photo of M-Fox24
4.36/5  rDev -6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Much appreciation goes to Tim

Year: 2013

A: Mocha’ish, but black, thick, and sticky for the most part. Trivial head, minor retention, and maybe some lacing

S: Aroma of chocolate, vanilla, mocha/cocoa, and a marshmallow essence…bourbon, espresso, whiskey, some caramel candy, faint soy sauce, malt, and oak make their way through the nasal path as well

T: Lots of vanilla, bourbon, and very sweet. Reminiscent of the nose with notes of marshmallow, chocolate, malt, etc……..

M: Surprisingly not too syrupy, given how I commented on the sweetness and thickness above. Nonetheless, the body is indeed oily, but pleasant and tasty

O: A very sophisticated brew with many integrated parts

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Photo of larryarms847
5/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Pours motor oil black with a thin layer of caramel tinged foam, thick and viscous, one of the most enticing pours I've ever had.

Heavy and sweet vanilla on the forefront, but not overpowering, is soon met with a sweet and spicy hint of bourbon. Perfectly balanced, if I could smell this all day I would love that.

Smooth and sweet vanilla sits gently upon a rich bourbon backbone. Perfect sipper.

Viscous, sweet, sticky, but enough bourbon to cut through the dessert like flavors to make this a real treat.

Overall, this one will sit in my Top 5 for a long, long time.

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Photo of jzeilinger
4.9/5  rDev +5.6%

A - Pours dark, dark black in color with a very thin toffee colored lacing ring.

S - Vanilla, some sweet caramel, dark chocolate malt, some bourbon effervescence, and hints of oak.

T - Oak, vanilla, sweet chocolate molasses, bourbon, and moderate heat in the back of the throat.

M - Thick, full bodied, slippery, velvet on the tongue and a decent amount of heat.

O - Despite the hype and set the ratings aside, great beer, hands down.

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Photo of Knapp85
4.85/5  rDev +4.5%

So this basically rulz as hard as anything. Poured out jet black with a bit of brown mocha head on top. Subtle ring of foam around the edge of the glass. Light lacing. The smell gives off some boozy vanilla reminiscent of bourbon. Some definite heat on the nose. The taste has big amounts of roasted sweet malt with vanilla. Lingers a bit like candy on the tongue. It's not cloying but leaves a beautiful aftertaste. The mouthfeel could be a little thicker but still remains thick enough for the style. Good slick feel with subtle carbonation. Overall, since it was the fresh batch the heat from the 15% was a little heavy but still very smooth and slick. Highly enjoyable, very thankful that I got to try this from a generous Millerbaffoon. Awesome stuff!

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Photo of phantastiic
2/5  rDev -56.9%

2013 vintage with the orange wax.

Opened on 10/17/14

The 2013 vintage was awful. It smelled like rotten milk and tasted infected. I had 2014 side by side with the 2013 vintage and 2014 blew 2013 bvdl out of the water. Sadly, 2013 was an expensive drain pour for my entire tasting g group. Did not get any marshmallow smell or taste, but lots of the rotten milk smell and taste. Was disgusting.

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Photo of mrn1ceguy
4.75/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

This review reflects the 2012, 2013, and 2014 version, all done with about a year age on each beer. The 2012 was an easy all 5 with a smooth, sweet and tasty BA stout. Then 2013 was over the top sweet, knocking everything done to 4.5 because it was just overwhelming. Then 2014 brought everything together at 4.75 while having a smooth while still sweet BA stout that you could enjoy.

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Photo of tmryan21
4.86/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

2014 Version.

Popped this with a group of friends and family for my 30th birthday. Poured about 7 oz. into a snifter.

Look: Pours like motor oil - black. Very little tan head which disappeared rather quickly.

Smell: A LOT going on here. Marshmallows, chocolate, currants, and vanilla are the easy ones to pick out. Booziness from the bourbon is evident as well.

Taste: Unbelievable. Very sweet and dessert like. It was like drinking a chocolate flavored marshmallows. Booze was evident but not overpowering (maybe due to waiting 5 months to open).

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, thick, creamy, smooth, and, low carbonation. Very little booze burn present.

Overall: Really happy to share with everyone and worth the $50 at DLD 2014. Hoping I will win another golden ticket soon. I would definitely grab this one again, as it lives up to all of the hype.

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5/5  rDev +7.8%

AMAZING... We popped open a 2014 bottle this weekend. Everyone was a little nervous, would it live up to the hype or fall flat on its face. We cut around the wax and POP FEEZ...AROMA.! beautiful strong bourbon barrel with hints of coffee and sweetness.. POUR (snifters) as we all expected thick dark color with a small caramel head that did not stick around long. TASTE... It took a while for everyone to bring the glass to our mouths, even tho the AROMA and POUR gave us more hope that it WAS going to live up to the hype.. So we went for it and AMAZING.. every flavor comes out.. the bourbon barrel..vanilla..coffee and dark fruit sweetness.. beautifully well balanced... it lived up to the hype!!!

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Photo of wpqx
4.75/5  rDev +2.4%

I got to finally capture my white whale at Dark Lord Day 2014, so my review is of the most recent batch. I drank this August 10th, poured into my FFF Teku glass.

The color is similar to regular Dark Lord with a sweet dark layer of head.

Smells incredibly sweet, more vanilla on the nose than bourbon.

Taste is almost unbearably sweet. The vanilla was incredibly strong in this one and to go along with the natural diabetes bomb regular DL is, it was like drinking dessert. Not enough bourbon character, perhaps it needs more time.

Overall, this was a damn good beer. I'm a fan of regular Dark Lord so although it's sweet I would certainly enjoy another bottle. However due to the insane hype and absurd asking price I'd resist the urge to trade half your cellar for a bottle. Maybe I set my expectations far too high, but this just came a little short of the beer I was expecting.

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

Thick, Sticky, Sweet, Malty, Vanillaiey(?), AMAZING.

I had this beer on tap at the 2014 Dark Lord Day, and its amazing. Dark Lord is a great beer on its own, but the vanilla character accentuates all that is good about this beer.

It pours thick and DARK, and VERY VERY sticky

Aroma is filled with vanilla, sweet caramel and malt, along with a bourbon note

Taste is HUGE... BIG malt, BIG Vanilla, BIG Bourbon, BIG Sweet, BIG Everything!

Mouthfeel is as huge as the taste!!!

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Photo of BeerZombies1
4.85/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2013 BA Vanilla Bean Dark Lord
Three Floyd's Brewing
15% ABV

*Huge thanks to @mattuntapped for sending my this taster so I could knock off another from beer advocates top 250 beers!

APPEARANCE: 1.5 ounce taster poured very slowly to get a good look. Comes out impenetrable motor oil black, as it hits the snifter instantly lightens up to a dark brown with some light brown and reddish rim variations. I won't be making reviews on carbonation since it was a few days old in my mini growler.

AROMA: Instantly I get marshmallow fluff, great vanilla beans and warm chocolate. Like a delicious s'mores minus the graham crackers. I can only imagine what the nose on this must have been like freshly opened because even now it's insane.

TASTE: Follows that nose exactly, huge wave of vanilla rolls across my tongue. Nice deep chewy chocolate fudge. I'm savoring every little sip wishing I had a whole bottle to myself. Nice amount of marshmallow in the middle with slight bourbon barrel flavor. The 15% ABV is hidden so well I don't get any heat or alcohol flavor at all.

MOUTHFEEL: Nice thick slick mouth feel that coats the tongue and has a long slightly sticky sweet finish. Once again won't be reviewing carbonation.

OVERALL: This was an amazing, flavor explosive beer. I enjoyed everything about it, thought the marshmallow flavor went exceptionally well with the vanilla bean. I would love to have this right from the bottle now even more. I think I would give this either a 4.9 or 5/5 if I had it freshly opened.

RATING: 4.8/5 Zombie Heads!

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Photo of thebigredone
4.1/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Many, many thanks to Chris for popping this sucker. 2013 batch, let's skip straight to taste.

I imagine if you took a lot of dark fruits, stewed them together, and then added a ton of sugar, you'd have something very similar in flavor to this Dark Lord variant. The vanilla does come through, but unfortunately almost no roast or char flavors are present. I personally did not pick up a very strong barrel presence. The flavors are certainly complex and enjoyable, but the sweetness is really off the charts.

Overall, this is a solid beer. However, I can't help but feel that the sky high ratings are solely a factor of the rarity and expense of this beer. I was glad we were sharing this bottle with another 10 gents, as the couple ounces I drank were about as much as I could handle.

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Photo of Stevedore
4.94/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Was able to try the 2013 vintage of this thanks to Dustin at a whale tasting 7/13/2013. Poured into a BCBS snifter, probably 5 ounces.

Basically this beer smelled like bourbon chocolate marshmallows but in liquid form. It has such a strong, pungent aroma that makes me smile. There is a bit of the barrel here but for the most part it is a delicious smelling bourbon marshmallow.

It pours a pitch black, incredibly thick and viscous body that comes with a minimal head & retention. Not a ton of lacing.

The flavour is straight up sweet chocolate marshmallows with some bourbon and hints of coffee in the background. This beer is not subtle at all. I wouldn't call it complex but everything it does, it goes beyond what anyone would expect even of Three Floyds. Insanely rich and savoury but not necessarily instant diabeetus like the regular Dark Lord is, if that makes sense. Its super sweet but it comes together in a good way.

Mouthfeel is perfect. Smooth, rich, roasty and carbonated well enough. Aftertaste is a slick bourbony marshmallow feel that makes me smile.

Overall, this beer gets super hyped for a reason which I now understand completely. It is so ridiculously unbalanced and complex, it's awesome. I don't have the trade ammo and it probably isn't worth all the craziness surrounding it but it is an incredible beer, probably the best imperial stout I've ever had the chance to drink. And that includes the BCS Rare we drank at the same tasting.

Re-review: the 4 of us bought into a single 2012 vintage bottle of Bourbon Barrel-Aged Dark Lord aged in Vanilla Beans. Bottle # 58/934. So its about a year and half old now. Poured into an unlabeled snifter today, 12/8/2013.

Still pours a perfect opaque black body, with a nice mocha collar that sticks around with good retention. And well, the nose is still intense 100% bourbon chocolate marshmallows, one of the best smelling beers I've ever had. Its not the most complex, but it is the most incredible nose out there. And of course the flavour is incredible- the vanilla does cover up some of the complexity of the base beer, but it replaces it with bourbon chocolate marshmallows that is just so sweet yet not the type of sweet that Grey Monday brings; its easily drinkable and so enjoyable. Mouthfeel is definitely full bodied, silky and smooth drinking without much discernible heat. Again, this is a beer that is phenomenal and one of the best I've ever had. I can't believe I've had this beer twice in the span of less than a year, but it is well worth it. The main difference between the 2012 and 2013 vintage is that the bourbon is a bit more muted in the 2012 vintage compared to the fresh version. This beer is probably still best drank fresh, but it will certainly hold up over time if cellared properly. As before, I understand the hype and trade value behind this beer 100%. Thank you Matt, for being generous enough to send this one to our group.

Re-review: 2014 vintage poured into a FFF/DMC snifter 6/21/2014. Essentially, I am finding this year's vintage to be significantly sweeter than the last two vintages. There is more of the base Dark Lord and less of the vanilla bean contribution. The vanilla bean comes out more as it warms up, but even then it's still a shadow in comparison to 2012 and 2013. I felt the same way when I drank this at this year's Dark Lord Day, and I am now able to confirm this opinion with the pour I got tonight. While I won't tweak the scoring here, I certainly would not recommend trading for this year's if you've had this one in years past. Honestly, if I were to change the scoring, it'd be something like a 4.4/5, just a tick above regular Dark Lord. I'd even argue that the '14 Brandy Dark Lord we drank right after this beer was more interesting. That's how disappointing this year's vintage was compared to the last 2 years, with 2013 being the superior vintage.

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

The story, I think is just as good as the beer...

Waited in line at DLD for drafts. Saw BA Plead the 5th, figure lets get that. That tap ran out with about 5 people in front of us... double sunshine appears on the dry erase board. Get 2, and figure we waited long enough lets get 120 minute - 2... The crowd goes crazy on the right hand side and I see BA Vanilla Bean get put on the bored... I was speechless and my buddy handed the dude $20 and we had BA Vanilla Bean in our presence. Best part of DLD '14.

A - Black, impermeable, abyss, tan head.

S - Vanilla, roasted marshmallow, subtle (perfect in my opinion) bourbon oakiness, more vanilla, sweet aroma.

T - Although we had about 15 other notable stouts prior to BA VB DL, this stood out with the vanilla being smoother than a clean shave. Coats the palate with an everlasting sense of campfire marshmallow, mixed with bourbon, and sublte dark fruits. (Every grown mans wet dream), hides the 15% very well until you have a few ;)

M - Although enters as if motor oil, the draft was carbonated perfectly, smoothest mouthfeel on the front end, the chewing I cant help to do to taste the fruits of 3 Floyd's labor and the finish was, wait for it, LEGENDARY!

O - That question that gets asked throughout life about what 3 things I would bring if I were trapped on a deserted island, I now know for sure 1 of them. Best beer in the world, hands down.

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