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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.

265 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 265
Hads: 1,299
Avg: 4.64
pDev: 21.12%
Wants: 3,910
Gots: 235 | FT: 8
Brewed by:
3 Floyds Brewing Co. visit their website
Indiana, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  15.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

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

Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout aged in a variety of Bourbon barrels with vanilla beans.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 265 | Hads: 1,299
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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Photo of jeonseh
4.73/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

A - Dark chocolate brown with a thick syrupy body

S - Bourbon with tons of vanilla, marshmallow and caramel. Light bourbon and oak to it as well

T - Caramel, marshmallow, tons of vanilla, nice bourbon presence to it. Good vanilla and sweetness in the finish. Oaky bourbon presence to it that gives it a slight kick as well as a slight booziness. Good balance between the sweetness and booze

M - Thick syrupy body to it with light tinge of oak to it in the finish

O - Great BA vanilla beer with a good vanilla sweetness to it that is crossed with a nice bourbon spiciness. Definitely worth tracking down a bottle

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

One of the highlights of last 2013 CBC. The keg was gone within a quarter but I was lucky enough to get two glasses of this!
A: Black, opaque, dense. Small mocha head which holds pretty well.
S: Fabulous nose, complex, deep, on vanilla, chocolate with a woody scent, cherries, slight touches of dark fruits.
T: On the palate, I got mainly chocolate, roasted malts, some ashes and also vanilla, bourbon, dark fruits and sherry. This is not exactly an explosion of aromas but more a travel within savors. The one you want to go slowly into and stop to pitch your tent wherever you're pleased enough to stay.
M: The mouthfeel is exactly the same as in the regular version, that is simply perfect. Smooth, light but high bodied, never sticky, perfectly drinkable, also perfectly sippable!
O: Vanilla does a great job in this beer, perfectly mixing with the cherries and ashes notes of the base beer, giving more complexity and richness. This one is probably worth the hype!

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Photo of justforrazors
4.93/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2013 Vintage, bottle 428/711

Split with my friend Keith who attended DLD with me this year. Served in a FFF mini-snifter. Reviewed from notes.

A- Upon pouring, a mocha head quickly appears and dies down within 30 seconds, leaving a ring of foam around the rim of the glass. The color is opaque black, thick like motor oil.

S- The first thing I can smell is a very strong bourbon barrel presence, but it is quickly joined by vanilla, coffee, and a sweet molasses like aroma. Excellent aroma, it definitely invites you to take a drink.

T- I don't think it would be possible to use any more descriptors for this beer. Black cherries, prunes, vanilla, followed by some tobacco and caramel with bourbon strong on the finish. There is a lingering sweetness that is very familiar from regular dark lord on the back end, and surprisingly little to no alcohol bite, even with the bourbon flavor being so apparent. There is no detectable hop bitterness.

M- Silky smooth, yet very thick at the same time. This is definitely a sipper, but it is very easy to drink. Low-medium carbonation is right on for the style. The flavors linger and change over the incredibly long finish, definitely over a minute later I can still taste the beer.

O- This is a very enjoyable, incredibly complex beer. I'm glad I hadn't drank anything before this, because it was such a pleasure to really get into this beer and enjoy the full range of flavors you can get from it. The bourbon is there on the nose and finish, but the vanilla really outshines it, at least in my opinion. I'm sure that will die down with time, although I think this is simply amazing as it is right now. It was an honor to drink this beer, so very glad I was able to score one this year!

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Photo of Jeffo
2.56/5  rDev -44.8%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 2.5

Thanks to a few people we were able to put together the entire vertical and almost all the BA variants. Lots of fun gents!

From a 750 into a snifter
2012 vintage
Bottle 921 of 934

APPEARANCE: Just like all the rest of them. Pours relatively clear for an imperial stout. Produces a small, one finger medium-looking head that quickly fades to a wisp and ring. Black body in the glass with some carbonation evident. Only a ring remains until the end and leaves no real lacing down the glass. A little too light a pour and an average head at best.

SMELL: Vanilla extract reminding me of those vanilla candles you buy at bath stores. Artificial and somewhat off-putting. A touch of bourbon barrel under the chemical vanilla aroma, but not much. Unfortunately this is one-dimensional and artificial, especially compared to the brandy vanilla version.

TASTE: Touches of bourbon barrel and oak peek through, but this is a one-dimensional vanilla extract bomb if there ever was one. All vanilla up front and into the swallow, then a big, vanilla dominated aftertaste with some oak and sweet caramel trying in vain to get through. Tough going and very little complexity.

PALATE: Slightly lighter than the base beer, but still big enough. Just like the other DL variants as well. Medium body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy enough, goes down fine and finishes rather sticky on the palate. A bit of a burn and some heat lingers.

OVERALL: I can see why some people might like this. There is lots of vanilla, much like a vanilla cake or something like that. As a beer though, this is not something I'd want more than a small taste of. One dimensional, artificial and quickly tiring, this is not something I'd get too excited about drinking again. The brandy vanilla version was more natural than this one. Still, definitely a fun pair to try. Cheers gents!

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Photo of BAstoutsNsours
4.86/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Had on tap at Hunaphu's Day 2013. 6oz serving. Although I'm unaware of 2011 Bourbon Vanilla DL being bottled, this was listed as such. Staff swore it was Bourbon Vanilla (not Brandy) and it was 2011 vintage. Anywho

A: Dark pitch black motor oil appearance with only a little head.

S: TONS of vanilla on the nose, very raw vanilla bean up front, small hints of cocoa, not much booze considering this is ~15%

T: Taste like a chocolate birthday cake with chocolate butter cream with vanilla bean ice cream on top. LOADS of vanilla, they did not short this thing and I've really never had a beer with so much vanilla in it. If you like your vanilla subtle or as an afterthought, this beer is not for you. Chocolate, espresso, and marshmallow are all there.

M: Thick, viscous, just a tiny bit of carb. Really coats the mouth and encourages the drinker to do so.

O: A very very good beer, this is such an in-your-face beer that it would be hard to drink more than a pour or two. That being said, its delicious and drinks like liquid cake. Like cake, there is only so much you can handle before the diabeetus settles in.

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Photo of PHBoiler
4.56/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh is best with this beer having had one on the day of the release in 2013 as well as having a year old version of the bottle. Fresh, this beer is jet black with loads of vanilla and booze on the nose. You get a bit of the coffee and dark roast of the beer with the vanilla being the star of the show. The 2013 bottle after 14 months had a bit of an acidic finish as well as the vanilla coming off as extract-like. The body seems to have thinned somehow as well. Fresh, this beer is world class, but the change over a year knocks it a bit for me.

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Photo of jokemon
4.63/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

I had the ability to get this at DLD 2013. It was the 09 version on tap.

Pour is jet black with a hazy brown head on it.

Appearance is thick and muddy, black with the slightest bit of head.

Smell is vanilla foremost and than the boozyness hits you, whoah!! I miss the boozyness of the older BCBS beer, they seem to be going for more chocolate now so I welcomed this.

Taste is just like the smell. Dark, vanilla, booze.

Truly an amazing beer, for me it still does not beat the overall flavor of BCBS Cherry but it s definitely at the top of my list of one of the best beers I have ever had.

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Photo of mdaschaf
4.62/5  rDev -0.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Big thank you to Aaron for opening this up! Review from notes.

A: Pours a dark black with a very thin tan head on top that quickly reduces to nothing. No lacing either.

S: Lots of vanilla, more than almost any other vanilla beer I have had thus far. Mixed with the vanilla is a strong bourbon aroma - caramel, brown sugar, and molasses with a little bit of oak. A little sweet, but not cloyingly so.

T: Like the aroma, a great combination of stout, vanilla, and bourbon. Some rich chocolate, bourbon, caramel, burnt sugar, with a little bit of dark fruit.

M: Extremely smooth, rather full bodied. On the thicker side, but not a surprise compared to other Dark Lords I have had.

O: A great beer, loved how present the vanilla was. Definitely savored it.

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Photo of rodkin
4.25/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

On tap at Hunahpu's day 2013.

Pours dark, dark black, small light head.

Smell is massive vanilla, chocolate, some coffee, vanilla, maybe a bit of caramel, more vanilla. Outrageous vanilla.

Taste follows the nose. Really big vanilla, chocolate, coffee, sweet malts, dark sugar, maybe a bit of fruit. Really overwhelming sweetness and vanilla.

Mouthfeel is smooth, moderately thick, low carbonation. Oily.

This was very tasty, and I was really glad to try it. That said, it's pretty overwhelmingly sweet. I wouldn't want to have more than a 3 oz pour of this or so at any given time.

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Photo of Alieniloquium
4.12/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Hunahpu Day. Served in a taster.

Appearance - Jet black. No head. Small island of foam.

Smell - Vanilla and bourbon. Bit surprise. Lots of sweet malts. Some traditional Dark Lord soy sauce.

Taste - Chocolate, vanilla, bourbon. No real barrel character beyond the bourbon flavor. Lots of bourbon and vanilla though. Lots of fudgy chocolate. Big soy sauce flavor and booze hinder it.

Mouthfeel - Boozy but very tasty. Low in carbonation and huge in body.

Overall- Classic example of over the top beer covering up the flaws. It's delicious only because of adjuncts.

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Photo of standardcherry
4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

2012 bottle 305/934. Shared with a friend, split into our snifters.

A: Jet black beer with minimal beige head. Thick and syrupy in the glass.
S: Brown sugar, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, cookie dough, bourbon. The smell is just delicious, my friend said it immediately reminded him of s'mores.
T: TONS of vanilla in the first sip that later blends with bourbon and chocolate. Bourbon and vanilla aftertaste. Taste definitely reminds me of some kind of cookie. Delicious!
M: Thick and full bodied. A bit sticky. Very smooth though with absolutely no alcohol burn. Surprising for this massive 15% beer.
O: This is one sweet beer. It was amazing but I think I would split it more than 2 ways next time. Glad to have tried it but I doubt I would trade for it again.

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Photo of Gushue3
4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

'12 Bottle #508

A Deep dark brown/black with no head and a very lively body.

S Sweet brown sugar, molasses, vanilla. Really nice scent

T Vanilla cupcakes, sweet sugar, bourbon but not hot at all. Rum soaked dark fruits and coconut. This thing is gigantic and complex, unbelievable all around.

M Motoroil. Pretty much no carbonation at all and is sticky and sugary. Drinks more like milkshake.

O Worth the hype IMO. Tastes unbelievable and feels great

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Photo of coffygrinder
4.53/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This beer was great. It pours jet black. You can smell the sweetness off the back with hints of vanilla. Coffee as well as chocolate also show in this beer. Thick mouth feel, you can almost chew on this beer. Very sweet, I kinda wish that we let this beer age a lot longer but it is what it is. The vanilla shows on the back end behind the sweetness. It is a beer that I am glad that I shared with a friend, I think a whole bottle by myself might be a little much.

Overall it was a good beer. It is super sweet, thick RIS. Something that you want to open with friends unless you like to hord your beer. Share it with some other BA's it will make for a fun night

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

I was lucky enough to score one of these at DLD 2012

Pours pitch black and thick as oil with a thin layer of dark brown head that sits briefly. Spotty lacing.

The nose is rich and dessert-like with warm real vanilla beans, not your cheap imitation beans that can be found in other vanilla brews. The integrated bourbon aromas meld nicely with the vanilla beans. Chocolate, oak, bourbon, vanilla beans, and a bit of booze.

The flavors are very similar to the nose but much more enjoyable. The rich vanilla beans come through first, followed by the nuances offered by the barrel. Warm bourbon, sweet chocolate, and some dark fruits are all mixed together in a sweet concoction. Sweet and delicious.

The mouthfeel is as thick as molasses with very little carbonation. Sticky sweet and silky smooth on my palate.

Overall, loved this brew. So glad I got to try it multiple times. The vanilla beans and bourbon treatment on DL makes it a completely different beer that is incredibly enjoyable.

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Photo of SkiBum22
4.25/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle # 346? / 934
Stone Imperial Russian Stout Snifter

A - Pours jet black and is completely opaque except for a thin film of brown atop the glass when held up to light. Half a finger of creamy dark mocha/milk chocolate colored head. Decent lacing

S - Big sweet aroma, lots of vanilla and bourbon but also some caramel, dark fruits, cherry, chocolate, a bit of coffee and oak from the barrel, smells pretty delicious.

T - Tons of creamy sweet vanilla up front blending into a mix of chocolate covered dark fruits, molasses, and coffee. The finish is a slight hint of licorice coupled with a deep warming from the alcohol.

M - Big mouth feel, not overly carbonated but enough to make this beer delicious, coats the palate, very smooth drinking.

O - This is by far the sweetest beer I've ever had and I just had Chocolate Rain recently. This beer almost lived up to the hype but just too sweet for me to put it on the same level as Rare, Bourbon County, Black Tuesday and other top barrel aged stouts.

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Photo of bittermestupid
4.72/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

On draft at DLD in the brewpub. Pours black as oil with a small amount of tan head around the edge of my glass. Smells sweet like honey, also bourbon, vanilla, licorice, coffee, dried dark fruits, and chocolate really come through nicely. Dark roasted coffee and vanilla fills my mouth and coats the palate. Flavors of bourbon, chocolate, and raisins are also noticeable. The mouthfeel is wonderfully thick and oily. The finish of this monster beer is rather smooth and sweet with a subtle roasted coffee bitterness and no noticeable burn from the high abv. This beer for me lives up to all the hype and sets the bar for a ris!

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

Bottle 347 of 934 - 2012 Vintage

A - pours black in color with a nice white rim on it

S - nose is a beautiful bouquet of vanilla, bourbon, and sweet milk chocolates

T - sweet vanilla upfront moves on to goey milk chocolates. Spicy bourbon with a nice amount of vanilla moves in to mix things up on the palate. Ends with the vanilla and bourbon. Sweet, fudgy chocolates, vanilla, and bourbon is the theme to this beer. Mmmm

M - smooth and full bodied

D - really sweet, delicious, and complex. Something about this beer put it into the 5 category taste wise for me, making this a serious contender against any barrel aged beer out there. Now, on to the rest of the series...


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Photo of jaasen64
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

750ml bottle split 4 ways (~6.5oz serving). Poured into HF stemmed glass. Thanks to DonFrap for sharing this gem! Bottle #719/934. Consumed right after '12 DL and '11 DL. Served just below room temperature.

A- Pours a pitch jet black with a very thin mocha brown head that fades fairly fast to leave no head. Fairly low but consistent carbonation. Pretty much exact same appearance as the other Dark Lords.

S- Bourbon, vanilla, dark fruits, molasses. At first the bourbon was a little bit overpowering for my preference but it quickly mellowed out and became perfectly balanced with the other flavors. All the flavors from the Dark Lord come out blended with a perfect balance of bourbon and sweet vanilla. Definitely more aromatic then Dark Lord and smells absolutely awesome.

T- Bourbon perfectly balanced with sweet vanilla that match wonderfully with each other. Behind the bourbon and vanilla the regular DL comes out providing some light dark fruits and a bit of dark chocolate. Finishes with more bourbon and vanilla that lingers on the palate as a very nice aftertaste. Everything is perfectly balanced and blend amazingly together.

M- Very smooth, full bodied, fairly thick, pretty much no burn at all, does not taste like 15% in the slightest bit. One of the best feels I've encountered in a stout, never mind one that is 15%.

O- This beer was phenomenal, probably the best barrel aged beer I've ever had. Everything was perfectly done and fit amazingly together. One of most balanced beers I've had with an absolutely perfect feel. Perfect amount of bourbon and vanilla. I could easily drink this beer every day and I highly recommend it. One of the few beers that I would say definitely lives up to the hype and I could justify paying $50 for. Definitely a treat and I hope I'm lucky to cross paths with this one again.

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Photo of coreyfmcdonald
4.05/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle split quite a few ways

A: Pours pitch black with a bit of off white head.

S: Vanilla bean upfront, much stronger than any other aroma. I get bourbon behind the vanilla - coconut and caramel mostly. I get a nice amount of dark chocolate as well. The flavors meld very well together, but the vanilla is a bit strong for me.

T: Strong vanilla bean upfront with coconut and caramel just behind. I get some dark chocolate, but the vanilla is certainly the strongest flavor. Extremely sweet and quite boozy.

M: Thick and oily with low carbonation.

O: This is a great stout, though I'm not sure I'd say its one of the best beers in the world. The vanilla is quite strong, a bit overpowering. It leads to a very sweet beer that could use a bit of balance in my opinion.

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

22oz bottle (2012) shared graciously by Oscar and Caitlin at their Stout Night. Thanks a bunch!

A: Pours black with some amber hues.

S: Lots of bourbon, rich chocolate, and palpable vanilla notes. Very smooth.

T: Booze-laced white chocolate, bourbon, thickly sweet vanilla, marshmallow, caramel, raisins.

M: Decently thick with fine carbonation.

O: Wow, this is an incredible step up from regular DL and my favorite barreled variant so far. Very smooth, rich, and sweet, but not in an overpowering way.

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Photo of kawilliams81
4.82/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to EVonHoff. Bottle 407/934, 2012 vintage. Poured from a 22 oz red waxed bottle into a 8 oz snifter.

A- Pours black with a 1 finger dark tan head. Thick coating of lacing resides quickly.

S- Big vanilla and chocolate, sweet syrup, bourbon.

T- Sweet maple syrup, bourbon, vanilla, and almost a hot chocolate-like flavor.

M- Full body and medium carbonation. Very smooth and not much of a alcohol burn for a 15% beer.

O- Amazing beer that stands up to it's rating. Great balance of sweetness, vanilla, bourbon, and chocolate. Just below apple brandy huna for me.

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Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 265 ratings.