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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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BA SCORE
100
world-class

258 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 258
Hads: 1,257
rAvg: 4.62
pDev: 9.31%
Wants: 3,803
Gots: 223 | FT: 10
Brewed by:
3 Floyds Brewing Co. visit their website
Indiana, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  15.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

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

Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout aged in a variety of Bourbon barrels with vanilla beans.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 258 | Hads: 1,257
Photo of bierenutz
4.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure of trying this brew at FFF on DLD in the brewpub.
A-Coming from the tap with minimal head and lacing, it was black and thick.
S-Chocolate, roasted malts and vanilla with some sweet molasses and bourbon.
T-Very rich blend of mocha and syrup, and of course vanilla, although I would have expected more and found this flavor to be more of a background player in this complex concoction.
M-Rich and creamy with minimal carbonation and an overall great feel each sip.
D-Loved this beer, although right after this one I had the Oak Aged and, IMO, was better overall. Both these beers are great and well worth the hype. (631 characters)

Photo of thetomG
4.62/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this one on tap @ DLD.

Oily black with a small dark drown head. The aroma of vanilla really came through forme with a flavor to match. This beer i just absolutely HUGE. Vanilla vanilla vanilla, with some boozy sweetness throughout. I loved it, and I'm very glad I got to try it, but it was so sweet I'm not sure how much I could really drink in one sitting. That being said - it was great and I would definitely have some more if the opportunity ever arises again... (471 characters)

Photo of AgentZero
4.8/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

For review 250, thought I'd make it something special.

A - Black as night with brown on the edges, nice tan head in the plastic cup with some stick and lacing on the sides. I think it just sticks easier in plastic, truth be told, but it looks great.

S - Ahhh, smells great like Dark Lord but on vanilla steroids. Nice roasted malts and chocolate, is this really even beer anymore? Very sweet, some espresso, carmel, molasses, but the milk chocolate and vanilla stand out most on this one.

T - Great vanilla taste, I'm a huge fan. It manages to be strongly present without ruining all the other great tastes that Dark Lord has going for it. Coffee, chocolate, molasses, sweet sugar, and a little boozier than the other DL's I've had.

M - Thick but slippery, a tiny bit chewy, but not quite as full feeling as I was going to guess.

D - All day, they need to bottle this, seriously, it's a crime. I'd love to have some with some age on it. (941 characters)

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

I had the pleasure of trying this at DLD 2010. I had it once before a couple of years ago and it was every bit as delicious as I remember. While regular Dark Lord may be arguably over-hyped, the Vanilla Bean is deserving of the highest praise, in my opinion.

Some would say that the VBDL can simply be described as regular Dark Lord with the addition of some vanilla notes. I have to somewhat disagree. The vanilla bean is like a kinder, gentler version of something that is known for being brutally massive. In much the same way that Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout can be thought of as a more delicate version of KBS. That could be good or bad, depending on your perspective. I overheard some folks commenting that they like the sharper edge and complexity of regular DL. Those features are somewhat softened here. Personally, I prefer this version as it is that much more drinkable.

At first, the vanilla aroma attacks your nose and dominates the senses. No surprise, it smells like fresh vanilla ice cream. However, after a moment, that aroma fades nicely into the background and becomes much less detectable. In the end, it is properly balanced - well done!

In terms of taste, that famous "soy sauce" character of regular DL is what is missing most here. Again, I am fine with that as long as I can continue to enjoy the regular version at home.

The only minor downside to the VBDL was that there was a slight more detectable alcohol on the finish. I think this has more to do with it being fresh from the keg (or it could be the higher alcohol percentage in this particular vintage). Most of the time when I drink Dark Lord, it is from a bottle that has had lots of time to rest. Therefore, the only thing that I would suggest to improve this further would be to produce a bottle version or otherwise age it for a few more months to allow it to mellow out a touch more.

Otherwise, Vanilla Bean Dark Lord is a superb beverage that has earned its high accolades. (1,973 characters)

Photo of cpetrone84
4.75/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Had on draft at Three Floyds on Dark Lord Day 2010.

A-pours an opaque black motor oil liquid that is thick and viscous. The head is tan in color, thick and creamy. There is some retention and a decent lace on the glass

S-the nose is a little lighter but quite nice. A good bit of vanilla sets in, sweet molasses and milk chocolate, so tasty, like a chocolate milk shake. Notes of anise behind with some slightly roasted malts in the back

T-roasted malts set in right up front. Milk chocolate comes in next with a touch of vanilla. It tastes almost like a chocolate brownie. Toffee, caramel, brown sugar come in next with a touch of anise. Light notes of dark fruits come in at the finish with a touch of bitternesss.

M-the body is a huge full body, it is so thick. Not quite as thick as the oak aged, but huge. It is smooth and creamy, soft and chewy, its huge!

D-this is huge and delicous, the aging has been done quite nice, the flavors have blended together and melded to create a super tasty beer. It has a note of heat in the back; but at 13% it just lets you know how big this is. One of my favorites. (1,112 characters)

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

6 oz (roughly) tap pour into a clear plastic cup at Dark Lord Day 2010.

Thanks to Sweemzander for jumping in line right away and snagging a glass of this amazing beer for me!

A - The tap pour is jet black like old motor oil and looks rich and syrupy on the pour. A tiny ring of dark tan bubbles with no retention is left in the glass. Not much sexiness there save for the foreboding, thick pour!

S - The potent aroma is smooth with creamy vanilla bean and a deep roasted malt nose. A rich milk chocolate aroma lingers in the background with a small alcohol hint released upon a moderate swirl.

T - The flavor is massively vanilla heavy, reminiscent of vanilla extract. Bold roasted malts behind the vanilla offer up a seriously roasted kick and a rich milk chocolate flavor that finishes out with a low alcohol warmth. Not bitter at all. Amazingly delicious.

M - Vanilla Bean Dark Lord is as full-bodied as they come packing a smooth, rich texture that's borderline syrupy with an almost chewy finish. It coats your mouth, throat and innards.

D - This beer is surpasses the crazy hype. It's incredibly well-brewed and delicious. It's also dangerously drinkable for the percent. If I wasn't trying to savor every tiny sip I took it would probably be gone in a heartbeat. I could probably enjoy a 22 oz bottle of this too but that might be pushing it. (1,355 characters)

Photo of brownbeer
4.47/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On-tap at the brewpub and I think it would be the 09 vintage. The beer is midnight black in the glass with no head at all. The taste and aroma still has the goodness of Dark Lord, meaning the burnt chocolate, coffee, and dark red fruit aspect is still there, just with an added blast of vanilla, smoothing everything out. It had a nice and chewy mouthfeel, and though the carbonation was low, it had just enough. I tried it next to the oak-aged, which I wasn't a huge fan of, but this one I liked a lot. They should bottle or growler some since everyone puts up with so much hassle to try it. (592 characters)

Photo of nickd717
4.32/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Well, I had this beer from a hand bottle awhile back, and my review of that got deleted, so then I hauled my ass all the way to a random corner of Indiana to try it on tap. Unfortunately for VBDL, the hand bottle was better, but I'm reviewing the tap version this time.

This pours really black and thick, appearing to have a final gravity somewhere in the 'hood of 1.050. The smallest of brown heads sits on top. I'm talking brown, not tan. The head is dark on this bad boy.

From the glass wafts a scent of vanilla bean and Dark Lord. By Dark Lord, I mean rich chocolate, coffee, roast, caramel, soy sauce, molasses, and a mess of other subtle notes. Lots going on. Some whiskey and barrel notes in there as well.

Flavor is heavy on the vanilla. Roast, chocolate, coffee, Indian dessert sugar (which they actually used in this), candied dark fruits, oak, and bourbon. On the finish, I get an odd smoky note and a little soy sauce. Some booze as well. Even as sweet as it is and with some mild off-flavors of sorts though, it's a damn good beer.

The palate is thick, and it is also slick. Sorry about the unintentional rhyme there. Carbonation is very low.

Overall, what do I say? This is a behemoth of a RIS. In a way it's hard to get down, and in another way it's very drinkable because it's just so awesome and intense. I gave this an A+ before, but wasn't that impressed this time. This was excellent, but I liked the regular (2010 vintage) and oak-aged versions better. (1,478 characters)

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

On tap at DLD 2010

A - Very Dark. No head but I didn't see the pour and am not sure how long it sat before the waiter served it at our table.

S - Rich vanilla aroma with hints of bourbon. Smells amazing.

T - Great vanilla flavor that is powerful but doesn't dominate over the slight oak and bourbon notes mingled with molasses. Just the right amount of sweetness.

M - Smooth as can be. Low on carbonation. This beer is full of flavors that linger well after a small sip has been taken. This allowed for a 6oz glass to last a long time. Didn't come off as too thick. Just right.

D - I could drink this anytime. I don't think the vanilla would ever get old over the course of many glasses and the alcohol seems about right. Would love to test this hypothesis but unfortunately I was only able to get a small glass about 6oz.

I waited in line for 4 hours to get into the brew pub on DLD and it was absolutely worth it. Any fan of stouts should make trying this a priority and the first thing you do if you make it to DLD. I am amazed at how well the actual thing stood up to all the hype. (1,092 characters)

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

After hearing that the vanilla bean DL ran out while in line at DLD, I was so disappointed that I missed a great opportunity. And then a local Munster native comes through out of no where and has a half a glass still and generously lets myself and fellow BA Hooliganlife sip the remainder.

The appearance is jet black with no head in the glass. Assuming the initial pour left the same thin tan head as the other dark lords. Smell is much sweeter with lots of vanilla which I absolutely love. Nice chocolate backbone. Taste is unbelievable. The sweetness balances out the chocolate, malts, sugar punch that dark lord has. Mouthfeel is thick and oily. This may be the best stout I have had. The vanilla presence really changes the make up of a great beer. Even though I only got a couple sips of this it was heaven in a cup. If only this was bottled.... (853 characters)

Photo of jsh420
4.4/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

on tap DLD

while i could not track down where in the hell this beer was at in the clusterf*** known as DLD - some kind people i met shared some with me

black black shiny motor oil black with small tan film of head

smells you guessed it vanilla with dark roasted chocolate malts

taste could not live up to the nose or maybe it did - the beer was just too sweet - big flavors of vanilla chocolate coffee and the sugar!

mouthfeel was much thinner then regular DL - very slick

drinkability - while i savored every sniff and sip it just was not as good as the regular DL (571 characters)

Photo of jampics2
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

On tap at DLD 2010.

Finally! I couldn't believe when it was handed to me buy the FFF volunteer minion - I owe you, dude. 2 6oz plastic cups went into my snifter, producing just a touch of head on top of this thick black beer.

Smell is out of this world. The vanilla beans are so inviting and smooth. Touch of chocolate and molasses.

Taste is perfect. It's a toss-up for me between this and VB Bourbon County for the best tasting beer I've ever had. I'm a vanilla freak, love using it to kick up porters and stouts I brew, and this is just so damn good. Chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. A touch of wood and roast. This is like a liquefied Hostess cupcake. And I love it. It's an indulgence that's only once a year and thank god, I imagine drinking this weekly would lead to diabetes.

Mouth is dense, thick, and lovely.

Drinkability takes a hit just because every sip is probably 25 calories. Also, the alcohol is just a bit noticeable at the end.

A legend that I feel lucky to have tried. A wonderful beer! (1,016 characters)

Photo of sweemzander
4.57/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had on tap @ DLD 2010!

(A)- Pours thick & black as night. Produced a dark brown head that dissipated down to bubbles after a minute.

(S)- A rich dense molasses & vanilla with some dark dark cocoa & coffee. Plenty of bourbon notes.

(T)- Rich, with a big vanilla sweetness with some dark cocoa & molasses. Very similar to the smell. Has some bourbon-like characters.

(M)- A big dense monster that is almost chewy, but with a good carbonation level. A big vanilla sweetness, yet has a bitterness too from the roasted malts.

(D)- An incredible stout that I finally understand why it gets such rave reviews. A big richness & sweetness to it that fits its name/style. However, any more than 8oz. of this at a time would be too much for me to consume. Would love to see how this would age, but sadly, this is only available one day a year! If you go to DLD, make this your top priority. . it ran out awfully quick this year. (926 characters)

Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

finally, after several DLDs and much waiting and effort, got to have a couple of these. had it in the pub, so it was served in proper glassware to boot. not much head though. has all of the flavors, aromas, mouthfeel, etc. of reglar DL along with huge vanilla flavors and aromas, harmonized with attributes from the oak barrel aging. sweeter than regular DL, with big warming vanilla flavors crawling down your throat. alcohol/booze manage to stay relatively well hidden. lots of big charred ripened dark fruit. hands down the best and most complex, balls to the wall RIS i've ever had. if you go to DLD, make it your #1 priority to taste this. heard they only made two barrels. (678 characters)

Photo of hooliganlife
4.77/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 dark lord day, shared by a nice drunk guy inside the warehouse. apparently, they had a bunch of this. gotta love the locals...

pour was jet black with zero head and zero lacing and retention.

very sweet on the nose. the vanilla was there but not as in your face as i would have expected. light roasted malts, light floral hoppiness. a wee bit of booze.

flavor was huge, quite complex. the vanilla was there but it balanced this out. it cut back on the sweetness a bit of the regular dark lord, it mixed perfectly with the roasted malts, coffee, and hops to bring all of the flavors together. this was the booziest of the bunch though.

very thick, coats your mouth and teeth. a bit of alcohol burn. light carbonation.

this was my favorite of the bunch. it was the most complex and the most fun to drink. nothing was overpowering and everything was balanced. (866 characters)

Photo of hawks10
4.84/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Served on tap at Dark Lord Day 2010...6 ounces or so, more than enough to get a good idea of what this beer is all about...

Pours thick and oily, viscous black liquid with a bit of dark brown head, no different than regular Dark Lord...

Smell is much more complex and inviting than regular Dark Lord...for one, the vanilla in the 2010 vintage is very forward and very enticing...you also get your typical roasted malts, chocolate, molasses and a bit of alcohol in the nose, much like any other imperial stout...

Yummm, definitely a better tasting beer than regular Dark Lord (and after having a horrible bottle of the 2009 vintage a few weeks ago, this one made me very happy). Vanilla is very prominent, it's not just a name! Very sweet, chocolate, brown sugar, molasses, a tiny bit of bitterness from the roasted malts and a bit of a drying oak presence as well...but overall very sweet and loads of vanilla...

Thick, creamy, smooth, coating, slick...and any derivatives of those words...full bodied, chewy, medium carb...

What a great beer from FFF's, I for one think the regular Dark Lord is over-hyped and not as good as most make it out to be (still think it is pretty damn good however) but the vanilla bean Dark Lord definitely lives up to the hype...don't want to wait another year for more... (1,307 characters)

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

Received from stfun37. Thanks!

Pours black, oily and dead flat. Looks much like regular Dark Lord, but even less carbonated.

The nose is loaded with vanilla bean goodness. The intensity of the vanilla is nearly identical to a vanilla milkshake. There are hints of chocolate and alcohol, but they're almost completely overwhelmed by vanilla. Totally one-dimensional, but it's an amazing dimension.

The taste, in contrast, is much more complex. Vanilla is dominant, but it's backed by milk chocolate, dates, prunes and light alcohol. The mouthfeel is rich and chewy, flat and creamy. It finishes roasty and bittersweet with light woody tannins. Delicious, this is far better than regular Dark Lord. (699 characters)

Photo of tpd975
4.92/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Hand bottle provided by Gunhaver

A: Pours as dark as they come, a very evil flat black. No real head to speak of loss of carbonation due to the hand bottling. It is a very thick beer that literally stains the glass.

S: Nice real vanilla notes. Roasted malt, coco puffs, and subtle wood from the barrel.

T: Loads of real vanilla bean right from the start. Rich dark chocolate and roasted chocolate malt. Darkened brown sugar, and hints of oak.

M: Very full in body, lacks carbonation which you don't even seem to miss with this beer.

D: Insane. It was a nip bottle shared between a few. Really wish I had more. It is reason enough to go to Dark Lord day!

Thanks Geiger! (674 characters)

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

This might very well be the best beer I have ever had the opportunity to try. Sampled from a plastic cup at Dark Lord Day 2009...a small pour, but completely worth it...I went back to the table for seconds.

Poured a super dark black with little to no head and very little carbonation.

Smells like Dark Lord...molasses, brown sugar, chocolate, sweet olives, figs, some oak aroma.

Tastes like Dark Lord, but with a syrupy sweetness imparted from the vanilla beans. Very rich, complex, and incredibly palatable.

Of all the beers I was able to sample on DLD, this one stood out...even above the regular Dark Lord. It was complex, and the vanilla beans added a new dimension to an already outstanding beer. It was great to have had a chance to try this, and my only wish is that some day it is put into bottles, as well. (821 characters)

Photo of kimcgolf
4.34/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed at FFF pub on Dark Lord Day '09. Pours from the tap to a very brownish=black color with thin skim of a dark brown head that lingers thru mid-glass. Aroma is an overwhelmingly pleasant mix of vanilla, roasted nuts, chocolate and molasses, with just the right amount of the 14% alcohol. Mouthfeel is almost syrupy full, and the vanilla explodes in the taste. Nice, long warming finish. Didn't enjoy quite as much as the Bourbon Barrel aged DL, but a damn good beer. (471 characters)

Photo of fiver29
4.3/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Dark Lord Day 08. Batch was 07 barrel aged with vanilla bean. Poured pitch black with a tan head. Has a very heavy mouthfeel and is very thick and syrupy. Smells very sweet with a touch of oak and alcohol. Tastes overly sweet. Has way too much molasses and vanilla flavors. It overpowers the whole experience. Has some complex flavors including coffee, wood, roasted malts, and has a nice smooth finish with an alcohol touch like the other Dark Lord beers. Only issue with this one is its too sweet upfront. And has on some sips too much molasses/vanilla sweetness that overpower an otherwise beer that could be more balanced with its other complex flavors. A group of about 10-15 or so of us couldn't finish our glass because of it. (743 characters)

Photo of maximum12
4.41/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

So...transfer over my comments about the regular Dark Lord, which is fantastic, & add some vanilla sweetness to it.

I'm not sure the vanilla adds to Dark Lord in a positive manner, but it sure changes the character of the brew. The vanilla makes what was a smooth, drinkable, fiery, malty RIS into a sweeter, even smoother, tamer version of the 'Lord. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but this is still a first-class beer. Excellent, & one I'd love to have a few glasses of some day. (488 characters)

Photo of craytonic
2.99/5  rDev -35.3%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Appearance: Pitch black, oil slick black, just what you would expect.

Smell: Oddly not vanilla, I only get that on the taste. Bit of alcohol with some other aromas I can't pinpoint. Chocolate cake batter or chocolate-vanilla pudding? Best I can do.

Taste: I get tons of fake vanilla poured into a regular dark lord. Also tastes a good bit sweeter to me. Alcohol, molasses, karo syrup, melted chocolate, brown sugar, roasted malt, semi-sweet chocolate (the kind you would put in a chocolate chip cookie). Please cut the vanilla by 2/3.

Mouthfeel: Exceptionally smooth, somehow smoother than the regular version?

Drinkability: I have always been picky about vanilla, and I don't get vanilla bean, I don't get vanilla extract, I get the cheap fake vanilla, in mass. I don't see the appeal, for me this is regular DL with some fake vanilla and sugar added. Mouthfeel is much improved though, somehow. Probably would be good on ice cream. By itself, a sweet fake vanilla mess; I need a pliny to clean my palate. I hate to have the lowest rating for this ever, but I find it to be a sugar and fake vanilla trainwreck. It is good for 2-3oz and then you need an IPA. (1,162 characters)

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

On tap @ DLD, GTOM

Dark Lord + vanilla. It's just about that simple. Looks like DL, smells like DL what with the molasses, cocoa, dark fruits, brown sugar plus a vanilla-infused explosion of creamy goodness right off the bat!

It's a pretty boozy incarnation, but the vanilla smooths it out to where this is just a pleasure. It's a chewy, viscous stout that goes down smooth as can be, even on a 90 degree day.

If you love DL, this will take that love to another level. A perfect example where tinkering with a recipe that's already a winner can sometimes yield incredible results. (583 characters)

Photo of Poser
4.75/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Tried at Great Taste. The hype is well-placed although I said at the time that I don't know if I could take more than a 6 oz pour.

Pours dark black with a frothy top that dissipates quickly. Strong vanilla flavors that overpowers everything else but there were some roasted malts hiding out somewhere. My mostly-wine-drinking friend said that it had characteristics like a good port and I have to agree. Vanilla was a *little* more muted in the taste and lets you realize the chocolate and woodsy flavors.

This one is a real treat. (533 characters)

Bourbon Barrel Aged Vanilla Bean Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
100 out of 100 based on 258 ratings.