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Dark Lord Imperial Stout - Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub

Not Rated.
Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
96
world-class

3,519 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,519
Reviews: 1,172
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 14.95%
Wants: 2,850
Gots: 1,523 | FT: 101
Brewed by:
Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub visit their website
Indiana, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  15.00% ABV

Availability: Spring

Notes/Commercial Description:
A demonic Russian-Style Imperial Stout brewed with coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar, this beer defies description. Available one day a year, in April at the brewery: Dark Lord Day.

Vintage guide:
Red wax = 2004
Orange wax = 2005
Gold wax = 2006
Silver wax = 2007
Black wax = 2008
White wax = 2009
Green wax = 2010 - 15% ABV
Yellow wax = 2011 - 15% ABV
Red wax = 2012 - 15% ABV
Orange wax = 2013 - New Label 15% ABV
Blue wax - 2014 - 15% ABV

(Beer added by: cretemixer on 12-13-2002)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,519 | Reviews: 1,172 | Display Reviews Only:
Reviews by rinhaak:
Photo of rinhaak
4/5  rDev -6.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2010 vintage. Inky black with no head.

Boozy nose! Whacks you with a sharpie pen. Dark fruits, chocolate, felt pen, black strap, macaroni. Not altogether pleasing, though certainly intense and unique.

Thick mouth. Lots of black strap molasses, rum soaked dried fruits ,and a bittersweet chocolate finish. This is a powerful & complex beer that could serve to sit even longer than three years.

More User Reviews:
Photo of mynie
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Cut to a street corner. Early morning. Two children waiting for a school bus. This could be your street corner. These could be your children.

Little Billy wears a pair of denim shorts cut off just below the knee, a white T-shirt announcing his membership in Little League, and a ball cap. His pal, Little Andy, is a bit rough around the edges—his shirt is worn, and he has decided to wait for the bus without the benefit of a hat. Andy is a "cool cat," as the kids say, the worst kind of ruffian—the kind that makes horseplay and delinquency seem like the "hip" thing to do.

"Hey," says Andy. Billy knows that Andy's about to say something real "keen."

"What?"

"You ever felt like a real man before?"

A strange question to you or I, but Billy knows that Andy's leading somewhere, Billy can tell that he should answer honestly.

"Once, when my dad took me fishin'."

"Ahh, no. None of that. I mean a *real man*. You ever felt like one of those?"

"I—I guess not."

There's a sound, a familiar sneeipt that Billy's heard several times before. It's an adult sound, a sound he knows he shouldn't ever hear, but he wants so bad to impress Andy he doesn't seem afraid.

Andy takes a slurp of a can of Budweiser's "Light" brand beer and, making a face, hands the can over to Billy. Billy doesn't think. The can's in his hand and it's nothing but a silver and blue flash up to his mouth, the taste of stale bread and his grandfather's breath. He coughs, but sucks some down, and then hands the can back to Andy. Yes, now he is a real "home dog," he's ready to start skate boarding and listening to R and B music.

But wait…Andy's looking in the other direction, his mouth open like a hungry dog. Billy turns his head to see what Andy's looking at and—oh no, it can't be! But yes it is. First it's a dot, and then it's a blob, and then, oh god and then marching towards them big as life and sure and hell it's none other than "Mean" Joe Green, and he is one bad dude.

Andy falls over and starts crying. Billy keeps looking at the ground. He can't move. Mean Joe's getting closer and closer and he can't move, he can't run, he can't do anything but shake. All he wanted was to be cool, and now look at him. Mean Joe gets so close his shadow blocks out all the sunlight. Billy starts to tremble, to squeak out a plea.

"P-p-please Mean Joe. Please don't murder me!"

Mean Joe laughs.

"Murder you? On the football field, maybe. What I want to know is, why do you childrens think that drinking Bud Light's gonna make you real men?"

"I just did what Andy did. He's radical."

"Well, he don't look radical to me."

Billy looked down. Andy was covered in vomit, was passed out mumbling like a drowned nun.

"Gee, I guess you're right."

Mean Joe laughs, again, reaches inside his pants and pulls out a mysterious, wax-covered bottle.

"Here, he says, if you wanna be a *real* man, drink one of these."

"I will, Mean Joe. I will."

Billy didn't go to school that day, nor did he try and wake up Andy. Instead, he went behind a shed to look at his new bottle. I found him there, and I hit him over the head with a pipe to steal his bottle of Dark Lord. Seriously, a kid isn't gonna like this.

It's too dark, for one. The head is little and brown which is pretty remarkable considering the massive amount of alcohol in this—but what's really on display here is the darkness. Think about the time before you were born and that's Dark Lord.

We're raised to appreciate two kinds of goodness in the worlds of taste and of smell. There's the natural and the artificial. Cherry Jolly Ranchers taste good, and so do real cherries, even if they don't taste anything alike. This is a combination of the best natural, earthen, fruity, and grainy smells you've ever come across, along with the best unnatural, chemical smells.

Kids don't know the smells of unprocessed molasses, burnt grain, or wood smoke. This would seem like a medicine chest mixed with a cookie jar mixed with a walk in a field—one whiff could scar a kid for life.

Too much complexity. On the very tip of the tongue it tastes like a dark wine, then it gets bittersweet, like fire roasted grain, browning apples, and molasses, then it gets regular sweet, like half-dark chocolate and a café mocha, and then it gets a little zippy, like Belgian alcohol and yeast. That's—that's like you're falling down a hill of flavor and then you climb it back up again, from the valley of the alcohol, into the sweet, and then into the bittersweet, and then into the wine. Giving this to a child would be like giving them a bar of acid and taking them to Disneyland. Nothing would ever make them feel happy again, ever.

Photo of sgoodship
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Stood in line at DLD 2009 to pick this up. I let it sit for a little while but I got some good news and felt like it was a good celebration drink.

A: Cut off the white wax and poured aggressively. It's black and viscous with a hint of red. Tiny bit of ruby red showing through on the edge against the light. Fizzy small dark coffee copper head that dissipates quickly. No head to provide lace but it leaves an oily coating on the glass.

S: Grainy, roasted malt, fruity - black currant type smell. Hint of whisky type booze but not much.

T: Lovely. Dark chocolate, burned acidic coffee. Hint of tart dark fruit. A little burn from the alcohol but barely noticeable. Really dry woody aftertaste that makes you want to go in for another sip. As the drink warmed more, the tartness become more prominent and the sweetness became more intense - really nice.

M: Amazingly thick and smooth stuff. Hint of carbonation gives it a wee bit of life but who cares, it's like an awesome beer milkshake!

D: Very excited about having it. No regrets. Met the hype. Serving it warmer than recommended definitely was the way to go. Dangerous stuff - very potent but the alcohol is pretty well masked and it's so tasty, you find yourself drinking it quicker than you intended. Really great brew.

Photo of bowzer4birdie
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

2009 vintage: Big malty body, liquorice, molasses, coffee and dark chocolate. held up well, not the sugar bomb per se that others have alluded to.
2010 vintage: Appears to be sweeter than 2009. Belly-warming, complex and ballsy for sure.

Photo of RoyalT
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Appearance – This one is interesting even before you pour it. Hold a flashlight up to the cool-looking artisan bottle and you will see mounds of sediment. It looks like there’s more sediment in there than beer.

Watch it again as you pour it from the bottle. It really does ooze instead of flow. I have to go back through my other reviews and delete any reference to “motor oil” after seeing this stuff come out of the bottle.

This 13.00% ABV monster actually brought along a great head. The head is so darkly browned it’s almost black itself. This truly is the “Dark Lord.”

Smell – I can’t even think of any way to describe this without sounding like I’m exaggerating. The malts are burnt, there are about eight different scents of coffee and espresso styles in there, and the fruits are enormous. Every dark fruit I’ve ever had is in this nose. The alcohol is there but in a really good sort of way. Think Kettle One.

Taste – The flavors are like a crowd of people at a pub each one calling for the bartender’s attention. I can hear some screaming, “Coffee, espresso,” and others calling out for, “Dark, heavily roasted and burnt malts.” The “fruit table” in the back room is really getting rowdy.

If I had to focus on one “group” of flavors it would have to be the fruits. They are giant, hybrid fruits that have genetically mutated into unnatural monsters. The cherries and apricots are like giant boulders avalanching down a mountainside. The dates are bigger than a Boeing 747. All of these giant fruits are covered in a chocolate mudslide of historic proportions (think, cheesy 1970s “The Blob” movies).

Mouthfeel – This really does cause one to pause and reassess one’s definition of a “full-bodied” beer. Do I have to go back and change all the other “big beers” I’ve had to “medium?” It’s almost as if they made a thick stout then reduced it down in a saucepan.

This redefines smooth. It just oozes along your teeth and gums. It’s like a really good, sexy, juicy French kiss. Think, “Making out with Pamela Anderson after she just ate a box of Belgian chocolates.” If this beer had a finger sticking out the side of the bottle I’d put a wedding ring on it.

Drinkability – I don’t think it would be accurate to say that it, “masks” the alcohol, because there’s no question when drinking this that it’s got a high ABV. The alcohol is just so good, like really good, high-quality vodka. You know it’s booze, but it goes down like water.

I can sincerely say, without sounding too over-the-top, that this is smoother than water. It is just that good. This is so far above any other Stout that I’ve had it’s a shame that I can’t give it anything higher than all 5’s.

Comments – The most unbelievable part of this story is that the bottle wasn’t even mine. Skyhand was incredible enough to split it with me. Now THAT has to be the ultimate BA sharing experience. I’d push my mama down a flight of stairs if she tried to take a sip of my Dark Lord.

Update – Yes, skyhand was kind enough to share with me a 2005 just after release. It gave us an opportunity to evaluate this amazing beer at a young age.

At this stage, the bitterness was much stronger and the flavors a little less blended together. I think for 2005 they also changed the filtering process because this bottle lacked sediment of any kind.

Overall, is it still a perfect 5.0? Yes, indeedee, it certainly is. This is the pinnacle of the ADS style and stands apart from the crowd like Tiger Woods at a child’s Putt-Putt golf park.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I owe a great thanks to Nchrist13, Nick, for bringing me this bottle from Dark Lord Day 2006. I kept this beer in my fridge for one year and cracked it on Dark Lord Day 2007 in honor of the event.

Appearance is as described on the bottle. Engine oil body with a fomenting carbonation that creates a brown, bubbly head rising from the depths. Lacing is minimal but each swoosh of the glass reinvigorates the head. It persists beautifully for the duration.

Complicated aroma. Lots of molasses and candied dark fruit, coffee, chocolate, boozy cherries, plums, currants, caramel and vanilla.

Equally complicated flavor. Lots of molasses. Very sweet but balanced by those lovely FFF hops. Tons of fruit. Vinous and diverse with most every dark/black fruit one can think of and hints of the tropics. Some Belgian tropical/fruity/yeasty booziness. Cappuccino and French vanilla. Pine resin in the finish.

Warming on the throat but not burning. Mysterious mouthfeel. Sweet and smooth then bitter and harsh. Warm and comfy then intense and challenging. Molten. Public Enemy are liars. Believe the hype

Photo of Smokesnotes
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of tectactoe
4.19/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Thanks to doobliebop for this one! 2012 edition with the red wax, shared with some people at a Super Bowl party. Pours a thick and viscous black color with a thin and measly tan head, even after a pretty aggressive pour. The beer looks pretty dark, commanding, and brash, so I'd say "Dark Lord" is a pretty fitting moniker.

The aroma on is super sweet; vanilla, cocoa powder, oaky and woody, with some creamy coffee mashed in there. Very sweet and roasty on the nose - nearly no hops or hop-like aromas are even detectable on the nose. But the aroma is still pretty fantastic. Caramel and huge brown sugar aromas come out more as this one warms up. It smells like a candy shop, no question about that. I typically like my stouts more bitter and not quite as sweet, but there's still no denying that this beer smells pretty damn good.

Dark Lord cascades over the palate with a super-creamy and smooth mouth feel, and the first and most prominent flavor that comes to mind is super sweet, burnt brown sugar. This beer is sweet as hell. Despite that, the sweetness is manageable, but still a little over the edge. The sweet vanilla and oak flavors come out next; molasses, syrup, coffee with a humongous dose of cream and sugar, sweet, dense currants and dates - all these flavors are present and constantly attacking the palate under the command of that brown sugar flavor that's still running strong.

This beer is certainly boozy, but definitely doesn't feel like 15% ABV; it's possible that the sweetness of this beer subdues the alcohol burn a little bit, and in turn, maybe that's what prevents the sweetness from being cloying, despite its sheer intensity. Tons of flavors clashing; a menagerie of flavors attacking your taste buds and stretching them to the limit. Carbonation is pretty low, the body is still thick and viscous, silky and creamy as hell.

This is one of the sweetest base stouts out there. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't too unmanageable or too cloying, but it was still pretty damn sweet. Then again, it was split 5-ways - I might be saying something else had I finished the entire 22 oz. bottle on my own. Though I typically prefer my RISs to have a heavy bitter offset from a huge hop addition, Dark Lord showed almost no hop character at all and was still pretty enjoyable to me. Vanilla, cocoa, caramel, molasses, dark fruits, oak... This is a great beer; though it may be too sweet to drink a bunch of, Dark Lord is awesome in small pours.

Photo of ricke
4.53/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2008 vintage.

A: Pitch black with a small brown head. The liquid is really viscous.

S: Huge aromas of roasted malts and dark chocolate. Some dark bread, soy sauce and licorice and molasses. A rich and powerful smell.

T: This one really fills the whole mouth with flavors. Every sip is like getting hit by a tidal wave. Roasted malts all around, sweet dark chocolate, more sweet toffee, coffee and caramel. Every now and then, a slightly burnt flavor develops. Woody notes. The taste is predominantly sweet. The finish is quite bitter with big notes of well integrated alcohol, salt, hints of licorice and soy sauce, and perhaps some hop notes.

M: Mouthfeel is off the chart on this one. Ridiculously big body, viscous like old engine oil and smooth beyond belief.

D: So, what to say about this one, the dark lord, one of the white whales? Well, it's just a great beer. Fantastic mouthfeel, rich and powerful taste, and very complex. However, it's a little on the sweet side, so it's not perfect. But I actually think it manages to live up to it's reputation.

Photo of CavemanRamblin
3/5  rDev -29.9%

Photo of jono0101
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of brownbeer
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured this one(2009)playing world 8 of Mario 3.
Rich oily, completely opaque in color with much dirty brown head.

This is a sit and contemplate beer for sure. Low carbonation with dark chocolate roasty flavors. A bit smokey, dark red fruits(raspberry,cherry).

I enjoyed this festival, going next year and as long as they keep doing this. Love your neighbor.

Photo of Schlais
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of cjn40277
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of Spaten454
2/5  rDev -53.3%

Photo of ajkiser12
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of delaced21
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of SkiBum22
3.53/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Dark brown w/ one finger of bubbly espresso coloured head.

S - Big coffee nose up front with some noticeable alcohol, roasted malts and char. There is a big sweetness here too that is balanced by the ABV somewhat.

T - Chocolate and coffee with a big bold molasses sweetness. Vanilla and dates and figs. Quite sweet which definitely hides the booze completely.

M - The feel is thick and syrupy with a long coating finish. It does go flat about halfway through the glass though.

O - This beer did not live up to the hype for me. I love the fact that it's 15% ABV as I wish more breweries would try to make beers this strong. It's definitely an above average stout and good for the high ABV but this beer is way overhyped. I would not trade for this considering what you have to give up to get a bottle.

Photo of Ben7773
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of AdvocateFan
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

So here we are, Christmas 2011… 786 days after receipt of this bottle, a gift the night before my wedding from one of my groomsmen, I prepare to drink my first sips of Dark Lord. This is the 2007 bottling, picked up by my friend at Dark Lord Day 2007, which took place April 28th. So, it’s been 1702 days since it was picked up, or about 4.66 years. The cap opens with a small pffft, not surprising, though I’m concerned since it’s wax-dipped (silver) so I expected no oxidative damage or air leakage. The head starts about ¼" thick, and it is vocal, snapping and crackling like a cindering log. It’s got a coagulated blood red hue to the deep brown color. Ok, maybe more mahogany, but the ruddy hues are unexpected. The beer coats the side of the glass in a brown, tobacco-juice like layer, and has a cola-like appearance. The coating layer is like looking through vintage negatives… The beer is not pitch black, it’s a dark brown, but it looks like coke at the edges. The smell is, of course, deeply malty. Reminds me a bit of bourbon, but without the booze. Some serious mash… Cherry undertones, and lots of port and madeira wine taking charge of the nose. Plums are in there, as are some of the strongest, “freshest” raisin notes I’ve ever picked up from a beer. Fresh out of the box CA-raisins. Really prominent. Fig newton filling pretty robust as well. I get a bit of box board, and paper, hopefully that isn’t an oxidation issue. I get almost no alcohol notes, which is just nuts at 13%+ABV. Ah, as it warms, and I swirl, the booze does get coaxed out. But much deeper and below the surface than anticipated. Slight burnt note, some chocolate, almost no coffee. It’s big-time madeira style. Crazy. Oh wow, first sip down… it is thick! Very thick. I can feel the weight of it hit my stomach. My word, this is nice. Extraordinarily mellow, considering how big and bold a beer this is. Chocolate comes out quite a bit on the palate, more so than I would have expected from the nose. There are no burnt notes, nothing scorched, just thick, almost milky chocolate and cocoa. A bit of mocha flavor as well. Lots of molasses in the fade. Suggestions of black licorice and a splash of vanilla emerge, but its amazingly port- and madeira-like. It’s rich without being sweet or at all cloying. Coats my front teeth in a way that makes me fear they’ll be permanently stained. But the good Lord has blessed me with the opportunity to try this beer, and I’ll embrace the risk. Finishes with a bit of charcoal and chalky dryness, which is a nice shift as the palate is dried out after all the rich maltiness, and, well, 'refreshed' is not the right word, but 'readied' for the next sip sounds about right. A very nice experience. Wish I had tried it fresh and had something to baseline it against, but it is quite a nice beer at nearly 5 years old and a very rewarding experience. Merry Christmas to me!!

Photo of tuckevalastin
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2009 release

A: Very dark black with no head

S: Dark roasted malts with chocolate and vanilla tones and some underlying raison/dark fruit.

T: The taste is all roasted malt and chocolate/vanilla/caramel. Very good taste and not too much of the alcohol comes through.

M: Lots of heat but not much carbonation. It's full and it's heavy.

D: This is the definition of a sipper.

Overall, this is THE imperial stout. I'm highly impressed and would certainly recommend that any beer lover at leat try this one.

Photo of newk340
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of DahWag
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of orbitalr0x
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Fresh 2006 bottle with cool new gold wax seal. This year's batch was brewed with IntelligentsiA coffee. Pours from the bomber a thick, viscous used motor oil black with a sturdy half inch of dense dark tan foam. Sticky, spotty lacing on the glass. Looks damn good to me! Aromas are huge with dark chocolate and dark fruits, especially cherry. Roasted coffee notes invade the nostrils and intice me even further. Exceedingly complex, I get hints of vanilla, molasses and a huge roasted maltiness. Green hops are there but serve mostly as a nice backdrop. Awesome...not much more I can say.

First sip brings a thick blast of dark, roasty maltiness. Chocolate and espresso come together alongside a deep dark fruit presence, with cherry coming to the forefront again. Notes of vanilla, caramel and some nuttiness. Green, cirtic hops hit on the way down are nice and well placed. A slight alcohol warmth as I get through the first glass. No doubt, this in an amazing brew. This year's version is intensely enjoyable.

Mouthfeel is big and chewy with a rich maltiness. Smooth and suprisingly easy to drink, I'm gonna enjoy the hell outta this bottle, a definite sipper. I'm happy to report that I love this year's version easily as much as the 2005 version. I'll be cracking an orange waxed '05 bottle soon to see how it's holding up. Dark Lord reigns supreme in my book.

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Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub
96 out of 100 based on 3,519 ratings.