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Dark Lord Imperial Stout - 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout

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1,217 Reviews
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Reviews: 1,217
Hads: 3,939
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 14.49%
Wants: 3,082
Gots: 1,844 | FT: 149
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: cretemixer on 12-13-2002

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
Maroon wax = 2015 15% ABV
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 1,217 | Hads: 3,939
Photo of Patchmaster
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is my first review so I figured go big or go home!!! This beer was shared with my two brother in laws. One is a novice and likes his bud light. The other traveled in from Seattle for the 4th holiday and is constantly looking for the holy grail of beers. So here goes...

A - The beer poured a jet black with a hint of brown undertones spewing out after the pour. Almost like the dark lord himself rising from the ground.

S - I would best describe it as a coffee smell with a hint of chocolate and dark fruit flavors. Very enjoyable!

T - This is where this beer excels. You can really taste the espresso and chocolate with a dark fruits flavor without the hard hitting alcohol taste

M - This is a very thick and creamy beer with a coating left to your mouth.

D - I could definitely drink one by myself and will the next time around, but this is a beer worth sharing. My brother in laws thoroughly enjoyed the beer. I imagine I will store two of these and plan on a Christmas Eve celebration once the kids go down. Sit by the fireplace and enjoy a bottle to myself. I can't get this taste out of my head. So long Dark Lord until we meet again...

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Photo of lanamj
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage pored into a tulip. Got this one on a trade thanks StayWhatYouAre2!!

A- Pours a oil black with a caramel head that disolves rather quickly into a light film that resides on the top of the beer throughout. The lacing is light but even.

S- What a great smelling beer lots of dark fruit, sweet malts, chocolate, molasses and coffee. It holds such a well balanced aroma, this is by far one of the best smelling stouts i have ever had.

T- As if the smell wasn't enough!! Lots of dark fruits and chocolate. Some alcohol and coffee bitterness. Molasses seems to reside towards the finish. The flavor is so complementary to the smell... there identical twins. Only problem here is it's a little to sweet.

M- Just how it should be thick and smooth. It has a very nice creamy feel like a milk stout. I couldn't ask for anything more in a stout. It perfect.

O- As long as they make it I'll look for it and love it. I cant wait to try some of my older vintages. The flavor and smell are so nice and the mouth feel is perfect for the style. It does have a high ABV so to many would be hard to accomplish, with that being said this is a once a year drinker. For a special occasion or just to be the life of the tasting.

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Photo of JamesTerry88
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First dark lord ever; tried a 2014. Can't wait to crack open my 2013 DL soon. Hoping to get more vintage & 2014 Dark Lord in the future. Best beer I've ever had to date. Pours like oil; love the sweetness & mouthfeel of this beer. All hail the Dark Lord!!!¡!!!¡!

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Photo of rwdkosak
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip producing an extremely dark and thick brew under cocoa-colored head that quickly fades to simply dark-chocolate color. Nose is more subtle than expected with sweet malt, currant, raisin and just a hint of alcohol at the end. Taste is more raisin up front, currant, almost port-like though not quite as thick and chewy. Possibly a hint of smoke mixes in as alcohol takes a turn before and during the finish that gives a nice warming feel but certainly not overpowering. Overall this was a highly anticipated tasting and it hasnt' let me down! Despite it's higher ABV, I could sit and sip this for quite a while.

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Photo of ChrisP802
4.51/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2006 Gold Wax Dark Lord Drank 8/15/2015
Wasn't too sure how this beer would hold up after all those years, but good ol' Scott assured us it would
Pour - Deep darkness with basically no head
Smell - chocolate, sweet, soy saucy
Taste - incredibly smooth, not too sweet due to aging I suppose, multiple chocolatey tastes
Overall - I don't think I could hold on to something that long, but if I do it would be classified as a good life decision

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Photo of beerad666
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured the 2009 vintage of Dark Lord into a Snifter glass. It poured out nice and thick, but thinner then the 2008. You get some deep brown and dark amber highlights in the glass. Seeing this in the glass just makes the mouth water. The liquid coats the glass but not as much as a Bourbon County Stout. A bourbon booze aroma comes out huge in the first sniff. The coffee notes are hidden by the chocolate and some dried fruits like plum and raspberry come out as it warms up. Very sweet and boozy all around. The alcohol hits you up front right away for a moment but then this dried fruit tartness washes it away. The sweet chocolate, molasses and vanilla quickly then take over the mouth. As it finishes there is a nice coffee bitter. But again in the taste the coffee isn't as pronounced as I was looking for, but don't get me wrong this is a complex and balanced beer. If I could I would drink this all night long, but the 2008 is fabulous so I'm looking forward to seeing how the 2009 vintage ages.

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Photo of seanpachefddfa
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Appearance - Poured a opaque black with a 1/2 inch brown head that hung around for good bit. Almost poured like used oil
Smell - a lot going on in the nose dark fruits, burnt malts, coffee, cocoa, and mabey some molasses and brown sugar. Very complex
Taste - Very good a bit more mild than what i was expecting from the nose but very good. Chocolate, coffee and some dark red cherries in the flavor.
Mouthfeel - The thickest beer i have ever had. Its almost like they reduced it. Very little carbonation
Drinkability - This was a great beer i hope to go to dl days 09 to get more.

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Photo of RodneyX
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Green wax, 2010 vintage.

Pours dead black, small brown head. Smells of roast, caramel, molasses, chocolate, slight coffee, exceptionally rich and not hot for 15%. The beer tastes huge, with flavors of all type pounding your tongue. Rich and smooth, it has a great blend of slight booze, chocolate, molasses, rich malts, and other goodness you would want in an RIS. Way too drinkable, I knocked out most of the bottle myself and then fell asleep.

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Photo of Rymar9
4.54/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Review: Three Floyds  Dark Lord 2011 - yellow wax

Appearance- well, dark lord is dark. Pours pitch black with a minimal tan head that dissipates right away. Pretty decent carbonation and very thick. 

Smell- smells of sweet chocolate malt, dried fruit, with a light touch of nutty espresso. Smells very good.

Taste- tastes pretty similar to the smell except with a pretty intense sweetness. Did not expect it to be this sweet. Very sweet roasty taste with a touch of vanilla as it warms a bit. Alcohol is present near the end but only slightly.

Mouthfeel- mouthfeel is smooth and thick, but not too thick. Light carbonation. 

Overall- overall it is a very good beer. My only complain is the intense sweetness with the first couple of sips. As the beer warms, I believe it becomes more balanced and the aftertaste it leaves in your mouth is quite nice. I'm anxious to get another bottle to cellar for a year or so and see how that mellows the taste.  

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Photo of HopasaurusRex
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 vintage - black wax.

Poured into my Stone IRS goblet. A memorable beer for a special occasion . . .

Dark as a starless sky in wintry New England. No cirrus clouds of foam. Just enveloping darkness. None more black.

Aromas waft and swirl around the lip of the glass. Dark chocolate brownie batter stirred vigorously in a bowl. Burnt molasses from the refinery down the road. Dry roasted espresso beans.

Layers and layers of flavor. Deep, dark, roasty Sumatra coffee touched with cream. Port-filled chocolate truffles. Dried fruit cocktail. Heady burn from the alcohol in the finish.

Ah, but the mouthfeel is where this beer really distinguishes itself. It coats the tongue and slides slowly down the throat. Thick, rich, and viscous from start to finish. A beer meant to be sipped and savored.

Take two and save one in the cellar for a special occasion.

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Photo of truthbrew
4.11/5  rDev -4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on cask at The Map Room in Chicago. Perhaps the thickest beer I've ever sampled. Pitch black, wish I would have had a small flashlight to view with. Carbonation was nil, as was head, which was not unexpected.Smells of heavily roasted malt, hints of coffee and chocolate. Very sweet, I have a feeling the low carbonation of the cask really hid any hop bitterness that may have been there. Given the sweetness I experienced, was surprised to read here that this beer is 13% ABV. Little perceivable alcohol presence.

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Photo of cracker
3.35/5  rDev -21.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to warriorsoul for sharing a bottle with me. So I finally get to try this highly sought after beer. It pours thick like molasses. Very little carbonation or head. Smells like dark fruits, raisins, prunes. First impression on taste is way too sweet. However, the hops and roasted malts seems to balance it out quite well. Sort of reminds me of port, a very sweet one. Although I can appreciate this beer for what its worth, I think there is more hype around it than anything else. I'd definitely try it again but it's not a top 10 or even 20 beer for me.

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Photo of etaggie09
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

I'll make this review very short. If you've ever had a Cuban coffee (espresso with lots of sugar), it's like they tried to make a beer out of a milkshake made out of gourmet caramel candies flavored like Cuban coffee.

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Photo of pepsican
4.15/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

I've had multiple samples from different years. Figured I might as well rate the fresh sample, so this is for the 08. Pour pours black with a thin tan head. Aroma is chocolate, coffee, and a bit of cherry. Flavor is up front coffee, chocolate, molasses, caramel, toffee. Very viscous. This clings to every part of my mouth. A bit of hop bitterness, some hint of the abv.

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Photo of Swimsum
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Had this on June 11th and have to give a big, no HUGE, thanks to Nick (ThreeWiseMen) for sharing this with myself and Trevor (lynx1245). Reviewed from notes. Poured into a snifter. EDIT: This review is for a 2009 bottle

A: Pours a very thick oil black. Absolutely no light gets through when held up to the light. Very small espresso head forms and quickly recedes to a ring around the glass. Swirling the beer brings the head back but only for a little bit. No lacing is present at all, and swirling coats the glass with a thin clear film. Looks like what a RIS should look like.

S: I thought I was crazy but as noted in Nick's review, the first smell is one of bananas/banana bread. Also in there is dark chocolate and some sugary smells. Got molasses toward the end of the glass but was faint for me. Are we sure this is a RIS? Wouldn't know it by just the smell, very interesting for sure.

T: Coffee and dark chocolate are the first things I taste. Very different from the smell. Roasty notes are detected and a bit of alcohol in the finish. The black coffee taste sticks around long after each drink. About 5 to 10 minutes into this I hit the banana flavor. Again very interesting for a RIS. I really would have liked more up front taste in this but overall it was super good and delicious.

M: This just coats the entire mouth. Good thickness, warming from the alcohol. Not harsh at all, love the mouthfeel of this.

D: This thing is 13%?!?! Would have never guessed that from the taste of this thing. Goes down way too smooth for a 13% beer. I was the first one done and that saddened me and I wished I had more to drink. Sadly, no, it was all gone. I'm really glad I got to try this and if you are able to get your hands on this, you will not be disappointed.

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Photo of 2BDChicago
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2010 edition

A: Clean, deep, black. slight dark tan foam that quickly disappears.

S: Appealing dark roasty malts, brown sugar, low level dark fruits. Is there some faint citrusy hops way in the back?

T: A bunch of dark sweetness come together in the proper mix. The balance to th e sweet is there, but is it the alcohol or earthy hops? I don't understand how this brew balances, but it does. It syrupy but like a great port. Would like to try and save my last five bottles and put some age on them, I think this brew will only get better.

D: This brew is legendary so it's hard to be objective, and to boot these are local brewer heros to me. You've got to give this brew it's credit, it's over the top but it works, and all other Russians must be judged against this. 10,000 folks at Dark Lord Days can't be wrong.

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Photo of Rbald42
3.76/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 much-debated vintage opened tonight. Thanks to Alen (RIP) for the beer. When I started BA, I thought that this beer was the end-all be-all of beers to try. Boy did I have a lot to learn.

A- Black as night, dark dark dark with chocolate 1 finger head. Looks good
S- One of the weaker points as far as this vintage is concerned. I get a strong soy/smoky aroma on first whiff (not good). Hints of chocolate and and roasted notes. Kinda smells like prime rib for a split second.
T- On first sip I got an initial soyness from the beer, but it lessened as I drank onward. I get dark roasted malts and chocolate with hints of coffee and a milky sweetness mixed with toffee.
M- Thick and dare I say "chewy" sticky and coats the mouth. Slightly cloying and sticky sweet in a not-so good way.
D- Average, there is a lot to tackle in a single bottle. The sweetness and soy flavors make it quite a chore to finish off a single bottle. I kinda enjoyed it however. Glad I tried one, don't think I'll trade for another anytime soon.

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Photo of Mattys21
4.94/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5


Are you sure this is classified as beer? Holy crap, what an experience...

A- Pours like motor oil with a minimum head...jet black all the way through.

S- raisins, molasses, brown sugar, dark chocolate, coffee, vanilla.
T - Mother of God this tastes like the nectar of Gods...plums, dark chocolate, roasty toasty coffee, bourbon, big bold alcohol, vanilla, wow.

O- unreal. that's all. every person who enjoys big imp stouts needs to try this once in your life.

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Photo of FARGO619
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A-Amazing bright jet black color. Little head retention. Like a strong coffee and light mocha head.

S- A lot going here. Love the aroma on this beer. Chocolate, hints of vanilla, subtle cherry.

T- Amazing flavor, very complex. Hits every flavor that you could ever want in a imperial stout. Very heavy in dark chocolate and strong coffee. Great taste...love it.

M- Awesome soft mouthfeel on this one. Went down smooth and the flavor is just amazing.

Not one to look out for as a need to have beer, but one I am sure to want to try again.

Serving type: bottle/22oz.

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Photo of inhoc00
4.11/5  rDev -4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Purchased 2008 Dark Lord from local beer store from "back room". Opened for 30th bday.

A - Yeah just like it said: dark as dark. Not sure if it would be possible to be darker than Goose Island Bourbon County Stout but, yeah.

S - What's the deal? Nothing. I thought maybe it was too fresh? Let it sit out for about 20 minutes and started to open up, but nothing mind blowing.

T - Same thing as smell, took some time for flavor to come but when it did still very light vanilla, coffee. More sweet than bitter.

M - This is the category I will give this beer all the credit. For being an Imperial Stout at this alcohol level, it was amazingly smooth. Pretty thick with amazing balance of carbonation, alcohol.

D - A very easy drink for an imperial stout. With the alc. level being what it is, you could be a one and done very quick. I have to say on a side note that although this was a very well balanced imp. stout, I think the hype around this is what carries this beer to its reputation. I may have had a bad bottle but this was not as complex as other imp. stouts nor do I believe this is even Three Floyds best beer.
It was great to drink one and be part of the hype, but I don't think, for the price, I would ever buy another.

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Photo of tuckevalastin
4.57/5  rDev +6.8%
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.

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Photo of telecomz
3.48/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Green wax - 2010

A: Black pour with 1/4" head. Dissipates quickly.

S: Choco, coffee and molasses and alcohol.

T: Molasses is very prominent. Some coffee and chocolate. Very hot. A bit too much.

M: Disappointed with how thin this feels; it's viscosity appears in almost all write-ups.

D: OK.

This is my first bottle of DL. I love this style. As a local, I guess I'm spoiled by Kate.

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

Bottled, 2010. Wow, finally! Black pour, brown head. Nose is smoke, coffee, chocolate, raisins, soy sauce. Flavor is malty, smoky, coffee, bittersweet chocolate. Finish is slightly bitter. Thick, viscous mouthfeel. Excellent, but not sure it lives up to the hype.

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

After years of wonder, I have at last been provided the opportunity to satisfy my curiosity, and answer once and for all the question that's always been on the back of my mind around this time of year... is Dark Lord worth the hype?

Appearance: Dark, nearly pitch black with a definite dark brown head at the very top. Very minimal carbonation, but some still.

Smell: Dark fruits, like raisins and the sweetness of plums. Even some hints of apples, not bad by any means though.

Taste: Wasn't what I was expecting at all. Reminds me a bit of the World Wide Stout and BCBS. The booze-iness is well masked, but a few sips in and I'm already feeling a bit tipsy. Raisins, plums and molasses abound, with hints of chocolate. I couldn't taste any coffee in it, even if I tried though. If I could rate this part a 4.75, I would, but for generosity's sake I give it a 5, albeit not a solid one.

Mouth-feel: Nice and thick, the way I prefer my stouts. Even when I set my glass down, the ripples in the glass are slow and lazy-like.

Overall: My overall impression is a positive one. I knew going into this beer that the thickness of the hype surrounding this brew was as thick as the stout itself. Whether it meets the hype is another story in which I will not give an answer to, because frankly, it doesn't really matter. At the end of the day what we have here is a fine beer by any craft beer lover's standards, and as someone who does not particularly like hoppy beers, which is typically the Three Floyds' trademark taste, I would have to say this is Three Floyds' best beer(and one of the better beer's I've had in recent times) and wish it was more accessible to the public.

Is it worth the hype? Can't say. Is it worth the price and perseverance in obtaining tickets and clearing your Saturday schedule to obtain? Absolutely.

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Photo of Dennoman
3.08/5  rDev -28%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 vintage (yellow wax), poured into a snifter.

A: Ruby red into mahogany brown, nowhere near as black as I like my big stouts to be. More reminiscent of a strong porter, has an awkward Coca Cola quality to it. Tan brown head, all in all it looks quite average.

S: Even at room temperature, I didn't get heaps off the smell. Minor coffee, caramel and dark fruits, but mostly booze and sugar. Slight irony notes, sickly sweetness and verging on unpleasant.

T: Caramel and dark fruits, no bitterness and no alcohol. Alcohol rushes in on the aftertaste, leading to a very dry finish that leaves almost nothing on the palate.

M: Sticky, oily and dry.

O: The hype completely killed this beer for me. I went into it with the thought: "with all the fuss, it had better be amazing" and it was a disappointing, unbalanced and sickly sweet mess. Any notes other than sugar were few and far between, leading to one of the most disappointing beer tastings I've ever undertaken. The sad demise of a would-be champion.

Reading all the reviews that praise this beer into the heavens, I wonder if either they or I were drinking something completely different from the same bottle.

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Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,217 ratings.