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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

3,516 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,516
Reviews: 1,171
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 14.95%
Wants: 2,849
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: 3,516 | Reviews: 1,171 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of WesWes
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer pours a pitch black color with a thick frothy tan head that slowly fades to lacing. The aroma is great! It has a killer black and chocolate malt scent with lots of heat. Wow, this is what I'm talking about; very intoxicating. The taste is amazing! It has an incredible black malt flavor with a decent amount of bitterness and a nice chocolate edge. The alcohol is present, but quite welcoming. The mouthfeel is fine. It is a full bodied beer with adequate carbonation. This is a glorious beer! It's incredibly complex with loads of great black and chocolate malt flavor. The warmth endears me more to the entire experience. I'm sorry it took me so long to try this. Cheers!

Photo of jwc215
4.2/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to ralflord for this one!
2007 vintage:

Pours black/dark brown with a fleeting light brown head. No lacing, but some "legs".

The smell is of prunes, raisins, chocolate. Strong.

The taste is of sweetened prunes/dates/figs with chocolate and brown sugar. Sweet, but not in an artificial way. Very prune-ish. Finishes a bit sticky.

Rich and full-bodied. Syrupy with little carbonation. Very dense. Thick. Sticky. Still, first few sips went down well enough.

It's nice enough to sip on it, but it is like an overly rich cake - can only do so much. The alcohol isn't raw, but does creep in.

Worth the hype? Mixed feelings. It does have a rich maltiness that is subtley balanced (while remaining sweet), but very sticky and almost too rich.

Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of Mora2000
3.43/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Exiled for sharing this bottle.

2009 vintage. Pours black with no head. Very dark brown highlights at the edges. the aroma is very nice, with some oak and vanilla. You also get some milk chocolate and the slightest hint of soy sauce. The flavor is not as good as the aroma, but still not bad. The chocolate and vanilla are still there along with some roasted malt. You also get some soy sauce which is not a flavor I really enjoy. The mouthfeel is very thick and there is very low carbonation. The beer leaves an oily residue on the glass similar to a Samuel Adams Triple Bock.

Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of kojevergas
3.36/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

2010 vintage bottle acquired from the very gracious Duff27. Green wax-ed over pressure cap bottle. 650ml brown glass bottle with interesting label art served into a Guinness goblet in me parents' gaff in high altitude Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are sky high given the brewery and its current 96 rating. Reviewed as a Russian Imperial Stout because the label description identifies it as such.

Served cold - straight from the fridge - and allowed to warm over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

A: No bubble show forms as it's poured.

Pours a half finger khaki-tan head which recedes inside 10 seconds.

Body colour is a solid opaque jet-black. No floating yeast particles are visible; it's quite clean.

Overall, I'm a bit underwhelmed.

Sm: Molasses, chocolate, wisps of dark fruit, dark malts, chocolate malt, and some acidic ash. Depleted cherry. A biteen burnt. Somewhat vinous. Crappucino.

It's pretty reticent for an imperial stout, but I'm intrigued. A pleasant if somewhat muted aroma of mild strength.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

T: Sweet, sure, with plenty of fruit - dark and sweet alike. Plum, cherry. Ash. Tobacco. Vague molasses. Nebulous vinous character. Black currants. I do get some char/ash. It's balanced, sure, but nowhere near as complex/subtle/intricate/nuanced as I expected given its rarity and high rating. It's certainly on the sweeter side.

Above average depth of flavour. Average duration and intensity of flavour.

More cynical reviewers might claim there's a soy sauce note.

No yeast character or alcohol comes through.

Mf: Smooth and wet. Nice body and thickness. A biteen overcarbonated. Nice presence on the palate. Lightly syrupy. Sticky. Has weight.

Not oily, astringent, gushed, hot, boozy, or harsh.

Dr: Certainly drinkable for the high ABV. Sure I'd buy it if I saw it in the store, but it isn't worth seeking out to be honest. I expected far better, but it's nice. I don't know that age has made any substantial difference/developments. It has many characteristics which evoke more of a port-wine or liqueur character. I know many claim it's too sweet, and I can see that argument, but I think it's fine as-is. I'm real disappointed. Thanks for the opportunity to try it, Duff27.

Low B-

Photo of InspectorBob
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of Gueuzedude
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2009 release; Sampled December 2009; Served at 60+ degrees Fahrenheit.
Slow to form, but ultimately thick, three finger thick head that lingers for quite some time, but doesn' leave much in the way of lacing on the sides of my 25cl tulip glass. The beer is pitch black of cours. Aroma of coffee liquor, dark chocolate, sweetened roasted malt, some smooth alcohol notes. Much more simplistic than I remember, but it is still rich and definitely satisfies my current hunger for a rich stout.

This beer is definitely thick, rich and mouth coating; definitely on the syrupy side of the beer texture spectrum. Quite sweet, which really helps to temper the huge roast character, but in the finish the roast becomes quite bitter and perhaps even a bit astringent; the sweetness never fades as both the roast and the rich sweetness really lingers on the palate for a long time. The dark notes in this beer are layered with bitter black coffee, dark chocolate, acidic roast malt and burnt grain notes. The mouthfeel is quite rich, but can seem a bit thin at times compared to what I remember this beer being.

When I first had this in 2004, it was so rich and so decadent compared to anything else I had ever had. This definitely hasn't withstood the test of time. This is definitely a grand example of the decadent American take on the style, but really isn't nearly as lush, rich or complex as my memory had it being.

2004 bottle release, Sampled April 2004
4.55 total
4/4.5/5/4/4.5
Strong notes of alcohol and port. Notes of roast malt, coffee, toffee, chocolate liquor, are also found in the nose. The beer is thick viscous, and pours a deep midnight black color with a bit of carbonation but only a dusting of bubbles on the surface. When roused a thick creamy dark brown head forms, one of the darkest heads I have ever seen.

Holy shit, I have never tasted a beer with such a stupefyingly thick body as this. It is very creamy and coats my mouth, it is like sipping on syrup. As expected with this body, it is quite sweet. The sweetness is accentuated by a fresh hop flavor, that when combined give this beer a concentrated fruitiness. This thing must have been heavily hopped in order to have such prominent hop flavor in an Imperial Stout of this stature. From the front to the middle back of this beer you would guess that this was a bottle of concentrated hop nectar, floral character abounds with, grapefruit, bergamot, cherry, concentrated raisin and plum.

The alcohol is not nearly as evident in the taste and the dark malt flavors are not as strong as I was expecting, the fresh hop character seems to mute them out quite a bit. The finish is quite bitter, though with the thick mouth-coating malt sweetness it is hard to pick out at first, but it is really the lingering bitterness long after the beer has left my mouth that lets you know that this is bittered quite well. The dark malt flavors kick in the end as well, just before the bitterness. Notes of concentrated espresso, bitter chocolate, burnt raisin, burnt caramel.

I must admit that with this intense fresh hop flavor, I am not sure that I want to hold on to the rest of these for a long time, though the 4 inches of sludge at the bottom of this bottle (even after a month of sitting) say that I need to move these to my lagering fridge for quite a bit. The fresh hop flavor is quite good right now, and it is so dominant that I can not even guess how this beer will continue to age. I have a feeling that in a year or two this will be a totally and unexpectedly different beer from what it is now. I have no doubt that the Dark Lord will age gracefully for the next 10 or even 20 years, but will it be better than it is now. Oh well only time will tell, I will just have to hang on to a couple over the years.

Photo of GClarkage
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of imperialking
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of orangesol
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to Deuane for busting this one out of the basement for Hojaminbag and myself to try at 2am on DLD. 2007 silver waxed bottle poured into a taster glass.

A - Pours opaque black with a small half finger tall dark tan head, dissipating down to almost nothing, leaving my glass tinted a dark shade of brown.

S - Smells of rich chocolate sweetness, dark roasted coffee, dark fruits like figs and raisins, light vanilla sweetness, and a very faint cherry twang. This one has aged beautifully over the last four years.

T - Plenty of chocolate sweetness up front slowly giving way to a mix of dark roasted coffee and more chocolate malt. As the sweetness begins to die down you can detect some of the vanilla, dark fruits, and a bit more of that cherry twang. Finish has tons of sweet roast lingering for quite awhile. This is one of the better vintages of DL I have had.

M - Heavy body and flavor with moderate carbonation. Sticky sweet feel with plenty of lingering roast in the finish. I have had this fresh and aged, and aged is by far the way to go.

O - I have had a few of the other vintages of DL before and they have all been excellent. This one has aged very well with most of the rough edges being smoothed out and the over the top booze dieing down a bit. Excellent stuff. Thanks again Deuane.

Photo of yourefragile
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2010, green wax, 22 oz bottle, sampled with the four 2011 barrel variants.

Pours a thick, opaque black with a thin, transient dark mocha head. Boozy and hot aroma of chocolate and coffee, slightly fruity, minimal roast. Flavor is similar, bordering on too sweet with a slight bitter finish; light fruit notes under the strong and syrupys chocolate and coffee malt. Thick, viscous, chewy body with low carbonation and a hot finish. First time trying to a regular Dark Lord (not sure why I never opened a bottle before) and enjoyed this more than I expected.

Photo of stakem
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Multiple reviews added together, scoring reflects the top notes.

2010 bottle reviewed on 11/20/10.

This is the first of my bottles to be opened since DLD and shared with friends who couldn't attend the release. Poured into a snifter, dark lord appears a dark brown color that displays some clarity and lighter brown coloration around the edges. Closer inspection reveals some ruby hues. There is no head to be found, some swirls release some very dark brown bubbles that dissolve immediately.

The smell of this brew is hot with alcohol with indications of licorice, molasses and some smokey notes that come across a bit like bitter black chocolate. Some faint citrus hops are evident in the back.

The taste is bold with alcohol mixed with dark chocolate. Licorice with a bitter roasted quality that leaves a taste of chocolate in the mouth. Some fruity indications suggest citrus hops blended with fusel alcohol that almost has an evaporative quality on the tongue. There is a smokey element and coffee flavors as well as it warms.

This is a thick brew with a low level of carbonation. It clings and coats the inside of your mouth with a sugary grainy sweetness that isn't cloying because of the alcohol and contrasting bitterness. As a sipper at ~15% it is quite drinkable and complex.

- - - -
2008 bottle care of Slatetank on 10/23/10, thanks for sharing Matt!

Pours black with a severely tanned to brown head. It appears nearly black in color with some lighter coloration of brown around the edges. Faint spotty lace clings to the glass. This brew seemingly stains the glass with a sticky particle filled layering.

The aroma is filled with a smokey molasses sweetness and dark roasty grain that imparts a scent of chocolate. A touch of mineral quality and sweet smelling grain that is reminiscent of a fresh brew day. Slight notes of oxidation with a herbal spicy "meatiness" that lingers through the back of the nose.

The taste is sweet molasses with dark roasted grain coupled with alcohol and herbal hops. It leaves an almost meaty flavor inside the mouth that is interesting to say the least. Lingers with a roasted grain and bitterness that is a combo of hops and burnt grain. The abv is still apparent but each sip seemingly yields more sweetness. A very full, thick bodied brew that has a light level of carb yet maintains decent drinkability. It's an experience that everyone needs to try at least once.

- - - -
2011 bottle consumed on 7/5/11 (running low on character space so keeping this brief) This years very well might be the thinnest feeling of the years I have sampled. It is much easier to approach and has a very distinct anise character to the aroma and flavor. A light touch of oxidation/soy included as well as the typical flavors of bitter chocolate, coffee and lingering sweetness/herbal touch of hops. Bold alcohol yet contrasted nicely by the residual sweetness that isnt cloying.

Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of dbrauneis
4.13/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle share in Hoboken, NJ.

2011 Vintage.

A: Pours an opaque midnight black in color. The beer has a very thin dark tan head that quickly reduces to nothing. There is no lacing observed with this beer.

S: There are aromas of cocoa, vanilla, bourbon, caramel, and milk chocolate. A very nice complexity to the aroma of this beer. Some dark fruit sweetness from the plum/dark cherries and just the slightest hint of soy.

T: The flavor of this beer is quite interesting with a good amount of sweetness. There is some definite dark fruit, plum and dark cherries, contributing to the sweetness upfront. After that, the flavors of the vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, and caramel come through next. After that, there is a slightly unpleasant soy sauce taste that comes and then goes. Finally, the finish of this beer is a little of bitter chocolate.

M: On the lighter side of full bodied with light amounts of carbonation. A little thinner than I desired.

O: Very enjoyable and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to try this one. Maybe a little more highly rated that I expected after tasting it but definitely a good beer. I found the hints of soy sauce a little unpleasant but otherwise the complexity of the flavor/smell was great.

Photo of corby112
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of weeare138
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to kmpitz2 for this '05 version...
Appears a pitch black with a dark tan, 3 finger head that slowly fades out. Spots of lace are left all around the glass.
Smell is of chocolate, toffee, citrusy hops, anise, coffee, oatmeal, maple/mollasses syrupy and whiskey-ish...very complex and addictive.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas. Great mix of the aromas with a rich, tobacco like flavor mixed in to the mix of the wonderful aromas.
Mouthfeel is of rich syrup, full bodied, maple and malt sugars that stick to the palate with a remarkable hoppiness that is trying to come through this malt billed monster.
I enjoyed this so much. It's very rich and syrupy with sugar abound! Excellent work. Notch another one up for the Americans.

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

What can be added about this one? Sampled at the Blind Tiger thanks to Mike/eyedrinkale. Pours coal Black with a creamy darkest of tans head. Creamy, rich and milkshake like in mouthfeel. Loads of flavor bursting onto the palate. Coffee, chocolate, raisins, figs, burnt fruits. Complex, bold, flavorful...simply world class....wonderfully dark, thick and sludgy. Wish I could get my hands on more of this stuff!

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

2007 version. I won't get into the debate about whether or not this beer lives up to the hype. I sometimes think that certain cognoscenti bash a beer because it is hyped and downgrade its performance for that reason. The opposite is obviously true as well- people sometime review a hyped beer off the charts since they went through such lengths to obtain it and it is supposed to be good. Regardless, I didn't chase this down as a quest, I didn't go to Darklord Day, and I didn't trade my first born. It was shared with me by a kind soul and I felt like I could review this objectively. In any caes, its a damn good beer.

Pours black and absolutely opaque with a thick dark head that fades a good bit. Huge aromas of licorice, molasses, and treacle, as well as a nice sustained rooty bitterness. The taste is massive, with an onslaught of sweet, fruity, grainy, chocolate, licorice and coffee. The deep herbal bitterness and alcohol helps balance the massive sweetness. Even the sweeet elements have a slightly charred edge to them helping cut any cloying nature. Long, long finish and a thick, viscous, creamy mouthfeel. I truly enjoyed this experience. This is by no means an everyday beer. It is so alcoholic, big, thick, and chewy that the experience should be savored on ocassion. I'm sold.

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

I have no idea why I haven't rated this yet. I have had it quite a few times already, but never bothered to review it.

So, I am going to review the 2008 version on tap at the Great Taste 2010. I had multiple pours of this one because it was worth it. I also had the 2007 an hour later and preferred the 2008 to it.

Pours a dark tan head/brown head with some nice retention. Color is oil black.

Aroma: Creamy flavors, chocolate, caramel, and some sweetness. A ton of malt flavors here. No hops really showing.

Taste: Dark chocolate, milky/cream flavors, roasted malts and coffee, dark fruits/molasses. Very, very rich.

Mouthfeel: Very cream, rich, and smooth. Full bodied with a medium amount of carbonation. Ends rich and roasted.

Overall, Dark Lord is one amazing stout. It has a lot of great flavors and deserves to be near the top. I am glad I have been able to try multiple years of this one as the beer does vary, but still are great.

Photo of tempest
4.28/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2007 Vintage served in a Surly Darkness tulip.

Poured an opaque black with a thin, light brown head with a thick and sticky body that left a film on the side of my glass, damn. The taste first reminds me of chocolate cookie (like an Oreo minus the white stuff) with espresso, so of like a chocolate beer biscotti. As it begins to warm there a mild fruitiness of cherries and strawberries that catches me off-guard. The beer finishes with a dry mix of black roasted grains and citrus and spicy hop flavor.

For a 13% RIS, this beer is surprisingly drinkable. I didn't have any problem splitting a bomber with my generous friend who acquired this via trade. There's a lot of smooth chocolate flavors going on and I highly recommend pairing this with the richest chocolate cake, brownies, or fudge you can find.

Photo of barleywinefiend
2.13/5  rDev -50.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2010 vintage, my 3rd DL. Still a drain pour.

A: Poured a solid black with good carbonation and a nice brownish head, some lacing present.

S: Immediate soy, tobacco leaves, leather, smoked meats, choco cherries

T: Immediate soy sauce, raisins and prunes, tobacco leaves, chocolate covered cherries, more soy sauce(dying or dead yeast), roastiness which transitions to leather, smoked meat, booze sting with a bitter chocolate, bitter, harsh, boozey finish. that soy and leather just kill me.

M: Big body, heavy and harsh

O: One of the most overrated beers of all time...gotta love that hype train

Photo of Gonzoillini
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of ejimhof
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of mdaschaf
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Thanks to Shane for popping this open to commemorate his first all-grain homebrew no DL Day! 2010 Vintage.

A: Pours a nice black color, very deep and dark, it looks rather thick and viscous. Small tan head on top, moderate retention and minimal lacing.

S: Sweeter than expected, but I really like it. Lots of chocolate and some vanilla. Some molasses and brown sugar, a hint of cherries, and some mocha.

T: Now thats what I'm talking about! The flavor profile is also sweet, but not in a bad way. Nice milk and dark chocolate, cocoa, some dark fruits - hard to pick them out except some cherries. Complex, but very tasty.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation, but doesn't drink very heavy. Not much heat at all from the 15%, it certainly mellowed after a year.

O: Really enjoyed this beer and can't wait to (hopefully) have it again. This bottle lived up to the hype for me. Hopefully one day I can get over to DL Day so I can have bottles of my own instead of trying to trade for them.

Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub
96 out of 100 based on 3,516 ratings.