Dark Lord Imperial Stout - Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub
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Ratings: 3,225 | Reviews: 1,148 | Display Reviews Only:
3.9/5 rDev -8.9%
The infamous Dark Lord. This was one of the first highly touted US imperial stouts that I tried back in 2010 and I was thrilled about it. The green wax 2010 vintage was very much enjoyed as well, earning a solid 4.0 score. Since then, I've been introduced to lots of other imperial stout beer from all over the world, and whenever I get to try another vintage of Dark Lord, it always sucks. Every time I am curious if the beer has changed or if my palate has just moved on. Well, on the night before Tour de Gueuze 2013, in a dark, dank corner of Moeder Lambic's cellar, a bunch of us got together to line up the complete vintage as well as all the BA variants. Finally, the chance to try the 2010 again, and the chance to see what Dark Lord is really made of. Thanks to everyone for making this fun day finally happen.
From a bomber into a snifter
The entire vertical
The review is for the 2010 still, but there are lots of notes for comparison.
APPEARANCE: Pours relatively clear for an imperial stout, producing a small, one finger medium-looking head that quickly fades to a wisp and ring. Black body in the glass with some carbonation evident. Only a ring remains until the end and leaves no real lacing down the glass. A little too light a pour and an average head at best. The 2011 and 2012 are even lighter than this one, while older vintages, starting with the 2010, are somewhat darker. The 2007 was almost flat while the 2006 had a bit more carbonation and better lacing, surprisingly enough.
SMELL: Pretty bold nose of roasted malts, molasses, and lots of dark cherries and a faint port wine aroma as a base underneath. A good dose of booze on the nose as well; more so than any other vintage. Not bad, and the stronger alcohol makes it more interesting. The '09 and '08 had lots of molasses and soy on the nose, making it off-putting, while older vintages were starting to go south. That said, the '05 and '04 were not as far off as I’d expected. Newer vintages are much different. The 2011 had a very pronounced coffee aroma while the 2012 was just disgusting, dominated by green apple acetaldehyde.
TASTE: Not bad at all, and definitely the best of the vertical. Roasted malts with sweet molasses and dark fruit notes again. Some nice port wine comes through the middle and into the finish, accompanied by a good dose of alcohol. A long and bold aftertaste of sweet molasses, port and boozy flavors, as well as some bitter chocolate and coffee as balance. Pretty decent really. The '09, '07, '06 and '04 were all overly sweet and cloying, with lots of soy and molasses flavors dominating the show. Pretty rough to drink really. The '08 and '05 shared a certain bitterness that was appreciated, while the '11 showed a lot of coffee flavor and the '12 a lot of nastiness. Green apples and stout beer never go well together. Surprisingly, the 2005 and 2004 were only slightly oxidized, and many people agreed that the bitterness in the '05 was a nice change.
PALATE: These were all basically the same. Fuller body with medium levels of carbonation. Creamy enough on the palate, goes down smooth with an appropriate and well-measured alcohol burn at the back right after the swallow, finishing quite mouth-coating. There is definitely something added to this beer that makes the feel this full. Some of the older vintages were just too cloyingly sweet, and the 2009 and 2004 were the thickest of the bunch.
OVERALL: When I first reviewed it back in September 2010, it was probably the first well-hyped US stout I’d ever drunk. I enjoyed the 2010 back then and scored it a 4.0, and to be honest, my opinion on the 2010 hasn’t really changed. It’s a good beer that I would gladly drink again. The look is perhaps a little lack-luster, but the sweet malt profile is actually balanced by a good bed of booze and alcohol, making this one a big task, but not an impossible one. If I ever see a 2010 again, I wouldn’t mind tackling it myself.
Compared to the rest of the vertical, the 2010 is a diamond in the rough. As for the other vintages, the 2011 was quite coffee forward and actually half-decent, making it unique in the vertical, and the bitterness in the '08 and '05 made those vintages mildly tolerable. However, all the other years were just nasty in their own special way. The 2009 and older years are plagued by an overly sweet flavor profile and soy qualities, while the 2012 is just an acetaldehyde train wreck. The '06, '05 and '04 are starting to go as well, though to be fair, they weren’t nearly as past their prime as I had expected.
In the end, this was a really fun vertical to drink. There was lots of variation between the years, and getting to try them all at once was really fun and entertaining. This experience definitely confirmed that Dark Lord is generally a terrible beer. Luckily there was a 2010 to save the show, as this was by far the best of the bunch. Thanks again everyone. This was great!
05-21-2013 19:02:05 | More by Jeffo
4.33/5 rDev +1.2%
Three Floyds Dark Lord 2013
Appearance: Dark Lord lives up to its name. It pours an extremely dark brown, perhaps even to the point of being black. There is just a half-centimeter of dark tan head, which is not surprising in its relative absence. The lacing is spotty and minimal, and the alcohol legs are just as intense as the color of the pour. This is a typical looking Russian imperial stout, and, at 15% ABV, it cannot be faulted too much for the lack of head.
Aroma: Huge notes of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, and alcohol jump out of the glass immediately. It smells very sweet to the point of smelling like double chocolate chip cookies. There is a very mild hop presence, but thankfully it appears Three Floyds did not do their signature over-hopping to this beer. The hops combined with the strong alcohol aromas, an underlying cherry, dark fruit, and anise aroma all help to cut the almost overwhelming sweetness. This is a very complex smelling beer, but it is also a bit sweet smelling.
Taste: Apparently the rumors about Dark Lord are true. The beer is just a little too sweet, and the sweetness is not cut by anything really. The hop presence is still there, but in a sweet hop oil capacity rather than a cutting bitterness. The alcohol also just is not enough, in fact it is a sweet alcohol, which only adds to the sweetness. There is just a touch of the green apple flavor that the 2013 batch was rumored to have, but it meshes well with the rest of the beer for the most part, especially well with the cherries and the dark fruit. The chocolate and coffee are there, but it is more of a mocha than the bitterness one would expect from these qualities in a stout. It is a very complex beer, but it is a little bit too cloying.
Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is perhaps the best part of this beer. It is velvety, creamy, slick, oily, warming, and thick. It is everything that a Russian imperial stout should be. There is nothing more to say.
Overall: If only this beer was more balanced. It does not quite live up to the hype, but it is still certainly a great beer. Three Floyds has a reputation for pushing the envelope, and I think it fell right off the table on this one. It is still a very good beer, but it is not worth jumping through the hoops that you must to get it. Try it, but do not trade your left arm for it. 18/20
05-18-2013 01:42:32 | More by THANAT0PSIS
Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub
95 out of 100 based on 3,225 ratings.