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Dark Lord Imperial Stout - 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,220 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,220
Hads: 3,968
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 14.49%
Wants: 3,102
Gots: 1,870 | FT: 152
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
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 1,220 | Hads: 3,968
Photo of kirok1999
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I recently gave Stone Imp. Rus. Stout a perfect 5.0. Now I think I'll have to go back and take it down a notch in taste.

Huge thanks to Ryan P. for getting me 6 of these at the 3 Floyds sale.

Appearance- motor oil with 20K miles on it. Black and thick as night. 1/4 inch chocolate brown head that grows then quickly dissapates leaving no cling to the glass.

Smell- Sugar, cherries, currants, slight anise, coffee and chocolate. So much going on it's almost impossible to describe.

Taste- Same as the smell. It hides the alcohol well till after a few sips and you start to feel the burn. This is very similar to Stone IRS but more so. Starts sugary and fruity and finishes slight chocolate and coffee. In my opinion, the best RIS in the world.

Mouthfeel- Clings like cough syrup, chewy and clings like glue. Tastes so great you want it to stick around.

Drinkability- Simply immense, I just finished one and want to chill another and break it open. I won't though. These are going to be opened one every month. 3 Floyds is simply the best brewer in the country.

Edit for 2007 version:
We had one soon after buying at Dark Lord Day 07. Seemed thin and hot, not very tasty and I was a little disappointed. However, after 10 months in the bottle it is a whole different beast. Pours the blackest beer I've ever seen, almost no head.
Smells of deep, dark fruits, massive amounts of malt, sweet and rich. Thick and sticky with no lacing of the glass. Cherries, plums, dates, caramel. Almost no carbonation at all. Much improved over time and certain to get better.

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Photo of hero27
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 vintage.

22 oz bomber w/ gold wax draped over the neck.

It doesn't get much darker than this.. the syrupy liquid sits underneath a very dense, dark tan head. As soon as the cap is lifted, the gargantuan aroma soon follows..suffice to say, it's not a beer you have to stick your nose in the glass to know what's in store. A wide array of fruits greet you with every inhale..a dominating, crisp green apple that brings along with it raisins, plums, and cherries, to name a few. All mixed with an unrelenting dark chocolate, molasses, and slight coffee kick.
Seems quite different from the 2005 version. The 2006 seems much more sweet and fruity, while the 2005 had more of a robust coffee flavor...but maybe I'm just getting a little tipsy. It is certainly a beer you can drink by yourself in one sitting, but it's probably a good thing I shared this with a buddy of mine. The alcohol is simply an afterthought, as it is almost completely masked by the dozens of dominating flavors.

I can't imagine how good this will be with another year or so on it..I'll be putting a couple bottles away for sure. Thanks to Three Floyds for once again meeting the nearly ridiculous expectations and hype. Now, if only you can make a little more of this for next year. ;)

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Photo of rajendra82
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This rare bottle came to me from mentor as a reward for setting up and maintaining the BIF 20 website. The reward certainly far exceeded any effort I put into the site, so I decided to put the 22 oz. bomber away till it was a year old. Now that all my guilt has faded away, and the beer should have mellowed a bit, it is time to get it out.

When pulled out the cellar, the flowing red wax seal looked as impressive as it did the day I got it. Luckily, the wax was soft and easily removed with a pocket knife. The beer poured out dark chocolate brown, and possessed a mocha colored one finger thick head. The body was completely opaque in the tulip. The smell was very roasty and mellow, with coffee being very prominent. Unlike many other brands of Russian Imperial Stouts, this one did not smell burnt at all. There was tinge of toffee and molasses sweetness in the smell, as well as a hint of soy sauce. The taste was quite a bit sweeter than I was anticipating. This sweetness must have come from the molasses Three Floyds put in this beer. The sweetness was supplemented by a little sourness, and chased by an astringent dryness. There was very little perceptible hop bitterness here. The mouthfeel was very thick and chewy, although I did not have the drinking sludge feeling reported by others.
The drinkability suffers in my mind due to the lack of bitterness to balance things out. With a creamy Havarti cheese to cut the sweetness, the beer goes down much more easily.

I liked the beer a lot, although I do think all the hype does this a little injustice. There are better imperial stouts out there that are more readily available, but the laws of supply and demand elevate this one to a more sought out status. After all that hoopla, this still only a beer.

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Photo of danielharper
4.76/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

My 200th review!

Gotten for me by UncleFlip at Dark Lord Day 2006.

A: It pours a dark black color, so black that it almost appears purple. A gentle pour leaves no head at all, a more vigorous pour gives a small brownish-white one. Viscous, like motor oil, completely opaque.

S: Aroma is very sweet and syrupy, strong notes of grapes and heavy malt. Slight hoppiness apparent even when cold. Surprisingly, no astringency due to alcohol.

T: Flavor is heavy on crisp hops, with a clear chcolate, raisin, and licorice backbone. Every sip slightly different, huge changes in flavor as beer slowly warms. As the beer approaches room temperature, the alcohol becomes much more apparent in the flavor.

M: Amazing mouthfeel, syrupy, velvety, silky. Incredibly thick, like maple syrup, but this bad boy isn't going on pancakes.

D: Incredibly drinkable. Worth going to Indiana for.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
4.83/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5


It has become apparent that the bottle I had for this review was a bad one. Having tried two more, I’ll change my rating.

In a word, it’s flawless. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this beer and it‘s quality is fantastic. There’s nothing but green apples, port and chocolate. Very nice. I’m thinking the soy sauce I got in the reviewed bottle was a fluke. The flavor in this one was delectable lacking only slightly in smell. I’ll have something more substantial up next time I crack a bottle.


This beer pours a dark black that fades to dark browns and burgundies when I swirl it around in my tulip. The head is the darkest I’ve ever seen on a beer that is dark tan and rust. This fell to a thin film but was instantly replenished with a swirl. Marvelous!

Smelled of big sticky sweet prunes and raisins with a little banana and traces of malty hoisin sauce. There’s also a slight dry dark chocolate and a crisp coffee with a well blended but obvious alcohol burn.

Tastes of huge and creamy charred barley with an overly sweet and tangy dark fruit, brown sugar, coffee and a hoisin/ soy sauce earthy funk. The pure corn syrup sweetness of this beer sadly dominated the flavor. Bleah! Finished with a bit of coffee leaving my mouth reeling from the sweetness.

The mouth feel was big, thick and syrupy with a full mouth of bubbles at first when it was cold. But when it warmed, the carbonation faded away leaving this syrupy and a bit offensive.

Too sweet!!! Also, there’s too much alcohol on the nose. I’m a bit disappointed. This one needs to sit for a while longer. I sincerely hope this one gets better with age, or that I had a bad bottle.

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Photo of HoboAGoGo
4.9/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2006 gold wax sealed edition into the oversized snifter glass. Poured with a cascading head, loved watching it bubble up to the surface, a dark brown head sat atop, but fizzled away to nothing in very little time. The nose was strong in a cold, espresso smell, with dark chocolate, and alcohol soaked fruits. The initial flavor on the tongue is of dark roasted chocolate covered espresso beans, with a mild hop bite, alcohol follows the sips down the throat. After letting it warm up, more fruitiness comes into the picture, as you start to get an almost rum covered cherry flavor, a black cherry. After the beer became room temperature, the vanilla comes into play, and makes this beer extremely easy to drink. Last years was a bit easier on the palate to drink, but the complexities that made me put an additional half an hour into this beer makes me wonder at the possibilies of how this beer will taste with a few months put on it, or even another year or two.

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Photo of DrJay
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2005 release.
Black with faint chestnut highlights (I really had to work at it to spot the colour difference). The dark brown head was fairly dense, with plenty of fine bubbles, and produced some spotty lace. Decent retention too. Very malty and roasty aroma, backed up by some sharp chocolate and (relatively) mild hops. The flavour starts out with a dry roastiness and rich, chocolate sweetness that is balanced nicely by solid bitterness. Some sour cherry notes kick in part way through, followed by licorice and a slight acidity (seemingly due to the quantity of dark malts). This was a thick beer - and it looked viscous even during the pour. Excellent on the palate, very creamy, carbonation was a little on the low side, and it finished with a light warmth. Big and flavourful, I found that the Dark Lord was quite drinkable for a beer of its size. Thanks for the trade, autumnaldave!

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Photo of neonbrown82
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

This is the gold wax dipped 2006 edition.

The beer pours very thick, though not completely black. More of a rusty brown color with a reddish brown head. Looks like a huge shot of espresso as the head cascades up. Very thick. Looks awesome.

Smells very good, and very potent. Very sweet roasted barley and dark cherries, honey and molasses. A small bit of soy sauce. A little bit of fresh citric hops as well. I can barely keep my nose out of the glass, but eventually I begin to crave the taste once again.

Starts off very rough, but the palate warms up to it fairly quickly. It then becomes a very sweet and chocolate cherry flavor. Not so much roast, and only a hint of coffee in the finish. The hops can't be detected as much in the taste, but they are there in the finish as well.

The body is quite thick without being too syrupy. Especially sludgy towards the end of the bottle. Good stuff. As much as I enjoy drinking it, it's almost too much to drink a bottle of this to yourself. I'm glad I had a roommate to enjoy it with, without whom I wouldn't have gotten the 6 bottles anyway.

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

2006 vintage, purchased at the brewery.
Poured from a 22oz. bomber into a snifter glass.
My vote for coolest looking label.

Pours a menacing opaque, black color, with no chance of light getting through. A nice half inch thick, dark tan head forms. Some spotty lacing. This beer is thick, and you can see it cling to the sides of the glass. Lots of big roasted malt aromas, dark fruits, dark chocolate, with hints of coffee and alcohol. Burnt coffee, is what I taste first. Sweet roasted malts, molasses, dark chocolate and dark fruits come next. Very complex, but easy to drink for such a big beer. Big, rich, thick and creamy all descibe the mouthfeel. You really don't notice the alcohol, after a few sips. Another one of those beers that tastes better as it warms. I'm sure it will take me all night to finish this bottle. Looking foward to trying this again in six months.

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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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Photo of NoLiberty
4.16/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Outside appearance is of serious danger. The label isn't my favorite style, but the picture is amazing; it either comforts the soul that this guy's on your side or sends fear to the core.
The pour is thick. Aroma is mostly sweet with an alcohol finish (no doubt, this beast is 13%!), but overall quite subtle for the strength and intensity of the beer.
Appearance is dark. Wicked dark. The pour is thick, like molasses. The head is even incredibly dark and piles up like dirty snowbanks. The head lasts almost as long as the beer, never quitting despite some extra drinking time and an overall low carbonation.
The taste starts out malty sweet and moves into the realm of burnt caramel, followed by nutty coffee tones and finishes with burnt barley that remains for a loooong time.
The mouthfeel is smooth, rich and silky. Covers ever corner of the mouth and brings that flavor everywhere.
Drinkability is also quite high considering the strength and robustness.

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

This bottle is between 1-2 years old, stored in my fridge. The smell is surprisingly less potent than I expected. Nothing wrong with that, I expected like most other imperials stouts that the potent smell would be over the top. Maybe after a year or so it has been subdued. I'm smelling a very balanced roasted malt and sweet alcohol. But both are balanced with an awesome chocolate coco powder smell. Taste is fairly balanced. The outstanding flavor is a sweetness at the end, yeah that’s right, the end. This is a very outstanding "time line beer" I mean in that over the 2 seconds each flavor comes and goes at it's intended time and doesn’t step on the toes of the other flavors. Roasted malt, to alcohol, to hops, all very balanced and smooth, then comes the sweet chocolate back on the front of the tongue and another round of slightly bitter hops. Mouth feel is smooth and thick, and even leaves your lips sticky from the hop oils. Overall a very complex but easy drinking beer.

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Photo of RedwoodGeorge
3.7/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I'm always entertained when I pour a "mega stout" - you just don't expect that kind of viscosity in a libation. This brew pours with a chunkiness somewhere between motor oil and chocolate pudding and has a surprisingly thick, creamy cocoa colored head. The crown flattens out almost immediately but leaves a good bit of sticky lacing on the inside of the glass.

The nose is almost entertaining enough that you could skip the drink - there are notes of fig, vanilla, molasses, cherries, oak and smoke in the smell (and that's just the first whiff) It seems every time you put your nose in the glass there's another interesting discovery that adds to the complexity.

The flavor is equally complex with an interesting melange of dried fruits, coffee and cocoa and a poorly integrated alcohol note. No hops to speak of to add a contrasting note to the malts and esters.

Mouthfeel is, as expected, a tad on the heavy side. There's a moderate amount of carbonation to lighten up each sip but the finish is lacking either hop or roasted grain bitterness leaving only an alcohol burn and a bit of a syrupy, cloying finish.

Sadly this seems to be a case where the hype led me to expect more from the beer than it could actually deliver. It was interesting as a novelty but this isn't a brew that I'm likely to seek out again. I've had a few other 'big stouts' that I'd love to go back and revisit but this one isn't going to be on that list.

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Photo of ColoradoBobs
4.9/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Girnormous thanks and cudos to Crosling for hooking me up with (and sharing!) a bottle of the 2005 batch.

The usual 22 ounce bomber, set out from cellaring and allowed to warm to about 55 degrees. Poured into St. Bernie tulip goblets, no light passes through this monster. Vigorous pour yielded a brown (with yellow edges?) large reverse cascading head that clung to the glass like molasses.

Smell of espresso, dark chocolate, burned cherry syrup, prunes, figs, and malted malt. Incredible: I just wanted to go on inhaling this aroma!

Taste is huge and chewy and tongue wrestlingly thick: this is like Yeti on steroids. Intensely decadent dark chocolate espresso malt with prunes and caramel and malt on malted-chocolate-covered-cherries. Took most of an hour to savour this: as it warmed, everything gets more intense, especially the chocolate.

Mouthfeel is the richest of any beer I've ever had: simply decadently smooth and mouth-fillingly round. Glutenous, thick, tongue-coating, chewy and slurpalicious, this stuff is so rich you want to swirl it around a while before swallowing it.

Drinkability is the only thing that holds this back. Weird thing is that all the intensely enormous voluptuousness of the flavors and mouthfeel completely mask the 13.0%. Perilously drinkable.

A note: reserved the bottom half-inch to consume by itself. The 2005, unlike the 2004, doesn't have a lot of sludge at the bottom. However, there was a lot of flavor: that last half-inch was like the rest of the bottle concentrated into two small mouthfulls -- absolutely over the top.

Overall, a freakishly amazing brew, and I can see why people are after this with abandon. Thanks again to Crosling for the sharing! Astonishing.

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Photo of PatandDavid
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Finally entering my review for this one, sorry to everyone that it took so long. Thanks to fellow BA's Stonecrusher and kmpitz2 for the bottle. My thoughts were that this was going to be a dark sludgy oozefest, but that wasn't the case. Bottle was shared with David and fellow BA Londonporter, which is a great way to share and talk about the brew. Pours were pitch black, with a good milk chocolate head, and ruby highlights in the glass. Mouthfeel was thick, but not sludgy. This brew exhibited it's complexity in the aroma and the taste. Notes picked up varied from dark fruit, molasses, leather, and wine. These were also picked up in the taste, although there was more malt present, plus favorite combination of chocolate and coffee, with some burnt sugar in there as well.

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

Appearance: Dark black/brown, but that is to be expected. Head is large, sticky, tan and well laced.

Smell: Dark, chocolate, very bitter and sharp smelling, excellent.

Taste: Sharp at first, but not raw. Bitter dark chocolate, strong coffee assaults the mouth, bolstered by a strong vinous/alcohol aspect. Leaves you exhausted and contemplative after every sip. Fantastic, what a Imperial Stout should taste like.

Mouthfeel: Thick and full, oily, mouth coating.

Drinkability: It's hard to find a fault in this beer, worth the hype, worth saving for my 1000th beer reviewed. A huge thanks to OldFrothingSlosh for hooking me up with one of the best beers anywhere.

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Photo of ncbrewerbun
4.92/5  rDev +15%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

A 22oz. bomber shared by a fellow homebrewer with a few other homebrewers. Wax proved to be a challenge to get through to be able to pop the cap. This was the last beer in a beer tasting and well worth the wait.

Appearance was black with a brown head. An opaque black. An oil black. A really dark black. Everything about this beer was black.

Aroma was chocolate, Roast. Slight fruitiness. Toffee.

Flavor was amazing. Chocolate, Roasted barley. Malt. Yet very balanced.

Chewy. Full body.

This beer lived up to its hype. I didn't think it would but it did. Now, the search for another bottle begins'!

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Photo of yelterdow
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Endless thanks to EPseja and his family for lugging this gem straight from FFFs "private stash"... and another heartfelt thanks for sharing the experience.

What follows is the closest possible interpretation of what happened... believe me, this was a beer review for the gods.

Served in a tasting tulip at somewhere between fridge and cellar temperature, with absolutely no distractions.

Appearance- Pours a beautiful, liquid black that *glugs* into the glass. A small, thin brown head adorns the beer as the glass fills, then something outrageous happens... out of nowhere, a reverse cascade, or implosion, of head balloons from the inside out, like dynamite inside a building. After the show, a four-finger crown showcases the most dense, tightly packed bubbles possible. Structure is exquisite. The sheer thickness of the appearance here is mind boggling... it's like a black beer statue, with a cafe-con-leche head that laces at a snail's pace. Late in the pour, near the end of our tasting, the bottle threw clumps of white, chunkified material. Awesome.

Smell- Powdered bittersweet dark chocolate, like you would use in baking, melds with notes of coffee and chicory. A perfumy character, which we later realized was a hop aroma, wafts among the chocolatey backbone in the air.

Taste- Wow... the first thing I get is a sweetness, like sugar cubes, at the tip of the tongue.... then comes a strong French press coffee with milk presentation, intense and hugely concentrated. The espresso and chicory notes take a back seat as the slick, liquid-hop flavors (Amarillo?) begin their mouth-gripping bitterness in a perfectly balanced finale. The hop tingle after the swallow resides so far at the back of the throat that I am sneezing after almost every sip. The phases in which this beer reveals itself is something of wonder and mastery... truly a tasting experience like no other.

Mouthfeel/Drinkability- Slick, viscous, oily. Smooth and chewy as hell, my tongue is actually tingling from the inside out from the hopping. Fantastic coating properties, like an unfurling of liquid down the throat.

This is a masterpiece, and worth the money... this is absolute *must* for the enthusiast who wants to discover how far an Imperial Stout can be pushed.

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

Poured from the bottle into a wide mouthed twenty ounce goblet.

Appearance: This beer poured blacker than black. Did I mention the beer was black with no opaqueness to light. The head was about two fingers with reverse cascading. The head was colored a lightly creamed coffee coloration. Webs of lacing remained on the glass. This is one sexy beer.

Smell: The beer truly is a melange of smells. Chocolate and heavily roasted to a crisp coffee via for dominance. The eddies of fruity goodness play throughout the beer. Cherries dipped in rum and chocolate. play with currants and dates and other assorted berries. I know I missed alot on the intial drinking and will try again latter.

Taste: The Dark Lord is really really bad! The taste lives up to the smell. Loads of chared to a crisp coffee and chocolate lead the charge. There is a harsh but not unpleasant spiceyness to the beer. There is a massive amount of fruity goodness floating in the beer. Dam this is the shit!

Mouthfeel/ Drinkability: This beer is incredible. Chewy doesnt even beging to describe the thickness of the mouthfeel. This coats your mouth to the point where almost nothing else could get through. Drinkability is really dam near perfect. There is enough sweetness and bitterness to keep your attention. This beer is everything I have heard it was and then some. I have at last met my Overlord.

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

NOTE: Edited 20061122 after a RIS tasting. Deducted 0.5 from taste.

Ok then... FINALLY. I've been sitting on this bottle for nearly six months, waiting to get the right time to share it with by buddy Yelterdow.

This 22oz. bomber was imported from Indiana for me by my brother who actually bought it from of one of the FFF employees private stashes. My brother rocks.

Served in a Duvel Tulip at cellar temperature. Rated with a firm mind *not* to jump on the "everyone else likes it so I should too" bandwagon.

A - Red wax covered cap and awesome artwork on the label are a good start for a beer with such an intimidating name. Pours like motor oil - both in color and viscosity. Like a phantom, the four finger thick head rises from nothingness like a slow-motion mushroom cloud with a fantastic reverse cascade at the surface of the beer. It is comprised of super tightly packed, small bubbles and colored like the foam of a cafe con leche or an authentic espresso. The head is firm like meringue, and its retention is stalwart. Its dark, earthy brown colors deepen and change to a rusty orange with each passing moment. Lacing is huge and thick like a velvet drapery.

S - Dark roasted coffee, natural fresh chickory, dark high cocoa % chocolate, caramel & vanilla overtones. Candy sugar. An interesting, slightly floral hop profile also becomes noticeable as the beer warms... Amarillo hops? Not quite sure, but if it's Three Floyds, the odds are high. Very interesting discovery, as I've never really been able to pull a distinguishable hop nose out of any Russian Imperial Stout I've tried, due to the overpowering coffee and chocolate notes. This makes for a truly unqiue counterpoint.

T - The first words out of my mouth were, "I need a second to decipher what I'm tasting..." This should give you a clue as to the complexity of this beer. The first taste in the mouth is a cane sugar sweetened cafe con leche. Very dessert-like. In the middle, this beer takes on a refreshing crispness -- the hops brightening up an otherwise dark and thick palette. There is also an unidentifiable sweet flavor that I can't put my finger on... ah. I cheated and read the bottle, but it's right on the mark. Dark chocolate covered cordial-filled cherries. Definitely adds to the dessert quality of this beer. The finish has the dense sweetness of dark molasses, the earthiness of chickory, and the smokiness of over-roasted coffee, coupled with a twinge of organic yeastiness. The finish is drying, long and bittersweet, and there is a residual smokiness on the tongue. The alcohol is bery well disguised, but the belly warmth is a dead giveaway. Intense.

M - Tingly on the tongue, but not from the carbonation. Thick like unset gelatin. Chewy and not round, but soft and fat. Quote, "Imagine taking a circle and then putting a layer of fat around it." Heh heh... I come up with some strange stuff. Super creamy and slick. Swallows with an oily viscosity - slides down the throat without issue. Leaves a bitter sensation that makes you want to take another sip to quell the feeling, although it ultimately only replaces it.

D - This beer falls into the "special" drinkability category. It's not how many you want to throw back that determines its drinkability, but rather how long you stretch out the serving because you don't want it to end. This beer is without a doubt a prime, special occasion dessert beer -- if you can get your hands on it.

And so, in the end I genuinely tried to resist joining the masses in blindly praising this beer. Ultimately however, based on my meticulous tasting, I have found that the glory and laud that this beer has garnered are well deserved.

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Photo of bultrey
3.2/5  rDev -25.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 2

This beer is a mess. Why it gets such high marks is beyond me. But everybody's different, and I, for one, like just a little balance in my beers, even the smack-you-upside-the-head ones. Great color, good aroma, but just a thick, fudgy, coffeeish, alcoholic pancake syrup if you ask me. Again, mouthfeel is smooth and rich, a real revelation, actually, but I wouldn't want to drink more than a thimbleful of this in a sitting. Oh well, I guess I'll have to worship another lord.

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Photo of tar
4.37/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I've been saving this bottle for some time and today seemed like as good a day as any to finally crack open the waxed bottle (Jan 7, 2006; 2005 release). Pours a thick, oily, black with a robust, pillowy, reddish, tan head, which persists through consumption and laces the glass nicely. Roasted coffee and chocolate aromas issue forth, along with plums, figs and a bit of smoke. The alcohol buried within is hidden fairly well but does come forward, particularly as it warms. Chocolate, coffee, molasses, and dark fruits greet the palate. Deliciously complex with its initial sweetness balanced by a dry and slightly bitter finish. Very smooth, with some sticky sweetness in the mouth, this is a very easy drinker despite the alcohol and big flavor.

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Photo of lou91
3.71/5  rDev -13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This is a great looking stout – jet black, almost shiny with a head that went away then came back bigger and browner with a little swirl. The nose was all alcohol with hints of bitter chocolate and coffee trying but failing to get through. Lots of great flavors but the alcohol is way too dominant. I like the hop bitterness and dark chocolate but the alcohol burn tells me that this may need a bit more time to settle. I’m happy to have tried it but I can’t say that I would give my left beer nut for it. Thanks to Kmpitz2 for this bottle.

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

appearance: The pour into the snifter produces a persistent, medium brown head that almost has a ruby tint to it. The beer is black.

smell: After dirtylou poured this beer, it's aromas wafted all the way to my nose from the table five feet in front of me. A huge presence of dark roasted malts gives a heavy coffee/espresso note, and a slighter hint of dark chocolate. Very, very slight ethanol sharpness considering the ABV and the warm temperature at which I am drinking this. A generous, bitter Northwest hop aroma pierces through the heavy dark malts...enough to balance the considerable sweetness.

mouthfeel: The carbonation is low, and in combination with the heavy body, creates a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Though the carbonation is toward the higher end of the low range, but bubbles are very small and gentle on the palate. A little more slickness would please me, but very good.

taste: Just delicious. A nice balance of big coffee/espresso and dark chocolate flavors coats the tongue. Awesome balance of sweetness, a roasted, coffee like astringency and flavor, and hop presence. The finish consists of lingering dark roast coffee bean flavors, a slick sweetness, and a moderate, palate cleansing bitterness. A mild ethanol presence is noticed, unavoidable in a beer like this.

drinkability: Very drinkable, limited only by it's inherent characteristics. I would've liked to have rated higher for smell and taste, but the roast and chocolate character was so strong that it kept any other nuances of the aroma from coming through, which I would have liked.

Halved a bottle of this giant with dirtylou on the last night of my stay in Madison. I suppose this is from the 2005 release.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.63/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bomber, split with blackie, this bottle courtesty of CRJMellor I believe...been searching for this one for quite some time

appearance: pours dark as night into a couple of snifters, as close to black as a brew can come, rich and creamy chocolate brown head begins to form, a tan rim remains for a while but eventually diminishes down to minimal lacing

smell: this one can be smelt from across the room...rich and creamy chocolate is extremely potent, espresso definitely present, a sweet warm alcohol aroma, sweet malts, quite roasty

taste: super chocolatey, very roasty with a very gentle bittersweet aftertaste, plum/cherry soaked in alcohol then drenched in sweet milk chocolate, dark roast coffee/espresso is at a near perfect level...alcohol is not overpowering but its presence is certainly felt, very creamy chocolate flavors

mouthfeel: flawless, velvety, creamy, silky smooth, only slight bittersweet

drinkability: half a bomber will be plenty but this is a very smooth imp stout

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Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,220 ratings.