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

Not Rated.
Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout

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3,536 Ratings

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Ratings: 3,536
Reviews: 1,174
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 14.95%
Wants: 2,857
Gots: 1,530 | 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: 3,536 | Reviews: 1,174 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of nickfl
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of closisinthehouse
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of cakennedy2006
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of ms11781
3.43/5  rDev -19.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

2012 vintage. 22oz bottle poured into a snifter.

The thickness (viscosity might be a better word) of the liquid is quite striking right out of the bottle. The actual pour looks to be a translucent brown color but once it settles in the glass it's dark as night. Surprisingly a half finger of airy, dark brown foam develops and sits on top of the beer. There is actually a good deal of lacing left on the glass with each sip.

The nose is extremely sweet and full of dark fruit right from the beginning. There are all sorts of fruits coming through, ripe cherries, plums and raisins are here. Molasses and brown sugar come through as well. The aromas are full and rich and really assert themselves but they can be a bit jumbled at times.

The taste follows closely with the nose. The fruits really come through again. In addition to the dark fruits (cherries, plums, raisins, etc, once again) there is a bit of some light fruit, maybe apple or pear. It's a bit off and doesn't mesh with the rest of the flavors but it isn't all that strong and seems to give way the other characteristics more often than not. The same molasses and brown sugar that were in the nose are here as well. There is no hint of the coffee that the beer was brewed with, perhaps the sweetness overpowers it. It also seems like it wants to be big and roasty but the sweetness never quite allows it turn the corner.

This beer is huge. Big, thick and viscous. Possibly the biggest beer feel-wise I've had. Each sip seems to coat the throat all the way down. There really isn't much more to say about it. Big pretty much sums it up.

This is certainly one big beer. There is a ton going on and they flavors and aromas don't necessarily mesh together. None of it is bad, most quite good actually. It just seems like it might need some more time to come together before hitting its peak. This is definitely a beer that I will revisit down the road but for now it misses the mark just a bit.

Photo of TroopScoop
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Yellow wax - 2011

A: It looks deep & dark. The light from our campfire cannot break through my glass. The thin, soft, brown head left just as quickly as it appeared leaving that signature oil-slick on the surface.

S: You know its dark lord when you smell it. Unlike anything else, it's got a deep sweet smell. Cherries and molasses overwhelm, but you can tell the coffee is there. It is very inviting, and the complexity of the smell is just a small introduction to the...

T: Taste is, again, like nothing else. The cherries, molasses, coffee, and some hints of chocolate make a great team. The sweetness pervades throughout and stays the entire time. It is of no particular fruit (or sugar) - it's just sweet. Some dark lords I've had, be it because of improper aging or some reason otherwise not specified, are so sweet it is undrinkable. This one, although sweeter than 2008 (my favorite) is still very very good.

M: The velvet mouthfeel is something every stout wishes it could grow up to be. It drinks like a milkshake - unbelievable - but in all the right ways. It goes down easy, and the coating left behind in your mouth and throat leaves a great sweet aftertaste.

Overall: Like that one guy said while interviewed for 5 seconds on CBS news - "It's Sweet! It's Delicious!!" This beer truly lives up to its hype in every way. It is not the greatest thing I have ever put in my mouth, but hell yes is it worth fighting for tickets online or in person at the brewery, traveling to the pub, and spending a day among friends enjoying its release.

Photo of Mag00n
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of Dontcounttoday
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of 3Hops
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of BillMueller
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Chisfinest84
4/5  rDev -6.5%

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

Oh man… this is a BIG deal for me. I have wanted to try this beer for years. When I heard about Dark Lord Day, I knew I had to try this beer. It is sometimes referred to as the best beer in the world, but on BeerAdvocate it only has a 96. That is good enough for me! This beer is only available on Dark Lord Day, and you can only get 4 bottles. We are drinking the 2011 (marked by the yellow wax), and have invited good friend and fellow beer drinker Jake Long over to enjoy it. He will be adding his two cents later in the review.

I also have to thank Jordan Green for selling us a bottle of this. Jake actually went to pick it up… I have never met Jordan. Jake said he is a nice guy… so I will take his word for it!

Alright, enough of this. Let’s get to the beer. I am stoked!

In the Glass: We just tried a Founders Imperial Stout, so I am all jacked up on these dark beers. And Dark Lord is dark. It is pitch black, as a matter of fact. We let the beer heat up a little bit before we poured it, and were excited to see what this tastes like near cellar temps. The lace on this is pretty weak, though. It does have a certain thickness to it… not creamy, but almost like a lacquer. The beer has a 15% ABV, so let’s see what this smells like.

Nose: That is like boozy black licorice. Beer shouldn’t be allowed to smell this good. I am surprised that the booze is so obvious. I am sure that if this sits in the bottle for a few years, it would smooth out. This is from 2011. We know that from the color of wax they use. In previous years, the wax colors include:

2004 - Red Wax
2005 - Orange Wax
2006 - Gold Wax
2007 - Silver Wax
2008 - Black Wax
2009 - White Wax
2010 - Olive Green Wax
2011 - Yellow Wax
2012 - Red Wax

We just missed the 2012 Dark Lord Day. I know several people that went… but we were unable to attend. But I am glad that I was able to find someone that was willing to sell us a bottle from 2011. We left the wax on the cap so when we are all finished with the list, we will know what one that is.

This has been a long time coming… so let’s see what she tastes like.

Flavor: Whoa. My mouth is on a roller coaster right now. There are several things going on from the front to the back of the palate. There are sweets and bitters and it leads to a pretty weak aftertaste. The booze doesn’t really come out in the flavor, but rather in the nose.

There is no carbonation here… which is good. I wouldn’t want a beer like this to have carbonation. The sweetness just overwhelms. Oh, and I hear this is made with Intelligentsia Coffee. I hadn’t had that coffee until a recent trip to Chicago. I first had the coffee in the Goose Island Bourbon County Coffee Stout, then grabbed a shot of espresso from an actual Intelligentsia Coffee location. I was blown away. Starbucks has nothing on Intelligentsia.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is amazing It is smooth, almost like a thin layer of glass sliding across your tongue. If there are any bubbles, it is toward the end and the back half of the tongue. The leaves the palate with subtle sweet notes that hangs on well into the aftertaste.

Aftertaste: Speaking of the aftertaste, I wanted more. The flavors that are there are sweet, but it isn’t as “in your face” as I expected. To be honest, the beer isn’t that “in your face”. Granted, the 15% is… but it is not obvious. The beer is nice, too. It brings back those licorice notes I picked up in the nose.

The beer is good. But it is not the best beer in the world. I think the beer has a lot of hype. I mean, the beer has a day… a holiday every year for the release. I would like to get my hands on one more bottle and cellar it for 5-7 years. I am sure it gets better every day it sits in the bottle. I am glad that I got to try it, but I am not sure the flavors are worth the hype. The Bourbon County Coffee Stout is better.

Dark Lord - The bottle says: “Dark Lord is a gargantuan Russian Style Imperial Stout, with a reverse cascading head that starts out billowing the color of burnt oil like the Dark Lord rising from the black primordial beginnings. Its resonant vinous aroma has been described as cherries, sweet malt, molasses, burnt currants, plus with a port wine alcohol overtow. Mochachino notes burned within. Motor oil consistency, hellishly smooth yet divinely burnt and vinous. The first sip coats your palate with a palatial charred fruit and chocolate blanket. Alcohol burn wiggles its way down your throat with a thick body. Enjoy and thanks for your continuing support.”

Photo of Casedogg43
4.9/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Opened a bottle this past week with a friend. Yes, I shared my first Bottle!
Have been anticipating '12 DL since I tried the '11 with a friend May of last year.

I will first say that I couldn't be more disappointed that FFF doesn't have this readily available at DLD. Maybe I was spoiled by XV, but waiting in line for 2hrs to get in pub to try DLD is just sad. And I wasn't going to wait.

This is DLD, Dark Lord Day! the beer Dark Lord is what this event is all about. Let those of us who wait in line for 4 or 5 hours try a few! Put it on tap outside with the other brews!

Appearance: Black pour. Deep, jet black. Like a nicely painted Black Viper that just got a new coat of wax!
Head start like is a Chocolate Whip, then fades to white.

Smell: Rich, very rich. Chocolate, sugar and vanilla. Just the slightest hint of the smell of port coming through.

Taste: I believe God has blessed this Stout! Rich and so creamy chocolate up front. Then move on to smooth taste of warm fruits and vanilla. Finishes with that chocolate port taste that sits in your palate and tempts you to take another quick sip.

Mouthfeel: Full, very full, but so creamy smooth it's crazy. This is what separates this from the other remarkable stout. It is perfect.

Overall: It is what the growing legend of Dark Lord is about. A absolutely terrific brew from start to finish. May be my favorite beer. I can't wait to pop #2.


Photo of apocalypsezombie
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of 4thelvofbeer
2.7/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 2

Updated December 2012 review: I like Dark Lord, when it is actually good. I have opened five bottles of 2012 Dark Lord and one, one bottle was good. The rest were apple bombs...tasted like eating, well drinking, a granny smith apple. Enough is enough...I had to modify my review...in the taste and the overall nastyness of this beer....yuck!

May 2012 review: WOW!!!! Whoa! this stuff is crazy good. Just opened my first bottle of 2012 DL, red wax top. I am going to drink and enjoy the entire bottle myself, all 22oz of it...lol. Will share other bottles with friends later, but I need to enjoy the entire 22oz to properly conduct and accurate rating and correct review of this beer. Poured into a Westmalle chalice at room temperature.

A: The pour is the brownest black there is. A small, dark brown head quickly forms and then just as fast vanishes and bubbles away. As I am pouring it into the glass, appears to swirl around with much more of a thickness, much more viscosity than water. Stays foamy around the edges with a nice brown rim.

S: Dominant with a coffee smell right off the nose with hints of oil, tar, molasses, figs and syrup (seriously not making this up...I got a full glass right here).

T: Thick, thick, thick! This has got to be one fo the thickest beers I have tasted. It is so rich it is actually going to be tough to polish off the bottle due to the richness of this beer. Probably a full days worth of calories, vitamins, minerals and spinach in here!!! Taste is sweet and smooth with absolutely no trace of alcohol or any kind of nasty aftertaste.

M: Again, thick, creamy and smooth; really rich and tasty.

O: One of the more complex stouts I have had. Very rich, lots of flavors, really nice complexity. Super stout. Really nice...

***Post tasting note: this is way to rich to drink a bottle by yourself...get a friend or two to enjoy with you!! I did finish the whole bottle...whew!

Photo of danp14
3.25/5  rDev -24.1%

Photo of Piason
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of plumcrazyfx
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of graphicsguy
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of AbeFroman
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of hoppymcgee
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of lbriones5
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of Hopato
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of woodjjacct
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
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.

Photo of MeneerBeerSnob
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of fringefocus
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub
95 out of 100 based on 3,536 ratings.