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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.

3,585 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,585
Reviews: 1,183
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 14.72%
Wants: 2,880
Gots: 1,541 | FT: 103
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
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 3,585 | Reviews: 1,183 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of OakedCanuck
3.54/5  rDev -17.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Alright, I thought I'd open this one for my 300th review. Yellow wax, 2011 vintage. Love these labels.

A - Pours a medium black with brown edging. NO head, even after pouring faster towards the end. Slight mocha coloured bubbles surfaced at the end but nothing formed. Leaves a clear brown film on edge of glass when swirled.

S - Pretty decent smell. Lots of dates, plums, rum raisin. Pick up some vanilla and the roast coffee. Some charcoal and chocolate.

T - Wow, first thing, this thing is soooo sweet. A LOT of brown sugar, molasses and just freaking sugar. Man, the sweetness hides a lot of the other flavours. In the background, I pick up a nice assortment of dark cherries, dates, raisins, chocolate. I really didn't pick up on much of the coffee. Slight vegetal flavour too somewhere in there, odd.

M - Coating, medium-heavy, sticky, very cloying

O - I don't think this lived up to the hype. You can tell that it had some nice components but was so dang sweet. Less sweetness would allow the coffee to come out (and some more of the cherries) which would be a lot nicer. The ABV was hidden fairly well though, props.

I don't know what I am going to do with my remaining 3 bottles (one each for 2009-2011). I may revisit this in a year and do a vertical. Hopefully some cellar time will help this sweetness come down to earth.

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

22 oz btl poured into a Great Lakes snifter, 2011 vintage

A: pours a thick dark brown/black like spent motor oil with a thin tan head that leaves some nice lacing

S: dark chocolate, roasted coffee, toasted malts

T: chocolate syrup, roasted coffee and nuts,
toasted malt, toffee, hint of dark fruit and maybe a tad of hoppy bitterness, ends with a somewhat bitter coffee bean finish

MF: full bodied, low carbonation, thick and chewy

O: excellent beer, worth the hype, alcohol is well hidden given the ABV, can’t wait to see how this one ages

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

2010 vintage. Thanks to piclee and mikeyv35 for both getting me a bottle of this. Drowning my sorrows after Boston just won the Stanley Cup here in my town.

Appearance. Pours a viscous looking black with a thin, deep brown head that doesn't last long.

Smell. Coffee liquer and molasses. Some caramel and milk chocolate with a hint of plums and cherries.

Taste. Sweet milk chocolate and molasses. Roasty coffee builds to strength in the finish. Alcohol is there, but not offensive in any way. Very full and delicious.

Mouthfeel. Really full, almost thick but didn't find it syrupy. Smoooth, low carbonation. Just a little nice warmth.

Overall. Hard to believe the abv. Very little booze taste considering. Nice and strong but smooth and drinkable. Great at 1 year old and will probably be even better with another couple years on it.

Photo of tsatem
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage procured by and shared with ColdPoncho, in a tulip. From notes.

A: Billowy burnt colored one finger head. Very dark, only the smallest amount of light around the edges.

S: Dark bitter chocolate, burnt leather, espresso, cocoa, toasty tobacco.

T: Slightly hot, but very nice for the ABV. Sweet after taste. Very earthy with roasted malts. Spicy and port-like. Coffee. Lots of tobacco. Everything from the nose comes through as well.

M: Very light carbonation. Extremely thick, coats the mouth cloyingly.

O: Very impressive. Overall much more balanced than I was expecting and incredibly enjoyable. The spice heat was strange, and half a bomber was enough for me, but this stands out as a great beer.

Photo of ColdPoncho
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, shared with tsatem, 6/13/2011

from notes

A - dark opaque brown body, medium brown head.

S - chocolate, banana, toasted malts, tanned leather. Surprisingly low on alcohol.

T - Pretty hot, very sweet on the finish, raisin, chocolate, earthy, lightly floral, spicy, alcohol, and coffee.

M - big and smooth, a bit numbing on the mouth.

O (D) - not bad, better than expected. Big, complex, and intense.

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

22oz bottle into a Goblet glass

2009 White Wax Vintage so 2 years old

A- Pours solid black like motor oil with no head at all. Not much carbonation left, only a small hiss out of the cap. No head retention either but leaves some really sexy legs on the side of the glass.

S- Pretty complex to say the least. This is the beast I remember. Dark roasted malts, bitter dark chocolate, strong dark fruits, tobacco, leather, burnt sugars, molasses, vinous notes, vanilla, and oak. Not much heat at all even for %15 Wow

T- Just like the aroma but better. Up front nice caramel, molasses, and burnt sugars hit you but are soon followed by a really nice array of sweet dark fruits like raisins, plums, and grapes. On top of all that you get nice subtle notes of burnt coffee, tobacco, fresh leather, and bittersweet dark chocolate. Just when you thought it was done and it goes down the finish brings out some really nice vanilla and musty oak flavors that create sort of a palate cleanser that make you want to drink more and more. The alcohol has toned down quite a bit in the 2 years, it's barely noticeable making this stuff extremely drinkable on all levels.

M- Full bodied with little carbonation but adds a nice creaminess and fullness on the palate. Finish is nice and wet, not bitter as all. It's very smooth and easily drinkable.

Overall I want to hate this beer due to hype but it's impossible after having it again. The only other time I tried this beer was in 2010 with a fresh bottle. I have to say aging this stuff is the best decision anyone could make. When it's fresh the alcohol is strong and harsh and hides a lot of flavors. But no that's it's mellowed out and all the more complex flavors are coming through It's absolutely amazing and deserves every bit of hype it gets. Such a great beer from an amazing brewery.


Photo of STEG
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Special thanks to Deadm8 for this generous bottle.

Serving temp: room temperature

Glass: Portsmouth Brewery Snifter

Pitch black body with a 2 finger head that dissapates to jack after about a minute.

Smell has concentrated milk chocolate notes and some coffee acid smells as well. There's some light smoke and anise undertones here as well.

Taste is initially a hit of chocolate syrup, sherry, and some coffee acidity at the back along with some alcohol flavored aftertaste.

Mouthfeel is syrupy and hot with almost too much carbonation feel for my liking in a stout as hugemongous as this.

Overall I've had the 09 and 11 not the best basis for comparison but overall this is a beast of a stout.

Photo of jimmy82063
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2011 Vintage poured into a tulip glass

A) Short head which almost immediately goes away. Minimal lacing.

S) Really get the dark fruit, cherries, raisins, chocolate and burnt coffee.

T) Man is this sweet. You really again get the dark/candied fruit taste, some smokiness which is supplemented by the chocolate and coffee flavors. There is almost a bit of crossover to a quad, very interesting!

M) Very rich, no carbonation.

O) I can see the hype on this. I can only imagine what the variations on this must taste like. Bourbon barrel aged must be a night ender!

Well done!

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

A- dark dark brown with hints of ruby when held up to the light. tan head that fades quickly.

S- fruits, roast, coffee, little maple syrup

T- SWEET. Almost in the realm of Sweet Horizon up front, with a very similar taste on the nose. Ruby port flavors, white russians, bread pudding, and the coffee is certainly there in a very subtle and well blended way. This is very complex and the flavor really evolves over time. Swish it around in your mouth, fer chri'sakes. I certainly get cherries, as well. Just awesome.

M- It coats your tongue and then sticks around. Keep a can of Busch as a pallet cleanser between sips. Has a nice carbonation; not mildly carbonated like some of the beers in the style, but certainly not overcarbed either. Thinner then I expected.

O- I can see why this beer is such a big deal. Not my favorite RIS, but definately an impressive specimen. This is a beer that I could enjoy once a year. Oddly enough, it only comes out once a year. What a coincidence. Try it, its worth it.

Photo of StJamesGate
4.14/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours viscous, totally opaque black with with not enough action to get a head of any kind. Nose has every RIS flavor you could imagine: molasses, smoked meat, raisins, swamp water, port barrel and a bit of alcohol.
Big brown sugar malts with a fishy, ashy, umami (meat juices?!) undertones with herbal cough drop notes at the end. Aspirating catches some booze. Big Werther's toffee finish and acidic coffee linger. Heavy, smooth, gooey and chewy. Would never guess 15%.

Head kicker of a stout. But also a sugar bomb - this definitely needs to sit and smooth out. Doesn't live up to the hype, but how could it? Would have it again, but not chasing golden tickets any time soon...

2010 version. Thanks to Adam for sharing.

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

Reviewing a bottle of 08 I just recently tried.

Poured into my Darkness snifter. Jet black and vicious looking. A fingers worth of red hued mocha head sets atop the beer. Lacing and stain remain on the glass. as the beer settles. The beer poured thick like soup. Coffee, bakers chocolate and some vanilla on the nose. Wow this is fudgy and thick. Little to no carbonation but it is great. Sweet. Espresso like coffee and chocolate. Incredible. Possible the thickest RIS I've had to date.

We had a vertical of this starting with 10, 09, 08. The other two were less memorable and I decided to review 08. Simply a descent beer that aged incredibly well and brought it to rockstar status.

Photo of Munkaboo
3.84/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2010 Dark Lord (Green Wax):
Appearance: Black hole, with some chocolatey brown head.

Aroma: Like most imp stouts, but it smells a bit more candied. I don’t get any soy sauce notes like others do.

Mouthfeel: Motor oil slides around my mouth and coats it with goodness. I cannot fucking belive this is 15%. Wow is it smooth.

Taste: ~15 minutes out of the fridge: Damn. Sweetness hits up front… candied raisens, chocolate, coffee afterthought. Lots of residual sweetness that I was surprised by.
30 minutes: Roughly the same… coffee is coming in a bit stronger now though.

Photo of bluejacket74
4.67/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22 ounce bottle, 2010 vintage (olive green wax). Big thanks to TrebleStauter for this brew, I've been holding onto this for a while now and figured I'd finally try it. Served in a snifter, the beer pours black with a half inch brown head that didn't stay around for too long. Small amount of lacing left on the glass. Very sweet and rich aroma, it smells like dark fruit, chocolate, coffee, roasted malt, vanilla and some molasses. Taste is pretty much just like the aroma, it's very sweet. It tastes like roasted malt, dark fruit (cherries), milk and dark chocolate, vanilla, coffee, molasses and a bit of charred/burnt malt. Mouthfeel/body is full, it's viscous and coating with low carbonation. It's very smooth and extremely easy to drink. The alcohol is pretty well hidden, it certainly doesn't seem like it's 15% ABV. I think this is a very good brew, I'm glad I was able to try it. If you like sweet stouts/RIS's, then this one is a good choice. Definitely recommended!

Photo of ShanePB
3.07/5  rDev -28.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Yellow-waxed 22 ounce bottle, 2011 vintage. Split my bottle with five other friends into miniature snifter glasses.

A: On the pour, dark brown liquid streams out looking thinner and lighter in color than I expected. I don't get that "motor oil" look I like with big stouts. In the glass, the body is much darker, black even with virtually no head. A thin mocha ring stick around and leaves rather weak lacing.

S: Roasted coffee beans, alcohol esters, chocolate liqueur and some unripe dark fruits - plums and figs. It's an interesting blend of flavors that are seemingly combined fairly well. Nothing sticks out but the alcohol notes are pretty powerful, evidence of where the taste could be headed.

T: Simply put, this is pretty god awful. The palate is washed with loads of cooked vegetable flavors. Celery, carrots, spinach and potatoes are in the worst incarnation of these otherwise good vegetables, by showing up in the taste. This needs some serious time in the bottle. The alcohol notes are completely gross and overpowering, increasingly so as the beer warms. The linger is dry, chalky and a bit bitter from so coffee bean elements.

M: A little too carbonated as it stands right now, not as creamy as I would like it either. Disappointed.

Considering I have 3 more bottles of this vintage in the cellar, I hope time helps this beer out tremendously, which is the general consensus I get with the Dark Lord vintages. This was pretty terrible fresh but will obviously revisit in a few years.

Photo of chumba526
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to Raylove for this bottle.

2011 vintage.

After scraping the wax off with a fork I poured the beer in a stone vertical glass.

It appears all but black with a small espresso colored head that dissipates quickly.

It smells of caramelized sugar, roasted malts, mild coffee and mild chocolate. I also get a bit of a sweet dry dark fruit smell.

It tastes of rich sweet milk chocolate. I get a mild sweet coffee flavor and a rich dry fruit flavor. I get a bit of a prune flavor. Overall the beer is on the sweet side but there are plenty of flavors interacting with each other. It is very rich yet very smooth.

This is one thick crude oil textured stout. It is thick. There is a low carbonation as well.

Overall though this beer might have a bit too much hype and might be a bit overpriced it is a great beer. It is thick, strong, yet smooth and drinkable.

Looking forward to ageing my last bottle of this.

Photo of s1ckboy
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had an 09’ white wax bottle at Ebenezer’s pub in Maine. Paid a hefty price but it was worth it to have this beauty. Very smooth for 15% abv. Though you can definitely taste the alcohol, it’s not overpowering. All other flavors come through, chocolate, molasses, prunes(?). Great beer, believe the hype.

Photo of SkyBlueWaters
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Finally busted one open. 2011 into a Duvel tulip.

A: Not quite black but dang near. No carbonation or head to speak of, not even if you tried to scare some up.

S: Roasted malt, molasses and dark fruit. Some dark chocolate and vanilla in there as well. This stuff smells sweeter than most RIS I've had.

T: Tastes sweetish too. Sweet malts. Coffee creamer and a dark fruity background. I get dark chocolate and vanilla again too. Pretty good booze kick as well. Not as sweet tasting as the nose suggests tho. I wonder if aging will tame the sweet edge and the alcohol?

M: Thick. Coats everything. I had my tonsils removed when I was 8 and it coated them. No carbonation. None. My favorite part of this brew no doubt.

O: Not something I'd tackle myself but a great sharing brew. Feels like something to drink by the fire in the middle of blizzard with a couple buddies. I've had one or two RIS I liked better but that's not to say I'm not impressed. I'm going to hide one for a couple years and get back to ya... Cheers.

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

Had the 2009 version of this just last week for my MBA graduation celebration. Originally got the bottle as a wedding gift and have been saving it for the NEXT big event in my life.

a: dark dark dark. half inch espresso head on a light pour that stuck around for a while and stuck to the sides hardcore. This brew is thick

s: slight booze scent, cocoa, espresso, vanilla...smells lovely

t: a bit messy at the front as it hits with a boozy sweetness that was not what I expected. the cocoa flavor and vanilla mix nicely, but as these two flavors are also sweet, the brew didn't get back into balance until the sip was at the end. An espresso bitterness with a very very light hop character took this into the homestretch strongly.

m: Nice carbonation, thick on the tongue and coats well. Taste and feel stuck around past the end of the drink

o: Glad I got to try it, will seek out again...but I won't give up my favorite beers ever to get a hold of this bad boy. It is a fun beer to try to track down or get/give as a gift, but the taste profile was shockingly sweet for half of the taste. While the flavor was good, this beast uses too much sugar to cover the 15% and it still hits with a lot of booze. Tasty, nonetheless.

Photo of langept
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 bottle poured into a tulip glass

A: Black as sin. Not much head after an average pour. Leaves some lacing.

S: Roasted malt, chocolate, and candied fruits. Mostly figs & cherries.

T: Kind of a letdown. I usually like my russian imperials on the sweeter side, however this was much too sweet and fruity for my tastes. I wish the roasty, dark chocolate flavor came through a little stronger. Love the booziness

M: Mouthfeel is dead on for the style. Thick and viscous.

O: I am a little disappointed by this one. This is the first Dark Lord I've had, and from what I've read 2009 was an off year for this brew, but I was still expecting a bit more. That being said, this is still a great beer that I would be happy to have again.

Photo of Alpar
3.23/5  rDev -24.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

2011 Bottle:

A: Rich opaque beast! Not much carbonation, just a few stray bubbles surfacing here and there. No head, although I tried to create one with my pour.

S: Smell is ok, nothing to write home to mom about but its decent. Some coffee and chocolate, typical of stouts, maybe anise and Malt O Meal?

T: Extremely thick and low carbonated, I love sweet stouts but this is just not doing it for me at all. I taste coffee and chocolate and TONS of sugar...

M: Nice and thick but the lack of carbonation makes this hard drink.

O: I've tried a few years of this beer the 09' was by far the worst I've had and the 11' is the best. Still not a fan of this and I am not sure if time will make me appreciate this beer more...

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

reviewing the 08

very dark almost black pour, some head during pour beer very still.
the smell is rick and roasty.
not too tick and just a nice warming from the ABV.
it is possible to drink a whole bottle but i of course rec sharning with a few friends.

Wish I could drink this more often

Photo of pnkRed
3.82/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks BeerThursdays for the trade

2009 Vintage into a Bruery Tulip

Pours pitch black with very little head that leaves caramel brown lacing. Smell is a tad boozy with slight roast, and a mix of sweet chocolate and dark sweet fruits. Not very boozy or roasty, but very sweet. Barrels of dark fruit with minor hints of chocolate and and roasted barley. Pretty thin on the mouth for this big of a beer and the carbonation is slight, but it's there. Definitely much better than I expected, but still not the best I've had from this style. I wouldn't specifically seek this year out again, but I wouldn't mind having another.

Photo of Kshock
4.87/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2010 bottle with green wax. Thanks Nate, really enjoyed this one.

A-Amazing bright jet black color. almost looks like liquid obsidian. Little head retention, but the foam is pale roasty color. resembles coffee with a dash of cream in it.

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. Love the slight hint of cherries. Every sip keeps you looking into the amazing depth of this beer.

M- Awesome soft mouthfeel on this one. you feel how big this beer is, but its not too heavy or a gut bomb. truly awesome beer.

Would love to be able to get more of this beer. this will always be on my wants list

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

Tried a 2010 bottle on May 15 with two of my friends on our "Epic Beer Tasting Day". The line-up consisted of 2010 Darklord, Rare Bourbon County Stout, , 2011 Hanahpu, 2011 KBS, 2010 Abyss.

Appearance - Pours a very thick dark black with no light getting through. This has a dark tan coffee head which actually looks creamy.

Smell - At first this has a very sweet aroma to it. After warming up it you can smell hints of molasses and coffee. Wait a little longer and then you can get hints of vanilla and bittersweet chocolate. The aroma was changing ever so slightly as this beer warmed up. It was so complex.

Taste - At first this beer was the nastiest thing I ever tasted. It was nothing but a strong alcohol taste and was a bit harsh. I was appalled that this was a top ranking beer. As it warmed up and I took my second sip and it tasted a little bit better. There were a few hints of roasted coffee. A third sip gave a taste of toffee and chocolate. After every sip it just got better. It gave me a different taste every single time. It's hard to describe the taste of this beer because it's forever changing.

Mouthfeel - This is definitely the smoothest and thickest beer I ever had. Gets better and better as you drink.

Overall - Best beer I ever had by far. The flavors just balance itself out as the beer sits. Can't wait to try more vintage Dark Lords. It surpasses the hype!

Photo of bbeane
4.07/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2009 Vintage...

A- Poured into a DFH head laser etched chalice, no real head for the laser etchings to contribute to. Beer is black in color... no light shines through

S- First wiff is malts and dark fruits, maybe some chocolate... swirls of the snifer brings out the booziness

T- This one is mostly sweet malts, hint of chocolate... boozy in the finish

M- Full bodied with very light carbonation

O- Honestly, wasn't as impressed as I thought I'd be. It was tasty, but not min


Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 3,585 ratings.