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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.

3,522 Ratings

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,522
Reviews: 1,172
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 14.95%
Wants: 2,853
Gots: 1,525 | 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: 3,522 | Reviews: 1,172 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Birdiebeagle
4.97/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Bottle 2009 500th rating Pours a Deep purplish black witha thin tan head that leaves very quickly.Has a light lacing but is a thick residue. The aroma is all over the room. It is of vanilla, alcohol, chocolate, and lightly broasted coffee. The carbonation was light. Mouthfeel is excellent. The flavors are complex but keep your tongue thriving for more. This is blended very well. The alcohol is well hidden. All this going on leads to a wonderful finish with an aftertaste that makes you never want to finish. This one has a syripy texture, very think. I waited a long time to get one of these and it was worth the wait. I may have to get out to the DLD next year or every year if possible. Very well done.

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

Ah, the big fellow...
Dark Lord has been such an amazing beer to follow over the years. The hype surrounding it, acquiring it, the fact that Dark Lord Day has become an annual pilgrimmage for me and my friends from all over the world, I have a hard time saying that this is not one of those charmed, magical beers that will always be considered among the greatest in the world. Due to such hype, it has also become a beer many love to hate. Regardless, when compared in class next to its peers it is a distinctive, singular example of Russian Imperial Stout. Is it overdone? Of course, when compared to Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout. Whereas, say World Wide Stout, it seems quite balanced. I personally love it, even in blind tastings...the rich, velvety mouthfeel makes me stop in wonder. This beer, though rarely makes it out of the beergeek circles. I love to see non-beergeek reactions to it. Especially, the wine crowd always finds it immediately delicious, if not at least incredibly intriguing. I have taken many notes on the Dark Lord in all its incarnations and read all the reviews, but nothing really prepares the uninitiated for its overwhelming power and weight. It makes the so-called "big beers" seem little. So, it is sentimental for me. A friend that I always anticipate the visit each year. In fact, a recent discussion I was involved in all agreed that Dark Lord should only be for Dark Lord Day. It has been sad to watch the Ebay phenomena. It was sad to see the behavior of those skipping lines last year and all the disappointment. You have to remind yourself, this is just beer. When I attend beer tastings, it almost always the first bottle popped and first bottle finished. If someone doesn't bring it, people remark that the "big guns" didn't come out. Dark Lord has become a cornerstone of the BA community. But what makes this so special that it receives this kind of adulation? That is the point of my review. 2008 is my favorite, followed by 2010, 2006, 2007, and in a distant last, 2009.

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

Poured from an 09 bottle into a snifter

A-> Black as pitch. Long pour yields only a little head which quickly diminishes, leaving no lacing. After swirling a thick glaze remains. It looks exactly like motor oil.

S-> Tons of rich dark fruit. Figs, grapes and prunes. A lot of alcohol as well.

T-> Dark fruit. Bitter cherries. Very sweet vanilla and caramel flavors. It has just enough roast to keep it from becoming too cloying.

M-> Like drinking a milkshake. So much residual sugar that my lips still stick together 30 minutes after finishing the glass.

D-> I would never want to finish an entire bottle on my own. Best to share this one with friends!

One of the most unique beers I've had the pleasure of drinking.

Photo of crazeguy
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from an 09 bottle.

Pitch black. Held my normally bright led cellphone flash up behind it and didn't see a hint of it.

Smell, Alcohol, Figs. Smells reminds of a Westy or St Bernadus 12. But with the normal stout smells. Than more sweet scents. Its nice

Taste- sweet. Really sweet. Like chocolate covered cherries!

Mouth - THICK. Like chewing beer.

drink - Too thick and heavy, but this isn't meant to be light.

This is a must try for any BA. A supreme RIS by any standards.

Photo of bulletrain76
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

2005 vintage bottle shared by CaptainCougarthis past march. Pretty much solid black with a brown head. Dark chocolate, dried fruit, super malty and roasty, light alcohol, all nicely mellowed with age, adding a light oxidized touch to the nose. The flavor is intensely coffee packed, dark chocolate laden, and fruit filled, while also being hoppy and pretty bitter. This stuff is just so thick, I can't even describe it. Definitely the thickest beer I've ever had. Honestly, the verdict is out on whether beer should even be this thick, but I have to give it a 5 just for accomplishing that. Definitely unique and intense stuff. It is hugely rich and sweet, yet seems to pull off a pretty good balancing act. Big thanks to Tom for pulling this out. A great way to end my time in DC.

Photo of biggred1
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

2009 edition.

Dark, almost black with a thick dark head of mousse that leaves ultra fine lace on the glass. Dark chocolate, anise and rum combine in the nose. Fudge, black licorice and rum with a charred bitterness that lingers long after the first sip. The taste still lives up to the ever growing hype surrounding this beer, the complexity grows as it warms. Smooth and viscous, it coats the mouth and throat nicely. This is a fantastic brew that will only get better with time.

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

22 oz. bomber into a brandy snifter

2009 vintage, white wax

Pours a very dark black color with a half inch dark tan head that falls to a skim rather quickly. Super viscous. Not much in the way of retention with this one, but it doesn't matter. Some spotty lacing.

Aroma has a strong molasses component, some coffee and chocolate. A fairly strong alcohol whiff. Really quite underwhelming compared to some other Imperial Stouts.

Taste is another story. Very sweet up front with heavy molasses flavors. Some chocolate covered raisin dark fruit character. A bit of cherry like fruitiness. Coffee flavors come in towards the finish with some slightly astringent roast. Heavenly.

Mouthfeel is super thick and super smooth. So creamy it's kind of like drinking a milkshake, in a good way.

I had this at a Three Floyds dinner in January, but they served it at the end of the dinner after 13 other beers, so I was in no state to taste it properly. I had it on-tap at Dark Lord Day, but I had tried thirty or so different beers before that. Again, not in a state to taste it. I have three bottles from DLD this year so I decided I needed to try one fresh with a clean palate. I was not let down. Of all the beers I've had that are hyped up, this is one that truly lives up to it. The taste is unlike anything that I've ever tasted. I wish I had more, I could drink this all day.

Photo of cadizkyguy
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Dark Lord Vintage 2009, White Wax. Wow. I was fortunate to snag a few bottles as a late-show at DLD on April 25 and so glad I did. This beer was so much hyped, I was afraid I would be facing a letdown. But not at all. I could smell this beer all night. What a wonderful smell! Not fortunate to have a snifter in my beer glass collection yet, I poured the first half into a Samuel Smith pint glass and the remainder in a Sam Adams sensory glass. The pour went much better in the Samuel Smith pint glass as a nice two inch frothy head appeared there, while a smaller head formed on the beer poured into the SA sensory glass.. This is my introduction to Russian Imperial Stouts and what an introduction. First taste and I get a little alcohol burn from the 13.0 % ABV, but not as harsh as the 10.0 % ABV for a Bell's Hopslam. Go figure. Still, this beer might need six months to a year for aging -- but, really, who can wait that long. This is really a masterful brew from Three Floyds. Smell, for me, is the best part about this. I go back and forth, between glasses, to smell and find the best smells coming from the pint glass. Taste is something I cannot put into words. This is something you must experience for yourself. Believe the hype. I don't see the low ratings for this Three Floyds offering because it lives up to the hype for me, at least. Drinkability is the only non-5 because I;ll be fortunate to finish this myself.

Photo of illidurit
4.6/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Inverted crosses are struck into their heart
Our Lord Satan delivers us from good
He slashes his veins to give us his essence
To my kind it's power, to the weak it's venom
We drink the devil's blood

-Deathspell Omega

I slashed the wax off the bottle and poured this devil's blood into a snifter. As ludicrously black as the deepest crevices of hell with a frothy head the hue of brown earth crumbling before Satan's insidious footsteps.

Aromas of death and destruction coated in brownie batter, coffee as roasted as the souls of the damned, and ashen notes like those wafting from the scorched path Lucifer forges through the underworld.

Flavors of chocolate liqueur, raisins, prunes, cocoa, and the charred remains of unrepentant sinners.

So oily and viscous it pervades the palate like Beelzebub's relentless tendrils of influence snaking through the minds of men, gravid with darkness and power.


Review #666, 08 vintage, courtesy of ucusty.

Photo of brdc
4.97/5  rDev +16.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2009 version, had a full glass on tap at DLD.

Quite similar to my impressions of the 2008 bottle version, a fantastic brew needing a few more months to fully develop.
Pitch black, motor oil, no highlights, less head presumably because of a not so vigorous pour, but nonetheless does not look perfect. Whatever head is there holds very well, coats the sides of the glass although it is not as sticky as the 2008 version, at least not yet. The 2008 bottle I had side by side needs three washes to clear the glass!
Aroma is quite impressive, dark fruits abounding, molasses, coffee but not too much coffee, chocolate, bread and alcohol (a bit more alcohol than the aged version, although I am comparing on tap to bottle).
It is a very thick, oily beer as expected, complex, minimal heat this fresh.
Coffee, but not too much, bittersweet chocolate, evolving to sweet caramel, molasses, fruits, and minimal alcohol to be noticed.
It is a very impressive brew, certainly worth the hype, and IMHO, as mentioned in previous reviews, the best beer ever. I wish I could age myself a barrel :)

Photo of Reagan1984
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A big thanks to Avalon68 for providing this in trade. Great trader!! My first "big" trade on BA..

'08 Bottle consumed on 5/2/09.... This was the winner of our blind taste test and also the one that I chose for first place.
A finger + of dark tan head forms then does fade rather quickly. While there is no lacing, there is almost a thin film left on the glass from the thickness of the beer. If you didn't change your motor's oil for 2 years then finally drained it, this is what would come out.

Sweet, chocolate, dates and other dark fruits dominate the aroma.

This was/is the most complex tasting of those beers that were in our tasting. There is so much going on here, you can sit with this and have fun for hours.

I thought chocolate truffles, dates, molasses, chocolate covered cherries. The more you sit and enjoy the more you find. Slightly smokey. Some nice hop bitterness add balance while remaining well hidden. The more you enjoy the more it drinks like a hot fudge milk shake. (those are my favorite!)

Really syrup like and full bodied, but smooth as silk.

Drinkable? Are you kidding? Is there a sessionable Russian Imperial Stout?

Immediate entry into my top 2 or 3 beers. Just fabulous.

Photo of tr4nc3d
2.7/5  rDev -36.9%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Have you ever had one of those goals where its not entirely impossible to reach but yet you just cant imagine actually trying to reach it?

Here is my intro and story that leads to my review of the "Mythical Mighty Dark Lord himself".

As soon as I got into craft beer I knew that someday I wanted to try the top beers. I was such a noob that I was looking at liquor stores for this beer and wondering why the hell I could not get it. That is when I decided to use the search function(DOPE!!!)and I felt like a fool. I could never imagine going all the way cross country to get a beer(well I could maybe)but it was just out of reach cause I have a family.

Believe it or not(no bullshit), I actually had two dreams where I went to Dark Lord Day and purchased some and was filled with excitement to only wake up and realize its not true. I never have before dreamed about beer. Well by some miracle my wife said she would not mind cause her brother lives close by and she wanted to see him. Well I went to DLD and my fantasy was fulfilled!!!!

I drank my bottle the next day after DLD and shared it with my bro-in-law who is also a BA and craft drinker.
Poured this into his "hopleaf" pint glass. 2009 DL

This pours a very thick black color with no head at all(wtf?)except for a mere ring left around the edges. Nothing impressing, especially since I expect one from this style.

This had a big smell of alcohol heat. I had to work hard at it to surpass the big heave alcohol smell, I got some hints of molasses, burnt charred malts, dark black coffee.

Upon first sip it was very heavy on the booze and was quite hard to get anything else besides the high alcohol taste. Besides alcohol I got some charred roasted malts, slight molasses and very acrid throughout the beer. I was definitely expecting something else. Especially from what the label says.

Mouthfeel is very thick and heavy with an alcohol like burn taste. Low carbonation.

I shared this with my bro-in-law and could not imagine having a whole bottle. Definitely not a beer one should drink without getting into the style.

This along with Abyss, Darkness, KTG, Sexual Chocolate, is one of the major RIS I have wanted to try since I first got into the style. I have had "The Abyss" and "Dark Lord".

Overall as excited as I was to finally try this beer and wishing it was just as good as I was hoping it to be, it was not. This beer is all hype and definitely not what the label on the bottle says. I'am going to take the remainder of my bottles and age them for a long time.

I will update this an a year and compare.

For a picture reference visit my flickr account

Cracked one open on 2-27-2010(a little shy of 1 year)and man this beer was even worse then when I had it over 10months ago. It was so cloyingly sweet and just a mess of a beer. Age definitely did not do this beer any good. Just goes to show what hype gets you into.

Photo of BenSelf
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

I had the 2008 Dark Lord while waiting in line for the 2009 Dark Lord. My goodness, what a beer. It looks like motor oil with a thin, quickly dissipating head. It smells like burned fruit, molasses, maple, and intensely malty. The flavor profile is incredible. Fruit, chocolate, raspberry, woodsmoke, and more that I can't quite identify. I am extremely excited to see how my '09 turns out after a some aging. Can't wait to go to the next DLD!

Photo of beerad666
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured the 2009 vintage of Dark Lord into a Snifter glass. It poured out nice and thick, but thinner then the 2008. You get some deep brown and dark amber highlights in the glass. Seeing this in the glass just makes the mouth water. The liquid coats the glass but not as much as a Bourbon County Stout. A bourbon booze aroma comes out huge in the first sniff. The coffee notes are hidden by the chocolate and some dried fruits like plum and raspberry come out as it warms up. Very sweet and boozy all around. The alcohol hits you up front right away for a moment but then this dried fruit tartness washes it away. The sweet chocolate, molasses and vanilla quickly then take over the mouth. As it finishes there is a nice coffee bitter. But again in the taste the coffee isn't as pronounced as I was looking for, but don't get me wrong this is a complex and balanced beer. If I could I would drink this all night long, but the 2008 is fabulous so I'm looking forward to seeing how the 2009 vintage ages.

Photo of coldmeat23
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

GLASS: Snifter
TEMP: approx 45 - 50 degrees
VINTAGE 2009 (Had @ DLD)
My review #250!

Very black, as would be expected. About one-fingers worth of a dark brown head of foam. Dissipates to nothing after a minute or two. Lacing is not really anything to speak of, but this brew COATS the side of the glass, like an oil slick. Seriously, it looks like the glass is stained with a dark brown, almost black, rinse.

F-in' complex. That's the best way to describe this nose.
Huge notes of chocolate covered chocolate brownies. Lots of big, bold, dark fruit notes. Big presence of roasted coffee. Big, dark, sweet, roasted malt notes. Nice raisin presence. Hints of molasses. A touch of vanilla and a slight smokiness. A nice touch of hops.
The best/worst part of this nose is that everytime I give it the slightest of swirls I pick up some other scent.

Taste definitely follows the nose, here. The chocolate flavors are so intense, in a truly delicious way, it's like a fudge covered brownie in a glass. Then there is the coffee presence, which is bold enough that if the chocolate weren't there it would probably ruin this brew. As it is though, they play nicely with each other, sometimes letting each other take a tiny step, front and center, but mostly combining to become a wonderful, sweet, coffee-mocha blend.
Tons of wonderfully ripened dark fruits are in this glass. Light-ish notes of brown sugars. Wonderful roasted malt presence.
The taste is also quite complex. The good part is that no single element overpowers the others. They all combine their presence to become some beautifully tasty nectar.

This is truly where Dark Lord shines and gets seperated from every other beer out there. I would rate the mouthfeel with a 7, if I could. It's beyond the scale.
Yes, it's full-bodied. It is thick. It is oily. It is the definition of viscous. Yet, at the same time, it is smooth and creamy beyond anything I'd imagined. It is truly 'lush'. It's beyond velvety.

Drinkability is also exceptional. The only negative would be the 13%ABV contained within. Even at that high rate of alcohol, though, I only detect the slightest trace of warming sensation. It is very well hidden.
This one is a little bit of a mess, right now, flavorwise. I can only imagine how good it's going to taste with some cellaring time on it, when it smooths out. Hopefully, I can leave a couple of bottles alone long enough to find that out.
This one, IMO, is truly worthy of the hype that it receives. As far as my palate goes, Dark Lord is damn near "Perfect".

Photo of littlekidlover
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome, for the second year in the row I get a couple bottles of the coveted Dark Lord! Poured this into my beer tasting wine glass. The appearance is jet black and doesn't seem to let through any light at all. I poured it as fast as I could and hardly got a head. The smell is a lot of raisin, lactose, burnt malt, seems sweet for an RIS. The taste is extremely complex. Alcohol, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, raisins, wood, smoke, again a little lactose. The mouthfeel may be the most remarkable feature of this beer. The viscosity is similar to whole milk. I found this very drinkable for a extreme beer, but I drink gin martinis so I don't think I can speak for the average. A strong effort, however I remember liking the 2008 a bit better.

Photo of BARFLYB
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2008 version into a large snifter. Shared with Birradr14,oglmcdgl and mary. Thanks goes out to Thomas Hardy for the bottle. I could not attend this year so I figured if you cant join them, drink with them in spirit. Drank on DLD 09'

A- Taking off the black wax and unsealing the cap I got a faint whiss of noise from the bottle. What came out of the bottle was a different story though. I never used this term for a RIS review before because i've been saving it for this one, DL is motor oil in it's very essense. DL has the look of texas tea, sludge, goop and swamp like, oh yeah it's black in color. A nice sized dark brown cap of head graced the top with nice lacing.

S- I just get overrun witha huge chocolate presense with mounds of fudge batter and some coffee underneath that. A huge roasty aspect comes out plus some char as well. Big notes of black roasted malt. Some faint vanilla and not a lot of hops, perhaps they faded. Dark fruits with minimal raisins and a bunch of molasses.

T- I was turned on by the smell but once I tasted DL it was all over from there. This stuff is worth all of it's weight in gold. Rich deep chocolate layered upon fudge chocolate chips, you name it. The malt base used in this really adds another layer to this which makes it stand out with some wood like taste thrown in for good measure. The hops are not the focus point in this very sweet brew. Im getting some licorice and molasses. Some dark fruit and a bit of alcohol which is fine by me. Why havent I been drinking this for years?!!??!

M- DL just coats the mouth without hesitation. From the looks of this beer I knew it would be thick. DL is full bodied with some carb trying to make it's way throught the swamp of stout. Not at all bitter in this one year old bottle but it is very sweet, there's no getting around that. Like others have said this is the thickest beer I have ever consumed thus far. Thick and chewy this one takes a little patience to get through but I m up for it.

D- While the 13% is expertly hidden in the sea of blackness, it is indeed in there so sharing this would be the wise thing to do. Maybe down the road i'll drink a bottle to my head to test my stamina, I just wont drive afterwards. For a 13% beer it is amazing that I did not get a lot of alcohol burn although I could taste some booze. With that said I finished my portion in no time and I was sad to see it go.

My 1st offering from three floyds was the bomb and I intend to try more from this brewery. Now only if they made it back into PA all would be right in the world, A man can dream cant he.

Edit- Had the 2009 vintage and it pales in comparison to the 08. It was difficult to take down even with a 6oz pour. Too much dark fruit, needs alot of time.

Photo of conpewter
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3

Sample at DLD '09

A: Exceptionally black as expected, almost no head

S: Roasted notes predominated, underlying hints of chocolate and molasses.

T: Very enjoyable. Really roasty, picked up more hints of chocolate, also some vanilla. I had the '08 as well in the brewpub and it was even better, that one was aged in a bourbon barrel with vanilla so has even more complexity.

M: Very thick and smooth.

D: Too thick to have throw back more than one. It hides the 13% ABV really well though. I'll be needing friends to help with any bottles I open

Photo of Thorpe429
4.18/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at DLD 2009.

A: Very, very dark with a small dark head.

S: Lots going on here, with pretty much everything dark in this one--chocolate, coffee, molasses, dark fruits. Some very mild touches of vanilla.

T: Very, very complex. The fresh version isn't quite as complex and delicious as aged. I also had a sample of the '08 Dark Lord, and that one definitely would get a 5.0 on the taste scale. This one is still beyond excellent, however. All of the tastes are similar to the smell, and simply envelop the palate with goodness.

M: Very, very smooth. Almost no carbonation, and barely a hint that this thing is 13% abv.

D: Incredible. Definitely got my freebies with the golden tickets. Hats off to Three Floyds for an absolutely incredible beer. It was my first DLD, and I plan on going back every year from here on out.

EDIT: Not changing the original scores but a few notes. Opened up my first 2010 Dark Lord on 11.20.2010. The initial smell was a bit smokey to me and not nearly as sweet as the 2009. Strangely enough, we also opened a Batch 9000, which resembled the 2009 DL more so than this beer did. The 2010 DL also had some faint chocolate, but not really any of the sweet sherry-type notes of the 2009.

Photo of degerbah
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Tried both '08 and '09 vintages side by side the day after DLD. An awesome time all around. Rating on the '09 today.

Poured dark brown and extremely thick. Coated the glass like paint or motor oil. Smelled boozy but not unpleasantly. Coffee and Malt smells as well. Although it is too thick to drink easily, the taste is absolute heaven. One of the best I've ever had. I wish three floyd's is amazing and this doesn't dissapoint.

Photo of raninator84
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

A finer Imperial Stout? I know not!

2009 Bottle poured into a thick walled Chalice. Oh how the Czars would envy me.
Pours a deep black profuse sludge as if the Dark Lord himself has awakened from a slumber of centuries past. Already I can smell the scent of deep roasted malts, coffee, smoked embers, and nutmeg. The lacing clinging to the walls of my glass, but sliding ever so smoothly into the depths of midnight, where light ceases and something a bit abnormal begins. The first sip; smooth, chewy and thick. Perhaps this Lord of Darkness plays well with others? A robust hit of roasted chocolate careens my palate confused as to what it wishes to unleash next. A rush of sweet molasses and plum forces its boldness upon my senses. As the ferocity of the sip hits my palate a hint of nutmeg and cherries sneaks in through the back with hops infused in the grain. A strong but short burst of burnt and smoked woodiness ends atop the alcohol, clearly there can be no more. But the taste lingers and finally rests into a roasted smoked chocolate embrace. It's enough to want to follow the Dark Lord into the underbelly, into the darkside, into the grave. And after sampling the elixir of this Demigod, I must pledge my loyalty to he who is the master of the blackest of nights, the overseer of the underworld of sludge, and the purveyor of all that is "not normal". To the Dark Lord.

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

2009 vintage (white wax)

My 40th bottle of Dark Lord in the last 4 years...it's about time I review this beer!

Appearance: Dump it vigorously into a cabernet glass and sit back and admire...wait a second...the bottle description wasn't lying--the incendiary head suddenly materializes out of empty space like a backdraft. Close-ups of this would make for a nice series on the Discovery channel. Markedly less head retention than the '08, as the mocha froth ultimately dissipates to an obsidian reflection of myself. Scary stuff. Looks like India ink, fading to burnt umber when you tip the glass in the light, and glowing red at the edges. Rock it back and forth and watch the wake of tiny red bubbles vanish into the black abyss.

Nose: Beguiling, mysterious, intriguing, beckoning, impossible, singular, addictive...smells like?...?.?..Dark Lord I guess. I like to swirl and smell this beer about 12 times before each sip, because it's a way of trying to understand the staggering complexity of this beer without losing any of it to your belly. It's very dense, and difficult to pull out specific aromas...cool coffee and juicy Floydian hops when it's cold--not unlike the new '09 Behemoth barley wine. As it warms to cellar temperature, you start to get more of the ripe dark fruit--cherry, plum, currant, whatever you want to call it--dipped in chocolate and molasses of course.

Flavor: Not unlike the aroma--tight and complex. This beer reminds me of a slowly braised meat, where a handful of awesome ingredients are slowly cooked together for hours until the end result is so integrated and the whole is entirely greater than the sum of its parts. In past DL vintages, you literally tasted a blast of hops, or coffee, or a metallic tinge, sticky caramel, or blatant cherries....here it's more of a nuanced enigma. And I don't mean this in a bad way. Choco-but-not-too-choco-latey-covered cherry-ish molassified espresso beanery port-like black tea roasted barley balsamic reduction??? Only thing lacking compared to previous vintages is a slight 'char' on the finish...but I don't even care.

Mouthfeel: Better than ever! The quick-fading head made me think they went back to '07 sludge-like texture....but NO! The carbonation is there, in perfect amount. The beer is just as heavy as its reputation now demands, but somehow it's smoother than ever...no sticky brown film on the glass, no mud at the bottom of the bottle, and no lump in your throat after the sip. It has shedded some excess fat. It's lean and trim, but still boasts the muscularity, power, and complexity it always had. Unreal.

Drinkability: You can drink a full bottle of this [slowly] before bed with some good music or a good movie, or you can split it with three friends on the back porch. But since this beer is meant to be sipped, savored, and pondered over, it is not 'drinkable' in the case-race sense. I do think it is perfectly drinkable in terms of its unique velvety texture and its impressive balance of complex flavors, always leaving you wanting another sip, and sad when it's all gone. Can't wait to try this one in a few months, or in 2014.

Photo of rwdkosak
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip producing an extremely dark and thick brew under cocoa-colored head that quickly fades to simply dark-chocolate color. Nose is more subtle than expected with sweet malt, currant, raisin and just a hint of alcohol at the end. Taste is more raisin up front, currant, almost port-like though not quite as thick and chewy. Possibly a hint of smoke mixes in as alcohol takes a turn before and during the finish that gives a nice warming feel but certainly not overpowering. Overall this was a highly anticipated tasting and it hasnt' let me down! Despite it's higher ABV, I could sit and sip this for quite a while.

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

On tap via DLD 2009
Sweet heavens this thing is dark! It coats the inside of the glass very heavily. I new that I was in for a treat once my nose hit the glass. Smells strongly of molasses, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, alcohol, some dark fruit, and espresso. Up front tastes: Sweet soy, molasses, espresso. Leaves a lingering coffee, woody, semi-sweet chocolate aftertaste. This thing feels amazing on the tongue. Every thick, but smooth. Extremely drinkable for 13%. First taste of this was a punch in the face. Totally wasn't expecting what I got, but it turned out to be amazing. At first the flavors seemed puzzling, but fit very nicely together. This is not a beer for people who aren't into RIS's. All hail the Dark Lord!

Photo of homebrew311
3.93/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 Bottle. Thanks to my girlfriend for picking this one up for me!

A: As the name suggests it has a pitch black appearance with a dark brown head that looks like hot cocoa. Head is gone very quick. Appears thick and velvety.

S: Smells of deep rich chocolate paired with a hint of blackberry and licorice. I don't detect too much coffee on the aroma, but certainly am getting very deep roasted, woody aroma. Unlike any RIS I have experienced.

T: An initial assault of molasses sweetness quickly followed by dark chocolate. A hint of fruitiness like the aroma, subtle hints of dark cherries or blackberries. I pick up some coffee on the tail end, more than the nose. It all comes together with a boozy finish. Alcohol is prevalent, but well hidden for 13%. Leaves a nice after taste of chocolate and molasses.

M: Thick, viscous, and silky on the way down. Coats the tongue with imperial stout deliciousness. A slight burn from the alcohol, but over all very nice.

D: Well this was my first tasting of Dark Lord. I thought it was a very well rounded imperial stout with some nice unique components that put it into a class of its own. It is impressive how balanced the flavors are considering the complexity and high abv. All in all this is an excellent stout and I can see where all they hype comes from, I look forward to trying it with some age.

Dark Lord Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Co. & Brewpub
96 out of 100 based on 3,522 ratings.