Dark Lord Imperial Stout - 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout

Educational use only; do not reuse.

1,217 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 1,217
Hads: 3,937
Avg: 4.28
pDev: 14.49%
Wants: 3,079
Gots: 1,844 | FT: 148
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: 1,217 | Hads: 3,937
Photo of tmbgnicu
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

It's sweet as hell, but I thoroughly enjoyed the sweetness. The high sweetness also does well to hide the high ABV. I enjoyed a 2015 bottle over the course of an hour or so at around 45/50 degrees. Very enjoyable "fresh". I look forward to trying some other years to see the difference with some age on it.

 315 characters

Photo of SMH_NWI
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Rating based on 2010 vintage, green wax.

Sweetness has come down considerably because of aging.

I prefer the thick, syrupy feel in my RIS's, so this is ideal to me.

 168 characters

Photo of larryi86
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Big thanks to bstyle for this, have been wanting to try this for years
22 oz bottle, 2015, poured into a teku

A- Pitch black with a two finger mocha head.

S- Coffee, roasted malts, some molasses, vanilla, dark fruits/figs, definitely sweet.

T- Roasted coffee, chocolate, vanilla, molasses, dark fruits, figs, plums, slight heat and bitterness in the finish. Upfront is bitter coffee, middle is really sweet, could be more balanced but still enjoyable.

M- Surprisingly smooth, full body, slightly syrupy.

O- This is sweeter than I thought it would be. This is sweet, but doesn't taste like 15% ABV. I am very happy I got the try this, worth seeking out, definitely would like to see how this ages.

 704 characters

Photo of StankyT
2.52/5  rDev -41.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 1 | feel: 5 | overall: 1.5

2014 Blue Wax Dark Lord

Consumed 05/20/15 so this baby has been bottle aging in excess of a year.

The Dark Lord looks magnificent. Aggresively poured into a stemless wine tulip. Nice sticky mocha brown lacing. 5/5

The smell furthers the excitement. Very rich dark fruit aromas and molasses. No coffee detectable. 4.25/5

This is where this brew takes a disastrous turn. The sweetness is dominating and overpowering. No alcohol presence which strikes me as weird for a 15% er. It is a pleasant taste of fig, raisin, dark malt, when it hits the tongue but the follow through is overtly sweet... like sugary soda sweet. Off putting. Cloying is too mild a term. Disgustingly sweet. 1/5

I have a hard time with mouth feel because of the sweetness. Thick and oily. Quite perfect if the flavor wasn't so sugary. 5/5

Overall, I have to say this is a bad beer. Not enjoyable at price point. If you could imagine raisin juice, that's what this tastes like. Dark Lord Day seems like an awesome time, and I am a huge fan and supporter of 3F, but I feel like they're just clowning us with this brew.

 1,092 characters

Photo of shundahai
3.36/5  rDev -21.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

I'm rating the 2014 Dark Lord. I probably should have waited more than a year to open this but it's far too sweet. They should follow Bourbon County and barrel every ounce of this beer.

 187 characters

Photo of MissSmisje
4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

2011 vintage
Sweet, thick, and chewy. Most of the toasty coffee have aged out of this one, leaving the sweet dark chocolate, vanilla, and roasted cherry and plum flavors to dominate. Fruit provides some brightness mid palate in an otherwise extremely sweet beer. The alcohol is hidden in the flavors but leaves a warming in the esophagus that lasts a surprisingly long time. Mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, which I love in a RIS. Overall: tasty but sweeter than I'd like.

 470 characters

Photo of TheCuriograph
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This has been always been one of those "I'll get around to it one day" beers. Feels like it was legendary when I first got into craft beer, and since then it's become a more divisive brew. This whole preamble is to say, I came to this bottle of 2014 DL with a fair amount of baggage, but i did my damnedest to approach it objectively.

It's monolithic black with a meager mocha head. Appropriately dense and intimidating. The nose is just BOOM espresso and bakers chocolate, licorice and, yes, a fair amount of soy sauce. Also fruitier notes of black cherry, raisin and cabarnet. Impressive melange, but sort of a sledgehammer. What's shocking is the taste reveals a less varied chocolate sweetness, full of cordial and caramel. Blackberry, too, along with hints of cinnamon and brown sugar. In a word: saccharine. Not unpleasant, just bludgeoningly sugary. It's a heavy brew, but I actually found it oddly watery in light of its purported density of ingredients. Also, the ethanol burn is not too apparent. Which is pretty impressive.

All told, I can see why this has a following but also why some consider it a sweet malty mess. It's palatable but undisciplined, and I can imagine how an additional adjunct or time spent in a barrel (any barrel) would help it. Dark Lord is a fun ride, but I'm not sure I'd take it again.

Feel free to send me any spare BA Dark Lords so I can test this hypothesis.

 1,403 characters

Photo of alexrufio666
4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Looked and smelled incredible, pours like oil, taste is very sweet I was shocked to find out it was 15%abv because it hides it so well. Definatly a world class beer but it fell short of my expectations.

 203 characters

Photo of BuckeyeBeers
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Amended Rating: After trying several vintages back to back at a recent tasting I was shocked at the dramatic difference 3 or 4 years can make on one of these bottles. Score adjusted upwards as the age mellows out the heavy sweetness found in the fresh bottles.

 262 characters

Photo of DrKilljoy
4.91/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

I had the pleasure of trying Dark Lord for the first time this year. Out of the numerous stouts I have tried ( thanks to swarthybrews ) this is by far my favorite. Cheers to everyone!

 184 characters

Photo of d5001986
4.14/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 2 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

22oz bomber poured into Spiegelau tulip.
2014 vintage with blue wax.

Pours a very opaque black with a minimal amount of fizzy head. Sweetness is evident in the smell as well as the heavy roasted character. Also touches of vanilla and molasses. Taste is on par with that. Overly sweet... Yes, it is a bit too sugary- but it isnt extreme. Actually surprising how fast I'm cruising through this guy given the 15% abv. I quite like the thick, sticky feel of the body. That and the low carb keeps it going down nice and smooth. Overall a nice beer. Worth trying, being a beer of such fame, but I find it unlikely I'll be seeking another bottle in the future.

 654 characters

Photo of aleigator
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Dark lord '11 vintage

Many thanks to Kevin for providing the bottle.

Pours a viscous, black color, with a decent, fizzy head.

Exhibits an intriguing nose between bakers chocolate, molasses, toffee, toasted malts and marmelade among a warming alcohol presence. The chocolate aromas are incredible rich on the nose, with all other flavors illustrating it, and chocolate being easily the most dominant ingedient of the beer. The aromas promise a sweeter, complex beer, leaning on toffee, caramel, dried fruits and cane sugar, against charred malts and cold, black coffee.

The beer provides an incredible smooth mouthfeel, revealing its intriguing depth.

Tastes of milk chocolate and earthy toffee, both flavors building the luscious foundation of the beer. Cold pressed coffee acts as a counterpart to the sweeter ingedients, effectivly supported by charred malts and a note of tobacco. On top of that settles a decadent amount of molasses, coating up the other flavors of the beer. During the finish a warm alcohol burn supports the sweet chocolate, providing a rich taste of alcoholic, glazed and earthy pralines.

The beer reveals an incredible depth of flavors, which convince, based on the interplay between chocolate and cold coffee, accompanied by carbonized, earthy malts, setting the balance of the brew. The beer ends just the way it started - sweet, while its middlepart lends a huge amount of bitterness and dryness to the taste, handling its sweeter aspects in a very convincing way, while dried fruits act as a hot peak to the taste. It drinks dangerously easy, no alcohol is detectable at any stage.

 1,617 characters

Photo of julian89
4.73/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

So, it has been a very long time since I have actually rated a beer, but my very good friend mscudder (previous rater on this brew) shared this with me yesterday. Ah what an experience. I haven't tasted a stout of this complexity since a founders backstage series beer from 2011, you may have heard of it, you know a beer by the name of CBS!!! Anyways, we opened it after letting warm a little...
Apperance: Color was great, nice dark syrup feel (expected from a coffee stout), good lacing too. What it lacked was a proper head and retention. Don't get us wrong we know how to do a proper pour, the beer just wasn't having it, but this is really my only downside to this brew.
Smell: Oh sweet beer gods! The sugary waft, the subtle coffee, oh so great. Vanilla was very very subdued by this point, I forgot to say we were drinking a 2012.
Taste: First hit is a fantastic medley of dark fruits for me (dates, raisins and plums). The sugars taste as if they were a purified syrup. Definitely gearing towards a dessert beer here. Coffee doesn't have the pungent taste of many coffee stouts I've had in the past, but this may be due to the aging process.
Mouthfeel: This, in my opinion, is the high point of the beer. It was oh so chewy, coated the tongue with sugary delight. The froth of the dissolved CO2 was at a perfect level (despite the lack of visual indication). Excellent mouthfeel for a RIS.
Overall: Definitely a beer I would like to enjoy again. Maybe next time we will try fresh off the line. Thanks again for sharing Scudder.

 1,536 characters

Photo of Jonada
4.02/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 release. 22 oz bomber into a 22 oz snifter

Appearance: Pours a dark brown, black once in the glass, with 1+ finger of dark tan head that settles to a medium ring and some wispy coating. Body is opaque.

Smell: Coffee, roasted malt, sweet malt, vanilla, booze and some dark fruit.

Taste: Roasted malt, molasses, huge sweetness, slight astringency, mild smoke, coffee.

Mouthfeel: Extremely full bodied. With a thick, chewy, viscous (insert adjective of your choice) mouthfeel. Medium levels of fine, gentle carbonation. This is probably the thickest beer I've ever had. Finishes sweet, but booze, while still there, is masked surprisingly well.

Overall: I can see why this beer has such an infamous reputation. It's a big ass imperial stout with flavors turned WAY up. I enjoyed it, and I'm glad I got to try it, but there are much better options out there.

 866 characters

Photo of Malefactor
3.66/5  rDev -14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

2012, red wax. I feel my raTing was generous. This takes the cake for me personally for most over rated beer I have had. Taste was incredibly disappointing considering this is a once a year, hyped up line up to buy beer.

 220 characters

Photo of boredalready
3.09/5  rDev -27.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

2014 bottle. Wanted to like this but it was sickly sweet and a mess of malt and soy sauce. Poured most of it out. Hope with age the cloying sweetness mellows.

 158 characters

Photo of swanfungus
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2012 red wax cap.

Huge soy sauce and plum aroma up front that softened over time. Once it warmed up a bit, it became eminently drinkable and quite tasty. Does not taste at all like a 15% abv beer. A very impressive brew.

 221 characters

Photo of mr-jj
4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2014 vintage

Poured dark mahogany with a thin tan head. Aroma is dark fruit and booze. Flavor is surprisingly sweet with dark fruit and chocolate. Some roasted caramel and anise on the finish. Body is full - almost syrupy. Coats your mouth with delicious flavor. Hard to believe it 15% ABV, it hides it well. Overall, I really enjoyed this.

 348 characters

Photo of snaotheus
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle split between four samplers.

Pours ruby black, with a light brown head that just occupies a ring along the glass. Smell is sweet, mild, and bourbon.

Taste is sweet, almosty syrupy (but not unpleasantly so), some chocolate. Some flavor similar to having a chocolate malt.

Mouthfeel is rich and thick. Overall, very good.

 345 characters

Photo of AMCimpi
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Beer 750 for me on BA. 2013 bottle.
A: pours a thick black, syrup with very like dark tan head.
S: boozy, with some roasty, dark fruit
T: roasty with some dark fruit sweetness (not as over the top as others have said, probably due to it aging for 2 years). Not as boozy as the nose would lead you to believe.
F: medium to full, very enjoyable
O: this beer was worth the wait, wow, the aroma and the feel are spot on with the top non BA stouts out there. Really enjoyed this, look forward to more in the future

 510 characters

Photo of Zaso
4.76/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.75

2013 Vintage, poured into a snifter. Motor oil black, very little head, low carbonation.

A - Notes of caramel and fruitiness jump out right away. You can smell the bite of alcohol pretty clearly, which I only mention because it is well disguised in the taste.

T - Was not expecting the amount of sweetness that I got from this beer up front. Your taste buds are immediately bombarded with sweet, fruity notes of licorice, cherry and raisons, with just a hint of the typical molasses. The fruity assault is immediately followed by a pleasant, drinkable finish that doesn't taste boozy, but also lacks complexity. Finishes mild and neutral, leaving you wanting another sip. Somewhat dangerous for a 15% creation.

M - Medium thickness for an imperial stout. Of course tasting the ultra-thick BCBS afterwards might have made it seem thinner. Overall a very balanced viscosity that is extremely drinkable.

Was very excited to drink this beer and was hoping for it to stand out among the many imperial stouts of today's world. I wasn't at all prepared for the blast of dark fruitiness that hit my taste buds at first sip. It's almost overwhelming, but disguises the booze so nicely and differentiates this one from others. It has a really pleasant and mild finish that makes it easy to drink. Overall, a great experience.

 1,319 characters

Photo of TheBrewo
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

The lights flicker as we knife the last bits of red wax (the year of his coming, 2012) off of the bottle, and as we pop the top, the hills rumble. The Dark Lord has arrived. It pours heavily and syrupy from the bottle, settling down the color of murky, oily motor fluid. A ring of fine butterscotch bubbles crowns the unholy beast, leaving axonal cords of lacing as you swirl the liquid. No haze or sediment is appreciable, and carbonation is fierce at its edges. His stench drips off him in waves of massive buttery diacetyls, forgotten mustiness, wasabi vegetals, cloying sugars of plum, dried figs, and orange marmalade fruitiness, hot peppery booze, powdered cocoa and milk chocolate sweetness, honeysuckle florals, molasses, light sunscreen chemical creaminess, sugary whole milkiness, golden raisins, heavy caramel, chocolate, and black coffee maltiness, charred barley, and the faintest green resinous hoppiness. We bow to him, thanking him for his audience, and he graciously allows us a taste. This comes as a mix of one of the sweetest nectars to have ever crossed our lips. Sweet, as in cloyingly puckering. Notes include heavy molasses, mulled chicory, syrupy prunes, red cherries, and dates, canned brown bread drip, Graham crackers, wet potpourri, sweet port and cognac alcohol airs, hairspray, liquid milk chocolate, chocolate milkshake lactics, apple cider vinegar, arugula, fusel phenolic plastics, chalky Milk Duds, soy sauce and salty seaweed, coffee liqueur, raw chocolate chip cookie dough, candied almonds, oily pig fat, and cola syrup. As it warms, the aftertaste breathes hotter and hotter of booze and chalked dark chocolate cloy. His body is more oily than chewy, but full nonetheless. Carbonation is lightly moderate, but you have to work for it. Slurp, smack, cream, and froth are supreme, aided along by the heavy residual sugariness. Glug is immutable. The mouth’s mucosa is brushed with this same dripping thickness, and eventually curls into a soft dusty dryness. The abv is hearty, but we don’t dare dictate to the Dark Lord. He demands to remain, so you obey, sipping away at a slow, slow pace.

Overall, what an experience!! To be in his presence at last is such a lovely thing. You hear the rumors, but even after assessing his aroma, you aren’t satisfied that they may be true. The nose is sweet, yes, but not overly cloyingly so. It has the fruit, the coffee, and sugariness, but they blend to a harmonious end. Then, you sip. The sugars hit your teeth, and you reel backwards. At first, it is admittedly shocking, but the more you give into it, the more it warms you, drawing you in. You begin to appreciate the cloy for what it is, and by the end of the glass you are stuporously happy. Still, you find yourself yearning, reaching for balance in the world through the foggy darkness. You beg for each and every one of those fifteen perfect to dive in and pull you from the sugary muck. They only come as rumbles from the depths of the gullet; they do not ride across the top, where you wish them to be found. We are sad to see him depart, and as our only vintage we have no basis of comparison, but perhaps a younger beast would help quell some of his uncharacteristic sweetness. Rest easy Dark Lord, and thank you.

 3,291 characters

Photo of beersdmf17
2.97/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

2013 vintage.

Pours thick opaque brown with a tan head and decent lacing. Smells sweet, with light hints of dark fruit and molasses. Taste is sickly sweet, with no malt backbone or body. No trace of coffee or chocolate, just sweetness, almost reminiscent of hoisin or soy sauce. No bitterness at all, very one note, and not a pleasant one. Coats the mouth and the tongue thoroughly, flavors linger for a long time in the mouth after swallowing. Is pleasantly thick however.

Very disappointed by this beer, had high hopes for it, especially considering the rave reviews and other good Three Floyds stouts I've had it the past. Overly sweet, no balance.

 653 characters

Photo of Treyliff
4.31/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2012 vintage, poured into a snifter

A- pours a pitch black color with a small foamy dark tan head that reduces quickly, leaving just a trace of film floating on top, short lasting lace follows

S- strong boozy chocolate malt up front with a strong aroma of marischino cherry, also picking up some charred wood, dark roasted coffee and black licorice

T- super sweet up front with big notes of vanilla whipping cream, dark artisan chocolate, sherry, toasted marshmallow, black licorice, vinous flavors, finishing very sweet

M- medium body with low carbonation, slightly oxidized leads to a thick but slick finish

O- the oxidization is definitely bringing out some cherry/sherry notes on both the taste and aroma. Definitely a sipper as it is one hell of a sweet beer

 769 characters

Photo of Fieldzy27
4.96/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured from 22oz bomber into a goblet.
Pours jet black and almost no carbonation

Aroma smells like ultra dark chocolate and roasted malt , very explosive aroma.

Taste sweet bread dark and milk chocolate raisins dark fruit , fig , dates. Coffee and roast flavor.

Mouthfeel :liquid velvet.

Overall world class. Reviewed from phone.

 339 characters

Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,217 ratings.