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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.
BA SCORE
95
world-class

3,652 Ratings
THE BROS
90
outstanding

(view ratings)
Ratings: 3,652
Reviews: 1,199
rAvg: 4.28
pDev: 14.72%
Wants: 2,973
Gots: 1,564 | FT: 112
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
to view all ratings, reviews and sorting options.
Ratings: 3,652 | Reviews: 1,199
Photo of afsdan
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

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

Dark Lord is one those beers that you don´t expect to possess because where I live, it takes an arma and a leg to get one. I got this bottle in a trade last year and brought it down to Brazil to share with a lucky few. From a 2009 vintage, on to the beer:

Menacing black color with a little tanned head that drops to a lace. The nose is intense and full of licorice, honey, and molasses. More interesting is the flavor, where it acts like a rauchbier at times. It starts sweet with honey, then chocolate arrives, then it goes smokey like bacon. Much of the alcohol is hidden neat in its viscous body.

This is tasty and very complex. However, I´m not sure if it´s a beer that I´d stand in line for or trade my other arm to relive the experience.

Photo of weeare138
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks to kmpitz2 for this '05 version...
Appears a pitch black with a dark tan, 3 finger head that slowly fades out. Spots of lace are left all around the glass.
Smell is of chocolate, toffee, citrusy hops, anise, coffee, oatmeal, maple/mollasses syrupy and whiskey-ish...very complex and addictive.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas. Great mix of the aromas with a rich, tobacco like flavor mixed in to the mix of the wonderful aromas.
Mouthfeel is of rich syrup, full bodied, maple and malt sugars that stick to the palate with a remarkable hoppiness that is trying to come through this malt billed monster.
I enjoyed this so much. It's very rich and syrupy with sugar abound! Excellent work. Notch another one up for the Americans.

Photo of Georgiabeer
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2007 version. I won't get into the debate about whether or not this beer lives up to the hype. I sometimes think that certain cognoscenti bash a beer because it is hyped and downgrade its performance for that reason. The opposite is obviously true as well- people sometime review a hyped beer off the charts since they went through such lengths to obtain it and it is supposed to be good. Regardless, I didn't chase this down as a quest, I didn't go to Darklord Day, and I didn't trade my first born. It was shared with me by a kind soul and I felt like I could review this objectively. In any caes, its a damn good beer.

Pours black and absolutely opaque with a thick dark head that fades a good bit. Huge aromas of licorice, molasses, and treacle, as well as a nice sustained rooty bitterness. The taste is massive, with an onslaught of sweet, fruity, grainy, chocolate, licorice and coffee. The deep herbal bitterness and alcohol helps balance the massive sweetness. Even the sweeet elements have a slightly charred edge to them helping cut any cloying nature. Long, long finish and a thick, viscous, creamy mouthfeel. I truly enjoyed this experience. This is by no means an everyday beer. It is so alcoholic, big, thick, and chewy that the experience should be savored on ocassion. I'm sold.

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 atrocity
2.75/5  rDev -35.7%

Photo of Mebuzzard
4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A bottle of 2007 consumed just about one year later.
Black. Dark. Evil pour. Motor oil is lighter than this. Smooth looking as well. Head stayed a bit low, built up to about 1 finger, dense off brown/tan and sticky.
Coffee, chocolate, powder cocoa, anise, plum and alcohol round out the nose. Not one is dominant or too strong. Nice blend. Mix could be confusing.
Coffee and anise at the start of the taste. Followed close with unripe black plum, some prune and molasses. Ends with a touch of caramel, but mostly powder cocoa and silk chocolate. Not as complex as I thought it would be. Not as outstanding as I thought.
A good brew, but not worth the trade and effort to obtain.

Photo of smakawhat
4.06/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a snifter glass vintage 2012. Big thanks to Wade5614 for the trade, and Exiled for the advice.

Into the snifter, it pours out chestnut brown, hitting the glass body and barely making a head at all of a simple tan light brown, fading under some faint snapping carbonation. Leaves a little filmy top and can't hang on, giving just a faint collar, with some nice leg action also and scattered leopard lacing barely.

Nose is quite interesting, suprinsingly not hot, mild roast character and dark red fruits. Cherry and raspberry, some dark chocolate and even some sensations of sea salt, maybe even caramel. Quite intriguing and nice, makes me love this salt and chocolate combo which is a favorite of mine.

Palate hits with a tight fizz at first that doesn't seem noticeable after numerous sips later. Extremely thick and syrupy and liqueur like palate. Memories of raspberry syrup hit, maybe some licorice, and then it's full on Luxardo Maraschino liqueur. Roast character takes a bit of back seat with quaffs. Syrup sweetness is quite big but in the context of how the liquor feels it comes off as a digestif and seems to work. Roast lingers slightly and rushes dark fruit toward the end with also a sense of alcohol bitterness (bitters, digsetif, etc...).

Overall it's really sweet for my tastes but tolerable, and also fun. Quite an interesting ride, glad to have given it a whirl. It's a sipper which doesn't always appeal to me for beer, but it's without question worth drinking.

Photo of ejimhof
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of barleywinefiend
2.14/5  rDev -50%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

2010 vintage, my 3rd DL. Still a drain pour.

A: Poured a solid black with good carbonation and a nice brownish head, some lacing present.

S: Immediate soy, tobacco leaves, leather, smoked meats, choco cherries

T: Immediate soy sauce, raisins and prunes, tobacco leaves, chocolate covered cherries, more soy sauce(dying or dead yeast), roastiness which transitions to leather, smoked meat, booze sting with a bitter chocolate, bitter, harsh, boozey finish. that soy and leather just kill me.

M: Big body, heavy and harsh

O: One of the most overrated beers of all time...gotta love that hype train

Photo of rab53
4.72/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Photo of brandoman63
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of Zorro
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Obtained in a trade with hero27.

A beer that is said to be superior to Stone IRS but one that never seems to show up to be compared with the stone offering.

As I prepare to open this bottle I cant help but feel like a James Bond Supervillain who has finally cornered James Bond. My six henchmen three Stone Imperial Russian Stouts and three Stone Old Guardians are pretty sure this sucker is over rated.

The three year chase is over and now the time for its test is at hand!

In the glass this is an inky black beer impervious to light with a thin but dark brown head. A very nice try to create a black head on a beer but no one has yet achieved that.

From the moment that the cap is cracked there is a wonderful boozy and fruity aroma from this beer, so far this beer hasn't had a weakness. Sweet smelling with the aroma of prunes and figs with little berry aroma. Lesser scents of chocolate and patent malt robustness. Different from the Stone version and more like DFH WWS. The boozy scent is faintly of bourbon mostly vanilla, whiskey and oak.

The flavor begins sweet and highly roasted with a berry after taste and a lingering burn from the alcohol. The flavor here is very complex, chocolate, berries, char, vanilla, ash, and that is about all I can name at the moment.

Mouthfeel is about like drinking whole cream, probably closer to 6 than a 5 on the scale.

Quite the strong ale indeed. I can't say that this is overrated but I would compare this MUCH more to DFH WWS rather than Stone IRS. The only real weakness with this RIS is in the drinkability department. An intense brew this would be better from 6 ounce bottles and sampled sparingly; the same as DFH WWS should be.

Photo of Zaphog
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of Cynic-ale
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.32/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in a medium snifter)
A-This beer has an inky black hue and no carbonation is visible except for the bubbles that form the head. The head is dark tan and clings to the edges of the class.

S-The aroma is molasses and dense heavy malts. Almost a tar aroma but more sweet.

T- This has some coffee flavors popping out of the roasted malts and thick black-strap molasses also. The hops flavor comes out and has a bit of a pine and bitterness to them. There is also some currant and licorice flavors aswell. As it warms more of a smokey flavor comes to taste.

M- The mouthfeel is thick and creamy with a very slight astringency. But no real alcohol warmth.

D-Wow this is a big tasty beer, and even though its young it still is very impressive. The only fault I see is it needs a little age to blend but then it might loose that great hop quality that you don't expect in a beer this big. I will be in line next year for more of this brew.

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

A wax-sealed 650 mL 2006 version from a long-ago trade with Nickd84. This is cracked in celebration of my 30th birthday (one day late).

A: The ale pours with a thick viscous oily appearance. The head is not so thick, but there is a nice mocha-colored band of head at the edge of the glass. Nothing escapes the darkness of the ale.

S: The aroma is chocolate, brown sugar molasses, burnt toast and big citrusy hops. A lot of aroma, especially in the hop department, for an impy. There is also a very strong alcohol presence.

T: The stout is a big thick mess, with mess being a sincere compliment. There are roasted malts, deep and dark with chocolately undertones. Some brown sugar sweetness, a lot of dried sweet fruits, some slight coffee dryness, and burnt toast, evn some hints of mint. The flavors come at you in one big rush; it forced me to take several sips and let them sit in my mouth just to isolate the flavors. The flavors come together in such a rich, dark manner that it tastes like the whole beer is burnt malts. Finally, there are a strong hops that kick up near the end, providing a citrusy pine element that holds the whole beer together.

M: Even at a year old (almost) the stout is very hot. The flavors are so intense that some aging could add a nice subtlety to the stout. Even fairly fresh, the ale is intense, a true imperial stout designed to withstand any voyage.

D: A stout this big is so filling, so delicious, that one is more than enough (not to mention the disgustingly high ABV knocking you out). The consistency is so big that one could easily chew it. I am impressed that the flavors blend together seamlessly, preventing any one flavor from overtaking the whole.

This beer is an absolute beast, a truly inspired brew that is worth any cost. Nothing else that I've ever had has provided such a depth.

Photo of HopHead84
3.91/5  rDev -8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2008 Vintage.

Thanks to mrkrispy for opening this. Pours black into the tulip with an ominous creamy dark brown head. The retention is very good and lacing is left on the glass. This beer looks great.

The aroma is dark unsweetened chocolate and roasted malt. Prunes and other dark fruits are evident, as well as strong alcohol notes, molasses, and a touch of coffee. There's a really strange aroma that puzzled me the entire time I was drinking this. It smells a little dog food. It's not terrible, but it's mildly unpleasant and a bit distracting.

The flavor is dark chocolate and charred, ashen malt. The malt is very roasted, with notes of coffee. The bitterness is very aggressive, which surprised me because this beer has been out for over a year. The finish is dry and bitter, with chocolate, a little coffee, and some astringency. The alcohol is very apparent throughout.

The beer is full bodied with a nice medium level of carbonation. The mouthfeel is smooth, creamy, chalky, and dry.

Photo of billab914
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip. It poured thick and pitch black, with a thin, spotty head scattered across the top of the beer. The thin head it started with disappeared not long after.

The aroma has a lot of dark chocolate coming through. I get a moderate fruity quality to it with some cherry and maybe a hint of raspberry. Some very moderate roasty and coffee flavors are there, but they are pretty light for such a big RIS. Some alcohol comes through as well.

The taste shows a lot of the dark, bitter-sweet chocolate to it throughout the flavor. Midway, I get some dark fruits coming through with some cherry to it. Some roasty flavors come out in the finish, along with some alcohol heat. It gets a pretty sweet in the finish overall, a little more of a roasty, bitterness would have put it over the top for me.

It's definitely one of the thickest beers I've ever had. Carbonation is on the lower side as well, which I really like in big RIS's. I love the mouthfeel on this beer, probably my favorite part of it.

Drinkability is good, it has some very nice and bold flavors to it. It's a very big beer with some big flavors. I really enjoyed sipping on it this evening. A very good beer overall.

Photo of KAF
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of Kelp
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of John_M
4.65/5  rDev +8.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

It's a good thing "subtlety" and "complexity" aren't categories, or this beer would score close to a zero. However, that's not what this beer is all about; power and a tidal wave of flavor is what this beer is about.

The beer pours a black brown color, looking more like used motor oil then any beer I've ever seen. Just looking at this beer you know you are in the presence of something pretty special. The beer looks thick and viscous. There is almost no head on this beer, but the lacing is otherworldly. What foam there is clings to the side of the glass.

The aroma of this beer is probably it's least impressive attribute, but of course even here it's pretty outstanding. The aroma is very one dimensional, blasting the nose with odors of vanilla, coffee, wine and nuances of oak. Fabulous stuff.

On the palate... what can one say. The beer is incredibly rich, full bodied and long. It has a satin, fluffy sort of mouthfeel, with incredible plush smoothness. The beer is just luscious. The mouthfeel on this beer is comparable only to Founder's Kentucky Breakfast Stout in terms of richness, plushness, and soft smoothness, but I would give my nod to the Dark Lord. Simply amazing.

Yes, this beer is not the most drinkable beer I've ever tasted, but it's not meant for that. This is the perfect bottle of stout to crack open and sip with some friends. The finish just lasts and lasts, and every sip is a joy. Believe the hype, this beer is a masterpiece.

Note: Recently had the chance to try a vertical of the DL, from 2007 through 2011. I had always assumed that this beer would be pretty age worthy, but based on the vertical, my thought is now, "not so much." The 2007 tasted a bit oxidized, with something of a copper or metallic taste. The 2008 was better, but it still had some sort of different, slightly off taste I thought (though it was still excellent). The 2009 was outstanding, and the 2011 seemed to be the best of bunch (with some nice chocolate and cinnamon flavor). The 2010 was good, but seemed a bit hot and boozy. It was better than the 2007 and 2008 I thought, but not as good as the 2009 and 2011.

A very interesting, tasting experience, to say the least...

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

Satan would be impressed. This thing is black as black can be and possesses a head that is scorched a deep, rustic brown. The colour scheme is at once unique, daunting and curiously alluring. If ever the dark side needed a spokesman, surely, this would be its poster boy.

This nose is too wicked and wrathful to think Cthulhu didn't have a hand in making it. Hops, bourbon-soaked wood, elderberry, sooty dark chocolate, charred malts and a scornful (but pacified) alcohol heat combine to make an intense and overwhelming bouquet that most people would not recognize as beer. I feel like it would be sinful to take a sip...

But I do anyhow. And in doing so I find a lingering cranberry bitterness, notes of black licorice, piny hops, flavours of roasted malts and bitter cocoa. It tastes quite distinctive. Although this is not barrel-aged nor does it contain a single drop of bourbon, I again find some semblance to the intense, vanilla-y flavours and the dry woodiness found in bourbon barrel-aged offerings. It is also thick as heavy cream, and twice as rich.

This is not a beer for calorie counters! Its engrossing, complex distinctiveness and rich, sensual, decadent flavours are sure to make every chocolatier, pastry chef, coffee roaster, master blender, vintner and, indeed, brewer, quite jealous. The fact that it's holding up so well after two years of aging is impressive, but also expected.

Digging my way through the bottle's black wax I felt like Howard Carter penetrating the tomb of Tutankhamen. Indeed, Three Floyds' Dark Lord does possess a similar kind of mysticism and veneration. Legitimately obtaining a bottle requires some combination of a mecca-like pilgrimage and Willy Wonka-like golden ticket. For one day the brewery doubles as a site of cult worship. And rightfully so. Believe the hype - praise the Dark Lord!!!

Photo of Axnjxn
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.67/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz. bottle poured into a snifter. 2010 vintage.

Appearance - Standard stout appearance. Jet black. The small head is actually surprising, considering the ABV. The sugars are damn near visible as it streaks down the glass.

Smell - Wow. Intense aromas. Coffee, chocolate, booze. The booze actually smells great, despite that it's practically burning my nose. Fruity aromas as well. Not as roasty as I would expect.

Taste - Tingly alcohol throughout. Incredibly sweet. Coffee flavors and chocolate malts through the middle. Slightly bitter in the finish and an alcohol burn that lasts for a few moments. It's a pretty complex flavor, but it's immensely sweet.

Mouthfeel - Pretty well carbonated for a 15% stout. Pretty boozy, too, though. And the sweetness just makes it so hard to drink. Small quantities is the most I can muster with this thing.

Overall - Sure, it's good. But it's so insane that it's barely drinkable. I don't think I'd seek this out again. Either that or I'd need to split the bottle four ways.

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Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 3,652 ratings.