Dark Lord Imperial Stout
3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout
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Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #24
Ranked #470
4.36 | pDev: 13.99%
3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Indiana, United States
Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout
Notes: 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
Black with glitter flecks wax = 2016
Green with silver glitter = 2017 - New Label
Silver wax = 2018
Reviews: 1,334 | Ratings: 4,458 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of BergBeer
4.15/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On draft at Pizza Port Ocean Beach

Look: Jet black with a thin mocha head

Smell: Licorice, cold brew, dark malt, toffee, and pine.

Taste: Dark chocolate covered cherries, dark roast coffee, toffee, licorice, and more dark chocolate.

Feel: Thick. Like biting into a block of chocolate. It sits on the tongue and stains the palate. The thickest beer I have ever had. Would be quite bitter if not for the intense sweetness. High alcohol. Mild carbonation.

Overall: An insane beer. Like I stated before it’s the biggest beer I have ever tasted. I’m a glad this beer came to me. I really enjoyed it but can’t imagine I would be as happy with it if I had hunted for it. A rich unique experience.

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Photo of 98green
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2014 version (Blue wax) opened in December 2019

Poured deep black with minimal tan head. Still some carb but probably less than when fresh. Smell was candy sweet sugar from a mile away. Taste was sweet on sweet. I’d read that this year was super syrup sweet, and it still is. Chocolate malt balance later. A small bit of alcohol heat, but remarkably little from a 15% beer. I expected more burn.

This was my first DL, so no comparison point for me against other DL vintages or this one fresh. I can see why DL is in the world class discussion. This one was certainly exceptional, but I think I might have been more impressed with this had I had it in 2014, versus having it now and comparing in my head to where big stouts are today.

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Photo of Tilley4
3.9/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2009 version

I was at a bottle share recently and a friend pulled this out of the cellar unexpectedly. Somehow or another I had never had Dark Lord so I was excited to be able to give it a shot.

A little bit of oxidized due to the age but this actually held up better than I thought it was going to. I have heard lots of horror stories about this being straight soy sauce but I did not necessarily get that aspect. It probably would have been better 5 years ago but as it stands now this was still surprisingly tasty. Still thick and creamy and actually had some carbonation to it...

Glad I was able to check this one off of the list

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Photo of VolatileAgent7744
4.33/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2019 version:

Finally cracked one of my 4 bottles. It's pretty thick, smells great, and has a great mouthfeel. But man is it sweet. Like really syrupy-sweet Tastes like a really beefy, well-crafted CBS to me. Of note, I get none of the classic Kikkoman notes that everyone talks about. The high abv is not apparent.

I enjoyed it, but I'm going to let my other 3 bottles age in the cellar and see if they mellow out a touch.

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Photo of beersampler6
4.47/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review #900

Man that’s just an incredible beer. Well worth the hype. And yet a little different from the other heavy imperial and Russian imperial stouts that I’ve had in the past. Definitely less chocolate and more dark stone fruit than I’m used to. This was the 2019 version - wax color maybe a dark maroon or crimson color? No date printed on bottle. Found this one online and tried to wait until a milestone beer - #900 - which was not easy. Pours a deep, dark, rich black opaque color with a little film of tan head and very spotty lingering lacing - it had to be a vigorous pour though. Smells incredible, dark rich roast coffee, caramel, dark stone fruit, brown sugar, malt, molasses, maybe a hint of bourbon. Just a hint though, definitely not like the BBA stouts. Taste follows the nose, incredibly well balanced and rich and complex. Seems like the darker fruit comprised of cherry and raisin, not cloyingly sweet although definitely a touch of sweetness in the foreground. Nice warming alcohol throughout, definitely a sipper but no burn at all. Stronger notes as the beer warmed. Excellent mouthfeel - syrupy and chewy, decadent, rich, smooth, coated the palate. Just a touch of carbonation but it was enough. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

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Photo of Sandis
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2017 version poured from a 22oz. bottle into a snifter. Smooth, thick and creamy with low carbonation. If blind tasting this I'd never guess 15% ABV. Lots to like in the flavor. Chocolate, fruit, caramel. Its on the sweet side but not so much that I will discontinue seeking it out.

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Photo of Victory_Sabre1973
4.88/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Note - FFFjunkie sent me this bottle. This review was written blind, and inserted here after the reveal. I had no clue till I unwrapped it. To see the pre reveal pic look in WBAYDN #2255 post 397.

Pours pitch black. Very thick pouring beer. For a 15% beer there was actually a bit of a tan/brown head, and it actually lasted a little bit. The bit of head dissipated to a thin ring around the glass
Aroma - It's a deep, rich aroma. Lots of caramel on the nose. I also get dark fruit. A hint of chocolate. Slightly boozy smelling. Powerful nose, and a lot going on with it.
Taste - Like the nose it's a deep, rich stout, or RIS. Caramel, dark fruit, chocolate, toffee
Feel - This is a 15% beer, but there's almost no burn, but has a slight warming feel. It is thick and smooth feeling.
Overall - This is a top notch beer. Thick, rich, strong, tasty, amazing. Just amazing.

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Photo of Radcpa
4.27/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Tried at the Denver Rare beer event. Very dark appearance with tan head that dissipates quickly. Aroma is a pleasant malt with a tough of vanilla. Taste is also a pleasant vanilla and malt.

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Photo of EMH73
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2019 bottle. Pours black with a thin tan head that dissipated quickly and left almost no lacing. Smells of sweet chocolate, mocha, molasses,, char and a bit of soy sauce. Tastes of sweet milk chocolate, mocha, vanilla, caramel, molasses, toffee, char, sweet roasted malts, a bit of bourbon, tobacco, char and a bit of soy sauce. On the light side of heavy bodied, very mild carbonation, creamy mouth feel. Overall a little on the sweet side.

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Photo of BucBasil
4.35/5  rDev -0.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A: 2019 vintage with purple glitter wax. Poured from the 22oz bottle into a pint glass. The beer is pure black and oil thick with a slight brown note at the top edge near the head. Head is dark tan and thin.

S: Mocha, roasted malt, umami/soy sauce, woody whiskey note, hint of vanilla, baker's chocolate, tobacco.

T: Molasses/caramel, vanilla, heavy roasted malt, almost like a barleywine, much sweeter than expected, with the 15% ABV covered up almost completely. Sweet coffee, slight bourbon but instantly covered by heaps of thick malt and caramel

F: Full bodied with an oily/thick coating character, not altogether the most pleasant part of the beer and becomes a bit cloying as the experience continues

Overall: Definitely an experience. I think I've had more enjoyable RIS's but I'd like to see this with some age, and I for sure would love to try some of the variants.

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Photo of ZebulonXZogg
4.06/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Bottle with silver wax, 2018 Vintage.
Pours a very dark brown, small tan head, no lacing but it leaves a nice oily film on the glass.
Aroma of coffee, vanilla and burnt sugar.
Taste is similar.
Medium body, minimal carbonation.
I want tp thank my former co-workers for for this fine retirement gift. Overall a solid beer, but IMHO, there are many Russian Imperial Stouts that are at least as good, some way better, that don't get their own day. Overrated!

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Photo of mschrei
4.58/5  rDev +5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Rating a three year old bottle (2016). Dark, brownish/purplish edging. Oily lacing on the glass. Smell and taste are both primarily sweet molasses and vanilla. Smell has almost maple notes underneath. Slight coffee and malt flavors have a subtle presence. Feel is where this beer seems to either rise or fall. After a couple of years, it’s got a big body and is oily and thick, but without the soy sauce feel or muddy drinking experience like fresher bottles seem to have. Some friends did an eight or ten year vertical (I missed it, otherwise I’d know the exact number), and the best rated bottle was four years old. Three years works well. It’s got plenty of taste and a pleasant alcohol burn and an exceptional mouthfeel. Lives up to the hype.

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Photo of Oh_Dark_Star
4.39/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

L: Black as pitch with a half-finger dark tan head and moderate retention and lacing.

S: Floors your nose with grain. This smells predominately like a bag of wheat or barley. Secondary aromas of soy sauce, cocoa, and molasses.

T: Follows the nose with much additional sweetness and some vanilla.

F: Smooth and coating. Some carbonation. No complaints.

O: One of my favorite stouts for its earthy originality. This one is in a league of it's own.

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Photo of Best_Enjoyed_In_Texas
3.99/5  rDev -8.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Would I buy this again? Its tough to say. I was pretty let down by the 2017 (glitter green wax) bottle that I had. It was overly sweet and while saying it tastes of soy sauce feels like and overstatement, it definitely did not hold a candle to KBS or Hunahpu (both which I put in the same category).

The longer Ive been a craft aficionado, the more I favor dry, robust tastes vs. adjunct flavorded booze bombs. While DL isnt overly adjunct-enhanced, its sweetness certianly made it feel that way.

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Photo of bl00
4.86/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2016 bottle- very happy with how the coffee aged in this one. No green pepper notes. Flavors are well balanced, body is nice and thick. I'm quite impressed with this beer.

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Photo of Kdouble
4.65/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Had 2007, 2009, and 2016 at a bottle share in Knoxville.

Bottles poured into a a tulip glass.

Look- very dark with about 1/2 inch of head

Smell- chocolate and sweetness in all of these

Taste- A smokey dark chocolate with sweetness from the molasses. It really lingers and sticks with you.

Mouthfeel- low carbonation and a nice snooze feel

Overall- Fantastic stoutn with a great aftertaste. This is a must beer

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Photo of bobv
4.34/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2012 Batch.
Refrigerated since release.
I figure a 66th birthday deserves something special.
Moderate pour yields a 3/4 inch tan head over an almost completely black body with scant lacing. Nose of chocolate, burnt cherry wood (!), dark fruit, roasted malt, slight smoke, and very slight coffee. Taste of chocolate, dark fruit, slight campfire, brown sugar, molasses, and some things better left unsaid! Velvet feel, but was hoping for just a bit more. Overall, such a treat and cheers to 3 Floyds and me!

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Photo of bret717
3.65/5  rDev -16.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.5

2017 bottle, reviewed 12/15/18

The beer is black fading to dark walnut brown around the edges. There’s no head, just a thin ring of tiny bubbles around the side of the glass. (It looked like that right after opening the bottle last night, too). No lying.

Right off the bat, the nose has what I think a lot of people describe as soy sauce, but it always reminds me of Elmer’s School Glue. As the beer warms, it fades away, but doesn’t disappear completely. There’s also intense sweet chocolate fudge and a little smoke.

The flavor is sweet chocolate fudge, light smoke, and vanilla. Fortunately, the glue in the nose comes off as a mild tanginess towards the end.

Feel is full bodied and sticky, almost phlegm-like.

Overall, this was fun to drink, and I certainly enjoyed the chance to try a modern-day classic, but that gluey note in the nose and the intense sweetness of the flavor turned me off a bit.

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Photo of dafla67
4.43/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

2012 (drank in 2014). Pours a dark black. The aroma is quite sweet & boozy --there's molasses, chocolate, vanilla, sugar & slightly fruit. Tastes is very sweet. Strong vanilla, chocolate and burnt sugar. The booziness is definitely on the strong side. Very smooth & thick. One of the best RIS.

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Photo of Vidblain
3.4/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.75

I love to hate on Dark Lord - it's such an infamous beer that you will only rarely encounter someone who does not have an opinion about the beer. Personally speaking, I don't get any soy sauce from the beer - but, it's such a sweet, sticky, syrupy mess that it literally makes my teeth hurt.

How they turned this awful base in to such amazing barrel-aged variants is baffling to me - but that thick body sure does take adjuncts well.

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Photo of edisacoolcat
4.28/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

2017 Dark Lord from bomber with Green and silver glitter wax

A: Boozy with vanilla, cinnamon, molasses, coco, rasin and mild coffee

A: Opaque black with almost no head.

F: Lightly roasted malt filled with chocolate, vanilla, and light coffee. Some mild spices, plum, and sweet brown sugar. Good but a little reserved.

M: Bold and full, almost chewy mothfeel. Heavy, massive weight. Lingering coffee, chocoate and vanilla on the pallet. Finishing very sweet.

O: Enjogable with balanced flavors that remains somewhat reserved in today's bold BA beers; a nice change. The mouthfeel is the extreme part of this beer as with such a heavy and full body, almost too chewy. Enjoyable but im not sure it matches the extreme expectations set a round this beer's legacy.

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Photo of EMV
4.99/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2011 edition. Poured from a yellow wax sealed bomber into a Dogfish Head tulip

L: Inky black pour. Thin brown head... modest ring of lacing.

S: Rich and roasty... sweetness and char... cocoa, coffee, and dark fruit.

T/F: Massive and complex. Sweet, succulent, and roasty. Vanilla, dark fruits, burned sugars all mixed with roast character. Mild espresso.. tobacco, cherry, red wine, molasses, and plum. Velvety and smooth... low carbonation. Oily and slick.

O: Simply one of the finest beers I've ever had. Sweet, rich, and absolutely delicious. Worthy of the hype... and at 7 years this bottle was fantastic. A slow sipping treat.

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Photo of DavidR_9
4.72/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2017 bottle.

Super delicious, decadent, tons of creamy milk chocolate, dark fruits, vanilla, and a light touch of roasted coffee beans without any bitterness. No bitterness whatsoever and only the smallest trace of alcohol heat. Mouthfeel is amazingly creamy and coating. low carbonation but the bottle opens with a good hiss. No soy sauce flavor. Not overly sweet of cloying to my palate, despite many other reviews that say so. Honesly, I expected more hop character and bitterness but I’m glad it turned out so smooth, pleasantly sweet, and full of balanced creamy malt character. How is there no lactose in this brew??

This is so much more than I expected.

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Photo of Benish
4.06/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Poured a highly viscous pitch black color. Aroma a bit muted but picked up some sweet sweet vanilla and coaco. The taste is extraordinary sweet. Diabetes in a glass. Notes of vanilla and overly sweetened chocolate brownie batter, coffee seems to be missing. It only became more sweet at room temp, intensifying the sweetened ‘baked goods’ to the flavor profile. Mouthfeel is full bodied, rich and smooth. Overall it’s a thick luscious sweet stout. No notes of coffee by any means, instead its a thick laden desert. Some have described it as tasting like soy sauce which I disagree. However, be sure to share with others, the sweetness leaves one glass pour being more than enough.

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Photo of superspak
4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

7000th review! 22 ounce bottle into signature teku glass, 2018 vintage bottling. Pours dense pitch black color with a 1-2 finger dense and rocky tan head with fantastic retention, that reduces to a nice cap that lasts. Thick soapy lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation retaining the cap. Fantastic appearance. Aromas of big dark chocolate, cocoa, nutty coffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, vanilla, cream, fudge, cake batter, licorice, raisin, prune, cherry, fig, date, and toasted dark bread; with light notes of smoke, char, leather, tobacco, sherry, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness. Touch of booze in the aromas as it warmed, but not overwhelming. Damn nice aromas with great balance and complexity of dark/roast/bready malt, coffee, sugar, vanilla, and fruity yeast notes; with big strength. Taste of huge dark chocolate, cocoa, nutty coffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, vanilla, cream, fudge, cake batter, licorice, raisin, prune, cherry, fig, date, and toasted dark bread; with light notes of smoke, char, leather, tobacco, sherry, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness. Very mild hop, roast, char bitterness on the finish. Lingering notes of dark chocolate, cocoa, nutty coffee, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, toffee, vanilla, cream, fudge, cake batter, licorice, dark fruit, toasted dark bread, light smoke/char, leather, tobacco, sherry, herbal, and roast/toasted earthiness on the finish for a while. Amazing complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt, coffee, sugar, vanilla, and fruity yeast flavors; with a solid hop/roast bitter/sweet balance, and zero cloying sweetness after the finish. Light-medium carbonation and extremely full body; with a very creamy, silky, velvety, and rich mouthfeel the is perfect; lightly slick/syrupy. Minimal sticky hops, chalky roast, or dryness. Minimal warmth of 15%, with zero booze lingering after the finish. Overall this is an insane flavored Russian imperial stout! All around amazing complexity, robustness, and balance of dark/roast/bready malt, coffee, sugar, vanilla, and fruity yeast flavors; very smooth and dangerously easy to sip on for the huge ABV, with the minimally bitter/drying finish. Insanely rich and complex; with perfect balance of malts, coffee, sugar, vanilla, and fruity yeast. This is the smoothest 15% stout I've ever had. Completely lived up to the original hype it had in the early years. A world class RIS.

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Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 4458 ratings