Dark Lord Imperial Stout
3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout
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Style:
Stout - Russian Imperial
Ranked #25
ABV:
15%
Score:
97
Ranked #514
Avg:
4.36 | pDev: 13.99%
Reviews:
1,350
Ratings:
4,494
From:
3 Floyds Brewing Co.
 
Indiana, United States
Avail:
Rotating/Seasonal
Wants
  3,237
Gots
  2,147
SCORE
97
World-Class
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
Magenta with glitter = 2019
Black wax wrapped label = 2020
Reviews: 1,350 | Ratings: 4,494 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of drdiesel9483
drdiesel9483 from Ohio

4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2017 in 2021
Look - Black and thick with a big tan head and lacing
Smell - sweet chocolate caramel coffee and a slight rasted malts
Taste - chocolate caramel coffee with a slight roasty malts
Feel - pretty full body with a very slightly carb
OVerall - tasty

Aug 10, 2021
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Whyteboar from Michigan

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

Green with sparkles wax - 2017 - enjoyed July 2021.
Poured pitch black with a burnt coffee color head and lacing. The aroma was milder than expected but still very good; malts and coffee and dark cocoa, no hops found.
The taste was able to meet my elevated expectations. Of stouts I have had, I don’t think that I have had one better and I’m not sure I’ve had it’s equal. All the malts and coffee and cocoa (flavors from the malts and hops as no additives were used to my understanding) merge into a flavor that fills your mouth and makes you want more.
The feel was excellent, a bit thinner than I expected but that was when I still thought it was BA, which it apparently isn’t.
OA - outstanding stout. The only knock is that it’s so freaking hard to get.

Jul 31, 2021
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Rub_This_BBQ from Massachusetts

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

Thanks to @ovaltine from NBS BIF #13: Peninsular Envy 2

Black wax wrapped label = 2020  bomber poured into a Surly Snifter

L: pours thick black and gets darker in the glass 2 finger strong tan head
S; no hops, coffee and chocolate flavors are the stars, with out going over to the burt /roasted side

T: carry over no soy sauce with dark semi-sweet chocolate notes
F: coats the tongue full but not oversweet

O: lived up the hype and well-done stout, only Knock a hop king like 3 Floyds would have liked to smell/taste some hops

Apr 26, 2021
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robotic_being from Florida

4.14/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

2020 Vintage.
Super creamy, full body, tons of chocolate and roasted malts. Coffee note is mild in both aroma and taste. No soy sauce anywhere; super smooth, thick, oily and full body. No alcohol burn but a nice warmth on the finish. This bottle was only slightly aged but I still have a 2nd in the cellar which I'll age for many more years ;)

Apr 19, 2021
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Eddieeight from Ohio

4.76/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2020 bottle purchased from a private collection for $25. Super excited i found it. I like the mystique surrounding this beer. Only available once a year. Only available at the brewery in Indiana. Rated super highly. Many derivative versions that are also rated highly, if not higher and single bottles that trade for hundreds of dollars in private circles on the internet. The multicolored waxes that adorn each year's vintage. The black wax that adorns mine. It's my son's birthday, so that seems like a good occasion to drink it.

Poured out a heavy dark brown, nearly black, with a creamy one inch head that dissipates into a ring around the glass. Scents of dark raisins and other fruits, a bit of vanilla. The smell isn't very strong, rather on the weak side so i had to swirl my glass several times to release the aromas. Upon sipping, I'm greeted by raisin and rich sweet chocolate, and a bit of cherry. Perhaps a chocolate covered cherry. Notes of char and leather are present. Coffee is used in this brew but it's not too strong. The brew is mostly a sweet wash, with just a little bit of bitterness to balance it, hovering on the back end as it washes down my throat. Dark Lord is thick and syrupy, just the way I love my stouts, and sticks to my lips, sweetening them long after the swallow. Overall this is a beer to enjoy as a meal in and of itself, as it is hearty and rich, bold and strong at 15%ABV.

I've read that this stout was there before stouts really came into their own, and that the overall field has risen to meet the standards this beer once set. It's better than some stouts, like i like it better than Old Rasputin, but in fact it is comparable in overall savory flavor to some Hoppin Frog stouts like TORIS. So while once upon a time some may have journeyed far and wide to experience this flavor, i think one can obtain beer just as good as this without searching too far from home. However, what an experience! And I feel like I've now joined a secret club. The Dark Lord club.

Mar 27, 2021
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Sigmund from Norway

4.22/5  rDev -3.2%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle, 2009 vintage, kindly shared by gunnar. Black colour, hardly any head. Aroma of heavily roasted malts, dark chocolate, coffee and liquorice. Intense flavour of roasted malts, coffee and liquorice.

Mar 18, 2021
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SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.16/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Thank you eppie82 for this one!

2019 Vintage (purple/glitter wax) poured into a balloon stem at 50°F.

Pours a deep cola brown - fairly fluid, abd sitting coal black in the glass, with no real head. A swirl forms a dark brown collar and some cling along the glass.

Nose: Big, bold roast lends some baker's chocolate, cacao, burned toffee, brown sugar, and a deep, almost savoury character. Yes, I understand where the "soy sauce" descriptor comes from. A bit of a meaty character, with some char and marmite, but this seems to be a product of the heavy roast. Some underlying dried cherry dark fruit. Definitely unique.

Palate: Before I start, I will say that the savoury soy sauce note is strictly limited to the aroma. It doesn't show up here. Moving on. A few things stand out first. One, this stout is sweet. Very sweet. That unique concentrated cane flavour of the Indian sugar is present, along with the sweetness. Lots of sweet, tarry molasses, brown sugar, and even a blackstrap rum thing going on. The vanilla is definitely lending character, but not like a "vanilla stout" - it's tame, identifiable, and well-balanced. I'm not getting any coffee. The malt itself is so classically Russian, with big, super dark roast, earthy char, and all those bold roasty notes. The hops are also very old school, with earthy, leafy bittering hop character meshing with the roast. Approaching the finish, vanilla fades, and the blackened roast and earthy hops take over, pushing some sweetness out, lending some earthiness and char, but very little bitterness. The finish highlights this, with a touch of molasses.

Mouthfeel/Body: While it didn't appear so on the pour, wow is this one fudgy. Full-bodied, heavy, thick, and chewy, while not crossing the line into syrup territory. It isn't close to BBT or Assassin thick, but it's certainly in that same vein of luscious and fudgy. There's actually some nice, fizzy, albeit fine effervescence that pokes through a bit. Definitely some residual stickiness.

Overall: This is an interesting stout. Today, we're inundated with all of these mega pastry stouts brewed with half a bakery. While there are "adjuncts" in here - vanilla, coffee, and Indian sugar, those flavours are dialed way back, to the point of almost feeling like a plain stout. It's the sweetness that really stands out. On top of that, it's the only dessert stout I've had that retains that classic Russian Imperial flavour profile, and that's unique. Picture a dessert Russian Imperial Stout. If that sounds good, then this will likely deliver.

Feb 18, 2021
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npolachek from New York

4.29/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Very solid Russian Imperial. Definitely not the whale I chased, but very solid either way. A bit of an odd aftertaste, but enjoy the front forward and solid.

Feb 03, 2021
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Troupos_Pearl_Jam from Illinois

4.71/5  rDev +8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 5

I love this beer. The old school whale. I still want to drink it and I still open these up for special occasions. I do think it's not the best fresh, so it's always nice to have older years on hand to drink.

Jan 11, 2021
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Craftbeerfan666 from Norway

4.61/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Some people call this Soy sauce, which I cannot agree to at all. Even the bass beer itself is really really good. Tons of everything and obviously very great balance. (having said that, you oughta try one of the DL variants!)

Jan 08, 2021
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D4kapa from Ohio

4.38/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

2020 vintage sampled day 2 of availability. Nose is prominent malty roast and dark chocolate, light coffee. No soy notes like some people mention in previous years. A bit thinner than past years, but still oily thick in feel and appearance. Flavors are actually discernible when fresh: char, malt, molasses, vanilla, coffee on the finish. Not a sugar bomb like it has come to be known for.

Jan 04, 2021
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IvoryFoxhole from Virginia

4.08/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2020 version, picked-up at brewery, poured into Goose Island BCBS glass and allowed to warm.

L: Dark motor-oil type look. 1/2F tan head with OK retention, leaves sheets of lacing and a floating cap.

N: After an hour or so of warming, I get hints of vanilla and jaggery (what they call Indian Sugar). Definite molasses/brown sugar-type implied sweetness. Malty, no real notes of coffee or alcohol. Definitely understated to my nose.

T: Taste more or less follows nose, but still muted. Really searching for that coffee and might not taste it at all if I didn't know in advance it was in there. Vanilla/brown sugar really the pre-eminent taste, though with some restraint. Malty, not much evidence of high ABV heat. All in all feels very muted as far as a world-class stout goes.

F: Full bodied, little to no carbonation. Well-balanced, especially with control of ABV on the back end as you only get a tiny bit of heat at 15%, and that is impressive. Sweetness similarly is well-controlled, as this easily could get cloying, but falls short of that. The ABV certainly helps in that regard. But there's just not enough taste and I don't think any amount of aging will make that better since it already is well-melded and pretty drinkable.

O: Big 3 Floyds fan and this new one definitely runs laps around the disappointing 2015 I traded for a few years ago (can't account for someone else's storage). If it's me, I punch up the coffee. It's good, but would not drive to Chicagoland again to get this - there's too many good premium stouts here in the East.

Dec 06, 2020
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michaelsmith11 from Illinois

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

This is the 2017 version of Dark Lord. Nice and deep and dark on the pour. Very little carbonation. Nice thin tan head. The taste was sweet, somewhat of a surprise. A bit of cherries and some nice fudgy, almost burnt chocolate come at first. Then a touch of alcohol finishes the taste with a hint of vanilla. Overall, very good.

Oct 10, 2020
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ktr5010 from Illinois

4.23/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2014 from the 2020 web sale
L - Pours an opaque black. Little head
S - liquorice. Dark cherry. Hints of dark chocolate. A little bit of coffee but not really any vanilla present.
T - Like a cherry coke with a hint of coffee and chocolate. Hides the 15% well. Sweet but not overly with a great aftertaste. Coffee is barely present. No real vanilla left.
F - Nice thickness but not especially great mouthfeel.
O - A very nice stout. Looking forward to the variants.

Jul 16, 2020
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scream from Wisconsin

4.04/5  rDev -7.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This I think is decent but not the whale that so many make it out to be. There are other stouts out there that are better. The 15% may be there but so what and available once a year, you need to be better for that. Nuff said

Jun 15, 2020
Photo of Harrison8
Harrison8 from Missouri

4.53/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours black with two fingers of caramel-colored foam. Head retention is good. Aroma is roasty and toasty malts with hints of nutty, earthy and caramely malts. Toffee, molasses and chocolate aid in adding a little sweetness, with a little char bite at the finish. Flavor profile is caramel, toffee, molasses and chocolate in a thick, syrupy bite that comes across just shy of being a dessert. Toasty, roasty and caramely malts add a little depth, along with a kiss of char towards the finish. It's dynamic, but balanced, easily transitioning between flavors. Mouth feel is dense and thick with a full, chewy texture. Overall, a chewy stout with just enough sweetness to counter the light chary bitterness. Dynamic and well calculated.

Served in a 15.5oz Speigalau tulip from a 22oz bottle. Pink glitter wax.

Jun 07, 2020
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BergBeer from Hawaii

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.

Jan 21, 2020
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98green from Michigan

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.

Dec 30, 2019
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Tilley4 from Tennessee

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

Dec 23, 2019
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VolatileAgent7744 from Kentucky

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.

Nov 21, 2019
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beersampler6 from Michigan

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.

Nov 17, 2019
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Sandis from Minnesota

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.

Nov 15, 2019
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Victory_Sabre1973 from Minnesota

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.

Oct 20, 2019
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Radcpa from Washington

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.

Oct 05, 2019
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EMH73 from New York

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.

Jul 31, 2019
Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 4494 ratings