Dark Lord
3 Floyds Brewing Co.

Dark LordDark Lord
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3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Indiana, United States
Russian Imperial Stout
Ranked #115
Ranked #1,479
4.28 | pDev: 14.25%
Aug 08, 2022
Dec 13, 2002
Dark LordDark Lord
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
Recent ratings and reviews. | Log in to view more ratings + sorting options.
Photo of Coronaeus
Reviewed by Coronaeus from Canada (ON)

4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5
Pours a deep dark brown with moderate cappuccino head that dissipates fairly quickly leaving a thin ring around the edge of the glass.

Big aromas that burst from the bottle upon opening. Sweet milky coffee, dates, stewed fruits. A little charred food sits in behind.

Sweet vanilla hits the tongue first. It’s followed by coffee, much milder dates/figs/raisins. The sweetness stays for the duration, but isn’t over the top or unwanted. Again, in the background there is a charred food/ashy quality that I like. Not boozy in the least.

This is a big bodied beer. Thick without verging too far into syrupy territory. Long finish.

I really enjoyed this beer I’ve heard about for so long. Very glad to have tried it.
Jul 31, 2022
Photo of zonker17
Reviewed by zonker17 from Texas

4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2015 maroon wax. Black with small head. Nose has umami notes, charcoal grill in a good way. Taste more chocolatey and sweet, molasses, booze, fig, cocoa powder. Big body and low carb. 7 years old and amazing.
Jul 06, 2022
Rated: 3.47 by Chilmer from Iowa

Apr 09, 2022
Rated: 4.36 by not2quick from Missouri

Mar 31, 2022
Photo of hopley
Reviewed by hopley from Massachusetts

4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75
2016 version - one of the best stouts I’ve had in a long while. Smooth, a unique taste, and a perfect mouthfeel. I immediately want to put out my own feelers to get more variants to try, and some fresher versions to compare with this most excellently 6 year aged version.
Mar 11, 2022
Photo of Roy_Hobbs
Reviewed by Roy_Hobbs from Connecticut

4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2019 vintage.

An aggressive pour resulted in a small amount of short-lived head that once gone left behind a cool looking swirl. Nice legs. Color is dark brown with a hint of light showing through around the very edges.

Aroma is fantastic and bursts from the glass. It's sweet with plenty of vanilla. There are some underlying notes that I'm having trouble distinctly naming, but they add a nice depth to the aroma.

Taste is really nice, and quite complex. There's a roastiness that wasn't apparent on the nose, with the vanilla & sugar present but well balanced. Hints of fig lurk in the background. Overall, it's plenty sweet but hovers just under the threshold where it would be too much. Feel is medium full. Very smooth, and low carb. An easy sipper.

Overall, this is excellent.
Jan 29, 2022
Rated: 4.43 by Gkruszewski from New York

Jan 14, 2022
Photo of FBarber
Reviewed by FBarber from Illinois

4.24/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
2020 Vintage

Pours pitch black, oily and viscous. A thin, weak mocha colored head forms on the beer momentarily before dissipating leaving no residual head behind. The head retention is not great, but otherwise its a nice looking beer. The aroma on this is interesting. Initially I got dark fruits when I poured it - lots of prune, raisin and even some port, along with a lovely vanilla note. As Im sitting here sipping it, I am getting much more of this umami, almost soy sauce aroma on this one. Now that I have got that on the brain I cannot shake it. That being said, there are some notes of roasted malts, barley, coffee, and vanilla. There is a certain sweetness to the beer that is clearly present on the nose.

The taste is very complex with a lot going on with this beer. So there are the notes of roasted malts, with notes of dark fruits - prunes, raisin, port wine - all coming in. There is a surprising level of sweetness to this beer that accentuates those fruity notes. As those move across the palate there are notes of fruity coffee, and some piney hops. The finish is where that umami/soy character on the nose comes in on the flavor. The finish then has that umami soy with a slight salty note - although that may just be my mind playing tricks on me from that soy flavor. There is a moderate bitterness on the finish as well with some light piney notes. Feel is medium bodied but rather viscous. Moderate carbonation.

Overall a complex and delicious Russian imperial stout from Three Floyds. I can certainly see why this beer earned the reputation it enjoys in the craft beer community. That being said, I can also see why it does not have the same cache it once had. Its an old school beer that just does not seem to fit in the current stout trends. Thank you so much @ovaltine for sharing this one with me.
Dec 31, 2021
Rated: 2.69 by Resistance88 from California

Dec 16, 2021
Rated: 4.37 by Buck_Jones from Michigan

Nov 20, 2021
Rated: 5 by doctorgary from New York

Sep 26, 2021
Rated: 4.34 by SlightlyGrey from Minnesota

Aug 18, 2021
Photo of drdiesel9483
Reviewed by drdiesel9483 from Ohio

4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5
2020 in 2022, 4.4
Look 4.75 Black and thick with a big tan head and lacing
Smell 4.25 very faint chocolate coffee and a slight roasted malts
Taste 4.5 chocolate caramel vanilla coffee with a slight roasty malts
Feel 4.5 pretty full body with a very slightly carb
OVerall 4.5 tasty

2017 in 2021- 4.29
Look 4.5 Black and thick with a big tan head and lacing
Smell 4.25 sweet chocolate caramel coffee and a slight rasted malts
Taste 4.25 chocolate caramel coffee with a slight roasty malts
Feel 4.5 pretty full body with a very slightly carb
OVerall 4.25 tasty
Aug 10, 2021
Photo of Whyteboar
Reviewed by Whyteboar from Michigan

4.86/5  rDev +13.6%
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
Photo of NCSapiens
Rated by NCSapiens from Indiana

4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25
Fantastic beer. Unique sweetness from the Indian sugar. Glad to try.
Jul 31, 2021
Photo of Rub_This_BBQ
Reviewed by Rub_This_BBQ from Massachusetts

4.43/5  rDev +3.5%
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
Photo of robotic_being
Reviewed by robotic_being from Florida

4.14/5  rDev -3.3%
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
Photo of Eddieeight
Reviewed by Eddieeight from Ohio

4.76/5  rDev +11.2%
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
Rated: 4.25 by Rothobinide from California

Mar 22, 2021
Rated: 3.5 by Argento from Rhode Island

Mar 20, 2021
Rated: 4.54 by BeerRay from Rhode Island

Mar 19, 2021
Photo of Sigmund
Reviewed by Sigmund from Norway

4.22/5  rDev -1.4%
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
Rated: 4.5 by GreenBayBA from Wisconsin

Mar 18, 2021
Rated: 4.98 by ECW_BeerGood from Indiana

Mar 11, 2021
Photo of SierraNevallagash
Reviewed by SierraNevallagash from Maine

4.16/5  rDev -2.8%
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
Rated: 4 by mrmsmith from District of Columbia

Feb 10, 2021
Photo of npolachek
Reviewed by npolachek from New York

4.29/5  rDev +0.2%
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
Rated: 4.25 by sentrynate from Wisconsin

Jan 25, 2021
Photo of Troupos_Pearl_Jam
Reviewed by Troupos_Pearl_Jam from Illinois

4.71/5  rDev +10%
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
Photo of Craftbeerfan666
Reviewed by Craftbeerfan666 from Norway

4.61/5  rDev +7.7%
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
Photo of Jeffrey84
Rated by Jeffrey84 from Michigan

4.73/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75
Finally got my hands on a bottle this year. As good as expected. Surprised by the amount of dark fruits
Jan 07, 2021
Photo of D4kapa
Reviewed by D4kapa from Ohio

4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
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
Rated: 4.42 by kramacam from Kentucky

Jan 01, 2021
Rated: 4.13 by OfficerKramitz from Pennsylvania

Dec 31, 2020
Rated: 4.5 by Jcarriglio from Florida

Dec 23, 2020
Rated: 4.34 by jt_thomas18 from Tennessee

Dec 21, 2020
Rated: 4.25 by JLK7299 from North Carolina

Dec 13, 2020
Photo of IvoryFoxhole
Reviewed by IvoryFoxhole from Virginia

4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
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
Dark Lord from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 95 out of 100 with 4507 ratings