Dark Lord Imperial Stout | 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

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Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
3 Floyds Brewing Co.
Indiana, United States | website

Style: Russian Imperial Stout

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 15.00%

Availability: Spring

Notes / Commercial Description:
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

Added by cretemixer on 12-13-2002

BEER STATS
Reviews:
1,267
Ratings:
4,165
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
14.49%
 
 
Wants:
3,203
Gots:
2,045
For Trade:
178
User Reviews
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Reviews: 1,267 | Ratings: 4,165
Photo of aliveguy17
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

After five years of attempts, I finally secured a bottle of the enigmatic Dark Lord this year, thanks to my friend Adrian, and I opened it last night. This will also be my first review for BeerAdvocate, and I couldn't think of a better beer with which to start.

A-It looks like your typical high-alcohol Russian Imperial Stout, with very little carbonation or head.

S-The smell smacks of charred fruit or English pudding. This is where DL starts to distinguish itself.

T-The charred fruit smell segues into similar taste notes of charred fruit. I may have detected a bit of Port too. The finish smacks of coffee.

M-Mouthfeel is not nearly as heavy as I expected, certainly not as heavy as the often-used analogy of motor oil.

D-While the 13% alcohol content is not so evident in the tasting, it definitely catches up with you quickly, plus the richness of the taste causes a decreasing rate of enjoyment after the first glass. I drank the entire bomber by myself, and I wouldn't recommend trying this.

Overall Dark Lord was a phenomenal beer. I don't think it is worthy of traveling across the country for, but few things with that much hype live up to 100% of it. This is definitely in my top 10 of beers, and I look forward to the next time I can enjoy Dark Lord.

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Photo of jgap
4.76/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Enormous thanks to Matt for contributing this bottle to our tasting. Wow... Smell is wonderful- fruits, chocolate, and coffee mocha. Lots of mocha sweetness. Hops are detectible. The taste is instantly toffee. It's a nice intro because if you haven't heard about how huge this beer is the smell warned you that you're in for it. A splash of ripe fruit, dark raisins, and prunes then, like cat Vs train, it hits you. Thick, very thick molasses, huge roasted toffee, and a little hops with some coffee notes to help you through. It's an amazingly deep taste of dark fruit, however, you can also concentrate on the lighter toffee, coffee and hoppy notes to experience it in a completely different way. It's very rich and fades with a coffee tinge. The alcohol is dangerously undetectable. There is also a craft/homebrew feel to it. I'm not sure if that is coming through in the taste, the smell, or if my mind is simply projecting it. Extremely complex and quite remarkable. Per Matt it's "scrumdiddlyumptious" and I can hear the whistle fading in the distance...

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Photo of hotmanflab666
4.03/5  rDev -5.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

what can i say about the darklord, most look at this like a gigantic stout, which it is. but not the best of all of them, darklord is a very good but rough drink. very hot and strong rigid complex flavors, i drank out of brandy sifter. very good, just split the bottle with a friend

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Photo of ThirdLap
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Today was 'Open that Bottle' day, so I figured why not celebrate by finally cracking a bottle of Dark Lord to split with BA Macktbone. This was an '08 example, which I figure makes it at least ten months old.

No goblets on hand, so we had to go with pint glasses. DL pours thick, viscous, and oily, with a thick, creamy-looking dark tan head. The head recedes to a slight film after a few minutes, revealing lots of lacing. Swirling results in a viscous coating that tints the glass dark brown. This stuff just looks evil.

The nose is filled with molasses, roasted malt, candied sugar, dark chocolate, soy, and a bit of hops. Very nice.

Dark Lord is dark bitter chocolate on the tongue initially, followed by a subtle hop bite and a myriad of difficult to discern flavors. Dark fruits, molasses, brown sugar, coffee... it's all here. Absolutely delicious.

That said, the one thing that absolutely sets DL apart from any other beer is its mouthfeel. It literally has to be experienced to fully comprehend just how this beer completely envelops your tongue on each sip. It's like a stout with the consistency of sweet thick cream. You find yourself taking sip after sip to experience it again.

Carbonation is relatively low, and most apparent with the swallow. I'm still amazed that this beer is 13% abv, as the alcohol burn is almost non-existent. Finish is smooth and chocolatey.

This has become my new favorite Russian Imperial Stout. Dark Lord, like Westy 12, is worth the hype.

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Photo of mentaltraveller
3.05/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.75

2010: This beer comes highly anticipated, and, in all honesty, I was expecting it to disappoint. It ended up being quite good. Pours a thick black with minimal head; chocolate, whiskey in the nose. The taste is very good; creamy chocolate balanced with some alcohol and espresso-like bitterness. The mouthfeel is remarkably smooth. One of my top imperial stouts. Drink it if you can find it.

2012 Dark Lord edit: This beer is drastically different than it used to be, and unfortunately, it is much worse. It smells like it has potential, but it goes downhill from there. This beer is incredibly sweet, and its sweetness snuffs out its former complexity. It's a one note beer now, and not a very good one.

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Photo of mindspin315
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 Vintage - Yellow Wax

Poured a nice thick deep tan head and a dark body. Good amount of lacing and legs.

Big, boozy, and sweet aroma. Heavy on the dark fruits. Figs, raisins, chocolate, roasted/burnt malts, molasses, peat, maple syrup, faint nail polish remover, and anise. Not detecting a whole lot of coffee...thought I'd get a big dose of that especially since it was brewed with coffee. This bottle is almost a year old so the coffee aroma may have faded...never had it fresh though.

I'll start out before I even talk about the taste that the feel and drinkability for 15% is quite impressive. Sweet syrupy molasses coats the palate right away and sticks around all the way through the finish. Getting a touch of the coffee in the flavor which I wasn't picking up in the aroma. Not a huge dose of coffee but detectable. Flavors of dark sweet chocolate, molasses, chocolate coated cherries, toffee, and anise on the tip of the tongue. Full bodied, medium-low carbonation (the density causes the carbonation to not come through as much), and smooth velvety mouthfeel. The alcohol is not coming through at all...for such a high alcohol beer it is quite impressive. Even though it comes at the expense of the sweet sugary mouthfeel/flavors.

All in all Dark Lord masters much of what it looks out to accomplish. Although some of the complaints of this beer are warranted. It is a bit to sweet and a lot of the components get masked by it. Even with the couple of complaints it still is a very solid RIS. It definitely ups the notch on what a RIS can be. The mouthfeel is very enjoyable and Dark Lord definitely drinks like no other. Needs to get the sweetness in order and this would be a damn near perfect beer.

[93/100]

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Photo of BierGartenok
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Reviewed from notes...Absolutely worth the 10 hour drive from Oklahoma. Had this on tap @ DLD 2010. Pours thick, aroma is of toffee and coffee with hints of chocolate and vanilla. Appearance dark black as expected from a RIS. Taste and Palate...Hints of toffee, coffee, camel and chocolate. Feels heavy on the tongue and fills the mouth completely . Overall I think this beer definitely lives up to the hype!

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Photo of purdueflyguy
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

2009 dark lord had on 6/16/2013 at craftheads in Tokyo.

Pours like motor oil with no head. Almost black but a lttle brown comes through.

Smell just a little booze big dark fruit a vanilla notes. With a little chocolate in the background. A little oxidation from the 4 years of age.

Taste big coffe bitterness yet sweet vanilla and bakers chocolate shine through. No booze in the taste.

Feel almost silky smooth with the right amount of carbonation.

Overall awesome beer that was perfectly aged and ready to be drank.

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Photo of bgramer
2.75/5  rDev -35.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

We opened a 2006 and 2007. My review is focused on 2007.

This pours thick like oil and completely black. There's a nice tan head but that disappears quickly leaving a thin ring around the glass.

This is a BIG beer - incredibly complex with a lot going on. I smell vanilla, roasted malts, chocolate, caramel, coffee, licorice, dark fruits like raisins, etc.

Very low carbonation but very thick and sweet with a medium to full body. It's smoothness and strong flavor really hides the alcohol but is flawed because of that overt sweetness.

This beer is good and worth getting to put aside. It needs aging time.

---

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Photo of SQNfan
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

2007 bottle at DLD: Black as night it had a slight brown head that left some nice brown lacing. The nose was huge and filled with expresso, chocolate and porty overtones. While not as potent as the barrel-aged version, in the mouth it was the dense, thick, syrupy and oily. While the alcohol lever is high, it is never hot. The flavors from the nose fill the palate and cover every nook and cranny. This is an intese huge beer that should be drank in small quantities. However credit needs to be given as it is balanced which is not an easy feat for something this size.

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Photo of tsatem
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 vintage procured by and shared with ColdPoncho, in a tulip. From notes.

A: Billowy burnt colored one finger head. Very dark, only the smallest amount of light around the edges.

S: Dark bitter chocolate, burnt leather, espresso, cocoa, toasty tobacco.

T: Slightly hot, but very nice for the ABV. Sweet after taste. Very earthy with roasted malts. Spicy and port-like. Coffee. Lots of tobacco. Everything from the nose comes through as well.

M: Very light carbonation. Extremely thick, coats the mouth cloyingly.

O: Very impressive. Overall much more balanced than I was expecting and incredibly enjoyable. The spice heat was strange, and half a bomber was enough for me, but this stands out as a great beer.

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Photo of betsona
4.33/5  rDev +1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on-tap at DLD 2011. Served in a 8oz squat whisky glass.

A- Pours a motor oil black that causes dreams of trying to drink utter darkness. When I received it, there was no head, but swirling was able to produce a thin wisp of mocha colored head. No lacing on the glass.

S- Lots of raw alcohol right off the top which persisted throughout the entire drink. As it warmed up, a robust coffee aroma mixed with sweet caramel came through more. Probably a tad too sweet.

T- Lots of brown sugar right off the top which combines nicely with plenty of thick chocolaty taste--almost like browny batter. Lastly, there was some taste of alcoholic coffee drink. All the flavors fuse quite well.

M- Thick body with minimum carbonation. Leaves the tongue feeling like it was rubbed against a piece of velvet. Lingering alcohol taste that warms the mouth all the way down.

O- I can easily understand the hype surrounding this stout. I have to admit that I am not a stout fan, but this one easily made be rethink the style. This is an easy drinker despite the abv--does limit the amount I would drink--yet it is one that I would only open with a group of friends.

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Photo of Deconstructionis
4.62/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is a stout Stout. Rich, potent flavorful, complex-- a classic.

As close to black as it is possible to get with a creamy light brown head that subsides to a surface foam. one of the best smelling beers ever. Roasted malt mixed with coffee. pecans and light smoke. This is beer. the taste is robustly malt with everything else appropriately in the background but what a background-- coffee, chocolate, nuts, a hint of smoke, savory spice-- just a real work of art. Rich, luxurious even, body but not overly syrupy. This is a heavy brew in all respects but so good you'll be tempted to indulge past the point of good sense.

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Photo of nawpnawp
4.61/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

2013 orange wax bottle.

This thing is a monster. The nose is molasses, vanilla, caramel and bourbon. The taste follows much of the same. The first sip is extremely sweet, but as your palette adjusts, it rounds out and the other flavors start jiving. It's been awhile since I've had one fresh, but it has held up extremely well over 3 years.

There's not much more I can say that I haven't already. It's definitely worth seeking out and lives up to the hype for me.

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Photo of DousedInStout
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

09 Vintage poured into snifter.

A - Deep, dark black with ruby highlights. However, tan head dissipates quickly and leaves little to no lacing.

S - Not as in your face as expected. Some dark cherry and candied fig esters, but not as much chocolate/coffee as expected.

T- The taste is sweet and fruity at first. A lot of molasses and brown sugar, followed by cherries and dates. I also faintly get apple, perhaps a faint aldehydic note. Some roast and hop bitterness kick in at the end, and the heat from the alcohol lingers.

M - The mouthfeel is second to none. Phenomenal body and mouthfeel, and perfect carbonation.

D - Pretty heavy, but deliciously drinkable

Overall, it didn't quite live up to the hype in my opinion, but still an exceptional beer. I would've liked a little more coffee and chocolate flavor from the roasted malt, and a little more hop balance to the sweetness. I also would recommend giving this one much more time in the cellar.

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Photo of adkirkish
4.82/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Smells of booze, but don't know what kind. I got Notes of Rum and bourbon, sweetness, and finally warms to espresso.
A: Pours black w/ chocolate colored head. Quickly dissipates, leaves no lacing.
F: Sweet and fruity up front w/ slight umami and soy sauce notes. I believe that cantaloupe was also used to describe at this point. If it wasn't cantaloupe, it was some kind of melon on the back end.
M: Oily and slick, goes down smooth w/ a slight alcohol burn. Finishes boozy
O: I'm now a believer that the hype is real. #DLD2011, here I come!! Definitely buy enough to drink through the ages. 25 year Dark Lord? Yes!!

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Photo of branimal9
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 3.5

2010 vintage, shared with my fellow Upstate BA'ers - 6/9/2010. Thanks to whichever kind soul brought out this bottle of evil.

Deep brown and dark as hell in color. Raisiny, chocolate hotness on the nose. Flavor brings with it waves of dark chocolate, cherry, raisin, vanilla & coffee. Thick and oily in consistency, with syrup-like texture. Difficult to fully express in words, but this was a beast of a beer that I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to experience.

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

Smores. Smores. Smores. All I get from this 2011 bottle is smores. nice pour into a dixie cup. I can only assume it is black. Large bubble tan head. Smells like all the things you would make smores with. Tastes like all the things you would make smores with, and, oddly enough, tastes a little bit like ginger ale, but this is a good thing. And smores. Good slick mouth feel on this sweet beast. Overall a great beer, worth the wait, but not the hype. Smores.

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Photo of drowland
4.58/5  rDev +7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle shared by my older brother. Of course deep black and a big old brown head. The aroma is raisins, molasses, a bit of soy, and a hint of roast. The flavor is sweet raisins, maple syrup, and a subtle but wonderful dose of chocolate and smooth coffee. The coffee lingers nicely and the beer is extremely smooth despite a hint of alcohol.

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Photo of animortician
3.92/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 2 | overall: 4

2011 poured into two wine glasses and split with a friend. (Thank God there was a second person sipping this down)

A: Dark Brown to Black in Color not as thick as I was expecting it to be. Very very little brown head/foam, no lacing.

S: Dark, Roasted Barley, some coffee. Had an almost earthy smell to it, very intriguing.

T: At first the Flavor is very balance and interesting with complex flavors: Dark Malt, Coffee, Chocolaty Big Barley backbone. But then as the beer moved to the back of my mouth and as I swallowed this balance complex beer turned into a whole nother monster. SYRUP and BOOZE! Not like a Kahlua Syrup and Booze, (I actually got some out to check, since they are only 5% ABV Different) The flavor on swallowing was so intense it almost ruined it for me.

M: Not as think of a body as I was expecting especially with how high the ABV is. Could have had more carbonation though. The hard part about this beer is the Boozy feel on swallowing.

O: This beer should start another category of its own called "Barley Port" Cause this is exactly what it is. Just as Port is a wine to be sipped this is a beer to be sipped, Try taking a full mouthful and you will know what I mean. Big beer, hard to imagine how they do it and for that I give them props but I don't really like port or desert wines and I didn't really enjoy how sweet this beer was.

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

Appearance: Dark rich brown/black coloring with a nice thin brown head.

Smell: The first thing I thought of when i took my fist whiff was German Chocolate Cake. It definitely has a delicious smell filled with chocolate, caramel and pecan/praline with light hints of licorice and cherry. The heat is definitely present but not overwhelming which is impressive for a 15.5% beer.

Taste: Coffee and dark chocolate hit the palette first with lingering vanilla and caramel notes. The taste is well complimented by both the smell and mouthfeel of this beer.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, thick with little carbonation. Has almost a smooth feel.

Opinion: I would definitely drink this stout any day but its intense popularity, I can only contribute to the scarcity of great beer in the mid-west. Before I tried it I was ready to make the once a year trek to the 3 Floyds brewery to try this beer that has seen the top ten quite often on this website. After trying however I am glad i didn't do so, although road trips for beer are always fun.

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Photo of infestaxion
4.68/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

09 vintage

A - Dark as Hitler's syphilitic soul. Quite beautiful. For a beer. Not a soul.

S - Molasses. Rich and sweet. Some dark fruit.

T - Mmm. That is mighty fine. Dark sugar. The roastiness is toned down this year. Very sweet. Dark fruit. But it all comes back to the sugar. A bit of warmth at the end. Previous vintages would get a 5 but I'm taking this down a bit.

M - Nice and thick. Coats the mouth.

D - Surprisingly drinkable. Got to watch myself.

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Photo of littlekidlover
4.78/5  rDev +11.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Awesome, for the second year in the row I get a couple bottles of the coveted Dark Lord! Poured this into my beer tasting wine glass. The appearance is jet black and doesn't seem to let through any light at all. I poured it as fast as I could and hardly got a head. The smell is a lot of raisin, lactose, burnt malt, seems sweet for an RIS. The taste is extremely complex. Alcohol, chocolate, vanilla, caramel, raisins, wood, smoke, again a little lactose. The mouthfeel may be the most remarkable feature of this beer. The viscosity is similar to whole milk. I found this very drinkable for a extreme beer, but I drink gin martinis so I don't think I can speak for the average. A strong effort, however I remember liking the 2008 a bit better.

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Photo of ddarden
4.75/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

22oz Bomber - thanks uncle flip

Poured into a chimay chalice....black with a reddish brown head that falls very quickly. Almost no carbonation and no light getting through this beer. The smell is alcohol, dried fruit, coffee, roasted malt. Very complex. The taste executes on the smell....cherries, vanilla, nice finishing hops, and ends with a very nice alcohol warming. Definitely one of the best beers in world. The alcohol is present but very well blended with the other flavors. The mouthfeel is perfect for the style...thick, chewy and smooth. The drinkablility for the style is great, not perfect due to the alcohol, but about as close as it gets. Excellent beer!

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Photo of thickerfreakness
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This is my second to last bottle from DLD 2008. Traded three and drank one at a tasting. I shared this one with my best friend who loves coffee and thus loved this beer haha. Well worth it to share with my friend because I could never finish this one alone.

Pours a pitch black with a thick mocha head and nice lacing.

Smells of tons of coffee, roasted and burnt malts, chocolate, and a little bit of hops.

Chocolatey smooth, coffee richness. Burnt, roasted malts. Just a huge flavorful beer that for me is the definition of the style.

Absolutely the thickest, most rich mouthfeel I have had.

13% ABV is huge but its well hidden and this is just an amazing beer. I just don't think I could ever finish one of these by myself but I don't think thats a bad thing because its a fun beer to share.

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Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
95 out of 100 based on 1,267 ratings.
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