Dark Lord Imperial Stout | 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

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Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout

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

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

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Reviews: 1,275 | Ratings: 4,223
Photo of mtomlins
4.4/5  rDev +2.8%

Poured from a bomber into a stemmed tulip glass and shared with friends
2013 Vintage (Orange Wax)

Pours dark black, with a small tan head. The nose blows your hair back with deep roasted malts, very sweet notes of sugar, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, molasses. I was expecting it to be more bitter with ‘darker’ aromas, but this beer is sticky sweet. The taste is even more so, massive malt bill here and the flavor holds true with an overpowering yet complex sweetness. Lots of different flavors there of rich toasted malt, caramel, brown sugar, molasses, some soy sauce and tobacco, surprisingly complex for such a rich, sweet beer. The mouthfeel is awesome, so rich and creamy, silky smooth (maybe a touch cloying, but not overly).

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Photo of SebD
4.85/5  rDev +13.3%

From notes

2014 Blue Wax Vintage

Appearance: It has a nice jet black color to it. It has a nice thick tan head that dies down moderately and leaves some lacing.

Smell: Wow, the aromas definitely give out hints of sweet roasted malts, milk chocolate, vanilla, rich molasses, dark fruit and faint leather.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has loads of roasted malts, decadent chocolate, some vanilla, rich molasses, faint coffee, dark fruit and hints of leather.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a very nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied by great flavors and aromas. It's extremely sweet and rich but flavorful and delicious at the same time. One of the best RIS I've ever had.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of SaltofOH
4/5  rDev -6.5%

2009, white wax. Thanks to EH for the pour!

Appearance: Pours an obsidian, opaque black sludge with a thin tan head, fades to small thin island center. Poor retention.

Aroma: Bacon. Beer jerky. Vanilla, oak. concord grape. Ever so slight alcohol. Merlot. Prunes. Port-like.

Taste: Tart, complex arrival. sweet; extremely sweet. (at 66 degrees F). Liquorice on the finish. Fruit and sweet on mid-palate. Peaty finish. Tobacco (cured).

Mouthfeel: Heavy. Thick, oily. Not hot, but warming.

Overall: Extraordinary complexity on the arrival and finish. Too sweet across mid-palate for my taste, but an experience to remember, particularly when enjoyed with good friends.

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Photo of flipper2gv
4/5  rDev -6.5%

From notes, 2011 edition

A: Pours like old motor oil, no head, pitch black.

S: Smells incredibly sweet. Chocolate milk with some dark fuits notes comparable to sherry (thanks for the observation made by someone else there that night). A wine like sourness.

T: You get the whole thing, this is a bold bold beer. Incredibly smooth, sweet (almost cloying) and sour. You get full on milk chocolate followed by dark sweet and sour fresh cherries. There is a wine like quality in the after taste of this beer. It is good, but it's quite messy. The only thing that isn't messy about this beer is how the alcohol holds it together.

M: THICK THICK THICK! Super smooth but the thickness is the main thing here.

D: This is drinkable, but just not a lot. Finishing a bottle alone might be quite and achievement. This one was shared between 4 guys and we all had enough of it.

A solid beer, but very much overhyped.

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Photo of AlienSwineFlu
3.63/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance and nose are fine, but the taste is just a sweet mess. A lot of sweet stouts are great but Dark Lord takes it to an unnecessary and unpleasant level.

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Photo of JohnG190
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

2014 blue wax. Tanks to Chadwick for sharing! Pours pitch black with a tiny mocha head that recedes quickly. Not much lacing. Smells sweet, notes of dark fruit and coffee. Sweet on the front of the palate, chocolate covered cherries comes to mind. Slightly soy sauce on the finish, but not unpleasant. Very full bodied with no carbonation. Very viscous and creamy. Overall a very pleasing Russian Imperial Stout, better than I expected.

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Photo of themaj
3.88/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2015 fresh on draft. The sweetness of the 2014 dark lord isdefinitely gone. Overall still a great beer! If you thought 2014 was too sweet this is Def for you.

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Photo of Thepleasantimbiber
4.88/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Traded for a bottle of 2014, had tried small samples of past vintages at tasting events, but was glad to have an entire bottle to sample. Color is deep black, with a very thin mocha head. Smell is deep, sweet, indulgent chocolate/vanilla combo with slight dark fruit and a hint of alcohol. The taste is incredible, really complex, with the sweetness dominating and just a bit of bitterness. More sweet, rich chocolate and vanilla with some caramel mixed in, and a bit of bitterness from the coffee. Surprisingly, the coffee flavors are not overly apparent, and serve more to balance out the intense sweetness of the beer. The high ABV is really well hidden, hardly any noticeable alcohol. The mouthfeel is perfect, so smooth and rounded. Love love love this beer, if you don't love sweet beer this may not be for you, but I found it wonderfully complex and drinkable, each sip was fantastic. Excited to trade for another and possibly make a trip to Three Floyd's for Dark Lord Day next year.

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4.23/5  rDev -1.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Got a few bottles this year..2014
First bottle was opened day of and it was Good Very sweet and full of flavor.
I opened another at 1 month and 3 months and as it ages the sweetness drops
and the flavors open up..
Color: is a where it should be for a Imperial Stout.
Aroma: no surprise gets better with age.. coffee. vanilla.
taste: First bottle sweet sweet coffee vanilla some alc heat..
@3 months deep coffee with nice vanilla hints and just enough sweetness
Mouth feel : again thickoil like a Imperial stout should be.

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Photo of Spiffaz
4.71/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Amazing beer. Had the 2012 in July of 2014. Tastes/looks as described on the side of the bottle. Think, dense, lots of flavors. Chocolate and vanilla fight nicely with the alcohol. Looks like oil, tastes like a party in your mouth. This beer deserves the hype.

YAY beer!

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Photo of coriswrasse
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

bottle shared amongst friends to watch the world cup final.
little head and very dark. dissipates to a thin layer.
smell is boozy at first.
fruit and chocolate are there and some light vanilla.
mouthfeel is thick and sweet oily.
taste is amazing. light cherry notes and chocolate.
very refreshing finish.
highly recommended.

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Photo of JulioH
4.05/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Very boozy beer, very strong alcohol taste from the beginning.

Pours a nice dark beer. Very little bubbles form. Aroma is very strong, like alcohol, chocolate, cognac. Taste is very rough. Taste like alcohol, like a very boozy beer that didn't have a chance to smooth out. Some other flavors float around, but the headiness is disturbing. Not the best, yet an iconic beer due to rarity.

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Photo of Resuin
4.45/5  rDev +4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a bomber into an enlarged snifter. This is 2014 version - blue wax.

Appearance: Pours deep, deep brown/black and leaves a tan head of a couple fingers that quickly fizzles away to a layer around the glass with a bit of tan head floating atop the beer.

Smell: Big roasted malts, dark chocolate, licorice, hazelnut, coffee, oatmeal, a shade of alcohol.

Taste: Interesting. A lot sweeter than the smell signaled at. Toasted malts, a hint of char, licorice, cherries, oatmeal cookies, milk chocolate, soy sauce. Better than I expected. Fairly easy drinking for what it is.

Mouth-feel: Low to medium carbonation with a thick, full, slightly syrupy body. Nice.

Overall: This is a really nice, big, different stout. I can't put a finger on the main flavor, but it's something like soy sauce/chocolate/roastyness. Pretty well balanced and with nice big flavors, this is a nice stout.

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Photo of TwelveOunces
4.52/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bomber poured into a pint glass
2014 Vintage
Review #700

A- Pitch black and very viscous. Lives up to the name. A large brown head that lingers, surprisingly.

S- More dark fruit notes than what is to be expected. But a balanced roastyness and a bold sugary sweetness.

T- On the sweet side not surprisingly. But the beer has a bold dark fruit flavor. Big molasses flavors and burnt caramel, A sweet and syrupy brew. The roastyness that usually provides dryness in these stouts is more subtle then expected. A very roasty and smokey aftertaste but this beer cant escape the sweet.

M- One of the thickest beers I have ever had. It is like syrup and silky smooth. Makes the lips sticky. Alcohol is well hidden for being so big.

O- A big, thick, delicious desert of a beer. Lives up to the hype.

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Photo of Beejay
4.49/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review 800!!! Green wax, 2010 edition.

Much thanks to DmanGTR for this beer, and congrats to him on becoming Dr. DmanGTR. Also celebrating Father's day, my 4th wedding anniversary, and getting a new job!! Woot!

A: Pours a rich dark brown, in the glass it is black as obsidian. A very small dark tan head graces the top, and slowly turns into an ironic halo.

S: Thick molasses and caramel come out first. Dark berries, and vanilla with perhaps a woody note. Slight coffee, the alcohol is pretty mellow.

T: That is one sweet malt monster! Rich caramel, and molasses. There is a nice coffee kick there, something light a sweetened espresso. Some dark fruit, and the finish is sweet with a little burnt toffee and bread. There is certainly some booze in the finish, although it is a lot less than I would have thought.

M: Thick and creamy mouthfeel, carbonation is fine in size, and somewhat low overall. An amazingly long and sticky finish.

O: Overall this is certainly one hell of a monster brew... Rich, malty, and dangerously smooth.. One hell of a beer. Can't wait to see what this thing does as it warms up a little.

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Photo of Jacurdy60
4.26/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.25

A-Pours a jet-black, oily liquid with a quarter-inch, toffee colored head that retains well and leaves a little lacing.

S-Booze, molasses, licorice

T-Booze is lost in the taste, which is good because it's 15%. Similar to the nose, sweet molasses, licorice, chocolate, and a hint of spices.

MF-The best feel I've ever had. DL achieves near perfection on this and is everything an imperial stout should be. Creamy, smooth, wet, full bodied.

O-A good stout and should be sought out if you can get it. A little too sweet and no coffee or bitterness comes through which I like in my stouts. Great, but not world-class.

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Photo of QSugar2016
4.69/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

The 2014 pours like a dark, rich syrup---taste is big, with a velvety feel. Hints of molasses, fig and a bit of coffee (without the bitterness). Pairs nicely with spicy foods or a rich dessert. Hard to find without a visit to DLD, but worth the effort.

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Photo of JamesTerry88
5/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First dark lord ever; tried a 2014. Can't wait to crack open my 2013 DL soon. Hoping to get more vintage & 2014 Dark Lord in the future. Best beer I've ever had to date. Pours like oil; love the sweetness & mouthfeel of this beer. All hail the Dark Lord!!!¡!!!¡!

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Photo of SaisonRichBiere
3.83/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

2011 vintage, served on tap in a clear plastic cup at Dark Lord Day 2014

Appearance- thick, oily mocha-black, with a bright, golden-brown, 1-finger head that shines in the sunlight.

Smell- boozy, heavy, bitter malt presence with a big caramel finish tickling the nose.

Taste- Sweet, sweet, sweet. Anything brown and sweet you can think of- big molasses body with burnt almond brittle, Demerara sugar, caramel, slight maple sugar notes, and toffee.

Mouthfeel- super smooth, rich and dense. Great mouthfeel. The strong point here.

Overall- the sweetest beer I have ever had. I was very surprised by this. Not boozy at all on the flavor-maybe a result of the age. Perhaps the aging also brought out a lot of sweetness, but as this warmed up it was cloyingly sweet. I actually had trouble putting down the last few swigs, it was that sweet and rich. I don't think I will age my bottles so long in an effort to keep some flavor nuances in other than the sweetness. Good overall, just way sweet for my palate. Eager to try the brandy variant for some added flavor.


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Photo of dar482
4.63/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Our ranking of the vertical. 2014, 2012, 2013.

The 2014 is a wonderful treat. In the front, there's chocolate and roasted malt. Then the beer gets quite sweet with a rich dark caramel and brown sugar along with some umami, molasses, and meaty notes. There's a dance of coffee to get that sweetness off slightly with a hint of raisins and dark fruit.

The mouthfeel on this is thick and chewy.

2013 unfortunately was thin on the flavor and too sweet throughout. For this one, I agree that the the beer isn't really quite worth the hype. I love sweet beers, but this was a bit much.

On the other hand, '14 was quite glorious and worth the hype. I have heard many people warn that this beer is overhyped, but I was pleasantly impressed by this.

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Photo of bens0n
4.74/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Fresh 2014 bottle poured into snifter.

Pours just like you would expect, nothing really special or crazy, but definitely solid for an imperial stout, not much head though.

On the nose, I pick up a really interesting and unique smell I have never ever experienced in a beer before. It has a really lively organic almost meaty, cheesy note that really stands out to me. Its not unpleasant by any means, but its definitely what I would describe as violent, but not really abrasive. Really hard to pick out anything else thats really specific, its got a well blended combination of complex stuff going on. There are some subtle, sweet, fruity cherry notes in there too with a tiny bit of swampy smokeyness. Not boozy smelling at all, just a crazy combination of all kinds of stuff, the meaty/bloody smell I pick out really blows my mind.

Flavor wise, its got the same complexity and unique, almost indescribable flavor. No detectable boozyness, just a little bit of heat that you can feel warm you up a little afterwards. I was able to pick up more on the nose than I was sipping it, but its definitely alot like the smell. The colder it is, the more the cherry seems to be prevalent.

Mouthfeel was nice, really smooth, decent viscocity. Not really slick or exceptionally thick, but just the right balance for an imperial stout.

Buddy of mine drove up to FFF for DLD this year and was kind enough to share this and some other brews at a tasting party. I have been wanting to try this stuff ever since I laid eyes on it on this site, years ago.

For a HUGELY hyped beer, I will have to say it did live up to its expectations. Its not some kind of supernatural life changing beer that I would sell a kidney for or anything like that, but its definitely an amazing brew worth trying even if you don't like stouts. I'm a huge stout guy, so this definitely hit the spot at the end of the tasting. I've had a couple of other hyped beers and they weren't really that good, DL is definitely worthy of all the praise it gets.

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Photo of KYGunner
4.12/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25


Poured like motor oil into a snifter this had almost no visible carbonation. That lack of carbonation manifested no head but left sheets of lacing.

The nose was pronounced with a lactose, dry, yet milky chocolate, slight coffee and a marshmallow cream.

The flavor was milky cream, lactose-sweetness, milk chocolate, caramel creme and fudge brownie. The sweetness is perhaps too prominent.

The feel is thick and refined with an immense smoothness. Advertised as 15 pct ABV I'd almost call BS if I hadn't of read the label.

I was told that the sweetness tempers with age and it helps the other flavors to really rise and become more apparent. I look forward to an opportunity to try an older version.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.42/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

I finally get to try the infamous Dark Lord. '14 vintage shared by Bob at his tasting.

Pours a deep dark pitch black, with small quarter inch head that recedes quickly. Not much lacing.

Smells incredibly sweet, some cherries, coffee, and generic sweet malt.

The taste is similar. It's as sweet as expected, but I still quite like it. Chocolate covered cherries are a huge flavor here, very juicy flavor. Only a faint amount of roasty malt is noticeable. Very smooth coffee flavor from the Unicorn's Blood. The beer is slightly soy saucy near the end.

Thick body, very viscous. Very low carbonation, naturally. Creamy, thick, smooth mouthfeel.

I'm glad I got to try this version, as it is apparently better than some of the other more recent vintages.

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Photo of gueuzedreg
4.08/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2014 bottle; having had earlier vintages, this is the best one that I have had. I would normally rate this around 3.5 range

A- Pitch black, basically no carb. Thin lacing, coffee in color around the glass. Gums up the glass when swirled.

S- Very sweet smelling. Candied sugars, some distant dark fruit. The sweet malt plays a big factor in this.

T- Very sweet. I am glad that I shared this bottle. Too much for one person, and I love sweet beers. The dark fruit is just a bit more pronounced in the taste than the nose.

M- Kinda smooth, kinda creamy. Very little carb, but it works in this brew. This beer is so thick that it lingers for minutes.

O- By far the best vintage that I have had, that being said it is about a 4

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Photo of kingston2
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pour is jet black. Literally oozes from the bottle. Smell is combination of soy, coffee and syrup. Mouthfeel is nice. Nice coating of tongue with each sip but never overly cloying. Very sweet taste but again never cloying. Some mild coffee notes as warmed closer to room temperature. Just a hint of soy sauce but in a pleasing subtle component. Really liked this years bottling. Will look forward to seeing how age treats it.

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Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 4,223 ratings.
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