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 | 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

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Reviews: 1,267 | Ratings: 4,164
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 Setmup10322
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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Photo of mlhyatt
4.66/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Poured from bomber into tulip glass.

Year is 2014

A- motor oil black with very little lace that turns into lace rather quickly.

S- chocolate and rich coffee. Some soy sauce but its very mild and i really only get that when i smell the actual bottle.

T- tons of coffee upfront. Real, good coffee. Not that fake coffee roastness that you get from some stouts. Then a rick dark chocolate sets in and coats the palate. On the back end there is a mild salty soy sauce flavor but it really works well with this beer. Excellent taste.

M- creamy thick and velvety. Its coats the mouth and goes down smooth like a milkshake.

O- i've had a 2013 dark lord sitting in my cellar for a while now but i didn't want to drink it without drinking a fresh one to compare it to. But this veer is amazing. The flavors bled so well and the coffee makes the beer roasty and the dark chocolate makes it sweet. The muld salty taste reminds me of those chocolate bars that are such and such percent caocao with sea salt. Fantastic. Can't wait to try this beer aged a little bit.

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Photo of GJ40
3.85/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Sampled from a 22oz bottle from 2013 (orange wax).

A - Pours like motor oil. A deep black with a small tan head of large bubbles that dissipate quickly leaving a pool of tar behind.

S - A big burst of dark chocolate, vanilla, molasses and brown sugar. It dulls significantly after the carbonation subsides.

T - Very sweet like a molasses and roasted marshmallow smoothie. Mellow otherwise with no significant roastiness or bitterness. My palate adjusted to the sweetness but never really appreciated it.

M - Super syrupy with a low carbonation.

O - Too sweet for my taste. Glad I tried it but one was enough. I wouldn't wait in line for this beer. Now Zombie Dust on the other hand...

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

Dark Lord gets a bit of a bad wrap among certain groups, but it is still a good beer. If you thing is sucks, send me your bottles please. ... The review is of Dark Lord 2011, on tap at Dark Lord Day 2014.

Appearance - Among stouts, this one has a frightening thickness. Black like used motor oil, it sticks to the sides of the glass nicely. A slight mocha head crowns the glass.

Smell - The aroma of Dark Lord makes me think of Christmas cookies and the molasses used to make ginger bread cookies. You can almost smell the thickness here.

Taste - On the initial taste, I am made to think of the amount of sugar my dad puts in his coffee. It almost seems like overly sweet coffee with the molasses of ginger bread cookies and dark chocolate. The taste coats the tongue and lingers on the back of the throat. The burnt malts linger in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - This is thick. The sticky sweetness makes it seem even thicker than it really is.

Overall - This is a great celebration beer. I like it a lot.

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Photo of TheChiefBrews
2.41/5  rDev -43.7%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 2.5

2013 Vintage

From other reviews I read here I knew this beer would be a sugar bomb, but this was unbelievably sweet. Diabetes in a glass. I couldn't finish my ~ 4oz taster. Just too sweet for my palate. Underneath the overwhelming sweetness there were some nice vinous raisin notes, but these were completely overshadowed by the sugar. I wish I could have tried this fresh as the coffee might have helped with the sweetness.

The creation of "Dude Lord"

One of the people tasting the beer remarked that it reminded him of Kahlua. No one in our tasting group was able to drink this sugary beast, so we decided to make it into a White Russian.

Recipe: 1/3 vodka, 1/3 dark lord 2013, 1/3 milk. Shake and strain over ice.

The dude lord was a slight improvement to the beer, and it allowed us to finish the bottle. The sweetness is cut nicely by the milk and ice. If you have a 2013 sitting around that is too cloying for you to drink, try this out. Just finish your glass before it starts to get chunky.

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Photo of SaCkErZ9
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

I received a bottle of this in a trade years ago. Sudsdog was the sender and this is the white wax vintage, year 2009. I have been waiting for a special occasion to crack open this former Holy Grail of beers, and the perfect opportunity has arisen. I just completed my first IRONMAN 70.3 race, and to celebrate this huge accomplishment, I am cracking this one open.

Pours from the 22oz bottle into a La Fin Du Monde tulip snifter. Emerges as black as motor oil and nearly as thick. Topped with a smallish, off white colored head. There is some sporadic lacing involved, but honestly, at over 15% abv, I wasnt expecting much.

Aroma is pure impy stout goodness. Chocolate, coffee, alcohol, raisins, toffee, figs, vanilla. Quite impressive that even after five years this one is smelling great.

Awesome flavor on this one. I am always trepidacious when trying super hyped beers, but this one lives up to the hype. Outstanding! The alcohol is well hidden with everything in the aroma coming out in the flavor. Very smooth amd creamy. Full bodied and velvetty.

A true classic and a great beer. Glad I got the chance to try this one.

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Photo of LambicPentameter
4.38/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Was able to get a pour of this one at a mini bottle share. Poured out of a brown 750 mL bottle with the neck dipped in yellow wax, indicating that this is 2011 vintage. Poured into a small old fashioned glass.

Appearance - Pouring aggressively to coax out a presumably waning head from the three years of cellaring, I'm able to get just a little bit of ecru colored foam that quickly disappears, leaving nothing but inky black motor oil and a slim ring of foam around the edge of the glass.

Smell - Rich and full of roasted malt, cacao nibs, and faint notes of fresh coffee beans. It seems like the time has allowed the coffee notes to fade, as it's all but impossible to detect at this point. In addition to the more prototypical stout aromas, there are some elements that remind me more of a great Belgian quad, with some notes of dark fruit and port wine.

Taste - The initial foray onto my tastebuds seems more savory than expected, with some faint notes of balsamic and figs to go alongside the charred malts and black strap molasses. The coffee is pretty much gone at this point, but some sweeter notes of f vanilla and carmelized sugar still remain. The finish is very rich and savory, like an aged port wine, much like the nose hinted.

Mouthfeel - Viscous and full bodied, with low carbonation and a semisweet finish.

Overall, a really tasty beer. Would love to know how this one tastes fresh, with the inclusion of coffee, but I can't really complain, because I can't help but feel that the coffee would overcome what has become a subtly complex beer, with lots of sweet and savory notes over the course of the glass. Very happy to have been able to try it, but given how limited it is, not sure I'll go out of my way to seek it out again.

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Photo of thebigredone
4.16/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2012 Vintage

Even with all the negative hype around this beer, I was still looking forward to giving this a try.

Pour looks good, but the trouble begins with the nose. Green apples, even after 2 years. Uh oh.

Taste follows suit. Dark fruits, green apple, a touch of coffee. Not good.

Mouth feel is just fine.

Overall, still terribly disappointed even though my expectations weren't very high. Drank less than half. Bad form Three Floyd's, bad form.

Edit** - I was going to drainpour the remainder of the bottle, but ended up giving it a try the next morning. This was actually significantly better with some aeration. The green apple was mostly gone, and this now tasted like a very fruity quad/stout mix. Still not world class, but probably around a 3.75.

Update 11/14 - 2014 Version

Well, this is almost a completely different beer. Nice fudgey and dark fruit flavors, well integrated coffee, smooth for the abv. I really enjoyed this, and can finally understand why there is hype surrounding this beer. Updated from a 3.1 to a 4.16

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Photo of Hesscabob
4.48/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2011 DL - Thank you Titus

A - Jet Black, minimal lacing, poured out of the bottle like silky molasses.

S - Coffee very evident, very sweet with hints of chocolate. Aggresive.

T - As aggressive as the smell, with coffee very prominent. Almost completely mellowed out for a 2011 but still a bit hot. Almost tasted some pepper within.

M - Smooth, for a 15% ABV Imperial.

O - Overall, well worth the pursuit to find this beer. It's reputation was held up by the completely different take on a very populated category of Imperial Russian Stouts. Stands out from the crowd by far, not sure if I would want to drink an entire bottle with its immense sweetness. Cant wait for DLD '14!

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Photo of PlinyBeMiney
2.99/5  rDev -30.1%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

'12 bottle received via trade. When I first heard of this beer it was in the top 3 of BA, so it's been a long time want of mine. I was warned it was sweet and sweet it is. I assume if I had had this before Black Tuesday I would appreciate the sweetness a bit more. But a beer of this size needs barrel aging to curb the overbearing depth of malt. My bottle was slightly oxidized so I docked it more based on that. I'll see if the demand of a BA DL dies down and try my luck then.

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Photo of MDDMD
3.84/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A-dark brown black color with a small tan head and no lacing

S-dark chocolate, molasses, coffee, dark fruit, little vanilla

T-dark roasted malt, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, lots of sweet caramel/molasses

F-medium to full body with light carbonation, smooth and cloying

O-too much sweetness for me, dominates the flavor profile

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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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