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
Green with silver glitter = 2017 - New Label

Added by cretemixer on 12-13-2002

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User Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 4,252 |  Reviews: 1,283
Photo of rcjennings
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of pagriley
2.97/5  rDev -30.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.25

22oz into a snifter

L - pours thick and viscous with an inch of dense mocha foam receding to a thin ring
S - Soy sauce and alcohol heat
T - Cloyingly sweet with an umami / mushroom / soy savory backbone. Not a lot of char or bitterness to offset the sweetness which overpowers everything
F - Thick, rich and creamy with fine carb and a fantastic soft finish

Overall an experience, and an interesting beer, but more something to try just because rather than a great beer... Unless you are into soy sauce syrup - in which case go for it!

 538 characters

Photo of JohnnyMc
3.96/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

The 2008 vintage!!! Finally getting to try this one!!

Pours out completely pitch black with almost a finger of a very dark, mocha/tan head.

The aroma has a good amount of dark fruit notes, some definite caramel and toffee, bittersweet dark chocolate, coffee, a bit of vanilla and some oak along with a bit of booze. Smells pretty complex.

There is a decent amount of bittersweet dark chocolate, some coffee (although I'm guessing this is less pronounced than when fresh), a sweet caramel and toffee note VERY SWEET!

The body is full and the mouthfeel is very creamy and silky. The ABV is pretty well hidden for being 15%. You can smell and taste a bit of booze, but there isn't much of a burn as it goes down and this is extremely smooth. I have had beers way lower in ABV that have tasted stronger.

Way overhyped for sure, but this vintage had some really good flavor and aroma overall.

 894 characters

Photo of CityofWind_brew
4.09/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of rowingbrewer
3.4/5  rDev -20.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

2009 vintage(white wax top) opened by John at a recent tasting he hosted.

this beer pours pitch black with nearly no head. as the beer is pouring you can already tell that this one is going to have the mouthfeel of motor oil. this beer is seriously thick. the smell has so much going on, there are roasted malt chaacter, an alcohol presence, some dark fruit and caramel notes, and so much more that i could not even pin point. The taste is sweet, sweeter than i think a stout should be. there are some dark fruit notes and roasted malts there a slight hint of chocolate, and probably more than my palate can discern. the mouth on this is seriously thick, it coats your mouth and throat with every sip. the drinkablility is good but not high, because the beer is just so thick and sweet I could not have had seconds, and the bottle was split 4 ways. its a good beer, definitely worth trying but if you don't have a trading partner who you look out for and he loks out for you I would not buy it form ebay or trade the family farm to get one.

I have heard that 2009 is not the best vintage of dark lord in general, so would like to try other years, maybe an 08 since i have heard better things from that year

 1,208 characters

Photo of xJMFCx
4.75/5  rDev +11%

Photo of Anaxagoris
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of russwbeck
3.55/5  rDev -17.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

2010 Vintage, shared with nhindian after Surly Darkness

A: Way less head than Darkness. Small off white to light brown head with hardly any retention. What does stick around laces nicely.

S: Basically all I get is chocolate and booze on the smell. It's very sweet. Don't quite know what to attribute that to though.

T: The taste is so sweet. The sweetness is quite as overwhelming as other stouts, but it really does dominate. Milk chocolate and a lot of booziness. Greg and I noticed that some reviewers noted soy sauce in the smell and taste, so I busted out a container of soy sauce to compare. Sure enough, I can understand it. While Soy Sauce is not dominant, hints of it are noted, which really surprised me.

MF: Very heavy, but not a terrible amount of carbonation. The alcohol is very noticeable.

O: Like Darkness, I was pretty underwhelmed. Honestly I'd take Yeti over either of those any day at the price point. I think these beers are far over-hyped. Perhaps they'll improve with some age, but fresh there's nothing special happening for me.

 1,057 characters

Photo of closisinthehouse
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of jemarent
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of KickInTheChalice
4.7/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle into a tulip. This was the finishing touch on an epic tasting. 2010 version.

Appearance: This is just black as ink, all the way through. It pours out thick as molasses into the glass, leaving a small brown head to fend for itself for a minute before fading and leaving no lacing. Foreboding, this is a Dark Lord indeed.

Smell: There is a ton of character packed into this aroma. Roasted malt, dark chocolate, roast coffee, molasses, and lots of alcohol.

Taste: Very dark roasted malt, espresso roast coffee, molasses and soft caramel up front. The chocolate flavor reminds me of fudge, both in taste and consistency. The flavors intermingle and dance on my tongue, eventually leaving an aftertaste that is mostly sweet with a soft bitterness. The alcohol can barely be found, except in a stomach warming sensation.

Mouthfeel: Dark Lord is extraordinarily thick, although I don't think that surprises anyone. It starts getting into the syrupy realm, but is not overly so, at least for my taste. This is creamy and buttery, with a medium level of tight carbonation wrapped in a huge body.

Drinkability: This is definitely one of the best stouts I have had. I would not crown it champion, but it is up there for me.

 1,246 characters

Photo of LotsofLupulin
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of avaldivia
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Photo of MNBeer1017
3.75/5  rDev -12.4%

Photo of thumperskibum
5/5  rDev +16.8%

Photo of MrMcGibblets
4.55/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

super dark in the glass with a ridiculously dark brown head and lacing, just looks super thick. complex and powerful bouquet of molasses, rum, raisins, toffee, caramel, honey, chocolate, and coffee, with citric hops struggling through. taste is sweet and thick. carbonation fights in vain, as this is as muddy as unchanged motor oil on a yugo. huge mouthfeel. this is a gigantic beer. left sick stains on the glass. finish goes on and on. for the record, there was no sludge in my bottle. just a thick ass beer. not a session beer, but a sipper, obviously.

update: have had several from different vintages, also on-tap. this definitely improves with age, i would say they need at least 6-12 months of cellaring before drinking. raw boozy fruit diminishes over time, allowing other big flavors to intermingle and show.
march '10: '07 the best to date.
oct '10: '08, '09, '10 side by side. '08 clearly the best, complex, multifaceted, long finish, no off flavors whatsoever from age, also happened to have the most carbonation and best head of the three. '09 clearly the worst-a sweet mess, not alot going on, undercarbonated, some worcestershire/soy. '10 pretty good, seemed a bit raw and young but should improve.

 1,214 characters

Photo of Bonis
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of mattcrill
3.33/5  rDev -22.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Thanks to cmaruschak for obtaining this rare one. Split this with him and BA mmmmbeeer.

Sampled the '04 version on 1/05 and although I never reviewed it, it blew me away. Would have been nearly close to all 5's if not all 5's for me. I was very excited about the '05 version of this beast and was very much let down. Too many other great local double stouts around here to ever bother with this one again. I hope next year they go back to the '04 recipe.

Appearance: Darkness descends into the glass. An inky black pour with a tan foamy head. Head doesn't retain that well and rings the glass and leaves small patches of carbonation throughout.

Smell: Searing alcohol up front. Rum soaked raisins and a touch of roasted malts. Mostly alcohol.

Taste: Licorice, baker's chocolate, slightly burnt coffee, bittering hops, and alcohol. The presence is all bitterness and alcohol. Towards the middle, the chocolate and coffee profile improves but then gets overtaken by the alcohol near the end.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and slick. Very disappointing considering last years recipe was my perfect standard for judging mouthfeel (both with and without sludge...I liked the sludge so get over it!).

Drinkability: A sipper to be sure. No way I would want a whole bottle of this.

Glad to have tried it but I probably won't be bothering with this one in the future unless the recipe changes.

 1,403 characters

Photo of sprucetip
4.44/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

UPDATE: 3-23-14 had the 09 again, same one I reviewed. Loved it this time. Sooo much smoother with some age on it. Not so cloying either. Definitely one to hang on to for a while.

2009 Vintage, courtesy of iowahawk (Thank you Eric!)

Very dense black liquid with almost no head at all despite an aggressive pour, and no lacing. Activity is evident by the bubbles that continue to rise to the top for quite a while, and the thin film and ring that linger as a result of the bubbles.

The smell is very complex, interesting and has extraordinary depth. I get leather, molasses, booze, chocolate, roasted grains, cherries and other dark fruit. Port like sweetness bounces off something vaguely sour. Smells woody too, though I'm not aware of any barrel aging.

The sweetness pushes the boundaries of cloying, I regret to report. Thankfully a host of other bold flavors battle the sweetness for the attention of my taste buds. The roasted character is clearly evident, as well as the molasses, prune like dark fruit flavor, dark chocolate, sour cherries, and surprisingly mellow alcohol. Mild roasty bitterness emerges late and stays for the finish.

Well carbonated, strong warming, extremely thick viscosity, and a very full body. Finishes clean somehow. The feel is definitely a strength.

I've been working on this bomber for a couple of hours, at least, and the cup is still half full. The borderline cloying sweetness has to be at least partly responsible. I am thoroughly impressed overall, but if I truly rated the final category as "drinkability" the score would be much lower. But I score the final category as "overall impression", as done in homebrew competitions. So I'm giving it a 4. But this is not an easy drinking beer, even compared to other boozy imperial stouts. I may be over rating the taste as well, amazing as it is, because the sweetness definitely detracts, in my view. But it's hard to mitigate the sweetness in a 15% brew, and there is so much else going on. Maybe I'm being impacted by the hype, much as I try not to be?

Glad to finally put my lips to this one, and thanks again Eric!

 2,114 characters

Photo of zrab11
4/5  rDev -6.5%

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

Photo of bcrossan
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of blindpiggie
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of Jordy777
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of NYR_Rob
4.5/5  rDev +5.1%

Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 4,252 ratings.
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