Dark Lord Imperial Stout | 3 Floyds Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
95
world-class
4,280 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score
Send samples
Dark Lord Imperial StoutDark Lord Imperial Stout
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Ratings:
4,280
Reviews:
1,287
Avg:
4.28
pDev:
14.49%
 
 
Wants:
3,215
Gots:
2,099
For Trade:
199
User Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 4,280 |  Reviews: 1,287
Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.63/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

2007 release, acquired from grub courtesy of the Birthday Club 2 BIF, so a big "Thank you" goes out to him. Poured from a 22oz bottle into an imperial pint glass.

A: The beer is a deep dark black color, with a thin brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is of dark robust roasted malts, dark fruit, chocolate and a faint touch of hops.

T: The taste is everything you look for in an RIS. The semi-sweet flavor of dark chocolate is complemented by mild flavors of dark fruit and coffee. The malt character is as hearty as you will find and there's a mild hops presence that is enough bring a good balance. There's absolutely no trace of the 13.00% ABV. The after-taste is slightly sweet.

M: Viscous and extremely smooth, heavy body, light-to-medium carbonation, sticky finish.

D: Very tasty and flavorful, goes down dangerously easy, not too filling for such a thick beer, very strong kick, excellent representation of style, this is a tremendous beer that is worth all of the hype it has received.

 1,041 characters

Photo of dbrauneis
4.15/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle share in Hoboken, NJ.

2011 Vintage.

A: Pours an opaque midnight black in color. The beer has a very thin dark tan head that quickly reduces to nothing. There is no lacing observed with this beer.

S: There are aromas of cocoa, vanilla, bourbon, caramel, and milk chocolate. A very nice complexity to the aroma of this beer. Some dark fruit sweetness from the plum/dark cherries and just the slightest hint of soy.

T: The flavor of this beer is quite interesting with a good amount of sweetness. There is some definite dark fruit, plum and dark cherries, contributing to the sweetness upfront. After that, the flavors of the vanilla, bourbon, chocolate, and caramel come through next. After that, there is a slightly unpleasant soy sauce taste that comes and then goes. Finally, the finish of this beer is a little of bitter chocolate.

M: On the lighter side of full bodied with light amounts of carbonation. A little thinner than I desired.

O: Very enjoyable and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to try this one. Maybe a little more highly rated that I expected after tasting it but definitely a good beer. I found the hints of soy sauce a little unpleasant but otherwise the complexity of the flavor/smell was great.

 1,232 characters

Photo of ygtbsm94
4/5  rDev -6.5%

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

2007 silver wax topped bomber into a Duvel Tulip. Special thanks to Deuane for the hook up on this.

Pours an inky motor oil black with a finger width of burnt tan colored foam. There is almost zero head retention though, as it quickly fizzles out into a thin outside ring and then finally nothing. Just a calm, reflective surface of pitch black. This guy retains in a very different way however, as with each sip he leaves a viscous brown oily residue on the side of the glass, the likes of which I have never seen from another beer. I also have to mention the sediment that was left in the bottom of the bottle. Actually I don't know if sediment is even the right word for it, as it poured out in the glass more like Hersheys Chocolate Syrup and stayed suspended in there for a good bit. This beer just appears beefy and mean and looks like it means serious business. Just awesome looking appearance! The aroma is a huge, and I mean huge nose, of everything that is right about a RIS. Dark chocolate sweetness, burnt coffee, espresso notes, dark fruits, and just a shot of alcohol, the more it warms. I could sit here and sniff this for a good half hour before even taking a sip.

The taste of this brute matches the aroma profile almost to a tee. Chocolate sweetness dominates but once again up rears very pronounced accents of coffee and espresso mixed with dark fruits. It finishes with a combo of burnt bitterness and a warming heat that lingers long after it's left your mouth. The mouthfeel of this beer is like nothing else that I have ever felt, with a monstrously thick and viscous feel that coats the entire mouth. To be honest, as impressed as I am with the body, it also presents my only complaint with the beer, as it's so beefy, it actually helps detract from trying to sense its taste sometimes. Heat is present in each sip but it compliments rather than hinders, adding some much needed warmth to an already awesome feel.

Wow, if ever a beer's name matched its personality, it's the Dark Lord. From its appearance, to its taste, to its body, this is just one dark, angry, powerful mother of a beer that takes what is capable in an RIS to a whole new level. While definitely a steady sipper, it's still an unforgettable beer drinking experience.

 2,266 characters

Photo of wethorseblanket
4.3/5  rDev +0.5%

Photo of Rifugium
3.9/5  rDev -8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

First had: '09 vintage shared at a Dec. '12 Philly suburbs bottle share.

I've been sitting on a '11 bottle for a while, but someone was nice enough to bring a '09 to the bottles share, so thanks. As I suspected, this is nothing more than another grossly over-hyped beer that just gets super high ratings because of its rarity. Is it good? Yes, but in the end, it's just a pretty typical imperial stout.

Dark, opaque, black pour, with a small brown head that sank to a ringlet. In the nose, dark roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, dark fruits, a touch of licorice and/or anise. More of the same in the taste, dark malt sweetness, semi-sweet chocolate, roasted coffee notes, mild dark fruits, hints of molasses and licorice. Meh. I mean it's a good stout, but what makes it so special, other than rarity and a high price tag? Body is on the heavier side of medium, chewy mouthfeel, and a bit chalky. Overall it's pretty good, and I'm glad I have a bottle sitting in the cellar, but I definitely wouldn't go hunting anymore down.

This is a nice basic RIS. Certainly not good enough to have a day named after it though.

 1,117 characters

Photo of nathanmiller
3.5/5  rDev -18.2%

Photo of Ciocanelu
4.35/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Photo of XmnwildX12
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of billab914
4.1/5  rDev -4.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

2009 vintage poured from a 22oz bottle into my Portsmouth tulip. It poured thick and pitch black, with a thin, spotty head scattered across the top of the beer. The thin head it started with disappeared not long after.

The aroma has a lot of dark chocolate coming through. I get a moderate fruity quality to it with some cherry and maybe a hint of raspberry. Some very moderate roasty and coffee flavors are there, but they are pretty light for such a big RIS. Some alcohol comes through as well.

The taste shows a lot of the dark, bitter-sweet chocolate to it throughout the flavor. Midway, I get some dark fruits coming through with some cherry to it. Some roasty flavors come out in the finish, along with some alcohol heat. It gets a pretty sweet in the finish overall, a little more of a roasty, bitterness would have put it over the top for me.

It's definitely one of the thickest beers I've ever had. Carbonation is on the lower side as well, which I really like in big RIS's. I love the mouthfeel on this beer, probably my favorite part of it.

Drinkability is good, it has some very nice and bold flavors to it. It's a very big beer with some big flavors. I really enjoyed sipping on it this evening. A very good beer overall.

 1,242 characters

Photo of dcmchew
4.59/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Photo of mendvicdog
4.39/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

OK so this is a dual review comparing the 2012 and 2010 bottles I have had recently.

2012 has a much more intense smell, alcohol burn, and overall flavor. 2012 just seemed to have so many different flavors hitting you at different times throughout the sip. It just seemed magical almost.

2010 was much more creamy with a more subdued flavoring, but still very good, much more similar to a CC Zhukov than the 2012.

Both are great, but the 2012 version is much better in my opinion. Maybe I just prefer fresh Dark Lord.

Edit: Have had 2009 and 2011 recently. While the beer smells amazing and has great mouthfeel, the taste is a little lacking.

 646 characters

Photo of atrocity
2.75/5  rDev -35.7%

Photo of vfgccp
4.34/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Photo of russpowell
4.81/5  rDev +12.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

This came as an EXTRA from Melbatoast93, cheers & cheers again Hart! Got this last summer, so 08 Vintage, says so on the bottle

Decanted into my La chouffe tulip, pours pitch black with a 1.5 fingers of cocoa colored head. Average head retention & very good lacing, a brown film shades out much of the upper glass

S: Dark chocolate, rum raisin & a touch of leafy hops

T: Dark & bitter chcolate, prunes, oaky dryness & a bit of charred grain & leafy hops up front. Dryness dominates as this warms, along with some chocolate covered dates, plums & a touch of molasses, getting better as it warms. Finishes oh. so dry, with mocha, molasses, iron, boozey coffee, dates & plums

MF: Oily, slick, but some noticeable carbonation here. Nice chewyness & stickyness as this warms, then nice a great warming sensation & luxurious silkyness

ABV is well hidden, upper echelon RIS to be sure, a few I've had just as good are just as good, but only a few. The dryness does slow me down a little, but otherwise, going down great on a cold, snowy Colorado evening!

 1,052 characters

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

Appearance: Pours out a thick dark, inky black with a churning, burbling chestnut-brown head. The type of stuff you see seagulls and sealions coated in on the news.

Smell: A rich, aggressive aroma greets the nose, unleashing waves of dark-roasted coffee, chocolate-covered cherries, anise, sorghum, and booze. Okay, you got my attention.

Taste: Phenomenally flavorful! A complex breadth of tastes that knows no bounds. Cherry-topped Black Forest cake marinated in Sambuca served with espresso with a hint of tobacco tossed in. Roasted bitter, bittersweet finish.

Mouthfeel: No question about it, this beer is full-bodied, taking 'chewy' to a whole new (and frightening) level. There's a sensational creaminess to it that pairs perfectly with it's charming warming nature.

Drinkability: Exquisite! Truly, a beer to be celebrated.

 841 characters

Photo of millerbuffoon
4.25/5  rDev -0.7%

Photo of mdaschaf
4.47/5  rDev +4.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Review from notes. Thanks to Shane for popping this open to commemorate his first all-grain homebrew no DL Day! 2010 Vintage.

A: Pours a nice black color, very deep and dark, it looks rather thick and viscous. Small tan head on top, moderate retention and minimal lacing.

S: Sweeter than expected, but I really like it. Lots of chocolate and some vanilla. Some molasses and brown sugar, a hint of cherries, and some mocha.

T: Now thats what I'm talking about! The flavor profile is also sweet, but not in a bad way. Nice milk and dark chocolate, cocoa, some dark fruits - hard to pick them out except some cherries. Complex, but very tasty.

M: Medium to full bodied with low carbonation, but doesn't drink very heavy. Not much heat at all from the 15%, it certainly mellowed after a year.

O: Really enjoyed this beer and can't wait to (hopefully) have it again. This bottle lived up to the hype for me. Hopefully one day I can get over to DL Day so I can have bottles of my own instead of trying to trade for them.

 1,023 characters

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

2004 edition. Impenetrable, tenebrific, inky, utter blackness. This is where light goes to die. The Stygian darkness fits so aggressively against the glass, crowding out all semblance of light so completely, that the glass itself seems to have disappeared. The cinnamon colored head was a cascading behemoth during and after the pour and is now a solid two finger mass of dense, heavy cream. It looks as if the 13.0% ABV has effectively scared off any lace. No matter, this is one of the most impressive looking beers that I've ever seen. I can't award perfection, though, with no lace.

The rich, powerful nose is redolent of dark chocolate, dark caramel-toffee, molasses-soaked hops and amazingly little coffee. I'm surprised that it isn't quite as bombastic and as menacing as I had hoped. The aroma is deep and multi-faceted for sure, but since I can imagine a better nose, and have smelled a few, it doesn't earn the ultimate compliment of a 5.0.

The apocalyptic flavor is as expansive and as mouthfilling as they come. With barely controlled fury, The Dark Lord rides roughshod over all in his path... currently my taste buds. There's a tripartite flavor profile of fudgey chocolate, melted caramels and coffee liqueur. Each sip is like an explosion of the most amazing beer candy in the universe. It's much sweeter than expected, but I absolutely love it.

The obdurate, rock solid backbone of hugely roasted malt has very little charred character. All rough edges have been effectively smoothed over by a teeming, sticky river of dark honey and molasses. Each sip shoots me up to dizzying heights filled with swirling, thick ropes of intertwining flavor: chocolate, caramel, treacle, coffee, more chocolate... ad infinitum. It then lets me down frightfully easily on a diminishing, lingering tide of those same amazing flavors.

What to say about the body? This is, without a doubt, the biggest, thickest, most viscid beer that I've ever had. I'll dispense with the much deserved string of adulatory adjectives and say simply that Dark Lord's mouthfeel is sheer perfection. It's hard to believe, but the 13.0% ABV is very nearly completely hidden. I pick up a trace of it on the finish, but it's a beautifully integrated, perfectly polished addition to the mind blowingly complex whole. Make no mistake though, its soporific power is threatening to overwhelm my senses, and a soft place to land is now high on my list of priorities.

This bottle has been lying in wait, biding its time, eagerly awaiting its chance to impress the hell out of me for well over one year now. And the hell has been impressed out of me and then some. DL is a legendary beer that deserves every one of the breathless accolades from its legion of devoted acolytes. Count me among the converted. All hail the Dark Lord!

 2,804 characters

Photo of drewone
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of duceswild
4/5  rDev -6.5%

Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev -6.5%

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

So here it is, I finally get to buckle down and try me some Dark Lord! I cannot believe that it has been nearly 1000 reviews and I have yet to try this one. I was able to get a bottle just a few days after DLD, thanks to a most generous trader, so this is the 2008 edition I will be reviewing. The black wax, was nearly impenetrable, but if you use a sharp enough opener will come off rather quickly. Served at 55 degrees, into an oversized wine glass, I was expecting perfection.

Appearance - The pour was thick, like sludge coming out of the bottle, gurgling as it hit the mouth of the bottle and smashing down into the glass. This was the thickest, darkest of blacks imaginable, it was like a black hole to which no light can escape. Very nice to behold. A smallish, maybe an inch high of rich, dark chocolate colored foam came over the top, giving a nice cascading look to it. Very interesting actually as it appeared to rise up out of nowhere as the liquid itself was so dark and thick that no carbonation could be seen. Some of the stickiest side glass lace I have ever seen, with just web upon web all over the place. This was a monster indeed.

Smell - Hard to put into words how good this smelled. It was a thick aroma, and very sweet. Lots of molasses coming though right away, but very dark, evil smelling. Coffee all over this as well, which surprised me as I did not think there would be as much. Touches of chocolate, but just barely, maybe some dark fruit, but hardly, this was immense in every way. Notes of bourbon come through after it warms, and I find myself sitting in the chair just swirling it around the glass, really just breathing it all in. This was fantastic.

Taste - The flavor followed suit beautifully. Rich coffee flavored molasses just washed over the tongue, well sticks to it is a more apt word, but we will get to that later. Amazingly complex it is hard to really imagine what this one tastes like unless you are actually having it. Nice notes of dark chocolate come through along with a touch of wood flavors. Warming it up brings out lots of oak, and a great hint of vanilla. This is one amazing beer, it is hard to believe that I waited this long to try this one. The finish was just as good as the start and went a little like this: As soon as the last dropped falls from the tongue you get a quick little bite of hops, small, but enough to give the start a bitter touch, this falls off and is replaced by a thick taste of coffee and bourbon, which themselves back off and leave your mouth begging for that flavor, but instead deliver a touch of vanilla, and then the warming starts from the inside. Truly remarkable.

Mouthfeel - This is where I want to comment the most on, but with the fewest words necessary. This was the thickest, smoothest, chewiest, most filling beer I have ever had. It gives a whole new meaning to the term full bodied. This was like a milk shake it was soo big. I was blown away from the first sips that it was a s thick as it was. Unimaginable smooth, as I was enjoying every sip a bit more then the one before it. Truly breathtaking.

Drinkability - For what it is, and for 13%v it was extraordinary. It was soo smooth, and sure you could pick up a little of the alcohol in it, but damn, maybe if it was like 8%, this was ridiculous. So much punch packed into such a delicious package, amazing really..

Overall I have to be honest here. I have in the past commented on how things get too hyped up and there are just as good if not better stouts out there to try. I will now eat my words. This was seriously insane in how good it was. I don't really know where it could have been possibly improved on. I would gladly stand in line for 1 hours in the cold for this one. It really is that good. I am very glad I finally got to try and review this one, it made my whole night. Simply put this is the stout to beat. It really does live up to the hype.

 3,919 characters

Photo of Slatetank
4.77/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I sample this 2008 bottle w/ my cousin and brother. Poured at cellar temp into a snifter.

A - Black as your soul, the beer has an opacity unmatched and the head has many tiny bubbles, very minute. The surface of the stout is gleeming still after the 2 finger head comes to resting state as a ring of khaki

S - Plums, toasted nuts, anise, cocoa, pumpernickel and molasses. Honey aromas-which have slight fruity notes accent the nose

M - Somewhat meaty w/ a sugar drenched, rich dark bready malt and roasted barley coats the mouth. The stout is viscous like syrup and clings after the swallow

T - Deep notes of molasses and honeyed plum w/ blackberry and cocoa. The flavor has beef bullion w/ a slightly spicey hop that contains earthy elements w/ toffee notes. There is dark sugar, almost a rum flavor and the molasses stays vital into the finish.

D - Magnificent after 1 yr waiting to acquire and 8 months in the cellar it is a welcome taste. Definitely a unique taste I love the molasses flavor - a beer that wil not surrender holding a grip that is memorable as well as a world class example of an Imperial stout

re-review -10-23-10 -

poured chilled into a nonic at the stout tasting.
A deep black viscous looking stout. medium brown cascade settles to a ring of thick cream with tiny beading, no lace sticks. the aroma is strong and spicy almost meaty with a woody and dark sugar component, dark fruit like fig and raisin soaked in alcohol with a very mellow coffee in the background. The feel is intense, but smooth mouth coating and resinous with woody and warming alcohol textures.

The taste has a dry and bitter malt astringency with slight acidity of hops and bits of toasted grain. The dark brown sugar is like putting some muscovado in your mouth with the molasses standing out among the coffee tar like bitterness.
A beer I have had in the bottle a few times and it seems to be the same 2 yrs later as it was fresh -too thick and too strong for my taste, but I still consider it ok drinkability wise compared to some.
A 4.5, S-4, M-3.5, T-4, D-4

 2,069 characters

Photo of mdfb79
4.8/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From 7/24/10 notes. Bottle was a 2010 vintage.

a - Pours a brown color with one finger of tan head and light carbonation evident.

s - Smells of dark fruits, roasted malts, chocolate, coffee, vanilla, and a hint of booze, but not as much as I was expecting.

t - Tastes of chocolate, dark fruits, roasted malts, toasted malts, and a hint of alcohol. Has a tiny bit of heat and more alcohol than the smell, but not too much.

m - Medium body and low carbonation. Considering it's 15% ABV, its surprisingly easy to drink.

d - I thought this was a great RIS. I thought there was a little bit of heat, but not too much considering the high ABV. I think with a few months on it it will only get better as well. Still, it is one of the best RIS' I've had. Looking forward to trying again.

 784 characters

Dark Lord Imperial Stout from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
4.28 out of 5 based on 4,280 ratings.
  • About Us

    Founded in Boston in 1996, BeerAdvocate (BA) is your go-to resource for beer powered by an independent community of enthusiasts and professionals dedicated to supporting and promoting better beer.

    Learn More
  • Our Community

    Comprised of consumers and industry professionals, many of whom started as members of this site, our community is one of the oldest, largest, and most respected beer communities online.
  • Our Events

    Since 2003 we've hosted over 60 world-class beer festivals to bring awareness to independent brewers and educate attendees.
  • Our Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.