There are times in your life where the disappointment is palpable and stays with you. Like when you asked a girl to dance and she said “no”, or you got to the cafeteria late on stromboli day and had to eat a day old cheeseburger. Maybe not life changing disappointment but something I categorize as “slumped shoulder events”. The events that you walk away from the same way Charlie Brown did all the time. There are also times when something pleasantly surprises you. Dark Lord has done both of these to me in the span of a week and in very unlikely ways. Since I always want to hear bad news first, I will talk about my impressions of regular Dark Lord Stout, which is the first beer from Three Floyds that I really did not like much at all (sorry to sugar coat it, of course I have sugar on the brain after this sweet assault on my palate from a brewery that does not usually get me to do anything but praise them). Of course since it was a gift from space aliens, I could not dump it, but I really struggled to finish it, banking that it might change as it warmed and opened up but to no avail. In fact, if you put a Kikkoman label on this beer you could mistake it for a new brand of sugar filled soy sauce…ok, maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but I am a little hurt and I am lashing out. I am trying not to blame Three Floyds for this I swear but I did curl up in the corner and pour a Zombie Dust on my head when I finished the Dark Lord.
Dark Lord is amazingly highly rated and highly hyped, listed as a great beer and a major whale but it left me flat (and buzzed due to the high ABV so it was not all bad). I think that if this was classified as something other than a stout maybe I would be more forgiving but still would not like it much. As a stout I just could not make it go for me even slightly. It looks like a stout with a super dark pour and a great head, but then it all falls apart at the first sniff. Way too sweet with a plums/raisins/figs/ fruit sweetness that just smashes you in the face (or did I run into the corner of the door, Three Floyd’s would never smash me in the face right?). If I had not know what I poured (which has happened late some nights) I would have sworn I had some type of Belgian Quad hybrid in front of me. First taste and it was all but confirmed that this was unlike any stout I had ever lifted to my lips, but in a bad way. The sweetness of the milk sugar and the plummy fruit flavor just overpowered everything except that little bit of soy sauce taste at the end. I am going to go out on a limb and say that Three Floyds should create a new category for this beer – the Belgian Style Hybrid Quadruple Stout. That is a mouthful and so is this beer. Only problem is, it is not the most enjoyable mouthful.
The mouthfeel is also more quad-like than stout-like. It is more carbonated with that thin almost astringent feeling you get on the end of a Quad when the alcohol hits the back of your tongue. But the sweetness makes this astringent sensation really confusing to the taste buds.
So I have to do some self-reflection on this beer. Is it just that my expectations were too high, or that I buy into labels too much? After all I just learned that there is a third classification for people who don’t identify as male or female called “non-binary” so maybe I should not get all caught up on the fact that Dark Lord is called a stout (wait maybe my taste buds are non-binary which is why they were so confused by this beer – you can tell I am struggling since I love Three Floyds so much I don’t want to blame them for my palate abuse). So what is my solution – aging. I have two more and they are going to sit next to the other stout abomination I have aging (anyone want to take a big, luscious guess at what beer that is?) in my basement (I refuse to call it a cellar for reasons of my upbringing the only cellar you could have in a U.P. home was a root cellar and there are no roots in my basement).
Now for the good news: Brownie came over and brought his Dark Lord Day Variant named “Quit Hitting Yourself” which I expected to hate. Why, because it is aged in wine barrels. Please don’t get me wrong, I like wine as much as the next person with non-binary taste buds but I have never had a good beer aged in a wine barrel. But this is a post of firsts – first bad beer from Three Floyds and first good beer aged in wine barrels…and this beer was aged in a Port and Madeira barrels. So I had to look up what Madeira is and according to Wikipedia it is “a fortified Portuguese wine made in the Madeira Islands. Madeira is produced in a variety of styles ranging from dry wines which can be consumed on their own as an aperitif, to sweet wines more usually consumed with dessert.” The verdict on this was that this beer was a knockout in both flavor and ABV. Seriously, I had to crawl in a corner after this one too but for totally different reasons.
The wine aging took away a lot of the soy sauce flavor and really brought out the chocolate and vanilla that was hidden in Dark Lord. Everything else stayed true to stout – dark pour, great head, great mouthfeel.
It was like DarkLord went to anger management and came out a new stout. Now the even better news is that I have a “Trump and Pump” which is another wine barrel aged variant. I would have considered that bad news before but hey this is a post of firsts.
I have to imagine that a bourbon barrel aged Dark Lord will be amazing if a little bit of port and madeira did this great transformation to Quit Hitting Yourself. Looks like BBA Dark Lord goes back on the whale list just when I thought the palate abuse would end. Wait, maybe I needed to quit hitting myself and Three Floyds did nothing to abuse my palate or my liver. Oh thank goodness, all is forgiven and I won’t have to waste another Zombie Dust.