2021 Dark Lord Variant Predictions

Welcome back to our 5th engagement of talking Dark Lord barrel aged variants, the only notable thing coming out of Munster, Indiana that delights tickers from Portland to Perth.

We do this every year.

2021 brings us the smallest collection of barrel aged Dark Lords since 2014. After the last two years of 13, and 12 variants respectively, Three Floyds is seemingly taking a more targeted approach to their release this year. In recent years, the assortment of variants has skewed to be about 1/3 whales, 1/3 good beers and 1/3 forgettable or surprisingly offensive bottles. There is only 1 new variant debuting this year, Adultsizedbeverage. This years math seems to look like 2/3 whales, 1/3 good beer.

Last year we talked at length about the cache of Dark Lord weakening. The shine coming off the Alpha King’s crown if you will. After what appeared to be middling sales for last year’s packages, Three Floyds rethought their release and finally understood, the people do not want 4 regular Dark Lords. Offering a $160 package of two variants included (which has never been done,) will likely pump a little more gas back into a prestigious release that’s been losing steam for the last few years, but is entirely something else without the actual event itself.

Additionally Three Floyds has made available Vintage 2020 packs at the same price point as 2021 while also including 2 variants, improving on their own lackluster release one year ago.

2021 Barrel Aged Dark Lord Variant Ranking Predictions

1. Marshmallow Handjee
2. Chemtrailmix
3. Adultsizedbeverage

Variant Breakdown Analysis
Reminder, these are predictions, not tasting notes. Tick them yourself and let me know how wrong I was @Ferowcious

Marshmallow Handjee – Dark Lord aged in bourbon barrels with vanilla beans

How do you get people amped for Dark Lord Day that have lost interest as the pool of $30 barrel aged releases has filled? Give them a higher chance of getting a Handjee. I’ve said this previously, Marshmallow Handjee could be the same great beer they always make, and it will lose just a tiny slice of the aura it had the year before. Why? Because that’s kind of just what the scene is these days. Even if you don’t participate in Dark Lord this year, I imagine hopefully secondary/razzle pricing for BVDL will make it easier to acquire than usual.

Chemtrailmix – Dark Lord aged in rye barrels with Mekong cinnamon + pink peppercorns

Chemtrailmix has had a V shaped performance so far, as 2018 was legendary, 2019 came out rather spicy from the cinnamon and 2020 bounced back, though with less fanfare than 2018. This will solidly be a beer anyone should be content and happy to find in one of their variant slots at pick up weekend in November. Anyone ever done Chemtrailmix head to head with Shared BA Ambiente? Any comparison to be made?

Adultsizedbeverage – Dark Lord aged in rum, cognac, and Sauternes barrels

We’ve arrived at the only real mystery of 2021. Feel free to check my math, but I believe this is the first time rum barrels have been a component to Dark Lord, while Cognac and Sauternes have both made multiple appearances before. We’re treading some new ground here, in a variant history largely consisting of well worn paths. Rum barrels often make for boozy outcomes that people often characterize as thin. Cognac has played well both in 2011, and the original French Vanilla Militia 2016 (actually Armagnac, but that’s all pedantic.) The fortified wine barrel Dark Lords often drive over the cliff of sweetness taking everyone at the bottle share down with it. Cynically I wonder if these different barrels were all originally destined to be their own variants with any sort of inclusion of tree nuts, peppers, syrup, and cocoa nibs. Alas, it was not to be.

So this one comes down to the blend. Adultsizedbeverage has been dedicated to Barnaby Struve. Barnaby was an icon of Midwest craft beer and very responsible for the growth overseen by Three Floyds over his tenure. I imagine this will be a respectable variant befitting someone who meant so much to so many.


The Dregs

  • Very interesting to not see any of Three Floyds Distillery barrels name dropped in this years variants though it’s plausible they may have been used.
  • I imagine Three Floyds is saving some ammo for a big return hopefully to an in person all day event, in May. Hopefully new variants, and less experimentation with fortified wine barrels.
  • I’m equally surprised and thrilled by the team adjusting to last year and giving people more of what they want, at an even better price point than 2020. Sometimes it feels like they can be a bit stubborn, and this is a good sign they’re not entirely out of touch.

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