Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dark Lord Day 2012

Fellow craft beer quaffers, I had the distinct privilidge of attending this year's Dark Lord Day hosted by Three Floyds Brewing Co in Munster, Indiana.  For those not familiar with Dark Lord Day, Three Floyd's website describes it as such,

"Dark Lord Day is the only day of the year to buy Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial stout. DLD is a festival where participants can meet other beer enthusiasts, sample beers from all over the world, buy Dark Lord, try Oak Aged Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, eat BBQ, listen to live music, and generally have a great time."

My buddy Lance was quick enough on the draw to snag a pair of tickets and I was fortunate enough to be invited.  Cannot thank him enough!  In hindsight, I did not take nearly enough photos at Dark Lord Day (hereafter referred to as DLD), but then again, there was not a ton of things to take pictures of.  But I get ahead of myself....

First off, we arrived around 2-ish and searched desperately for a place to park.  This is to be expected.  I expect having trouble finding a parking place at a regular beer festival (or even a downtown area on a Friday night), so I definitely did not expect to find one close by the gates.  After a short walk, we arrived and we greeted by several of these colorful maps (any pic may be enlarged by clicking on it).

Actually, the first time I tried to take a photo of this map, the maps were hung outside the fence surrounding the outhouses.  There was a man outside peeing behind the outhouses (no idea why) and I almost got a picture I didn't want and made waaaay too close a friend.  This experience made me a bit leary of what was awaiting behind the fence, but those concerns turned out to be unfounded.  The next five photos are a right-to-left panorama of what I saw upon entering DLD.



If your first thought was, "So what he saw first was people?" then you are correct.  Lots of people.  Thankfully Three Floyds (hereafter referred to as FFF) limitied their ticket sales intelligently, so while the crowd required a bit of patience to make one's way through, it never required a battle.

The Grounds
The festival was essentially held in their parking lot.  This has not worked very well for other brew festivals, but since the weather was so overcast most of the negative aspects (cooking alive) were not a factor.  Also, having this in a parking lot doesn't exactly add to the overall charm.  Now, I'm not saying I would've expected a beautiful lakeside park to hold an event entitled DLD, but with an event that has SO much hoopla and hype surrounding it, I think they could do a little more for the atmosphere and theme (black tents with jagged awnings?  cups with a cool logo on it?  some creepy viking stuff mounted on posts above the crowd?).  Their website does such a good job at exuding their "vibe," I suppose I expected a bit more of that on their own turf.  The tents looked like standard rentals, offered no shelter to fest goers, but clearly stated the items for sale within.

Draughts for sale.
Sixers, cases, and bombers for sale.  Yes, the XV Baller
Stout is $30 for a bomber.

Lines for beer.  They were kept moving very well.

The Facilities
There were plenty of port-a-potties and I only once had to wait in line.  Sure there were lines at one section, but apparently very few people realized that the outhouses followed the fence for some distance - allowing the outhouses at the far end to be entered immediately.  Also, apparently there were also outhouses on the opposite side of the festival (bottom left corner of map), but I never had to venture there.  No rinsing stations were needed as they gave you a new plastic Solo cup for each beer.  I suppose it helps keep cost down, but it's not very green, nor does it let me receive a cool free souvenir.

They had an section of the lot reserved for picnic tables where people could grab a seat, eat their grub and cool their heels.  This section was also used by many people to crack open and share their beers that they brought from home.  This was the best part of the day!  Lance and I tried so many different, random, amazing beers that I had never even heard of!  First we hung out with some gents from Michigan that had access to GADS of small, unusual Michigan craft beers (some no longer even in business) and as we remained at our seat, different folks would pass through either offering a taste of their own wares or eyeing ours hopefully and (of course) eventually receiving a pour.  The beers we tried were as follows (though some shall remain nameless since there were not on Untappd for me to track).

1.   Wild Heaven Craft Beers - Ode to Mercy
2.   Great Divide - Barrel Aged Yeti (2011). Though it was infected.
3.   New Glarus - IIPA (Thumbprint Series)
4.   New Glarus - Cherry Stout (Thumbprint Series)
5.   Surly - Abrasive Ale
6.   Tröegs - Nugget Nectar (x2)
7.   East End Brewing - Gratitude (2010)
8.   Victory/DFH/Stone - Saison du BUFF
9.   Kuhnhenn Brewing - Penetration Porter
10. Jailhouse Brewing - Conjugal Visit
11.  New Glarus - Moon Man

We also received pours from growlers by Founders and many local varieties whose names are already lost to myth and history.  I shit you not, one was a topped off growler from 2006 from a mystery brewery in Michigan.  Yes a growler from '06.  It had been filled so full that very little air was in the growler itself and had been chilled since then.  It was a definite high point of the day.  Wow!

There is also this beer by Jolly Pumpkin.  I have never seen it before, but the bottle smelled SO amazing that I will not rest until I find it.  If you know of this beer, where to find it, or would like to trade for it, I'm all ears.  Please comment on this article or email me and we'll definitely be in touch.

Here are some of the fellas kind enough to share and share alike...

Photo: Lance Martin

Photo: Lance Martin

Our pile of finished, shared goodness.  (Photo: Lance Martin)
The Food
I only had a pair of hotdogs and they really hit the spot.  FFF was also serving these monster sausages that looked damn tasty.  That's about all I can really speak to, but with the smells emanating from the grills, I wish I could've spoke to more.  They were also serving FFF beers and kept the lines moving amazingly well for how many people were there.  Nothing, but good things to say about the service.

Happy FFF minions! (Photo: Lance Martin)

Even a cameo by FF Brewer Abby Titcomb!! (Photo: Lance Martin)
The Dark Lord
The line to get DL was... well, the line to get DL.  It was long, windy, but full of good people and good beer.  Many folks in line (such as ourselves) were wise enough to save some of the beer they brought from home to drink in the line.  That said, everyone was so cool about the line that I'm sure people would've allowed you to step out of place for a moment to snag a cold one.  We met some cool folks!  The first picture describes the line involved and the rest of are of good craft beer people.

This gives an overview of half the "sharing" area of the lot. It also
shows the official beginning of the line. (Photo: Lance Martin)
So the line for Dark Lord stretches well behind where the above picture was taken.  It goes from behind this picture, allllll the way around the food tent to the left and finally to the line "beginning"  See that grey wearhouse in the right side of the picture?  That's where the line officially begins.  It's the point of the amusement park ride where a sign says, "Your estimated wait time is... 55 minutes"  Ours wasn't 55 mins from that point, just a little perspective.

See the end of the wearhouse?  That corner is out of picture in the  above photo (to the right).  This is
the view after you turn that corner and look back.  Yes, it's a long ass warehouse.

We meet fun people.
Eventually, you are allowed in the warehouse and the scene improves a lot.  This is the scene upon entering.

Buy your allotment here.
 I can't recall exactly where, but at one point your crappy ticket is exchanged for a really sweet looking, Super Bowl-sized Golden Ticket that contains a scratch off portion.  All of this is done is a bad-ass looking Russian font and here are some gratuitous pics to prove it.

Front of "Golden Ticket"

Reverse of "Golden Ticket"

Close up of Front side art.  How kick ass is that?!  It makes me wanna get a tattoo!

If that scratch off portion reads "Yes" underneath it, then that ticket holder has the opportunity to purchase one of the special Dark Lord varieties being sold that day for $50.  The varieties this year were: barrel aged, barrel aged with vanilla bean, and... OK, so that's all I can recall off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure one was bourbon barrel-aged, and another was barrel aged with a type of dark fruit.  Don't quote me.  Please comment if you can speak with certainty about the other varieties.

You've got a keeper there, sir.
On the way out of the warehouse, there was a death metal band playing and in the low light, this was the best shot that I could get.

After that we were sort of guided out of the warehouse and I can't help but feel like we missed out on other things going on in the warehouse.  Well, I don't feel like we did, but did we?  I'm sure there are capacity issues to worry about in there and only so many people can be inside at once, but are there other things besides bands in there?  We saw people in there at any time of day and now I wonder if there wasn't something that we missed while chilling outside and drinking amazing beer.  Again, please comment if you can speak with certainty about any additional goings-on in the warehouse.

That pretty much sums up the day, kiddies.  No orgies.  No secret rituals.  No "Eyes Wide Shut" moments.  Just a beer festival full of damn good beer, awesome people, and the smell of grilling.  For me, that's a helluva good day.  I hope this helped satisfy the curiosity of folks that were not able to attend!  Cheers to all of ya and be sure to keep reading.  After all, I plan on reviewing one of these Dark Lords while they're still fresh!

Thanks Three Floyds!  What a neat experience!



Lance's haul.  That lucky bastard.


  1. I'm jealous that you got a ticket. A bunch of us tried to get them when right when they went on sale but they sold out immediately. Hopefully next year they will try a better ticketing system.

    I see you had some Moon Man while you were there. That's been a favorite of mine for a few years now. I always try to stock up when I'm up north.

    1. You are correct. Those phone lines were plugged the minute they opened and were still plugged well after the tickets were gone. I'm not sure a better ticketing system would matter. Even Ravinia Festival had a plugged system when they offered their free lawn passes this year and sell tickets as a regular part of their business (breweries, not so much). Best of luck snagging some for next year! Oh, and you're spot on about Moon Man. Pale Ales are becoming are enjoying a resurgence in my fridge and Moon Man is partially to blame (Alpha King bears most of the responsibility, though). Cheers!