Trip Report from Dark Lord Day

Last weekend, beer geeks from around the country converged on Munster, Indiana, for the yearly release of a limited edition beer called Dark Lord. Made by Three Floyds Brewing Company, the "demonic Russian Style Imperial Stout, brewed with Intelligentsia coffee, Mexican vanilla, and Indian sugar" (per the company’s description) can only be obtained in person on one special day. And besides just being a seriously good rare beer, it's used as currency when people are trading for other seriously good rare beers. We spoke to our New York City beer geek friend, Aaron, who wished his last name to remain off the record (because he’d been playing hooky from work) about what his first experience at Dark Lord Day was like.

How did you get to the brewery?

I went with some other beer geek friends from across the country and made it into a nice little weekend. We flew into Minneapolis and did a full beer tour of that city. Hit the best beer bar in town (Stub and Herb's), the two best brewpubs in town (Town Hall, maker of the legendary Masala Mama, and Barley John's), and finished off with a private tour of one of my favorite breweries, Surly. Next, we stopped at New Glarus Brewery in New Glarus, Wisconsin. We sampled all its brews, most notably Belgian Red, a cherry beer, and probably the best fruit beer I've ever had. From there, we made it to Chicago and hit Three Floyds Brewpub that night. Dark Lord Day was on Saturday.

What was the drill? How did you get beer?

About a month ago, Three Floyds announced via Twitter the sale of "Golden Tickets." (They've done this in past years, but never before using Twitter.) Anyone could buy a maximum of two tickets online for $10 each, which would allow a person to buy four bottles per ticket. So, eight bottles [possible per person] in theory. I believe something like 4,000 tickets were released and they sold out in minutes. As long as we redeemed our eight bottles before 6 p.m. that day, we were all cool. Nevertheless, plenty of beer geeks started lining up as early as 5 a.m., so I'm told. We all sauntered up at about 4 p.m. after the line had died down and easily got our bottles.

What was the scene like?

Kinda like a Fourth of July celebration in a small American town where everyone goes to an empty field—or industrial park parking lot in this case—with a ton of food, drink, and some games. [Then they] just set up their blankets and lawn chairs and start hanging out, schmoozing, mingling, throwing footballs around, etc., with no real schedule or purpose other than relaxing and having fun.

We were there from about 10 a.m. until 6 or so, and we just sampled the rare beers we brought, plus others from generous strangers. (Here are some notable beers I tried: The Bruery Black Tuesday, Lost Abbey Isabelle Proximus, COAST Barrel-Aged Blackbeerd, a rare bottle of Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout, etc.)

How much beer did you get?

I got seven bottles of Dark Lord, plus I was able to try it on tap, plus the amazing and highly rare taps of Vanilla Bean Dark Lord and Oak-Aged Dark Lord, two tap-only selections available solely at Three Floyds on Dark Lord Day.

Was it good? Will you trade it?

I'll keep a few bottles for aging and set up tastings or simply give or trade away the other bottles to friends who have never had it before. I had the fortune of getting to try the "fresh" bottle of Dark Lord 2010 side by side with an aged bottle of Dark Lord 2009. Both were amazing in different ways. Some people were a tad bummed out and thought that 2009 had gone downhill from previous vintages, but this aged bottle was amazing. The 2010 was far more aggressive and boozy—just my style—and I expect it will be a real winner in years to come.

What was the craziest thing you witnessed or the most dramatic moment?

A part of me is depressed to say: nothing. Now maybe being an NYC boy traveling to the Midwest, what I think of as being "crazy" or "dramatic" is much different that what normal people do. But … it is a freakish culture! Have you ever seen the documentary Trekkies? Sometimes I feel like I'm part of a culture like that. My non-beer-geek friends assume I just go off to drink nice beer and get loaded. True enough, somewhat, but I feel like their minds would be blown if they got to see how truly geeky, weird, and even asocial this scene is.

Image courtesy of Three Floyds

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