The only authority for all things beer…
This write up is horribly long overdue (this is what I get for signing up to Instagram where I post all of my beer adventures almost instantly even my followers got to witness my DLD experience in real time). Ah, what’s four months worth of recovery time from DLD anyway? 😉
March 17, 2013.
That’s when it all started. Not too long prior to this day, I received a tweet from Three Floyds indicating that Dark Lord Day tickets were going on sale. My beer buddies started to seriously talk about the possibility of checking out one of the world’s greatest beer festivals for once and for all. We are all in our early 30’s and half of us have families. This could not have come at a better time. I knew how difficult it was to land a ticket to DLD even online… tickets sell out extremely quick – try 10 minutes or even less. You could only buy two tickets maximum and had to be present at the festival with a valid proof of ID along with your guest. There were problems in the past where DLD tickets were scalped off e-Bay or on Craig’s list for as much as three to four times face value. Again, this is the Super Bowl of all beer festivals. DLD is not a day where craft beer junkies take a pilgrimage to buy the ultra limited Dark Lord beers. It is an opportunity to celebrate craft beer where revelers are allowed to bring beer from outside to share as well as to trade. Most of those beers are literally whales – big time beers that are hard to come by such as KBS, Bourbon Barrel Plead the 5th, past Dark Lord variants even the barrel aged types, Black Tuesday, Pliny, rare sours, and all of that.
Anyway, I had to come up with a strategy to get my hands on a freakin’ ticket then I would be able to get on with my life by planning out the trip. Although, my buddies (the lucky few who got to go on the trip) and I secured a hotel room that had an agreement with Three Floyds before ticket sales went live because we knew a furry of ticket winners would scramble to lock up rooms in a snap. I assigned friends even my wife who were unable to attend the festival to zero in on their computer screens 15 minutes prior to the event along with my personal info including credit card number in the event they were able to get into the order form. The challenge was trying to coordinate which session we were interested in doing – how it works is that in order to pick up your limited allotment of Dark Lord Beer (3 max per ticket holder), you had to start lining up during your specific assigned time frame as indicated on the ticket. My buddies and I agreed that Group B or C (last resort) would work best since we assumed that everybody would be gunning for the first line up or the very last group. Well, of a total of seven people being wired in trying to get tickets, only two of us made it through the ticket purchase order. All my friends including myself could attest to the fact that it was a pure adrenaline rush trying to order these coveted tickets!
My buddies and I took a flight out of DC to Chicago so we could rent a car and drive up to Wisconsin to check out New Glarus (awesome brewery by the way!) and a few other local breweries in the area before making our way back down to Munster, Indiana.
We stopped by Three Floyds for lunch prior to checking out Flossmoor Station as they were having a pre-DLD beer event selling Barrel Aged Thunder Snow which we thought was just okay. But they had a live band going on and some “homemade moonshine” which probably put the nail in the coffin for some of us that night.
After stopping by Wendy’s after the Flossmoor event (yes more food), we returned to the hotel and checked out the conference room as we heard rumors that bottle shares usual took place in the conference rooms of selected hotels. Well, it turned out that our hotel was one of the premiere locations for that! The bottle sharing action was a little slow when we arrived around 10pm, my buddies and I decided to go back up to our room to collect some of the beers we brought with us from the East Coast as well as some gems and returned to the conference room. By the time we got there, activity started to pick up. I whipped out a Hill Farmstead growler that I landed a few days prior and started to share it around the room. Before I knew it, there were whale beers being set left and right – everything you could possibly want to see at a bottle share was there – Westy XIIs, Doom, Barrel Aged Huna, vintage KBS, Barrel Aged Dark Lords and Behemoths, and heck I’ll let the photographs speak for themselves.
The night went longer than I had hoped as I knew I had to get up early to get into line at the brewery…. well, in a few more hours. I needed my sleep and to “reset” my taste buds to fully appreciate more whales I knew was going to be free flowing that day especially the draft Dark Lords!
Dark Lord Day – April 27, 2013
We were hurting… especially this guy right here. I never had so many special beers in one setting in a matter of hours. All the wet wash cloths, Advil, Gatorade, water, 10 minutes of extra sleep, or whatever in the world could not help my case. It was already 10am in the morning and in the back of our heads, we knew we were supposed to be in line… two hours ago. “Stay calm. You got tickets, life is good. Your pick up is not until 2:00pm.”, was the voice of reassurance during this most trying time in my beer drinking career. My buddy wanted to hit up Burger King – his ritual of picking up five cheese burgers and stuffing it in his backpack with the necessities – Powerade, some meds, sampler glassware and surprise beers to share with fellow craft beer geeks like us. After working on my one and only cheeseburger, I was able to muster up some strength back to drinking form. After all, this WAS the event we waited so long for. The lucky few too.
One of our buddies didn’t get a ticket but was willing to drive us to the festival and do some “sight seeing” on his part (bless his heart) – so parking was no factor for us whatsoever. Dropped us right off and all. Since were sort of late to the game, there surprisingly wasn’t a line to get into the festival except for the Group A line waiting to pick up their Dark Lord allotment. I had Group B and my buddy had Group C, so I didn’t mind waiting with him as time neared for the Group C line up. Before we did that, we walked around the hallowed grounds of Three Floyds some more and marveled at all the amazing beer bottles laying on the ground all empty to its former glory of goodness – scattered all over the place.
We could only but imagine what a line it was getting into the grounds earlier that morning. My buddy and I were able to immediately try some Dark Lord on tap – we thought it was very sweet – a cherry-ladden sugar bomb which could use some age on it. It was still good nonetheless and sure glad to have tried it on tap. We also tried some other gems such as Permanent Funeral. I ran into some beer buddies from across the country and a regular beer trader that I enjoy swapping beers with – I was able to try some Barrel Aged Speedway, 2013 Churchill’s Finest Hour, and some great beer from Pipeworks, a brewery in Chicago making lots of noise in the craft beer community banging out excellent beers after another.
My buddy and I somehow found ourselves on the short end of the line that transitioned from Group B to Group C (there seemed to be two lines going on) so we “only” had to wait close to one hour and half to pick up our allotment. There were rumblings that folks had to wait three or so hours at some point during the festival! It was such a beautiful day – one of the best days ever in DLD history from what I was told. There was a band playing at the main stage at all times, food and beer vendors scattered throughout the grounds. Beer fans of all ages, genders, and color. Just an awesome sight to see.
While waiting in line for our beer allotment, we shared beer with people around us. It was one big beer orgy fest so it seemed. I am sure nobody seemed to mind.
As we entered the bottling warehouse of the brewery, we had to present our beer allotment ticket and we were presented a gold scratch-off ticket that determined whether you won the right to buy a barrel aged variant of Dark Lord. I was fortunate to win that right and, unfortunately, it set me back $50 a bottle. I gotta hand it to Three Floyds for providing for a Willy Wonka-like experience trying to get that damn gold ticket to give you the right to eat all the chocolate you want in the world. Although, I found it sort of a major downer that folks had to wait hours to get their allotment.. of only three Dark Lord bottles (which were priced at $15 each) and only to find out the barrel aged variant was going to set them back $50 more per bottle. Oh there’s only one limit of that per winner.
After picking up our allotment, our driver was in the area and about ready to pick us up. We were totally satisfied after fighting our massive hangover from the bottle share the night before (and perhaps from that moonshine at the Flossmoor event – never again!) with good imbibe at the DLD festival.
All in all, what a hell of an experience! It was truly a beautiful day to celebrate craft beer among beer aficionados like ourselves. For those who miss out on this opportunity, fret not, there is always the amazing bottle sharing going on the night before. Just bring on some great beer to share and you’re all set to go. I can’t say if I will ever return to DLD but I do know I will return to Three Floyds considering the fact it is not far from Chicago (one of my favorite cities in the world – Go Cubs!). I have never witnessed such collective passion for craft beer in the way I have. We are not alone and that is for sure. I have met many great and selfless people during our trip. Life is good and drinking good beer is just frosting on the cake.
I came across a great blog that Michael Kiser runs that includes many amazing photographs that truly captures the essence of the festival better than I ever could – please check it out here: http://goodbeerhunting.com/blog/2013/5/2/three-floyds-dark-lord-day-the-monsters-of-munster-indiana