DarkLord Day 2010 – Perspective and Pictures
Living in the middle of Southern California, I have gotten mighty accustomed to the beer culture, the beer festivals, and beer tastings. Everything I have learned here I had to throw out the window when going to Munster Indiana for DarkLord Day 2010 this past weekend. While my main concern was safety, I can assure you that I was amongst a large group of good people who love beer as much as I do.
The Pre-Game Show
As anticipated, folks began to gather at and around 3 Floyds starting 8 am (possibly eariler). My longtime compadre Jesse and I decided to have a greasy meal and get water before heading over, so we got there at 9am. Keep in mind, the bottles of DarkLord didn’t go on sale until 11am. We saw a line going one way, a line going another way, little portable gazebos, tents, a buttload of roller coolers, mini barbecues, and everyone getting down to business as the sun tried to peak through the rain clouds. I had a short list of people who wanted to meet me from Ratebeer.com, and there was no way I would be able to track down everyone who hit me up since I announced I was going to attend. I gave a ring to “GuyInChicago” on Ratebeer, and had no idea what this dude looked like or anything, and in crowd of thousands, wasn’t sure I’d be able to find him. Luckily, we found a landmark spot and had some beer with him and another cat from ratebeer named “GainsvilleTim.” These guys looked like some good old country boys, but more the age of my father than that of a boy! Jesse and I were already deep into the game, having samples left and right from all these nice folks, planning how they were going to get their bottles of DL and still have a spot to relax and party all day.
The Running of the Bulls
Right before 10 am, Jesse and I met two very cool cats, Bill from Madison and Bobby S. Bobby S. is a beer distributor in the area, who is close with 3 Floyds. My man Bobby told us not to bother with those lines, that they would eventually subside, and that we should get down on his cooler of great beer. Who was I to argue? Midwest hospitality at its finest! Then the strike of 10 hit, and folks went charging for a small opening at the brewery to lineup for DarkLord. Jesse, Bobby, Billy and I went to the center of the rather calm festival and started getting down on a bunch of great beers. While the line seemed long, things were still rather calm. By my estimate, the line for the bottles was at least a mile long. The line for DarkLord Day draft pours was a mile long. The line for bratwurst was a mile long. I was kinda glad our new midwest friends took us under their wings, or it would have been a long boring morning.
Because I didn’t know how strict Southwest Airlines was going to be, I had only brought 4 beers, and Jesse brought a bunch of local goodies to share with whoever we hung out with. I wish I had been able to bring more beer, as I might have had the least beer per person there. My first observation of the day was that unlike a huge California tasting, everyone brought their local favorites rather than trying to wow each other with out of state rarities. That sat well with me, and makes perfect sense. There was a lot of Hopslam floating around, and as a fresh hop snob, I passed on tastes knowing it was 4-5 months old. Crazy I know. The next thing I noticed was the girl to guy ratio. I always do this at every beer function I go to. It is usually a 1 to 10 ratio on girls to guys, unless it’s a fancy place like Lost Abbey or The Bruery, but even then, usually a sausage fest. DarkLord Day seemed to have more like a 1 to 100 ratio, maybe even a 1 to 500 ration of girls to guys. The first thing that came out of my mouth when I go there was “This is a Star Trek Convention meets Beer Festival.” There were tons of interesting looking characters buzzing around, and gave me the answer I was looking for as to where the chicks were at.
As the day went on, the place got louder and more crowded. The once spacious area that the fellas and I were parked at turned into a tight fit after a while. We started having more interesting characters pass by, and even stop and ask/beg for Golden Tickets. Going into this thing, I thought it was going to be a big old mosh pit of beer fanatics, and I was going to get roughed up. Not the case at all, people were super friendly, and I was being offered more tastes than I knew what to do with. In a moment of irony, as pointed out on twitter, I complained that people were pouring me too big of tastes. My experience from mega tastings is that you pour someone enough beer to get familiar with, and not much more in the name of longevity. If you get a big glass of strong ale every 3 minutes, your lights will be out quick. These midwesterners were filling me up pretty big, and I knew better than to house all that beer. Yes, ‘The Full Pint” didn’t want a full pint. Ha! What was the biggest hit of a beer that I shared? Cigar City Hunahpu Imperial Stout. Good to know it lives up to its hype.
So at this point, you might be asking yourself, what about the bands, what about the guest taps? I was having too much fun meeting people and tasting beer to even think of leaving our camp to go do “DarkLord Day” activities. Do I regret that I didn’t stand in a long line for guest taps? Only slightly. I had the beer flowing pretty nicely, and was having a ball with everyone I was interacting with. I easily tried 20-30 beers from all over. If I had stood in long lines, I would have gotten mighty thirsty and wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun.
Lights Out and Recommendations
By mid afternoon, Jesse and I looked at each other, knowing our wives and kids were back at home, and knew we didn’t have much more gas in the tank. Had this been 5-10 years ago, I think we could have gone the distance. Hell, I could have gone the distance if I didn’t have such a guilty conscience. I had someone help me get my allotment of bottles, and scooted out of there without a scratch. I waddled away with nothing but positive feelings and hope that I can go next year.
I have recommendations for myself, and recommendations for the festival. Keep in mind, I have been told that the organization of DarkLord Day is well calculated, and there isn’t much room for tweaking. For myself, I want to bring out more beer to share next year. I don’t want to jinx anything, but Southwest was real cool with my heavy suitcase full of beer. I think I could have brought 2 – 3 x as much without having to worry. I felt weird being the only dude without a roller cooler. I don’t necessarily think I needed a lawn chair. I was standing for a good 4-5 hours, but having as much fun as I did, I didn’t really think about the fact I was standing. I was almost floating on a cloud of beer buzz anyway. I brought water to rinse out and hydrate, so I would suggest that to anyone out there who was feeling a bit dried out. I bought a box of Syders Pretzels, and left them at home. Luckily, Jesse and I stopped at a Walgreens and got a bag of pretzels. By hour 3, nothing seemed more satisfying than a handful of pretzels.
For 3 Floyds end of things, I wish the line situation wasn’t so intimidating. I’m not the type of guy who lines up a night before to get concert tickets, and I really don’t like to even go to CostCo on a busy day. I imagine they could make the whole thing flow better, and was told by a few DLD veterans that they like the over the top lines as it makes for a bigger spectacle. If you are reading this 3F, this is only speculation and not fact. I would have liked have tried the Vanilla Bean DarkLordDay, but that was kicked in mere minutes of it being tapped. It would be cool if they could make a few more barrels so more folks could try it. I was lucky enough to try the Barrel Aged DarkLord, and was very thankful and grateful for that. The whole thing was cool enough for me, that I am now set on coming back for it next year. A big thanks to Lincoln at 3 Floyds, their associate Holly, the nice lady who brought the trays of 3F for everyone, Bobby Sullivan for being Bobby Sullivan, Pat from Pat’s Liquor, and Hop-cast.com for helping me obtain some BA DarkLord.
June 9, 2010 @ 2:37 am
Bobby Sullivan is the man !!
April 26, 2010 @ 6:37 pm
Well done article! I was there and had an amazing time. It IS all what you make it, even if you do miss the Vanilla DL, which I did also. Met wonderful people and left a happy camper. Cheers!
April 26, 2010 @ 2:20 pm
Great article, Donny! Did you run into Ston there?