Dark Lord Day 2011 (the ultimate local beer event)
So there I was, Saturday, April 30, standing in a long line, in an industrial park in Munster, Indiana, with my friend Timothy (not his real name).
His real name is Tim.
We were standing. And standing. No, not moving … just standing.
We were there for Dark Lord Day – the one day a year that Three Floyds Brewery (the world’s best brewery) releases its highly regarded Dark Lord Imperial Russian Stout. For a $10 ticket, you are given the right to purchase up to four bottles of Dark Lord, at $15 each. (Those bottles are already listed on ebay for $40 – $60 each. Who says beer is an illiquid investment?)
And the $10 tickets were re-selling for $250 – $300 each, a day or two prior to the event. (Who says that beer geeks can do the investment math?)
It all started March 19, when my significant other spent almost three minutes constantly refreshing the computer screen to get through to order two tickets. (I would have done it myself, but I was on the way to the Local Beet booth at the Family Farm Expo that day). Tim’s wife was doing the same thing, except she made the fatal mistake of taking a short phone call. By the time she got back to it, all tix were sold out. Being the wonderful guy that I am, and the even more wonderful person my significant other is, she let me give Tim the ticket that would otherwise have been hers.
I did contemplate selling it, instead of giving it to Tim, for the ± 2,000% profit. But being the incredibly nice guy that I am, I just gave it to him, and now he’s eternally indebted to me (although I’m not sure he understands that concept).
So we were standing there, talking to others in the line, and occasionally cheering when we were able to move two or three steps forward. Two guys we were talking with were from the Detroit area, and had come for Dark Lord Day, but stopped off at Bell’s in Kalamazoo and Founders in Grand Rapids on their way over Friday. Then they figured out that their Munster motel wasn’t that far from Goose Island, so they spent much of their night on Clybourn. I thought these guys knew their beers, until one of them pulled out a Big Flats 1901 beer — custom brewed at the Genesee Brewery in Rochester, NY for Walgreen’s, in the how-cheap-can-you-make-it category. But at least he had the good taste to pour out half of the can.
Tim got a little crazy, pushing his business, even before he’d had his first beer (no one complained if one person got out of line to get a beer or three, but if you wanted to get back in line, you’d better be coming back with more than just one beer). But the Michigan guys were cool, and did a very good job of feigning interest.
The line was way down the block, but after about two hours, we made it up to the gate. It looked like we were within a few hundred feet of the entrance to the pub. We were, except the line was arranged in a serpentine fashion that would put even the most crowded airport security lines to shame. And the entrance to purchase Dark Lord bottles was around the corner and through the back of the brewery. Going through this part of the line, (a rather muddy lawn), I kept hearing, over and over, “Damn – this was a ten dollar shoe shine.” Tim, get over it.
Tim also let his “Golden Ticket” (which was really more black-and-gray) fall out of his pocket. I got a kick out of seeing the guy running over the lawn just to catch a little piece of paper.
Three Floyds defines its vintages by the color of the wax used to decorate the bottles. For 2011, they claim it’s yellow wax, but we all agreed the color would be more accurately described as mustard. Three Floyds needs to get its act together on colors.
We got back to Tim’s place, had a great meal, then Tim opened one of his Dark Lord bottles. Incredibly rich, starting off with notes of coffee (Intelligentsia coffee is used in the brew), caramel, molasses, toffee, chocolate, not much hops, slightly sweet, and a bit of alcohol in the finish — although not as much as you’d expect from a 15% ABV beer. A complex, sipping beer, much closer to a fine cognac than a BudMilCoors. My only regret was that I was called away from the table for a minute, and upon returning, I found my significant other (who hadn’t even bothered to endure the lines), was sipping away at my portion of Tim’s Dark Lord. Next time I’ll remember to take my glass with me.
Meanwhile, I ain’t opening any of my Dark Lords for at least a year or two. (See Don’t Drink that Beer!)