Dark Lord Day 2008

Background:
Dark Lord is a Russian Imperial Stout brewed by the Three Floyds Brewing Company in Hammond, Indiana. It is sold only once a year, at the brewery, in mid-spring, at an event called Dark Lord Day (DLD). DLD is a huge beer party, with people coming from all over the Midwest, and some from all over the United States. People bring beer to try and to trade, and to taste previous years versions of the beer. The lines have been known to be 2-3 hours long to get your beer. There is always a limit on the number of bottles you can buy.

Dark Lord is one of the holy grail brews in beer circles. It's currently rated #2 at BeerAdvocate.com and #6 at RateBeer.com. I have never had it. Neither has Arlyn nor my friends Mike nor Jim. Rumor had it that 12,000 bottles were made, with a limit of 6 per person. This was our year to get some.

(All times are Eastern, all locations are Indiana, USA)

8:30 Arlyn, Mike and I leave Anderson.

9:00 - 11:30 We met up with Jim and switched to his car. After a quick stop at McDonalds, the four of us were on the highway and zooming to Hammond for our day of fun at the brewery (I say zooming because I did see the speedometer, and it read higher than the posted speed limit. How far over depends on the accuracy of his speedometer and the detection of the police). About an hour and a half later we stopped at a rest area to keep our bladders in check. We continued on to the brewery.

11:30 - 11:45 We arrived at the brewery. It was 50 degrees and windy, and I had on shorts and a sweatshirt :-{ We parked north of the brewery and saw a lot of people already there. We followed the very long line to the start, only to realize that it doubled back on itself, and we were going to be very far from getting our beer. We knew we were going to be there a while. Here is an overhead representation of the line (thanks Google):

12:00 We heard a mild commotion and realized that the brewery was open for sales. About 10 minutes later the line made a mild surge forward, and we smiled with hope….…… Hope faded when after an hour we were still moving away from the brewery. The wind was chilly, but we did manage to pilfer borrow some beer from fellow enthusiasts. We switched turns in and out of line to go to the bathroom and observe the happenings. I confirmed the bottle limit was 6.

The tables surrounding the brewery were a most wanted list of beers from around the world. I saw beers I have only dreamt about. At one table I saw three separate years worth of Dark Lord (you can tell because they put different colored wax on the tops of them). Another fanatic had left his table with a bunch of bottles and a sign saying "Free ATL beer samples. Enjoy." I did.

12:47 (camera time stamp)

The line after an hour (this is behind us, but on the right it is doubling-back).

Mike at DLD.

Jim at DLD.

Arlyn at DLD.

Arlyn and Steve at DLD.

1:00 We heard the first band start playing inside the brewery. It was muffled, but you could tell it was heavy metal.

1:15 We tried our first ever sample of Dark Lord. The group next to us had bought a sample glass of vanilla-aged DL and was passing it around. It was heavenly.

1:45 Mike and Jim trekked to the warehouse area of the brewery and did a quick count of beer and a quick count of people. They didn't think we were going to get any. I shrugged it off.

2:00 We were finally at a place in line to start moving back toward the brewery. I was freezing.

2:30 I trekked to the warehouse to check things out and get a beer count. I was convinced we weren't going to get any. I was depressed. And still freezing.

3:15 Mike and Arlyn walked to the ATM so Mike could get some cash (no credit cards accepted that day). The ATMs within walking distance were empty.

3:30 Arlyn and I bought two glasses of 2007 Dark Lord. We split one and gave one to Mike and Jim. It was black as night with a dark brown head. It smelled of roasted coffee and caramel. It tasted like the blood of a virgin. Errrrrr.....I mean......it was roasty and malty, with hints of coffee, caramel, raisins and toffee. It finished with a slight alcoholic kick at to the tonsils. It will age very well.

4:00 We heard rumor that there would be rationing from 6 down to 4 down to 2 down to 1 bottle. A ray of hope once again glimmered.

4:15 A Three Floyds employee came down the line counting. About 10 people behind us he made a disgusted face. We had mixed reactions.

4:30 We confirmed people were still leaving with 6 bottles. We were making the final turn towards the brewery.

4:45 We received a full glass of a coffee stout from a former Founder's brewing employee (we were told). It was delicious. People were still leaving with 6 bottles.

4:55 (Time stamp on the camera)

Arlyn and Steve at DLD, just inside the brewery.

We were close, and they still had beer.

About 10 minutes later I caught up with some people I had conversed with earlier. They had agreed to sell us any extra they didn't want. I confirmed this and stood near them.

5:15 Arlyn and I were at the buying end of the line and got called. I asked how many I could get and was told 6 each. I told him we wanted all 12. He turned to his right and asked for a case of Dark Lord. A girl replied back: "I don't have any." He looked to his left and told us to hold on, and walked off. I got a little worried. A minute later he walked back with a case, shaking his head slowly up and down, reassuring me things would be ok. I sighed with relief.

We paid for our 12 and two special beers called Hvedegoop, a limited edition collaboration beer. I met with my newfound friends and bought two of their bottles. Arlyn and I had 14 bottles of Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout in our possesion. I bounced up and down like a 70's Ford van on a cool summer night.

I turned and saw Mike and Jim at the head of the line. They were waiting to be called. I met them at the purchase tables, where I saw approximately 15 bottles of Dark Lord on the table. "One each" were the next words we heard. Mike and Jim each bought their bottle and we walked off together.

We stood for a second, and realized what had just happened. Arlyn and I had bought the last remaining full allotment, and there were only about 12 bottles left after Mike and Jim. Beer karma was working in our favor. I wanted to look at t-shirts, but was agahst at the $25 price. So we packed up the beer, turned tail, and ran. (Not really. After all, I had a $180 case of beer in my hands.)

We weren't worried so much about getting mugged for our beer, but the riot that may break out. Behind us in line were another 500-1000 people that weren't getting any beer. (It turns out nothing happened big enough to make the news.)

On the way out of town we hit Zel's for some Italian beef (needed more flavor), and got back on the highway to come home.

Incidentally, we did split all of the bottles evenly, so we have in our possession eight bottles of 2008 Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout. Arlyn told me last night that they are mine to do whatever I want with. I haven't decided how many I will keep, trade, give away, or make ice cream floats with.

On the drive home we talked about DLD 2009. We all decided we'd like to get the beer again, but that we'd get a hotel and arrive very early to ensure we get our beers, and then be able to have a good time the rest of the day. We might make it a tailgating event with beers and food and the whole works.

And there's one more thing. We didn't just buy this beer. We earned this beer.

Sexy, aren't they?