Slideshow: A Smooth-Flowing Dark Lord Day Greets Metal Beer Fans

On Saturday, beer geeks from across the country converged on Munster, Indiana for Dark Lord Day, the annual release party for Dark Lord, the Russian Imperial Stout from Three Floyds Brewing Co. that is consistently rated among the world’s best beers. Over the decade since its inception, Dark Lord Day has gone from being a small gathering of devoted fans of Three Floyds to a stunningly disorganized mess to, this year, an impressively well-orchestrated party with some of the happier people we’ve run across in some time. Our report and slideshow is below.

Estimates of the number who were able to snag the $30 tickets ranged from 6,000 to 10,000; they began lining up before sunrise for the 10:00 AM opening. While everyone was allowed to enter the grounds at 10:00, a new system was devised this year in an effort to keep lines under control, in which ticket holders were divided into six two-hour time slots for buying their allotment of three $15 bottles of Dark Lord (down from four the last several years). Each guest also received a scratch-off Golden Ticket that gave them a one-in-four chance to purchase a special barrel-aged version of the thick black nectar with notes of chocolate, toffee, vanilla, and caramel.

This new degree of organization on Three Floyds’ part showed; where we had waited nearly five hours in line in 2010, lines were much more manageable this year. We arrived just before 10:30 AM to see a line approximately half a mile long, but entered the venue a few minutes after 11:00, and the line was completely gone by early afternoon. In fact, other than time spent in the line for the brewery to pick up bottles of Dark Lord, attendees were free to relax on a gorgeous sunny, 70-degree day and spend their sampling beers they brought, beers people were happily pouring for strangers, or any of a few dozen beers on tap from Three Floyds and several other top-notch craft brewers.

Even with the more efficient ticketing system, the lines to get the actual bottles of Dark Lord were still pretty long. We were in the B Group, which was supposed to run from noon to 2:00 PM. We got in line at about 11:10 AM and made it into the brewery at 12:35 PM. To those who have never experienced Dark Lord Day, standing in line that long (or longer - the lines got worse as the day went on) for the privilege of buying beer might seem absurd. But these aren’t so much lines as they are slowly moving celebrations of beer. Virtually everyone at Dark Lord Day entered the venue with a supply of beer that was eagerly shared with anyone holding a cup. We suppose any gathering built around booze is going to be a pretty friendly place, but even with all the new rules that have been implemented over the last couple years, Dark Lord Day still stands out as must-do experience for anyone serious about beer.

People plan cross-country trips months in advance just to get their hands on these: the 2013 release of Dark Lord, its year indicated by the color of the wax.
Half an hour after the gates opened, there was still about a 35-minute wait to get in. By noon, this line completely vanished.
This woman is still half a mile from entering Dark Lord Day, but with a high quality beer in hand, pretzels around her neck, and protein bars, trail mix, and bagels in her bag (along with a nice supply of beer), she doesn’t have a care in the world.
Because tickets were completely non-transferable and ticket-buyers had to show up with an ID that matches the name printed on the ticket, it seems nothing kept ticketholders away from Dark Lord Day.
The only real wait was the one to actually buy bottles of Dark Lord. But long lines weren’t a problem for anyone holding a glass. If people weren’t drinking beer they brought with them, their glasses were quickly filled by other people in line who were eager to share.
Few people actually open their bottles of Dark Lord at the event, preferring to age them or at least save them for a special occasion. But anyone who wants can buy a pour of the thick black nectar is able to do so at various stations on the grounds.
Everyone got a Golden Ticket when entering the brewery to pick up their allotment of Dark Lord, but only out of four would win the chance to buy one of four extremely limited Dark Lord variations: Port Barrel Aged, Moscatel Barrel Aged, Bourbon BBL with Chilis (Muerte), or Bourbon Vanilla.
We were one of the lucky ones. Pictured is number 360 out of 711 bottles of Bourbon Vanilla Dark Lord, purportedly a bargain at $50.
Metal fans enjoyed a full day of music from Bloodiest (pictured), Lair of the Minotaur, Sweet Cobra, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste, and High on Fire. 
Here’s High on Fire.
Before and after picking up their allotment of Dark Lord, some took advantage of the gorgeous 70 degree weather to mill around, make new friends, and enjoy an impressive array of beer.
Those looking for seats or shade tried to find valuable real estate under the tent.
Impressive collections of beer were spread out all over the venue.
Apparently, home brewers have more fun at Dark Lord Day than anyone.
In addition to Dark Lord, attendees had the opportunity to buy an unlimited supply of every Three Floyds’ beer on the market. People from outside Illinois and Indiana made off with cases of some classic brews. We restrained ourselves and only added a couple bottles of Rabbid Rabbit (made with Pop Rocks and chamomile) and the Tiberian Inquisitor Pale Ale.
Slideshow: A Smooth-Flowing Dark Lord Day Greets Metal Beer Fans