Much like its obsessively sought-after namesake, this year’s Dark Lord Day (DLD) deftly demonstrated that the festival is continually improving with age. Just when you think that there’s nothing Three Floyds can do to make their annual event more enjoyable, they go and blow your expectations to unidentifiable bits. And they accomplish this while attendance numbers grow exponentially each year (8,000+ lucky souls entered the gates this year).
This being my fourth DLD in as many years, it’s been jaw-dropping to see how the fest has evolved so quickly. What started out as an intimate gathering inside the brewery a decade ago now consumes the majority of the industrial park surrounding this Munster, Indiana-based brewery. Each year, Three Floyds (along with event company Running Waters Group as of 2013) identifies what needs tweaking and dutifully handles it for the next fest. For instance, last year’s lines for purchasing Dark Lord bottles grew increasingly backlogged throughout the day, causing fest-goers to wait upwards of three hours to claim their booty. This year, I literally speed-walked the zig-zagging lanes of the line before finally settling in for a slower pace that took only about an hour to get through.
In addition to the amazing guest beer list, food choices made with Three Floyds beers, moshpit-inducing bands, previous year’s Dark Lord bottles for sale, a Dark Matter coffee stand, a huge merch tent, and friendly bottle shares every two feet, this year’s DLD chief element was obnoxious lines. At most any other event, these would wear thin on attendees to the point of raging tantrums, but DLD holds a special, mind-altering power over its guests. It’s virtually impossible to not have a good time or not be in a good mood.
My theory is that everyone shares similar feelings of luck and gratitude for actually getting a ticket to attend this hallowed fest. This results in the world’s largest backyard BBQ/bottle share.
If this was your tenth DLD or your first, or whether you brought a dozen beers to share or absolutely nothing, everyone was on the same fun-loving cloud nine. Everywhere you turned, someone you’ve never met had an open bottle of a rare beer ready to pour you a sample. Even the moshers were courteous. DLD has a vibe that cannot be duplicated or even put into words, and, therefore, every craft beer lover should make it a point to attend at least once to experience it for themselves.