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Three Floyds Dark Lord – Dark Lord Day 2010

April 28, 2010

We came. We saw. Conquered? That’s debatable.

Yes, Dark Lord Day 2010 was of course the biggest DLD ever, reportedly reaching the anticipated 8,000 attendee mark. Chances are, if you’re reading this you’ve already read a few other posts by other more motivated bloggers (and even paid journalists!) about the successes and (mostly) perils of Dark Lord Day 2010. If not, I will break it down quickly.

First beers from the cooler.

1a. The bottle limit fiasco. Those with golden tickets were initially allowed a four bottle limit. That lasted from the on-sale at 11am until about 3pm, when they bumped it down to three.
1b. How it got bumped down to three I have no idea, because there were quite a few people (like me) who took advantage of the 2009 Dark Lord sale – which counted towards your bottle limit. I thought that was pretty lame too.
1c. I get that they’re trying to be mysterious and secretive, but when you’re having a cash-only sale that people are traveling for, it’s common courtesy to give folks a bit of a heads up and not rely on the (unreliable) rumor mill. (Seriously, I heard “confirmed” reports of the limit being 6, 4, 3, 8, and 12 bottles. 12. And this was about 10 minutes before the sale started.)

2. I know that it grows every year, but this year the actual attendance was almost exactly what they predicted. The parking directions, food tents, draft beer tents, and bathrooms did not match this. I would cut some slack if 25% more people showed up than initially planned, but this was not the case.

3. That which was not experienced. The guest taps were pretty hard to find, buried between the bathrooms and one of the tasting tables. (I initially thought it was a tasting table.) Thus – I missed out on all of them. Additionally, I have no idea how we were supposed to see any of the bands, as the only time I was inside the brewery was to purchase my bottle allotment and get shooed out. From what I understand, Monotoix was there, which would have completely blown me away.

Joe, The Beer Student, and Dark Lord 2010

My friend Joe picked me and Brad up a couple miles down the road and drove us in. I didn’t bring anything to share…the guest tap list was incredible, and I don’t have any rare beers cellared to share. Joe, however, brought a pretty epic cooler, containing Tyranena Porter, Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron, which is one of my favorite beers, a saison that we compared to the 3 Floyds Rabbid Rabbit, and a homebrewed smoked porter among others. Oh, and a Dark Lord ’08. We’ll get to that in a minute.

L to R: '08, '09, '10 Dark Lord

Having the cooler (and cups) turned out to be pretty clutch, as it took us about 3 hours to snake to the front of the line. (At which point, it merged with another line, a food line, and a bathroom line.) The most impressive thing to me was the sheer array of beers that people had brought to share. Though I didn’t try to wander around and mooch/trade beer with people, it was definitely there for the drinking. I did have some barrel aged Dark Lord though. And like most barrel aged beers, I found the whiskey flavor too overpowering. The community aspect of this event is second to none. It’s been said many times before: beer people are good people.

On to the Dark Lord. I should preface this by saying I’ve never had any year’s Dark Lord before. (Remember, lived on the West Coast since 2005.) But I knew to expect a heavy, viscous Russian Imperial Stout. Of course, the 2010 delivered as promised. Each golden ticket secured its owner a half-glass sample of the beer, and we also split a couple full pours as well. Honestly, it was a lot sweeter than I thought it would be – molasses, dark fruits, and sweeter malts are the most present flavors. Not a whole lot in the coffee/chocolate realm, which was a bit disappointing, but I guess that’s not really FFF’s thing. The hops are there, as is a pretty powerful alcohol finish. In most beers it would be out of place, but on something like this it seemed to fit.

Side-by-side comparison between '08 and '10 Dark Lord

As for the 2008, aging really brought out the alcohol bite. The finish on this one was huge – almost overpowering. The 2010 in comparison had a much cleaner finish and aftertaste, but if you’re really looking for a (tasty) punch in the gut, an aged Dark Lord may be the way to go.

So is this beer worthy of paying a $10 charitable donation, $15 per bottle, and waiting in line for 3 hours at a place that’s an hour’s drive away? No, it really isn’t. Not the beer alone. But the actual event – beervana, as some have called it – makes the experience. It was not the smoothest or most well planned thing ever, but again, beer people are good people. The event is what you make of it, and pretty much everyone there was in the proper mindset. I’ll probably be back next year.

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