30 Apr The Swamp Munster: Thousands Celebrate Dark Lord Day Despite Oppressive Weather
Three Floyds’ official description of Dark Lord Imperial Stout paints a picture of “a reverse cascading head that starts out billowing the color of burnt oil like the Dark Lord rising from the black primordial beginnings.” Dark Lord Day 2015 shared many characteristics of its sought after namesake ale – from rain-soaked, wind-driven early morning lines and marsh-like grounds better suited for alligators than beer geeks, more than 10,000 persevered to procure coveted bottles of Three Floyds’ stout and enjoy a day of beer tasting and camaraderie unlike any in the country. And after the faithful raised their collective middle finger to Mother Nature’s attempt to ruin their day, Three Floyds enlisted a gender-bending performer to send that same message to Indiana governor Mike Pence.
The most pious worshippers of the Dark Lord arrived in the Munster, IN industrial park before dawn. Securing the first spot in two lines – one on the north end of the fest grounds, another on the south – early risers had their pick of Dark Lord merchandise (including the debut of Dark Lord Head Hunter Hot Sauce). Many rushed straight to the Dark Matter truck at the center of the festival grounds, where the Chicago coffee company sold a variety of limited glassware, bottles of barrel aged ice coffee, and bags of Cognac Barrel Aged Dark Blood whole bean coffee. Others headed straight to the draft beer lines for a pour of 2015 Dark Lord or one of this year’s barrel aged Dark Lord variants – including Bourbon Barrel Aged, Muerte, Coffee, Vanilla Bean, Aquavit, 2-Year Portuguese Brandy, Cherry Cocoa nibs, and Earl of Biggleswade.
Stretching the limits of Three Floyds’ expanding footprint, this year’s festival grounds featured two large tents on the east side of Indiana Parkway, across the street from the brewery and pub. The north tent housed dozens of picnic tables and was steps away from the approximately 40 constantly changing guest beer taps. The south tent also housed picnic tables, as well as the smaller of Three Floyds’ two music stages. As the rain poured through mid afternoon, attendees found shelter and comraderies in these tents. A small river flowing through the center of the south tent is but a minor distraction when strangers sharing Heady Topper and Pliny the Elder approach your table.
Six food tents were scattered throughout the fest, selling such treats as Dark Lord ice cream and sausages from John’s Hot Dog Deli in Copenhagen. In addition, Chicago’s DonerMen food truck served up Turkish favorites, including their famous currywurst, and the Salsa food truck offered tasty tacos and quesadillas.
Draft beers in the guest tent on the north edge of the festival were a highlight, as kegs of beers not normally available in the Midwest, let alone Indiana, were tapped. Highlights included six beers from San Diego’s Pizza Port, including a delicious Grape Fruit Puncher IPA, offerings from Toppling Goliath, Hill Farmstead, Cigar City, Perennial Artisan Ales, Pipeworks, and many more. Larger Midwest brewers were not to be outdone, though: Founders sent a keg of CBS and Surly sent their rare Todd the Axe Man. Indiana breweries had their moment in the cloud-covered sun, too. Local drafts on tap included New Oberpfalz’s Toad Storm, Crown Brewing’s North Pole Tree Frog, and at least one beer from Saint John Malt Brothers.
Dark Lord Day’s music offerings have always been top notch for heavy metal fans. This year, in the new south tent, Three Floyds broadened their horizons, featuring New Orleans bounce music sensation Big Freedia, whose real name is Freddie Ross. When Freedia, a gender-bending “bounce” music artist who performs wearing women’s clothes, took the stage to thunderous applause in the early evening, Dark Lord Day stood as a protest of Indiana Pence’s ill-fated Religious Freedom Act. Earlier in the week, Three Floyds’ brewer-owner Nick Floyd made his feelings on the governor clear, telling DNAInfo.com, “”I condemn [Pence] for doing what he did. … He’s politically dead for doing what he did. … It gave Indiana a black eye.”
By days end, the epic bottle graveyards scattered throughout the festival grounds resembled the remnants of a flood—empty, often broken bottles of Hunahpu, Darkness, and Pliny the Elder floating lifeless in the muck – beached whales, if you will. As Corrosion of Conformity closed their set on the main stage and the last ticket holder left the grounds, the Dark Lord descended into the marsh, starting anew the 52-week countdown to his return.