A local guide to festivities and drinking options before and after the big event.
And so it arrives. Again.
Dark Lord Day has become a region-wide holiday, as Three Floyds Brewing releases its Russian Imperial Stout and its many variants this weekend. Last year’s price hike to $180 for an all-in ticket didn’t dissuade the masses, nor did this year’s move from April to May.
And by now, neighboring breweries and businesses are ready for the revelry.
But with the brewpub closing at 9 p.m. Friday and no overnight parking throughout the weekend, it’s a natural question – what’s there to do before and after? Y’know, besides sleep it off?
Maybe you’re staying in Orland Park or Hammond. Maybe you’ve got a Designated Driver. Either way, if you’re coming down early or staying until Sunday, we’ve put together a few local options to consider around the big event. By no means is this exhaustive, they’re events that have been well-promoted on the local beer scene and are deemed worthy of the trip.
[Ed. Note: If you wish to relive our DLD coverage from years past, you can find that here.]
FRIDAY, MAY 12
If you’re staying at an area hotel, the bottle shares will be abundant. Absurdly abundant. If you’ve paid what local hotels are charging for this weekend, you may be best served just hanging in the lobby. But there are also plenty of solid options around the region.
Flossmoor Station Brewery (1035 Sterling Ave, Flossmoor) hosts its annual Pre-Dark Lord Day party at their brewery in downtown Flossmoor – which you can get to by jumping on a train downtown at Michigan and Randolph. That’s right, a great secret of the south suburbs is that for $6.50, you can ride the Metra Electric from that downtown corner directly to the doorstep of Flossmoor Station. And there’s few better days to do that than Friday.
The Pre-Dark Lord Day festivities kick off at 4 p.m. for beer, food and music both indoors and out, as well as the invitation to share bottles with friends on their caboose deck. Yes, there’s an actual train car there. They’ll be releasing their barrel-aged barleywine, Wooden Hell, in both bottles and on tap. The 9.1% ABV beer earned a bronze medal at the 2006 Great American Beer Festival and its original batch draws big bucks on the secondary market. The beer has been aging in Woodford Reserve barrels since last summer.
The Open Bottle (7101 W. 183rd St., Unit 105, Tinley Park) is what city folks know as a “slashie.” Part liquor store, part bar, it’s a rarity in these parts, but a great addition to the craft beer scene. Located just 19 miles west of Three Floyds, off I-80 and Harlem in Tinley Park, they’ll be doing special tappings, free tastings and food trucks all weekend. Friday, they’ll be offering a free 5oz snifter (while supplies last) to anyone who brings in a Dark Lord ticket and matching ID. They’ll also be tapping Revolution Brewing’s Café Deth at 10 a.m. and Pipeworks’ Coconut Jones Dog at 5 p.m. Most impressively? They’ll be offering samples from their personal vertical of Dark Lord bottles from 2014, 2015 and 2016.
Bohemian Joe’s is just off I-94 and Torrence – one exit and 5 miles west of Three Floyds (17940 Torrence Ave., Lansing) and has a “Tick Tock Tap” starting at 6 p.m. Friday. Each hour, on the hour, they’ll do a new tap selection, starting with Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, then Revolution Straight Jacket, Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA, Evil Horse Eyjafjallajokull, Founders KBS 2017 and then at 11 p.m., Founders Lizard of Koz. They’re a family-friendly restaurant with solid food and pizza.
The only pour-your-own/pay-by-the-ounce bar in the area, Brewfest, (8347 Kennedy Ave., Highland) is just 5 miles east of Three Floyds and is stepping up their usual quality tappings with an impressive weekend lineup. “3 Days, 3 Big Beers” begins on Friday and lasts to Sunday, or as long as these beers last. Bourbon County Barleywine, Perrin No Rules Vietnamese Porter and Lagunitas High Westified Imperial Coffee Stout will all be tapped. And on Saturday, visitors can enter to win an hourly drawing for the chance to purchase a bottle of 2017 Founders KBS for just 17 cents. Yeah, 17 cents.
An added bonus? You can find Brewfest on Groupon, where a $15 credit can be purchased for $8 (though days are limited for its use).
If you want some tasty barbecue to line your gut before (or after) indulging on Saturday – but still want to begin the weekend right when it comes to beer – there’s no better spot to do that than Doc’s Smokehouse & Craft Bar, (1420 Calumet Ave., Dyer) less than 3 miles south of Three Floyds on Calumet Avenue. They’re known as well locally for their always-impressive 60-tap beer list as they are their brisket, chicken and ribs.
This weekend, they’ll be tapping Goose Island Bourbon County Stout, Devil’s Trumpet Coconut Mama and War Horn, 18th Street Cascade Express, as well as at least nine Three Floyds beers on tap – $600 Lizard Shoes, Cimmerian Sabertooth Berzerker, Zombie Dust, Space Station Middle Finger, Flying Tiger Sault, Gumball Head, Alpha King, Robert the Bruce and Yum Yum. Their lines are linked to a Digital Pour App, which provides real-time updates of tap changes, prices and how much is left in each keg, so you can plan accordingly. And don’t be shocked if some surprise additions come on tap throughout the weekend.
SATURDAY, MAY 13
The day has arrived. The gates open, the lines begin forming and you’re likely to hang around even after you’ve received your bottles. There’s food, there’s head-banging music and there’s beer. Lots of beer. And, unlike recent years, (knock on wood) no rain!
But if you’re looking to venture out after Dark Lord Day has sounded its final Viking horn, you’re in luck.
Easily the best craft beer bar in the area, Beer Geeks (3030 45th St., Highland) is the kind of place where you might walk in and find classic WWE matches on TV, Super Mario Kart on the consoles near the bar or Ronnie Baker Brooks doing an intimate blues show on a Sunday afternoon.
Saturday, though, they’re starting the celebration at noon with their first-ever “Biggie Brunch.” A craft beer bar that celebrated Dr. Dre’s birthday with Dre music, West Coast cocktails and burgers and fries modeled after In-N-Out burgers, which also has “Wu-Tang Wednesdays” with Wu-Tang music, Kung Fu movies and chicken and waffles, is now set to recognize Notorious B.I.G.
That means music from Biggie and the rest of the Bad Boy Family – most likely being played on vinyl – as well as Big Poppa-inspired food and drinks. Think “Rub Your Grits if You Love Big Poppa” – jalapeno cheddar grits with andouille sausage and eggs; “Chicken Gristle Eatin’, Biscuit Suckin’ Muthafucka,” which is biscuits with fried chicken, pepper jack cheese, sausage gravy and Louisiana hot sauce; “Piggie Smalls,” pulled pork on Belgian waffles, with bourbon-infused maple syrup. And don’t forget the Welch’s grape mimosas and O.G. Diddy cocktails. Yeah, it’s like that.
All that fun aside, Beer Geeks – whose employees are all Cicerone-certified – will also be pouring Dogfish Head rarities like 2014 Palo Santo, 2015 Fort, as well as World Wide Stout from 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 while they last.
And don’t sleep on their craft cocktail menu – whether they’re year-round, seasonal or Biggie-inspired, they’re impressive and carefully crafted.
A few miles west in Tinley Park, The Open Bottle opens at 6:45 a.m. and will offer $13 shuttles to take you to and from the festivities. At that early hour, they plan to tap Prairie Artisan Ales’ Deconstructed Bomb! Ancho Chile beer, while also offering 2016 Dark Lord-glazed donuts from Doughs Guys Bakery. They’ll also be tapping 18th Street Brewery’s Imperial Blud at 2 p.m.
Also on Saturday, about 5 miles south of Three Floyds, you’ll find the 2nd annual Rib Fest happening at St. John Malt Brothers Brewing in St. John. The brewery (9575 Wicker Ave.) offers indoor and outdoor seating and Saturday’s festivities will include music and 16 of their diverse and experimental beers.
SUNDAY, MAY 14
So your liver hasn’t had enough, eh? Ready to carpe diem? You sure?
A local secret is that most years, on Sunday, you can find the remaining drips of Dark Lord on tap at the brewpub. The property will still be a bit of a mess, as tents come down and mud is maneuvered around, but it’s worth stopping in to taste the goods, minus the crowds. And they recently updated their food menu with unique offerings that I was initially skeptical of, but which have yet to disappoint on recent trips.
Still, if it’s Sunday Brunch that you have in mind, look no further than 18th Street Brewery, (5417 Oakley Ave., Hammond). Just a few months ago, the 3-year-old brewery catapulted into the top producing brewers in Indiana by greatly expanding their capacity – moving five-fold above where they were in 2014.
They also added chef Andrew Dering to take over the kitchen and he has yet to disappoint. Having spent time at Dusek’s, Billy Sunday, the Peninsula, Graham Elliot, A10 and Longman & Eagle, he knows his stuff. Duck breast and scallops, pork belly and burgers dance well together all week, but his menu shines on Sundays, with standard and eclectic offerings, as well as a weekend special.
Recent visits found one-day specials like brisket-topped chilaquiles, as well as a lump crab salad with shishito pepper, fennel, radish, whipped dill cream cheese, 60-minute egg and hollandaise. If the weather holds, grab a picnic table outside. Maybe even play a game of bocce ball or toss around bags. And if you’re “beer’d out,” they take pride in their craft cocktail menu and Sundays mean bloody marys and mimosas, too.
Back over at The Open Bottle, the festivities continue, starting at noon. That’s when they’ll be tapping Flying Dog’s 2015 Barrel-Aged Gonzo. But they’ll continue pouring various Dark Lords, including variants, throughout the day. They’ll also allow visitors to spin the wheel every hour to win discounts and promos, while those who show a photo of themselves with an “Open Bottle” gear – sticker, shirt, glass, etc. – will get a scratch-off ticket, where “all are winners, but some are better than others.”
Or maybe you’re up for checking out other local breweries while you’re still in the neighborhood? You’re looking for…
Other Brewery Options Near Three Floyds
The closest brewery to Three Floyds is Windmill Brewing in Dyer (2121 Gettler St., Dyer) – just 4 miles south, at U.S. 30 and the state line. A little more than a year old, the brewery drew insane praise for its “Memes & Dreams” – a “milkshake-style” IPA with mangoes, lactose and vanilla beans that just kicked this week, but which they are furiously working to get online before the weekend. If not, their “Two If By Citra” is nothing to ignore, while they’ll also be tapping a tequila-barrel aged beer and their “Dagger Mountain” cold-brewed coffee will be in cans.
The next closest brewery is One Trick Pony, a Lansing brewery that undeservedly flies under the radar. Just 5 miles west, One Trick (17845 Chappel Ave.) is known for its laid-back vibe, solid beer and live music on the weekends.
Byway Brewing is barely a year old, but just 5 miles east from Three Floyds on I-94, at the Kennedy Avenue exit (2825 Carlson Drive, Hammond) but in its infancy, won the 2016 Indiana Brewery of the Year and Grand Champion Indiana Brewery of the Year.
Just 5-6 miles east of Three Floyds is the trio of breweries in Griffith – Pokro, New Oberpfalz and Wildrose. Each has its own unique character and beer styles, which makes it worth the trip. Wildrose is also on Groupon, with a $31 for $19 offer. We did a write-up on all three back in 2015 but based on recent visits, that’s in need of updating. (That’s my way of saying New Oberpfalz has really impressed on all fronts — the beer, food, service, all of it — since that initial visit.)
Roughly 6 miles north from Three Floyds on Calumet Avenue, you’ll find the aforementioned 18th Street Brewery and their awesome outdoor patio, not to mention a delicious experimental IPA on tap, as well as both hoppy and dark standards.
Stretching beyond there to hotels west, about 20 miles away from Three Floyds in Tinley Park are 350 Brewing (7144 183rd St.) and Hailstorm Brewing, 8060 186th St.). 350 is located just across the street from The Open Bottle and delivers quality beer – including the just-released Crook IPA and DIY Wheat – and brings a strong food menu. There’s no food at Hailstorm, but you’d be silly not to pop in for some of their “Vlad” Russian Imperial Stout offerings. Both breweries – also working on a collaboration beer – are making some of the most consistently quality beers in all of the south suburbs.
If you’re staying in hotels in the Merrillville area, roughly 15 miles south and east from Three Floyds, you’ll find both Devil’s Trumpet (8250 Utah St., Merrillville) and Crown Brewing (211 S. East St., Crown Point). Devil’s Trumpet is just beyond the I-65/U.S. 30 congestion, tucked away in an industrial park with both indoor and outdoor seating, while Crown Brewing is on the always-fun downtown square, also with indoor/outdoor seating and an adjacent pizza joint.
Finally, if you’re coming from the south (or daring to head south from I-94 down Illinois 394) stop in for a pint at the still-new Evil Horse Brewing in downtown Crete. Just east of the now-shuttered Balmoral Park, they’re in an old bowling alley, with beers named after old racing horses. A recent visit (1338 Main St.) delivered a top-to-bottom solid flight and is worth the 13 mile trip south from Three Floyds.
And if you need anything more than that…we recommend you seek help.