It’s not an official Illinois Craft Beer Week event. But when one of the nation’s most-anticipated beer festivals, Dark Lord Day, is happening just one mile over the border at Three Floyds Brewing, just one day after the ICBW kick-off event, it might as well be.
Tickets sold out just minutes after they went on sale, but if you’re in the area – with or without a ticket – you’ll quickly realize that Dark Lord Day has become a region-wide holiday. And with last year’s move from April to May proving that the weather gods can sometimes cooperate, there are ample beer reasons to drive – or take the South Shore – to Northwest Indiana starting Friday.
You’ll find that plenty of bars and breweries throughout the area are doing special tappings and releases in anticipation of the thousands of visitors that Dark Lord Day brings every year.
First, it’s important to know that last call at Three Floyds’ brewpub is at 9:15pm Friday. It won’t re-open again until 11am Sunday. Local secret? Download the “No Wait” app and when you’re 2 miles away, claim your spot in line. Yes, there will be a line. No, you can’t just grab a beer at the bar while you wait. No, you can’t drink in the parking lot. But doing this will at least get you a few spots ahead in the line that you’ll see when you arrive.
With that said, there are plenty of other places kicking off the weekend with various special events.
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, when they’ll be releasing The Pre-Dark Lord Day festivities kick off at 4 p.m. for beer, food and music both indoors and out. They’ll be releasing their 10% barrel-aged barleywine, Wooden Hell, in both bottles and on tap, after it has spent the last year aging in Woodford Reserve barrels. Bottles are $20 each.
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, will be doing special tappings, free tastings and food trucks all weekend. Friday, they’ll be offering a free 5oz snifter to those who bring in a Dark Lord ticket and matching ID (while supplies last).
They’ll also offer samples from a vertical of Dark Lord bottles, while tapping Odd Side’s Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Mayan Mocha (10am), Prairie’s Porch Punch (12pm), Revolution’s Ryeway to Heaven (3pm) and Goose Island’s 2017 Bourbon County Stout (5pm)
Byway Brewing, (2825 Carlson Drive, Hammond) is a 5-mile jaunt down I-94 from Three Floyds and they’re dropping eight barrel-aged beers on Friday, both in bottles and on tap. New releases – all barrel-aged – are Vanilla Bean White Stout, Salted Caramel Brown Ale, Blueberry-Maple Brown Ale, Rum-Barrel Aged Double Milk Stout, Double Milk Stout with chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon, Tiramasu Double Milk Stout, as well as return showings from Blakstar Imperial Porter and Blakstar In The Morning, with hazelnut coffee.
Twincade (108 N. Broad St., Griffith) is an old-school arcade bar roughly 6 miles east of Three Floyds and has declared Friday to be “Imperial Day.” Dubbing it “the ultimate barrel-aged beer party” they’ve got a quality lineup of beer, as well as a brandy finished in Dark Lord barrels from Louisville’s Cr&ftwerk, Copper & Kings. You and your friends can play Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and more while sipping Oskar Blues Barrel-Aged Ten Fiddy, Goose Island Brasserie Noir, Dogfish Head World Wide Stout and Palo Santo Moran, Perrin No Rules, Founders KBS, Clown Shoes Porcine Unidragon, Epic Big Bad Baptist, Founders DankWood, Ballast Point Victory At Sea Wild West, Southern Tier Barrel-Aged Oat Bourbon and Imperial Cream Stout aged in Templeton Rye, Clown Shoes Breakfast Beast, Greenbush Barrel-Aged Delusion, Bell’s Black Note and Firestone Walker Sucaba.
Beer Geeks (3030 45th St., Highland) is easily the best craft beer bar in the area, as all of its servers are Cicerone-certified. Owner Jason Owens knows his beer, cocktails and unquestionably the most diverse album collection of any bar around. On Thursday, they’re one of three area bars tapping Modern Times beers.
By Friday, you might be lucky enough to still get a taste of Orderville IPA, Fruitlands sour gose, Booming Rollers IPA, New Atlantis sour, Dragonsong NE DIPA or 2016 Devil’s Teeth, a barrel-aged stout/old ale hybrid. And as a sign of their eclectic nature, they’re hosting their first-ever EDM party on Friday, with Princess Sparkles Starchild Promotions spinning discs for a $10 cover.
Pokro Brewing Company (311 N. Broad St., Griffith) is tapping a firkin of Cherry Wookiee Love, a cherry variant of their Russian Imperial Stout. They’re located about six miles east of Three Floyds in Griffith, which has the highest brewery-per-resident ratio of perhaps any city around, at 1 brewery per 6,000 residents.
Off Square Brewing (11000 Delaware Parkway, Crown Point) is a relatively new brewery and releasing their barrel-aged barleywine, New Donk City, aged in bourbon, whiskey and rye barrels before sweet cherries were added. They’ll get you in a Dark Lord mood with live music from metal bands Forge and Chainsmoker.
Doc’s Smokehouse & Craft Bar, (1420 Calumet Ave., Dyer) is less than 3 miles south of Three Floyds on Calumet Avenue and is as well-known for their impressive 60-tap beer list as they are for their barbecue. This weekend will be no different. They kick off Dark Lord weekend on Thursday with their “Pig Destroyer” sandwich – Three Floyds metal fans will remember that name – which is pulled pork with jalapeno slaw, bacon jam and Destroyer sauce.
They also will spend Thursday tapping solid beers that should still be on by Friday and maybe into the weekend, including 12 Three Floyds beers and three more from War Pigs, as well as Founders KBS, Dankwood and DKML. They’re part of the digitalpour.com app and you can always check their for what’s on tap. At 2pm Friday, they’re tapping four beers from Modern Times: Loma Land, Blazing World, Black House and Orderville. Look for barbecue food specials all weekend.
Region Ale (1080 Indianapolis Boulevard, Schererville) is a 50-tap bar dedicated to local taps. About 1/3 are from Northwest Indiana, 1/3 from the region and 1/3 from beyond. But this weekend, they’ll dedicate a dozen taps solely to Three Floyds on Thursday night and expect plenty to remain on tap throughout the weekend. Alpha King will pour for $4 a pint all month.
The area’s newest brewery, Rabid Brewing, is delivering a wallop as it welcomes its first Dark Lord weekend. Just 10 miles east of Three Floyds, off I-80 and Halsted, they’ll be releasing a massive 15% New England IPA, The Horus Revenge, which they promise goes down smoothly and brings both cherry and citrus. Only 200 crowlers will be canned. They’re also bringing baby goats to their space, which you can feed from 3pm-7pm, with live bands all day, ranging from alternative to punk rock and airbrush artists, as well.
The list of breweries pouring at Dark Lord Day is an abundance of riches. Local breweries bring their A-Game to Dark Lord Day, while Pizza Port, Side Project, Modern Times and Trve are just some of those whose beers you otherwise can’t find on local shelves. There are strong showings from small Virginia and Minnesota breweries this year – and even the U.K. – as well.
A day of metal bands is capped by Dying Fetus headlining, while DJs playing throughout the day include Gregg Elzinga, who Three Floyds’ regulars may recognize from behind the bar, as well as Jill Hopkins, known to listeners of Vocalo 91.1 FM.
But let’s say you didn’t get a ticket and missed that Cigar City Hunahpu tapping or that set from Brain Tentacles. Or let’s say the bottle sharing and tap pouring all day just wasn’t enough for you. Fret not – Northwest Indiana and the South Suburbs are ready for you with beer, metal and more.
Beer Geeks is opening early at Noon, just for Dark Lord Day revelry. They make a mean series of street tacos that will be available all day (while supplies last) and they’re tapping rare kegs that include Prairie Deconstruction Bomb Cocoa Nibs and Vanilla, Founders Dankwood, Three Floyds Behemoth, Grimm Amarillo Pop, Avery Barrel-Aged Uncle Jacob, Southern Tier Barrel House Oat, Greenbush Barrel-Aged Delusion, Firestone Walker Sucaba and Dieu du Ciel Peche Mortel, among others.
St. John Malt Brothers Brewing (9575 Wicker Ave., St. John) took over the bar next door to them since last year’s Dark Lord Day and the added space will be put to the test Saturday, with indoor and outdoor seating about 5 miles south of Three Floyds. They’ll be hosting their 3rd annual Rib Fest, where a ticket will get you baby back ribs, sides and dessert from 3pm to 9pm.
Open Bottle is running shuttles to-and-from Dark Lord Day, opening at 6:45am for those with Group A tickets to safely travel there and back for just $13. They’ll even have food trucks serving breakfast and a special tapping of Founders KBS when they open. Other special tappings that day include Transient’s Purple Stuff (Noon) and Brickstone’s Barrel-Aged Afterworld Luxardo (3pm).
Congrats. You survived Dark Lord Day. And maybe a little more. And still you want more? Well, you’re in the right place. Get that cup of coffee, please shower, then finish your weekend in style.
Three Floyds is going to be a bit cluttered on Sunday morning – they’re still tearing things down. But the brewpub opens at 11 a.m. and locals know you can almost always find their rarified Russian Imperial Stout on tap there the day after. And that food menu is no joke.
Open Bottle isn’t done just yet. They’re bringing in their “Spin The Wheel” contest, where every hour, they’ll offer discounts and promotions, while also tasting out a bottle of a 2018 Dark Lord variant.
And if you’re beer’d out and looking for something different, the acclaimed Misbeehavin’ Meads (65 Franklin St., Valparaiso) will be releasing the latest in their “Peanut Butter Jelly Time” series, which tastes as much like a liquid PB&J sandwich as can possibly be done. It’s really phenomenal and they’re drawing in enthusiasts from across the Midwest, willing to make the drive for the goods. The Peanut Butter Jelly Time version being released Sunday at the meadery about 30 miles southeast of Three Floyds is a raspberry jelly flavor.
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. Not far from their 2nd anniversary, they’ll have special tappings on Friday (FYI: they’re closed on Sunday) with a tequila-barrel aged Cerveza Muerte, Orange Memesicle, Luther & The Memesicle Factory (a double version of Orange) and Cita Galactic Planetary, a double-dry hopped, double IPA with orange peels. All will be available on tap and to-go.
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.
While we’ve not yet been to the previously-mentioned Rabid Brewing in Homewood, we’ve gotta admit they’ve piqued our interest. Sure, there’s the 15%, cherry-infused New England IPA they’re dropping on Friday, not to mention baby goats and a ska band, but perusing their website has us…curious. They just opened in October and their taproom “is a place where zen and madness find friendship. And music. And beer.” Their events? “Beer yoga. Goat parties. Punk, metal, rock and hip-hop concerts. Shake your fists with total, unabashed glee.” Yeah, we’re adding this to our list to visit.
The aforementioned Byway Brewing, is likely to still have some barrel-aged bottles and taps still going from their Friday release and they’re an easy shot down I-94 east from Three Floyds. They won the 2016 Indiana Brewery of the Year and Grand Champion Indiana Brewery of the Year in their first 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.
Roughly 6 miles north from Three Floyds on Calumet Avenue, you’ll find 18th Street Brewery and their awesome outdoor patio, as well as Sunday brunch if you’re feeling the need. They’re inching closer to opening a distillery in the same building and the Sour Note facility at the end of the block.
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 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 award-winning offerings.
Both breweries are making some of the most consistently quality beers in all of the south suburbs. And since last year’s Dark Lord Day, Soundgrowler has opened at 8201 W. 183rd St. and is gaining a nice following thanks to solid early reviews.
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. Crown Brewing is on the always-fun downtown square, also with indoor/outdoor seating and an adjacent pizza joint. Just a couple miles further south is the aforementioned Off Square.
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.
There. If you’re not satiated at this point, you’re on your own. (But allow us to recommend a spin through the rest of Chicagoland with our Craft Beer Map.