What once was just a one-day thing soon turned into a weekend, then a long weekend and now is nearly an entire week of celebrating beer in Northwest Indiana. Dark Lord Day 2019 from Three Floyds is, of course, the reason for the special tappings and releases to be found – beginning today – at brewpubs, bars and restaurants across the region.
And while the annual fest is the reason that more than 12,000 people will descend upon Munster, Ind. Saturday – increasing the town’s population by about 50% – there are plenty of other reasons for craft beer fans to spend a little extra time taking in the impressive craft beer scene that has built up around a fest that has gained an international following.
And if you want to look back at our previous Dark Lord Day coverage throughout the years, it’s all right here.
Wednesday, May 15th:
Things begin at 3pm today at Beer Geeks (3030 45th St., Highland) with “West vs. Midwest vs. Wu-Tang” – featuring five beers from California’s Modern Times and four from Three Floyds, amid the bar’s weekly “Wu-Tang Wednesday.” Kung-fu movies, Wu-Tang music, ramen bowls and Bang Bang Shrimp tacos, not to mention classic Nintendo, served up by Cicerone-certified staff.
And while their craft cocktail list is no joke, it’ll be tough to resist Modern Times’ Orderville IPA, Accumulated Knowledge – a hazy IPA brewed just once a year – Sympathy Lamp sour, 2018 Monsters’ Park stout and DDH MT5, a double-dry hopped version of their 5th anniversary beer. The Three Floyds offerings are Dreadnaught Double IPA, the Flemish red Canis Invertus, Wigsplitter espresso stout and BattlePuss, a fruity, piney DIPA. (We covered Modern Times’ brief foray into NWI sales last year.)
The first of a week of special tappings at the Three Floyds Brewpub also begins today, with Barrel-Aged Moloko, their milk stout that spends a year in barrels and delivers a chocolate, bourbon and oak flavor, tapping in the early evening.
Thursday, May 16th:
Not enough Modern Times? Head over to Whole Foods (199 U.S. 41, Schererville) and their Brewhouse 41 for a 5pm takeover of all 12 taps. Barrel-aged Monsters’ Park Mexican Hot Chocolate Edition and a Vanilla version will be on tap, as will Demon Helm, a stout with Cabernet Sauvignon must and cocoa nibs, Pharaoh Ascendant stout with maple syrup, coffee and vanilla, Telesto and Orderville, both New England IPAs, Black House coffee stout on nitro, Blazing World red ale, Booming Rollers IPA, Fortunate Islands pale ale, Fruitlands sour and Ice pilsner.
Region Ale (1080 Indianapolis Boulevard, Schererville) is dedicating about a dozen of their 50 local taps to Three Floyds this week and at 6pm Thursday, they’ll start a “Take The Pint” promotion with them. Roughly 1/3 of their taps are from Northwest Indiana breweries, so it’s a good place to get a taste of the region in one stop.
Also this evening, Three Floyds is tapping their very last keg of Crack The Skye, their much-loved barrel-aged Russian Imperial Stout blended with Dark Matter Coffee and vanilla. Brewed in collaboration with the band Mastodon, it’s released each year to mark National Suicide Prevention Week and raises funds for Hope for the Day, a national organization that helps those struggling with mental health issues. It shares the name of the Mastodon album dedicated to Skye Dailor, sister of Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor, who committed suicide at 14.
Manic Meadery (1003 E. Summit St., Crown Point) is less than a year old, but already generating plenty of buzz (honey-based product pun intended) in the region and beyond. Today’s releases will likely only increase that. At 4pm, they’re tapping preview kegs of their two upcoming bottle releases: Apple Pyser, a 13% Cyser made with vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon, as well as Chernobyl Cordial, a 14% tart cherry mead with cocoa nibs, vanilla and coconut. They’ll also be tapping a “young preview” of Collusion, a collaboration with Boneflower Mead, which is a 16% black currant, marionberry and black raspberry mead with Madagascar vanilla and Vermont maple syrup.
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. Today, they’ll dedicate 12 of those taps to Three Floyds beers, while also tapping a 2018 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout and Central Waters Brewers Reserve Bourbon Barrel Stout and five taps of Founders, including Kentucky Breakfast Stout.
Friday, May 17th:
There may not be a busier evening at Three Floyds than tonight, but that won’t stop the masses from waiting for a seat. Pro Tip: Get within 2 miles and use the Yelp app to hold your place in line.
Last call will be around 9:15, as the brewpub and kiosk close at 10pm. An 11am tapping of Barrel-Aged Blot Out The Sun, their highly-sought imperial stout, is the day’s highlight. And if you’re looking to carry on past 10pm, fret not. The newly opened Three Floyds Distillery will be open until midnight. (More on them in a separate post soon.)
Flossmoor Station Brewery (1035 Sterling Ave, Flossmoor) hosts its annual Pre-Dark Lord party at their brewery in downtown Flossmoor – which you can get to by jumping on a train at Michigan and Randolph. For $6.50, the Metra Electric will drop you right at the brewery doorstep. Festivities in their beer garden include beer, food and music beginning at 4pm, as well as the release of their 9.5% barleywine aged for nine months in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels, Wooden Hell.
Just down the road, Homewood’s Rabid Brewing (17759 Bretz Drive, Homewood) is hosting their annual Feast of the Goat Queen, centered on the release of The Horus Revenge, a walloping 15% Imperial IPA. Just 10 miles east of Three Floyds, off I-80 and Halsted, they’ll have food trucks, live bands and, naturally, family entertainment that includes live goats to pet.
Also in the south suburbs, The Open Bottle (7101 W. 183rd St., Unit 105, Tinley Park) starts its annual weekend revelry with tasting glass give-aways, while also opening a 10-year Dark Lord vertical (2009-18), as well as timed tappings of Horus Fresh Ales, Weldwerks, Corridor and Phase Three beers. It’s a “slashie” that’s 19 miles west of Three Floyds, off I-80 and Harlem in Tinley Park and they’re doing other special tappings throughout the weekend.
Wildrose Brewing (1104 E. Main St., Griffith) has held back a couple kegs and several bombers of their Barrel Aged Mornin’ James coffee stout aged in Heaven Hill bourbon barrels. You’ll be able to get both at their brewpub today.
Off Square Brewing (11000 Delaware Parkway, Crown Point) is, for the second straight year, hosting a metal music party. This year, Ditchwater and Tiberius are performing. Their Dark Lord’s Eve party begins at 9pm.
One Trick Pony, a Lansing brewery that undeservedly flies under the radar, is releasing Kentucky Mountain, their barrel-aged old ale, at 6pm. Vanilla and the original are available at their brewpub, just 5 miles west of Three Floyds at 17845 Chappel Ave.
Windmill Brewing (2121 Gettler St., Dyer) is the closest brewery to Three Floyds, just four miles south on Calumet Avenue, right where the Illinois state line meets U.S. 30. (And across U.S. 30 from the second-best Harold’s Chicken in the entire Chicagoland area, according to Chicago magazine.) And wow are they taking advantage of the influx of visitors by dropping a half-dozen beers, including four never released before:
- Barrel-Aged Hulking Giants, a 12% imperial milk stout aged in maple syrup barrels with vanilla beans; Meme Salad, a 9% imperial smoothie berliner weis with lactose, vanilla, mango, pineapple and peaches;
- Meme Soup, a 9.4% milkshake-style IPA with lactose, vanilla, mango, pineapple and peaches;
- Memes & Dreams, their original 7% milkshake-style IPA made with mango, lactose and vanilla beans;
- Too Weird To Live, a 10% double IPA with Patagonian barley, Chilean muscatel grapes double-dry hopped with citra, vic secret and sabro hops;
- Too Rare To Die, a 10% double IPA with Patagonian barley, Chilean Barbera grapes, double-dry hopped with el dorado, galaxy and South African southern passion hops.
On top of all of that? Head brewer Mike Glowacki’s side project, foreign.local, is releasing Alligator Blood, a 14% Russian Imperial Stout made with Mexican hot chocolate spices.
350 Brewing (7144 183rd St., Tinley Park) is doing a new release, as well, with Shake City, a strawberry milkshake IPA, and Howdy Neighbor, their strawberry-lemon Kolsch brewed in collaboration with the neighboring Hailstorm Brewing.
Byway Brewing (2825 Carlson Drive, Hammond) is a 5-mile jaunt down I-94 from Three Floyds and they’re dropping four milkshake-style IPAs on Friday, while also featuring the Nicole Jamrose Band at 7pm as part of their “Blak Friday” event. The “Milkshake Jammer” releases see the return of their mango and strawberry milkshake IPAs, as well as the debut of orange and also white chocolate raspberry.
Saturday, May 18th:
And then there was a pause. No, not every craft beer fan is at Dark Lord Day – some may have struck out on tickets – but most area craft beer destinations are content to take in the masses once the fest has come to an end. And if you didn’t get a ticket – or want to enjoy a quality tap list outside the festival grounds, Brewfest, (8347 Kennedy Ave., Highland) is a solid choice. The pour-your-own spot will be tapping 2018 versions of Big Bad Baptist and Big Bad Baptista from Epic Brewing, as well as New Belgium’s Felix sour ale aged in apple whiskey barrels and 2018 Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. Waiting on standby once those kick is Avery Barrel-Aged Vanilla Bean Stout and Avery Bourbon Barrel Coconut Porter.
At Dark Lord Day 2019 itself, the area’s single largest bottle share of the year (visitors are welcome to bring in up to 72oz of beer) is made even better by an absurd list of beers pouring from an unmatched list of breweries, all bringing their A-game from 9am to 9pm. From Bottle Logic to Cycle, Burial to Modist, Pizza Port to The Answer, you won’t find these beers on local shelves.
A day of metal bands (watch for roving mosh pits) begins at 1:15pm and goes on with hour-long sets, capped by High On Fire at 8pm.
Sunday, May 19:
So Dark Lord Day wasn’t enough. You were responsible and drank lots of water and still have gas in the tank for a little more today. Great! Because there’s plenty to do:
Starting at 11am, locals know that you can get into Three Floyds’ brewpub for rolling tappings of festival leftovers. Dark Lord variants – among other goodies – will be pouring all day Sunday and likely into the early part of the week. Enjoy them minus the ambiance of 15,000 friends. Their distillery will be open Sunday, as well.
Ask the locals and they’ll tell you that aside from those mentioned earlier, these are the bars, restaurants and breweries most likely to deliver the beverage menu that you want:
- Roughly 6 miles north from Three Floyds on Calumet Avenue, you’ll find 18th Street Brewery (5417 N. Oakley, Hammond), this year’s winner of USA Today’s 10Best award for “Best Brewpub.” They’ve got an awesome outdoor patio, as well as a solid food menu, with plenty of smoked meats, if you’re feeling the need. Under the same roof is the newly-opened 18th Street Distillery, where craft cocktails are being taken to a new level and a new spring cocktail menu has just debuted – including a Dark Matter Coffee drink topped with Cocoa Puffs that is very Instagram-friendly. Also on the block is their Sour Note facility(498 Fayette St., Hammond) where, no surprise, it’s all sours all the time. And if you’re heading east, they’ve got a tap room just off the Indiana Toll Road in Gary’s Miller neighborhood (5725 Miller Ave.).
- 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.
- Northwest Indiana’s newest brewery is nearby, Cognito Brewery (8622 Louisiana Place, Merrillville). They’re debuting with Belgians, including a pair of tripels and a dubbel.
- New Oberpfalz Brewing (121 E. Main St., Griffith) has quietly built up one of the strongest craft beer followings in the area and they’ve done it by consistently delivering solid, largely sessionable, beer. Rooted in classic German styles, they’ve expanded their offerings with quality IPAs and stouts, as well.
- Pokro Brewing Company (311 N. Broad St., Griffith) is just down the street from New Oberpfalz and 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. (We wrote about Griffith previously here.)
- St. John Malt Brothers Brewing (9575 Wicker Ave., St. John) is about 5 miles south of Three Floyds and offers both indoor and outdoor seating in an expanded space on Indianapolis Boulevard.
- Tomato Bar (79 U.S. 41, Schererville) is a locally owned pizza place that serves both non-traditional and traditional styles and is fast becoming a local favorite. A solid tap list likely has something to do with that, too.
- Twincade (108 N. Broad St., Griffith) is an old-school arcade bar roughly 6 miles east of Three Floyds.
- Stretching 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. Tucked between the two is Soundgrowler (8201 W. 183rd St.), where the tacos are gaining as much of a cult following as the beer.
- 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.
Finally, if you’re beer’d out and looking for something different, the acclaimed Misbeehavin’ Meads (65 Franklin St., Valparaiso) is an easy drive for something sweet, while The Well (400 E. Margaret St., Thornton) is a distillery about 7 miles west of Three Floyds in a 150-year-old building that once housed a brewery and then a distillery run by Al Capone’s crew. A four-year restoration effort culminated last year in what is a seriously cool experience, including a tour of their underground springs.
And if that’s still not enough? Seek help. See you next year.