DLD toilet

The definitive guide to the 3 Floyds Beer festival. Illustrations and Photos by Andrew

Writing coherent about Dark Lord Day is impossible. Sure, it would be great if the event were to ever spin itself into a narrative, some kind heartwarming teenage mystery ripped from the diary of history’s sweatiest monster. But that never happens. We only ever get a mess, and that mess isn’t even messy enough to be interesting—it’s not bedlam or hell or even a zoo, just a bunch of drunkards fisting over handfuls of money and splashing beer all over one another’s pants.

This year the chaos was much less claustrophobic, and so I wasn’t able to force myself to speak to strangers like usual. Without being physically close to them, there just seemed no point. They had their patch of grass and I had mine.

DLD floorThe grounds were expanded. I wasn’t privy to any of the actual blueprints of the event—despite our many requests, the Beer Hole’s press credentials weren’t enough to get us into any official planning meetings—but I’ll estimate there was roughly four times as much space as there’s been in past years. Madness is to some degree a matter of concentration. What qualifies as absolutely fucking shithouse in a small space transforms over several thousand square feet into something no more harmful than your average carnival or Apple Store.

No more harmful, but pornographically more drunk. Drunk like how drunkenness was explained to me by my gradeschool guidance counselor: sad little shadow people living inside a bottle, unaware of any concerns extant outside the bottle, their limbs grown fallow, faces puffed and blotched, no way out, no way out. Money loses all meaning, as does personal appearance, or shame. Getting back to the hotel? What kind of a thought is that? W-where we’re going, we don’t need hotels, motherfucker.

DLDTableThe tasting tables were mute, but maybe that’s because we got there later in the day than usual. I cracked open an 06 Bourbon County before looking down and seeing nothing more spectacular than what could be scored at a Binny’s, then worked ninja-like to put my 2010 BCBS Coffee and 09 Parabola back into my knapsack.

Or—wait, this is all coming back to me now. Some old, prospector-looking man was the one who opened my 06 bottle, then offered me a swill from some tepid halfsour bomber from the west coast by way of recompense. It tasted like stagnant radiator water and he looked like he lived on a train. Fuck that guy.


Andrew found a can of something or other floating in a chemical toilet and managed to turn his discovery into hilarious conversation. I recall looking over at him at one point and there was a woman—a woman with breasts—who seemed interested in speaking to him. God knows about what, probably hair gel. Meanwhile, Dustin met a man handing out Heady Topper and once, I swear, the people around him laughed at one of his hentai-themed comments. Me? My rank crapulence was just too much. A few people talked with me briefly about metal, but the more decent types were turned off by my stained shirt and general odor and so I made no lasting friends that day.

Should I be sad about that? Am I sad about that?

At one point there were two Magic: The Gathering-looking lads attempting to crack wise behind us in line, loosing a barrage of jokes so sharp they just had to have been stolen from last week’s Big Bang Theory. We poured them something from a Town Hall growler, completely perfunctory, and they offered us some Westvleteran. Why, sure, of course we’ll make that trade. Only, get this, they pulled out a bomber of Bernardus, assuring Andrew and I that they were the exact same thing.

To my credit, I stepped away from line briefly before pouring it out of my Pabst chalice, sparing their feelings since the act was being performed more out of principle than anger or disgust. Still—if they were going to intrude so rudely upon my sad drunk silence they should at least deliver on their monstrous promises.

Good god, what has happened to the beer scene? Is there anything in this world that doesn’t become worse when more people get involved in it? How can a scene so openly dedicated to making itself more and more repulsive—all filled with wild bacteria and enough alpha acid to remove rust from porcelain—how does that keep drawing in so many pencil necked geeks and mental defectives? Even worse, why does this appeal to Normals?

My first trip to Three Floyds I recall meeting a gin-blossomed local union rep whose neck and cheeks were covered in white heads. My first Dark Lord Day I drank free Westy 8 from the chalice of a man who had 3-inch-long string of warts dangling from the bottom of his ear and the most marvelous thing was wondering how it was that nobody had ever gotten close enough to wrench the string from his face. Now, the scene resembles the crowd you’d see standing outside a Motley Crue concert circa 1996, back when they were playing County Fairs. The crowd is shameless, yes, but without any kind of pride or metacognizant grounding. There’s a difference between coolness and retardation, despite what Kid Rock fans might have you believe.


Andrew and my tickets were in Group B, which went in at noon. Dustin and Neil were the last group. We decided to stand in line with them and entered the brewery well past sunset. The late show is bedlam, understandably, the attendees are all soaked in every imaginable body fluid and otherwise generally beyond the point of communicating through words.

My idea, sheer brilliance, was to feign being even drunker than I actually was and then make like I had lost the stub of my ticket. That way I’d get another golden ticket and be allowed to purchase a second allotment.

At first the dudes running the table were kind. They told me to check my pockets. Keep checking. See what comes up. Me, I played the sod, all golly gee mister I sure hope I find it. Then I pulled my first, spent golden ticket out of my back pocket and, well, that plan fell through.

Andrew had a bolder, drunker idea: just try paying for more Darklord. A very mean lady wasn’t having any of that, though, and no amount of charm will secure a man more beer when he’s unable to keep both eyes open and same time.

We left defeated, having learned nothing and made no connections. Although we had secured the beer we came to secure, a sense of failure was palpable.

DLD Mean lady

Our hotel smelled strong of urine. Not in the typical sense, where perhaps maybe someone had a recently peed in the corner. This was much more total, like it used to be a holding tank filled floor to ceiling with asparagus pee and just recently it had been drained, carpeted, and fitted with a pair of rock-hard beds. The line at the pub the next morning was 60 people deep, and as each of them stared hard at me and my aroma I soaked up their glares, yearning for an end to hipness and profit, a return to time that never really existed, back when problemed drunks were just problemed drunks and no one said shit if you spat fine beer back into its bomber after swishing it around in your mouth, everything rank with the aroma of burning plastic, my back tingling from remember my mother’s tears as she begged me to abandon this life, to stop destroying myself…