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Friday, October 28, 2011

Darkness Day

Front of the Bottle
On a cold fall morning I recently found myself at Surly Brewing company to celebrate the release of their annual Russian Imperial Stout - Darkness.  I'd never been to a traditional beer release so only had a vague idea of what to expect.

I decided to arrive around 5:00 AM, this put me surprisingly farther back then anyone would have expected.  I know this because I talk to several veterans of the event (many of whom camped out all night).  I ended up talking to the guy right behind me Dan (ungertaker) for most of the morning. 

At the front of the line a large tasting table had been set up so with our spots saved, Dan and I ventured up.  It was filled at that time with mostly empty bottles but there were a few tasty treats left. It was still pretty dark, fortuniately my flashlight was able to light it up.  While there I was "fortunate"enough to try Voodoo Maple Doughnut from Rouge, it was as bad if not worse then I had heard.  I would be hard pressed to find a more divergent mismatch between smell (good) and taste (a smoker in a portapotty bad).

Back of the Bottle
After we got back to our spot I met up with a group of BAs and cracked open a Pharmhouse Ale from Namaste Brewing.  The people who understood beers with a small degree of funk seemed to enjoy it.

I went back to my spot to look for Dan to see if he wanted to try the Pharmhouse.  I notice a group trying to get my attention so i headed over.  Turns out it was a case of mistaken identity but noticed they were getting ready to open a Surly Five and a Cascade sour.  Not wanting to be a mouch but wanting to try both I asked if they wanted to open the bottle of Oude Tart I had with me and turn it into a mini sour tasting.  I have to say it was nice to have those beers back to back.

Around 7 Surly team started going around announcing that they would be starting to give out Darkness wristbands around 8. While we waited the group in front, back of us and us all started opening some additional beers.  I got a chance to try some more awesome beers but the highlight of that grouping had to be the Upland Kiwi Lambic.

Where 5 AM gets you
Once we got our wrist bands it was off to the front of the line to participate in a Blind In Person BIF set up by Brandon (biglobo8971).  It was while I was waiting that Omar fork-lifted out the first kegs of Moe's Bender that morning.  It was funny with the whole zombie theme going on to watch a group of beer geeks surround and a keg and drink it in 10-20 minutes.  I had the 5th pour of this keg and I was really expecting to be blown away more by it as I'd heard great things about Moe's Bender.  Moe's Bender is basically Bender with coffee (a la Coffee Bender), chocolate and vanilla.  The coffee really stood out while the chocolate was very minor and the vanilla was almost non existent.  I read later that the batch tasted off to a lot of people who'd had it before.

My Basecamp
Once the gates opened instead of getting in the pick up line I decided to go inside and try Damien, Omar had drop off a keg near where I was sitting earlier but mentioned that it was for the people who didn't get wrist bands so I decided I could wait.  Damien is a parti-gyle of Darkness. For those unfamilar with what a parti-gyle is, it's a technique in brewing that allows you to get two beer (one high gravity and one low gravity) with the same grains.  It was a great new edition to the line up and I would love to see it in cans one day.

Ryan arrived around this time and we hung out for the next few hours.  Overall I had a great time.  It was a beautiful day filled with tasty food (a traditional pasty), great beer, killer music and awesome people (I finally got to me my main trading partner Meagan (chixdighops))


Shots of the line at Sun rise
Just before 9 Omar dropping keg's of Moe's Bender
Chef Shack the morning crew
biglobo's BIF
Occupy Surly
Hoard of Darkness-less Zombies attacking a keg of Damien
Bottle share table
The hoard approaches the gates
Zombie Omar kicking off Darkness Day
The Casks section was my favorite

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