This was my second Darkness Day. After last year, I knew to prepare. I was a boy scout and have done extensive camping (although a few years ago). I bought a small tent and cold weather sleeping bag to prepare, so what did the weather do? Rain, rain, rain! So what is a beer geek to do? Pack your rain gear and go forward.
I left from Brookings with friends Craig Martin and Matt Rippe around 10:30 Friday. It was raining and the truck was filled with gear. We arrived at Surly Brewing about 3:30 and found a parking place inside the industrial park. Next we had to find our Sioux Falls beer geek friends. After locating them, we hauled essential camping gear as close to the “line up site” as possible.
We set up our tents and started in the beer share, which is a big reason for arriving early. Everyone brings some all-star beers to share. We enjoyed some of the best craft beers from America and around the world before heading to bed. Even Omar Ansari, the owner from Surly Brewing, stopped by to share a beer!
The camp started to awaken early Saturday morning about 6 am to prepare for lining up at 7 am. Everyone was issued two wristbands for the beer allotment. The first orange wristband confirmed the legal age of the consumer to buy beer and the second green wristband determined the time to pick up the beer.
The actual celebration started at 11 am so we had a little while to breakdown camp and relax. At 11 we were able to enter the event which is “Darkness Day”. It is one of the few regional beer events that beer geeks flock to. Other events include Dark Lord Day in the Chicago area, Hunahpu’s Day in Florida and Black Tuesday in California. Darkness Day is a carnival-like environment where lucky wristband holders can buy the delicious Darkness beer. Darkness is one of the top rated beers on RateBeer and BeerAdvocate that is highly sought after by beer geeks. It is only available for a short time each year. Surly had heavy metal music, numerous food trucks, lots of Darkness Day swag for purchase and kegs and kegs of beer to enjoy.
We picked up our beer allotment and headed to store the beers in the truck. Some new beer friends from the Twin Cities shared some of their new Darkness and other Russian River beers with us in the parking lot. We returned the favor with some Schell’s Starkeller Peach. We made several new friends and had some incredible beers.
It was now time to head back to the festival to enjoy some music, friends, good food & more Surly beer near the brewery. Craig was able to buy beer swag and get it autographed by the artist, Brandon Holt, and brewmaster of Surly, Todd Haug.
Saturday night we visited the Brewmaster’s Table at the new Surly Beer Hall for delicious food and some more great Surly beers. We had a late night nightcap at the Town Hall Brewery near our hotel. I enjoyed a tasty Masala Mama IPA!
Sunday arrived bright and sunny. We got home around 1;30. Will I go next year? Hell yea!