Each October brings fall weather, football games, changing leaves and Darkness Day at Surly Brewing! Darkness Day is a special event which brings beer geeks and groups of friends back to the original Surly Brewery in Brooklyn Center for the release of Darkness, a Russian Imperial Stout. Dedicated fans start to line up Friday afternoon to camp out, establish position in line, share delicious beers and renew friendships. Our group of Richard Drawdy, Todd Mack and myself left South Dakota around 10 am Friday and headed east. We needed to stop somewhere to try some local beers before heading to Surly. We went to LTD (Living the Dream) Brewing in Hopkins to check out the Twin Cities beer scene.
We were impressed with their beer line up and brewery. Richard brought a growler of Hop Lab Pink (with Mosaic hops) from Bank Brewing to share with Ltd. In return, we were given a behind the scenes tour of the brewery. Our schedule was tight and we soon had to leave for Surly.
We were lucky to enter the campsite soon after arrival and find Todd’s friends from Sioux Falls, Minnesota and Iowa. They have been attending Darkness Day for many years, and they welcomed us into their traditional campsite. After hauling our gear about a block, the beer share began. The generosity of beer geeks is hard to describe. Everyone brings some special beers to share that they have been saving for a special occasion. We shared a ten year vertical of Bigfoot barleywine, many sours and Russian imperial stouts throughout the evening. Many groups have a fire pit to liven up the festivities.
I was also fortunate to visit another group of South Dakota beer geeks and friend Dan Roberts from Milwaukee that were close by.
Saturday morning starts early when the aroma of coffee floats on the air and the campers start to wake up. Tents are struck early and everyone waits for the call to form the line. When the call is heard, campers form the line to await the issuing of wristbands. The first wristband confirms that the person is of legal age to purchase beer and the second wristband indicates the time when Darkness can be purchased. 1500 wristbands are issued and each person can purchase up to six bottles of Darkness.
After getting our wristbands we drove to a local restaurant for breakfast. Delicious eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, hash browns and more coffee were consumed. Before long we headed back to the brewery for the official festivities that began at 11 am. Darkness Day is one of the best parties and celebration of craft beer in the US. Surly arranges music, food and much delicious Surly beer for the party on Saturday afternoon.
Our wristbands were for the 12 – 12:30 time slot. We grabbed our allotment of six Darkness and celebrated with our new friends. Our efforts were rewarded with 2016 Darkness!
The memories of this event are legendary! We are already planning to return next year. How can we improve the party next year? Plans are already in progress. Looking forward to 2017! Cheers!
Thanks to Richard Drawdy & John Holmquest for additional images!