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May 2, 2007

dark lord day 2007

back in january i put out a feeler to the other biergotter guys. i was considering attending dark lord day, the one day a year that three floyds sells their dark lord russian imperial stout. this year's release would be on saturday april 28th and i was thinking of making the trip. most of the other guys thought they'd be unavailable, but eric expressed interest.

as the date got closer, we started to finalize plans. eric's girlfriend alexa would be making the trip down from toronto, and even had a friend in downtown chicago that was going to let us stay there. free crash space = good! we decided we'd drive down on friday, stay in chicago friday night, head to dark lord day on saturday, back to chicago to crash saturday night, then back home to toronto on sunday. while in chicago we'd visit some local spots, and having someone from the area with us meant we should be able to avoid most of the traffic headaches.

if you're not aware, dark lord day is much more than just a chance to buy the highest rated american beer, it's a full day festival. three floyds are very supportive of the whole beer geek crowd. there is a tent and lots of tables for beer tasting. really, it's a giant beer tasting free for all. everybody adds bottles to the tables and you're pretty much free to sample whatever you like. there's also a ton of beer trading that goes on. some folks set them up in advance, and just about everybody brings extra beer along to share and trade. 3F also had bands for entertainment and their own wares available for purchase.

so we had all the plans laid out, trades arranged, and everything ready to go. then we hit a bit of a snag... the monday before DLD started like any other. dropped jenn off at the go train and headed in to work. by about 10am, i wasn't feeling that great. my stomach was starting to hurt and i was feeling a little nauseous. thinking i might be a little hungry, i had a light snack. still, but it didn't help. i continued to feel worse, and the pain intensified. i started feeling dizzy and incredibly nauseous. by about noon i knew i couldn't stay at work, but also wasn't in good enough shape to drive myself home. i made a quick walk around the office to see if any of the guys on my team could drive me home, but it seemed everyone was either working from home or away at lunch. by about 12:30 i had mustered up enough strength that i thought i could get myself home, so i left, taking the back roads and taking my time.

when i got home i pretty much dropped into the bed and tried to sleep. i was still getting worse, and couldn't fall asleep. it felt like my entire abdomen was in knots and i was really struggling not to be sick. shortly after this jenn arrived home, having left work when i talked to her before i drove home. she ran out to pick up some gravol, hoping this would help. it didn't, and i continued to feel worse. i was also running a slight fever. it was like nothing i had ever felt before, so i thought something could really be wrong.

we decided to call telehealth and see what they said. when i explained my symptoms, the nurse said that i should probably see my family doctor, and if it got worse i might consider going to the hospital. we decided that the family doc would likely just send me to the ER, so we skipped the middle man and went to the hospital.

we arrived at the hospital at about 3:30pm and began the great wait. i was barely functional at that point and pretty much curled up in a chair. we sat there for what seemed like forever, continuing to feel worse. somewhere around 7:30pm i finally got in. i got to lay down, and they decided to do some tests. they took a bunch of blood and urine and hooked me up to an IV. the morphine and gravol did a good job of making me feel better, and around 12:30am the results were finally back. no problems in the urinary track. no obvious GI issues. i did have a slightly elevated white cell count and a lingering low grade fever. their biggest suspicion were either appendicitis or some kind of bug, but i didn't have the usual localized appendix pain. since i was pretty much feeling better by that point, they sent me home and said to come back in the morning for an ultrasound to verify that there was no appendicitis.

i got home around 1am after a long and incredibly unpleasant ordeal and finally managed to sleep. bright and early at 7am the phone rang. it was the hospital telling me that i was scheduled for the ultrasound at 9:30am. i sent out a quick email to let work know what was going on and headed for the hospital. fortunately the ultrasound was negative, and they said that i definitely didn't have appendicitis. woohoo! sigh of relief. but what the hell was that?!?? it sure didn't feel like any bug i'd experienced before, and i sure hope i don't again.

when i heard 'appendicitis', i figured that the trip would be canceled. i know that's not the sort of thing that you do on tuesday, then hop in the car and drive 3500km on the weekend. i was unhappy, but glad to be feeling better. getting the news that there was no appendicitis was good, but it didn't explain why i'd felt like that and if it was gone for good.

i took the next couple of days pretty easy. i talked to everyone i had trades setup with what had happened and that my status was uncertain. when wednesday evening came and i was still feeling great, we decided to go ahead with the trip. the only condition was that if i started feeling anything like on monday, we'd be turning around right away. jenn helped to map out some hospitals along the way, just in case.

when thursday afternoon came and i left work, spirits were good. i was still feeling great and the trip was looking good. eric and alexa took the bus up to my place and we started packing the car. wow, we had a lot of stuff. really. a lot. 4 passengers, 3 of us with weekend bags and one with a large suitcase. both eric and i setup trades, and we also grabbed extra local stuff to bring down for trading/tasting. i ended up bringing down some stuff for a few trades that jan had setup too. and some homebrew for a tasting that i was trying to setup at DLD. did i mention that it's a little mazda 3? yeah, lots of stuff.

on friday morning we got the last of the stuff in the car and rolled out of the driveway at about 9am. the car was full to the max. the middle of the back seat was full, and both eric and alexa had stuff on their laps, with stuff at my feet in the front. jenn had volunteered to drive the first shift down to her parent's place, where she'd be staying for the weekend.

we stopped in stoney point and dropped off jenn, stopping to have some tasty sandwiches for lunch.

from there it was off through windsor and over the border to detroit. our next stop was at kuhnhenn to pick up some growlers for trading (2x american ipa) and sharing (penetration porter and simcoe silly). we sat long enough for a beer (penetration porter for eric and i, banana stout for alexa), then headed out again.

the next stop was adventures in homebrewing to pick up some supplies. this is where i get most of my homebrewing supplies, and we needed to get a few things for our next few batches. i also grabbed a sweet old guardian glass, since i forgot to bring something for sampling at DLD. it's become my favourite sampling glass.

with traffic between those two stops, we were running a little behind schedule, so we skipped our last stop at merchant's and left for chicago.

the drive down was (pleasantly!) uneventful and we arrived in downtown chicago at about 8pm. we stopped at sam's for a couple goodies, then went across the street to the goose island clybourn brewpub. we relaxed and enjoyed some food and a couple beverages. the english malt porter was awesome. we headed over to alexa's friend's place and crashed for the night.

the next morning we woke and left for munster. it took about an hour to get there, with a quick stop for some breakfast on the way. it was about 10:30am when we arrived, and the crowd was already growing.

crowds out front of three floyds.

it's noon and the doors open! wooho!

the line was moving slowly.

getting closer...

finally inside the door (but still in line), i snapped a few photos.

this is about where the batteries in my camera died. i had an extra set, but of course they were in the car and i was trapped in line.

eventually i got to the front of the line and got my dark lord, as well as rabbid rabbit, robert the bruce, and black sun. i wanted a bottle of behemoth, but sadly it sold out before i got to the front of the line.

i brought my dark lord out to the car and started trying to resolve the last of my trades. it didn't take too long, and soon i was finally able to relax and enjoy a few samples. we slipped inside to get samples of the barrel aged dark lord. another favourite was the thomas hooker barrel aged imperial porter. got to sample some nice homebrew too, though i wasn't able to round people up for that homebrew tasting. maybe next year.

after putting the new batteries in my camera i went back inside and snapped a few photos. gotta love the piles of kegs, bottles, and the wall of 1000# bags of grain.

one of eric's favourite parts of the day: imperial battle snake. he was talking about how awesome the band name was for the entire trip, so it was nice when they were pretty good. he even bought one of their shirts, and seems to have worn it every time i've seen him since then.

the alpha king.

6 barrels (left to right, top to bottom):

  • DL 07
  • BLACK SUN 11.14.06
  • ALPHA KLAUS 11.??.06
  • BEHEMOTH 12.16.06 (with what appears to be a cherry?)
  • BEHEMOTH 12.16.06
  • VB DL 07 (vanilla bean?)

piles of bottles, and the swag table in the distance.

peering over to the brewery.

late in the day, this guy was one of the most memorable moments. a six pack of alpha king, purchased (likely warm) inside, 4 down, 1 on the go, and 1 unopened. asleep at the wheel. hardcore.

not long after this we decided to head back to chicago. it had been a long, hot day and we were all pretty tired and sunburned. we loaded up the (still overflowing) car with the spoils of the day and headed out. after a brief stop at alexa's place so she could pick up her car, we headed downtown again. our initial plan had been to check out the map room, but instead we just went back to the goose island clybourn brewpub again. dinner and a few more tasty beverages. exhausted, we left for alexa's friend's place.

then we had the pleasure of driving around for an hour trying to find a place to park. i was so tired and beyond frustrated, but we finally found a place (good one too!) and i basically passed out as soon as we were inside.

sunday morning i woke up early, and at about 7am eric and i hit the road. a pleasant and uneventful drive, and we were in detroit shortly after noon.

crossing the border was fun. since it was just eric and i, when i told them we had about 8 cases of beer, i knew we'd be paying duty. we each got a case duty free since we'd been in the US for 48 hours, but still had to pay duty on 6. this was complicated by the fact that all the beer was from trades and/or gifts, so we didn't have any receipts. i told them that i'd brought about 6 cases of beer down to the US with me and had traded for things of equal value, so we just went with the approximate price i'd paid ($42/case). we each paid about $50 duty, which wasn't too bad considering what we had in the car.

eric and i posing with the haul. yep, there's that imperial battle snake shirt. he also had about a case and a half of beer waiting for him there, so the final total when we left for home was about 10 cases of beer in the car.

when i finally got home this is what i had. some stuff in the middle for jan, but most of that is mine.

dark lord day was one hell of a party. what a blast. though the 2500km in 2.5 days was a little much. even though i was driving and had to take it easy the whole time, i still got to try some great stuff along the way and bring home a ton more. some stats:

14x 22oz
1x 11.2oz
3x 750ml
42x 12oz
1x 64oz

total ~ 82x 12oz = 3.5 cases, 12 wants, 42 different beers, 38 that i've never tried.

that doesn't include the approx 4 cases eric had, or the case i had for jan. i don't think i could have possibly fit any more in my little mazda...

already looking forward to next year.

Posted by grub at May 2, 2007 10:21 AM

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