Thoughts on the Dark Lord Day Shibacle

I’ve become fascinated by watching the combination of shitstorm and debacle (know by linguists as a “shibacle”) that Dark Lord Day is becoming before our eyes.

As we noted here, Dark Lord Day tickets went on sale Saturday, and according to, they sold out in 23 minutes.  It’s great to see such enthusiasm for a beer release, but the way the tickets sold out has many beer geeks furious.  

A peek at the 3Floyds Facebook page paints a compelling picture.  You’ll find posts by many angry people who couldn’t get tickets, while some brokers did.  One look at StubHub confirms this, with 46 tickets priced from $97.00 (up from the original sale price of $10) at the time I’m writing this.  To be fair, that’s less than 1% of all tickets sold.

A selection of the discontent found on the 3Floyds Facebook Page

To compound matters, some beer geeks had issues with the cart function on, the site that 3Floyds used to sell the tickets.  All told, there’s a lot of negativity flying around.

But there seems to be something more driving the discontent.  While some people are giving voice to their unhappiness about how ticket sales were handled, others continue to complain about the bigger change this year – you can’t get into Dark Lord Day without a ticket.  This rule change has put a crimp in the plans of many beer geeks.

In years past, anyone could attend the Dark Lord Day, with or without a ticket.  You probably weren’t going to get any Dark Lord Imperial Stout without a ticket, but you could go there with a buddy who had a golden ticket and enjoy the scene, or just show up and share some good brews with thousands of other beer geeks. It had organically grown into beer’s Woodstock, a festival many look forward to each year.

But no more.  No ticket/ no entry means there’s no place for folks who missed out on ticket, and the local police will be hand to make sure no one is loitering outside.  This is a fundamental change to the spirit of the event, and one that might just strangle the magic out of the day.

All told, I feel sorry for the Floyds.  They just want to brew cool beers and do something fun at the brewery.  What started as a day to celebrate their beer has obviously grown beyond their capacity to handle it and the town of Munster, Indiana’s willingness to tolerate a loosely organized mass of buzzed beer nerds stumbling around their industrial zone.

Dark Lord Day has become a bit of a monster, and as brewers (and not event planners) the folks at 3Floyds don’t have the skill set to deal with it in a way that won’t piss off a bunch of people.  I hope they figure it out soon, because it would be a shame for this event, which has become one of the highlights of the beer geek calendar, to become just another orderly beer release.  That would be a Dark day, indeed.



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41 Comments on “Thoughts on the Dark Lord Day Shibacle”

  1. johnking82
    March 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I had absolutely zero problem accessing the site or getting my tickets. I had 9 windows open and only needed to use one and as soon as I got in, I closed the others. Maybe I got lucky. Now, I had a deal with a buddy and said we would both try to get 2 tickets a piece and if one of us got some, we’d share them with the intentions of us both getting bottles. I know I can’t go because I’ll be in Jamaica, so once he and I get our deal figured out…I have to figure out what to do with my extra two tickets (B).

    Sell them? Get good beers in return for them? I’d really love to go, but can’t, so I just want my share of Dark Lord.

    • March 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

      I think there are several thousand people like you who aren’t motivated to post anything on the 3Floyds Facebook wall. People usually aren’t very vocal when they get what they want.

      I’d try to wrangle the tickets from you myself, but I don’t think an April trip to Indiana is in the cards this year. I’d love to go to see what the vibe is like, though.

    • March 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

      You could give them to me. I received an error message on checkout at: 1:02 that asked me to return to the event page. When I did the tickets for each time section where unavailable.

      Out of the 14 guys I know that tried to get tickets only 1 did. It was a sad day.

      But like I have been telling everyone I know, they needed to reign in the crowds and there was no way to make everyone happy. I will try again next year and spend my money on a different fest this year.

      • March 21, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

        There’s always GABF – especially the Pints for Prostates Rare Beer Tasting – that was the shizzle (which is the opposite of shibacle).

  2. johnking82
    March 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    I was amazed my buddy and I both got tickets. I made sure and busted my arse cleaning fish so I could be on the computer by 12:55 CST. I just saw on Stubhub they are going for $150 a piece and up. By selling one ticket, I could care for all the Dark Lords purchased with two tickets. It’s pretty hard to look past that.

    I relate this to buying Bears tickets every year, it’s pretty near impossible. Myself and 10 others got online and couldn’t get anything and then people inevitably have them for sale on Stubhub. It prevented me from going to a game this year.

    • March 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm #

      It’s a good analogy, but craft beer folks seem to take this stuff personally. It’s an equal-footing kind of vibe between brewers and drinkers, and when they get big-timed by a ticket seller (like you did with Da Bears) it seems to rub them the wrong way.

      • johnking82
        March 21, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

        I guess I’m in a shibacle then.

        • March 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

          Well sorta. You have tickets, so you’re in the eye of the shibacle, where everything is eerily calm and peaceful.

        • Don
          March 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

          Would that be a brown eye?

        • March 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

          Really not called for, Don. 😦

        • Don
          March 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

          With that kind of a soft ball lob I had to swing for the fences.

        • March 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

          Don’t you mean “swing for the feces”?

        • Don
          March 21, 2011 at 1:54 pm #


  3. March 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    While last years DLD was a mess it was so damn fun. I met so many great people, left tasting a ton of fantastic brews, and just had such a good time. We all just sat to the side while everyone was wasting their time in line. We walked up later in the day and pretty much just picked up our beers. I’m glad I didn’t try to go this year. Seems like they might of turned it into a borefest. Glad I got in before they changed it.

    • March 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      We’ll see how it goes, but I agree – it sounds like it’ll be less spontaneous and “of the people” than last year, for better or worse.

      I hope they find a way to keep the fun alive while keeping order.

  4. March 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    This reminds me of the Matador 21 celebration the label did in Vegas last fall. I (as did every indie geek I know) tried to get through the system to no avail. The complaints before and after that shibacle were eerily similar to this shibacle. People need to get over and move on. Dark Lord is an excellent beer and I’ve heard the circus surrounding it is a ton of fun, but it’s not the end of the world. People’s sense of entitlement for this sort of thing is ridiculous.

    That said, breweries like Three Floyds and Dogfish Head have an issue on their hands. Demand is far outdistancing their supply. It’s beginning to piss a lot of people off. While I wish that I could enjoy the beers from both breweries more often, I’ll survive. However, some aren’t as forgiving.

    • Don
      March 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

      I think there was a bit of an added sense of urgency this year Zac. Last year if you didn’t get a ticket you could still go and hang out and enjoy the festivities with friends etc. This year if you don’t have a ticket you can’t even get into the industrial area. I think this is adding to the frustration people feel from the dysfunctional web site. That said, you are correct when you say people need to get over it and move on. I think the brewers ought to have a DLD celebration and rent out a city park or something and have bands and beer tents etc. They could even do a trading tent, how cool would that be?! That way people that just wanted to hang and experience the day could do so, and the lucky folks that have the tickets could go home with a bottle of brew! But alas they are brewers, not planners.

      • March 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm #

        I think your idea nails it. They could totally do a big outdoor thing or rent a large hall. It certainly would increase the number of people who could participate, even if they can’t get their hands on some DL.

    • March 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

      I think “entitlement” is in the ballpark, but just misses the mark. Beer geeks feel like they are “insiders” to the world of beer. It’s always been pretty easy to go to a festival and meet the person who makes the beer. Access is part of the grassroots appeal of the whole beer nerd thing. This seems to be changing, and I’m not surprised people are upset about it.

      I think the ticket thing wouldn’t be a huge deal if anyone could participate in Dark Lord Day. The “ticket only” rule changes the entire tenor of the all-inclusive atmosphere.

      • johnking82
        March 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

        it’s almost the “I was here first” mentality now that craft beer is becoming more popular and those beer geeks want to stake claim to what is essentialy “theirs”.

        • March 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

          Yup – as craft beer becomes more mainstream (sorry if we’ve helped), beer geeks are going to find it harder to get the access to beers and brewers. This is certainly a sign of that.

      • March 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

        No, I get that. The same goes for bands. You want them to succeed to the point that you don’t have to work so hard to access the product, but as soon as it becomes a big deal, you’re squeezed out in a different way. If we want craft breweries to thrive, we have to accept that with success comes less availability. Breweries can decide to stay small or grow big. Then it becomes an issue of quantity or quality. I’d rather have just a few 3F’s a year if it means that their quality stays high. I’ve seen what’s happened to other craft brewers who grow to meet demand. It’s not pretty.

        • Don
          March 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

          But some have been able to grow and still maintain quality. Victory Brewing comes to mind. They have grown and expanded and their brews are still great. Another is Sam Adams. While you might not like everything they make, I think you would be hard pressed to point to one of their brews and say it is less than what it used to be. Sierra Nevada is another. So it is possible to grow and stay good. I think there might be a funk factor that breweries don’t want to loose, and I think that would have to change as a brewery got very large. As they grow they become much more of a business and less of a culture. That might be why some are deciding to contract markets and not grow, because they want to maintain that funky vibe that they love about their work. Nothing wrong with that, just frustrating for us beer drinkers!

          If you wanted to relate it to music, probably Blue Man Group would be the closest thing here. They went from 3 guys having a blast to a dozen or more touring the country in multiple shows.

        • March 21, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

          We’ll see how it goes for Lagunitas – they’re going big:

        • Don
          March 21, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

          I didn’t include them because they are already having consistency problems. Tried this year’s Hairy Eyeball? I haven’t yet, but those that have said it was half the beer it was last year. So I’m not saying that it can’t happen that you expand and things unravel a bit, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

      • johnking82
        March 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

        I agree, speaking of which, I saw that DF and Sam Adams were collaborating for a beer together.

        • March 21, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

          Yeah, I figured Don would write about that – not sure why. I think it’s a very limited deal, and I’m tired of very limited deals. DFH should have Sam Adams contract brewing for them instead so they can keep up with demand. Now that’d be a story!

        • Don
          March 21, 2011 at 2:42 pm #

          I’m pretty sure SA runs at full capacity. Probably would have to be some place like Yungling or something for contract brewing.

      • March 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

        Hey Sam subcontracted a lot of their brewing. So having DF subcontract there would be strangely appropriate

        • March 22, 2011 at 8:43 am #

          As the industry grows, they’ll have to weight these kinds of options. Luckily for today’s craft brewers, Jim Koch has blazed a lovely path for them.

  5. March 21, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Really tired of the limited release nobody can get it beers. You say you feel sorry for 3 floyds but they started and continue to fuel the whole mess. Beer critics also fuel this mess talking about how great the beer is that no one can get. I’d love to try a Dark Lord but can’t seeing it happen. Hell I was lucky to get 2 bottles of Founders KBS this year. I may stop seeking limited editions all together because of the aggravation. I like beer. A lot. But really? If it’s that good just produce it. Isn’t selling beer what is all about anyway?

    • Don
      March 21, 2011 at 6:03 pm #

      Good points John. I think that a lot of brewers aren’t sure where the sweet spot is, where the supply and demand curves meet. So they always make too little to make sure it sells. But it ends up creating shortages, and the like. I think that the hype does a lot of these beers a disservice too. For example Jim and I both had Dark Lord at the Rare Beer Tasting in Denver this year, and it was good, but lets just say I wouldn’t be too upset if I didn’t get a ticket. Also, by way of comparison any of the Bourbon County Stouts are far better in my opinion, so you shouldn’t feel too deprived. BTW how was that Cotton?

      • March 21, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

        Do like the BCS. I’m waiting for the Beer and Whisky bothers Chicago visit to open the Coton.

        • March 22, 2011 at 8:43 am #

          Probably unintentional, but I think we should rename ourselves the Beer and Whiskey Bothers. It would shorten the learning curve for new readers! 🙂

          Not sure if we’ll ever get out to Chicago, but I’d love to try that Coton!

    • March 22, 2011 at 8:38 am #

      I have a BS fuse myself, and when something gets too hard to get, i usually give up and move on. Sure KBS is a great beer, but there’s other stuff out there that’s as good and that I can get any time I want. Why stress?

      As far as Dark Lord goes, Don and I tasted it at the Pints for Prostates Rare Beer Tasting at GABF last year and it wasn’t that special. Actually, it had some off flavors (mainly olive) that I thought made it sub-par, especially compared to some of the other gems they were pouring in the room. Is it worth picking up at the beer store? Sure. Is it worth waiting in line for? Not by a long shot.

  6. Alex
    March 21, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    A few places in Denver got kegs of Pliny the Younger this year and made them first come – first serve events. I was tempted to go, but I prefer to drink beer in an atmosphere that doesn’t resemble this:

    Sure, it was nice when you could just show up at the door and be certain that you could get a special release beer or four, but those days are gone for now. I think that craft beer might just be experiencing a bubble in popularity at the moment, which might lead some brewers to hedge their bets a little bit, rather than taking on a lot of debt to expand their facilities. Many of these brewers have only recently become profitable, so if I were in their shoes, I would stay the course and build up some liquidity before even considering a large-scale expansion.

    • March 22, 2011 at 8:35 am #

      I agree – slow and steady, especially in an industry that rewards scarcity.

  7. March 21, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    One reason 3 Floyds hasn’t taken DLD to an outdoor festival in a park route is due to Indiana laws that would make them sell the beer to a distributor, then buy it back from the distributor to sell to attendees. We’ve got a GPO girl from Munster who claims the local fair grounds leave much to be desired.

    All in all, there is no good space to hold the event in the spirit of what DLD has been in the past. They have to evolve or shut it down completely.

    P.S. – I have tickets to Group A. Let me know if anyone wants to meet up. I’ll be in pink boots along with a bunch of other women in pink boots.

    • March 22, 2011 at 8:41 am #

      Thanks for the field report Tamre – your spies are everywhere!

      Maybe the craft beer scene has evolved beyond the point where the old-style Dark Lord Day is no longer popular. I’ve heard a lot about the “tipping point” lately, and maybe this is a sign that things are changing for better and worse.

  8. johnking82
    March 22, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    I just put my two tickets on Ebay, this is what I asked for in return:

    Weekend at Bernies DVD Set
    Anna Nicole Smith signed photograph
    Light Brown M&Ms
    500 blue ascots
    Original Lyrics to “Strokin” by Clarence Carter
    Up The Creek movie poster
    Unlimited nachos

    • March 22, 2011 at 9:02 am #

      Ha ha – if this is true, please send me a link – I’d love to have some fun with it.

      I was doing well until the Light Brown M&M’s…

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