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Some Dark Lord Day Thoughts

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Rohit Naimpally

Pol Sci, Econ and Cricket geek who loves a good pint

I had a good Dark Lord Day 2010. Correction: I had a great Dark Lord Day. The rain held off, the beer was good, the company better and I came back with nary a complaint. Expect a more detailed post on Dark Lord Day in the near future, but for now, I just wanted to address a few concerns that I have been hearing over the past few days.

1. The lines were too long: The folks at Three Floyds were expecting around 8000 people and some post-event estimates place the number closer to 12000. With that many people, lines are inevitable. I really do not understand this objection- sure, the lines were a tad on the long side, but one could hardly fault Three Floyds for that. If you can come up with a better way to order people that are waiting for something, I would love to hear it. A number of us waited in line and used the opportunity to chat with other beer enthusiasts and sample brews- glass half full, or half empty?
2. There were too many people: Again, the question I have is: what would you have Three Floyds do? I cannot think of a reasonable way by which to restrict the number of people that attend, short of restricting attendees to those with Golden Tickets, or some other form of ticketing mechanism. However, this would seem to go against the spirit of the event. One could either view DLD as primarily an opportunity to get one's Dark Lord, or take a more holistic view and enjoy everything about the day, from the tasting tents to the guest taps to the actual sale of Dark Lord. I know of a fair number of beer enthusiasts that were unable to get Golden Tickets, or even Dark Lord, but still had a great time at the event. I think the event benefited greatly from the diversity of people there, from all over the country, trading beer and just enjoying the moment. Would I have preferred fewer people? Perhaps to some degree, but I just view it as a part of the event that one simply deals with. In addition, they would not be providing the large number of guest taps if it wasn't for the large numbers expected. Would you really prefer to see fewer guest taps?

3. Three Floyds botched the Golden Ticket sales and the website crashed: This is a quibble that I have been hearing for a while now. Granted, it was frustrating to have the site go down and not be able to purchase tickets. However, I should point out that even sites that do this on a regular basis (see: Ticketmaster) have been known to crash when volumes reach unmanageable proportions. When even large companies struggle with this aspect of online sales, it seems unreasonable to expect a small brewery to have a foolproof system in place.

4. Three Floyds changed the bottle quota per ticket and mismanaged the bottle limit altogether: This is perhaps the quibble that irks me the most. First off, Three Floyds only promised the holder of the Golden Ticket Dark Lord...they never made a commitment to the number of bottles. The limit was set at 4 bottles per ticket last year and while I expect a similar amount this year, I would not have been unhappy with less. From a pure cost perspective, even if the limit was two bottles per ticket, that would still mean a price of only $20 per bomber (you could definitely do worse, for worse beers even).
The quibble seems to mostly stem from the fact that Three Floyds changed the bottle limit from four to three at some point during DLD- fearing that they would run out- before raising it back up to four; presumably, the objectors received only three bottles and not four. Again, DLD is not all about buying Dark Lord (and if it is to you, thats too bad, but Three Floyds cannot cater to every individual preference). Furthermore, the sheer numbers make this a difficult event to plan for- you should be happy to have any Dark Lord at all. A lot of us were lucky to get Golden Tickets in the first place, just as some were luckier than others when it came to the bottle limit. There is always an element of luck in these things and you just hope for the best.

5. The lines were too disorganized, merging into each other: This is an objection that I have at least a little sympathy towards, especially for those that were unfortunate enough to have people cutting in ahead of them in line. You would certainly have reason to feel aggrieved if cutters deprived you of your Dark Lord/guest beer of choice/urgent bathroom trip. Again though, I do not understand objections from people that waited in the wrong line for a while, only to discover the truth much later. I waited in the wrong line for more than an hour last year and I blame it entirely on my own stupidity/inability to ascertain the facts properly. If you care so much about being in the right line, make enough efforts to find out which one is the right line! The central point where lines for Dark Lord, guest beers and the bathrooms all merged was pretty chaotic and Three Floyds could have perhaps made better arrangements on that front.

I think it's important to remember that the event is relatively young (this was only the second year of Golden Ticket sales) and it wasn't too long ago that Nick Floyd used to personally hand out Dark Lord to the few enthusiasts that made it down to Munster. The event has grown organically over the years and as it continues to evolve, Three Floyds continues to come up with better ways to manage the event. Sure, there might be problems along the way, but its always worth keeping them in perspective. The delivery of guest beers this year was much better than last year, moving proceedings out of the warehouse and into a trailer outside; the selection of guest beers remained fantastic. In addition, full pours of the guest beers were sold for the flat price of $6 per 16 oz. pour (think: 16 oz. of Raspberry Bourbon County Stout for $6), especially great given the quality of a lot of the guest taps. I also noticed a lot more tasting tents this time, moving away from the giant ones in the middle of things- proof that more people were getting into the spirit of sharing.

In the lead-up to Saturday, I read a criticism of DLD that seemed to sum up a lot of things that are wrong with the dissenting voices. In particular, the following line stuck out:

Is beer really worth a day amongst a sea of drunks, listening to alcoholic road stories about the barley wine some dude found at an organic free-trade nanobrewery outside of Missoula? Is anything?
I am all for voicing objections and finding creative ways to improve the event, but this is just ridiculous. If the attitude above sums up one's attitude to the people at DLD, then I can't see one enjoying too many beer events. One of my favorite parts about DLD is meeting people from all over, sharing beer, hearing their stories and being part of the greater beer community. Lets appreciate DLD for what it is.

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7 Comments

dave312 said:

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This is probably one of the most ridiculous things I've ever read. You just spent 5 points telling people they are ridiculous for voicing objections, then said, "I'm all for voicing objections..."

Conflicted much?

Some of us that have been to multiple DLDs have seen the event balloon to one of the largest beer release days in the country. And make no mistake - DLD is a BEER RELEASE DAY. If they want to turn it into a festival, then plan it like a festival.

Instead, those of us that have been to multiple DLDs have seen the crowds and 3F's profit soar, with little to no consideration paid to the enjoyment of the attendees.

Matt Tunnell said:

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I think Rohit makes some good points, but then again I write the blog here too. I think that the people making the mistake here are the people who look at Dark Lord Day ONLY as a beer release day and overlook the other opportunities that it provides, which is really what the point of this post was. You neatly manage to overlook this and say that Dark Lord is not serving the interests of those attending whereas Rohit is very clearly arguing that it still does, if in new and different ways.
I won't contest the idea that things need improvement even though I waited in line and received a full allotment of Dark Lord with no difficulty. And I agree that DLD needs to function effectively as a beer release as well. However, the arguments that you've been to multiple Dark Lord Days and that 3f profits are "soaring" ring pretty hollow. You espouse a strange brew of exclusivity (It was cooler before you knew about it!) and populism (3F is exploiting us!) and I find that more ridiculous than anything Rohit said.

dave312 said:

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Here's the deal - and this is where you are completely missing the point - your boy Rohit decides to bitch and moan because there are others out there bitching and moaning about how poorly the event was run. He needed to be called on the hypocrisy of saying "I'm all for voicing objections" after spending several paragraphs belittling anyone that did have an objection.

The event obviously has grown into something much larger than a beer release day, and 3F's should have the foresight to step up and treat it as such. As it stands, it's some kind of androgynous mixture that is no longer getting the job done. I'm sure you were pleased with the event considering you got your full DL allotment. Dismissing the frustrations of those who did not get the full allotment is bush league.

Rohit Naimpally said:

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Actually, I am not belittling anyone, nor am I "objecting" to people voicing their criticisms. Rather, I "address" the objections by engaging with them; I ultimately don't find enough in the objections to justify them (which is not to say that there aren't valid objections to be made). This is a process called dialogue or conversation- not all disagreements are disagreeable you know (although that seems to be a subtlety that has escaped you). Putting the frustrations in perspective is very different from disagreeing with them. At this point though, we have gone from discussing the event to discussing your ability to engage in constructive dialogue; now THAT ability is something that I am comfortably dismissive of.

Conflicted much? Hardly. Misunderstood much? Apparently.

dave312 said:

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Condescending much? Definitely.

You 'address' the objections by dismissing them. As challenging as this is to comprehend, some people recognize many of the points that you list out above as serious flaws in the planning and execution of the event. You aren't adding perspective, you're simply being a three floyds apologist.

twarn said:

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Oh me, oh my. Now we've just returned to the beginning of the discussion. Condescension, nah, it's just a lesson you need to learn.

Item 1: Did Rohit 'address' objections by 'dismissing' them? The short answer: Quotation marks have been overused in the above 5 posts to a hilarious extent. Longer answer: Nah, he did certainly express a degree of frustration with complaints that he felt were unfounded. To provide an analogy: I find many of the complaints directed toward Obamacare to be the misguided responses of folks whose perspectives differ from my own. Do I dismiss them? No, but I suggest a different lens from which to examine the facts whilst recognizing that each viewpoint has its origin, valid or not. In this same way, I recognize that your objection to the--pardon me--festivalization of DLD is the result of your predisposal to snobbishness and instead of dismissing your claims, I suggest that perhaps you should reexamine the event in a different light. Rohit sufficiently addressed the rest of this claim in the above post.

Item 2: Did Rohit fail to recognize the fact that: “some people recognize [that] many of the points [listed above] as serious flaws in the planning and execution of the event?” Short answer: LOVE quotation marks. Longer answer: ARE YOU SERIOUS? Merely by addressing these complaints did Rohit recognize them. This is honestly the absurdity of the day. He recognizes them and then SUGGESTS AN ALTERNATIVE RESPONSE.

Item 3: Is Rohit a 3F apologist? In the sense that Rohit is defending 3F from criticisms with which he disagrees, then yes. But, if you are suggesting that Rohit is defending something at the expense of people who are under the impression that DLD is being ruined by an excess of people who honestly enjoy beer, then absolutely not. Lighten up. Enjoy the beer. It’s a tasty batch this year.

rageagainsttheroutine said:

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DLD 2010 was my first and it was quite an enjoyable experience. My friends and I arrived at about 8 A.M., found parking about a block from the brewery, and set up camp right across the street from the brewery. We drank good beer, grilled some sausages, and engaged in lively banter. I was able to get Vanilla Bean Dark Lord and Oak Aged Dark Lord by waiting in a short line, once at 10:15 and again at around noon. I got in line with my Golden Tix around 2 P.M. and had Dark Lord bottles in hand by 5 P.M. In line, I met beer lovers from around the Midwest and shared pickled veg with people I had just met. DLD 2010 definitely met my expectations for a festival of this nature.

Dark Lord Day is the only day of the year to buy Three Floyds Dark Lord Russian Imperial stout. DLD is a festival where participants can meet other beer enthusiasts, sample beers from all over the world, buy Dark Lord, try Oak Aged Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, eat BBQ, listen to live music, and generally have a great time.

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