I arrived on Friday October 24 right at 3:30 p.m. as they were letting the line of vehicles that had already positioned themselves drive into the official parking areas for the weekend. I found my friend who had gotten an RV and we set up our "camp." There was a line of tables and chairs where people set out their beer and food and got ready for the night. This became the line for wristbands the next morning.
The night before is impressive. People literally bring their beer cellars. I have never seen so many whales. But, they don't just bring these rare beers and keep them to themselves, they are generously and willingly shared. We walked up and down the line, poured from growlers we had brought, and people readily gave us tastes of anything and everything they had: Darkness from previous years, Dark Lord, Hunaphu's, Goose Island Bourbon County vintages, Westvleteren XII, you name it. People who had been to Dark Lord day and the Hunaphu release said there was no comparison to the friendliness and generosity of Darkness Day attendees. In addition, there were homebrewers and new breweries who brought kegs to share. I tasted a couple of the offerings from Oude Oak that will be opening in the Duluth area. They were great, and I particularly liked their pale ale made with brett and dry-hopped with Mosaic hops. My friend, who had been twice before, met people from previous years in the line, and we made a great group of new friends.
The website said the line for wristbands would start at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday. However, I don't think they started giving any out until about 9:00 a.m. We spent the time chatting and opening even more beers with our new friends and drinking coffee supplied by Caribou, which has a store just down the street. The wristbands gave time frames when you could go to a warehouse down the street and buy your allotment of Darkness Day, up to six bottles. We were in the first group at 11:00 a.m.
After getting our allotment, we went into the festival on the brewery grounds where they were pouring Surly beer. The Todd the Axe Man IPA was awesome. I also got to try a cask of mole Bender that was really good. There were several great food trucks and several death metal bands played. The festival lasted about six hours. Once it was over, the crowd cleared out surprisingly rapidly.
Overall, the event ran quite well, and kudos to those many folks who served as volunteers and made it run. It was quite the event and quite the experience.
Headlining band was Goat Whore: