Move Over Wine, Here Comes The Dark Lord | WBEZ
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Eight Forty-Eight

Move Over Wine, Here Comes The Dark Lord

Big beer companies produce some of the most entertaining ads on television, especially during the Super Bowl. But sales for domestic beer have gone flat the past year, including for big beers like Bud Light. That's not the case for craft beer. Craft beers are increasingly being produced at home by novice brewers. and microbreweries. While microbrewing is small, the affection many have for the beers produced isn't. That was evident this weekend at a huge celebration for the arrival of the Dark Lord.

Scott Bort mixes yeast in a small glass beaker.

BORT: What this does is keeps everything in suspension and it helps to aerate the yeast slurry, so it helps it propagate.

After several hours of this, Bort will add the yeast to hops and other ingredients for his home brewed beer.

The process can take weeks.

Once done, Bort's not shy about sharing his brew with friends over more common beers.

BORT: When a pitcher of Miller Light is brought to me, I smile, have my half-a-pint and just kind of go, ‘OK guys. That's fine. Let me bring my beer next time.

Bort works as a photographer for the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana. He's also the newspaper's beer blogger.

This past Saturday was an especially big day for Bort and others who enjoy the pleasures hand crafted beers.

An estimated 8,000 beer lovers descended on the small town of Munster, Indiana, about 30 minutes south of Chicago.

They've come for Dark Lord Day, a one-day event hosted by Three Floyds Brewing.

It's the only day you can buy Three Floyds' award-winning, high-alcohol content Russian Imperial Stout called … Dark Lord.

Attendees need a “golden ticket” to be able to purchase four bottles of Dark Lord, at $15 a pop.

But the day is more than just arriving to buy a bottle of beer. It's a day for craft-beer lovers to mix, mingle and share brews, some from microbrews around the country and some homemade.

Beer Blogger Scott Bort.

BORT: What they do people will bring you know, two, three, four, five beers from their area and will just drop it off and then we'll try everybody else's beer. We've got Half-Acre, Dark Horse from Michigan, New Glarus from Wisconsin.

Dark Lord attendee Justin Cochrun says he sees craft beers on the level as wine.

Cochrun is a bartender at the Gage Restaurant in downtown Chicago.

COCHRUN: People are considering it to pair with food, to drink with dinner to do more than a means to get drunk.

Susan Singer of Chicago is usually a wine drinker and attends wine tasting events. Dark Lord Day, she says, is something very unique from what's she experienced.

SINGER: This is way different. It's a very different crowd but it's wonderful though. Wine people don't see events like this. Everybody here loves beer and they're proud of it.

With more than 30 microbrews in Indiana, the popularity is expected to increase for Dark Lord beer and other unique brews.

And Microbrews ability to sell their products just got a bit easier in Indiana.

Starting July 1st, microbreweries will be allowed to sell their products, just like wine makers, on Sundays.

But big beer is still prohibited.

Lincoln Anderson is a salesman for Three Floyds. Anderson says the change in the law is good news for Three Floyds and other microbreweries in Indiana.

ANDERSON: I think it's fantastic. People are going to go out, they forget to buy some beer. The big game is on Sunday and they want to buy some beer, they are going to buy a craft beer instead of buying Bud, Miller, Coors or whatever. Not that there's not a place for those beers, but it gives the smaller producer a little more exposure.

One thing craft brews have in common with wine: Aging.

Although many waited long hours in line to grab a Dark Lord, many won't open them until six month to a year for a better taste. Some celebrated Saturday's event by opening last year's Dark Lord brew.

DARK LORD ATTENDEE (UNIDENTIFIED): I hope you can hear this because it sure sounds delicious.

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