Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Surly's Darkness Day Experience

Rob and I start our day out at 7am on Friday on our way to Brooklyn Center, Mn just north of Minneapolis. We get about 20 minutes out where I make a phone call to the brewery like I was told to do the day before. We were hoping that we would make it up in time to dip some of the beloved Darkness bottles. The tops of the bottles are dipped in wax because it looks cool and to keep any possible air from getting into the bottle. At first the person who answered the phone said they didn't really need us which bummed me out. I ask if it was Omar or Todd, and luckily it was Omar. (It would of been just as cool if it was Todd.) I tell Omar it's Andy from Beer Trip and he tells me to just come on in when we get there. Now I'm stoked, very stoked.

Rob and I go into the brewery and talk to some of the other people who are already dipping bottles. We get the low down on what to do and before we get started I wanted to talk to Todd and Omar. Rob and I go over and talk with Todd, which might sound sappy, but I really dig talking to him. He just comes off as a really down to earth, and despite what the beers are named, nice dude. I truly enjoy the time, though it's only been a few times, that I get to talk to him. We go back to where the dippin' is going down and see Omar. This is another dude I really enjoy shooting the shit with, good sense of humor, another down to earth guy and very busy dude the day before a Darkness day, everybody who works for Surly is the day before.

Rob and I jump in and start helping out anyway we can. We are also told by some of the guys dippin' that we need to go get ourselves a glass of the Wet Hop Ale that was on tap. Well, who are we to turn down a beer? We grab some and if you get the chance to try it, and you like hops, do your taste buds a favor and get yourself a glass of it. I have to admit, it felt weird rolling into the tap room and helping myself, pouring my little plastic cup full of Wet Hop. It was that same feeling where you might be in somebody you've only hung out with once before and you're in his/her house just reaching into their fridge, not because they said it was cool, but somebody else said it was ok. It just felt a little weird to me. Rob and I spent from 2:30p to 6:30 dipping bottles with a couple others and we did about 5 or 6 pallets worth. We did work!

Now we had heard that about 3ish that "Eddie" had brought in an RV and big towable smoker. Omar had come in about 5 to inform us that "Ed" had a bunch of chicken and ribs going. Now I'm thinking well that's cool, but I had no intention of going out there and having any. I figured Rob and I would head out to a place called Stub and Herbs to grab some food and get some Surly brew to drink. Well, Omar tells us to go out and grab some food. Rob and and Matt head out to grab some grub, and I end up talking to Surly's marketing guy, Alex. Well anybody that knows me, knows I love talking about my beer fridge, well because it's freaking awesome! So I pull up a pic of it on my phone, and I think dude was impressed. He pulls out his video camera and starts recording a vid of me showing him my fridge on my phone. Sorry but that is funny to me. Then he starts "interviewing" me for lack of a better term. Well we talk about home brewing and what's cool about the beer. I end the little deal by telling him that I'm pretty sure that my 12 year old daughter knows more about good beer than any Coor's Light lover ever will. He turns off his camera and says "That was the perfect way to end that." Those guys were very cool.

I finally make it outside, where everybody else was at and I was shocked to see the set up that Eddie had going on. Omar tells me to grab a plate and get served up. Again, it feels like I'm totally crashing this party uninvited and it just feels weird asking somebody I have never met to grind on some of his food. Well let me just say that when Eddie opens his smoker, my eyes got huge! There was probably 30 slabs of ribs and 20 half chickens on this smoker, it was just awesome looking. He gives me a huge chunk of chicken and ribs. It tasted as good as it all looked. Well Eddie owns a liquor store and he had gotten a keg of Dogfish Head 60 min IPA and Todd brought out a keg of Smoke Ale. Well there is about 15-20 people all chilling out at Eddie's compound just outside the gates of Surly and the beers started flowing. There was one more pallet left to dip and it was getting chilly so we all go in to finish the last pallet. Well I figured there was enough people going at it and so I'm basically just standing around where Omar and I are chatting, when he says, hey let's me and you go get me a beer. Well, Omar is a busy dude like I said before and for him to pick me out of all the people there and for just me and him to have a conversation between the two of us is pretty meaningful to me. We go to the tap room and he asks what I'm drinking I said well since I can't buy the Wet I better get as much of that as I can. I hand Omar my plastic cup that I've had since 2:30, he looks at me and says "Dude you love good beer, we need to get you a glass man" He hands me one of the new Darkness glasses full of Wet. We go check out the keg room and he asks me "How did you get into drinking good beer?" I tell him I've always drank different stuff but that Dan pushed me past the brink of never looking back to the macros. Then the inevitable happened, a beer nerd attack.

I'm going to interrupt this story by venting about beer nerds. Now I'm sure I've been described by some as one, along as everybody on Beer Trip Crew has. I'm here to tell you, that nobody in the BT crew nor anybody I've met on Beer Pal, or in any of my travels has ever even sniffed beer nerdness like this dude that interrupted I and Omar's convo. This guy was a the type of guy that keeps me off of the more popular Beer websites and makes me love BeerPal. I just couldn't stand this dudes vibe, and it bothers me when somebody can clearly see two dude talking then just comes in starts talking, then mid-sentence says, "Oh did I interrupt?" Jathink smart guy. Well unfortunately for me he didn't get the hint that he should of walked away, so I did. Later on in the evening I offered up some New Belgium La Folie, and another beer nerd asked what vintage it was. Really? How 'bout the free kind slick. Now what really got my goat was that I didn't see either one of these nerds offer anything up to the party. NOTHING. So here is a tip, if you don't bring anything don't be picky or pull out your pad and begin to rate it. Just say "hey thanks this is great" and move on. As a side note on top of a side note and not to steal any of Rob's thunder if he writes his version of this but he was telling me a couple day afterward that he saw one the dis-liked beer nerds actually pour himself a big glass of Cran-bic, which this dude was very, very graciously sharing the next morning, only to dump it out after a sip. I'm glad I didn't witness this, cuz I'm pretty sure I would of gone into dick-mode and said something I shouldn't have. These dudes in no way diminished my trip, but the did need to be called out. Now back to the FUN!

We all end up back outside at Ed's party palace and that's when the beer really starts to flow. I bust out the Free State beers and I was very happy that everybody really dug all three growlers that we brought and I'm super happy Dan had the great idea of bringing some up. It was a hit and it ended up getting Rob and I some new nicknames. Mine is Kansas and Rob, Kansas2. Ed's crew couldn't of been cooler to us if they tried, everybody treated Rob and I like rock stars. We continue to drink awesome beers and I wish I had a list of all the great beers people were pouring to share. Next thing I know it's 1 am, only 11 more hours till the gates open for Darkness Day! Rob is a trooper and stays up to drink, and I head into the Tahoe for some cold sleep.

5:30 am Rob wakes up to use the port-a-potty and informs me that the line is already past the Tahoe. I get up and see that there is a line that is already about 50-70 people deep. I'm stunned, shocked, and not 100% sure my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. I go and grab the chairs and get ourselves in line. Rob goes back into the Tahoe to sleep and I watch the sun come up on a very frosty Minnesota morning. About 7:30a the Ed crew starts to come alive, so I'm hangin' out with them checking on the chairs from time to time. Then I'm asked, dude are you in line? I say yeah, then I'm laughed at. Dude you're with Ed's crew and he's the line leader! Again, I didn't want to assume that, it's not how we roll. Well I get our chairs out of line, a line that is now about 400 deep at about 8a. Yes I'm blown away by this. By 9a I'm guess the line is at the max of people who are promised a wristband that gets you a max of 6 bottles. By 10:30 you're chances are that of a snowball surviving in hell, because the line has to be around around 1100 or more. The line at this point in the morning is easily over a half mile long. I just can't even comprehend this, it's a sight that pictures won't do justice, you have to see this for yourself.

Well the gates are getting ready to open and, and Rob and I are two of the first 10 to get our wristbands. Once the gates open we go in grab a quick bite to eat, grab out Darkness bottles, say our good byes to all our new friends, Omar and Todd. Unfortunately, we were able to try some of the beers they were having on tap, due to us have some earlier that morning and having a 6 to 7 hour drive in front of us. Rob and I take off at about 1:30p and head to a liquor store where we proceed to drop another $300 bones on nothing but Surly beer.

I was an awesome 36 hour trip with little sleep, but I think Rob would agree that it was so worth it. The new friends we met, the beer we got to drink, and the purchase of Surly's Darkness was all a very cool experience. Omar and Todd once again treated us better than I could of, would of ever expected. There is no way I will miss a Darkness Day. As for next year I CAN'T WAIT! Andy a.k.a Kansas!