Edit: Now that Three Floyds has entirely randomized which variant you’ll receive, the “Predicted Sell Out Order” section below is no longer relevant.
Copious amounts of applause to the Floyds for making the intrepid decision to finally move Dark Lord Day back in the calendar 2 weeks, after 3 straight years of cold, blustery weather at best, and oceanic squall conditions at worst. Though I’ve enjoyed going to the last 3, I’ll be missing it, while at the Mikkeller Beer Celebration in Copenhagen.
This year, I’ve got no skin in the variant fight. I know some people are angered at the replacement of a barrel aged variant with 2 bottles of vintage Lord. If I had tickets, that would make me a bit salty as well. Upon learning all variants will be portioned out equally through all sessions, that throws an enormous snag in the wheel. That certainly speaks to how Group A tickets were announced 7 hours before they went on sale (versus the usual 2-3 hours or less) and they still took until after 4:00pm to sell out, on a Saturday no less.
That to me speaks to the rebuke of the new policy by locals. My first Dark Lord Day in 2014, in-person tickets went on sale at 8:00am, on a Saturday and were sold out by 10ish.
Since I’m not Dark Lording this year, I decided to power rank the variants both in expected quality/taste/value, and how quickly each will sell out.
Predicted Best Variants
- Marshmallow Handjee — Bourbon barrel aged Dark Lord with vanilla beans
- Ronaldo — Dark Lord aged in Muscat barrels with tart Michigan cherries
- Bourbon barrel-aged Dark Lord — Dark Lord aged in bourbon barrels
- ChemTrailMix — Dark Lord aged in bourbon barrels with cinnamon and pink peppercorns
- French Vanilla Militia — Dark Lord Aged in Muscat Barrels with Vanilla, Cocoa Nibs and Coffee
- Dark Lord De Muerte — Dark Lord aged in bourbon barrels with guajillo peppers
- Dia Oscuro — Dark Lord aged in ardbeg barrels
Predicted Sell Out Order
- Marshmallow Handjee
- French Vanilla Militia
- Bourbon barrel-aged Dark Lord
- Dark Lord De Muerte
- Dia Oscuro
Make no mistake, I think moscato barrels are a bad choice for FVM. Remember how 4 years ago they sold Moscatel Dark Lord at Dark Lord Day, and it was such a sweet mess that they still had a few hundred bottles to sell just before the NEXT Dark Lord Day?
It is possible for Muscat to work, as Sicario Pina came out like a tasty Dole pineapple candy journey, but with the brutal sugars of Dark Lord, the sweetness piles on too strongly. I loved FVM last year, but add the grapey sweetness of moscato and I don’t think it will play well with the vanilla espresso qualities. I expect this will sell out 2nd on hype alone, but definitely not be the silver medalist variant.
Ronaldo on the other hand could potentially work, if the cherries are as tart as advertised. I recently had that Goose Island Raspberry Port one off they sold in the tap room. At this point you may remember Port Dark Lord. Another boondoggle in the sickeningly sweet scorched earth history of the Lord. Port Raspberry Bourbon County worked well in this case due to the tartness of the raspberries balancing out the sweetness of the port barrels. Same thing here, hopefully.
ChemTrailMix would seem to me to be the biggest risk/reward bottle this year. As long as the peppercorns aren’t entirely off putting, this could sneak on to the medal stand. It could just as easily join Temeculan 3000 in the bottom of the worst variants
De Muerte last year was the best of the Muerte variants I’ve had so far. They achieved perfect balance of sweet and heat without the vegetal qualities that have plagued pepper beers, and previous Dark Lord De Muerte’s, specifically.
Bourbon Dark Lord is perpetually underrated. There’s nothing more to say.
I’m morbidly curious in Ardbeg Dark Lord, not unlike I was with last years Temeculan Andre 3000. Scotch whisky barrels so rarely work well with big stouts, but putting the Lord in one of the more peaty brands is a non-starter for me.
Enjoy the day, kids. Remember, you can’t drink enough water, but if you have the choice, the BA Water is best.