Today will be my first time attending 3 Floyds Brewing’s Dark Lord Day. Dark Lord Day takes place once per year, usually in late April or early May, at the 3 Floyds brewpub in Munster, Ind.

Dark Lord Day is the annual celebration of 3 Floyds’ imperial stout, which started the first sort of craft beer craze nationwide.

Tickets for this event go on sale online earlier in the year and sell out almost immediately. Tickets cost $180, which guarantees you four bottles of Dark Lord and one bottle of a rare Dark Lord variant, a metal show and a tote bag. In honor of this craft beer holiday and my journey to each of these locations, I decided to write up this list of breweries.

I have been meaning to find a way to write about 18th Street Brewing, 5417 Oakley Ave, Hammond, Ind., for some time now, and I finally got my chance when the Brew Dude On Tour went rolling through Northwest Indiana. This one seems unfair, or as we might say in the gaming world “overpowered,” because the quality on this trip is ridiculous.

To give you some indication, 18th Street Brewing was voted the best brewpub in the United States by USA Today (10best.com/awards/travel/best-brewpub-2019) — not to leave out the second-place winner in the whole U.S., Old Irving Brewing, which I have written about before as well.

The 18th Street Brewing has had a special place in my heart for a long time. Whenever I’ve seen a new one of their beers at The Open Bottle in Tinley Park, it is a must grab for me to put in a mix and match six pack, regardless of beer style.

Also on the list is 3 Floyds Brewing. If you are reading this column, after all of this time, and you don’t know who 3 Floyds is, “Hello, welcome to the game, where have you been?” might be the first thing I’d say to you.

3 Floyds Brewing has its own sort of national holiday (Dark Lord Day) in craft beer. The tickets for this have been sold out since a few minutes after the tickets were released.

18th Street Brewing is 47 miles away in Northwest Indiana. It has its own parking lot just behind the Hammond brewpub; signage is clear — you are entering a space made by and for people who love heavy metal music.

I love metal, and I love this space. There was metal playing the entire time I was there but not to a degree that would be uncomfortable for someone not interested in this extreme music. I had a full pour of one of their hazy IPAs because I have had a lot of 18th Street beer in the past.

They also have a side pull tap for their Czech pilsner, Best Patio Pils, which is a commitment to the cause of high-quality draft beer. I had a pulled pork sandwich, which was fantastic, and I enjoyed a longer sit in the session than I normally do because I just really enjoyed the vibes. I love this spot, and I will be back soon.

The next stop is Byway Brewing, 2825 Carlson Drive, Hammond, which is only 5.3 miles from 18th Street.

Directions might tell you to take the interstate to get to Byway from 18th Street, but you do not have to go that route. You can take U.S. Route 41 to 173rd Street to Kennedy Avenue in order to avoid the highway.

Regardless, Byway Brewing is a must stop if you are in Northwest Indiana. It’s a big, beautiful location tucked into a little business area by the highway. I had almost everything on tap in a flight served in a cupcake tin.

Each beer was a great representation of the style, with some decent IPAs. The white stout I had was a real standout for me, but the general low-key warehouse vibe was a welcome chill spot to the metal vibes that bookend this trip.

The last stop of this trip is the immeasurable 3 Floyds Brewing of Munster, Ind., 6.4 miles from Byway Brewing. 3 Floyds Brewing is one of my favorite breweries in Chicagoland — maybe the world.

I have had a whole truckload of its beers. I always seek out its new beers. I have been to Munster probably more times than any other non-Chicago beer destination. I love 3 Floyds. This will be the first time I will attend Dark Lord Day, but I have had Dark Lord beer plenty of times.

One of my first craft beer experiences that stands out was when I worked at a craft beer bar in Lombard. The whole place redecorated for a new season of The Walking Dead and served Zombie Dust on tap when it was especially hard to come by.

3 Floyds has fantastic food, metal vibes, outrageously good beer and is a treasure to our area in general.

There has been some chatter about a significant expansion of its brewing operations coming soon, so watch the skies for that. Just next door, 3 Floyds opened up their distillery operations for patrons to sip some of the spirits it’s producing now.

3 Floyds also expanded distribution back to Kankakee County. We have been graced with a classic 3 Floyds label, Gumballhead, an American pale wheat ale. I have been told this distribution arrangement is temporary; with no word more is coming, you should stock up while you can now.

Rubicon from 18th Street Brewery

ABV: 7.2 percent

IBUs: N/A

Style: IPA – American

Notes: Brewed with Amarillo and Centennial Hops

Where to Buy: You can find this one at Liquor World in Kankakee in 16-ounce, four-pack cans for $11.99.

Rare Eagle from Byway Brewing

ABV: 7 percent

IBUs: 25

Style: Stout — White

Notes: Summer stout with lactose steeped with Small Town coffee beans and a combination of chocolate, vanilla and cinnamon

Where to Buy: As far as I know, you only can get this one at the taproom in Hammond, Ind., in 12-ounce pours for $6.

Gumballhead from 3 Floyds Brewing

ABV: 5.6 percent

IBUs: 35

Style: Pale Wheat Ale — American

Notes: Bright and refreshing with a lemony finish

Where to Buy: You can find this one locally at Liquor World in Kankakee or Liquor Zone in Bourbonnais in 12-ounce, six-pack bottles for $13.99.

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