This could probably be two totally separate posts (Celebrity Guest-ing at The Four Firkins AND Darkness Day Eve), but since the whole thing unfolded over the course of six hours, we’re going to pack it all into one.
About a month ago, Bryan over at The Four Firkins asked me if I would have any interest in stopping by the store one night to be their Celebrity Guest.
Answer: Yes. Always Yes.
I remember the first time I visited the store at The Old Location, shortly after I turned 21. It was filled to bursting with bottles and styles I had never seen before, and frankly, I was overwhelmed. Marcus was very patient with me as I tried to figure out what I could possibly fill my first ever pick-six pack with and when we departed, I felt relieved.
I had survived this strange new world.
Good news party-people. Fast-forward five years. I know the styles now and I am overwhelmed no longer. We have come full circle.
So. Celebrity Guest.
What does all of this mean?
Each Friday and Saturday night from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM at The Four Firkins, The Convict’s Pint is open. The Convict’s Pint, as it so happens, is the lovely tasting bar at the back of the store where they host a sampling of the week’s newest beer along with a smattering of snacks to munch on. All for free.
It’s a beautiful thing.
As the lady of the hour, I got to log some quality time behind the bar with Doug, and when I wasn’t doing that I was mingling with the other customers.
In case you haven’t realized this about me yet, I really like meeting people. Sometimes I try to argue my case for being an Introvert with Marcus because I really do cherish having some Me Time to recharge. But I think that the above sentence probably blows it to bits.
Also: This snap of Michael and I. It’s a terrible one of me, but otherwise, he will not get his moment in The Blog Sun.
Which he very much deserves. He and the rest of the Firkins Comrades are nothing short of Beer Geniuses.
At one point during the evening, Marcus and I were invited to sit for a photo on the VIP couch. I like to think that the fact that we had not seen how any of the other photos turned out allowed us to come up with this.
That shot is the love child of The Finer Things Club and too many seasons of America’s Next Top Model.
And then it was back to business.
More sampling, more snapping and more chatting.
I knew that after the store closed, the guys were heading up to Brooklyn Center to take part in the Darkness Day Eve festivities.
Back story: Darkness Day is the annual festival day that Surly Brewing Company hosts each year to fete the limited release of their beer, Darkness. It’s a Russian Imperial Stout and in the beer drinking world, it is pretty much The Business. Since supplies are so low to begin with, Surly Nation camps out overnight in order to get the wristbands that will allow them the opportunity to buy (on a timed basis) up to six bottles of the beloved brew.
It’s sort of A Big Thing. I had never been, and so I decided to see if Team Firkins would be willing to let me tag-along for that portion of the evening as well. Because if you’re going to do something, Go Big. Do not pass go. Do not look back.
Our main mission was to walk the line, pass out free beer, distribute discount tokens and do a bit of Four Firkins-style evangelism (does it ever really end?). After that, we were free to join the revelers.
Ian was a lifesaver and picked out the beers that I was to bring with. I know I just said that we were passing out free beer. Bear with me. In addition to the camping and the grilling (Scott ended up running through something on the order of 100 lbs of meat) there is the beer sharing and trading.
It’s a lot to keep track of, really.
But, if you’re going to jump in with both feet, it’s always helpful to have someone who knows what they’re doing. My instructions to Ian: I just want to be cool.
We ended up with Cuveé Van De Keizer Golden Carolus.
Stone’s Enjoy By 11.12.13.
Olvalde’s Ode to a Russian Shipwright.
Or, as Ian explained it to me, something Belgian to share with the Minnesotans, an IPA with an expiration date and something Minnesotan to share with the attendees from out-of-state.
Supplies stashed away, I hopped into the car with Alvey and we were on our way.
Naturally we shared life stories en route. It’s just the thing to do.
This is also the point in our tale where I shift from past tense to present tense, because for some reason it all just sounds better to me that way. You’ve been warned.
So we pull into the Caribou parking lot which is a half mile away from the brewery proper and I am informed that already it is Much Busier than it has ever been. Not that I have anything to compare it to.
We organize ourselves and caravan towards the tail end of the line to begin our work. Remember how I said that people camp out? There are hundreds of them.
Before we can even properly begin with the distribution of things and whatnot, I am pulled into a snap with some of the artists who have designed the labels for Darkness (a new label is revealed each year).
Pictured: Ben McCoy, Adam Turman, Michael Berglund and Josh Lemke.
Can I just take a moment to say that this snap will slay me for the rest of my life because (1) we all look great in it, (2) had I been a little more mentally present and a little less overwhelmed, I would have had So Many Questions To Ask These Guys.
We get moving.
As we move down the line, I’m busy chatting people up at their campsites. In my party dress and heels. It’s something like 10:00 PM, it’s 50-ish degrees outside. Because all of this makes sense.
If it is not already apparent to you how I may be inappropriately dressed for this sort of festivity, I think this snap really puts it into perspective.
At one campsite I am offered a glass of Surly SeVIIn, which seems really too nice to offer a total stranger. I am given a freshly off the fire bratwurst at the next and yet another glass of beer, this time Founders’ Breakfast Stout at a third.
I am the one who is meant to be giving things out. Not the other way around.
Beer in one hand, brat in the other, I find Ian and he dumps some of the chili he has sourced onto my brat, thus improving it. The more serious (and nagging question) I have is Where On Earth Did That Chili Come From?
But these are not things we can know answers to.
I have a little chat with some nice men who had driven in from North Dakota. I know that people do this, but still, it’s rather mind-blowing to me.
Finally, we are at the end (or rather, the beginning) of the line.
Where we find Scott and his camp.
Scott’s personal tradition each year is to venture to the end of the line from time to time with an unopened bottle of that year’s release of Darkness. Once he establishes where the very last camp is, he cracks open the bottle and starts working his way up until it is emptied.
Marcus has now arrived in Brooklyn Center and so we are invited to join him for that.
And so we toast with these fellow members of Surly Nation, and return back to the front. Hiking and hello-ing. As I interrogate Scott about all things Surly.
From there it is a few more mysterious glasses of God Only Knows What. The reason being given for pouring: The bottle is already open. There a few more exclamations about my choice of footwear (heels on, don’t care) and Marcus informs me that if we do not begin the trek back to Plymouth, we will probably turn into pumpkins.
A HUGE thank you to The Four Firkins for allowing me to join them for their tasting on Friday night and for then letting me invade their Darkness Day Eve festivities. They could have said No, but instead they allowed me to join them on An Excellent Adventure. Another thank you to Alvey for sharing all of the snaps up here with me, excluding the bottles. Where I was not photo-documenting the evening, you were and I owe you big time!