But that's how it goes. You get to the grand city of Munster, Indiana, at some ungodly minute in the morning, assuaged only by the hour you gain that close to Chicago and your coffee-flavored beer breakfast. The crowd of 5,000-plus puts a little wind in your sails, too.
The last two times I've gone it's been overcast and humid, but that's not terribly bad drinking weather, if you consider the alternative: increasingly ripe bodily odors in a line that doesn't quit.
I spent a couple of hours in that line to get the once-yearly manna, Dark Lord. It's Three Floyds Brewing Company's mean ol' mo'fo of a Russian imperial stout. The guy on the bottle would clearly eat you, given the chance.
For the record, this isn't my favorite style of beer — at least, not right away. At first, it's viscous as molasses, but the 12-plus percent ABV gives it lots of nasty bite. Like tequila, but not as smooth. Hot like it. The 2008 is just getting drinkable, and when I'm in the right mood, it's pretty damn good.
But you don't go to the event just for new Dark Lord beer. You go for the ridiculous counterculture that makes Sarah Palin's base look rational. And for the ever-changing lineup of American beers on tap that you might not get anywhere else.
But if you're really there for the title header, I've got good news:
You don't really need a Golden Ticket
If you don't know why you ostensibly need the Golden Ticket, I'm not sure why you're reading this — but welcome.
Golden Tickets are sold ahead of the event for people to redeem to buy up to six or so Dark Lord bottles. They're that popular.
But in fact, the moral of this story is that if missing the small window of Golden Ticket sales is your only excuse for not going, find a better one.
For example, one beer
commie hippie carrying some beer version of a ticket scalper sign made it his mission to redistribute the wealth. By noon, he had succeeded in procuring seven or eight golden tickets at cost or for free. He said he was going to give them to people that didn't get any. In beervana, I like to believe that could be true.
I myself had planned to buy my bottle off my friend Tamre, founder of Girls Pint Out, who ALWAYS buys her Golden Ticket in the tiny little parcel of time they sell them after the impromptu Twitter announcement. But this year, I didn't have to buy my bottles from her. After several hours of standing in the line to buy beer — actually, an accidental occurrence — I asked the dude next to me if he'd let me use his second ticket to get into the warehouse where they were selling. He did. I got in. And bought as many as my little heart desired. Which was two.
I hope this admission doesn't make the the process more stringent next year, but I doubt it will. Handling that many people and their paper indulgences will never be that precise. Yes, Golden Ticket sales go to charity — but late people like me usually miss them anyway.