Nowadays, you don't need to wait in line. The fans do anyway.
It’s not surprising that the reputation of Darkness is somewhat shrouded in, well, darkness. It drinks deeply of its own -- partially self-created -- mythology. People do wait in line. People love the beer deeply. Many stores sell out quickly. But not all of the beer disappears instantly. I found 2017 Darkness at a liquor store just days before this year’s Darkness Day. It’s not necessarily easy to find, but it’s around. What has continued the reputation of Darkness as a beer worth waiting in line for is the community.
“People don’t need to wait to get the beer,” Ansari concedes. “That probably stopped after four years when we started making more for liquor stores. The event that's grown into Darkness Day today was born out of scarcity, but the line still exists because of community and the desire to talk and share bottles.”
“They love hanging out in line and the camaraderie of meeting people who have traveled to be at the event,” Brausen says. “At the same time, they don’t have to be there to get bottles. In fact, two of the guys who do it own liquor stores. The one, year after year, would bring his camper there first thing Friday afternoon to park his trailer up front.”
Even as Darkness Day expanded this year, people lined up hours in advance to get their bottles even though bottle were guaranteed with their ticket, according to head brewer Ben Smith. The brewery even got the Somerset campground to waive its no-bottle policy so the bottle exchange could live on.
People love Darkness, but it intentionally doesn’t drive the kind of insanity some limited release beers, like Toppling Goliath’s KBBS. Darkness thrives on community more than scarcity now, but they still welcome you to wait in line.
“People still did it because for a lot of people sharing bottles on Friday night was Darkness Day," Ansari says. "That’s my favorite part, that it’s just something people did on their own. We didn’t have much to do with that, which is pretty neat.”