In the small town of Munster, Indiana, about 30 miles outside of Chicago, a small craft brewery is making an awful lot of noise. Armed with an arsenal of aggressive beers and a bold attitude, Three Floyds Brewing Co. carries its love of all things beer and heavy metal through every aspect of production, earning it a dedicated cult following of both beer enthusiasts and musicians throughout Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Kentucky (where the beers currently are distributed).
Founded by brothers Nick and Simon Floyd and their father, Mike, the Floyds started with a mission to make big, interesting brews without regard to popular drinking trends. “When Nick founded the brewery in 1996, he was making beers that were way out in left field for most people, but they were beers that he wanted to drink,” production manager Andrew Mason says. “We continue with that model today. We’re still making the beers that we want to drink, and we’re fortunate that other people are excited about it.”
Though its top three brews—Alpha King, Zombie Dust, and Gumball Head—are hop-forward in both flavor and aroma, the brewery insists that it always aims to make lagers and ales that are balanced and drinkable as well. “Anyone can throw loads and loads of hops in the kettle,” Mason says, “but there needs to be some thought that goes into creating a beer to make it hoppy and enjoyable.” Some of its more outside-the-box beers like the Robert the Bruce Scottish ale and the Jinx Proof Dortmunder-style lager exemplify Three Floyds’ more balanced nature.
The brewing team also infuses its love of metal music into certain brews, collaborating with upwards of 10 bands on special-edition beers like Evil Power with Lair of the Minotaur, In the Name of Suffering with Eyehategod, and Ragnarok with Amon Amarth. The Permanent Funeral collaboration with Pig Destroyer yielded a hyper-hoppy imperial IPA that earned the brewery a silver medal at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival—an honor proving that beer and metal make for favorable bedfellows.
Honoring the (Dark) Lord
Three Floyds’ Dark Lord Day started as a simple imperial-stout release event with a few hundred people in attendance in 2004. Since then, it has escalated into a daylong festival that draws in thousands of people from around the Midwest. In addition to being the only day of the year that the brewery sells the coveted Dark Lord imperial stout, the owners also bring their love of metal to the masses to sweeten the festivities. For the second straight year, High on Fire headlined the 2014 event, with Eyehategod, Corrections House, Iron Reagan, and more joining the fun.
Though navigating the logistics of such an event still causes a few headaches for the brewery, its owners wouldn’t have it any other way. “It’s very cool to know that people from all over the country, and even the world, flock to our industrial park in Northwestern Indiana to celebrate beer with us,” Mason says.