UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — This year, Three Floyds' Dark Lord — a Russian imperial stout touted as the "most wanted beer in the world" — was brewed with Unicorn Blood.
That special new ingredient — a bold, mildly acidic espresso blend with hints of walnut, peanut butter and milk chocolate — is the handiwork of Dark Matter Coffee owner Jesse Diaz, who roasted it in Ukrainian Village specifically with Three Floyds' beer on his mind.
"I always wanted to work with Three Floyds," said Diaz. "I asked one of my customers what we should name it to get [Three Floyds' attention] and he said, 'Something heavy and dark.' … Unicorn Blood was perfect."
Three Floyds "Wizard CEO" Nick Floyd lives just a few blocks from the Dark Matter Coffee "mothership" at Western Avenue and Superior Street.
When he got word that Unicorn Blood was inspired by his namesake brews, Floyd stopped in to talk with Diaz about collaborating.
"They're a lot like us, got the same spirit, and they're a small operation," Floyd said. "They changed their whole company to make a coffee that they hoped we'd use. So, I have to give them props. It's f------ great coffee. I had to put it in Dark Lord."
Diaz remembers the special moment when Floyd shook his hand and said what amounted to magic words: "Let's make a beer together."
Beer geeks from around the country will get their first taste of the newest vintage on Saturday — Dark Lord Day — the one day a year when Three Floyds sells its most sought-after brew.
"We're all just flipping out and excited for Saturday when people will get to taste it," Diaz said. "All our partners in the beer community are super happy for us. That's why I love the beer community. They're not as shallow as my own coffee community."
Three Floyds' switch to Unicorn Blood apparently wasn't such glorious news for Intelligentsia Coffee, which had its Black Cat espresso included in previous batches of Dark Lord.
"Intelligentsia took a little offense to it, like how dare you use their coffee," Floyd said. "Maybe I'm a coffee neophyte, but when you smell Unicorn Blood it's almost like candy. Intelligentsia is still great and we still plan to use their coffee. This was just a business decision."
Intelligentsia, by the way, did not return calls and emails seeking comment about changes to the Dark Lord recipe, which remains a sweet, Chicago espresso and Mexican vanilla stout as thick as motor oil. It's 15 percent alcohol and has 50 percent more calories than a Big Mac.
Kyle Hodges, Dark Matter's minister of propaganda — which could be the coolest name for a public relations flack, ever — said he expected the partnership with Three Floyds to be a real boost for the tiny Ukrainian Village coffee roaster.
"We try really hard to do unique collaborations with other breweries, and to be included in Dark Lord is the ultimate symbol of respect," Hodges said. "Nick [Floyd] was very professional about his decision. It wasn't a slight to anyone else. Our partnership is a step in a new direction, and it really helps a smaller company like ours."
And for the Dark Matter crew — a rogue group of coffee roasters best known for bold coffee made with roasted "barrel-aged" Unicorn Blood coffee beans — Dark Lord Day will be something of a coming-out party for a Three Floyds-inspired iced coffee called "Black Hole Necromancer."
"It's a Remy Martin cognac barrel-aged red eye that's like rocket fuel," Diaz says, laughing.
About 800 bottles of Dark Matter's potent iced coffee — decorated with a charging unicorn hoisting a bloody sword on the label and dipped in the same blue wax that tops this year's Dark Lord — will only be sold on Dark Lord Day at Three Floyds' brewery in Munster, Ind.
Hodges warns folks not to overindulge in the caffeine-heavy bottled iced coffee.
"You might want to share a bottle. We recommend pouring either 4 or 8 ounces over equal parts ice," he said. "It packs a serious punch."
Click here to read more about Three Floyds' plans to expand production — and brew a Dark Lord whiskey.