This year, Three Floyds' Dark Lord Day will double as a craft beer-soaked protest rally.
The target: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his state’s controversial Freedom of Religion Restoration Act — the so-called “anti-gay” law that prompted national outrage from politicians, liberal activists and rock bands alike.
“We’re fighting the power of the governor of Indiana over the freedom of religion act, or whatever it’s called, that basically makes it legal to discriminate against anyone,” Three Floyds brewer-owner Nick Floyd said.
So, at Saturday’s annual celebration of Three Floyds Brewery’s Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout — the only day you can buy what many craft brew geeks consider the world’s best brew — Floyd added a gender-bending performer to co-headline its hard rock lineup of bands with the reunited original lineup of heavy metal rockers Corrosion of Conformity.
Floyd, who lives in Ukrainian Village, said his Munster, Ind.-based brewery also got calls from people asking him to protest the law by canceling Dark Lord Day — the one day of the year you can buy Three Floyds' Russian Imperial Stout — in protest of the controversial law.
“I tell them, ‘Look, Dark Lord Day is the biggest f--- y--- to that law,” Floyd said. “One lady even wanted to sell her ticket because she wants us to boycott [the law.] I had to tell her we’re on your side. We’re fighting back, and the best thing to do is come here and support us.”
Dark Lord Day’s protest vibe will be shaped by the booty-shaking “bounce” music of gay New Orleans hip-hop artist Big Freedia, who’s set to perform on what some Three Floyds fans on social media have already dubbed as the “F--- Indiana” stage.
Floyd got a kick out of that nickname but said, “Remember, Indiana’s still a state that has a lot of kick-ass craft breweries."
Big Freedia, the star of the Fuse Network show “Queen of Bounce,” said the Dark Lord Day performance aims to spread his motto: "Just Be Free," which doubles as the title of his latest album.
“It’s an opportunity to share my music and to get fans into the culture of bounce music and the message to let everyone be free to express yourself, be who you are and live life to the fullest extent possible,” said Big Freedia, whose real name is Freddie Ross.
“People should be able to do what they want in life and not be judged or put in a box or a category.”
After all, Big Freedia refuses to be defined by his sexuality or the fact he performs wearing women’s clothes.
“I’m an artist. I’m a gay artist. My preferred identity is, ‘any of the sort.’ My fans like to identify me as ‘she,’ but I’m comfortable with who I am, I know who I am and it’s all fine with me,” Big Freedia said.
Dark Lord Day's anti-discrimination protest will also be drinkable.
Three Floyds brewers created a beer tribute to the star of the Fuse Network show “Big Freedia Queen of Bounce” called Big Freedia Ale — a pink daiquiri-like Belgian Aae set to debut on Dark Lord Day.
“When they said, ‘Do you want a beer named after you?’ I said, ‘Hell yeah,’ ” said Big Freedia, who’s looking forward to getting a first taste of his namesake beer on Saturday.
“That’s awesome to get something named after you so people remember you by what they drank. People should expect to have a belly full of Big Freedia beer and to get those asses bouncing.”
It’s a bit ironic, however, that Dark Lord Day’s protest aims to send a message to Pence, who is expected to sign into law pro-craft brewery legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly that would allow Three Floyds and other small breweries to triple beer production.
While Floyd says he thanks Pence for his expected support of tripling brewing limits, "I condemn him for doing what he did" with the Freedom of Religion Restoration Act.
“He’s politically dead for doing what he did. … It gave Indiana a black eye.”
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