Flossmoor Station hosts Pre-Dark Lord Day with annual Wooden Hell release

Self-described beer geeks traveled from far and wide to sample Wooden Hell, arguably Flossmoor Station’s rarest and most renown brew.
Ryan Czaja, brewmaster for Flossmoor Station, shows off a bottle of this year's Wooden Hell. (Mary Compton/H-F Chronicle)
  Ryan Czaja, brewmaster for
  Flossmoor Station, shows off
  a bottle of this year's Wooden
  Hell.
 (Mary Compton/H-F Chronicle)
 

Rich Skeldon and Joni Micklewright visited from Kankakee to pick up bottles of Wooden Hell at the brewery’s annual Pre-Dark Lord beer fest on May 17. Skeldon said it was the sixth or seventh time he had been to Flossmoor Station for the release of the beer.

 
He added that the first time he tasted Wooden Hell, he recognized it as a “phenomenal beer.” 
 

Flossmoor Station hosted the craft beer fest a day before the annual Dark Lord Day at 3 Floyds Brewing Co. in Munster, Ind. That brewery hosts a huge bash marking the release of its Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout, a limited release beer, that draws thousands who purchase pre-sold tickets.

Other area breweries, including Flossmoor Station, plan their own beer release parties during Chicago Craft Beer Week, which also coincides with the Dark Lord event in Munster.

Flossmoor Station's Wooden Hell is English barleywine style beer. Ryan Czaja, the restaurant's brewmaster, described as tasting somewhere between a red lager and a stout with notes of caramel, bourbon, coffee and oak.

 
“The caramel is more pronounced, while stouts are more (tastes of) of coffee, and heavier,” he said.
 

Flossmoor Station patrons defy the crummy weather and relax outside during the release party for this year's version of Wooden Hell. (Carrie Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)
  Flossmoor Station patrons
  defy crummy weather to relax
  outside during the release
  party for this year's version of
  Wooden Hell. 
(Carrie Steinweg/
  H-F Chronicle)
 

The 9.5 ABV percent beer is aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels. Bottle pick-ups and sales took place at the beer fest along with a tapping in the bar. Czaja said Wooden Hell will be sold on tap at the bar until it is gone.
 
And once it’s gone, it’s gone — until next year. 
 
“It’s a great event,” Skeldon said of the beer release as he and Micklewright sat in the beer garden listening to live music by M.G. Bailey. “They keep improving the space. There’s a new fire pit and the caboose with the little bar is new.”

 

The caboose, situated in the patio area, previously served as an ice cream shop. It is taking on a new life this season as the Brew Caboose. The taproom has a handful of high-top tables and some historic train-related photos on the wall where patrons can enjoy some of Flossmoor Station’s craft brews.
 

The first photo is of Sandi Nelson, general manager, on left and owner Carolyn Armstrong on the right, with a bottle of their limited-release Wooden Hell Barley Wine Barrel-Aged Beer. (Carrie Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)
  Flossmoor Station general
  manager 
Sandi Nelson, left,
  and owner Carolyn Armstrong
  display the limited-release
  Wooden Hell barleywine
  barrel-aged beer.
  
(Carrie Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)
 

Dean Armstrong, a co-owner of Flossmoor Station with his wife, Carolyn, said it’s the only taproom in the country — if not the world — located in a caboose. The pre-Dark Lord event was the first opportunity for patrons to get a look inside.
 
Elliot Grace made the trek from Dixon, Ill., to collect pre-ordered bottles to share at an annual party with friends that they’ve dubbed Barley Wine Fest. His party was set for the next day and he was looking forward to sharing bottles of Wooden Hell, which he’d tried at their annual party once before. It was his first time at Flossmoor Station Brewery for Pre-Dark Lord Day. 
 
“We started the party because we get all this beer and never drink it all by ourselves, so this was a way to get together and drink all these different beers,” he said. He anticipated having about 30 people at the cook-out where he’d break open his bottles of Wooden Hell. 

Grace sells beer for a living for a major traditional beer brand and he said beer is his job, but also his passion and hobby. He combined his trip to Flossmoor Station with a stop at Windmill Brewing in Dyer to try some of their newly-released brews.
Ryan Czaja, brewmaster for Flossmoor Station, hands over bags of brew for Bob Hess. (Mary Compton/H-F Chronicle)
  Flossmoor Station brewmaster
  Ryan Czaja hands over bags
  of brew to customer Bob Hess.
  
(Mary Compton/H-F Chronicle)
 
Flossmoor Station's beer garden and Brew Caboose are set to open for the season the first weekend in June and the caboose will be open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, weather permitting.
 
Armstrong said the business is dog-friendly and Thursdays are designated as Dog Days of Summer, featuring dog treats and a veterinarian on-hand. Flossmoor Station is also converting a bare patch of grass next to the patio into a mini-dog park.
 

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