When the announcement was made that Austin was now part of the Untapped Fest lineup; which includes Houston, Fort Worth and Dallas, my initial reaction was, ‘well it’s about time!’. As much as the central Texas region could have supported a beer festival on its own, other Texas heavyweights were there and some nationally recognized breweries as well.
It was definitely a well rounded beer lineup that filled the space extremely well. Carson Creek Ranch was plenty capable of handling an event of this magnitude. Plenty of parking, and thankfully, plenty of dry-enough mud. Music was blaring through the open air and festival goers were energetic. A lot of beer fans wearing t-shirts of their favorite breweries, a lot of necklace koozies, and everyone carrying those plastic tasting cups.
Lines getting into the area were long, and lines at most of the beer tents matched the incoming crowd. From people I spoke with, the crowd moved around nicely. They weren’t all crammed into a small space fighting for a taste of a rare release. But again, the amount of people attending still provided long lines at beer tents and even in the food trailer area. To the chagrin of some of the attendees, some booths ran out of beer much quicker than I had anticipated. I don’t think the East Side King’s food line ever dissipated.
I arrived about three hours after the gates opened and the Jester King tent had already closed up shop. Pretty spectacular, but not much of a surprise if you’re familiar with the Austin, Texas beer scene.
For those that have grown up in the Austin beer scene, none of the crowds or empty booths should have been a surprise, at all. The quickly growing beer scene in Austin has evolved and the local beer patrons are growing with it. A mellow-sophistication; smart, but not snobby attitude about what delicious beer can and should taste like.
As the sun set over Carson Creek Ranch the dark clouds began to roll in. Festival managers were beginning to tell some of the smaller breweries to go ahead and close up shop. They knew what was headed to Austin, so good for them to get a good amount of tents out of what was to come.
Three songs after Manchester Orchestra started their headlining performance the winds and rain came with such a gusto that tents that weren’t set in the ground properly could flail about, and the bands had to stop the performance for safety purposes.
I was long gone by then, but the fun energy of the crowd, the friendly beer servers that work so hard to put on a good event, and the production team that made a very good decision to come to Austin are now a lasting memory I’ll keep with me.