The concept of a spring beer festival is promising. Meeting your friends at a park to try new brews, soak in some sun and listen to music sounds idyllic. All beer fests, however, are not a safe bet. Thankfully, the group behind this weekend's Untapped Festival has assembled a great track record with previous events in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston.
After reviewing the lineup of bands and beers, here are some pointers for getting the most of of your Saturday at Untapped.
Everyone attending this festival knows as much about beer as you. Going early and being at the gate when it opens will allow you to sample more beers with fewer lines, so plan ahead and don't meander in at 5 pm.
Target your favorites first
With so many quality breweries, lines will be spread out among a large number of quality offerings. If you've been dying to try that Goose Island Bourbon County or Founders KBS, make a beeline: Those offerings will disappear quickly due to high demand. To avoid line time, try several offerings from a notable brewery with your punch card. Great spots to post up for multiple tastings include 512, Ballast Point, Firestone Walker, Odell, Ommegang and Dogfish Head. All have several rare or fancy brews worth a punch from your selection.
Sample some rarities
Brewers will break out limited offerings that you're unlikely to find elsewhere. The small sample sizes and knowledgeable audience make it a great time for breweries to show off new ideas or small-batch experiments, so check the list for things you're unfamiliar with. Some fun things to look out for include the tough-to-find Bourbon County Barleywine from Goose Island, 512's barrel aged brown, Wild Bear; Austin Beerworks' coveted seasonal kristallweisen, Heisenberg; Real Ale's sour porter, Tenbrae Aeterna; and Founders' explosive raspberry beer, Blushing Monk.
Bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout is delicious! That said, with temperatures hovering around 80 degrees Saturday afternoon, it would be wise to take a water break every 30 minutes. The added hydration will keep you in the game longer and make you less prone to a miserable Sunday.
Make music a priority
Beer festivals don't often have a significant music component, but Untapped's events are raising the stakes. We're especially excited for two scheduled performances. After years of touring, Phosphorescent broke to a wider audience with 2013's Muchacho, heralded as one of the year's best. Singer-songwriter Matthew Houck's songs are dark, hazy and should please fans of Daniel Lanois or "Streets of Philadelphia" era Bruce Springsteen. On the early side, don't miss Bop English, the solo vehicle for White Denim frontman James Petralli. A complete schedule of set times is available at the Untapped site.
Visit the food trucks
There's a thoughtful and varied list of food on site at Untapped. From Paul Qui favorite East Side King to hot dog kings of Frank, there looks to be something for everyone. Other top picks: the delicious French pub food from Hopfields, indulgent lobster rolls from Garbo's and locally made charcuterie from Salt and Time. As you enter the fest, head left to survey the food truck lineup, then pick something tasty to line your stomach with when imbibing.
Don't bring the puppy, but the kids are all right
One key note: no dogs. If you're coming more for the music than the drinking, note that your kids are allowed in with you. Kids under 10 are free, while those 11 and up need a $32 "music only" ticket. While we're on the subject of what to bring, don't forget the usual music festival staples: Sunscreen, a small blanket, sunglasses, an umbrella and earplugs are all a smart bet.
Remember that Uber and Lyft are your friend
Ridesharing has many uses, but we'd be hard-pressed to find a better one than getting home after a little too much fun at a craft beer festival. Download the Uber or Lyft apps now to have some options at the end of the fest. Since Carson Creek Ranch is right by the airport, there should be a steady supply of area drivers to help you home if you need them.
Untapped Austin takes place Saturday, April 18 at Carson Creek Ranch in East Austin. Doors at 2:30 pm for VIP and 3:30 pm for general admission. General admission tickets ($39 plus service fees) are still available.