My first 5 stops at Untapped Houston
Untapped Houston is this Saturday at Discovery Green, and you’re obviously going. You’re not? Oh. Well, you really should. It’s Houston’s best annual craft beer festival by far, and also doubles as a pretty cool music fest too. Plus, the weather is supposed to be awesome. So, yeah. You should buy tickets. Go. I’ll wait.
OK, now we can talk about the beer. It’s a huge list, both awesome and overwhelming at once. It’s one of those classic #beernerdproblems — you want to drink all the beers (and tick all the ticks) but you don’t even know where to start. That’s where this post comes in. I’ve been to a beer fest or four, and since I’m a nerd about these things, I never go in without a gameplan (and/or a spreadsheet). After a few hours of staring at the list, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I want to drink. Maybe more importantly, I also know what I’m going to drink first.
A pretty obvious first stop, and a repeat from last year’s first stop and first beer: åˆ† æ¡ƒ, aka Fen Tao, their peach sour. In addition to having an awesome label/name/story, it’s delicious. I’m pretty confident that this will be the first keg to blow on Saturday, so it’s a no-brainer. Don’t ignore La Vie en Rose while you’re here: this farmhouse ale refermented with “leftover” Atrial Rubicite raspberries is nowhere near as famous as AR (it also looks and tastes almost nothing like it), but it’s a great beer on its own.
I remain bitter about the biggest tease in recent Texas craft beer history (RIP, Freetail Houston), but Freetail still rocks. I’m most excited about trying their Peach Berlinercus, a blend of Yo Soy Un Berliner (their summer seasonal Berliner Weisse) and Peche’cus (their rye wit aged in wine barrels with peaches). They’re also bringing Rye Wit (what it says on the tin) and Oktobefiesta (an Oktoberfest with a twist in the form of Belgian yeast).
These guys seem to be flexing their creative muscles a bit more lately, with the most exciting project (to me, anyway) being the recently announced Fieldworks series. Three of the six Karbach beers available at Untapped will be “new to me”: Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter with Vanilla, Belgian Tripel, and Belgian Pale Ale. If you haven’t tried it yet, the Fieldworks Brett IPA is definitely worth a shot, too.
Few U.S. breweries can match these guys when it comes to the diversity of their exceptional portfolio — they make kickass “regular” beers (two of which, Pivo Pils and Union Jack IPA, will be at the fest), and they’re at the head of the class when it comes to barrel-aged monsters. They’re only bringing one of the latter to Untapped, but it’s a doozy: Helldorado, a blonde barleywine that they just released for the very first time. I missed out on a bottle, but there’s no way I’m missing it on Saturday.
A huge key to surviving a long day at a beer festival is making sure many of your pours are low in alcohol. There’s no better place to do this than at the Live Oak stand. Their Hefeweizen (5.2%) is world class and on the short list of “best beers in Texas” regardless of style. They’re also bringing two rarer beers that I’m excited to try for the first time: the 3.0% abv Grodziskie (a top-fermented, smoked, hoppy, all-wheat Polish style that was nearly extinct), and the 4.4% Helles Rauchlager (a pale, smoky and bitter lager brewed using a decoction mash).
You’ll note that I’ve only suggested 15 of the 250 or 300 beers that will be available on Saturday. That’s no knock on many of the breweries/beers that went unmentioned. There’s going to be a TON of good stuff out there. Just to name a couple more:
-Saint Arnold is bringing their delicious new Art Car IPA and their eminently crushable (and also delicious) Boiler Room Berliner Weisse. They’re also serving some Divine Reserve and Bishop’s Barrel big guns at scheduled times. Expect lines for those.
-8th Wonder and Buffalo Bayou are each bringing staples (Rocket Fuel and Hopston; 1836 and More Cowbell), rarities (Mission Control and AstroTurf; Peppermint Gingerbread Stout and Whiskey’d Smoke on the Bayou), and Cream Ales (Dome Faux’m and Sam’s Daily).
-Brash has released four Houston-brewed beers (all of which are really good), and three will be at Untapped: Cortado Imperial Coffee Stout, Cali Green IPA, and Pussy Wagon Imperial IPA.
Hell, that’s just some of the Houston stuff. There’s so much more. KBS! Red Bud! Commissar! BA Narwhal! BA Bigfoot! The Calling! Saison-Brett! Yellow Rose! Sorachi Ace! Abyss! Burton Baton! 120! Zoe! La Folie! Cali Belgique! Golden Monkey! Outer Darkness!
You get the point. If you made it this far and you’re still not going, you confuse me. But I’m not giving up on you. Go get those tickets. See y’all on Saturday.