My first 5 stops at Untapped Houston, 2016 edition
Let’s dive right into this: Untapped Houston is back at Discovery Green on Saturday. I’m going, and you should, too. This will be the festival’s 4th year in Houston, and it’s gotten better every year. It’s very well run, the location is awesome, and the weather should be great. They’ve got you covered on food and music, too.
The highlight, of course, is the beer. This year’s beer list, unsurprisingly, is impressive, varied, and huge; I counted nearly 300 beers and ciders. Yes, I counted. Yes, I made a spreadsheet. Duh. A good beer nerd has to have a game plan for an event like this. I don’t quite have mine finished, but I do know what my first five stops will be.
This is becoming an annual tradition. For the third year in a row, my first stop will be Jester King, and my first beer will be åˆ† æ¡ƒ, aka Fen Tao, their peach sour. I’m once again predicting that this will be the first beer at the festival to run out. I’ll say it’s 50/50 to even survive the VIP hour from 3:30-4:30 (that’s your cue to get VIP tickets). I’m also excited to try Space Waves, their recent collaboration with Jolly Pumpkin. It’s a JK farmhouse blended with their own cherry sour (Montmorency vs. Balaton), with a salty twist.
Houston’s best brewery always brings good stuff to Untapped, but this year they’re going all out. Four vintages of Pumpkinator, three Bishop’s Barrels, two Divine Reserves, and a Raspberry AF in a pear tree. 2016 Pumpkinator, which debuted just this week, will surely be popular. I’m most excited for Raspberry AF, their Boiler Room berliner weisse with raspberries. It’s delicious, and at 3.7%, it’ll be the perfect break beer/thirst quencher.
This Dallas brewery is the most welcome surprise on the list for me. The only other time I’ve seen their beer in Houston was at the (late, great) Draft Fest at Guadalupe Plaza Park in 2012. All these years (and awards and raves) later, Peticolas still doesn’t distribute to Houston, despite our social media pleas. I’m excited to try all three of the beers they’re sending to Untapped: Velvet Hammer (an imperial red), Ghost of Alfred Brown (their English brown ale with ghost peppers), and Sit Down Or I’ll Sit You Down (their highly regarded double IPA).
No, I haven’t stopped nerding out about the fact that my favorite U.S. brewery is now in Houston. I’ll take a second to wish they’d diversified their lineup for Untapped, since all three beers (Melange 14, Mash & Vanilla, and Poterie) are at least 13.4% abv, but that’s a nitpick. All three are crazy delicious.
It should come as no surprise that my pick for the best overall Untapped lineup comes from the best brewery in Texas. They’ve got the whole spectrum covered: sessionable & pale (Hans’ Pils), sessionable & dark (Coffee Porter), hoppy (Axis, their killer new IPA), classic Belgian (Devil’s Backbone), sour (Tenebrae Aeterna, their spectacular barrel-aged sour porter), and rare (a special rye-whisky-barrel-aged version of their 20th Anniversary Rye Double IPA). That is how you structure a festival lineup. I expect to spend a lot of time at the Real Ale table.
So that’s my top five. There’s a ton of other great stuff, of course. Hell, it’s kind of mind-blowing to think that I’ve made it this far without mentioning luminaries such as Brash (EZ7, Cortado), Odell (Jolly Russian, Friek), Founders (KBS), Avery (Lillikoi Kepolo, Rumpkin), Boulevard (Tank 7, Love Child #7, Rye-On-Rye), Alpine (Pure Hoppiness)… you get the point. I’ll also be making a point to check in on some of Houston’s newest breweries: SpindleTap, Under The Radar, and Eureka Heights. Make sure you try Eureka Heights Mostly Harmless. I’m kind of obsessed with it.
See y’all on Saturday