By Tyler Malone
Dancing under cracking thunder, eardrums in the crowd pulse, this is bliss. Total happiness is being enfolded by beer and comforted by music, two of mankind’s best inventions. Enjoyment on such a heavenly scale is sadly rare, but the ever-expanding Untapped music and beer festival hopes to remedy that. Even in a place known as the live music capital of the world, there’s room for more music, more taps, and more happiness.
Parched masses from all corners of Texas answered Untapped’s call to drink and dance this past Saturday. No beer went untasted, no band went unheard, and no one left thirsty, feeling unloved. Untapped Austin fell on one of those magical pre-summer days when spring still has wind on its wings and summer’s hot whisper only licks your neck on occasion, and the early hours of the festival complimented what the crowd heard and tasted. Adding to the aural and visual experience, tents showcasing artists putting paint on canvas as well as the human body were erected, giving Untapped a crafty, non-boozy atmosphere. Art isn’t something to be looked over, either. Beer festivals are still seen as niche, anti-family-friendly events. Other than endless soda pop and food trucks, children as well as designated drivers need to enjoy themselves, not just busy themselves. Exuberance and colorful creativity were on display between the bathrooms and Untapped’s two main stages as thick, shared blankets carpeted the grounds at Carson Creek Ranch. Even something this small is a demarcation between not just a beer festival but a musical festival as well. Some of the nappers, though, went to bed boozy-headed a six and didn’t wake until a hailstorm knocked on their noggin.
Untapped Austin was a massive experience, with plenty to see and hear and drink, but the obvious flaws of a first year festival were evident, most saliently $10.00 parking in a unlit mud pit that resembled a wet, war-torn scene from Apocalypse Now, only icier. Drink tickets and small pours for smaller, craftier breweries were a harsh juxtaposition to the larger, pay-by-the-solo-cup-pours at the Goose Island tent, which was complete with tables and chairs and long lines constructed of people drinking away their rotten conscience with AB InBev beer built on the backs of once better breweries. This angered the beer gods, too. Those drunken deities sent a hailstorm to ruin the false prophets of beer—the prophets ticket-buyers at Untapped paid to worship.
Bad decisions about charging for parking and bad beer drinkers aren’t enough to kill a good idea—a good idea that was a damn fine first-time festival. Something good has come from Dallas, and every Austinite should be excited about when the festival rolls into town next year. Beers and breweries from all over the United States converged on Austin, and it took an angry act of nature to stop the party.