Despite major headliner Big Boi, the focus was on the beer rather than the music at Saturday's Index Fest in Fair Park. Things started to wind down around 9:30 when the Georgia rapper, best known as half of Outkast, took the stage.
At that time, brewers began taking down their tents and festival-goers in Fair Park migrated to the stage to take Instagram and Snapchat videos during "Ms. Jackson." People stuck around to dance for most of the set, but around 10 p.m., many people started making their way toward the exits.
Index Fest may present itself as a craft beer and music festival, but it has a clear favorite of the two. The festival, formerly known as Untapped, is a brew head’s dream. There were more than 300 brewers from across the nation in attendance Saturday, making for a lot of happy North Texas beer fans.
If there's one thing we took away from Index Fest — besides a nice buzz and a confused palate — it's that Texas craft beer culture is all about family. M.C. Ingram doesn’t work for 903 Brewery — she’s just a friend of someone who does — but she has been volunteering at festivals with the company for two years because she loves beer and the craft beer community.
“I think that it’s really cool and inclusive, and everybody wants everybody to be successful and enjoy beer," Ingram said. "It’s all about having fun, enjoying some good brews and being good people."
The atmosphere Saturday was joyous. Beer people are evidently very friendly, and it seemed as if the whole beer community had descended upon Fair Park to “ooh” and “ahh” over unique brews.
Tent after tent lined the corridor extending from the Automotive Building to the open lot between the Cotton Bowl and Centennial Hall. The options seemed never ending.
Some of our favorites were the 3 Nations horchata stout, which was robust and smooth with a subtle horchata flavor; the subtle, light but complex Franconia Fallenbach; the heavy, rum-barrel-aged Community Legion stout; Manhattan Project's high-ABV coffee stout, Black Matter; and the Funnel Cake Lager from Community, which does taste like funnel cake.
It was not uncommon for strangers to exchange tasting notes around the brewers' tents. Liana and Robert Farr were one such set of strangers we talked to at the festival. They were at the 903 tent sampling a tasty behemoth of a barley wine, Trojan Horse, which clocked in at 13.1 percent ABV.
Liana struck up a conversation as we were sampling the pecan porter. Robert had been coming to the festival since 2012 when it was still Untapped Festival. Liana joined him in 2014, and they’ve been going together since.
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The seasoned festival-goers, bedecked with pretzel necklaces and T-shirts reading "Hugh Hefner will never die” and “Be your own kind of beautiful” — we'll let you guess who was wearing what — were celebrating Liana’s birthday at the festival.
With 300-plus brewers around, you would expect a bunch of oneupmanship, but there simply wasn’t. The brewers complimented each other and could be heard talking about their favorite beers from other breweries.
The festival ran for more than four hours, but it didn’t feel that long. Time flies when you're downing as many 2 oz. beers as your heart and liver can stand. It was challenge to even lay eyes on every brewer's stand in the time allotted, let alone visit each.
Everyone seemed to be having a blast at the festival, and the number of people wasted to the point of unconsciousness was minimal. Index Fest was a success, and we'd go again.