The marriage of Spune Productions and The Common Table may be the best thing that has ever happened to local craft brew fans whose music taste extends beyond cover bands and Top 40 DJs as well as music fans who'd prefer something better than $8 pints of Bud Light. Saturday's Untapped Fort Worth, the second installment in the Untapped concert/beer fest series, was just as good as last September's initial Untapped in Trinity Groves. Maybe even better, as Pecan Lodge was selling chopped-beef sandwiches with a generous helping of its transcendent brisket. (I was a bit miffed at having to shell out $10 for a single sandwich without so much as a bag of chips for a side. Then I took a bite, and all was forgiven.)
Jaime-Paul Falcon did an excellent job describing the music and overall mood of the fest, while our photographer got some fun shots of the fans and the bands. As for the beer, here are five that really stood out for me, listed in the order in which I tried them.
1. Founders KBS (Kentucky Breakfast Stout): This had by far the longest line of the fest from the moment the gate opened at 2 p.m. for VIP ticket-holders. I'd guess it was 75 to 100 deep, as beer cognoscenti darted to the booth to try one of the world's most highly regarded stouts. It was indeed great. Smooth yet bitter, with rich dark coffee and chocolate flavor, well-balanced but with some bite and a lovely body. Best in the world? I don't know. It wasn't even my favorite stout I tried that day, but it made for a great start to the fest.
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2. Lakewood Brewing Co. Till and Toil: This is an outstanding example of a saison, which is one of my favorite styles. It's a foggy golden color with grassy, herbal hops dominating the nose and a crisp, dry finish.
3. Firestone Walker Parabola Imperial Stout: This was awesome. Creamy, thick, sweet, roasty with some smooth bourbon and vanilla flavor, and not as bitter as KBS, it was my favorite beer of a stout-heavy day.
4. Saint Arnold Icon Blue: Great black IPA with nice, bright fresh-tasting grapefruit rind and pine-needle hops. It's funny how quickly Saint Arnold Brewing Co. diverged from the idea of its Icon series being a showcase of classic beer styles -- only two in, they released one in a style that wouldn't even be old enough to drink if it were a person. But with a beer this good, I'm not complaining.
5. Ranger Creek Strawberry Milk Stout: I was fully expecting to find this brew undrinkable, artificial and sweet, like Strawberry Quik. To my surprise, it was deep, dark and rich, and the strawberry flavor was tart, tangy and understated. It's about time I dropped my unreasonable prejudice against fruit-enhanced beers for good.