The Tap Dance.

Here’s What Stood Out To Us At Dallas’ Fifth Annual Untapped Festival From This Past Weekend In Fair Park.

All photos by Marcus Ferrell of Brew Bloods.

At this point, there is one undisputed fact about the Dallas beer scene: We’re stupid blessed when it comes to craft beer. Not only do we have dozens of solid-to-great breweries in the area, but distribution has improved so much in recent years that there’s only a few out-of-state breweries we can’t get.

As has been the case now for half a decade, Saturday’s fifth iteration of the Dallas Untapped Festival took advantage of these characteristics. Better still, it was a perfect storm of great weather, awesome music (TV on the Radio, Gogol Bordello, Lee Fields and others), positive vibes and, of course, great beer.

Honestly, it was a great way to kick off North Texas Beer Week.

Taking place again over at Fair Park was a wise decision, but it was a little surprising to see the layout change from last time. Whereas last year the festival was laid out in an almost T-formation, this time the booths and the stages were laid in a way that wrapped around the Cotton Bowl. This was a primarily welcome change because this meant the stages were a little farther from each other, never allowing the crowds to become too cumbersome. About the only downside, really, was how the beer booths were clustered together, with most local breweries in one general — and quite crowded — area.

But that’s but a minor complaint. At this point, the Untapped team really seems to have learned its model quite well, and there really was an air of discovery this time around.

What did we discover this year? Well, let’s see…

  • For one, it was great to see Armadillo Ale Works back at it. That crew has had the worst luck when it comes to trying to establish their Denton brewery. So it was so nice to see them out at this event and to try their new beers, like Dapper Apple and Honey Please. But I’ll admit I most excited to see them sampling their golden stout, Brunch Money. For those not in the know, the Brunch Money is essentially the Crystal Pepsi of stouts; it pours with a lighter amber color but somehow retains the chocolate-y flavor of a stout. I think the brewery’s got a new recipe this time around — it used to be more sweet, and this time it had a bit of a spicy front end — but I can’t wait to see how this version ages.
  • The Manhattan Project Beer Company made its debut just 24 hours before Untapped with a tapping over at the Common Table. So, for the majority of area beer drinkers, Untapped was really the first chance most people would get to try them. Between the novelty and the really enthusiastic employees, the line for Manhattan was one of the longer ones I saw at the festival. And the beer was good, too! I tried their Plutoniom-329 coconut porter, which could easily become an area fall favorite thanks to its balanced and smooth coconut flavor.
  • Tupps Brewery’s relatively new McKinney Rye — named for the town in which it’s brewed — was another standout for me. A red rye ale clocking it at a boozy 9.6 percent, it’s a good upper tier addition to Tupp’s lineup with a pretty smooth flavor that betrays its rye content. Better still, it represents a return to experimental brews from the Tupps crew after some time spent trying to keep up with retail demand. That’s a welcome change!
  • My absolute favorite beer of Untapped was The Bruery’s Or Xata, which tasted exactly like the horchata  I drank during my childhood in Mexico. When I say it tastes exactly like it, I’m not speaking in hyperbole, either. There are barely any hints of alcohol in the beer; instead, you get a creamy cinnamon flavor.

All in all, I thought this was one of the most fun Untapped Festivals in recent memory. Between the atmosphere and the outstanding beer selection — not to mention an especially killer set from TV on the Radio — it’s now abundantly clear that Untapped is in its own league when it comes to beer festivals around these parts.

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