The Untapped concept is quite brilliant in its simplicity, as far as one-day festivals go.
You have a booming craft beer scene with takes on every flavor and style being offered by adventurous, independent breweries. You have a wide range of musical talents from here and beyond clamoring to play our stages. And once summer hits, you have outdoor spaces and (fingers-crossed) sunny skies.
Untapped throws beer-tasting and live music together, plants them in a scenic (or at least crowd-friendly location), and imbues the whole event with an experimental vibe. You're not just chugging back brewskis while bands play. You're walking around from brewery booth to brewery booth, getting a special 2-ounce glass filled over and over with new flavors and strange concoctions.
If your first 12-square beer card fills up, you can buy another and keep trying.
Nothing about that concept changed for the latest Fort Worth edition of Untapped (Dallas Morning News subsidiary CrowdSource owns a majority share of the festival), which took place under mostly agreeable weather conditions on Saturday at Panther Island Pavilion. The space lines the Trinity River, accommodating two stages for the fest's diverse musical bill.
The festival pros in the indie rock outfit Built to Spill claimed the headlining slot, but before that the hordes of swillers at Panther Island were treated to springy Kentucky pop-punk from White Reaper, a world mix from Austin's Grupo Fantasma and some searing rock from Fort Worth's own Bummer Vacation.
And then there was Hayes Carll, the noted Texan singer-songwriter who's found lots of new fans of late with his confessional and stark new album Lovers and Leavers. All those acts and more performed with plenty of spirit on Saturday, but walking around and seeing all the attention paid to the beer booths, you got the sense that any music would have worked.
More important to fest-goers than the bold names on the flyer (or the food-truck treats and scattered party games)? The heady brews being served from coolers and kegs and cans and bottles at those booths lined up between the two stages.
Alcoholic root beer that could be dangerous to any soda freak, a pear ginger cider that brings a new level of pucker to a face, a Cherry Bomb beer from Denton's Audacity that lives up to the brewery name, a crisp grapefruit shandy that screams "summer" — the amount of sample choices could drive a beer lover crazy and provide the kind of buzz that sneaks up on you.
Yep, there's nothing threatening the Untapped concept in Texas, which now has editions in five major cities. Craft beer plus music equals "no-brainer."