The first rays of the incoming summer sun were blisteringly hot at times, but the beer, at least, was good and cold at the debut of Index Fest this weekend.
Also coming to Houston, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Dallas throughout this year, the festival is a slightly spruced-up version of the now-defunct Untapped Fest — offering games, art installations and a small roster of food vendors in addition to the usual focus on music and craft beer.
But make no mistake: Index Fest still kept the spotlight squarely on the latter two, with brewery booths scattered across the lawn and parking lot in front of the Austin American-Statesman and a large stage erected in one corner for live performances from Austin City Limits Music Fest veterans Local Natives of Los Angeles, as well as electronica duo Frenship, indie-rockers Grizfolk, local stage-spectacle Calliope Musicals and DJ Mark Markus.
The setup of the festival kept those there for the music partitioned, for the most part, from those drinking beer out of 2 oz. taster glasses. I can’t say how the music was — I was not an active listener as I made my way down the lines of brewery booths with friends — but I appreciated that sound levels from the stage never reached an overwhelming level.
Implementing electronic wristbands that kept track of how many pours each person had gotten of beer (tickets allowed for a certain number, though you could purchase more) was also smart and efficient.
Here are some of the standout beers from the festival, many of which are available in larger quantities around town.
- Pinthouse Pizza’s Zappy Squid IPA (which was exciting to try for the first time in part because I’d just published a story about the brewpub’s stellar IPA program)
- Hops & Grain’s Pellets & Powder IPA
- Independence Brewing’s Illustrated Man Dark Sour
- North by Northwest’s Mr. Rogers Imperial Pale Lager
From Texas and around the country:
- Peticolas’ Velvet Hammer Imperial Red Ale
- Firestone Walker’s Luponic Distortion, a rotating hop series
- Jolly Pumpkin’s No Ka Oi Wild Ale
- BrainDead Brewing’s Idle Playthings Belgian Golden Strong Ale