Free for me, but worth the price of admission
I’m a pretty harsh critic of beer festivals. I expect some bang for my buck. I was stoked when a friend of mine called me the day of Index Fest and gifted me with a free VIP ticket. Do I want to come out and drink free beer and listen to live music? Ummmm, fuck yes I do. Index Fest is the rebranded Untapped Festival series taking place in Texas. The focus on amazing craft beer and talented local artists remains the same though, and there is an increased focus on high-quality food and local art.
Index fest seemed very well organized. The ticket booth was easy to spot and each line was clearly marked. I had a VIP entry which would have included early access if I’d had the ticket before the day of. Whatever. Beggars can’t be choosers. I cut past dozens of people waiting to get checked in as I strolled down the VIP lines. Girls gave the evil eye to their boyfriends for dragging them to yet another beer festival and being too cheap to spring for VIP treatment.
Once I checked in I was given a wrist band with a chip in it for scanning my beers. No tickets that I had to keep track of and potentially lose. Already off to a good start. I snatched up my commemorative plastic tasting glass and me and my buddy were off. He said I just haaaaad to try the Unfiltered Sculpin at the Ballast Point tent. Excellent first beer. After each sample was a poured, a volunteer scanned my wrist band and notified me how many I had left to try. Very convenient.
Beer, food, music, and art
Thousands of people were in attendance, but it wasn’t overcrowded at all. I never stood in line for more than a few minutes to receive my sample. The volunteers were even great about moving along the Chatty Cathys who wanted to ask about ever subtle nuance of the two-ounce sample they were just given. They don’t work for the brewery dude. They don’t fucking know and they’d really love it if you’d go bother someone else.
Even the food tents were well organized and moved quickly. There were local artist scattered around the festival, but I have to admit they didn’t really register as I walked by. They seemed neat, but not really something I was interested in while slightly besotted.
There were over 80 different breweries present and 250+ beers to try. My wrist band only got me 16 pours though, so I had to be a little picky. I searched high and low for the rarest beers. Barrel aged this and dry hopped that. Seasonals, special releases, and collaborations abounded. As I sipped on my generous pour, tapping my foot to beat of some local band that just came on, I made the best discovery of the night. For $7 I could recharge my wrist band with 10 more samples. Let’s do this shit.
I didn’t spend a lot of time in the VIP area, but it had a lot of amenities well worth the price of admission. A beer tent that sold full beers, bathrooms, a huge lounging tent, and access to the side of the main stage. I hung around after I’d had my fill of beer just long enough to hear the most popular songs from the headliner before I bailed. I got the ticket for free, but I’d have gladly paid for what was possibly the best value at a beer festival I’ve ever seen.
Index Fest was well organized, had a ton of variety, and was flat out one of the best beer festivals I’ve been to. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Texas, then I highly recommend you attend one of the four more events scheduled for the year. If you don’t live in Texas, well what the fuck are you thinking? Just please don’t move to Austin.
For more details and future festival dates, check out the website.