Sunday, October 6, 2013
Review: Canned festival in Denton took the pretentiousness out of beer tasting
The absence of "rare" and "exclusive" tappings made fest patrons more likely to try new brews.
DENTON Despite the chilling wind and scattered bouts of rain, Dentonites came out in full force Saturday for the inaugural Canned beer and music festival in downtown.
A younger sibling to Untapped festival, held in both Dallas and Fort Worth earlier this year, Canned hosted more than 25 craft breweries from across the nation that offered sudsy samples from cans rather than beer taps. Inherently this made for a diverse roster, as many of the breweries were limited by the craft-in-a-can requirement. For example, Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Mich.), normally a coveted tent, had only one beer available, its tasty All Day IPA.
But this imposed limitation was predominantly beneficial. Patrons, perhaps subconsciously, broadened their scopes, opting for beers they hadn’t tried rather than the “rarest” or “most exclusive” offerings. The absence of cask-aged recipes and Randall-infused pours leveled the playing field between tents.
Canned essentially took the pretentiousness out of beer tasting, and it became a festival for people who just like beer. It was simple, intrinsically “Denton” and it worked. Plus, sample sizes were twice as large as previous Untapped festivals, at 4 ounces each.
Texas was strongly represented, ironic considering how allegedly “behind the curve” the craft movement here is. Local breweries do seem to be following the latest trend in distribution, however. Cedar Creek Brewery offered its three signature recipes by the can; Deep Ellum Brewing Co. served five canned options; Austin Beerworks and Karbach Brewing Co. (Houston) each had four different brews; and Real Ale Brewing Co. (Blanco) offered three.
Santa Fe Brewing Co. was a standout among the fest. The Java Stout was so popular that it ran out by 5 p.m. The brewery’s Oktoberfest was mild and pleasantly fruity, unique because it was less spicy than traditional autumn blends. My personal favorite of the day was St. Feuilien's Wittikerke, a dry Belgian white with a crisp finish.
Several fruit-inspired beers were on hand at Canned. Sea Dog Brewing Co.’s blueberry wheat provided a sweet reprieve from some of the hoppy beers, though the flavor bordered on overwhelming. Austrian brewery Stiegl served its Grapefruit Raddler, which at 2.5% ABV was more like flavored soda, but nonetheless delicious.
For a fuller taste, hopheads ventured to Avery Brewing Co., where the chocolate flavors of Ellie’s Brown Ale comfortably matched the rainy weather. Ballast Point Brewing Co. and Brooklyn Brewery had hearty IPAs — Sculptin IPA and East India Pale Ale, respectively — that warmed to the bones.
The weather unintentionally cultivated a sense of community. Crowded beneath beer tents, strangers engaged in beer-centric conversation and were more inclined to learn about brews rather than just slog them back. Some of the volunteers serving were extremely knowledgeable about their brands, while others were obviously just going through the motions.
When the rain poured the hardest, it seemed like Canned may have been derailed for the rest of the evening. The crowd thinned, many taking shelter in the surrounding businesses. However, Denton's own Chambers ambitiously took the stage during the heart of the storm and played to the huddled masses of wet clothing and dancing umbrellas. By sunset, the weather had cleared, and when headliners The Helio Sequence and Menomena took the stage, the venue was filled again with dry, rosy faces.
Any beer festival’s biggest enemy is uncooperative weather. At Untapped Dallas, it was the relentless heat that ruined the fest for some (not us!). But Canned proved that come hell or high water, nothing stands between Denton and its love for good beer and good music.
See more from a few of the bands who played:Follow @tineywristwatch
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