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Thursday , December 26 2013
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Paste Untapped Festival at Discovery Green

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By DL Haydon

The afternoon was muggy and grey, and no one cared because they weren’t there for the weather. The lines for entrance, bathrooms and drinks waxed and waned, but the patrons were indifferent. The sun went down early as expected and the temperature dropped with it, but people at the Paste Untapped beer festival were unstoppable.

Thousands of them scattered around Discovery Green like children in a candy store of liquor lollypops and fermented fudge. Even with the side stage showcasing proof that Houston knows indie music, people just couldn’t stand in one spot for too long.

Then The Suffers came on the main stage. Everyone in attendance pooled into a lazy frenzy. Home-grown jazz went into the ears. Taste buds still tickled from sweet crisp ciders and lovely bitter lagers and hoppy pale ales. Skin felt the moist drizzle, but somehow people liked it.

“Beer,” Kam Franklin, the lead vocalist, shouted into the microphone. She spoke the word, but the musical modulations in her voice made it sound like warm honey. The crowd yelled “Beer!” back to her.

“Beer,” she said.

“Beer!” the crowd yelled.

Food trucks gave patrons their fill. Oh My Gogi (usually found camped around Rice Village) unleashed its signature Korean/Mexican cuisine. The scent of hot dogs and charcoal wafted from the opposite direction.
Some people brought their kids. Some brought their dogs.

All the while, I walked around thinking how these beers, some of which were only brewed once a year (if that), would never come together in Houston with such easy access again. What are the words to describe such glittering immaculate drops of gold? They tasted the way they looked: Crisp. Cold. Wet.

At first it seemed people drank what they knew. Saint Arnold. Woodchuck. By the end of the evening, I had heard more than a few times “What do you think I should drink?” asked by patrons to the servers. With only 24 ounces allowed (and 12 tastings according to the issued cards) what, indeed?

A few hours in, and with my drink card more than half full, a few tables regretfully informed me that their permanent markers didn’t seem to be working quite right. No names to be named. And, considering it would only be objective to sample the maximum amount of the breweries’ wares, I didn’t complain.

The Walkmen finished after 9 p.m. and people wanted more. Who could blame them? All the bands had been in rare form that night. Wild Moccasins, Heartless Bastards, Bagheera, Walker Lukens and the Tontons all played like there wasn’t going to be another indie festival.

Still, everyone exited Discovery Green like the happy tipsy comrades they were. Some went into Montrose for the post-party at the Hay Merchant. Others walked two miles into downtown for Frank’s Pizza.

There was no drama to be seen. No debauchery. A few thousand people stood together, got to know one another, sampled exquisitely rare brews and listened to some of the best indie music Houston had to offer. Complete strangers ate and drank and enjoyed the pleasure of each other’s company. The concentration of good will and courtesy in downtown that night was rare. It was like some sort of extended family reunion. It was like Austin without the pretentiousness and hipsters. It was a rare night.

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