Rain Couldn’t Can Canned, Dentonites Declare

This cool little photobooth got a really popular when the rain hit
This cool little photobooth got really popular when the rain hit. (photos by Jake Medina)

The Canned Festival on Saturday was a bit of an adventure, but what else can be expected of the wonderful little town to the north?

Over the past year and a half, Denton has seen a lot of expansion in the downtown area, specifically on Hickory Street, where places like Oak Street Drafthouse and East Side Social Club have given people wary of the typical college haunts a place to relax without fear of pretension or spitballs. Throwing a tasting festival seemed like the next natural step in the town’s growing beer scene. At the gate, folks lined up to grab a cup, a sheet of blank squares, and a little slice of optimism.

Canned is an offshoot of the Untapped Festival in Dallas—the first of its kind in Denton. The festival brought 37 breweries and over 70 different canned beers, barring big businesses like Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors. What would have been the fun in that? Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Armadillo Ale, Sante Fe Brewing Company, Austin Beerworks, and Four Corners all made appearance, among other breweries.

Half of the headliner Menomena performing for an amped up crowd
Half of the headliner Menomena performing for an amped up crowd

Also interesting was the wind-generated power donated by Denton Municipal Electric for the event, which made it a carbon-friendly experience.

From the start, Sante Fe’s Java Stout created buzz and drew a nice, fat crowd. Also popular were Oskar Blues and Brooklyn Ale. The scene was awash in a blend of styles—from fruity, to hoppy, to dark and rich.

Food trucks Holy Smoke BBQ, Pickled Carrot, and Bombay Chop Stix provided the fare for the evening. It was a little hit-or-miss. The pulled pork from Holy Smoke BBQ was d-r-y. The jalapeno cheese grits were tasty, though.

I’ve been riding a banh mi wave for a couple weeks now, and I was pumped to keep up the momentum at Vietnamese food truck, The Pickled Carrot. The banh mi chicken sandwich was the spiciest thing I’ve eaten in awhile (the kind of spicy that makes your nose run and your tongue wiggle-dance around your teeth.) But maybe that’s just me.

Holy Smoke's pulled pork sandwich and jalapeno cheese grits
Holy Smoke’s pulled pork sandwich and jalapeno cheese grits

About half way through the shingdig, the rain started falling down in buckets. But from the sea of soaked shirts rose a sense of camaraderie, as dedicated beer-tasters traveled underneath the narrow edges of tents to stay dry and stay drinking. Laughter rang amidst the soggy toasts and gentle reprimanding of the weather’s naughty behavior. The band Chambers braved the stormy skies to perform on stage for those who decided to imbibe under the canvas huts.

“You guys are what make this possible,” said Glen Farris, one of the organizers of Canned and a staff writer for the blog We Denton Do It. He stood on stage and addressed the huddled clumps of people. “You’ve all been amazing.”

The rain didn’t last forever. Once it dried up, the noise returned to a comfortable decibel, and bands like Helio Sequence and Menomena were able to perform without a hitch.

The first Canned festival in Denton showed what a plucky crowd of men and women could pull off, in the name of good beer and good music.

Jake Austin Medina is a D Magazine intern and a journalism major at the University of North Texas.