UtopiaFest, at new venue this year, will also have its own beer thanks to Zilker Brewing


At a scenic ranch setting closer to Austin than its past festival location, UtopiaFest Down in the Oaks returns in early November with all the things people have loved about it for 10 years: lots of live music, camping options, art installations and more. But there will be something new, too — a beer brewed just for the fest.

The producers behind UtopiaFest, which will run Nov. 2-4 at a new location in Burnet, partnered with East Austin’s Zilker Brewing to create the Utopian Festival Ale. Available in cans both before and during the weekend event, the Utopian is a single-hop hazy pale ale that Zilker made specifically so that festival-goers can have more than one in a day. 

“Our vision for it kind of nailed our sweet spot of both flavor and drinkability — because during a festival you need a beer that you can have multiple times throughout the day,” Patrick Clark, one of the three co-founders of Zilker Brewing, said. The pale ale has “pilsner malt, Citra hops and a house-blended yeast strain. We’re keeping things simple, but the ingredients are all really solid.”

He said the beer is easy-drinking but, because of its “nice, bright citrus flavor and tropical notes,” the pale ale will still remind beer lovers of the hazy IPAs that have become so popular of late.

That’s not all the booze you’ll find at UtopiaFest Down in the Oaks. The event will add an immersive, interactive wine grove designed by William Chris Vineyards, a Texas Hill Country winery. And Zilker Brewing is one of three local breweries, along with Real Ale Brewing and Texas Beer Company in Taylor, that will be featured in an on-site beer garden. 

UtopiaFest rebranded earlier this year with a name that incorporates the new partners involved with the original festival team led by Travis Sutherland. Down in the Oaks Entertainment partners Patrick and Brandon Harrison, along with Jeff Dena, wanted to bring a music festival to the Harrisons’ Burnet ranch and found the perfect opportunity with UtopiaFest, Clark said. The ranch is about 45 minutes outside of Austin.

The Harrisons have been friends with the Zilker Brewing co-founders for several years, making their collaboration an easy decision. In fact, November won’t be the first time the brewery and the organizers of UtopiaFest will have worked together: During South by Southwest in March, Zilker hosted Utopia Sessions, a series of live music shows that secured the collaboration.

“They have an eclectic vibe, definitely different than other festivals in a good way, and we are excited to work with them,” Clark said.

The Utopian Festival Ale will launch in 12 oz. cans at a few retailers around Austin, two weeks ahead of time, as a way to drum up excitement for the festival. UtopiaFest attendees will then see the beer in 16 oz. tallboy cans. Designed like all Zilker beer cans by Zocalo Design, the multi-colored Utopian cans captures the overall spirit of the fest, Clark said. The UtopiaFest Down in the Oaks logo is prominently placed.

Just last week, the festival announced the daily lineups, which include headliners STS9, Lukas Nelson and Patty Griffin, and single-day tickets. For more information, visit utopiafest.com

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