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KPatton 11-04-2010 07:01 AM

Best Beer Bars in Town
Having been married to a beer bar owner on the west side, that evolved from a high end beer bar catering to white collar types with 126 beers to a college crowd dive, I have seen beer bars and brew pubs come and go in Houston over the last 25 years.

I saw the brew pub craze of the 90's bring the Rock Bottom Brewery and Houston Brewery on Richmond, and the Village Brewery in Rice Village, which all went belly up in under 6 years due to poor business models and even poorer reading of their customer base. I've seen decent beer bars come and go, those offering a wide range of imports to choose from instead of the insipid and bland major brand offerings. Places like the Timberwolf disappeared, still others like the Richmond Arms are unwelcoming and oppressive, unless you feel at home in a place like Belfast. Overbearing bouncers and clueless managers enforcing rules that make no sense to anyone.

The only three places to go for a pint in Houston are as follows.

On the far west side, the JP Hops House. Its been around since the early 80's. Its a friendly bar. The beer selection is not what it used to be, but they carry a fair selection of draft and bottled beers to choose from. No food service available, but there is free popcorn. Bring your own eats. They host two cheese tastings a year where the customers bring the cheese. We had 35 this past October.

The Ginger Man, off Morningside in Rice Village. It has been a staple since the late 80's and offer a huge selection of draft beers from around the world.
The people are friendly, but if you are hungry, bring you own food. Ordering out for a pizza is acceptable, and they have a wide selection of phone in menus to have food delivered if you like. Beer knowledge is minimal.

Flying Saucer of Main down town. A Glitzy yuppie magnet. Some of the beer is very over priced. $35 for a bottle of meade is a bit steep, unless it was brewed and bottled by Odin himself. Beer selection is good, but the staff does not know half as much about beer as they think they do.

The Yardhouse on the west side, off of I10 at Memorial City Mall. Over priced, and overbearing staff. With ludicrous policy. Any place that sells you high octane beer in 8 oz glasses because they have your safety in mind, is pissing down your neck and telling you it is raining. This place sells beers like Salvator, and belgian ales in tiny glasses for the price of a pint. When asked, the say its state law. That is a crock. The Gingerman sells the same beer and stronger in 750ml bottles! There is no state law saying they have to overcharge you. The fact is they are lazy. Those beers on tap cost more per keg. Instead of selling you a 16oz pint for $8 instead of $5 they reduce the serving size in order to keep their profit margin. I know, we priced ours per oz too, and just priced them according to our cost. Maredsous was $8 a pint, we didn't make up lies about state law in order to justify our business model. The Alamo Draft House does the same thing. So I just don't buy those ripoff beers anymore. I make them myself. This place must be based out of California, land of Big Brother Democrat. The Staff thinks they know a lot about beer, but in truth they could not fill one of their 8 oz glasses.

The Petrol Station near the West side of the Heights is a beer Mecca to home brewers and beeries. They host beer keg openings and free beer events from new startups like The No Name Brewery and St. Arnolds. They hosted a bring your own, after last years Houston Home Brewer's Christmas Party and let us bring the fruits of our labors for all to share.

Alamo Draft House. They have several locations, two on the West Side. Great for a movie and a brew, or just stopping in for a quick pint. Selection is decent, but avoid Salvator or any high octane belgian imports, since they serve it in a small glass with a nipple on it. Next they will be wanting to put huggies on us too.

I know I missed some, a few are springing up now and then. I went to one off of Washington, and it had a nice selection of beers, but the atmosphere was a bit pretencious and the food was lousy, and the staff, at least the waitresses, could not seem to be bothered to do what they had been hired to do. I cannot remember the name of the place, but no worries, I won't be back. Neither will any of the 10 people that came in our party.

metaltim 11-08-2010 11:21 AM

The 'creeks' have good beers; cedar creek and onion creek.

In my neck of the woods (Tomball), we have Norton's, Fox and Hound and a BJ's, all with a large selection, plus BJs' own brews. Plus on tues, all drafts are $2 at F&H, and all BJ's brews are $2.

I recently discovered another place in cypress, Rockwell Tavern. Went there during beer week for Independence, Abita, and Southern Star, and talked to the person in charge of their beer. She's a homebrewer as well. Currently she said she had about 125 labels (not including BMC's), and had intention to have about 200 by the end of the year, and more in the future. Currently all bottles, but they plan to have draft soon, but would probably be mostly BMC with maybe one rotating micro. On telge, just north of 290. I think that would put them at maybe the largest selection outside the loop, if not in Houston.
On top of that, until 7, all beers are $1 off. I had Brew dog double IPA, it was $3.

bridgman852 11-11-2010 03:03 AM

This place must be based out of California, land of Big Brother Democrat.

actually are brew pubs are about the only thing we have going for us any more. but sadly we keep voting in stupid.

Shane 11-11-2010 07:57 PM

The Pub Hub in the Katy area on Fry south of the intersection with I-10 has quite a selection and lots of large screens for sports viewing.

KPatton 11-12-2010 05:56 AM

My wife and I tried the PubHub on S. Fry last night. Nice place with a good selection of beers on tap and in bottles. It is located where the Houston Racks was formerly located and a mexican restaurant before that. I hope it fairs better. We were there from about 5 to 7 and the crowd kept growing. It will probably really hurt my ex's two bars in the area. Seemed to pull in a mix of young single men, young professionals from the surrounding medical centers as well as some older folks like me. Average age was probably late 20's early 30's.

jdbrews 11-16-2010 07:50 PM

Wow I guess me and the misses need to get out to try a few of these places. All we have in Baytown is a place called "Dirty Bay Brewery". Don't be fooled by the name I hear they don't brew any beer. they actually beat me to the name, If I had a brewery I thought about calling it the Dirty Bay Brewery. Dang it... lol

metaltim 11-19-2010 09:10 AM

There's another place in tomball, called molly's pub. it's part of a chain all over houston. They actually a pretty big beer selection, i'd say about 30 taps, and only a few are BMC's. it's got that old english pub style feel to it as well, which I like.

drummermattie02 11-19-2010 09:42 AM

Liberty Station on Washington is pretty good - more than just your stock BMC lineup and a good atmosphere. It helps that I can walk there, but I'd still recommend it.

Re: the cost of mead at the Saucer, doesn't Redstone retail for $20 or more in the grocery store? A 75% markup on more expensive bottles is not unheard of if you want to drink at an establishment.

barrooze 11-19-2010 10:38 AM

In the Clear Lake area you've got Boondoggle's. Very decent beer selection, mug club, and some incredible pizza are just a few of the offerings. There's also a BJs in Webster. Other than that, not much else but the regular draft selections.

MjdTexan 11-20-2010 06:10 AM

I am biased. I grew up in Channelview on the river bottom. With rivers comes marinas. Riverside inn is the name of this beer joint (thats all it really is). They have the best burgers in the Houston area bar (pun intended) none. They do charge $5 bucks to launch your boat. I generally put in elsewhere and stop there for for beer before I head on out to the bay and Kemah.

Jmoore 11-20-2010 08:36 AM

I have tried many of these places, and unfortunately (like you say) the ones with the best selection generally have rediculous pricing! Sounds like I will need to check out the Petrol Station very soon. I also enjoyed the Beer Haus near Rice Village for the relaxed atmosphere. Thanks for this write up.

brew1up 11-22-2010 03:05 PM

Front Porch in Midtown has a decent selection of beers, good atmosphere (especially when the weather is nice) and easy walking to places to eat nearby.

Little Woodrows in Midtown is about the same as Front Porch and if all else fails you can walk over to Spec's and get you something for the house.

If you are on the Northeast side of town, try McCllellan's. It has a good beer selection, decent food, shuffle board table, 9 hole par 3 golf course and driving range. Plus it claims to have the smallest pub in the world.
Pub Bar Restaurant Humble TX ( Texas ) McClellans

suffer78 11-22-2010 03:50 PM

+1 for Petrol and the saucer. They are opening a saucer in the woodlands area. That will be nice to have.

tronnyjenkins 11-22-2010 04:14 PM

I know that it is a lot of times crowded, but if you go at an odd time of day, Taps on Washington is a cool place. I would be wary of going on a Friday or Saturday night, unless you are into frat central type establishments. They often have decent specials, and even the nicer beers and Belgian stuff isn't astronomical. Maybe I just love the fact that they have St. Bernardus on draft... but I go there sometimes.

Other than that, i concur with the above comments.
The Gingerman is probably one of my favorite places to go, because of the selection and atmosphere.
Yardhouse can be OK. I always go before their happy hour is over to enjoy discounted beers, and half priced pizzas. That is a good way to make it affordable. Their pizza is tasty as well.

Does anyone know if there are ANY other brewpubs since Two Rows closed? OK, other than BJ's that is. I sure do miss Two Rows $1 pint nights :-(

Johnny_Crunch 11-22-2010 05:11 PM

It's a shame beer pubs = sausage fests.........

metaltim 11-22-2010 06:23 PM

maybe a shame for you, luckily for me, my wife enjoys several craft brews:)

Johnny_Crunch 11-22-2010 07:14 PM

I'm married too. I still prefer a bar with some scenery over a sausage fest.

DanRiverBrew 11-23-2010 09:16 AM

Pub Hub in Katy is a nice place. I love the ever changing beer selection. The queso is good (which is always important =). I can't wait to try their pizza, i heard it is really good. Has anyone tried their food?

devinramen 11-23-2010 09:24 AM

Anvil Bar and Refuge is pretty decent. They have a rolling selection throughout the night. Once one keg is kicked, a different beer fills that tap. It can get pretty busy Thurs-Sat and I think they focus on cocktails but it's still nice to see a beer selection.

ALF 11-29-2010 10:52 PM

On the NW side, as mentioned before, Rockwells Tavern....130+ bottled beers and awsome burgers. I just discovered this place myself and plan on going back soon.

BJ's (willowbrook) - Most of the BJ's are a BoP, but this BJ's has contracted St. Arnolds to brew their beer for them, so quality is not an issue. Pizza is great and many monitors for sports fans.

mageac 11-29-2010 11:04 PM

+1 to petrol as well since thats a true neighborhood bar with character. also try Rudyardz since they do carry rarities from time to time and have a great plate of black bean nachos

metaltim 11-30-2010 06:47 AM


Originally Posted by ALF (Post 46609)
BJ's (willowbrook) - Most of the BJ's are a BoP, but this BJ's has contracted St. Arnolds to brew their beer for them, so quality is not an issue. Pizza is great and many monitors for sports fans.

i believe st. arnolds brews the beer for every bj's in texas, due to texas laws. i know they at least do it for all houston locations.

quality wouldn't be an issue either way. the bj's in other states all have great beer (although most of them are the same at all bj's)

dnett 12-07-2010 03:01 PM

Up NE we have Nortons. Good selection but wait staff has zero beer knowledge.

There's Brickhouse which I've heard is nice. Drove by and there's a nice firepit on the patio. Supposed to have a decent selection.

Then there's a little hard to find place called McClellans. Selection's not huge, but it's quality, and the food is pretty good.

But in my opinion, the best place to drink beer in Houston is my house! Shop at Spec's warehouse, plus throw in some home brew and why would I want to go anywhere else. Prices can't be beat and I don't need a DD. No dress code, no snotty waitresses, and no surly bouncers. (except when my wife cuts me off!)

KPatton 12-08-2010 06:28 AM

I agree. My wife and I used to frequent the Onion Creek for Sunday Brunch and a pint or two, but the sandwich quality took a dive. They went from Katz's Deli quality pastrami sandwiches to two slabs of bread and a 1/4 inch thick slice of pastami. The illegal working the kitchen (don't fool yourself, they ALL are) needs some close oversight. I know, if you give them a recipe the do it well for a while, but then it starts to evolve into an amalgamation of shortcuts and paths of least resistance until the finished product bears no resemblance to the original recipe. It happened with the Ruben I served at the bar I formerly helped run.

KPatton 12-08-2010 06:30 AM

Went by Rudyards and was a little disappointed. Virtually no crowd, and no beer list. Nice neighborhood place and the food was good. But unless you are a regular you have no way of knowing what beers they have.

KPatton 12-08-2010 06:31 AM

Damn! I missed the American Homebrewer's Association annual Xmas party, after party at Petrol this past Sunday. I like the place, its homebrewer friendly and they know their beers.

KPatton 12-08-2010 06:45 AM

Sounds like my house. I home brew too, and currently have 8 kegs on tap and three more batchs in the fermenters. I need people who like to drink beer. Unfortunately, the subdivision live in is inhabited by tea tottlers. I do make beer for parties at work.

FYI the new start up brewery in Katy, The No Label Brewery, will be giving away free beer and eats at their brewery off Main street in the second grain silo going west this Saturday the Dec 11th from 1 till 3. The get together is kid friendly. Bring chairs a thirst and an appetite.

KPatton 12-08-2010 06:53 AM

I used to live in West Chase west of Wilcrest. The Fox and Hound has a decent selection of beers on tap, not great, but at least about 10 imports and craft brews. The scenery can be nice and the food isn't bad for a chain type place. They have a cigar room and lots of pool as well as a large outside seating area.

Down the road near Kirkwood is a small english pub called the Bull and Bear. It is behind Specs. They can offer up a pint of your usual english ales and a dram of single malt. Their traditional pub grub is pretty good. Sheperds Pie, Bangers and Mash are decent.

Farther west, in Cinco is the Bakerstreet Pub. Its a chain restaurant. Went one weekend. Had to watch some morbidly obese woman feeding her two dogs in her lap(s). Nuff said.

Over on N. HWY6 at I10 is Sherlocks, a brother to Bakerstreet, owned by the same corporation. All it has going for it is a nice treed outdoor seating area and again the normal selection of imports. Burgers are decent.

obarjoshua 12-08-2010 02:58 PM

they just opened the BREW PUB on I-10 and Fry. 110 beers available and the food is pretty good as well

tronnyjenkins 12-12-2010 04:49 PM

I brew at home as well.
Wouldn't mind meeting some other fellow homebrewers and having a tasting or something.

KPatton 12-13-2010 06:20 AM

I know there are a lot of brewers out there that are not "joiners". I like the social aspect, but like to do my own thing too. Organizing a meetup isn't a bad idea. I had a club at work that has kind of died as people have transferred or moved on to other companies. We used to meet at various places to try new beers and would do brew days and split the brew. I'll start up another thread on homebrewing and maybe we can get enough response to put a tasting together after the holidays. FYI, the Houston members of the American Homebrewers Association has an annual party here in town. This year it was Dec 5th with an after party at the Petrol Station where homebrew is welcome for the occassion. Last year it started at St. Arnolds and move to the Petrol Station.

barrooze 12-13-2010 11:00 AM


Originally Posted by KPatton (Post 50823)
Damn! I missed the American Homebrewer's Association annual Xmas party, after party at Petrol this past Sunday. I like the place, its homebrewer friendly and they know their beers.

Sounds like that would've been fun! I agree with The Petrol's friendliness towards homebrewers. I participated in their pumpkin beer throwdown and was pleased and surprised by the turnout. The only negative I had was that the participants got zero feedback from the judges. I just wanted to know what I could have done to better my brew. Regardless, it was a good time. :)

barrooze 12-13-2010 11:09 AM


Originally Posted by KPatton (Post 53431)
I'll start up another thread on homebrewing and maybe we can get enough response to put a tasting together after the holidays.

Awesome. Post a link to the thread here so we know about it. I've got a Belgian Tripel and an Old Ale in the fermenters right now!

dnett 12-13-2010 01:33 PM


Originally Posted by KPatton (Post 53431)
I know there are a lot of brewers out there that are not "joiners". I like the social aspect, but like to do my own thing too. Organizing a meetup isn't a bad idea... I'll start up another thread on homebrewing and maybe we can get enough response to put a tasting together after the holidays.

Good idea. I'd like to meet some other homebrewers myself, as I'm about to start putting together my own equipment and branch out on my own.

metaltim 12-14-2010 06:45 AM

i like the idea of the social aspect of homebrewing, but i work on the westside, and live on far northwest side, and everything is always in town, so I just never go to any. 30 mile drive home is never fun. for houston beer week a couple weeks back, there was a participating brewery on my side of town (rockwells), so I went everyday to their deal, and we did make it out to the beer fest at brennans since it was on saturday

devinramen 12-15-2010 09:08 AM

Anyone been to PubHub in Katy or Blue Moose Lodge on Washington? Have yet to check 'em out but they advertise a decent beer selection.

KPatton 12-16-2010 05:33 AM

The PubHub has a pretty good selection. The Day Manager is a beer geek too so he is pretty knowledgable about the beers they have. The good thing is Tuesdays is $3 draft night, including Belgian ales. Me and the wife went this tuesday and had Maredsous 10. You get a 12oz chalice, not some thimble full like the YardHouse. The pub my ex used to own we sold it for $9 a pint so it is a bargain. On Thursdays its Texas Draft night. All Texas beers are $2 including St. Arnolds and Real Ale.

Jmoore 12-16-2010 08:27 PM

Home brewer here in Cypress (only 20 gallons under my belt so far). Definately don't brew as often as I would like to, but I get to brew about every other month or so.

JRoche00 12-20-2010 11:54 AM

PubHub has great beer selection, but the food is so-so. Their queso is WAY too salty. In their defense, I haven't tried everything on the menu. Maybe their burgers are great. The BBQ Chicken pizza is a plus.

storminj 12-20-2010 04:12 PM

There is a great little place in the village that has a decent selection and has a bocce ball and such available. Anyone know the name?

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