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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.