Saint Arnold was the only craft brewery in Houston for the longest time and there was only a single Flying Saucer to go have a beer. The number of breweries in the area and good beer bars has become quite staggering.
Houston is a huge area, and that being said, having a car is essential.
- Saint Arnold Brewing Company Opened in 1996, they bill themselves as Texas' oldest craft brewery. Flagship styles are consistent, and their limited release beers prove that they can still appeal to the fickle beer nerd palate. Massive location and the brewery experience continues to improve. Food service was recently added or you can still bring a picnic and board games.
Notable beers: Endeavour, Weedwacker, Lawnmower, Ale Wagger Brown, Icon/Divine Reserve/Bishop's Barrel Series, Boiler Room
- Karbach Brewing Company Flagship beers are German-inpsired, they pioneered canned beer distributed in Houston, and now they're one of the fastest growing breweries in the US. A $15 million capital infusion let them open a new facility, including an onsite restaurant.
Notable beers: Hop Delusion, Mother In Lager, Weisse Versa, Bourbon Barrel Hellfighter (and variants like BBH with Vanilla, Chocolate BBH)
- Brash Brewing Company The owner of Petrol Station started a contract brewery in Massachusetts, then set up the brewpub in Houston when changes in Texas law allowed him to keep ownership interest in the bar and obtain a brewpub license. And if you've ever been to Petrol, it should come as no surprise that they exclusively brew 2 styles: IPA and stouts.
Notable beers: EZ7, Pussy Wagon, Cali Green, Pussalia, Cortado
- Buffalo Bayou Brewery Think of them as DFH in Texas, but their unconventional beer hits more often than they miss.
Notable beers: More Cowbell, Meer Koebel (the funky version of More Cowbell), Gingerbread Stout
- 8th Wonder Brewery Guess where the name comes from? Taproom/brewery has an excellent location in East Downtown, nearby BBVA Compass Stadium. Focused more on consistent production and canned distribution over small batch releases.
Notable beers: Rocket Fuel, Dome Faux'm, Hopston, Dream Shake
Others (aka I don't know much about them/haven't been)
- Lone Pint Brewery I still haven't been there...<p>Notable beers: Yellow Rose
- Southern Star Brewing Company
Notable beers: Buried Hatchet Stout, Baby Blue Buried Hatchet, seasonal/PRO-AM beers
- Four Phantoms Brewing Erik Ogershok left Real Ale to start up this highly anticipated brewpub.
- Eureka Heights Brewing
- B52 Brewing
Notable beers: Hearing good reviews on their berliners
- City Acre Brewpub
- Texas Beer Refinery
- Texian Brewing Company
- Galveston Island Brewing
- No Label Brewing
A city where dining is the main attraction has plenty of destination beer bars too.
- Petrol Station These guys turned a neighborhood coffee house into one of the best beer bars in the country. Smack in the middle of a Heights neighborhood, they consistently have a strong tap selection. Despite the owner not being a fan of sours (you'll rarely see them on draft), the taps are well curated. Very chill vibe and it's the top recommended place for a beer when in Houston.
- The Hay Merchant Another top notch destination bar in Houston. Outstanding draft selection served in appropriate glassware, and this place is basically the inverse of Petrol Station. Parking is a colossal pain in the ass if here during peak hours.
- D&T Drive Inn Owned by the same people as Down House but this is a better bar for food and beer menus. This is a biker ice house turned into a craft beer bar. Similar to Petrol, it's in a neighborhood, but a newer/nicer building, and better service.
- Cottonwood The place to go if you like outdoor spaces and big patios. Selection skews local/Texas and stands out due to better food than most beer bars.
- Mongoose Vs. Cobra Midtown Houston beer/mixologist bar. Usually laid back but can have a pretentious crowd due to location.
- Flying Saucer Chain of beer bars with locations across the country. The Sugarland location isn't anything impressive, but the downtown location has a consistently high quality tap selection.
- Moon Tower Inn Not going to lie: this place is a shithole with an excellent beer selection. All outdoor seating (meaning don't go when it's oppressively humid during the summer) and the actual bar is inside a shipping container. I'm not kidding when I say it's a shithole...
- Also see bottle shops with on-premise.
Not bad, could do better
Real talk - probably won't update this section much unless something dramatic changes: there's too many even decent places!
- Axelrad Beer Garden
- Hughie’s Tavern & Vietnamese Grille The first place in town to do Vietnamese food and craft beer in one place.
- Richmond Arms
- Down House
- Liberty Station
- Queen Vic
- Anvil Pub and Refuge
I am out in some suburb please help
- Nobi Public House Vietnamese food and craft beer in one place, but it's in Clear Lake!
- D&Q Mini-Mart The only true bottle shop in Houston. Support a small business!!!
- Spec's The big-ass Costco sized megastore on Smith Street. People will line up at 7 AM on St. Arnold Divine Reserve release day here. They dominate the Houston area for off-premise alcohol sales; think of something similar to Total Wine/Binny's.
- Whole Foods/Central Market
Bottle Shops with on-premise/growlers
These get a special section since they can fill growlers! Have a pint while you are shopping!!!
- Drink of Ages Pub (FKA Growlers) The best place in Texas to get a growler fill since this is the only growler store that has the fancypants PegAS Craftap system. Typically a solid selection of draft-only beer and well worth a stop.
- Premium Draught Selection isn't as good as Growler's but they have a neat growler exchange program, where membership means you can swap for a clean growler.
- Whole Foods Waugh
I have one day...
HOUSTON IS HUGE.
The short answers to if I only had time to stop at one place...
- Brewery: St. Arnold
- Bar: Petrol Station. SH and air will give you hell if you are in Houston and you don't have a beer here.
- Shop: D&Q
- Need a growler: Growler's