The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Beer Bars

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Just 24 months ago, making a list of Houston's ten best beer bars would have been far easier. Since that time, not only have a ton of new beer bars opened up, many places have elevated their game. In fact, our rough draft for this list boasted over 20 bars.

It's true that a solid handful of bars could make a case to be on this list, so much so that we're sure we left out at least one of your favorites. A few, like Cottonwood and Nobi, are too new to be considered. Some places from our initial list were just too far away to be considered, like Brews Brothers in Galveston. Still more barely missed the cut, which made picking the eighth, ninth and tenth place spots far more difficult than determining our top three. Each and every one is a contender and we expect this list to look vastly different next year as a result.

With that said, here is our list of the ten very best beer bars in Houston.

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10. Down House

This Heights wunderkind is finally on stable ground after a few shaky opening months. The tap list is small but usually packed with Texas beers that regularly hold best-in-state status. At one point this year, Down House's tiny tap lineup contained four of the top 15 Texas beers according to Ratebeer.com. That's an outstanding batting average. This is also one of the few surefire places to find Live Oak on tap in Houston. It doesn't hurt that the leather couches are one of the most comfortable places to throw back a pint in all of Houston.

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9. Underdogs

The youngest bar on our list, Underdogs is one of the early signs that Washington might be able to survive its ongoing collapse and become a viable -- and far more egalitarian -- entertainment district. Owned by two passionate former bartenders, Underdogs boasts some of the cheapest craft pints in the city. A solid bottle list is home to some surprising rarities typically reserved for the shelves at Spec's downtown. We just wish it were closer to the already strong east end of the Washington Corridor.

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Photo courtesy of Mongoose Versus Cobra
8. Mongoose Versus Cobra

Newcomer Mongoose versus Cobra started off as a beer bar but has found itself working to become more well rounded. One of the best-looking bars in Houston, Mongoose also has strong cocktail service, so this is a smart place to bring those pesky non-beer drinkers you inexplicably still hang out with. You will always be able to find a solid beer here from its lengthy tap list and large-format bottle selection.


Location Info

Down House

1801 Yale, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Mongoose Versus Cobra

1011 McGowen St., Houston, TX

Category: Music

Underdogs Sports Pub

4212 Washington Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Music

BRC Gastropub

519 Shepherd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Liberty Station

2101 Washington, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Rudyard's

2010 Waugh, Houston, TX

Category: Music

The Ginger Man Pub

5607 Morningside, Houston, TX

Category: Music

The Hay Merchant

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium

705 Main, Houston, TX

Category: Music

The Petrol Station

985 Wakefield, Houston, TX

Category: Music

My Voice Nation Help
29 comments
jamestda
jamestda

saw Iggz about 12 years ago...looks the same?!

AmandaHugankis
AmandaHugankis

What about Valhalla? The same selection of beers that you could get at any of these places that rotates often and <$2

BobbyFreshpants
BobbyFreshpants topcommenter

Stags Head has a pretty decent selection and no wankers. Win, Win.

Umpire714
Umpire714

No Railyard? They have some great craft beer, and I like the rotating focus on international options.

Steve1152
Steve1152

I like Petrol but if you're not in the mood for IPA or something that's 10% alcohol then pickings is slim. I disagree with their attitude that well-balanced regular strength beers are inferior to the latest boring me-too IPA or cherry-lime bourbon barrel brettanomyces imperial stout. Cottonwood,  Hans' Bierhouse, Moon Tower and even the Den have better selections than some places on the list. Bohemeo's does more with their 8 drafts than a lot of places with bigger selections. The full line of Hofbrau beers at Bar Munich is a welcome antidote to IPA overload. 

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

Nobi Public House has a draft list that competes well with Petrol Station.  Maybe it wasn't included because it's technically in Webster?  Or was it not included because no one from the HP has bothered to try it yet? Because if you have been there it would easily make the list.

Anse
Anse

My only trip to Hay Merchant was spoiled by the terrible acoustics. I'd like to be able to talk to the person across the table from me without having to scream. It pretty much ruins the experience.

Daphne
Daphne

I was pleasantly surprised to find some good stuff on tap at Hobbit Cafe, of all places. Good beer is only improved by a good patio and frische luft!

GrumpyOakForester
GrumpyOakForester

I really, really want to like Petrol Station.  But, repeated Championship Vinyl-like attitudes combined with flashbacks from its beginnings as a Guitar Hero den of slack prove insurmountable on most days.

yveetsaalazar
yveetsaalazar

@BobbyFreshpants surprised we weren't shown any love. I agree with most. Love petrol, glad it's first.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@mikhastur Too new to make the list.  Open less than a month when this list was compiled.  Yet another strong contender for next year's list. 

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@erichenao On the beers?  That's a pretty variable and subjective answer.  Hay Merchant is pricey at times, especially on snifter pours, but their Happy Hour makes them literally the cheapest in the entire city on a lot of beers.  Petrol is generally cheaper than most yet had an $18 nine oz pour on the menu last week.  MvsC has $7 European beer that is generally unavailable anywhere else, so it's tough to give it a value proposition.

If you want a concrete answer, Underdogs is the cheapest on this list at on a regular basis.



kshilcutt
kshilcutt moderator editortopcommenter

@Bruce_Are Nobi is mentioned at the very top of the post. It's not that no one here has bothered to try it yet, it's that the place is still very new. Look for a full write-up on the spot soon, though.  :)

MontroseIsFarforBeer
MontroseIsFarforBeer

@Anse  I have to say the couple times I went there I wasn't too impressed with the customer service which kind of ruined the experience

FRL713
FRL713

@Anse My issues with HM are more around the slow service, the overpriced beer, and mediocre quality food.  I've been a couple times and just don't see the appeal of the place.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@Anse They've since cut the music when it gets busy, but I wouldn't mind some baffles in the ceiling or something to reduce the reflective surfaces, it is very harsh at high capacity.

ferrigan
ferrigan

@Daphne  Good God, good call. The beer is good, the folks friendly and none of the preciousness you'll find sometimes elsewhere. It's a place that a mellow sailor with good taste would like, shoes kicked of on the patio.

Anse
Anse

@GrumpyOakForester I live near there and it's my usual place, and I don't want to agree with you but I must. Ask a simple question about a beer, and it's anybody's guess what kind of reaction you're going to get. I think this is due to the possibility that some of those guys really don't know as much about beer as they'd like you to think they do. I've had excellent service from a couple of bartenders there, but they seemed to know what they were talking about and were quite enthusiastic about answering my questions.

erichenao
erichenao

@J.A.Justice Sorry my login through the voice comments system is wanky. The comment was meant for another story…

Bruce_Are
Bruce_Are topcommenter

@J.A.Justice @Bruce_Are  

Read it, but missed the mention of Nobi on my first read.

 Nobi has great beer and OK food.  But the food is cheap so it tastes better.

timblack2
timblack2 topcommenter

@J.A.Justice @timblack2 @mikhastur Very good. I can see the whole AB/SE thing, believe me. And they had said they wouldn't work with SE on principal and I can see that too.

But when pressed on why no SS, No Label, Buff, there wasn't much answer. They used to be famous for the 2 dollar bombshell drafts in their original incarnation. I found it odd they didn't have any SS at all in version 2.0.


I would consider Lone Pint local as well. Magnolia isn't really any further away than Conroe. I just hadn't seen it there, nor any Houston stuff yet. (Didn't realize Ft Bend had went with SE already....interesting).

Never said they don't support small or craft or Texas. I see 512 and such. Just thought it odd no Houston stuff on the last couple visits.

J.A.Justice
J.A.Justice

@timblack2 @J.A.Justice @mikhastur Haven't been over there in a couple weeks but I know they don't use Silver Eagle, so that cuts out Karbach, Ft. Bend, and St. Arnold right off the bat.

Thats also a broad statement, while 66 taps and no houston is worth noting, MvsC, Petrol and several others on this list and beyond have, at some point in the past year, been in the exact same situation and wouldn't go accusing them of "not carrying houston now" but rather "not having houston on tap at the moment".

I know for a fact that they had Lone Pint, Cedar Creek, Rogness and other very new very hard to find Texas breweries in the past month, so I certainly wouldn't accuse them of not being supportive of craft in Texas. They may very well have had to drive to go pick up some of those kegs btw.  I would consider Lone Pint local to Houston as well.

I am fairly sure we will see 8th Wonder on at MTI very shortly.

So to answer your question, no I hadn't noticed and at the moment, given their history and the circumstances, no I am not concerned.



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