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

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Photo by Joshua Justice
3. The Hay Merchant

Now celebrating its first anniversary, The Hay Merchant has had very few noticeable hiccups in its infancy. Server knowledge here is stellar, as Hay Merchant easily boasts the most well-rounded and well-trained staff in the city thanks to owner Kevin Floyd's university-style training courses. As with most other bars on this list, nights and weekends can be hectic. But if any bar can handle the traffic, It's this one.

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2. The Flying Saucer Downtown

With a selection of bottles and taps that is second to none for breadth, the recent addition of a younger sister in Sugar Land seems to have elevated the original Saucer's game.The bar now boasts a dedicated cellaring area in their cooler for aging bottles and kegs and service is at it's best in recent memory. Despite being well over a decade old, Flying Saucer is still a force to be reckoned with. We had a hard time choosing between the two locations, but gave the nod to the original over its streamlined new sibling largely for nostalgia and central location.

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1. Petrol Station

The first Houston bar to focus solely on American craft beer has finally expanded the kitchen as well as the backyard. Further improvements -- proof that no one should leave a chalkboard menu in the hands of a bunch of bearded man-children -- include re-writing the once nearly unreadable beer menu in a legible format. Is it coincidence the first female bartender in Petrol Station's history started recently? Never afraid to shy away from its nerd roots, Petrol Station had sectioned its beers into Youngling, Padawan and Jedi the last time we visited. At just under 40 taps and no bottle selection to speak of, the bar doesn't have the selection of our second and third place winners, but the selection of rarities combined with untouchable special events makes Petrol Station our Best of Houston® winner for Best Beer Bar.



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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 editor

@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 topcommenter

@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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