Although Houston’s breweries have always been skilled at navigating an environment of antiquated TABC restrictions. This past year has seen them fully demonstrate their resilience. In order to keep their taprooms open throughout lockdown, several adapted by providing to-go options. Coming up with practical drive-thru brews when it felt like everyone needed them most, and even adding food to the mix. And now that everything is back to normal. It’s a pretty fine opportunity to get to know top-notch craft brewers in Houston.
These picks are our bets for the most exceptional and culturally defining breweries in and around the Greater Houston area. Regardless of whether you’re looking for a low-key microbrewery crafting obscure styles, a new spot for weekly trivia, or want to tour the city’s biggest brewery success stories. Salud!
In the beer scene of this area, Southern Star Brewing occupies a distinctive place. It skillfully walks the tight line between inventive brews and wonderful seasonal offerings. But perhaps because of its rural location, it isn’t widely acknowledged. However, the business is well famous for one incredibly five-star brew. It is behind the bar in almost every establishment within a 100-mile radius of Houston.
Bombshell Blonde was introduced not long after Southern Star was established in 2007. Quite quickly, it established itself as a Texas craft beer stalwart. The beer’s instantly famous blue can, which is in surprising places, is light and crisp with a frothy head and detectable flavors of malt and grain. Furthermore, the Southern Star brewery is a fantastic place to visit and offers the chance to sample some of the company’s lesser-known brews. Such as the seasonal Hecho en Conroe Mexican-style lager and the limited-edition Oktobrist Russian imperial dark as well as the year-round Subatomico IPA.
The brewery’s namesake bayou was an ugly eyesore that jutted out of downtown when it first opened in 2011. After years of investment and construction, Buffalo Bayou (at least the section that flows out of downtown and along Allen Parkway) has now been transformed into one of the city’s best outdoor destinations. You could say that Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. has undergone a similar change given that it has evolved from a two-man enterprise transporting kegs in a single-cab pickup to a macro-brewing operation distributing tens of thousands of barrels around the state.
Currently, Buffalo Bayou’s gorgeous new First Ward site, which also houses a restaurant, produces over 75 distinctive beers. The two flagship beers of the company, a copper ale called 1836 (after the year Texas gained its independence) and the well-liked Crush City IPA, are staples of Houston’s beer culture. The company’s self-described moniker, “Houston’s Most Creative Brewery,” is earned thanks to a portfolio that includes unusual brews including Mexican Hot Chocolate, Cranberry Wit, Gingerbread Stout, and Bananas Foster.
The influence of Saint Arnold Brewing Company on the environment and culture of beer manufacturing cannot be overstated. Saint Arnold, Texas’s first craft brewery, cleared the way for a new generation of brewers from El Paso to Beaumont. A tidal wave of Houston microbreweries, some of which are now their main competitors, were made possible by rules that the people at Saint Arnold spent decades pressing the state legislature to pass. Nevertheless, in the craft beer sector, community and competition coexist.
Saint Arnold continues to produce some of Houston’s best beers. Winning more medals at the Great American Beer Fest than any other brewery in the city. In addition to the company’s historical, legal, and cultural legacies. Additionally, the company’s recently opened restaurant and beer garden offer what Houston may find to be the city’s most aesthetically beautiful brewing location. The cathedral-style structure of Saint Arnold Brewing Company pays homage to its spiritual namesake by including a number of little chapels. Each of these has a mural painted by a neighborhood artist.
Some may find this choice contentious, but Karbach is still a reputable brewing company in Houston, despite being acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016. The drafts that Karbach’s brewers have since 2011 are now the famous benchmarks of the beer scene in both Texas and Houston.
Hard-core admirers of H-Town amber nectar continue to enjoy beers like Love Street and Hopadillo. And Christmas in Houston wouldn’t be complete without the annual release of Yule Shoot Your Eye Out. A pleasantly sweet and zesty red ale with undertones of caramel malt and an orange peel touch. The Karbach property itself has developed into a haven for bock aficionados. Complete with a restaurant, souvenir shop, and ongoing tours, from microbrewery hangout. Even though it is no longer the modest business it once was. It is still one of the greatest spots in town to spend a sunny Saturday.
A brewery that is both unique and creative is located just off a Conroe backroad on seven acres of Texas piney woods. The assortment of incredibly inventive beers that B-52 Brewing provides Houstonians rivals—and frequently outperforms—the best and brightest from the Loop.
Enjoy a barrel-aged Saison or a double dry-hopped hazy IPA while relaxing and watching the fire flicker. Try Szechuan Sauce, a hazy and “ridiculously dry hopped” pale ale that pays homage to the humorous sci-fi cartoon “Rick and Morty” both in name and its natural green color from butterfly pea flower. With hundreds of similarly imaginative brews and a property large enough to lose your concerns in. B-52 is more than worth the travel and a place to unwind.
We’d have a clear winner if this were a list of the craziest breweries in Houston. The creators of Eureka Heights don’t take themselves too seriously and avoid the traditional dangers of craft brewing arrogance. The brewery is named after the little-known Long Point-Eureka Heights fault system, which the location is built. Eureka Heights is a destination for easy-drinking year-rounders, cheerful events, and pleasant faces, far from the self-important elitism that has come to define the sector in the eyes of many.
However, it doesn’t mean they don’t occasionally flex their brewers’ muscles. Although the company’s staple brews are light, low-to-mid-ABV ales like the crisp Buckle Bunny cream ale. Also, seasonals like the Moo Caliente, a cayenne and cinnamon milk stout, deliver a punch in terms of creativity. Visit the brewery for a round of “The Office” trivia. Some food from a food truck, and a sample flight. Take pleasure in the straightforward enjoyment of a brewery that doesn’t pretend to be anything but itself. And rocks it while doing it.
John and Katheryn Holler, the duo behind Holler Brewing, stand out for their rigorous dedication to the craft. In contrast to the people at Eureka Heights who stand out for their joyful silliness. When they finally made the decision to follow their passion, they separated for a while to pursue formal brewing. Training in other places before coming back together in Houston to launch their own brewery.
The Hollers brew a rotating lineup of beers that are only available in their tap room and at a few bars in Houston. With a focus on beautifully produced variations of established types. Their ESB is an English-style ale with strong hop flavors and undertones of toffee. It won a bronze medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival. The 8.2% ABV Belgian Tripel with a monastery theme and the 9.9% Nordic Nektar indicate the partners’ enjoyment of traditional styles and international flavors.
This is the Ivy League of Houston craft beer, a destination for the genuine connoisseur.