Food & Drink

The Best Beer Bars in Houston

Published On 02/05/2015 Published On 02/05/2015
houston beer bar
Julie Soefer Photography

While these days, you can go practically anywhere and get a craft beer -- have you seen the “walk-around beers” at Whole Foods? -- a truly great beer bar is still a precious, amber-hued commodity. So we’ve rounded up the most impeccably curated spots -- the hoppiest places in Houston, if you will. Bottoms up.

Bovine & Barley

Bovine & Barley

Downtown
42 mindfully selected taps, half of them pouring local suds, line the wall of this handsome Downtown craft beer spot. But you’ll find way more than just beer here (thus the bovine part of the equation). Shimmy up to the massive, industrial-style bar to grab a pint of the good stuff along with Kobe beef burgers, beer-can chicken, and your new favorite brunch item: a fried bologna croissant, stuffed into a waffle maker, then drizzled with queso, dubbed the “Croissaffle.” Also, $5 happy hour.
 

Axelrad Beer Garden

Midtown
Imagine a garden filled with hammocks. Now imagine said hammock garden with a sick collection of craft beers, on-site food trucks, and a pizza place next door that will bring the hot & fresh pies right on over. Now, stop imagining, because THIS EXISTS. Even better? Everything here is local, on draft, and starting at $3 a pop. Plop yourself in a hammock, or grab one of the brewgarden’s picnic tables to enjoy a game of Clue or regular-sized Jenga while you imbibe.

Cottonwood Houston

Cottonwood

Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
Live music, a sprawling patio, and a full bar & kitchen complete with superior Texas pub fare helps keep everyone happy; while a top-notch selection of 42 beers on tap -- two of which are cask-conditioned -- helps keep YOU happy. And that’s what’s most important, isn’t it? 
 

Wooster's Garden

Midtown
Beer nerds have mad love for this totally chill craft beer & cocktail garden, which rocks 49 carefully chosen on-tap brews that run the gamut, from the dark, malty, and hoppy to the sour, funky, and alluring, plus some intricately crafted cocktails. Grab a pint along with some badass pub grub, like 44 Farms burgers, or pretzels & beer cheese sauce. On Sundays, the "Food Truck Brunch" offers recovery from today’s hangover while you work on tomorrow's.

The Petrol Station

Petrol Station

Garden Oaks/Oak Forest
This no-frills converted gas station -- one of the first full-fledged craft beer bars in Houston -- boasts a solid rotation of exciting, hard-to-score brews. Come here to geek out and fill up by the pint, or, if you’re really getting after it, by the growler. But be warned: no one’s looking to hold your hand here. You’ll have to make your way through the list of "Younglings," "Padawans," and "Jedis" all by yourself.
 

The Hay Merchant

Montrose
Head to this Montrose wunderkind for beer done right. Nay, done flawlessly, because Kevin Floyd, co-owner and CEO of all-things-barley, hand-selects the bar’s rotating list of 80 taps and five casks himself. Even your light-beer-guzzling buddy will be turned on by the bar’s dynamic selection of fine-as-hell brews. If not, you may want to rethink that friendship.

D & T Drive Inn

D&T Drive Inn

Heights
This beer-house may just be the most laid-back and unpretentious in the city. House-made shandies are perfect in the Houston summer time, while cheap happy hours, beer launch parties, and an extensive 50-tap list of interesting brews, offered in the form of snifters, tulips, and pints, are perfect all the time. 

Houston Flying Saucer

The Flying Saucer

Multiple locations
Beer nerds and newbies alike flock to The Saucer for one of the city’s most all-encompassing beer lists (there’s even an in-house cellar for aging bottles and kegs). But, more importantly, folks come here on the regular to make their way down the UFO club’s list of 200 beers, earning them a coveted gold plate on the bar’s ceiling or wall. 

The Ginger Man

Rice/West University
True story: that gigantic Ginger Man that your friend dragged you to after NYC’s SantaCon has its humble roots right here in Houston. This quaint-house-turned-pub has an excellent mix of local and European brews by the draught and bottle, not to mention one of the coziest backyard beer gardens in the city. 

Moon Tower Inn

Moon Tower Inn

East End
60+ taps line the wall of a dark blue shipping container at this wild game hot dog joint. And the craft beers that those taps hold (some of which are brewed in-house in three-and-a-half-barrel fermentation tanks) are just as thoughtfully wild as the wieners themselves. Load up a venison sausage, grab a pint or five, then partake in whatever action -- be it a horror movie night, BOGO burger frenzy, or growler giveaway -- that’s going on in its dope yard that day.
 

Mongoose Versus Cobra

Midtown
This handsome, Brooklyn-esque bar boasts an eccentric list of over 40 craft brews alongside equally as cool cocktails. But we don’t care about the cool cocktails. We care about the beer, and rightfully so. Its excellent program covers all styles of suds, including lost old-school beers that are hard to find elsewhere. We appreciate the effort.

Rudyard's British Pub

Rudyard's

Montrose 
Any true beer geek has been to at least one of this classic watering hole’s beer tasting dinners -- where pours from a different brewery are thoughtfully paired with chef Joe Apa’s badass food each month. $50 will get you a spot at the table -- but if that’s too steep, stop by almost any night of the week for live local acts, a seriously good pub burger, and a cheap pint from their constantly rotating tap and bottle list.

Beer Market Co.

Beer Market Co.

Washington
This isn’t your ordinary sports pub. Sure, it has TVs flanking every inch of the wall, some pretty freaking good wings & burgers, and a packed house every Sunday... but it also houses one of the largest selections of brews in the city -- with 365 beers, which it rotates through on the regular so "you won’t get bored." Thanks, guys.

Nobi Public House

Nobi Public House

Clear Lake
Hardcore connoisseurs know that this brewhouse -- complete with Vietnamese fusion pub fare (think char siu pork nachos and butter garlic wings), and a 200+ bottle & draft beer program that is on par with any top beer bar in the loop -- is well worth the trip to Clear Lake. But the best part, besides drinking a snifter, tulip, or pint while downing a Vietnamese hot dog in a chill-as-hell atmosphere, is that you can also grab a growler to go on the way out.
 

Local Pour

River Oaks/Woodlands
You gotta love a bar that champions Texas beers... especially now that is it has two locations. The upscale pubs strive to keep true to its name by focusing on Texas-made brews, wines, and spirits. At both the freshman and sophomore locations, you’ll find 48 taps (along with 50+ bottles) lined up along one side of the striking bar, and some cougars lined up alongside the other. It’s a win-win.

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Brooke Viggiano is a Houston writer holding out for a Frankenbrewpub that has 50+ taps, a garden of hammocks, and burgers with beer cheese. If you build one, invite her @BrookeViggiano. Or, you know, just say “hey,” anyway.

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1. Cottonwood 3422 N Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77018

Cottonwood is a restaurant and bar that draws crowds to its home in Garden Oaks/Oak Forest with quality cocktails, craft beer, comfort food, and a massive outdoor patio. Cocktails include classics and signatures (ask about the frozen drinks), but whiskey is the spirit of choice, with primarily local and Kentucky labels on offer. Beer is at the forefront, though, with over 40 taps (two cask-conditioned), featuring a large number of local brews. The menu is appropriately tailored to the beverage offerings, with quality pub fare like frito pie, tacos, sloppy joes, and the famous Squirrel Master Burger -- stuffed with poblano peppers and topped bacon, pepper jack, jalapenos, and of course, a fried egg.

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2. Petrol Station 985 Wakefield Dr, Houston, TX 77018

Petrol Station used to be exactly that: a gas station. Now, this refurbished counter-service spot is dishing up of the tastiest burgers in Houston. You'll also find a fantastic craft beer list that's divided into beginner, intermediate, and expert levels. Once you've made your burger and beer picks (a favorite is The Rancor, a 10-napkin burger topped with cheddar, smoked bacon, and a fried egg), you can enjoy your meal out on the patio.

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3. The Hay Merchant / Underbelly 1100 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

A joint venture, The Hay Merchant and Underbelly operate separately but are attached via a butchering room that’s fit to hold a whole hog, a cow, and other large, meat-bearing animals. Hay Merchant, a craft beer bar, boasts 75 draft beers that range in style from cask-conditioned American porters to sour and funky wild ales. Underbelly, the more upscale of the two, is a restaurant and wine bar serving up juicy burgers and meats, like roasted pig’s head and smoked brisket. No matter how adventurous your palate, consider pairing your dish with one of the aged barleywines on tap.

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4. D&T Drive Inn 1307 Enid St, Houston, TX 77009 (The Greater Heights)

D&T Drive Inn has a unique menu of shared plates and sandwiches (like stuffed cherry peppers and a beef stew po' boy), plus a fantastic beer selection and a spacious beer garden-esque patio.

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5. Moon Tower Inn 3004 Canal St, Houston, TX 77003 (East End)

Awesome events like horror movie nights and growler giveaways, tons of craft brews from their wall of taps, and exotic hot dogs like a wild game sausage make Moon Tower Inn a unique and enjoyable hangout. Oh, and they have a backyard, too.

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6. Mongoose Versus Cobra 1011 McGowen St, Houston, TX 77002 (Midtown)

40 taps at this wine and craft beer bar make the Midtown spot a definite contender for the after-5pm crowd. While there's no full kitchen in the back, you can fill yourself up on pretzels the size of your head, as well as sauerkraut and bratwurst.

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7. The Ginger Man 5607 Morningside Dr, Houston, TX 77005 (Rice Village)

This quaint-house-turned-pub has an excellent mix of local and European brews by the draught and bottle, not to mention one of the coziest backyard beer gardens in the city.

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8. Rudyard's 2010 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

Any true beer geek has been to at least one of this classic watering hole’s beer tasting dinners -- where pours from a different brewery are thoughtfully paired with chef Joe Apa’s badass food each month. $50 will get you a spot at the table -- but if that’s too steep, stop by almost any night of the week for live local acts, a seriously good pub burger, and a cheap pint from their constantly rotating tap and bottle list.

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9. Beer Market Co. 920 Studemont St, Houston, TX 77007 (The Greater Heights)

The cozy drinkery in Washington houses the largest selection of brews in the city – 365 to be exact – which it rotates regularly so that "you won’t get bored." It also has TVs flanking every inch of wall space, plenty of covered outdoor seating, and seriously good pub grub, from burgers to wings. There's even a stage set up for live music when there are no big games on.

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10. Nobi Public House 241 E NASA Pkwy, Houston, TX 77598

Located in a strip mall in Clear Lake, Nobi Public House is an unassuming craft beer hall serving Vietnamese-inspired pub fare. The draft selection -- nitro tap system and cask engine in place -- boasts nearly 50 beers, and they’re served in pints, snifters, or tulips for the proper drinking experience. The list of bottles on offer hits nearly 150, and there’s a growler fill station to take your favorite brew on the road. Enjoy beers with Vietnamese dishes like char siu pork nachos, the Nobi Dog -- a beef dog topped with grilled pork, pickled carrots and daikon, onions, and house Sriracha mayo -- or butter garlic wings. And for dessert, the Bittersweet Sundae topped with two ounces of draft beer.

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11. Hans' Bier Haus 2523 Quenby St, Houston, TX 77005 (Rice Village)

Livin’ easy with bocce and pints in a tree-lined beer garden sounds like a pretty nice way to spend a Saturday. It also sounds like a pretty nice way to spend a Monday, or a Tuesday, or a Wednesday, or... you get it. This indoor/outdoor oasis is home to over 125 brews by the pint and bottle. And did we mention there’s beer pong?

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12. Revelry on Richmond 1613 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77006 (Montrose)

This sports bar may be on the trendier side, but that doesn’t mean it isn't serious about its brews. A rotating selection of 40 craft taps, many of which are local, and a healthy bottle selection -- not to mention, some above-par bar eats like poutine with stout-infused gravy -- keeps brew nerds happy.

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13. Local Pour 1952 W Gray St, Houston, TX 77019 (Houston)

With 45+ beers on tap (including rotating seasonals), and about the same number in bottles, Local Pour will keep your brew curiosity piqued for quite some time. Soak up all those suds with charcuterie, beer-steamed mussels, and tacos.

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