12 Essential Houston Breweries You Need to Visit
Houston’s craft beer scene has been around for a while: Our first craft brewery (and the first in Texas, in fact) tapped its first keg in ‘94, and the suds haven’t stopped flowing since. These days, we’d proudly put H-town’s roster up against any in the country, thanks to an influx of microbreweries popping up in the past few years, plus the OGs that helped put us on the map in the first place. There’s a whole lot of great beer to drink in this city, so we thought we’d help narrow it down for you.
Here’s the lowdown on 12 craft breweries we think you should get better acquainted with (that is, if you’re not already besties). Some are old mainstays and some are fresh-faced, but each rocks a well-appointed roster of suds, a welcoming taproom, and a vibe that feels wholly Houston.
These essential breweries represent the city’s craft beer scene at its finest. Are they the best? You’ll have to visit the taprooms, drink the brews, and decide for yourselves.
This Astrodome-inspired brewhouse oozes coolness with a fresh, hip vibe that explore the world and feel right at home here in Houston. That means you can get your hands on creations like Rocket Fuel, a Vietnamese coffee-infused Porter; or the BrewGK, a seasonal Kolsch brewed with apple juice that was made in collaboration with local rap hero and UGK alum Bun B. Its taproom and big ol’ yard (complete with local art sculptures and the inhouse Eatsie Boys food truck) are set in the super cool neighborhood of EaDo, just blocks away from Dynamo Stadium and Minute Maid Park.
Key beers: Hopston IPA, Dome Faux’m Cream Ale, Rocket Fuel Vietnamese Coffee Porter
You can’t talk about Houston breweries without mentioning the Texas OG, the patron saint of craft suds, Saint Arnold. Even if it wasn’t the oldest in the biz, the 25-year-old homegrown brewing company is easily Houston’s baddest, earning its spot in any discussion of “bests” in the Lone Star state today. Saint A’s sturdy selection of year-rounds and seasonals keep everyone coming back for more (and attending pub crawls around the city), while beer geeks are kept on their toes thanks to highly coveted specialty releases, including the barrel-aged Bishop’s Barrel and single-batch Divine Reserve series. The brewery got a major facelift in 2018, expanding its footprint to include a gorgeous indoor restaurant slinging brisket pizza and “fire emoji” wings, and giant, partially-covered beer garden with outdoor taps, yard games, and views of the Downtown skyline.
Key beers: Fancy Lawnmower German-Style Kölsch, Art Car IPA, Pumpkinator Imperial Pumpkin Stout
This eco-friendly brewery uses renewable energy, composts hops, and recycles spent grain to feed a local dairy farmer's cows, which is all pretty cool. Perhaps the coolest thing about Lone Pint, though, is its beloved Yellow Rose IPA: a malty, fruity number that is highly regarded as one of the greatest beers in the Lone Star State. You’ll find that along with a lineup of other hoppy and quaffable Texas ales at its brand-new beer garden, along with live music and rotating food trucks on weekends.
Key beers: Yellow Rose IPA, The Jabberwocky Imperial IPA
Local beer guru Ben Fullelove (of Petrol Station fame) unleashed this edgy beast back in 2012 before antiquated laws forced him to move operations to Massachusetts for a hot minute. Thankfully, the brewery and its big ass hoppy beers eventually made its way back home in 2015. Today, you’ll want to head it its taproom, affectionately known as Brashland, to discover what all the fuss is about. Sip brews from the Vulgar Display of Power (a Russian imperial stout with a whopping 14% ABV) to Adopted Arrogant Bastard (an American strong ale). Cooler yet, sip them to heavy metal while you enjoy the lineup of retro arcade games.
Key beers: Pussy Wagon American Double/Imperial IPA, EZ-7 American Pale Ale, Vulgar Display Of Power Imperial Stout
The rules are that there are no rules at this adventurous brewery, which recently outgrew its first location on Nolda thanks to high demand for more tasty brews. Its new home is a 3-story, 28,000-square-foot Brewtopia in Sawyer Yards, where fans can score BuffBrew along with views of Downtown. Those BuffBrews come in radical flavors that challenge everything you thought you knew about craft beer -- like Smoke on the Bayou, a “bigass malt bomb” made with malts smoked at local BBQ spots; or the Summer’s Wit, an excuse to drink pink infused with hibiscus, ginger, coriander, and orange peel.
Key beers: Crush City IPA, 1836 "Copper Ale", Gingerbread Stout
This homegrown hero considers itself less of a brewery and more of a laboratory, pumping out complex brews in what is seemingly the middle of the woods. With over 7 acres in the great outdoors -- plus fun stuff like food trucks, Ping-Pong, and horseshoes -- hanging at the brewery is a choice way to spend your time (kids and pets are welcome, too). Most importantly, it’s where you ‘ll find B-52’s latest, limited-release tinkerings, like the Coconut IPA Milkshake: a fresh, hoppy, and sour beer conditioned on coconut.
Key beers: Pils, Crucial IPA
It may not have been around long, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out you need to make it to this brewing company. The brainchild of two homebrewers with scientific backgrounds, Ingenious’ small-batch brews prove that blending equal parts science and imagination (plus some beer knowledge, passion, and a dash of exceptionally hard work) results in some pretty outstanding brews. The air-conditioner-cooled taproom rocks 24 fresh, inspired taps every day, focusing on outside-the-box ingredients to create tart, fruited sours, hopped-up pale ales, and cakey, pastry-inspired stouts. There’s also an outdoor beer garden, and they’ll happily fill up crowlers and growlers to-go.
Key beers: The taps are always rotating, but look out for things like Barrel Aged Jalapeno, Blueberry Jam Stout, and Smarty Sour Berliner Weisse
Yes, this fast-growing brewery is now a part of AB InBev’s "High End" portfolio. And yes, we realize much of the microbrew community considers selling out to “big beer” a sin beyond atonement. Still, Karbach’s stable of monster beers is an undeniable powerhouse, and it’s earned the brewery a perpetual mention in Houston’s list of essential brewers. Local suds savant Kevin Floyd once called it the “New York Yankees of Texas craft beer,” and we couldn’t agree more. Sellout or not (we’ll leave that up to you to decide), visiting the brewery is as fun as ever -- especially since it completed a 15 million dollar expansion that added a restaurant, a revamped beer garden complete with a stage for live music, and sparkling, heavy-duty production facilities.
Key beers: Hopadillo IPA, Weekend Warrior Pale Ale, Love Street Kölsch Blonde
Named after the fault line that runs beneath the brewery, there’s no shaky ground at this neighborhood tour de force: just easy livin’... and even easier drinking. That’s thanks to a stronghold of crisp, approachable brews that pretty much everybody can get down with. Like many a brewery before it, Eureka started out as a dream job for three homebrewers (one of whom brewed for Saint Arnold). Once their homebrews turned out to actually be good, their wives got on board, and the Houston beer community followed suit. Today, Eureka is a place for good beers and fun times, with its year-round crafts (like the surprisingly light and sessionable cream ale, Buckle Bunny) and bold seasonals available by the pint, taster, flight, and take-home crowler, plus goodies like trivia, steak nights, and monthly bike rides.
Key beers: Buckle Bunny Cream Ale, Mini Boss IPA, Mostly Harmless Citra Pale Kolsch
With backgrounds ranging from oil & gas to theater, this group of passionate beer drinkers-turned-brewers took a barebones warehouse and transformed it into one of Houston’s most sought after breweries. These guys realize it’s sorta always hot in Houston, so the focus here is on drinkable styles that both excite and quench your thirst when it's 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Beer nerds can grab some tokens (3 for $10) to sip “All The Time” brews, from the sessionable 7-Iron Blonde to the ultra-hoppy Hipster Sauce IPA; plus special releases and rotating seasonals like Crazy Pilz, an infinitely refreshing summer pilsner.
Key beers: 7-Iron Blonde Ale, Oso Bueno American Amber
Great news: y’all can actually make use of Houston’s light-rail system for once. Just hop on the green line, then hop off at the Coffee Plant stop and head a few blocks to this East End game-changer. Once there, you’ll find a taproom ripe with pale ales, amberes, porters, sours, and stouts -- one that blasts music, hosts food trucks and pickleball games, and is home to the Doomsday Wrestling ring (you can even watch the wrestlers practice and do their thang at special events).
Key beers: Black Rain Imperial Stout, Intermezzo Fruited Sour Ale
It’s been boomtown ever since SpindleTap first opened its doors at the turn of 2015. Paying homage to Texas’ gusher age, the spirit at this liquid gold purveyor is full-on Texas. The brewery devotes an entire selection of suds to Haze, with hazy IPAs and DIPAs (that’s double the hops) ranging from the dank pine & citrus-kissed Juiceton to the tropical Houston Haze, hit with notes of guava, pineapple, and grapefruit. Pony up to the taproom and gush over them all.
Key beers: Hop Gusher IPA, Boomtown Blonde, Houston Haze, Honey Hole ESB
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