Nothing against Bud Light or Jim Beam, but sometimes Houston residents are in the mood for something a little more local when they hit up the bar. With five breweries in greater Houston, along with a fairly new distilling operation, there’s a great deal of civic pride in drinking local. While you can get some local beverages at stores, to really appreciate what the city has to offer, head out to these five establishments. They all offer a friendly atmosphere to try a local drink and talk about all matters Houston.
Front Porch Pub
217 Gray St.
Houston, TX 77002
If you choose the name Front Porch Pub, you better have a great front porch. This Midtown establishment delivers. While you’re soaking up rays on the porch or people watching at night, you have the options of 37 beers on tap, including six from two local brewers. Try an Amber, Lawnmower or the seasonal sectional from Saint Arnold’s Brewery Co. Or you have three great options from Karbach Brewery: Hopadillo IPA, Sympathy Lager and the brilliantly named Rodeo Clown, a strong ale with plenty of attitude. The kitchen at Front Porch is open until 1 a.m., and if you come during spring, crawfish is a popular choice.
1201 Caroline St.
Houston, TX 77002
This downtown Houston whiskey bar and cocktail lounge draws in a jovial after-work and post-event crowd with the House of Blues and Toyota Center nearby. The whiskey and bourbon list is seemingly a mile long and full of good options. If you’re in the mood for something local, go to the very last entry – Yellow Rose Distillery’s Outlaw Bourbon. Owners Troy Smith and Ryan Baird opened the area’s first legal bourbon distillery. Made from 100 percent corn, the Outlaw Bourbon has quickly become a favorite. The bourbon recently was awarded Gold Medal and “Best in Class” at the American Distilling Institute 2013 Artisan Competition.
The Refinery Burgers & Whiskey
702 W. Dallas St.
Houston, TX 77019
Just across Interstate 45 from downtown Houston sits a welcoming respite from corporate meetings and impending projects. Darn good burgers, whiskey and an excellent local beer selection in an airy, comfortable, petroleum-themed setting makes The Refinery worth a spot in your bar rotation. Five local beers are offered on tap, including the Buffalo Bayou 1836, a premium bitter selection from Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. It also carries an unusual choice in the No Label Don Jalapeno Ale from No Label Brewing Co. There are three options from Karbach on tap, Hopadillo IPA, Sympathy Lager and the Weisse Versa Wheat, which has a combination of citrus peel and coriander added during the brewing process.
Guru Burgers and Crepes
2268 Texas Drive
Sugar Land, TX 77479
Making a day of shopping in suburban Sugar Land more enticing is a stop for a local craft beer and a choice between America’s or France’s best-loved creations. Everything at Guru Burgers and Crepes is made from scratch and the owners make sure no genetically modified ingredients get in the door. Reviewers and customers appreciate it when biting into the burgers and crepes. Accompanying both are 14 Texas craft beers, including nine on tap. All Houston breweries are represented: Saint Arnold (Summer Pils, Lawnmower, Weedwacker, Santo and Endeavor) Karbach (Sympathy for the Lager, Weisse Versa, Hell Fighter), Southern Star (Bombshell Blonde, Le Mort Vivant), Buffalo Bayou (1836 and Chai Porter) and No Label (El Hefe).
Saint Arnold Brewing Company
2000 Lyons Ave.
Houston, TX 77020
While Houston is sadly without a brewpub – at least until City Acre Brewing opens – there is an option to get a craft beer and a meal directly from the source. Saint Arnold’s recently launched a weekday lunch option at the brewery featuring the creations of executive chef Ryan Savoie. Lunch is served in the taproom. Each meal comes with a suggested beer pairing and some of the dishes use beer as an ingredient. The menu is posted online weekly and runs no more than $20. An example of a past meal was a romaine and apple salad with pecans and blue cheese dressing, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, gravy and harvest beans along with Elissa IPA, a traditional India Pale Ale.
Jeremy Shapiro is a freelance writer in the Houston area. While his trombone rendition of “Black in Back” isn’t terrible, his 10 years in journalism have left him better equipped to write about music, nightlife and other entertainment outings. His work can be found on Examiner.com.