The Best Beer Bars in Houston

Houston is in the throes of a craft beer revolution. With new legislation easing restrictions on new breweries and opening up new channels for distribution, restaurants and bars are increasingly adding interesting bottles from near and far. Now, a carefully poured pint of something weird or craft can be found almost anywhere, but there are those that excel above the rest. —Nicholas Hall

  • 1

    D&T Drive Inn

    Semi-outdoor beer joints converted from ice-purveying convenience stores, Houston’s icehouses once defined the city’s drinking culture. In many ways, they still do, though their numbers are dwindling. D&T is doing its best to preserve the ice house tradition, while bringing just a bit of modernity to a lovely anachronism. The roll-up garage door is still there, as are the ice-cold buckets of long necks. In keeping with the times, though, you’re just as likely to find a snifter of a Belgian sour as you are a Bud Light. You’ll also find a carefully curated menu of chef-driven, but appropriately casual food to accompany ...

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • bar food
    • outdoor / patio
    • jukebox
    • games
  • 2

    Flying Saucer Downton

    Yes, it’s a chain with more than a dozen locations scattered throughout the South and Midwest. Still, to talk about beer bars in Houston and not mention the flagship downtown location would be missing the point. Flying Saucer has been doing the craft beer thing for ages, and doing it at a level to which few have lived up. The staff includes some of Houston’s brightest beer nerds who tend to hoard cool stuff, rolling it out every so often for customers as a nice little surprise.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • bar food
  • 3

    Mongoose vs. Cobra

    Mike Sammons, who owns nearby wine destination 13 Celsius, took his nerdery one step further when introducing this thoughtful tap joint to a neighborhood better known for popped collars and light beer. Named for a Rudyard Kipling story, MVSC is housed in a historic building and offers 40 rotating taps on a futuristic KeyKeg system. Beers are listed on a train schedule-style board hanging on a long wall of exposed brick and communal tables ooze the conviviality of an updated beer hall.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • craft cocktails
    • bar food
  • 4

    Moon Tower Inn

    If you visit Moon Tower Inn’s “website,” you’ll be met with a very simple set of instructions: “Get Off The Damn Internet … And Get Your Ass To 3004 Canal St. HTX.” This snide reminder that life is for living is pretty indicative of the attitude at this bar, which is barely more than a bunch of dressed-up shipping containers in an open field. Grab a sausage and a beer from one of the 60 taps and settle into a picnic table in the sprawling, gloriously ramshackle yard.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • bar food
    • outdoor / patio
  • 5

    Nobi Public House

    Nobi is a collaboration between brothers Andy and Charles Nguyen, the respective proprietors of a standalone Vietnamese grill of the same name and a gas station with an impressive bottle shop. A friendly crew will help navigate the tap list composed of a few dozen smart selections that often include new-to-market releases. This craft beer bar in a rundown strip mall slinging Vietnamese food in the shadow of Johnson Space Center is a pretty good snapshot of Houston circa 2014.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • full menu
    • bar food
  • 6

    Petrol Station

    Since 2007—before beer bars were cool—this former coffee house in a former gas station has been pouring some of Houston’s finest pints. It’s deep in a neighborhood with a sprawling patio and a meandering lawn full of picnic tables. Ordering takes a while, but the knowledgeable staff will help find something to love among the 30-or-so taps. They’re also fond of special events, so look for rare offerings and tap takeovers.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • outdoors / patio
  • 7

    The Hay Merchant

    Beer geek heaven, Hay Merchant took residence in a historic building with a tap system and storage designed by head geek Kevin Floyd. Eighty taps with rough genre descriptions like “Sociable & Refreshing” and “Not for the Faint of Heart” provide a road map for seasoned hopheads and recent macro-lager converts alike. If you plan to become a regular, join the Mud Turtle program, which puts your beer count toward boozy prizes, and acts as an intensive education in drinking beer. For instance, if you drink 5000 beers and beat Kevin Floyd in a blind tasting contest, they’ll send you to Belgium.  

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • bar food
    • full menu
    • outdoor / patio
    • historic
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