The 10 Best Breweries in Houston
A new year is here, bringing with it a renewed opportunity to explore this city’s seemingly endless array of homegrown breweries. From its humble beginnings in the days before the term “IPA” was familiar to most, Houston’s beer culture has grown to the point where it’s earned the nickname “Brewston.”
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, these 10 picks (and two honorable mentions) are our choices for the most outstanding and culturally defining breweries in and near the Greater Houston area. Salud!
Ingenious Brewing, 1986 South Houston, Humble: This Humble (but not humble) brewery grabbed attention in 2019 after releasing six colorful sours matching the colors of Marvel’s infinity stones. An intersection of beer nerds, nerd-nerds and super-creative foodies, this is one brainy organization worth studying up on.
Platypus Brewing; 1902 Washington: This scrappy little startup opened quietly on Washington in 2016 with a goal of bringing Australian-inspired ales and a Down Under way of life to the Houston brew scene. Go for the Bobby Dazzler, a crisp and bittersweet Aussie ale, but stay for the fish and chips, live music and genuinely kind people who own and frequent this low-key establishment.
10. Southern Star Brewing Company, 3525 North Frazier, Conroe: Southern Star Brewing holds a unique position in our region’s beer scene. Despite successfully straddling the fine line between creative brews and delightful seasonal releases, it’s not overly celebrated — perhaps due to its location outside the city. The company is, however, well known for one immensely popular brew found behind nearly every bar within 100 miles of Houston.
Not long after Southern Star was founded in 2007, they introduced Bombshell Blonde. It soon became, in no uncertain terms, a Texas craft-beer classic. Light and crisp, with a foamy head and tangible hints of malt and grain, its instantly recognizable blue can is a comfort when spotted in unexpected places.
In addition, the Southern Star facility itself is a wonderful destination, which presents opportunities to try some of the company’s lesser-known brews, such as the year-round Subatomico IPA, the seasonal Hecho en Conroe Mexican-style lager and the limited-release Russian imperial stout, Oktobrist.
9. SpindleTap Brewery, 10622 Hirsch: Named after the famous Spindletop oil well in Beaumont, Texas, which, in 1901, launched the region’s first oil boom, SpindleTap hit a “gusher” of its own early in its existence. The five-year-old brewery became a favorite among local craft beer devotees soon after its debut, in part thanks to its very Houston-centric line up of creative brews and its sprawling outdoor campus — complete with a basketball court and Frisbee golf course.
Most famous for its “Hazy Collection” of IPAs, anchored by the OJ-colored Houston Haze, Spindletap is a hop-enthusiasts dream. Endless taps of mostly pale ales ooze aromatic complexities and heady opaque colors. This North Houston brewhouse is a veritable playground for those who like their malts bitter.
8. True Anomaly, 2012 Dallas: The baby of our list, True Anomaly opened in Spring 2019 — two blocks from 8th Wonder, no less. Almost immediately, this space-aged tap room carved a considerable niche for itself in Houston’s crowded scene, mainly due to its portfolio of tart sours and sophisticated old-world ales.
Capitalizing on the latest trend in craft brewing, the founders of True Anomaly are taking Houston’s palates in a crisp new direction. Among their more inspired creations, the Truffula is a dry fruited sour of mango and passion fruit, which drinks like a malty cider. The abbey-inspired Trappist-1 is a modern take on a classic Belgian single with aromatic complexities and a dry hoppy finish.
True Anomaly’s selections appear to be seasonal and rotating. Paper menus list the latest creations on draft, with certain year-round favorites beginning to emerge. The evolution of this nascent business promises to be an exciting journey.
7. Karbach Brewing Co, 2032 Karbach: This will be a controversial pick for some, but despite its 2016 acquisition by Anheuser-Busch InBev, Karbach remains (like it or not) a quality brewing operation in Houston. Since 2011, Karbach’s brewers have created drafts that are today considered standards of both Houston’s and Texas’s beer landscape.
Brews such as Love Street and Hopadillo remain favorites among die-hard H-Town amber nectar fans, and Christmas in Houston wouldn’t be complete without the yearly release of Yule Shoot Your Eye Out — a delightfully sweet and citrusy red ale with hints of caramel malt and an orange peel twist.
Also, the Karbach campus itself has grown from microbrewery hangout to bock-lovers playground complete with restaurant, gift shop and constant tours. It’s far from the small business it once was but remains one of the best places in town to spend a Saturday afternoon drinking in the sun.
6. B-52 Brewing Company, 12470 Milroy Lane, Conroe: Just off a Conroe backroad, on seven acres of Texas piney woods, lies a brewery as original as it is inventive. B-52 Brewing offers Houstonians a selection of wildly creative brews that rival — and often outmatch — the best and brightest from inside the Loop.
Sit back and watch the fire flicker while enjoying a barrel-aged saison or double dry-hopped hazy IPA. For a crazier concoction, try Szechuan Sauce, a hazy and “ridiculously dry hopped” pale ale which pays tribute, both in name and its natural green color from butterfly pea flower, to the irreverent sci-fi cartoon “Rick and Morty.” With dozens of similarly inspired creations and a property big enough to lose your troubles in, B-52 is more than worth the drive and a place on this list.
5. Eureka Heights Brew Company; 941 West 18th: If this were a list of the most fun breweries in Houston, we’d have a clear winner. Named after the little-known Long Point–Eureka Heights fault system, which the site is built over, the founders of Eureka Heights don’t take themselves too seriously, nor do they fall into the common pitfalls of craft brewing hubris. Far from the self-important snobbery that’s come to define the industry in the eyes of many, Eureka Heights is a place for easy-drinking year-rounders, lighthearted events and friendly faces.
That’s not to say they don’t flex their brewers’ muscles from time to time. While the company’s signature brews are crisp, low-to-mid-ABV ales, such as the refreshing Buckle Bunny cream ale, seasonals like the Moo Caliente, a cayenne and cinnamon milk stout, pack an innovative punch.
Drop in for a round of “The Office” trivia, some food truck fare and a tasting flight, and enjoy the simple pleasure of a brewery that doesn’t try to be anything but itself — and kicks ass doing it.
4. Holler Brewing Company, 2206 Edwards: If the folks at Eureka Heights stand out for their lighthearted goofiness, John and Katheryn Holler, the couple behind Holler Brewing, stand out for their meticulous approach to the craft. Once they decided to pursue their passion, they spent time in different cities pursuing formal training as brewers, eventually reuniting in Houston to open their eponymous brewery.
With a focus on expertly crafted variants of traditional styles, the Hollers brew a rotating slate of beer sold exclusively in their tap room and at select Houston bars. Their ESB, an aromatic, English-style ale with hints of toffee and pronounced hoppiness, was a 2017 Great American Beer Festival bronze-medal winner. Selections like the abbey-inspired Belgian Tripel at 8.2% ABV and the 9.9% Nordic Nektar signal the couples’ love of old-world styles and worldly flavors.
This is a place for the true aficionado — the Ivy League of Houston craft beer.
3. Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co., 2101 Summer: When this brewery launched in 2011, its namesake bayou was an unsightly eyesore jetting out from the northwest end of downtown. Now, Buffalo Bayou (at least the stretch that runs out of downtown and along Allen Parkway) has been transformed, after years of investment and development, into one of the city’s premiere outdoor destinations. Considering that its grown from a two-man operation delivering kegs in a single-cab pickup to a macro-brewing operation distributing tens of thousands of barrels around the state, you might say that Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. has underwent a similar transformation.
Today, Buffalo Bayou is crafting over 75 unique beers from its stunning new First Ward location, which includes a restaurant. The brand’s two flagships, a copper ale dubbed 1836 after the year of Texas’ independence, and the popular Crush City IPA, are among the beer mainstays of Houston. The company’s self-proclaimed nickname, “Houston’s Most Creative Brewery,” is earned through a portfolio that includes off-the-beaten-path creations as Gingerbread Stout, Bananas Foster, Cranberry Wit, Citrus Season IPA and Mexican Hot Chocolate.
2. 8th Wonder Brewery, 2202 Dallas: It seems strange that 8th Wonder has only been around since 2013. This beloved EaDo establishment, with a penchant for Houston rap and sports, feels like an institution both to its neighborhood and regional scene — no small feat, especially in a such a short time.
Named after the now-crumbling Astrodome (once dubbed the 8th Wonder of the World), this group of liquid-bread heads crafts over 25 unique drafts, each an homage to some element of Houston’s culture and spirit. Their flagship cream ale, Dome Faux’m, is an easy-drinking staple of Houston bars and fridges, though the company’s true brilliance lies deeper in its lineup. Rocket Fuel, a Vietnamese coffee porter, with a label that nods to the Rockets’ spacey logo, is perhaps the perfect intersection of Houston’s diverse culinary landscape; not to mention a rich, velvety and bittersweet porter that’s as dark as night yet smooth as glass.
The sprawling warehouse, with its large outdoor patio and ample indoor space, is a destination all its own — the social and cultural nucleus of an entire neighborhood.
1. Saint Arnold Brewing Company, 2000 Lyons: It’s difficult to overstate the impact Saint Arnold Brewing Company has had on the landscape and culture of beer production. The oldest craft brewery in the Texas, Saint Arnold has paved the way for a generation of brewers from El Paso to Beaumont. The folks at Saint Arnold spent decades lobbying the state legislature to pass laws that opened doors and opportunities that enabled a tidal wave of Houston microbreweries — some of which are now their primary competition. That said, in the craft beer industry, competition is also community.
Beyond the company’s legal and cultural legacy, Saint Arnold continues to brew many of the finest beers in Houston, earning more Great American Beer Fest medals than any other operation in town. Additionally, the company’s recently debuted beer garden and restaurant offers perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing brewery destination in Houston. A nod to its religious namesake, Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s cathedral-style building features several small chapels, each featuring a mural by a local artist.
From the season-defining Oktoberfest and Summer Pils, the nostalgic and timeless classic that is Fancy Lawnmower and the barrel-aged masterpieces that comprise the Bishop’s Barrel releases, Saint Arnold beers are as essential to the fabric of Houston as Tex-Mex and NASA.