When I walk into a new brewery for the first time, I have a few immediate questions: What kind of beer is it producing? How many taps are in operation? How big is its taproom space? Where's the food? Where's the parking? Are there extra bells and whistles that'll make this brewery a destination?
Then, at long last, I order a beer and ask "Oh, how's the beer?"
I've run through this process twice in the last few weeks, as both Astral Brewing opened in Northside and True Anomaly Brewing opened in East Downtown. At True Anomaly, I got the answers to all those first questions last week, stepping in to chat with the co-owners as they prepared to open.
True Anomaly focuses on Belgians and sour beers. There are eight operational taps at the moment. The space is open with high ceilings and plenty of tables for groups and families, plus a sliver of front patio space. There's no food yet, but food trucks are a possibility and there are a few options for grub in the neighborhood. Parking is available but can either be hard to come by or pricey since it's the always-under-construction area by Rodeo Goat and Vinny's. And there aren't bells and whistles yet.
After having about half of what's on tap, I'm most floored by Small Giant, the grisette. For those unaware of the grisette style, it's a Belgian beer made for laborers. It's not unlike a saison, but instead it's brewed with malted wheat, giving in a stronger body. Grisettes are lower in alcohol and refreshing, and have been trending a bit in the American craft scene (mostly at breweries specializing in farm styles and Belgians).
I haven't yet encountered a grisette in Houston (just like I haven't quite encountered too many Belgian styles here). So it was refreshing to have one. But also, it was good.
Essentially it's a lighter beer with a pleasing wheat and lemony entrance. Soon the maltiness kicks in, tasting like a sweet bread, before it stops cold and dries out. Grisettes were brewed to refresh Belgian miners, and tasting Small Giant, you can understand its purpose. It doesn't linger, doesn't make any big statements, just hits the right notes all the way through.
I'm still forming an opinion of the other beers I sampled at True Anomaly. I'm excited to try its Berliner Weisses, especially the Truffula, which has grapefruit and blood orange. That could be a go-to summer beer. But at least in the case of the simple grisette, the beer at True Anomaly is good. You should go.
Explanation of ratings: 9.5-10: as good as the best beer in America; 9-9.4: the best beer in Houston; 8-8.9: among the better beers in Houston; 7-7.9: really good beer; 6-6.9: try this beer at least once; 5-5.9: if you’re stuck, this won’t hurt; 3-4.9: among the lowest-quality beers in Houston; 0-2.9: as bad as the worst beer in America.