Since its inception in 2011, Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company has always been a bit different. Founder Rassul Zarinfar was—and remains—committed to making unusual brews that challenge the palate rather than placate it, once telling me he wanted to brew "beer that completely fails" as a sort of self-provocation to never create boring beer. Over the course of the brewery's 27 different creations, Zarinfar has yet to create a complete failure, but has managed to retain his signature style of unusual ales and lagers—whether it's an Indian-inspired black IPA flavored with coconut and jaggery or a pink-hued hibiscus Witbier.
And unlike other craft breweries which have popped up in Houston over the last few years, Buff Brew was unobtainable in either cans or 12-ounce bottles. To get your fix of Zarinfar's latest creation—whether it was a Belgian-style IPA aged on Turkish apricots (my personal favorite, named "Abrikoos") or a "Red Velvet Stout"—you had to seek it out on draft or purchase it by the bomber. This didn't deter fans of the craft brewery, who've made Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company into an unqualified success.
Today, Buff Brew sprung a surprise on those fans by announcing that it's finally canning its beers, starting with an unlikely option: More Cowbell, a 9 percent ABV Double IPA that will be sold in 16-ounce tall-boys. That's one strapping can of beer.
"No kidding," said Zarinfar. "But a tall-boy is a pint after all, and we had to make our first core offering aggressive or it wouldn't be as fun." And Buff Brew is nothing if not fun, though Zarinfar tempers this playfulness with serious consideration. This is what led Buff Brew to work with a mobile canning company rather than purchase a full canning line for its Cottage Grove-area brewery, and what caused Zarinfar to put in months of advance work to ensure that cans would hold the brewery's unusual recipes, starting with its year-round brew: 1836 Copper Ale.
"I ran 1836 through [the mobile canning company] last September," said Zarinfar, "and waited three months to confirm no oxidation issues before I committed to working with them." If all goes well, Zarinfar plans to can other beers in the future, though he's waiting to announce exactly which brews those will be.
Those new tall-boys of More Cowbell will be available in four-packs starting this Monday, May 5 at a variety of locations, including the Spec's Superstore (2410 Smith St.), D&Q Beer Station (806 Richmond Ave.), and the giant new Kroger at Shepherd Dr. and 11th in the Heights. You can also sample the cans at bars such as The Flying Saucer (705 Main St.) and Mongoose vs. Cobra (1011 McGowen St.).
Don't expect to see Buff Brew's signature 22-ounce bombers fade out, however. Zarinfar is still committed to his large-format beers for both their style and their stability. "I love bombers personally, but they're also way easier to have perfect quality early on," he says. "Cowbell in tall-boys is just hilarious, so that's fun too."