Houston Craft Beer Guide

Houston’s 6 Best Beer Bars

A great beer bar is more than just a huge tap list—it takes knowledgeable staff, good taste in selection, and excellent ambiance to make the cut.

By Katharine Shilcutt Photography by Max Burkhalter August 3, 2014 Published in the August 2014 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Cottonwood in Independence Heights


Along with sister bar Liberty Station, Cottonwood is one of Houston’s most low-key, relaxing spots to enjoy a cold beer on a sprawling patio. The place feels removed from the city thanks to its tucked-away spot in Garden Oaks, while the A-plus comfort food—from burgers to wings—makes you feel like you’ve crashed your classy neighbor’s backyard party. 

D&T Drive Inn

D&T Drive-Inn

D&T sports a more casual vibe and a far more extensive tap list than its stately big sister, Down House. (It’s also a lot cheaper.) In addition to hosting launch parties for new beers, the Heights establishment often rolls out fun kegs that Down House has kept hidden for a few years. When it’s hot, ask for the bar’s homemade shandy; it might make you swear off the high ABV stuff altogether.

Flying Saucer downtown

Flying Saucer

True, no other bar in town has more taps than Flying Saucer—but it’s not just about selection here. This is a great place to start your education in craft beer, thanks to servers and bartenders who are always eager to educate. The Saucer uses its UFO Club to incentivize hardcore connoisseurs, awarding gold plates to patrons who imbibe 200 beers—the glossy gold saucers you see affixed to the walls and ceilings are tributes to the nerdiest of beer nerds. Flying Saucer even has a dedicated cellar for aging beer, a luxury not afforded many bars, meaning the Saucer can offer aged beers (on draft and in the bottle) that are rarely found anywhere else in the country. 

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Hay Merchant

The Hay Merchant

A shared kitchen with Underbelly means that Hay Merchant’s food, by recent James Beard Award–winner Chris Shepherd, is as top-notch as the beer, whose selection is carefully curated by chief beer boss Kevin Floyd. While serious regulars compete to best Floyd in tastings and other feats of knowledge through the bar’s Mud Turtle program, we usually just play the pinball machines and enjoy pints on the patio.

Nobi Public House

Nobi Public House

What began as a Shell station selling an assortment of craft beer is now a freestanding pub featuring the best selection of brews in the greater Clear Lake area—and some surprisingly good Vietnamese-American fusion food, to boot.

Petrol Station

The Petrol Station

One of the city’s original American craft beer haunts, this Oak Forest hangout has morphed over time into a full-fledged beer garden, ideal for enjoying Petrol’s terrific pub grub and ever-changing assortment of unusual, hard-to-find brews. The place even hosts bottle shares (customers can bring in their own rare or old beers to share with others, something most bars don’t allow). Don’t come here looking for great service, and don’t come without at least a fledgling knowledge of craft brews, or you’ll find yourself quickly overwhelmed.

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