Sure, it's 115 degrees outside, but that doesn't mean you can't have dark beer. In fact, I say the occasional thick stout, porter, or heavy ale on a sweltering day actually helps build inner strength. Is that theory based in fact? No. But why not try it out?
Brash Brewing makes some of the best dark beers in Houston. They also have one of the most fun taprooms in the city, highlighted by its many arcade games and constant playing of metal music. (I got a recent chuckle out of hearing a particularly violent song end abruptly, followed immediately by an NHL arcade game's puny arena music.) One thing to note about Brash, however: There is no air conditioning. Still, I say power through and have some beer.
Brash Brewing's Abide
Abide is a white-Russian-flavored Russian imperial stout, obviously in honor of The Big Lebowski. I get roasted coffee notes, sweet vanilla, and a touch of chocolate, along with heavy booziness. I'd imagine telling someone you've made a white Russian beer would result in some funny looks, but this strikes the right balance between milky cocktail and malty stout. I'd love to try this after aging it a bit, or maybe with dessert. There's huge potential here. Rating: 8.5/10
Brash Brewing's Spud
An on-again, off-again beer at Brash, Spud is a wee heavy, a malty and boozier style of beer created by Scots. It's the kind of beer you drink if you want something dark and heavy on the alcohol without the creaminess or oak flavor that comes with, say, an imperial stout. Spud hits the right heavy notes, as it's big on malt flavor, especially caramel. I had a little more trouble drinking it on a hot night inside the warm taproom, but that isn't the beer's fault. This is a good example of the style that I'd gladly come back to when it's a bit cooler out there. Rating: 7.1/10
On The Shelf: Platypus's Stars at Night
Let's stay with the dark stuff and talk about Platypus's porter Stars at Night, a very down-the-middle beer with medium-roasted malt taste, some acidity, and chocolaty smoothness toward the end of the sip. It's nice having a few of these at home to offer to folks who are new to darker beers, as the lighter body and flavor profile makes it an easy introduction to porters. If you're unsure about porters but always wanted to try them, grabbing a six-pack of Stars at Night from a local grocery store is a fine move. Rating: 6.4/10
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.