Baa Baa Brewhouse might just be Houston beer's greatest mystery. It's open only from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays, and it's out in Brookshire, nearly 10 miles west of Katy. Its beer releases come over social media, and often you have to order the stuff through HopDrop, the service that brings canned beer to your doorstep. When using HopDrop, you may have to become a member to get the beer; also, Baa Baa's fans will hoard the offerings quickly.
Baa Baa makes small-batch beer, primarily in the hazy IPA and fruit IPA lanes, and once the suds are canned, they're ready to roll out and be sampled immediately. These are highly sought-after beverages. If you have the opportunity to procure some, I suggest doing so.
Baa Baa Brewhouse's Woolter White
Often when folks attempt to break new ground in the hazy IPA game, they opt to up the hop count, creating the dankest, most aggressive beers on the planet. The problem with this is most of these brewers can't nail the nuance and balance necessary to make something people, you know, want to drink. Woolter White (beautiful play on words here) is different, instead leaning hard on the citrus profile of the East Coast IPA, turning it into something more like a Belgian white ale. The good thing? The balance remains. Subtle hoppiness and beautiful rounded malt flavor bring out the best in this fruity beer. It's a real winner. Rating: 8.9/10
Baa Baa Brewhouse's SabroTage
As I said, Baa Baa loves its hazy IPAs, and this one (a 6.9 percent ABV IPA with Citra and Sabro hops and oats) is no exception. My biggest knock is the lack of a juicy punch, something that I still long for when drinking a lot of local New England IPA varieties. Still, the hop quality is good here, with a piney flavor most apparent. I'd call this a middle-of-the-pack NEIPA. Rating: 7.3/10
On the Shelf: 11 Below's Oktoberfest
Oktoberfest season continues with this offering from the Willowbrook brewery, now available at the taproom and in stores. There's big caramel scent off the top, and it's heavily malted and sweet going down, with a dry finish. I'm a little down on this one because of the sweetness—while it's appropriate for the märzen style to lean treacly (especially if this is following an Austrian recipe, which favors high caramel tones), I really wanted to get a hint of another flavor (whether floral hops or nutty roasted malts). I imagine some folks might want a sweeter, more warming Oktoberfest experience, so this would work perfectly. Me? I'll probably stick to the more balanced, slightly nutty Southern Star offering. Rating: 5.9/10
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.