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Beer Talk: Local Group Brewing Sets Opening Date

Plus, Saint Arnold is distributing an imperial stout and, soon, a New England IPA. I know, right?

By Timothy Malcolm February 14, 2020

The end of February will be busy in the Houston beer scene. Also, Saint Arnold is really upping its game (finally, after 26 years ...). Time for the weekly beer news.

Local Group will open Feb. 28 in Near Northside.

Image: Carla Gomez

News & Events

On Feb 28, Local Group Brewing will open its doors at 1504 Chapman St. in Near Northside's Hardy Yards. The brewery owned by Michael Steeves, Todd Donewar, and brewmaster James "Huggy Bear" Wolfe (Southern Star, No Label) is fashioning itself more as a brewpub with a full kitchen. 

For that, they've tapped Jeff Samoska (Post Oak Hotel) to run food service. He'll create a version of North American comfort grub that includes an Angus beef burger on homemade brioche bun, duck confit poutine, Berkshire "bacon steak," pretzels, and charcuterie. 

As for the beer, Wolfe is spanning the beer spectrum by starting with a stout, a New England imperial IPA, a hefeweizen, and what he's calling an "American sparkling ale," or a brut IPA. A fruited kettle sour, fruit-forward New England IPA, and hoppy IPA are on the way, along with a barrel-aging program, more IPAs, and bigger beers. At full capacity, Local Group will have 20 taps working.

Local Group will also boast a pet-friendly patio, toy stations and high chairs for children, bike racks, and a nitro system for cold-brew coffee.

Initial hours are 3–10 p.m. Tues–Thurs, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Fri–Sat, and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Sun with brunch service. 

One day later, Urban South HTX will open its doors at Sawyer Yards. That's a big weekend for Houston beer.

Beer Releases

Saint Arnold is on a roll lately. Earlier this week they announced the release of an imperial stout (seriously) called Commitment, weighing in at 13.4 percent ABV. Then, Thursday, they announced a can release: Juicy IPA. Yes, Saint Arnold has made a New England IPA. It'll be available starting Mar 9. Talk about an embarrassment of riches.

On Mar 8, Karbach will introduce two new siblings of Michelada beer Hella Chella. Look for Viva Chela (a salt and lime Mexican lager) and Lil' Chela (a 96-calorie Mexican lager), and they'll launch during Karbach's Selena Movie Night & Market.

For Valentine's Day, Ingenious is releasing BA My Berry, a bourbon-barrel-aged imperial stout conditioned on raspberries and cacao nibs. Two per person for this release. Also, there may or may not be cans left of new releases Imperial King Cake, Smarty Mystery Sour, Quaker's Dream (an oat cream beer), Maternal Brain (a double IPA), and Cowboy Cookie, a imperial milk stout with big peanut, coconut, and pecan flavors, made with The Answer Brewpub of Richmond, Virginia.

Over at Spindletap, check out Sticky Fingers double IPA (made with Simcoe and Citra) and Draped Up IPA (made with Amarillo, Mosaic, and Galaxy) at a release 10 a.m. Saturday. Beers will be on tap, and an allotted amount will be available for pickup at 11 a.m. 

At 3 p.m. today, B-52 Brewing will release Indian Blanket, a double-dry-hopped IPA named for the sunflower with Citra and Kohatu hops, and Fruit Tart: Blackberry, Mango & Citra, a sour fermented on the fruit, then dry-hopped with Citra.

Earlier in the week, Holler released Haze of Our Lives, which thankfully isn't made with soap. It's merely a New England IPA.

The newest at True Anomaly is Printemps Saisonnier, a farmhouse-inspired beer using spelt instead of wheat, plus American noble hops. 

More V-Day fun: No Label is giving us Sour Cherry Stout. Starts at 3 p.m.

Yes, a pickle beer. What will you do?

Beer Reviews

Martin House Best Maid Sour Pickle Beer: This beer, from the Fort Worth brewery Martin House, came out in 2019 to huge buzz, and now you can find it at the grocery store. Martin House is known for making experimental fare like Pretzel Stout, but Sour Pickle is the one that got the brewery attention, at least across the state. I couldn't get through my first can of it, but for some reason, the second went down easier and I started to understand the beer. It's a sea-salt sour base with pickle brine added, and for those who love sours and shandies, and can handle pickle juice, it's a fun option.

I'm torn on how to rate it. Part of me thinks it's barely a beer, but the other part of me sees real merit in this very viral beverage and can taste a decent sour. Put it this way: If you're at all interested in drinking pickle juice with a hint of beer, go for it. If you're like most people and don't want to try it, you're not missing anything. Rating: 5.5

Eureka Heights Buenos Amigos: This Selena-inspired (at least the title) beer is a Belgian strong aged in anejo barrels for nearly a year. Because of the profile, I was imaging a boozier, warmer beer like a barleywine. But amazingly, it's not as boozy and as sugary, though you can still get a lacing of tequila (and oak) underneath a fairly balanced character. At 12 percent it's a long sipper and might not be for everyone—sample it first before giving it a go. That said, this is a nice change of pace from Eureka Heights. Rating: 7.8

Eureka Heights New Year New Me: Also from Eureka Heights, we get this hazy double IPA with Azacca, Galaxy, and Vic Secret hops. This is more of an Oceanic IPA (Galaxy and Vic Secret are Australian) that blends tropical notes with a big bitter bite and plentiful carbonation. It's not my favorite Eureka Heights hazy offering, surprisingly more of a chore to drink than I expected. Rating: 6.3

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.

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