Once, Houston had nowhere near the variety nor quality of beer it has today, and by once we mean 2006. Saint Arnold, the oldest craft brewery in Texas, dates way back to a comparatively antediluvian 1994, but the rest are much more recent arrivals: Southern Star Brewing opened in Conroe in 2007, while Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. and Karbach Brewing Co. didn’t debut until 2011.
As for bars, your only options for American craft beer were Rudyard’s and The Ginger Man until The Flying Saucer opened downtown in 2000. Today such establishments are opening as fast as the TABC can license them, and just like that, “craft” is no longer code for beer brewed elsewhere. The area now boasts over a dozen craft breweries, of which two are among the largest and fastest-growing in America, and our city’s unique culture and mien are inevitably making their way into our brews.
Thanks to the recent relaxation of Texas beer laws—brewpubs can now brew up to 10,000 barrels a year and distribute directly to retailers—and our undying love of beer (only California has a higher annual consumption of brewskis than Texas), the craft beer movement is poised to grow even further. In America’s fourth-largest city, it seems, our thirst for innovation is equaled only by a thirst for great beer. —Katharine Shilcutt