Houston is about to receive a major external player in the haze craze with the draft only launch of Parish Brewing Company. Based in Broussard, Louisiana just outside Lafayette, Parish’s legendary Ghost In The Machine Double IPA had previously loomed tantalizingly close yet been unattainable, but expanded year-round packaging and distribution to Houston will allow us to enjoy this haze monster on a regular basis. For those not familiar with Ghost, it is a big 8.5% hazy Double IPA packed full of tropical juice and a surprisingly smooth drinkability. A hop bite is there but subtle, contributing to a near perfect package that has earned it the highest rated year-round produced beer from Louisiana.
Parish bringing that Louisiana hazy flair. Photo Credit: Britt Antley
In addition to Ghost, Parish has teamed up with Silver Eagle Distributors to bring to Houston a solid lineup that satisfies all spectrums of the beer drinkers’ palettes. Their most popular beer by volume is Canebrake, a self-described Louisiana Wheat Ale that uses locally grown sugarcane to lend a slight sweetness to the easy drinking wheat ale. South Coast is another easy drinker, balancing a traditional amber malt profile with noble hops to create a sessionable 5.1% backyard BBQ type of beer. Envie is Parish’s American Pale Ale that combines juice-laden tropical fruits with no harsh bitterness to yield an approachable hoppy beer that could easily convert people who claim to dislike anything with discernible hops. Things get kicked up a couple notches with Rêve, a glorious coffee stout that drinks like cold brew and crams an incredible amount of flavor into a surprisingly low 7.2% body. Parish plans to bring additional limited seasonal offerings to Houston, and we can also expect packaged retail in the spring.
The festivities kick off next Monday at Flying Saucer Downtown from 7-10 PM where Andrew Godley, Parish’s founder, will be on-site to mingle and meet Houston’s passionate craft beer community. Beyond that, if you can think of a good craft beer bar in the greater Houston area, there’s a strong chance they will be hosting a Parish event with either Andrew or a local Parish rep. For a full list of events, check out Silver Eagle’s event page.
The man himself, Andrew Godley Photo Credit: Parish Brewing Co.
I myself am very excited for Houston to be receiving Parish distribution. Having lived in New Orleans the past 1.5 years, I have been spoiled to try all of Parish’s offerings, and I often make the 2-hour drive to their taproom to try brewery exclusive beers and buy some of their limited releases that don’t see distribution. Houston is in for a treat with their year-round lineup, and prepare to have your minds blown when some of their limited release seasonal offerings make their way west on I-10 ***cough***DDH Ghost***cough.
H Town could receive this (the DDH Ghost, not Gumbeaux) Photo Credit: Britt Antley
The Saint Arnold booth at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.
The Great American Beer Festival is the largest beer festival in the United States. 2,404 breweries entered beers into the competition portion, and 8,864 beers were judged. Outside of the competition, the entire Colorado Convention Center is filled with hundreds of breweries pouring thousands of beers. As a first time attendee, it was a bit overwhelming with the quantity involved. The balance between the hype breweries like Bottle Logic and Weldwerks that required waiting in line, versus many of the small breweries that may be a highlight waiting to happen made decisions difficult. The buzz about certain beers made their way around the convention center like a middle school hallway. It was exciting and exhausting all at the same time.
The Buffalo Bayou booth at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.
Since this is Houston Beer Guide, let’s talk about Houston. Houston was represented well on the serving floor. Buffalo Bayou, Saint Arnold, BAKFISH, and Texas Leaguer all had booths. 8th Wonder had a booth in the heavily advertised Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden, where Rocket Fuel took on the Jameson barrel. For the Houston booths, it was a highlight. I’m not the biggest fan of Jameson in general, but I felt Rocket Fuel was one of the few beers in the area that could handle it and meld well. Many of the other Jameson collaborations by some very big named breweries were overwhelmed by the barrel. The Jameson based Rocket Fuel will be appearing around Houston in the not too distant future, so be on the lookout.
After last year’s success, this was a rather quiet year for Houston at the festival. (Last year Houston area breweries brought home 6 medals and Saint Arnold won Mid-Size Brewing Company of the Year.) Austin won more than half of the 18 Texas-based awards, including multiple wins for the Austin Beer Garden Brewery, but the Houston area took home only two awards. Saint Arnold was the honorary of both medals, taking home a bronze in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category for their Amber Ale followed closely in the awards by a silver for Oktoberfest in the Scottish Style Ale category. This brings the Saint Arnold total medal count to 26 all time, a record for a brewery in the south. This would normally be the point in the article where I would have tasting notes for both of the winning beers, but if you’re reading this article there’s a 99% chance you’ve had these beers. If you haven’t, a trip to your local grocer or liquor store is in order, they’re in the cooler and both solid offerings.
8th Wonder had a booth in the heavily advertised Jameson Caskmates Barrel-Aged Beer Garden.
What should we take home from such a small amount of awards for the Houston area? Not much in my personal opinion. Breweries can only enter in 4 beers. The beers that won awards for Houston last year may not have been entered this year at all. We’re still making our way up on the best American markets, but that climb is happening regardless of medals. As long as more breweries continue to push the envelope, and most importantly make good beers, Houston’s name will continue to grow. More medals and awards are on the way for Houston as long as drinkers demand great products. Keep drinking and demanding great beer Houston.
Texas Leaguer at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado.
Supporting local charities, non-profits and social causes have always been a big part of the vibrant Houston craft brewing scene. As local breweries have started operations across the Houston area, a part of stitching themselves into the fabric of their local communities has been supporting causes Houstonians care about. Houston craft beer people have demonstrated their passion for seeking out good beer made locally, and marrying that passion with raising awareness for worthy causes is a big part of why so many breweries seek out those types of partnerships with charitable organizations as an early step in building their businesses.
It’s in this locally focused, charitable spirit that Back Pew Brewing Company in Porter has begun a partnership with Addi’s Faith, a Kingwood-based charity. Part of the proceeds of the Addi’s Faith Kolsch will go to the organization, whose mission is to both support researchers working towards a cure for childhood brain cancer and provide services to families impacted by the disease. Addi’s Faith approached Bobby Harl, president and brewer at Back Pew, and asked him to design a beer that would be approachable for just about anyone and easy to drink during the heat of the late Houston summer. Addi’s Faith Founder and President Amber Bender told me, ‘We went to Back Pew first because they are local, make a great beer, and we enjoy going there on the weekends to hang out.”
Bobby leveraged his expertise in German styles and designed a Kolsch brewed with a slight twist – using Northern Brewer (a hop with a distinct minty-like bitterness) along with noble hops. Bobby’s skill shows in this example of the classic style from Cologne. The beer pours straw gold with a bright white head, with a delicate malty sweet aroma. The taste of the beer is also slightly sweet and bready, with a crisp bitterness and an ever-so-slight fruitiness. The hint of Northern Brewer evergreen/mint helps reinforce the clean, dry finish. Bobby said he would like to coax a little more of the pear-like flavors from the yeast in future versions, but the balance of this beer is pretty perfect in this single batch offering.
Back Pew sees this beer as a first step in what should be an annual effort to help support Addi’s Faith during September, which is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The style of the beer may change year-on-year, but the mission remains the same – raise awareness of the disease Addi’s Faith is focused on, and bring the focus of the community on their organization in an engaging way.
Although not much of this tasty Kolsch will be left on shelves and taps around town through the waning days of September, if you’ve missed getting your taste of the brew I highly recommend taking a close look at the history and accomplishments of Addi’s Faith. Specifically, watch the video story below of how Amber and her husband responded to the loss of their daughter Addison Faith to the disease just shy of her second birthday in 2008. From that foundation of tragedy and loss, they’ve built a legacy through Addi’s Faith, raising over $1 million for research on pediatric brain cancer treatment, as well as outreach and support for families that have heard those terrifying four words themselves: ‘Your child has cancer…’
Addi's Faith Foundation - YouTube
Amber and the leaders of Addi’s Faith have done incredible things in the past 11 years. Now it’s our turn – the craft beer community of Houston – to do our part. This Back Pew Kolsch represents a tasty beginning to what promises to be another chapter in the long happy story of charitable support from the Houston beer community. Learn more about Addi’s Faith and how to support their mission here.
At their anniversary party in August, Eureka Heights’ Wort Overlord (aka Head Brewer) Casey Motes announced that Eureka Heights beer would soon be available in cans and grocery stores, and now, that time has come.
Cans of Buckle Bunny Cream Ale and Mini Boss Double Dry Hopped IPA are now available in stores including HEB, Kroger, Specs, Whole Foods, Total Wine, Central Market, and smaller independent beer stores. According to Casey, cans will be in over 100 stores within a month, so look for them basically everywhere you buy cans of beer in the greater Houston area.
Photo: Shawn McDermott for Houston Beer Guide
Why cans and not bottles? According to Casey, “they are better at keeping oxygen and UV light out of the beer, which means better beer. Aside from that, we feel they are way more portable and easier to recycle. Also, shotgunning a bottle isn’t very safe.”
Photo: Shawn McDermott for Houston Beer Guide
Since they opened two years ago, Eureka Heights has brewed some of the best beer in the city, but their presence has been limited to bars, growler shops, and their own taproom. This expansion, Casey says, will allow them to, “reach a whole new crowd that might not be going out to bars and restaurants on a regular basis. There are so many people that are passionate about craft beer and want to support local and independent breweries. We want to make sure they have options when they go to the store.” Despite the near exponential growth in the number of breweries in the city, it’s increasingly rare to see new breweries on grocery store shelves. This may seem like a dull, boring story but it is a huge step for Eureka Heights and the city’s beer scene as a whole.
If you haven’t tried their beer before, pick up a six pack or two. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
What’s Next for Eureka Heights?
Eureka Heights adding a new fermenter | Photo: Shawn McDermott for Houston Beer Guide
The expansion into cans has contributed to an increase in production volume for Eureka Heights. They’ve added a new fermenter and a new brite tank to help them keep up.
What beer will Eureka Heights release in cans next? They need help deciding. My hope is their newest beer, Shower Tears, a blackberry gose. If you have a favorite beer or style that you’d like to see next, let them know on one of their social media pages.
Fortress BeerWorks is the latest addition to Houston’s rapidly growing beer scene. The family-friendly craft brewery plans to open this fall in a 6,620-sq.-ft. space located at 2606 Spring Cypress Road in Spring, Texas. Fortress BeerWorks will be operating with a brewpub license—which, as HBG’s audience likely knows at this point, means it has the all-important ability to sell beer on-premise and to-go—and will be the greater Houston area’s 53rd craft brewery.
The Future Fortress BeerWorks | Photo courtesy of Fortress BeerWorks
“As huge craft beer fans ourselves, we’re beyond excited to become a part of Houston’s quickly expanding craft beer scene, and eager to help slake the thirsts of the beer drinkers of our great city,” said head brewer and co-owner Dion Billard. “It’s an invigorating time for craft beer in the greater Houston area. We look toward our neighbors to the west at Lone Pint in Magnolia, to the north at B52 Brewing, Copperhead and Southern Star in Conroe, and to the south at 11 Below as inspiration, and can’t wait to make beer that will further cement north Houston’s reputation as a can’t-miss craft beer destination.”
Dion says Fortress BeerWorks expects to launch with a Double India Pale Ale, Blonde Ale, Witbier and the brewery’s signature Smash IPA as they open their doors, with seasonals and special releases throughout the year. Dion also said that Fortress will offer Crowlers, and may also enter the 16-ounce can sale arena down the line as well.
Fortress has plans to send some product out to retail, though expects to spend much of its focus on providing the best possible experience for its patrons at its taproom. The brewery expects to be open Thursday through Sunday at the outset, with expanded hours an eventual possibility. Additionally, they will partner with local food trucks to ensure there is always a food option for taproom visitors.
Local commercial real estate firm NAI Partners arranged the lease transaction for the space. NAI has become something of a go-to firm for craft brewery leases, having also completed Great Heights’ lease on Wakefield Drive last year. (Editor’s note: Larry is VP of Marketing at NAI Partners.)
Under new management, D&T Drive Inn on Enid near Cavalcade in north Houston has made a number of changes since an apparent ownership shift in early March.
After a 2017 filled withcontroversy for the Treadsack group, D&T remained as one of the three entities in the company’s portfolio, alongside Down House & Johnny’s Gold Brick. The closure of their Thai restaurant Foreign Correspondents (with attached Canard cocktail bar) on North Main was shortly followed by the shuttering of the Bernadines / Hunky Dory restaurant compound on Shepherd. In the wake of a spate of lawsuits and unflattering press reports about the turmoil swirling around the Treadsack group, many D&T fans were more than a little concerned for the future of the place. Fast forward a few months and D&T seemed to be staying the course, albeit with a great deal of staff turnover, including the departure of general manager Amber Miller and her husband Jason Moore – who together had been standard bearers for the craft pedigree of the little icehouse since it opened in 2013. Regardless of the change it seemed as though D&T seemed to be holding on through the tempest, keeping its status as a bulwark of Houston craft beer and a neighborhood focused watering hole, but apparently a sale was in the works.
New ownership will keep D&T open, but changes are evident. Gone are the ‘pay it forward’ chalkboard, the daily selection of happy hour specials served in pints or Mason jars, the jukebox, the kitchen and even the original sign (replaced, sadly, by a new black and white logo). I noticed that the specialty bottle beer selection and beer engines were gone, although the staff told me they still had the cask service equipment and would use it as they needed it, and there’s a new list of cans and bottles. Set-ups are no longer listed on the menu, but the staff confirmed they are not pursuing a liquor license, so those might still be available. The frozen shandies also remain as a popular holdover from the old menu.
The new sign at D&T Drive Inn | Photo: D&T Drive Inn via Twitter
Arrived are a nearly complete staff turnover, a tap wall aiming at being 100% Texas beers, and a set of specials that feels aimed at being a neighborhood stopover type place, with industry night, big-ass beers and such. Weekday happy hour is every day, 2-7pm, and includes 22 oz pours of lower ABV/low IBU brews at pint prices. I had ‘big ass’ pours of Saint Arnold Orange Show and Southern Star Spring Pilsner in the ~6-7 dollar range.
HopDrop is using D&T as a source for delivery for the area, so there is a crowler machine behind the bar to meet those needs, but it didn’t seem like crowlers were an option for takeaway from the bar – just branded full size glass growlers.
The old D&T food menu is gone and the notoriously small kitchen is literally shuttered. For the time being they are hosting a Venezuelan arepas vendor on Thursdays and food trucks on other nights. They told me they aim to build out a full kitchen into a shipping container inside the back patio area, and aim to serve a more full-featured menu than the tiny space in place would allow. Additional plans include adding coffee service, and opening in the mornings as a coffee shop with breakfast from the to-be-built kitchen. They also plan a regular Sunday brunch.
Big changes in progress for one of the best craft beer bars in the city. Here’s hoping the careful tap wall curation that had come to define D&T can carry on in some fashion.