4 Fun Finds For Brewery Buffs

Houston is brimming with restaurant and bar options, but sometimes it's fun to try something different. Why not check out a local brewery? Whether you go to sample a few new beers, have a fabulous meal, meet and hang out with friends, or take a traditional tour, there are options for all at reasonable price points.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company is Texas' oldest craft brewery and one of the best-known and most-respected local labels.

The Beer: Saint Arnold brews eight beers regularly. They also offer seven seasonal beers (brewed once a year) and have another seven brewed in small amounts on irregular schedules. Saint Arnold's beers play homage to the Houston area with their names, (Endeavour, for example, is named after a NASA space shuttle). They also engage local artists to design their labels (Carlos Hernandez designed the Santo label). 

The Food: A large selection of food is available, and guests are invited to hunker down at the long German beerhouse-style picnic tables. Cards and board games are provided for guests, or they can bring their own. It's a clean and air-conditioned indoor seating area with ample space for large groups to socialize or smaller groups to find their own spot to nestle into for a while.

The Tour: Tours are offered every day but Sunday. They cost $10 and include a souvenir glass. You are given tokens to trade in at the tap to fill your glass and sample multiple beers. Closed-toed shoes are required. 

Karbach Brewing Co.

Karbach Brewing Co. was founded in 2011 and is known for their inventive, intense beer flavors and humorous names, as well as for donating their beer to numerous artistic, musical and charity events in the area. 

The Beer: Karbach brews six beers regularly. They also offer a four-beer seasonal line-up, a specialty seasonal beer and their Bourbon Barrel Aged Hellfighter, which is 11 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). With names like Sympathy for the Lager, Hopadillo and Rodeo Clown, it's clear that this brewery is all about fun and originality without sacrificing quality. 

The Food: Karbach's restaurant is a traditional menu, sit-down format. They offer bar food with a gourmet twist with ingredients that include apricot chutney, Texas peaches and piquillo tartare sauce, in addition to an extensive lunch and dinner menu. Guests are also permitted to bring their own food into the outside Biergarten, which has numerous long picnic tables perfect for group gatherings. Beer by the glass can be purchased at the outside tap.

The Tour: Tours are offered daily on a "first come, first served" basis. The cost is $8 for a 9-oz. glass with four fill tokens or $12 for a pint glass with three fill tokens. Tokens are only redeemable in the Biergarten and are not valid for the restaurant or patio. Closed-toed shoes are required.

8th Wonder Brewery

Smack-dab in the center of Houston, 8th Wonder Brewery celebrates its namesake, the Houston Astrodome, with the dome-like design of its building. 

The Beer: 8th Wonder offers five year-round brews all labeled with a Houston bent, like the Dome Faux'm, a throwback cream ale. They also rotate out temporary, limited edition brews. 

The Food: 8th Wonder is located in a small space relative to many other local breweries and does not have a kitchen of its own. However, there are often food trucks on-site or nearby if your stomach starts talking. The brewery also offers an outside patio where attendees can drink and hang out. 

The Tour: There isn't a tour offered at 8th Wonder, but the taproom is open every day. For $15, visitors get a collectible pint glass with three fill tokens. For $10, you receive a 12-oz. plastic cup with three fills. For $4, you can buy a plastic 12-oz. cup with one beer. 

Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company

Founded in 2011, the Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company continues its mission "to create great craft beer that is unapologetically Houston."

The Beer: Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company classifies its beers in two categories: Heritage and Secessionist. The Heritage brews are more traditional while the Secessionist line includes dessert flavors such as Red Velvet Stout, Bananas Foster, Mud Turtle, a variety of Witbier and other nontraditional beer combinations.

The Food: There is no restaurant at Buffalo Bayou. 

The Tour: Tours for the brewery are held every Saturday from noon to 3. The cost is $10 and includes three samples and a souvenir glass. 

By Jenn Haight