Belly up to these brewpubs, bars and taprooms on the upper Texas Coast
In case you haven’t noticed, the upper Texas Coast is in the middle of a craft beer boom. Artisan brewers are infusing centuries-old methods with a healthy dash of millennial vision. Whether hoppy, mellow or malty, there are loads of local microbrews worth sipping.
Galveston Island Brewing
When traffic clogs the seawall, Stewart Road is the back way to the island’s West End. But there’s a new reason to take the road less traveled — Galveston Island Brewing, which opened its doors in 2014. Mark Dell’Osso, a former tugboat captain, turned an industrial complex into a state-of-the-art brewery with island character. Its flagship beer, the Tiki Wheat, is great on a hot summer day, but the Citra Mellow — which has notes of brightness from Citra hops — is a good order any day of the year.
8423 Stewart Road, Galveston, 409.740.7000, www.galvestonislandbrewing.com
Beers Looking At You
Humphrey Bogart once said that the problem with the world was that everyone was a few drinks behind. But the actor’s most immortal line — with one clever alteration — is the name of Webster’s newest and hippest beer joint. Beers Looking At You has become a gathering place for suburban craft beer connoisseurs. Parking sometimes presents a challenge, but it’s well worth what you’ll find inside. The vibe is chic-industrial, with long community tables and open shelving displaying a stout row of growlers. Thirsty patrons will be tempted to fill a few rather than commit to one of the pours available from 39 taps.
17074 state Highway 3, Webster, 281.984.7403, www.beerslookingatyou.com
Texas Beer Refinery
Like other honest-to-goodness beer-centric establishments in the Lone Star State, Texas Beer Refinery has a down-home feel. But there’s also a note of style — from the barroom’s Sputnik chandeliers to the stark, yet comfortable patio. Brewmaster John Hearn is known for his signature Texas Blonde, but if you want to try something a little more unique, opt for the Mint Chocolate Stout, which mimics the flavor of a Girl Scout cookie with chocolate malt and a touch of mint.
2709 Dickinson Ave., Dickinson, 832.779.1221, www.texasbeerrefinery.com
Saloon Door Brewing
With its proximity to the big city and multinational cuisine, the Clear Lake area is drawing both space center scientists and plaid-clad hipsters searching for artisanal pints. They’ll be happy to find Saloon Door Brewing, which has the energy of a rustic, modern Cheers. If you’re on a grab-and-go mission, pick up a 64-ounce growler, but for those looking to sit a spell and sip the selection, order a flight of up to five tasters. Don’t leave without trying the Extra Special Bitter — a tasty throwback with a rich malt body and distinct English character.
105 Magellan Circle, Webster, 409.939.3992, www.saloondoorbrewing.com
It’s easy to tell that Brian Allen and Kris Szecsy are total beer nerds — they left steady jobs and sank everything into a suds startup. From the outside, Bakfish Brewing looks more like a warehouse than a trendy tavern. Inside, it’s every bit as cool as its craft beer kin in central Houston. Bakfish uses pilot systems to brew seasonal and one-off batches, which means there’s always something new to try. Belly up to the bar, which is lined in material that mimics fish scales, and peruse the “catch of the day” chalkboard. With brews as fresh as a just-hooked snapper, both novices and connoisseurs will be pleased. A stellar order in springtime, the All Y’all Golden Ale is a produce-driven preparation featuring pear and banana. This sweet duet has a spicy hint of clove.
1231 East Broadway St., Pearland, 281.993.8658, www.bakfishbrewing.com
Galveston Bay Beer Co.
Mark Henry came early to the craft beer revolution when he bought out Louisiana brewery Rikenjaks in 2005. Henry, Galveston County judge, had a draft dream — a small batch brewery. By 2008, the stars were aligned over Galveston Bay, but Hurricane Ike came along that year, derailing his plans. It took another five years to come to fruition. A testament to Henry’s passion for craft beer, the taproom offers more than 12 varietals each day. Try the house take on Gose, an old-fashioned beer that has made a recent comeback. The sour wheat beer is an acquired taste, but the Ghostship Gose is packed with flavor from coriander to salt.
12900 FM 3436, Dickinson, 281.339.3210, www.galvestonbaybeer.com
Fetching Lab Brewery
Like the patriotic pup that inspired its name, Fetching Lab Brewery looks the part of all-American. A pastoral acreage outside of Alvin serves as a live-work space for owners Brett Bray and Theresa Hutchings, who opened the brewery in 2015. On select weekends, except when the rain’s too heavy — the soft ground is prone to quagmires — visitors are welcome to tour the grounds or sample one or a few of the 16 beers available. The list includes the bold Laelaps IPA — named for a canine constellation — which has a strong hop profile and grapefruit overtones.
1578 County Road 423, Alvin, 281.414.7355, www.fetchinglabbrewery.com
When island institution Club D’Elegance closed after more than 50 years, the space was snapped up by local restaurant company Yaga’s Presents. Now a hopping hub for beer drinkers, you can spot Beerfoot Brewery from the seawall by its capital-lettered sign and garage-door style window. It’s nearly impossible to go thirsty with a menu that includes more than 30 brews. Try the Beerfoot Blacktip Pale Ale for one — a moderate, refreshing ale with noticeable hop aroma and a malty background. Ask the bartenders what to try — lead brewer Heath Cherryhomes releases something new each week.
2816 Ave. R½, Galveston, 409.762.2337, www.yagaspresents.com/beerfoot
A shotgun-style space on the western flank of The Strand — where stately Galvestonians once rode past in horse-drawn carriages — is now home to gallant gastropub Brews Brothers. In a nod to the island’s history, owners Justin Strait and Wesley Critchlow kicked off their concept with an original brew called the 1900 Great Stout, which was aged over 100-year-old Galveston oak. Beer aficionados will find a well-curated tap boasting brews from the world’s finest craft outfits from near and far — Buffalo Bayou’s Hibiscus Wheat from Houston and Lindemans Framboise from Vlezenbeek, Belgium.
2404 Strand, Galveston, 409.763.2739
Galactic Coast Brewing
With NASA close at hand, Dickinson’s Galactic Coast Brewing channels the spirit of the space exploration program as it boldly brews what no one’s brewed before. And the concoctions are out of this world. Galactic’s flagship beers — Rocket Ride and Sneaky Blonde — are both worth sampling. Heed its name if you choose the Sneaky Blonde — it will creep up on you. This farmhouse ale is easy to drink, but its smooth flavor masks a boozy 7.1 percent alcohol content.
1675 Dickinson Ave., Dickinson, 832.738.1960, www.galacticcoastbrewing.com