Now over ten years old, The Flying Saucer downtown is not only one of Houston's longest-standing craft beer bars, it also has stood long enough to see myriad other bars come and go in its wake. I am lucky enough to live less than a mile away from Flying Saucer, and when I first moved downtown, it was one of my regular haunts.
With the new beer bar boom going strong, I found myself remiss in staying away from The Saucer so long. I stopped in on an early afternoon to talk to bartender Brady Conine about the bar and his views on beer in Texas.
A great reason to check out The Flying Saucer is its flight program, which offers you four-ounce tastes of five different beers. While you can choose from a menu of preselected flights, the bar also allows you to "Build Your Own" flight out of any five draft beers from its immense selection. I asked Brady to pour me five of his favorite beers.
The Brady Flight:
- Breckenridge 471 Double IPA
- Green Flash West Coast IPA
- Southern Star Buried Hatchet
- 512 Pecan Porter
- Maredsous Brune
Drink(s) in hand, we got down to business.
What would you say is the hardest part about working in a beer bar as opposed to a more traditional bar setting?
I think the hardest thing -- well, not the hardest thing per se -- but it's keeping up the knowledge part. You have people who come in who know what they want and know a lot about beer, so you have to be on your toes. But a lot of the time, people come in and they don't know anything, and it's really nice whenever you can pick something based on what they're kinda trying to tell you and then they love it.
But really, the hard part is when you are busy, you are really busy. And pouring a good pint takes time.
You said you're from Waco. It seems a lot of current and former Flying Saucer employees seem to be from Waco. What's the deal with that?
Well, I got my job because of Waco. I was sitting here at the bar, I was still living downtown and I was wearing a Waco basketball shirt. And Asa was working behind the bar, and he noticed it. And we were talking about Waco, and I mentioned I had applied about a week before, so he went and got my application and here I am.
The tap wall here is pretty intimidating for a first-time visitor. Do you have people who just pick beers based on, say, the tap handles?
Oh, yeah. Definitely. I had two ladies and I was trying to suggest this and that, and one of them said: "I want that one! The one with the little boy peeing!" (Lefebvre Blanche de Bruxelles)
Downtown is a bit of an odd place to bartend; got any interesting stories?
Yes! Back when I was working the door and bartending, there was this homeless guy. I had seen him around before, and I had noticed him earlier in the week, and he looked fine, button-down shirt, seemed normal. Then, Sunday night, I notice him and he has completely changed. He's out of it, milling around, just a total change. It's about 30 minutes till we close, and I see him again. No shorts, pants at his ankles and he is just shuffling by. He's talking to himself, he is talking to someone beside him who isn't actually there...just crazy. Then he tries to come into the bar; I tell him he can't just come in with no clothes on. He starts yelling and going nuts, so we had to call the police. As the police come, he pulls his pants off and takes off running. I saw him come back by later...this time, no clothes on at all.
You can stop into The Flying Saucer at 705 Main anytime and visit Brady, but I recommend Thursday evenings. That's when The Flying Saucer hosts its rare beer night. The bar puts a lot of thought into which beers they offer during rare tappings, and this week was no exception.
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Earlier last week, Brooklyn Brewery announced that its longtime brewery mascot, Monster the cat, had passed away. At 13 years old, Monster was an icon in the craft beer world and even had his very own beer, Monster Barleywine, named after him. During our visit, Brady was nice enough to let us sample the rare 2011 version of the barleywine that Flying Saucer had just tapped in Monster's honor.
Toasting to a dead beer cat, how cool is that?