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| Booze |

Avery Cask-Conditioned Ale at the Petrol Station

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Running errands last Sunday took me past the Petrol Station on Wakefield at Golf, in the gently tree-lined neighborhood of Oak Forest. The Petrol Station is a popular watering hole -- with both freshly-roasted coffee and freshly-poured beer -- that serves a satisfying mix of English pub fare and burgers.

Driving past the Petrol Station on most afternoons and evenings, you're loathe to find a parking spot anywhere in the vicinity. To say that it's popular with local residents is an understatement. Many people walk here from their homes or from the American Legion park just up the street after a soccer game. But I caught them on a rare slow afternoon and decided to amble inside for a pint.

A few assorted families were passing the afternoon inside, the adults catching up while their kids watched a cartoon on the TV above the bar. The entire place -- an old converted gas station, if you hadn't already guessed -- seems to creak and sway as you walk through it. I stood and took in the aroma of coffee, wood, and the faint malty scent of beer as I pondered my beer selection from the small but interesting array of taps.

The friendly bartender asked if I was having trouble making a choice. I told him that I wasn't having trouble, but would like to be surprised. "Give me something fiercely hoppy," I asked. He pulled a pint of Avery cask-conditioned India Pale Ale straightaway. "You'll love this," he promised.

I took my IPA out onto the warm patio to properly enjoy it. He was right. The warmly golden, slightly hazy beer was nearly the apotheosis of the sun-dappled afternoon itself. Delicately fragrant and crisp yet pillowy soft, with the simple freshness of cask-conditioned ale and the refreshing snap of hops in every sip: this is the kind of beer that hop-heads the world over lust after.

Avery's IPA (which is produced in small batches in Boulder, Colorado) is always in limited stock here in Houston. Get out there and enjoy a pint while it lasts.

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