Nobi Public House, ,the subject of this week's review sits in a section of Nasa Road 1 strip mall so nondescript, even that description seems too descriptive. Inside, the L-shaped tap-wall and the helpful staff tell a different story.
Ask about the Petrus Aged Red on the bottle list, a Flanders Oud Bruin loaded with sour cherry flavor, and you might find yourself engaged in a conversation about your server's shared love of sour styles. Request a pint of Yellow Rose, a lovely and fragrant pale ale from Magnolia-based Lone Pint Brewery, with a nose full of guava and a wonderful punch of citrus flavor, and you'll likely find yourself getting a brief history lesson on the little upstart brewery, if you're game to listen.
When you notice the tap handle from new-to-Texas Southern Tier brewing, you might hear about the recent tapping of that brewery's Pumking seasonal, which sold out in a flash during a fundraiser. As your server goes on to talk about another charity event, this one for the sick child of a craft-beer community member, featuring more rare tappings from local breweries, you'll get the impression that community is important at Nobi. I'd say that's fitting, given the name.
A "public house" denotes something more than a place to grab a quick pint. If you care to read the lengthy entry on the subject in The Oxford Companion to Beer, you'll find the phrase full of its own history, distinct from ale-houses (the public house's progenitor) and other mean drinkeries. A home away from home; a place to gather with friends and neighbors; a place to discuss the events of the day, the week, the world. It's a place for community and conversation, both of which, at Nobi, revolve around beer. 40 taps-worth, including a nitro tap and a cask engine, and enough bottled options to fill a multi-page spread.
That list splits its time between chasing down the latest brew to hit Texas taps, often being among the first to bring a beer to the Houston market (Southern Tier and Founders being recent examples), and supporting the breadth of what local breweries have to offer.
Consider it an added bonus that much of the grub on offer is well suited to community, and to beer, set in the middle of the slightly narrow wooden tables and doled out in measure determined by the fastest fork. Enjoy that pint of Yellow Rose as you and your friends tuck into an order of Pork Fries, an ungainly sounding but immediately gratifying mélange of most likely frozen potatoes (their skins still a bit wan), Vietnamese char-grilled pork, nacho cheese, onions, pickled jalapeño and salsa. Try that same amalgam of Viet-stadium ingredients on a pile of house-made, freshly fried flour tortilla triangles. If anything, the satisfying crunch of the chips proves a better vehicle for the messy jumble of trimmings, and that pile will likely disappear in large, stop-motion swaths.
If you're feeling like something a little "healthier," there's a salad that might interest you. It might surprise you, too. It did me. When you order it, be sure to ask which beer pairs well; you'll likely get a little conversation to go with.
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