I've never believed in the "if-another-city-in-Texas-is-doing-it-why-doesn't-Houston" train of thought. Even though Houston has lacked a distinct identity at times, we aren't followers here. Like everyone else, I cringed when I read a recent national travel article that said Montrose has an Austin feel to it.
The one exception is Houston's lack of a good, locally owned brewpub. Dallas, Austin and San Antonio all have them, so accuse me of being a whiny, spoiled little kid if you want, but can we please get one here? How great would it be if one of Houston's food innovators like Chris Shepherd, Mark Cox or Scott Tycer joined forces with a world-class brewer and set up shop? Or if a place like BRC was opened as a brewpub and not just a place that serves great craft beer?
For those who aren't sure, a brewpub is a bar or restaurant that brews its own beer on site and only sells it on site. TABC laws prohibit brewpubs from selling their products in other bars or stores. Texas passed legislation making it legal to open a brewpub back in 1993, and since then, many have come and gone in our fair city. The first was Village Brewery in 1994, and others followed. Anyone remember Houston Brewery or Bank Draft? These failed for many reasons, "location" being one and "not brewing beers good enough to keep people coming back," another.
Austin's Uncle Billy's Brew & Que is churning out fantastic beers, and it has the Great American Beer Festival medals to prove it. Billy's even has a rotating "hop tap" and a "malty tap" to keep things interesting. The Covey in Fort Worth is an upscale restaurant with beers good enough to win at the World Beer Cup. Freetail in San Antonio is new but has been packed since day one. These are just examples; there are many more across the state...just not in Houston.
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Times have changed since the brewpubs here failed. Craft beer is gaining acceptance and growing by leaps and bounds. If you don't believe me, check out the stats. I want to be a member of some brewpub's special frequent-drinker club. I need to be able to stop by the local brewpub on the way home from work and fill up my growler for a discounted rate. The time is now, Houston.