Spending Saturday With St. Arnold

You can't call yourself a true Houstonian until you've done the tour at St. Arnold Brewing Company -- it's on everyone's Houston bucket list and rightfully so. I myself checked it off many years ago but I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't been back since they've moved into their current digs -- that is until a recent Saturday. I had forgotten how much fun it is to start drinking beer at 11 a.m. with about 200 of your closest Houstonian buddies. Here's a quick rundown, in case, like me, you've lost your Houston cred.

Guests are admitted between between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.. $8 gets you admission, an adorable 8-ounce souvenir glass and four drink tokens. Get there early to snag a seat at the benches or be smart and bring your own chairs and set up shop. Bring some games, bring some snacks, and choose a time to take the tour (Noon, 1 p.m., or 2 p.m.) Oh and bring some cash because you'll definitely want to order some food after your first glass or two.

The Saturday menu, a limited version of the one that is offered Monday - Friday from 11 - 2, includes sandwiches, fries and pretzels, perfect companions to any of their beers. If you're hungry and the snacks you've brought along just won't cut it, you really can't go wrong with any of the sandwiches. Skip the potato chips, even though Zapp's are pretty awesome, and add the hand cut frites to any sandwich for $2 extra. If you're feeling extra fancy and have another $2 to spare add truffle oil and parmasen and ask for the garlic aioli. You'll want to put that on pretty much everything.

The Smoked Bratwurst ($7) is served in a Slow Dough pretzel bun and topped with a glorious amount of sauerkraut and dressed with Brown Ale mustard. It's a total no brainer. Nothing goes better with an IPA than a smoky, meaty, garlic infused, beer- boiled brat. The Prime Rib French Dip ($12) is basically a cheesesteak sandwich but made so much better because it's also served on a Slow Dough Pretzel bun and comes with a side of jus for your dipping pleasure. I found this paired really well with the Boiler Room Berliner Weisse. The refreshing slight sourness of the beer cut through the saltiness of the meat but played perfectly with the sweet carmelized onions.

Seeing the food that others opted for gave me order envy because everything looked so good but I don't think you'll go wrong with anything on the menu. It's perfect food for beer drinking and perfect food for ordering a couple of different things and sharing.

I won't wait so long to be back next time -- It's a great way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon. Now how do I get out of work to take advantage of their weekday lunch special?

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Minh T Truong