Monday, March 23, 2009

Houston Wine Scene vs. Houston Beer Scene

As most of you know by know I have started to twitter, one of the more interesting aspects of doing that is the folks I have had the pleasure of following and finding out what they are doing/thinking/reading. A lot of the folks I follow are in the local Scene, whether they be Houston bar owners, chefs, or food writers. It's this last category that has me writing today. Yesterday a local food blogger wrote this article about the state of Houston's food and wine scene. Its an article that I pretty strongly disagree with. The basis is that we are trying to be New York, or other food centric cities and are failing. I say thank God we are failing. I don't want us to be like other cities, and I think the author overstates that Houston tries. I think a lot of the food people in this town celebrate the things that are great in this city, good seafood, oysters, taco trucks, beef (this is Texas, we love our meat). Could you say that some restaurants try to emulate other more famous ones in other cities? Yes? Can you say that Houston has no zoning laws and has miles and miles, and miles of eye sore strip malls? Yes, but that's Houston. Love it or don't that's part of the soul of Houston. Go pick up Houston Its Worth It. But the point of this post is not to belabor the twittering back and forth the above article created on the Houston Wine scene, but to discuss how it relates to the Houston Beer scene. I think Houston's wine scene is pretty good. You have some good retailers in Spec's, Richards, and Houston Wine Merchant, some great places to sit, relax and have some wine, Tasting Room, Wine Bucket, Cork, Sonoma, Corkscrew, 13 Celsius, and many more. Finally you have some restaurants with great wine lists, and finally restaurants like Feast, and Reef that fight for good wines and lower costs. So while its not perfect its far from horrible even for a city this size.
Now let's compare that with beer shall we. Not counting grocery stores (which have decent wine selections) you have one retailer with a good beer selection and that's Spec's. Yes you do have some great places to have a pint: Gingerman (by the way something New York got from Houston), Flying Saucer, Stag's Head, Little Woodrows, Petrol Station, and a few more. Then you have those restaurants that serve good food and good beer...wait what restaurants. Now we get to the crux of the matter. For there are none. Places like Woodrows and Gingerman its all about the beer (and hey that's OK), for others like Stag's Head and Mucky Duck its the British food theme, and lastly places like Saucer its bar food, sandwiches and pizza that's nothing to write home about. Where is the great food places and beer? Even though Texas Micro Brew scene is small many restaurants could have a diverse beer menu with just Texas brews available. Complex and tasty beers like Saint Arnold's Elissa IPA to go with spicy foods, Live Oak's Hefeweizen for lighter fare like salads, or cold served fish, Southern Star's new Buried Hatchet Stout with desert or oysters (mmm stout and oysters), Real Ale Rye Pale Ale, Rahr and Sons Ugly Pug, Real Ales Coffee Porter (made with Katz's coffee), the list goes on and on of beers that should be in fine restaurants and would compliment their foods, but for whatever reason chef's and restaurateurs won't step up. If Houston was just a 'trendy' city wouldn't they have already done this? From coast to coast, and places in between (including Dallas) restaurants are creating beer lists, they are having beer dinners, creating perfect matches between their food and craft beer. When will Houston Restaurants do the same? Reef, one of the best restaurants in Houston one that has fought for lower wine prices, their beer list is atrocious, with only Shiner being locally made and semi-craft. Feast? Another great restaurant with a good food friendly wine list? Fuller's is about as good as it gets. Why won't a Houston restaurant/Chef step up and serve great beer next to their great food?

5 comments:

Steve said...

Poor oenophiles. There's only like 2000 wine bars in Inner Loopistan. Houston is the 4th largest city and we've got one endangered brewpub and really 4 or 5 good beer places.

tedo said...

Steve,
Couldn't agree more. And the one endangered brew pub isn't really that good......

Steve said...

I'm looking forward to the Yard House opening this fall in the City Center development at Beltway 8 and I10. Yes, it's a trendy upscale chain, but the various locations that I've been to around the country have had 100+ beer on tap and a fantastic food menu.

Australian wines said...

I love the social aspect of the wine community, if you find a great wine you can easily recommend it or get feedback from others, as well as see how the majority rate specific wines.

Steve said...

The beer community is extremely social. www.beeradvocate.com and www.ratebeer.com are both websites dedicated to the beer community that allow members to post ratings and reviews from around the world about beer, breweries, beer bars, etc. I think beer is more social drink then any other kind of drink.