Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Death knell for Brewpubs?

Houston has been the recipient of some great beer news lately. Whether it's been amazing beer dinners, or the announcement of Houston Beer Week, good things are happening in this city with respect to beer. However, it still very sad when a beer related business goes under, more so when that business is the last brew pub in town. On Monday, Ronnie Crocker of the Chronicle reported that Rice Village's Two Row's will be closing effective October 2nd due to lease issues with the building owner Weingarten Realties. Whether you liked Two Row's beer or not (I didn't) its a sad day when the 4th largest city in the country no longer has a brewpub (I don't count the numerous BJ's around town since all of their beer is contract brewed by Saint Arnold's). Not too long ago I ranted about the fact that there were too few places in this city that truly cared about beer and food. Well over the course of the last year places like BRC Gastropub and Queen Vic's have opened that serve good solid food with a great list of craft beer. Old stand buys like Hobbit Cafe have expanded their beer list (Sunday I was able to get a 512 Double IPA on Draft there). Petrol Station, with their amazing beer list, hosts Eggs and Keggs brunch events where they pair brunch food with beer. Higher end places like Vic and Anthony's have hosted two beer dinners (Dogfish Head and Stone) with plans to host more. As mentioned earlier, huge beer events are occurring in this area: 1st annual Cask Festival hosted by Anvil, Petrol Station, and Flying Saucer, Flying Saucer's Anniversary Party, Galveston's Brewmasers Festival, and of course the upcoming and highly anticipated Houston Beer Week. This event that features beer education, beer tastings, and multiple beer dinners around town proves as much as any others that Houston is becoming a beer town. Some will say its the same folks at each event, and for things like Flying Saucer's Anniversary Party or the Cask Festival, they might be correct, but I've been to the beer dinners, and the people attending aren't all a part of what many would consider the regular beer folk. In fact, Houston Chronicle's Restaurant Critic Allison Cook recently attended the Vic and Anthony Stone Beer dinner and raved about it.
Back to Houston Beer week for a second. The beer dinners will include places like Beavers, Catalan, Canopy, Divino, Vic and Anthony, and Brenner's. I must emphasize how amazing that list of restaruants is and how wide ranging the food being served will actually be. What does this tell us? It is evident that Houston is primed for a place that makes both great beer and great food. Houston has evolved to the point where they won't put up with mediocre beer being served in a brew pub, and the same goes for food. It doesn't have to be complex upscale food; it just has to be good. Brew pub's have come and gone through this city since the early 1990's, but for the first time since 1993, Houston is without a brewpub. Even with all the great beer events occurring in this city, it's still sad to think of a town this size without a brew pub. The question is: will a chef, a brewer, a restaurateur, or someone else step up and fill that void?

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