The top 100 beers in Houston

“So… What should I get?”

I love it when a friend, stumped by the craft beer list at a bar or restaurant, asks me to pick a beer for him. It’s a fun challenge (yes, I’m a nerd).
The great thing about it is that there are just so many options, and it’s really hard to go wrong. Sure, if you order a hop bomb for someone who hates bitter beer, then that’s probably the last time you’ll get asked for advice. But I love turning a Guinness drinker onto, say, Southern Star Buried Hatchet or Left Hand Milk Stout. Or getting a macro-lite drinker to taste their first Real Ale Fireman’s #4 or North Coast Scrimshaw. Or seeing a wine-lover’s reaction when they first taste a Duchesse de Bourgogne or Monk’s Cafe. Or….right, I could go on and on.
The fact is, we get a ton of great beer in Houston — not just decent beer, or good beer, but truly great, world-class beer. Sure, our dumb state laws prevent us from having access to even more great beer, but that’s a different rant for a different time. (Obligatory reminder to sign up for Open the Taps!)
So what’s the point of all this? Well, a Twitter friend — inspired by Alison Cook’s Top 100 restaurants in Houston — suggested that I compile the top 100 beers available in Texas. I couldn’t say no.
It sounded easy at first — and then my “first cut” yielded a list of nearly 300 beers. But after a few weeks of working on it — and a lot of, um, research — I’ve got a Top 100. A few caveats/qualifications/disclaimers:
-I originally wanted to do the top 100 available in Texas, but I quickly realized that I couldn’t. There are a bunch of Texas beers that we don’t get in Houston (or get here very rarely), and I couldn’t properly rank/rate them without having regular access to them. So that’s why you won’t see Freetail Ananke or Austin Beerworks Pearl Snap Pils or Deep Ellum IPA or Peticolas Velvet Hammer (or a bunch of others). I can’t wait for the day when all those breweries can and/or do distribute regularly in Houston, but for now I had to leave them out.
-I only considered “regular” releases — beers that are available year-round, seasonally or on a rotating basis. That means that I had to leave out a bunch of amazing one-offs — including delicious recent releases such as Lagunitas Sucks, Brooklyner-Schneider Hopfen-Weisse, Boulevard Love Child #2 and the Left Hand Fade to Black series.
-I also left out a long list of great beers that we got in Houston at some point but may not come back — whether because they won’t be brewed again, or may not be distributed here. Some examples:
  • The Real Ale Mysterium Verum series, including WT3F?!, The Kraken, and Barrel-Aged Anniversary Ale XV
  • Tripel Van De Garre
  • Live Oak Old Tree Hugger Barleywine
  • Harpoon Leviathan Triticus
  • Bear Republic Racer X Double IPA
  • Samuel Adams Utopias
  • A bunch of the New Belgium Lips of Faith series, including Dunkelweiss, Cocoa Mole, Le Terroir and Eric’s Ale.
-Finally, I didn’t include “regular” beers that change their recipe/hop/barrel with every release. It’s a safe bet that every version of Anchor Our Special Ale, Duvel Tripel Hop or La Trappe Quadrupel Barrique will be worthy, but they’re each unique releases.
Are those enough disclaimers? Oh right, the most important one of all — this is all highly subjective, and should be taken simply as one nerd’s opinion. I consulted a few friends, but ultimately it’s a necessarily subjective list. I tried to push beyond my biases (I’m not a hop-head, I’m a sucker for huge stouts, I’m recently obsessed with Brett, etc.), but that can only go so far.
OK, enough of that. Here is my list of the top 100 beers in Houston:
  • (512) Pecan Porter
  • Abbaye des Rocs/Brasserie des Rocs Brune
  • Anchor Porter
  • Avery The Maharaja
  • Avery Rumpkin
  • Ayinger Brau-Weisse
  • Ayinger Celebrator
  • Ayinger Oktober Fest-Marzen
  • Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye
  • Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA
  • Bear Republic Red Rocket Ale
  • Bosteels Deus Brut des Flandres
  • Bosteels Tripel Karmeliet
  • Boulevard Bourbon Barrel Quad
  • Boulevard Harvest Dance Wheat Wine
  • Boulevard Rye-On-Rye
  • Boulevard Saison-Brett
  • Brooklyn Sorachi Ace
  • Chimay Grande Reserve (Blue)
  • Chimay Premiere (Red)
  • Chouffe Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel
  • Deschutes Black Butter Porter
  • Deschutes The Abyss
  • Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
  • Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
  • Dogfish Head Burton Baton
  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown
  • Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
  • Duvel
  • Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter
  • Fuller’s 1845
  • Fuller’s ESB
  • Fuller’s Vintage Ale
  • Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van De Keizer Blauw/Blue
  • Great Divide Hercules Double IPA
  • Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
  • Great Divide Old Ruffian Barley Wine
  • Green Flash Rayon Vert
  • Green Flash West Coast IPA
  • Jester King Das Wunderkind!
  • Jester King Le Petit Prince
  • Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
  • Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale
  • Liefmans Cuvee-Brut
  • Liefmans Goudenband
  • Lindemans Gueuze Cuvee Rene
  • Live Oak HefeWeizen
  • Live Oak Pilz
  • Malheur 12
  • New Belgium La Folie
  • North Coast Old Rasputin Imperial Stout
  • North Coast Old Stock Ale
  • Ommegang Abbey Ale
  • Ommegang Hennepin
  • Orval
  • Oskar Blues Old Chub
  • Oskar Blues Ten FIDY
  • Rahr & Sons Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer
  • Real Ale Sisyphus
  • Trappistes Rochefort 10
  • Trappistes Rochefort 6
  • Trappistes Rochefort 8
  • Rogue Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager
  • Rogue Chocolate Stout
  • Rogue Shakespeare Oatmeal Stout
  • Saint Arnold Endeavour
  • Saint Arnold Pumpkinator
  • Saison Dupont
  • Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout
  • Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter
  • Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire Stingo
  • Schneider Weisse Aventinus Weizen Eisbock
  • Schneider Weisse Tap 6 Unser Aventinus
  • Sierra Nevada Bigfoot
  • Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
  • Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye IPA
  • Ska Modus Hoperandi
  • St. Bernardus Abt 12
  • St. Bernardus Pater 6
  • St. Bernardus Prior 8
  • St. Bernardus Tripel
  • Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale
  • Stone Double Bastard Ale
  • Stone Imperial Russian Stout
  • Stone IPA
  • Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard Ale
  • Stone Ruination IPA
  • Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale
  • Unibroue La Fin Du Monde
  • Unibroue Maudite
  • Unibroue Trois Pistoles
  • Van Steenberge Gulden Draak
  • Victory Headwaters Pale Ale
  • Victory Prima Pils
  • Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
  • Weihenstephaner Vitus
  • Westmalle Dubbel
  • Westmalle Tripel
  • Young’s Double Chocolate Stout
As Tony Kornheiser would say: “That’s it! That’s the list!” I can’t wait to get feedback from everyone about it. Let me know what I missed, what I overrated, etc.

Here’s a Google Doc with the top 100, which includes links to ratings and descriptions of each beer, and can also be sorted by style, abv, etc.

And, finally, here are 32 beers that just missed the cut. Any one of these could have snuck onto the top 100 — and I bet you’ve got others, too.
  • (512) Whisky Barrel Aged Double Pecan Porter
  • Anchor Steam Beer
  • Ayinger Weizenbock
  • Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale
  • Brooklyn Lager
  • Deschutes Hop in the Dark
  • Deschutes Jubelale
  • Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • Independence Stash IPA
  • Jester King / Mikkeller Drink’in The Sunbelt
  • Jester King Boxer’s Revenge
  • Karbach Bourbon-Barrel Hellfighter
  • Karbach Weisse Versa Wheat
  • La Trappe Quadrupel
  • Lagunitas IPA
  • Left Hand Milk Stout
  • Live Oak Primus Weizenbock
  • Ommegang Three Philosophers
  • Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale
  • Samichlaus Bier
  • Samuel Adams Boston Lager
  • Sierra Nevada Hoptimum
  • Sierra Nevada Kellerweis
  • Sierra Nevada Stout
  • Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
  • Southern Star Bombshell Blonde Ale
  • Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout
  • Southern Star Walloon
  • St. Peter’s Cream Stout
  • Stone Cali-Belgique IPA
  • Van Ecke Poperings Hommelbier
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15 Responses to “The top 100 beers in Houston”


  1. 1 Bishop September 15, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I admire the effort to list the top 100…and others. I can scratch a number of them off my list….many will be repeats because they are so durned good.
    A pat on the back for you and your blog…
    http://bishopsbeerblog.com/2014/09/15/wonderful-team-member-readership-award/

  2. 3 Imasalmon August 7, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    I just can’t abide dfh 120 on the list. It’s too uncommon, and it really isn’t that great. Seriously, have someone give it to you claiming that it is there homebrew. You’d probably rip it apart.

    • 4 jlc21 August 8, 2013 at 6:22 am

      Fair enough, I totally understand it being a love/hate beer. I’ve always been in the love camp, but I can appreciate the other side.

      It’s not really all that rare any more though — in the last year, it’s sat on shelves around town for weeks after release.

  3. 5 Mel Vega (@ehnovelty) December 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Glad to see Brooklyn Sorachi Ace made the list – my favorite right now. Sad to see Left Hand Milk Stout didn’t make it…great list though!

  4. 9 Edilene July 22, 2012 at 8:11 am

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  5. 10 ben July 20, 2012 at 10:00 am

    why does everyone like le petit prince? not so great. an interesting list, although i probably would have included a few more locals

    • 11 jlc21 July 23, 2012 at 10:59 am

      You’re not the first person I’ve talked to who didn’t like it. I loved it, and I give it extra credit for stuffing so much character/flavor in a true session beer. But I do understand that it’s a bit divisive.

      I didn’t pay any attention to where the beers were from when compiling the list, so whether they were local didn’t cross my mind. I was happy to see that many Texas beers made the cut (with a few more in my just-missed) — and I would expect even more TX beers to make it in the next few years.

  6. 12 T.C. Sprencel July 20, 2012 at 9:50 am

    No Label out here in Katy makes a helluva milk stout. I suppose it wouldn’t qualify because it’s only available in a handful of locations, but I’ll endorse it nonetheless.

    And of course, nice list!

    • 13 jlc21 July 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

      Thanks!

      I still haven’t tried their Milk Stout, obviously need to make that happen. I was a big fan of their Black Wit-O, really hope they bring that back seasonally.

  7. 14 Ziggy Smogdust July 20, 2012 at 6:07 am

    I really like DFH Festina Peche.


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