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A Houston favorite & a surprise make national best beer bars list, flexing Texas craft beer power

Hay Merchant
The Hay Merchant is noted for its one-off experiments and its enviable draft selection.  Photo by Julie Soefer/Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau
Draught House, Austin, bar, beer, January 2013
The Draught House Pub & Brewery, known for plentiful taps and homebrewed suds, draws a mixed crowd to its unassuming Rosedale chalet.
The Petrol Station, bar, beer, January 2013
The Petrol Station earned kudos for its enthusiastic online community, delicious burgers and great beer options.  Google +
Strangeways, situated in an up-and-coming area of Old East Dallas, has a friendly staff and a sizeable selection.  Photo by Joseph Bryant Courtesy of Strangeways
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Hay Merchant
Draught House, Austin, bar, beer, January 2013
The Petrol Station, bar, beer, January 2013

The Hay Merchant has received more than its fair share of recognition since Kevin Floyd opened the Montrose watering hole with Anvil co-owner Bobby Heugel around this time last year — though perhaps none matters more than recognition by Draft Magazine, a publication that celebrates the culture of craft beer.

Along with three other Texas joints, Hay Merchant merited mention on the magazine's America's 100 best beer bars: 2013 edition as a "frisky new spot along one of Houston's main thoroughfares," home to a great selection of brews on tap, incubator of one-off brewery experiments and purveyors of tasty bar bites.

Petrol Station, the Heights-area hideaway, also made the list for the first time. On top of the "sizeable beer selection," the magazine noted the dive's enthusiastic online community and delicious burgers. 

 Along with three other Texas joints, the Hay Merchant merited mention on the magazine's America's 100 best beer bars: 2013 edition. 

Draft Magazine also gave a nod of approval to Strangeways, a "bombed-out" brick space in Old East Dallas, home to 40-plus taps and a "super friendly staff." The vittles aren't bad there, either — I heartily recommend the grilled cheese sandwich and the elotes. And for non-beer drinkers, the mezcal selection is top notch. 

The Draught House Pub & Brewery in Austin, a perennial Draft Magazine favorite, gets kudos for its 70-plus taps (some of them made in-house) and its easygoing atmosphere, where dogs are welcome and patrons are just as likely to sidle up to the bar as they are to sprawl out with a lawn chair in the small parking lot.

My favorite part about the Rosedale pub (and my former neighborhood hangout)? The Goldfish Crackers in a dispenser behind the bar — a perfect snack for staving off hunger long enough for just one more pint.

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