Houston's most creative brewery has opened its new home. Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company's new facility in Sawyer Yards has been in soft opening mode for a couple of weeks, and beer lovers are already flocking to the three-story, 28,000-square-foot complex (2101 Summer St).
For now, the public areas of the brewery are operating with limited hours (4 pm - 12 pm Monday - Wednesday, 4 pm - 2 am Thursday and Friday, 11 am - 2 am Saturday, and 11 am - 12 am Sunday) and a limited menu from executive chef Arash Kharat, but enough of the facility is operational that visitors receive a fairly complete version of what's to come. That starts with the third floor patio, which offers an expansive view of the downtown skyline along with an extensive selection of BuffBrew drafts and a limited food menu.
Kharat's restaurant occupies the second floor. Thoughtful design touches from Gin Design Group give the space a casual, almost sports bar feel. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide another view of the downtown skyline, and TVs make it a potential game-watching destination.
The bar has a trick design feature. As soon as a bartender pulls a tap, a light up board displays different aspects of its flavor characteristics, including its ABV and rarity. Buffalo Bayou founder and CEO Rassul Zarinfar tells CultureMap he's never seen anything like the display at another brewery and that the brewery hopes to patent it.
Whether Kharat lives up to Zarinfar's instructions that the restaurant serve "badass" pizza and wings is up to diners, but any shortcomings won't be for lack of effort. The restaurant's pizza dough is fermented for three days that gives it both depth of flavor and a light texture. Seven choices offer toppings ranging from more eclectic — the Montrose has housemade Italian sausage, mixed herb pesto, roasted mushrooms, and pickled jalapeno — to the more traditional — the Woodlands comes with pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, onions, and roasted cherry tomatoes. Vegetarians have four options including one with a gluten-friendly cauliflower crust.
Wings come in four wet sauces (Truafflo, classic Buffalo, "Viet-style," and Figaro BBQ) and two dry rubs (ranch and BBQ). Those looking for a fried snack should also consider the veggie pakora, which tosses cauliflower, garlic cloves, gherkins, and more in a chickpea batter; the companion green sauce manages to taste like both salsa verde and an Indian-style chutney.
Sandwiches, including three different burgers, loaded french fries, salads (the chef recommends his take on a classic wedge), and other shareable round out the menu. Tacos, a format Kharat display considerable affinity for during his time at Beaver's, will come to the menu soon.
Still to come are a first-floor patio that will be dog-friendly with mostly picnic table seating as well as some space to drink inside that will give patrons a view of the production floor. The first floor also has a small retail area with to-go beers and swag.
The actual production brewery is still being finalized, but six, 120-barrel fermented are ready to start making a seriously impressive amount of Crush City IPA, Sam's Daily, and 1836 copper ale. Ultimately, the brewery has enough physical space to allow Buffalo Bayou to produce 50,000 barrels a year, but it likely won't reach that kind of output for a few more years.