Snifter the roses

Craft beer heaven? Hay Merchant opens to full crowd, beer nerd celebrities & Bud Light water vases

Craft beer heaven? Hay Merchant opens to full crowd, beer nerd celebrities & Bud Light water vases

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Water vases at Hay Merchant are repurposed Bud Light bottles. Photo by Caroline Gallay
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The beer menu is more than extensive. Photo by Caroline Gallay
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And the crows are already packing in. Photo by Caroline Gallay
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News_Caroline_Hay Merchant Menu_Feb 2012
News_Caroline_Hay Merchant crowd_Feb 2012

By 4 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, craft beer bar Hay Merchant was packed on its first day of official public opening — even with a hard rain outside. 

Respected beer blogger Ronnie Crocker spoke closely with founder Kevin Floyd in one corner; eat-before-you-die chef Chris Shepherd (of the upcoming neighboring Underbelly) surveyed the scene from another, while the beer buyer at H-E-B Bunker Hill recommended brews to noobs. 

Everywhere you looked, beer nerds abounded.

 Water vases at Hay Merchant are hilariously made from repurposed Bud Light bottles.  

If you scored a table, you quickly realized that the publicized pouring of Bud Light 40-ounces onto the newly installed patio a few days ago wasn't just for show; water vases at Hay Merchant are hilariously made from repurposed Bud Light bottles. 

More than at Floyd and Bobby Heugel's Anvil, though, Hay Merchant welcomes a sports-loving, mainstream crowd. Double dart boards line the same wall as a flat-screen TV, and the space seems to beckon a better sort of game-watching. 

The beer list is divided into easily navigable types, from Social & Refreshing to Sweet & Sticky (you thinking what I'm thinking?) with the most knowledgeable staff imaginable. All of it recommends pursuing a spot as a "Mud Turtle," an incentive program whose top prize necessitates beating Floyd in a taste test but gets you a free trip to Belgium. 

In short, this crowd isn't going anywhere. And why would they want to?