Just as 2020 has brought unprecedented challenges to bars and restaurants, restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 have forced Houston’s breweries to change their operations to survive. Many of this year’s nominees in the 2020 CultureMap Tastemaker Awards Brewery of the Year category depend on their taprooms for revenue, but they’ve been closed by Gov. Greg Abbott.
That’s forced all of these breweries to survive on to-go sales, which means Houstonians who love craft beer have been filling their fridges with cans and growlers of their local favorites. The present environment makes for an uncertain future, but we still want to celebrate their accomplishments over the past year.
As a reminder, we require winners to sit out for two years before they're eligible again. That's why neither Saint Arnold nor Eureka Heights are listed below.
Who will win? Find out August 6 at the Tastemaker Awards — Virtual Edition. In lieu of our live tasting event, guests will receive an exclusive Tasting Tote, featuring everything you need to bring the Tastemaker experience to your home: savory and sweet bites from nominees, complimentary beverage kits, gifts, and games to play throughout the night. And, of course, you'll have access to the star of the show: our awards ceremony hosted by Bun B and streamed on CultureMap August 6 at 7 pm.
A limited number of tickets are still available. Don’t miss out.
11 Below Brewing Company
A family friendly atmosphere and top notch service have made this north Houston brewery a local favorite. Maybe the team is so happy, because life running a brewery is better than former careers in oil and gas. Staple beers such as Oso Bueno, an American Amber Ale, and Lame Duck, a American Pale Ale, have found places on well-curated tap walls across the city.
8th Wonder Brewery
If all this EaDo brewery did was supply the world with Rocket Fuel, its signature Vietnamese Coffee Porter, it would be enough to earn a spot in the Houston beer hall of fame (not that one exists, but it should). Yet, 8th Wonder continues to innovate, as it did earlier this year by launching Tex, a low-calorie beer with actual flavor. We look forward to the days when Houstonians can once again gather at the brewery for its signature concerts, food events, and other happy occasions.
Baileson Brewing Company
Husband-and-wife duo Adam Cryer and Sarah Pope named their Rice Village-area brewpub after their dogs Bailey and Jameson, which helps explain the relaxed, welcoming vibe. Masinghorn, the brewery’s signature IPA, has earned praise for its citrusy flavors and clean finish. The brewery is also a regular home for culinary pop-ups, making it contributor to the next generation of food entrepreneurs.
Brash Brewing Company
Built on a love for heavy metal and hoppy IPAs, Brash has earned a passionate fanbase who flock to its brewery and sell out its event (pre-COVID). The brewery’s aggressively opinionated social media presence always makes for entertaining reading. Toast their success with a refreshing can of EZ7 or shock the tastebuds with some Cali Green.
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company
The last year has been a productive one, as Buffalo Bayou made the move into its three-story, 28,000-square-foot brewery and restaurant in Sawyer Yards. Anchored by Crush City IPA, the brewery’s lineup features an ever-evolving mix of flavors and styles. Upstairs at the restaurant, chef Arash Kharat puts a flavorful, creative spin on beer-friendly staples like pizza, burgers, and wings.
Great Heights Brewing Company
With a clean, modern look and plenty of fresh brews on tap, this neighborhood brewery has been a welcome addition to the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest area. Fruity Pellets, its signature, New England-style Hazy IPA, has become a staple of Great Heights’ tap wall, but any passionate beer drinker can find something to enjoy from its ever-evolving selection.
Holler Brewing Co.
Kathryn and John Holler’s neighborhood brewery in Sawyer Yards has built a passionate fanbase that allows it to explore niche styles like rauchbier and English mild. Even while its taproom has been closed, those supports have showed up to get their Dollar Pils Y’all and another staples to-go. John Holler’s blog provides honest insight into the highs and lows of owning a brewery. https://hollersfromholler.wordpress.com/
Sigma Brewing Company
This Second Ward brewery has built a solid following thanks to its diverse menu that offers well-crafted takes on a variety of styles. Whether choosing a hoppy IPA or a boozy, barrel-aged stout, Sigma’s beers are always worth trying. With more bars and restaurants opening in the area, expect Sigma to develop a higher profile as more Houstonians discover this hidden gem.
Fans of New England-style IPAs flock to this brewery in northeast Houston for its hazy brews. Whether its SpindleTap’s signature Houston Haze or any of its seasonal beers, each cloudy release sells out. That just means more new things to try whenever taprooms are allowed to reopen.
True Anomaly Brewing Company
Founded by a group of NASA employees with a passion for beer, this EaDo brewery has heard every joke about whether it takes a rocket scientist to brew a delicious draft. True Anomaly’s focus on sour ales and European styles helps set it apart, but drinkers will also find quaffable takes on IPAs and other familiar brews. Recently, the brewery collaborated with our Gow Media colleague Fred Faour on Falcon 9, a cinnamon-spiced Imperial Stout that’s aged in barrels supplied by Houston’s Whitmeyer’s Distilling Co.