The ultimate guide to Houston Beer Week: The best of what's on tap at eight-day beerfest

The ultimate guide to Houston Beer Week: The best of what's on tap at eight-day beerfest

Houston Beer Week 2012
Buffalo Bayou Brewing, gingerbread stout, beer
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company's Gingerbread Stout makes its triumphant return at Onion Creek on Nov. 16 as part of Houston Beer Week. Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co./Facebook
Houston Beer Week: "The Draft"
The signature event of HBW, The Draft will have more local and national breweries represented than any other event during the week and will also support Live It Big, Inc.
Houston Beer Week 2012
Buffalo Bayou Brewing, gingerbread stout, beer
Houston Beer Week: "The Draft"

“Houston Beer Week is like Christmas, if Christmas lasted seven days and tasted like beer,” Hay Merchant co-owner Kevin Floyd says about the beer holiday that’s about to hit Houston.

The eight-day beerfest, which kicks off Saturday through Nov. 17, has craft beer connoisseurs excited about discovering something they’ve never had, enjoying a hard-to-find favorite or learning something new about the brewing process. With so many special tappings, it’s easy to drown in the list of events, so we've gathered the can’t-miss festivals, beer dinners and cigar pairings — some bartenders will even recite poetry to you when you buy a flight.

Creeperfest, Saturday (Nov. 10)

While this festival isn’t serving beer exclusively (although they’re advertising free beer all day), the guys who organize it definitely know their brews. Creeperfest will be a good intro to those seeking a gateway into the craft beer world, complete with a brewing class at 3 p.m. for those interested in learning how to homebrew. If none of that impresses you, show up for the movie screening and over 30 bands that will play throughout day.

Pros Versus the Joes Brew-In, Saturday (Nov. 10), 10 a.m.

Houston homebrew institutions DeFalco’s and The Foam Rangers will host some competitive fun as famed homebrewer Jaime Robles goes head to head with City Acre Brewing Co.’s Matt Schlabach. What’s better for breakfast than a beer battle?

Hay Merchant & Shmaltz Brewing Beer Dinner, Sunday (Nov. 11), 7 p.m.

It might be hard to believe that this Westheimer craft beer mecca hasn’t hosted an in-house pairings dinner yet, but their first will definitely impress with respected brewery Shmaltz. Merchant will pour cask-conditioned He’Brew Origin Pomegranate Ale as well as the 16%-abv Jewbelation Sweet 16 Anniversary Ale. The dinner is also relatively affordable at $65 a seat, especially when you’re having “the chosen beers.”

Ben Fullelove and Beaver’s Beer Dinner, Monday (Nov.  12)

The guys at Petrol Station may be a laidback group, but they are serious about their craft beer and craft food. Beaver’s will host Petrol proprietor Ben Fullelove and collaborate on beer-infused fare. Craft beer enthusiast Jose Luis Cubria promises that the dinner likely “won’t hold back,” and between these two, we believe him.

Rockwell Tavern and Brooklyn Brewery Beer Dinner, Monday (Nov. 12)

It might be out in Cypress, but this restaurant and beer paradise is worth every mile. They’re serving everything from ceviche to quail dishes to compliment five Brooklyn Brewery beers. They had me at bananas foster with Black Chocolate Stout. At $55 a head, it’s the bargain of the dinner bunch.

Shmaltz and Buffalo Bayou Beer & Cigar Pairing, Monday (Nov. 12) , 7 p.m.

A good cigar brings out the smoke in Buff Brew’s cedar-aged 1836, so you’ll be lucky to have the small batch ale poured alongside Alex Bradley Cigar Co.’s offerings at Onion Creek. A $20 pairing gets you two beers and one cigar. Onion Creek will also host Buff Brew’s Gingerbread Stout release party on Nov. 16, so go taste the full-bodied, 10%-abv pint of Christmas if you’re ready to get in the spirit.

“Houston Beer Week is like Christmas, if Christmas lasted seven days and tasted like beer,” Hay Merchant co-owner Kevin Floyd says. 

Down House & 8th Wonder Brewing Co. Dinner, (Wednesday) Nov. 14, 7 p.m.

While 8th Wonder is not yet distributing, they will be serving up samples of good things to come. Eatsie Boys’ Matt Marcus and Down House’s Benjy Mason will collaborate on this special sneak peek.

Camp Beer XIII: Belgian Holiday, Wednesday (Nov. 14), 7 p.m.

The nerdiest of the beer nerds will be on hand at the final meeting of the ongoing Camp Beer events, which will benefit Live It Big, Inc., an organization that offers funding for several start-up charities around town. A lecture from Merchant’s Floyd and an impressive beer list of brews from around the world (including De Struise Brouwers’ Pannepot Grand Reserva 2005) will make your $100 go far and help a good cause.

El Gran Malo’s Pumpkin3,  Wednesday (Nov. 14)

If you still haven’t satisfied your pumpkin fix, this will do the trick. The big, bad tequila hotspot will pour Saint Arnold’s Pumpkinator and pumpkin tequila alongside pumpkin empanadas. The luchador will be proud to see you conquer the calabaza trio.

Underbelly dinner with Karbach Brewing, Thursday (Nov. 15)

There haven't been many details released about this collab between one of Houston's hottest restaurants and one of its most popular new breweries, but with only 32 seats available, we suggest buying tickets first ($100, at Underbelly) and asking questions later.

Gratifi and Randy Rucker dinner, Nov. 16 & 17, 6 p.m.

Gratifi (formerly Ziggy's) will host famed locavore chef Randy Rucker as they collaborate for two nights on two beer dinners, so you don’t have to sacrifice another HBW event to join in. Known for their weird beers and collaborations, Buff Brew will be bringing some special kegs that you can’t find anywhere else.

The Draft, Nov. 17, 12-5 p.m.

If you must miss all of the other HBW events, this should be the one you attend. The culmination of the beer week events will feature craft cooking demonstrations, a bottle share with the cream of beer scene crop, cigar companies and keg art presentations. The Draft will also have the biggest roundup of local and national breweries. Help support the HBW organizers in their goal of raising $30,000 for Live It Big, Inc. Prices vary, but, as always, designated drivers catch a break.

Mongoose versus Cobra Literature Pairing, Nov. 10-17

Okay, you’ve seen the food and cigar beer pairings, but this might be my favorite combination of all: Every day during HBW, our favorite red-headed bartender and poet Shafer Hall will recite a poem to pair to your beer. Free recitation with a flight of your favorite brews.