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Photo by Michael Danner

A party to celebrate an art exhibition immediately conjures images of well-dressed people standing around sipping wine, but that won’t be the case this Saturday, November 5 at Rice University’s Moody Center for the Arts. Instead, attendees at Saturday night’s Urban Nights: A Communal Art Experience will be drinking a very special beer.

The Moody Center invited Emeka Ogboh, a Nigerian-born, Berlin-based artist whose lightbox work Spirit and Matter is featured at the center, to collaborate with local brewery Astral Brewing on Japa, a stout that’s intended to capture the flavors of Houston. The result is a beer that has smoky, spicy, and sweet flavors.

“I do a lot of work around beer,” Ogboh tells CultureMap. “Most times, people see beer as just something for consumption, but I see it more like an entry point.”

In this case, the beer serves as an entry point for how Houston’s Nigerian community feels about their adopted city. Before creating the beer, Ogboh distributed a survey to members of the local Nigerian community. One of the questions asked respondents to describe the flavor they most associate with Houston.

“That is a tough one. How do you summarize a city in one flavor,” Ogboh acknowledges. “Savory and spicy were at the top of the list. A lot of people said ‘diverse,’ which is not really a flavor. It’s saying Houston is not bland.”

Emeka Ogboh and Astral Brewing brewmaster Ian McDonald Ogboh and Astral Brewing brewmaster Ian McDonald tasting Japa.Photo courtesy of Astral Brewing/Moody Center

The name “Japa” has meaning, too. Taken from the Yoruba language, it’s the term Nigerians use to describe someone who immigrates to another country, a group that includes Ogboh’s brother and his family.

“That is the story of Nigerians in Houston” Ogboh says. “We are here as economic migrants. It’s better opportunities for them. They come for school or to work.”

“Emeka does super interesting work,” adds Astral co-founder José Ceja. “It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to work with someone outside our comfort zone.”

In addition to tasting of Japa, the Urban Nights party will feature food trucks, dance, art installations, and a performance by Houston hip hop artist Lil’ Flip. It’s presented in celebration of the the center’s latest exhibit, Urban Impressions: Experiencing the Global Contemporary Metropolis. On display through mid-December, Urban Impressions explores how people experience cities in the 21st century.

As for Japa, the stout will be available at the Moody Center while supplies last.

The Urban Nights party happens from 6-10 pm Saturday, November 5. For a complete list of performers, please see the Moody Center's website.

Fort Bend History Association presents Bites and Brews

Bites & Brews will feature a night under the stars filled with live music, dancing, museum tours, and tastings from local food and beverage vendors.

Courtesy of BoomerJack's

Dallas-based sports bar roll out 2 Houston-area locales with wall-to-wall TVs, fire pits, and gameday eats

All the TVs

A popular Dallas-based sports bar has set its sights on Houston. BoomerJack’s Grill & Bar will open locations in Webster and Katy.

Located in Webster Town Center near I-45 and NASA Parkway and near Katy Asian Town at I-10 and the Grand Parkway, respectively, the new BoomerJack locations are expected to open next spring. They’ll join more than a dozen locations across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“I have been asked for many years when to expand BoomerJack’s outside the DFW area,” owner Brent Tipps said in a statement. “I am confident that in the Greater Houston metro, Webster and Katy will seize the BoomerJack’s culture and welcome it as the city’s ultimate game day spot.”

Both locations will feature BoomerJack’s signature backyard-style patios with roll-up garage doors and wall-to-wall TVs. In Webster, the patio will offer both a shipping container bar and fire pit tables. Inside, expect a large video wall and “racing-inspired art,” according to a release.

Katy will feature two fire pit community tables on its 3,600-square-foot covered patio. Inside, look for a 32x9-foot video wall that will feature a 16x9-foot television screen with four adjacent 90-inch screens.

In addition to offering enough TVs to show every game, BoomerJack’s also takes pride in its food. Dishes are prepared fresh daily, including a wide array of sauces and dressings. Highlights include fried pickles, skillet queso, and a double-double smash burger topped with bacon, American cheese, bacon jam, and black pepper mayo.

Locations feature an extensive selection of draft and packaged beers alongside a full bar. Daily drink specials, lunch specials, and other offers have earned BoomerJack’s a reputation for affordability. They’re also known to be kid and dog friendly.

BoomerJack's is part of Tipps's restaurant group On Deck Concepts. The Hurst-based company also operates lounge concept Sidecar Social and Bedford Ice House, a live-music venue.


Courtesy of BoomerJack's

BoomerJack's is coming to Houston.

Photo courtesy of Kemah Boardwalk

Kemah Boardwalk presents Craft Beer Festival

The Kemah Boardwalk is hosting its annual Craft Beer Festival., where visitors can sip and sample over 72 craft beers from 24 unique breweries. Beer Fest attendees can also dance the night away with live music and enjoy Bratwurst samples and giveaways, while supplies last. Beer will be flowing in the Main Event Plaza and Bradford Plaza, where guests can also enjoy performances by Gary Kyle from 2-6 pm and Houston Skyline Band from 6-10 pm on the Main Stage

Photo by Becca Wright

New Houston brewpub showcases beer legend's brews and German-style eats in peaceful bayou locale

My black pages

A new brewery with a picturesque location and recipes developed by a craft beer legend is coming to Houston this fall. Black Page Brewing will open next month in the Near Northside neighborhood at 210 Glen Park St.

To help create Black Page's German-style lagers and American ales, co-founders Anthony Heins and Chris Manriquez, a partner in Trash Panda Drinking Club and Chivos, turned to master brewer Henryk Orlik. During his many years at Louisiana's Abita Brewing Company, Orlik developed the recipes for signature brews such as Purple Haze, Turbodog, and Andygator. Throughout 2022, the brewer has worked with Heins and Manriquez to build the brewpub's production facility, according to a release.

“We’re very excited to open our doors so that Houston can experience this reimagined historic property,” Heins said in a statement. “We’re eager to show off what Henryk has been brewing for us. He’s been vital to our development, and he brings decades of crucial brewing experience to Black Page.”

The partners have also sought expert assistance to create Black Page's food menu in the form of La Macro chef-owner Saul Obregon, who will be in the kitchen daily. Diners can expect a menu that blends classic German fare with street tacos. Heins tells CultureMap that one possibility is a Weisswurst sausage on a bolillo bun that's topped with sauerkraut and served with a birria-style onion broth dip.

Named for a Frank Zappa song that's notoriously difficult to play, Black Page occupies a 7,400-square-foot former warehouse near Little White Oak Bayou. The brewpub's beer garden will be situated near the bayou's banks.

“We want Black Page to be Houston’s favorite hiding spot,” Manriquez added. “It’s tucked away and surrounded by nature. The bayou attracts so much wildlife, and it reminds us of Houston’s natural, hidden beauty.”

The neighborhood's north of downtown Houston remain a popular area to open a new brewery. In addition to Black Page, the new owners of Local Group Brewing in Hardy Yards recently rebranded it to Gristworkz. They'll soon be joined by Bad Astronaut Brewing Company, a new project from former Karbach employees Chris Fall and Craig “Rocky” Keener.

Photo by Taylor Cooper

New craft beer bar taps into Rice University's Midtown innovation district

beer inspires creativity

Innovative Houstonians will soon have a place to collaborate over a beer or two. Second Draught opens Monday, September 12 inside The Ion, Rice University's new innovation district in Midtown.

Customers will be able to select from 18 beers taps that draw upon Houston's community of 70-plus craft beer breweries such as Saint Arnold, True Anomaly, and Eureka Heights. The counter service bar also offers two wines. Overall, Second Draught will seat 66 people inside and another 20 on its patio.

Owners Sarah Pope and Adam Cryer bring craft beer credibility as the owners of Baileson Brewing Company, a nano-brewery near Rice Village. They recognize the bar will be a place to introduce new breweries to the Ion's community. It will also be a gathering place where a conversation may spark a promising new invention.

“We are overjoyed to open Second Draught to Houston’s innovation ecosystem — as well as to those stopping in to the Ion for innovation-focused and community-centric events," Pope said in a statement. “Second Draught is designed to be a communal destination for anyone and everyone who visits the Ion, whether they are here on a daily basis, are coming for a specific program, or are taking advantage of the Ion’s expansive open working areas.”

“As the Ion has continued to grow its community of tenants, partners, and collaborators, the need has never been greater for a watering hole for this dynamic group of Houston’s current and future leaders,” added Ion executive director Jan Odegard. “Gathering outside of the office and exchanging ideas in a relaxed environment could spark the next innovation that solves a complex problem. Second Draught brings added vibrancy to the building as programming has expanded and the Ion’s ecosystem continues to evolve.”

Second Draught joins Common Bond On-The-Go as the Ion's second food and beverage concept. In the months to come, the facility will welcome Late August, an Afro-Asian restaurant from Top Chef finalist Dawn Burrell and Lucille's chef-owner Chris Williams, and The Lymbar, a bar-forward, small plates concept from chef David Cordua, formerly of Churrascos and Americas. Cajun-inspired restaurant Stuff'd Wings recently opened in the former Shipley Do-Nuts across from the Ion's main building.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' BBQ joint's Katy outpost closure leads week's top stories

this week's hot headlines

Editor's note: It's time to recap the top stories on CultureMap from this past week.

1. Iconic Texas 'cowboy-style' barbecue joint's Katy location quietly closes. Sadly, the local outpost couldn't replicate the magic of the original in Llano.

2. Ken Hoffman urges Houston travelers to keep calm and enjoy the trip at the new-look Bush IAH. Our columnist explains why travelers might be in "for a big, pleasant surprise at Houston’s Bush-Intercontinental Airport."

3. Houston's most spectacular winter light shows and events dazzle for the holidays. We rounded up where to see dazzling lights with family, friends, and visitors.

4. Disgraced Theranos CEO and former Houstonian Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11 years for fraud. Additionally, Holmes faces a fine of $400 million.

5. Houston's NASA leaders 'giddy' after historic Artemis 1 moon flyby. The spacecraft cruised just 81 miles above the lunar surface.

Disney's Strange World is a visual stunner with too many story ideas

Movie Review

For a studio whose entire reason for being seems to rely on creating and sustaining familiar characters, Walt Disney Animation takes its fair share of risks. In the last 10 years, it has released nine films, seven of which were not based on pre-existing properties (the other two were sequels for two of those seven). That’s a lot of new stuff, most of which has succeeded mightily for the perennially-popular leaders in animation.

They’re at it again with Strange World, which takes place in an unknown country/world known as Avalonia, where Jaeger Clade (Dennis Quaid) is a famous explorer whose only desire is to find a way over, around, or through the imposing mountains surrounding the land. His son, Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), doesn’t share his enthusiasm, and an early discovery by Searcher of a unique energy source leads to a rift between father and son. Jaeger continues onwards, while Searcher returns home with a plant they call Pando that creates harmony throughout the land.

Years later, when the plant shows signs of failure, Searcher is recruited by Avalonia leader Callisto Mal (Lucy Liu) to help in an expedition to find the source of whatever is attacking Pando. What they and others – including Searcher’s wife Meridian (Gabrielle Union) and son Ethan (Jaboukie Young-White) – find in their travels certainly lives up to the title.

Co-directed by Don Hall and Qui Nguyen and written by Nguyen, the film is a visual stunner. The quality of animation in Disney movies rarely fails to impress, and Strange World is the latest and greatest example. Whether it’s the humans, the landscape, or the innumerable weird creatures that populate the film, there is almost nothing that doesn’t deserve to be stared at and admired.

It’s odd, then, that the story does not come close to matching the graphics. There are a variety of reasons for this failure. Nguyen is the sole credited writer, and he stuffs the film full of big and small ideas, probably too many for this type of project. Searcher’s family and the world of Avalonia and beyond are diverse in multiple ways, to the point that it feels like Nguyen was trying to include everything he could think of in case he never got another shot.

The bigger sin, though, is how quickly the film advances through its plot, often bringing up new things out of nowhere. While Searcher and his family make for an interesting group, the side characters never make an impact. There are also multiple instances where the story takes a turn that makes no sense, either in the world of the film or a storytelling manner.

This includes the final act of the film, which features a significant twist that is presented and accepted in a way that doesn’t fit with the rest of the film. It adds on yet another message in a movie that contains a lot of them, but in a way that even those inclined to believe in what it’s trying to say may wonder why that part is there at all.

The science fiction element of Strange World is a bonanza for the filmmakers and animators to go as wild as they wanted in the visual department. But all that splendor is in service of a story that just doesn’t measure up, making it one of Disney’s less successful offerings in recent years.

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Strange World is now playing in theaters.

Photo courtesy of Disney

Searcher (Jake Gyllenhaal), Jaeger (Dennis Quaid), and Ethan Clade (Jaboukie Young-White) in Strange World

Affluent Houston suburb leads region for highest holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Sugar Land as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Sugar Land is $2,793 per person, the 15th highest in the nation. As CultureMap previously reported, Sugar Land residents here make an average of $123,261; the average home price is $337,600.

Fittingly, Fort Bend, home to Sugar Land, was recently named the second-richest county in Texas.

As for Greater Houston, Santa's bag could be a mixed bag, with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling far behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

Elsewhere in Texas, 10 North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Flower Mound, No. 3, $3,531 (The only Texas city in the top 10)
  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630
  • Fort Worth, No. 366, $890
  • Dallas, No. 401, $845

Spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, CT with a budget of only $211.