Our next stop in Houston was the Hay Merchant. The atmosphere was tight. Industrial and urban but with a distinct hip(ster) vibe. The brick bar back was unique as was the badass drip tray for the many draft lines. The bus tub being right in front of me at the bar was a bit off putting. Put that thing down below the bar height. But overall the atmosphere was top notch. There were even dart boards and pinball machines.
More importantly the beer list was excellent. Anytime you find almost a dozen sours on draft you know you’re in the right place. The pours were each served in the proper glass and not obscenely cold at that.
The staff here is knowledgable and not afraid to talk beer. While we’ve read some reviews about the Hay Merchant calling them pretentious, we didn’t find anything of the sort. Confident yes. But that confidence was backed up with legit beer knowledge. When we tried the “I don’t know what I like routine” which has admittedly become somewhat of a fun game for us recently, the staff took our references and made a great suggestion each time. For example, sharing my love for New Belgium La Terroir (which is in fact one of the best beers I tried last year) was quickly recognized and acknowledged as a being hoppy-sour and then followed up with the suggestion of Signal de Botrange by Elevation Beer Company – which was really solid. Kudos to this crew.
The menu at Hay Merchant is eccentric, with things like Sweet and Spicy Pig Ears and Meat Pies. But you can still find simple choices like a Chicken Parm Sandwich or a salad.
The prices here were a bit more aggressive than some of the other Houston craft beer bars we visited, with draft pours hovering in the $7 – $9 range. However they also have a lot of great promotions, such as a happy hour from 3 – 6:30pm every day, where 30+ craft beers are just $3 each. When we were there, the Rockets were playing and they offered a similar 1/2 off promotion on home team beers when they were ahead (by quarter). So you can certainly take advantage of their great list and atmosphere and still stay on your beer budget.
Overall the Hay Merchant is another great spot in Houston to enjoy a craft beer in a hip and comfortable atmosphere.
Stop in for something sour sometime…
1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, TX 77006