Monday, April 18, 2011

Beer Travels: The Flying Saucer - Houston, TX

As I'm sure is obvious for anyone who knows me, or follows my blog, my twitter (@BRBeerScene) or is friends with me on facebook, I've been spending a lot more time in Houston lately.  An added bonus to this, of course, is that I've had the chance to check out a few cool places to get some beers in Houston and try a lot of their local beers that are only on draft.  A couple of weeks ago I was in town, and it happened to coincide with the Final Four being played in Houston... Mandi and I decided to go check out The Flying Saucer downtown to drink some beers, grab a little food, and watch the games!

We had been told parking downtown was a nightmare, but we ended up getting a spot on the street just a few blocks away from the bar.  Score!  The "parking" inside the bar was a different story, though.  It was packed!  And we thought we were getting there early at around 4:15 in the afternoon... lesson learned.  The place has plenty of seating inside, outside, and upstairs, all just seat yourself.  There wasn't an empty spot to be found so we ordered up a couple of beers, and found a good spot to stand, watch the pre-game, and watch for empty seats.  I started out with a Phoenixxx ESB from Real Ale Brewing in the Texas hill country, and Mandi went with a Boulevard Wheat to lighten it up a bit.
Phoenixxx ESB and Boulevard Wheat
Before we had to wait TOO long a couple of seats opened up at the bar... and from there the drinking was on.  They really had an impressive selection of local brews, and to me that's the true sign of a good beer bar. Anyone can get all sorts of popular imports on tap, or the bigger micro-brews from around the states, but the Flying Saucer in Houston had an impressive lineup of local breweries. I saw Saint Arnold, 512, Ranger Creek, Real Ale, Jester King, Live Oak, and Southern Star for sure which are all Texas breweries.  And only a few Saint Arnold and Southern Star releases are available in Baton Rouge, so that's where we started.
Ranger Creek's Mesquite Smoked Porter and Oatmeal Pale Ale
 The next six selections were all Texas beers... the 512 Black IPA, Ranger Creek La Bestia Aimable Belgian Ale, Ranger Creek Mesquite Smoked Porter, Ranger Creek Oatmeal Pale Ale, Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout, and the Southern Star Bombshell Blonde Ale.  And I'm not going to lie, every one of these hit the mark for the styles.  Black IPAs are all the rage right now, Abita did one as a select, I tried one from the Freetail brewery in San Antonio not long ago, and even tried one from Parish Brewing at the Top Of The Hops beer festival in Lafayette.  (Blog post to come...)  The 512 (@512brewing) was up there with any of them, roasted malts and strong hops.  Ranger Creek is another one that impressed... the mesquite smoked porter was like drinking BBQ, and the other two offerings were tasty as well.  Southern Star is available in some fashion in Baton Rouge, and I can see them doing very well. 

Southern Star Buried Hatchet Stout
After that we went for two non-local brews that I'd never seen before.  The Great Divide Belgica IPA and the Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale.  The Belgica is a Belgian-style IPA from Great Divide, currently one of my favorite breweries.  The Highway 78 Scotch Ale is a collaboration brew between Stone (@stonebrewingco), Green Flash (@greenflashbeer), and Pizza Port... all of course located on Highway 78 in California.  At 8.8% abv it was pretty strong for a Scotch Ale, but taste nonetheless. 

Great Divide Belgica and Stone Highway 78 Scotch Ale
In addition to all that beer, we tried were some cheese fries while watching the Final Four, and they were plenty tasty enough.  I'm definitely looking forward to another trip to The Flying Saucer in the future.  There were a few local breweries I didn't even get to, like Jester King, Saint Arnold, and Live Oak, and it seemed like they did a really good job of rotating new beers in as much as possible.  Kudos to them for keeping a large local tap list, I'm a fan!

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium on Urbanspoon