It was a mild January afternoon this past Saturday, with the errant cloud providing sporadic shade as the multitudes gathered outside one of the young Turks on Houston’s beer scene, the Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co., to celebrate its first anniversary. The brewery has been slowly rolling out a number of its offerings over the past 12 months, starting with their 1836 copper ale, a toasty brew with its titular color and slightly metallic sweetness, named in honor of the City of Houston’s founding year. I can’t literally call it a perennial favorite, since it’s only been 1 year, but for now I’ll call it the seasonal favorite Gingerbread Stout, with a robust winter body and the delectable spices of Christmas. Both of these were pouring from the brewery’s taps, along with the relatively new Double IPA, More Cowbell. But founder Rassul Zarinfar and brewmaster Ryan Robertson really pulled out all the stops with some of the experimental brews they were pouring alongside the venerable mainstays.
At check-in, patrons were given an anniversary tasting glass filled with either a Hibiscus Wit or the 1836 aged with pecan, along with a little quick reference menu of all the special one-off kegs they were tapping for the day. The lines forming at each of two tasting stations – dubbed Mr. T and Mr. Rogers – were matched only by the line forming outside for the Phamily Bites food truck. But the queues were kept entertained by the lively musical stylings of Nick Gaitan & The Umbrella Man as they awaited each consecutive tapping. Some of them worked well, like the amped up Triple Buffalo and the Peppery Black Ale brewed with chipotle and pink peppercorns, while others not so much – I didn’t particularly care for the Smoked Cherry Blonde, the disparate elements came off a bit muddled, not playing together nicely. But the biggest winner in my book was a recipe that didn’t originate with Buffalo Bayou at all. As they are wont to do, the brainiacs down at NASA turn their considerable mental prowess to other endeavors, and a crew of them have set their sights on beer, dubbing themselves Apogee Brewing. They came up with a Belgian Wit brewed with the likes of allspice and clove named, appropriately enough, White Christmas. It really caught the attention of their friends at Buffalo Bayou, and now they’re working together to tweak it to perfection. It has the light, refreshing body of a summer beer but the unmistakable taste of Yuletide spices so, fittingly, they’re aiming for a Christmas in July release this year.
It’s been great to see so many breweries opening up in Houston over the last couple of years, and congratulations to Buffalo Bayou on their 1st anniversary. Judging by the exciting beers filling glasses this weekend, the future is bright indeed.