The Houston bar scene is as diverse as Houston itself. However, the Houston beer culture is quite underdeveloped, and the city's virtual lack of craft beer producers is perplexing given the explosion of microbreweries and brewpubs in the Northeastern and Northwestern States. A good beer bar, however, is the perfect remedy for the Houston beer-hunter.

The ideal watering hole is an amalgamation of many atmosphere x-factors and a beverage selection beyond the predictable basic menu of InBev/Miller-Coors products. The following represent The Ferm's Top 15 recommended places to get a beer. In basic terms, the criteria for the ranking were based on a combination of our subjective opinion of the atmosphere and quality of beers available.

#15 West Alabama Ice House
Address: 1919 W Alabama St, Houston, TX 77098
Neighborhood: Montrose
How it made the list: While it shows up at the end of our list, it would be wrong to let the horrid Houston climate force West Alabama Ice House off a list of great places to get a beer in Houston. So what if it's an outdoor bar in a city that is 90+F and humid for nine months of the year, this just might be the best dive "bar" in all of H-town. WAIH is so old school… they still maintain a MySpace page! They are family and dog friendly, host live music, and serve free hot dogs on Friday. The hungry customer can also catch something from the food vendors that drop by frequently. The beer selection is a little average, but the unique charm lands West Alabama Ice House the #15 slot.

#14 The Hobbit Café
: 2243 Richmond Ave, Houston, TX 77098
Neighborhood: Upper Kirby
How it made the list: While not necessarily a foodie nor a beer lover's paradise, this quirky eatery became the only traditional restaurant on our list by being good in all the categories that count. The Hobbit is a perfect place to stop for dinner during an Upper Kirby pub crawl. I wasn't aware Tex-Mex and Caribbean inspired foods were the preferred cuisine of Middle Earth, but I do know that Hobbits enjoy their drinking… and the Hobbit has a limited, but great beer menu, including several Texas craft beers on draft.

#13 The Red Lion
: 2316 S Shepherd Dr, Houston, TX 77019
Neighborhood: River Oaks
How it made the list: It is a British Pub, so expect the typical Bass-Harp-Guinness-Stella draft selections. Some craft beers such as Anchor Steam and Fireman's #4 also adorn the draft menu, all of which are served in 20oz imperial pints… nice touch. The pub grub here is exceptional. Baked Chicken Tandoori Quesadillas, uhh yum!

#12 Molly's Pub
: 24905 I-45, Spring, TX 77380
Neighborhood: The Woodlands
How it made the list: Mr. Smokeypants, who reps The Ferm in The Woodlands, vouches for this north-of-town bar. With around 30 taps, including many local craft beers, Molly's earns our title of best dive bar in the W, and the only non-Houston bar to make the Top 15.

#11 Flying Saucer
: 705 Main St, Houston, TX 77002
Neighborhood: Downtown
How it made the list: To be honest, I considered leaving Flying Saucer off the list. The changes to the inside and the location downtown are a turn off to me. So what saves the Sauce despite its lack of much personality or atmosphere and less than ideal downtown location? The ginormous draft wall. Respect the wall, my friends.

#10 Front Porch Pub
: 217 Gray St, Houston, TX 77002
Neighborhood: Midtown
How it made the list: You might be getting some sushi at Fish or a crepe at Coco's, but when hanging out in the increasingly swanky Midtown, this small old house-like pub across from low rise mixed development condos just feels right. The forty something taps are nothing to sneeze at either.

#9 McGonigel's Mucky Duck
: 2425 Norfolk St, Houston, TX 77098
Neighborhood: Upper Kirby
How it made the list: It would be quite an exaggeration to say the Mucky Duck is a hidden gem, but this stellar live music venue is probably underrated as a great beer bar. The tap list is impressive, and when it is not packed during a concert, the Mucky Duck feels like a comfortable neighborhood joint.

#8 Onion Creek Coffee House
: 3106 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX 77007
Neighborhood: The Heights
How it made the list: This Heights hangout combines a coffeehouse, lounge, and bar with a neighborhood atmosphere. A previous "Best Coffee House" winner from the Houston Press, O.C. also has loads of beer options (both bottles and drafts). The menu also contains several good breakfast and pub food options. For those not sporting a hangie from the night before, this location also hosts the Houston Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings.

#7 Little Woodrows
: 2306 Brazos St, Houston, TX 77006
Neighborhood: Midtown (also others)
How it made the list: Little Woodrows has a lot of beers… like 20-30 taps and 100 beers in stock. I find them good for meet up places or large gatherings. The place gets packed, so don't expect to have a nice comfortable beer and a chat with your BFF here. Plus, the atmosphere is kind of reminiscent of a converted warehouse/garage. The Rice Village location, next Ginger Man, is a convenient place to play darts if the boards at Ginger Man are full but you still want a decent beer.

#6 Rudyard's British Pub
: 2010 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77006
Neighborhood: Montrose
How it made the list: While dubbed a British Pub, this is more of a dive bar and live music venue than a pub. The tap selection is great, including many Texas beers and other crafts. In the back, you'll find a handful of dart boards. Rudyard's has that local feel and is relatively pretentious free… a very good recipe for a great beer bar.

#5 The State Bar & Lounge
: 909 Texas St, Houston, TX 77002
Neighborhood: Downtown
How it made the list: Given the hassle of getting to and from downtown and the lack of a concentrated area of rock solid hangout options, I have a bias against most downtown establishments. State Bar is the exception for me. Its classy feel and location inside the Rice Loft mixed development (old Rice Hotel) makes it one of my favorite downtown hangouts. The beer selection is limited, but they usually have a Saint Arnold on draft and both the bar and couch areas *are* the kind of place you would want to bring your BFF (sorry Woodrows).

#4 Stag's Head
: 2128 Portsmouth St, Houston, TX 77098
Neighborhood: Upper Kirby
How it made the list: You will be glad you made the effort to locate Stag's Head, which is tucked away in a shopping center and located within the triangular convergence of Shepherd/Greenbriar/Richmond just north of Hwy 59. The British pub succeeds in satisfying the patrons seeking the pub experience, craft beer advocates, and sports fans alike. Although it's been years since I've seen this deal officially offered, they still honor their old post-Astros game free pint deal if you give them your ticket stub. Stag's Head devotes many of their 30-ish taps to craft beers, and they almost always have a cask tapped. The food is quite good too, making this as close to a gastropub as Houston may have.

#3 Petrol Station Coffeehouse
: 985 Wakefield Dr, Houston, TX 77018
Neighborhood: Oak Forest
How it made the list: Petrol Station is hands down one of the coolest drinking establishments I've ever been to… anywhere. The bar is located in the middle of a residential area in a converted gas station. A peek at the 14 taps and two cask engines reveals an obvious dedication to providing all high quality American craft beers. Get ready for this folks; there are no Bud/Miller/Coors to be found here. As far as I can tell, the owner runs the place most of the time. Not in the mood for a fermented malty beverage? Petrol Station also has various coffee drinks available, all from coffee beans roasted in house. If I lived or worked nearby it would be easily move up a spot on this list.

#2 Hans' Bier Haus
: 2523 Quenby St, Houston, TX 77005
Neighborhood: Rice Village
How it made the list: It is safe to say that the establishments listed inside the top 5 possess all the characteristics of a great place to have a beer. For Hans, atmosphere could be used with either a negative or positive connotation. The structure itself is an unassuming hole in the wall. The bar area is quite small… the air conditioner struggles to provide anything much cooler than the outside air temperature... they have a stack of old board games on a table near the tiny restrooms… and I LOVE IT. The beer selection is outstanding and their impressive draft wall (20-30 taps) lean toward the craft end of the beer spectrum. As much of an inside drinker as I am, I have to admit that Hans' biggest asset is the huge outdoor beer garden. Out back you will find a dog friendly patio bar, a gondola lift car (?), and bocce ball courts. Hans' also frequently hosts live music acts. The quintessential hole in the wall beer bar? Quite possibly.

#1 The Ginger Man
: 5607 Morningside, Houston, TX 77005
Neighborhood: Rice Village
How it made the list: Houston is home to the oldest of the Ginger Man family of pubs, and it has a charm that is unmatched by any of their others… or any of their peers. Serving beer since 1985, this Rice Village pub was a favorite of Michael Jackson, and not the "hee hee" Michael, the world-renowned beer expert Michael. Inside you will find a dark wood filled setting with low ceilings and old bottles, cans, and beer paraphernalia decorated about. Outside you will find a great beer garden in the back and patio with picnic tables in the front. I've never counted tap handles, but there must be somewhere between 50-75 draft beers available, with many more options available by bottle. It is hard to say whether The Ginger Man has defined what a beer pub should be or just provides the finest example.

Not every good beer hangout could make the list, so we have added a few honorable mentions that were under consideration, but missed the cut.

Boondoggles - Clear Lake area. Taps galore.

Brewery Tap - Downtown location. "Cool" location (used to be a tap room for the old Magnolia brewery)

Catbird's - Interesting, low key, Montrose area bar

Washington Ave Drinkery - Owned by The Corkscrew guys (who distribute my favorite weekly email newsletter), so it has to be good.

McElroy's Pub - A good bar, but missed the list because there was only so much room for Irish/British/Scottish pubs, and it is not as distinguishing as the others. Sister pub State Bar is on the list, so no harm no foul.

Kelvin Arms - You can lounge in an actual bank vault here, but being a Scottish bar and having been served stale beer on a few occasions kept this off the list.

  1. Brazos September 2, 2009 at 8:16 AM  

    Richard Arms Pub
    JP Hops House

  2. Anonymous September 2, 2009 at 11:23 AM  

    They forgot Anvil Bar and Refuge!!!
    Anvil is located on Westheimer near Montrose.

    Although it is known more for it's cocktails it has a great beer selection draught and bottled.

  3. SirRon September 2, 2009 at 11:39 AM  

    Anvil can make the list of Top 15 Places to Get a Cocktail... or maybe Top 15 Places to be Overcharged for a Drink... or Top 15 Places That Your Friends From Dallas Would Be Comfortable At. :)

    I kid Anvil... of course.

  4. Red Frog Audio September 2, 2009 at 12:10 PM  

    JP Hops House... West Houston is still Houston.

  5. Anonymous September 2, 2009 at 1:21 PM  

    Red Lion has the best food of all of them, but since it doesn't carry any local craft beers it was probably ranked appropriately. Other honorable mentions might be King Biscuit Cafe and Brickhouse Tap & Tavern.

  6. Shiptastic September 2, 2009 at 1:23 PM  

    Sorry dude, Gingerman is still a chain. It should be back by Flying Saucer. Keep it local for #1.

    And where is the Roll-N, yeah not a lot of beer but come on it's staple dive.

  7. SirRon September 2, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

    It sounds like I need to try JP Hops House. My West Houston snub stands out... and I live in the Westchase District.

  8. Anonymous September 2, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

    Two places around Washington Ave to try are Taps House Of Beers and Beavers.

  9. ldablo September 2, 2009 at 2:12 PM  

    Some nice choices but JP Hops House should have gotten more notice.

  10. Anonymous September 2, 2009 at 2:12 PM  

    I don't know what douche made this list, BUT... they obviously are completely clueless when it comes to THE top 15 places to get a beer in Houston. Where are they from NY?! How can you put the Hobbit Hole Cafe before West Alabama Ice House? Actually how does it even make it on the list? Sure its a cool place to eat and maybe hang out but not on a top list of beer joints.

    What kind of idiot puts W.A.I.H. as #15? Will somebody get a freaking rope already...

  11. SirRon September 2, 2009 at 2:17 PM  


  12. TravelnlightATX September 2, 2009 at 3:39 PM  

    Really? I find it hard to believe that anyone would rate these places in this order. Let's talk about proper serving technique, staff knowledge, and selection. This guy is more worried about whom he is sitting next to, rather than what's in his pint and how it got there…….

  13. SirRon September 2, 2009 at 3:52 PM  

    Travel..ATX (and a few others), you are actually reading the post, right? Not just skimming names?

    Here's a quick resume... I'm a homebrewer, beer traveler, brewery investor, functional cross drinker, semi-professional kolache eater, and interloping blogger...

    How about you give me some suggestions of places with proper serving technique, staff knowledge, and selection? I'll visit, review, and compare them to the ones on my well rounded, interesting, and thought provoking list. :)

  14. J.R. Ewing September 2, 2009 at 9:21 PM  

    Boondoggles should be on this list, not just an HM. Any beer you want, atmosphere is perfect, food is surpassed by none in the Clear Lake area. My only complaint is parking, because it is packed from Weds - Sat before 5p.

  15. Texajeff September 2, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

    JP Hops House is excellent. Wednesday Nights is Hard Time Soup Kitchen night. It is a real friendly place. I was there earlier this evening.
    I would have left Red Lion off the list. Way over priced.

  16. Texajeff September 2, 2009 at 11:13 PM  

    West Alabama is a fine place to have a beer and hang out but they don't have any draft beer.

  17. Unknown September 2, 2009 at 11:41 PM  

    To texajeff:

    West Alabama IS a fine place to hang out. I just wish your girlfriend liked to hang out there. Maybe you should switch her out and spend more time there to learn their beer selection. They serve a great cold Bud Light.

  18. Anonymous September 3, 2009 at 7:37 AM  


    Do you have a Girlfriend?

  19. Barleyvine September 3, 2009 at 12:27 PM  

    You can knock Anvil, but they have some of the most knowledgable people that I've ever met, they get some killer beers you can't find anywhere else, they foster relationships with distributors and brewers to bring in special brews, plus they know how to pour a good beer.
    Gingerman is going downhill unfortunately. I love the place, but lately I've had more bad beer there than good.
    As other's have mentioned Beavers, Tap House and JP Hops House should all be on there above some of the ones you've listed.....but then again yours isn't an official list, just one man's opinion.

  20. Rusty Shackleford September 3, 2009 at 3:17 PM  

    I would recommend Valhalla on Rice University campus. Great beer selection, great tunes, good mix of students, profs and unscholarly beer bums like myself. Oh and and cheap cheap prices.

  21. Red Frog Audio September 3, 2009 at 5:10 PM  

    SirRon, You should absolutely check out the Hops House. There's live music, great events and the people are down to earth. Not to mention there's only one TV and it's rarely on, so people have conversations instead. *gasp*

  22. Anonymous September 3, 2009 at 11:56 PM  

    Wow...nice post...don't understand the hate, but whatever. Glad there have been some helpful commentators. Can't wait to check out new places and re-rank. For 2010. This is not in stone. First place to Independence beers moves to the front of the line! Mr. Smokeypants out-

  23. Unknown September 21, 2009 at 2:35 PM  

    The Gingerman also lets the local Beer Advocates in Houston have a beer tasting ever second Sunday of the month. Without a doubt the best place in town to have a beer.

  24. SirRon April 6, 2010 at 8:04 PM  

    For the record, I was wrong about Anvil, but in my defense, they didn't have beer (and weren't open) for much of the time I was "studying" for this post. I apologize here:

  25. The Heights Blog April 20, 2010 at 10:06 PM

  26. Anonymous July 2, 2010 at 9:27 AM  

    Sorry, Shiptastic. For years the Gingerman was a standalone establishment. Other locations have opened since, but the G on Morningside has maintained the original look & feel. They've supported Texas microbrews consistently. And since it's been in the same location for 25 years, I think it has a very valid claim to that #1 spot. Best detail? The water spigot sports a Coors Light tap handle.

    Good list, overall.

  27. mrs.richard February 7, 2013 at 6:38 PM  

    I just wanted to know where to go to have some good beer!!!!

  28. SirRon February 8, 2013 at 8:51 AM  

    @mrs.richard, Up there are 15 fine choices (from 2009). I could give you 10-15 more if you'd like.

  29. the morning after THRILL June 29, 2013 at 7:24 AM  

    If its been a while since you were blown away, make your way down south to the clear lake area, Nobi Public House is a treat for all. Even families. The food is great, with an Asian flair to it, but the beer is 100% craft. A hipsters dream. If you love to NOT see 1 bud, miller, or any other watered down wastes of space the entire time your at a 30+ taps joint. Fell free to treat yourself. I would say 40% - 50% of there taps are IPA's, but always changing. Just bring a hat, so you don't make a mess, when they blow your mind. ha ha