When I was a kid I hated beer. It's hard to believe but it's true. Part of this was the fact that, at the time, almost all beer on the market and the stuff my parents drank was typical American mass-produced lagers. Truth be told, I still don't particularly care for that style of beer. It wasn't until I drank Guiness, followed by craft and specialty beers, such as Belgian tripels and real German beers, that I liked beer. And this was right about the time that American craft beers were just starting to become popular. And I, for one, am happy to see the rise of this particular industry.
The Hay Merchant in Houston honors the rising craft beer industry by featuring craft beers from around the country. They also offer an interesting menu.
The Lovely Spouse and I were interested in trying some craft beers that we can't try at home. So he tried one of the barrel aged selections (I don't remember the name) and I tried the Vampire Slayer from Clown Shoes. At 11% abv these were not beers for people who don't like strong beers. But they were delicious. Barrel aging adds a bourbon and vanilla flavor to the beer, and the Vampire Slayer (not barrel aged) was rich in coffee and chocolate tones with a smooth finish.
There are many, many different beers to choose from, both on tap and in bottles. All drafts are poured in glassware meant to augment the beer drinking experience. Does it make a difference? I'm not sure, but it's pretty cool.
The Hay Merchant also offers food. There are a variety of different appetizers and entrees including pig ears, wings, sandwiches, and pork buns. We started with the pig ears, because we just had to try them.
|Pig ears served hot, sweet, and spicy. Interesting flavor with just a hint of barnyard funkiness. But surprisingly addictive.|
|A turkey sandwich sounds simple, however this one was one of the best I've had. Roasted turkey breast with bacon and tomato jam. Served with in house made potato chips.|
|The Lovely Spouse got the pork buns. Asian style steamed buns served with BBQ pork, onions and cilantro. He enjoyed it so much he learned how to make the steamed buns at home.|
|I also tried the Cucumber Wit from Buffalo Bayou Brewery. Kind of odd to combine cucumber with beer but it was both interesting and refreshing.|
If you go, there's a daily happy hour before 6:30 pm with $3 selected drafts. Parking is a bear in this part of Houston but The Hay Merchant shares a couple lots with Underbelly and a couple other restaurants. Outdoor seating is available and sporting events are projected in the main dining room.
If you drink, please designate a non-drinking driver. Get home safely.