Food and Drink

The 16 Most Essential Craft Breweries in Houston

From IPA-heavy craft OGs to sour beer-soaked newcomers.

Local Group Brewing
Local Group Brewing
Local Group Brewing

Houston’s breweries have always been good at maneuvering through a landscape of outdated TABC laws, but after this past year, they’ve truly proven themselves survivors. Many pivoted by offering to-go models, dreaming up convenient drive-thru brews when it seemed everyone needed them most, and even adding food into the mix so they could continue to keep their taprooms open throughout lockdown. And now that things are back up and running, it’s a damn good time to get yourself acquainted with Houston’s best and brightest craft brewers.

True Anomaly Brewing
True Anomaly Brewing
True Anomaly Brewing

True Anomaly Brewing Company

EaDo
Otherworldly explorations, wild-fermented, and sour suds share menu space with traditional Belgian, German, and French styles at this garage-dream turned ten-barrel, steam-jacketed, two-vessel brewhouse founded by NASA employees. Chase a hop-forward, fresh-from-the-tank West Coast IPA with citrus and floral notes (AKA Ben’s House IPA) with a pink-hued sour fruited ale spiked with raspberries and red currants (AKA the Beryl after Beryl Markham, the first person to ever fly nonstop solo across the Atlantic from the UK to North America). Stop by the taproom to partake and stay tuned to social media for fun collabs and upcoming releases.
Key beers: Contact Light Saison, Ben’s House IPA

New Magnolia Brewing
New Magnolia Brewing
New Magnolia Brewing

New Magnolia

Shady Acres
Opening at the tailend of 2019, this nearly two-year-old operation focuses on quality beer, plain and simple. You won’t find a lot of fancy-schmancy stuff here, just an open industrial layout, a few picnic tables, cornhole on the shady patio, and a short but smart list of well-executed beers. While the weather stays hot, sessionable sours like the First Bloom and Tropical Splitz really hit the spot and the super refreshingly mellow Heights Light Lager is a grillmaster’s best friend all year round.
Key beers: Heights Light Lager, Czech Amber Lager

No Label Brewing Co.
No Label Brewing Co.
No Label Brewing Co.

No Label Brewing Co.

Katy
With a change in ownership, a new head brewer, and over a decade under its belt, this Katy stalwart is currently living its best life. Its core fresh-from-the-silo lineup features a trio of heavy-hitters-including El Hefe Weizen, a classic German-style wheat ale rife with banana, cloves and citrus, the heavenly Sittin’ Sidehaze New England style hazy IPA, and crispy-clean 1980 Kolsch-but its also committed to adding new, exciting beers on the regular. Expect a solid West Coast IPA dubbed the Cali Boy alongside the ambrosial when-it’s-gone-it’s-gone Ginger Ninja Gose. If you haven’t been to No Label in years, you’ll definitely want to revisit this one.
Key beers: El Hefe Weizen, 1980 Kolsch, Cali Boy

Photo by Carla Gomez
Photo by Carla Gomez
Photo by Carla Gomez

Local Group Brewing

Northside Village
Located in Hardy Yards not too far from another brewery we all know and love (that’d be Saint A, of course), this Houston-bred haunt ups the ante with 20 taps featuring housebrewed beers plus wine, cold brew, cider, and soda alongside a kitchen pumping out eats like local game sausage-stuffed pretzels and a beer-brined fried chicken sandwich. Head brewer James “Huggy Bear” Wolfe put time in at Houston staples like Southern Star Brewing Co. and No Label Brewing Company before opening up shop (along with co-founders Todd Donewar and Michael Steeves), and his game is strong as ever, with juicy hazy IPAs (Blurry Eyes, Hop School), double fruited kettle sours (Hera’s Nectar Super Razz), and easy drinking blondes (Suntoucher) leading the charge.
Key beers: Double Vertigo IPA, Hop School Hazy Juicy Pale Ale

8th Wonder Brewery
8th Wonder Brewery
8th Wonder Brewery

8th Wonder Brewery

EaDo
This Astrodome-inspired brewhouse oozes coolness with a fresh, hip vibe and globe-trotting brews. That means you can get your hands on creations like Rocket Fuel, a Vietnamese coffee-infused Porter, BrewGK, a seasonal candy apple Kolsch made in collaboration with local rap hero and former UGK member Bun B, and newcomers like High Grade West Coast IPA. The taproom comes with a big ol’ yard (complete with local art installations, pop-up markets, and an Eatsie Boys food truck) and the whole shebang is a huge part of why EaDo has emerged as one of the coolest neighborhoods in town.
Key beers: Instant Classic Helles Lager, Haterade Gose, Cloud 8 Hazy IPA

Saint Arnold Brewing Company

Warehouse District
You can’t talk about Houston breweries without mentioning the patron saint of craft suds, Saint Arnold. Even if it wasn’t the most established in the biz, the 27-year-old hometown hero is easily Houston’s baddest, continuing to earn its spot among Lone Star bests. Saint A’s sturdy selection of year-rounds and seasonals keep everyone coming back for more (and attending pub crawls around the city), while beer geeks are kept on their toes thanks to highly coveted specialty releases, including the barrel-aged Bishop’s Barrel and single-batch Divine Reserve series. The brewery got a major facelift a few years back, expanding its footprint to include a gorgeous indoor restaurant slinging brisket pizza and “fire emoji” wings, plus a giant, partially-covered beer garden with outdoor taps, yard games, and skyline views. To boot, Superfine Hard Seltzer has recently joined the party.
Key beers: Lawnmower Kölsch, H-Town Pils, Art Car IPA, Pumpkinator Stout

Lone Pint Brewery
Lone Pint Brewery
Lone Pint Brewery

Lone Pint

Magnolia
This eco-friendly outpost uses renewable energy, composts its hops, and recycles spent grain to feed a local dairy farmer’s cows, which is all pretty cool. Perhaps the coolest thing about Lone Pint, though, is its beloved Yellow Rose IPA: a malty, fruit-laced number regarded as one of the tastiest beers in the state. A multitude of hoppy and quaffable Texas ales floods this joint’s refreshed beer garden, along with lively happenings like live music, pop-up markets, pub games like bingo and trivia, and weekend food trucks.
Key beers: Yellow Rose IPA, Gentleman’s Relish English Brown Ale, El Cuero White Stout

Brash Brewing

Independence Heights
Local beer whisperer Ben Fullelove unleashed this edgy beast back in 2012, before antiquated laws forced him to move operations to Massachusetts for a hot minute. Thankfully, the brewery and its big, bold, hoppy fleet eventually made its way back home in 2015. Today, you’ll want to head to its taproom, affectionately known as Brashland, to discover that the fuss is as strong as ever. Sip cheeky creations like the Cali Green West Coast IPA, Cortado coffee milk stout, or the Willy, a dangerously dank, double dry hopped monster touching down later this fall. Cooler yet, enjoy them against a backdrop of heavy metal music while you smash your way through a menagerie of retro arcade games.
Key beers: Smoglifter Milk Stout, EZ-7 American Pale Ale, Cali Green IPA

Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company

Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company

First Ward
The rules are that there are no rules at this adventurous locale, which outgrew its first home on Nolda thanks to surging demand. Its new digs are a three-story, 28,000-square-foot brewtopia in Sawyer Yards, where fans can score BuffBrews along with outrageous eats (i.e. beer cheese with barbecue-dusted chicharron) and prime views of downtown. Said brews come in radical flavors that challenge everything you thought you knew about craft beer-think Smoke on the Bayou, a “bigass malt bomb” made with malts smoked at local barbecue spots, or the crisp and crushable Key Lime Pie. In non-beer related but still important news, the brewery’s also entered the hard seltzer game (surprise, surprise).
Key beers: Black Raz Stout, Peanut Butter Wake ‘N Bake Coffee Blonde, More Cowbell Double IPA

B-52 Brewing
B-52 Brewing
B-52 Brewing

B-52 Brewing Company

Conroe
This homegrown original considers itself less of a brewery and more of a laboratory, pumping out complex sippers in what appears to be the middle of the woods. With over seven acres in the great outdoors-plus cool additions like food trucks, ping-pong, and horseshoes-hanging at the brewery is a choice way to spend your time (kids and pets are welcome, too). Most importantly, it’s where you‘ll find B-52’s latest, limited-release tinkerings like Smoothie Tart, a grapefruit, mango, and Tajin fruited sour.
Key beers: B52 Pils, Boysen Da Hood Sour Ale, Wheez the Juice American Pale Ale

Ingenious Brewing Company
Ingenious Brewing Company
Ingenious Brewing Company

Ingenious Brewing Co.

Humble
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this lovable company knows its stuff. The brainchild of two homebrewers with scientific backgrounds, Ingenious’ small-batch fleet proves that blending science with imagination (plus beer knowledge, passion, and a dash of hard work) results in some pretty outstanding brews. The air-conditioned taproom rocks 24 fresh, inspired drafts each day, harnessing offbeat ingredients to create tart fruited sours, hopped-up pale ales, and velvety pastry stouts. There’s also an outdoor beer garden and frothy “frozen beer toppers” to keep your brews properly frosted, and they’ll happily fill up crowlers and growlers to-go.
Key beers: Citra Pils ,Strawberry Daiquiri Double IPA, Pina Colada Sour Fruited

Karbach Brewing Co.

Lazybrook/Timbergrove
Yes, this fast-growing brewery is now a part of AB InBev’s craft-focused High End portfolio. And yes, we realize much of the microbrew community considers selling out to “big beer” a sin beyond atonement. Still, Karbach’s stable of gargantuan brews is an undeniable powerhouse, and it’s earned the brewery a perpetual mention in any list of Houston essentials. Sellout or not (we’ll leave that up to you to decide), the brewery’s 15 million dollar expansion is a sight to see, with a restaurant, revamped beer garden complete with a stage for live music, and shiny new heavy-duty production facilities. Most refreshing new addition to the Karbach scene? A killer Ranch Water hard seltzer.
Key beers: Crawford Bock, Hop Tongue IPA, Strawberry Fields Blonde

Eureka Heights Brew Co
Eureka Heights Brew Co
Eureka Heights Brew Co

Eureka Heights

Shady Acres
Named after the fault line that runs beneath the brewery, there’s no shaky ground at this neighborhood tour de force, just easy livin’… and even easier drinking. That’s thanks to a stronghold of crisp, approachable brews that pretty much everybody can get down with. Like many breweries before it, Eureka started out as a dream job for three homebrewers (one of whom cut his chops at Saint Arnold). And once their homebrews turned out tasty enough, the wives got on board and the Houston beer community quickly followed suit. Today, Eureka is a place for good beer and fun times, with year-round crafts (like the surprisingly light and sessionable cream ale, the Buckle Bunny) and bold new additions (try the pineapple and toasted coconut kissed Le Tigre Hazy IPA) available by the pint, taster, flight, and take-home crowler, plus goodies like trivia, steak nights, and monthly bike rides.
Key beers: Wowfactor Mandarina Pils, Spacetrain IPA, Wicket Awesome ESB

11 Below Brewing Company

Willowbrook
With backgrounds ranging from oil and gas to theater, this group of passionate beer drinkers-turned-creators took a barebones warehouse and transformed it into one of Houston’s most sought-after breweries. These guys realize it’s basically always hot in Houston, so the focus here is on drinkable styles that both excite your palate and quench your thirst when it’s 100 degrees outside. Grab regulars like the super sessionable 7-Iron Blonde or special and seasonal releases like the Duck Duck Juice hazy pale ale alongside food truck bites at the taproom or get ‘em to go via the drive-thru pickup.
Key beers: 7-Iron Blonde Ale, Hipster Sauce IPA

Equal Parts Brewing
Equal Parts Brewing
Equal Parts Brewing

Equal Parts Brewing

East End
This East End game-changer started life as Sigma Brewing Company, eventually changing its moniker to Equal Parts Brewing after the pandemic shut it down last year. Sporting the same ownership and staff (but a fresh new outlook on life), expect a 20-tap expanse teeming with thoughtful brews, from hazy IPAs and tart fruited sours to bone dry Japanese-style lagers, plus food trucks and specials like “One-Off Wednesdays,” where you can get your paws on ultra-limited drafts before they’re gone for good.
Key beers: Black Rain Imperial Stout, Intermezzo Fruited Sour Ale

SpindleTap Brewery

East Little York/Homestead
It’s been a boomtown ever since SpindleTap first opened its doors at the turn of 2015. Paying homage to Texas’ gusher age, the theme throughout this liquid gold purveyor is all things Lone Star State. The brewery goes hard on hops, with hazy IPAs and DIPAs like the all American Hop Gusher IPA and the juicy and tropical Houston Haze, hit with lush notes of guava, pineapple, and grapefruit. Pony up to the taproom to gush over them all.
Key beers: Hop Gusher IPA, Houston Haze, Black Gold Imperial Coffee StoutWant more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Brooke Viggiano is a contributor for Thrillist.

Food and Drink

We Tried 22 Trader Joe's Dips and Here's How They Stack Up

From vegan tzatziki to fiery Zhoug sauce to classic spinach, these deserve a spot in your cart.

Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist
Design by Maitane Romagosa for Thrillist

With football season looming over us, that only means one thing: dip season is back. Whether you’re gathering for an end-of-summer bash, watching the game, or in dire need of a snack to indulge in while binge watching the latest Netflix series to drop, dips are the perfect option. And at Trader Joe’s, there are a lot of dips to choose from.

That’s why we decided to write this guide to dips, with helpful pairing ideas for each. So whether you’re interested in something spicy and don’t know what to eat with Zhoug sauce, or you want a classic spinach dip, these are almost all the dips at Trader Joe’s reviewed for your needs (we’ve excluded hummus and salsas, otherwise it’d be miles long and your heartburn would be even worse).

Buffalo Style Chicken Dip

This Buffalo-style chicken dip is a cult favourite and with good reason. The sharp tang and heat of Buffalo sauce is present, but relatively mild in terms of spice level. That, paired with the tub of shredded chicken, makes for a filling dip ideal for watching a sports game. Although Trader Joe’s suggests eating it hot, it’s delightful cold as well.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Caramelized Onion Dip

The caramelized onion dip is one of my favourites that Trader Joe’s has produced. It’s delectably sweet, like a French onion soup, but balanced perfectly with the tang of the sour cream and mayo base. The texture of this dip is mousse-like; fluffy, light, and airy. It’s an onion dip but upgraded.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Chimichurri Sauce

Although this chimichurri sauce lives in the dip section, we think of it more as a condiment. It’s lovely topped on meats or slathered in sandwiches. The ingredients are simple-parsley and cilantro are the defining items here-but you’re left with a very flavorful and aromatic olive oil-based sauce. If you really want to use it as a dip for crostinis, that would work, too.
Pair with: eggs, steak, shrimp, rice

Chunky Artichoke & JalapeƱo Dip

This dip can be heated up or eaten straight from the fridge-both versions remain creamy, piquant, and spectacularly chunky, as advertised. The main flavour takeaway is the artichoke, which this dip is loaded with, but you will feel a tingle of spice from the jalapeƱos, too. It reminds me of schmear and would definitely make a great spread for a bagel.
Pair with: bagels or bagel chips, tortilla chips, pretzels

Cauliflower JalapeƱo Dip

Of all the dips, this one took me the most by surprise. I associate cauliflower with blandness, but this is far from that. It has a smooth texture (which surprised me because cauliflower can also be gritty), and a subtle heat from the jalapeƱos. I would prefer a bit more jalapeƱo, but it’s mild enough that anyone can enjoy this at a party.
Pair with: Veggie tray, potato chips, strawberry & jalapeƱo crisps

Everything and the Elote

Maybe it’s the fact that fresh elote is so amazing that renders this dip a little bit disappointing in comparison. It’s seasoned well with chipotle, cumin, and chili powder. But what it’s really lacking is in the name. There’s not enough sweet corn kernels in this dip to balance out the other spices and the cheese. Perhaps if you added this fresh corn, you could make a large batch of esquites.
Pair with: organic corn dippers, corn salad

Everything But the Bagel

I do feel like it was a misstep to use a Greek yogurt base rather than a sour cream and cream cheese blend for this dip to really give the vibe of breakfast bagels. Sure, the Greek yogurt is still sharp and smooth, but the dip feels runnier than it should be. That being said, if you’re a fan of everything bagels and the seasoning blend Trader Joe’s makes, this will fulfil you: poppy seeds, dehydrated onion, dried garlic, and black sesame seeds galore.
Pair with: bagel chips, Everything But the Bagel crackers

Garlic Spread Dip

It’s obscene how delicious this garlic spread dip tastes on just about everything. Personally, I can eat it by the spoonful. It’s smooth and creamy, with just the right amount of lemon juice and the unmistakable aroma of garlic. Yes, it’s delicious by the spoonful, but would also be delicious in a thousand other applications.
Pair with: pita bread, rotisserie chicken, tortillas, sandwiches, honestly everything

Green Goddess Dip

Like the titular salad, this dip is bright, very green, and refreshingly herbaceous. The avocado and green onion are strengthened by garlic, shallots, chives, and basil. Unlike homemade versions, this dip contains both eggs and sour cream, so keep that in mind for plant-based friends.
Pair with: sandwiches, salads, veggie trays, multigrain crackers

Herbed Tahini Sauce

I was expecting a stronger nuttiness from this herbed tahini sauce, but the dominating flavour is garlic and a tartness from the citric acid. It’s still refreshing and a great partner to falafel and sandwiches, but the tahini flavour is in the background. I can really envision this as a successful sauce for a cold noodle salad, spruced up with additional sesame seeds and perhaps a dollop of chilli crisp.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, garlic pita chips, cold noodles

Olive Tapenade

If you’re an olive fan, this Trader Joe’s tapenade will hit the spot. Crafted from a blend of black olives, green olives, and pimentos, it’s the right amount of saltiness and perfect chunky consistency for scooping. It would fare well atop hummus, scooped into a pasta salad, or just eaten straight.
Pair with: a charcuterie board, fig & olive crisps, pasta salad

Pimento Cheese Dip

I would argue that this pimento cheese dip does the Southern classic justice. Each bite is full of sharp cheddar and studded with diced pimentos for a dip that is simultaneously chunky and creamy. Would be excellent on a pimento cheese sandwich.
Pair with: multigrain crackers, tortilla chips, bread for a sandwich

Romesco Dip

The romesco dip is like summer unlocked through a small, eight-ounce container. There’s a brightness from tomatoes, a fuller, rounder flavour from roasted red peppers, and nuttiness from almonds. I think of it as a red almond pesto, almost. It’s great with veggies, could be tossed in a pasta, or just eaten with a hefty cracker.
Pair with: pasta, veggies sticks, raisin and rosemary crisps

Smoked Salmon Dip

If you’re a fan of lox, you’ll be a fan of this dip. It’s briny and salty and pleasantly fishy but the capers work well to cut through a flavour that may otherwise feel overwhelmingly rich. There is a generous amount of fish in this dip, as well as seasoning, so it really only needs a blank canvas to let it shine.
Pair with: bagels, multigrain crackers, or even pasta (try this Trader Joe’s recipe)

Sour Cream Spinach Dip

This is perfectly acceptable. It is not the most exciting dip on this list, but it does provide that classic spinach dip flavour, albeit a bit more tart due to the sour cream base. It would benefit from some cheese, but as far as dips go, it is thick, creamy, and very scoopable.
Pair with: toasted baguettes, multigrain crackers, a cheese board

Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip

Like the other spinach dip, this dip isn’t mind-boggling, but a twist on the classic that only clocks in at 30 calories per serving. The kale adds a tiny bit more dimension to this otherwise regular dip. Put this out on game day and surely it will be consumed; there are just better dip options here.
Pair with: toasted baguette, fig & olive crisps, Everything but the Bagel crackers.

Tzatziki

Trader Joe’s does this classic condiment justice. It begins with a kefir cheese and sour cream base that’s filled with sliced cucumber, plenty of dill, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Use this dip as a side for a gyro plate.
Pair with: Dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Vegan Buffalo Dip

This is a very successful reinterpretation of Buffalo dip. It’s tangy and zesty, with all the qualities that make for a plant-based alternative to this classic. One critique is that once opened, it does tend to get watery fast, but the flavour is so good that if you bring this to a party, it likely won’t last very long.
Pair with: crostinis, golden cracker rounds, tortilla chips, celery sticks, carrots

Vegan Caramelized Onion Dip

This is not far off from the regular caramelized onion dip. The flavour is still sweet and savoury, there are large squares of perfectly browned onions in each bite, and the consistency is creamy. I would say it’s not quite as light and fluffy, like mousse, as the original-but the dairy-free cream cheese base is still a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Pair with: golden rounds crackers, potato chips, toasted baguette

Vegan Nacho Dip

Vegan cheese can be a hit or a miss, but Trader Joe’s succeeds here. This cashew-based dip is luxuriously creamy and has all the meltiness a regular nacho cheese would also possess. You won’t find grittiness here, but will find a flavour that has the desired saltiness that will impress vegans and non-vegans alike. Just make sure you don’t overheat the dip and stir constantly-like dairy cheese, it will split otherwise.
Pair with: tortilla chips, tacos, burritos, fries

Vegan Tzatziki Dip

I’m amazed at this vegan tzatziki dip. Trader Joe’s has truly found something special with its dairy-free, cream cheese base. This is just as tangy, dilly, and cucumber-filled as its yogurt counterpart, meaning it’s delicious.
Pair with: dill pickle falafel, pita chips, organic naan crackers

Zhoug Sauce

This Zhoug sauce is amazing. It’s herbaceous and fiery and flavorful-definitely the spiciest dip of the bunch. What I really love about it is how simple the ingredients are (only eight things in total!) and how they all work in tandem. Cilantro is undoubtedly the star, sure, but pops of cumin and cardamom paired with the heat of chile flakes and jalapeƱos really adds dimension to this Yemeni-inspired dip.
Pair with: eggs, garlic naan chips, organic corn dippers, or your favourite protein.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer of food & drink at Thrillist. Follow her on TwitterĀ @katthompsonn.

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