Toss back beloved and reliable brews and creatively eccentric beers at Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company in the Washington Heights.

Buffalo Bayou Brewery isn’t afraid to fail. They could be playing things safe, brewing craft staples, releasing the usual seasonals each year and fading into the type of breweries we’re already familiar with.

Instead, they small-batch brew beer that might feature pineapples or watermelon one month, and hemp in another. Though you’ll still be able to find a craft mainstay like IPAs or a witbier, you’re just as likely to find beers that are at times aggressive, unexpected, risky, and daring.

That boldness has served Buffalo Bayou well, as they’ve expanded from a select number of bar taps in 2011 to now offering canned versions of their beers in grocery stores across the city.

brewery-spotlight-buffalo-bayou-brewing-company-washington-heights-taproom
Photo: Justin Jerkins

The Brewery on Fridays & Saturdays

Just off T.C. Jester Boulevard, Buffalo Bayou Brewery opens its doors to the public just twice a week. So whether you drop by to pay-by-the-pint on Friday evenings after work, or join the crowds exchanging tokens on Saturday afternoons, you’ll be provided one of the most challenging and rewarding tasting experiences in Houston breweries.

If you’re aiming for a Saturday afternoon, you’ll find yourself among many like-minded enthusiasts. A popular spot in a city-wide brewery tour, charter buses can even be seen during the day dropping off passengers at the brewery. However, the crew behind the bar moves fast, so don’t let the lines fool you.

Figuring out which of their exotic beers to try might seem daunting but for the price of $10 when you arrive on Saturdays, you receive a filled pint glass and three tokens to exchange for anything you see on tap. (Friday evening happy hours are pay-by-the-pint at $7 each.)

Photo: Justin Jerkins

Brews on Tap

At Buffalo Bayou, beers are categorized into one of two series – Heritage or Secessionist.

From the Heritage group, you’ll find the beers you love from the grocery store and the ones that Buffalo Bayou hang their hat on daily. Here, you’ll find Sam’s Daily, their American Cream Ale, alongside their American Double IPA and (of course) More Cowbell.

Then there is the Secessionist series which includes beers that exhibit Buffalo Bayou’s full range of creativity and freedom to try just about anything.

In this series, Buffalo Bayou shirks the traditional brewing guidelines in favor of beer that is interesting and ripe for the refined palette.

Over the years, the brewery has produced more than 50 of these small-batch beers, featuring a fruity cream ale infused with lychee berry, a Christmas-time Gingerbread Stout, a refreshing white ale that combines citrus, vanilla, and almonds, and a saison bursting with the flavors of passion fruit, mango, hibiscus, and peppercorns. While these regularly rotate in and out of the brewery list, whatever you find on tap is sure to be a surprising concoction worth a token to try.

Photo: Justin Jerkins

Reliable Standby Brews

And for those that might not be as adventurous, there are still plenty of beers on tap that will leave you full and satisfied. Of their craft staples, we also recommend the 1836, a copper ale that doesn’t fit any particular style.

It is an earthy and sweet beer that quenches in the summer as it has since the brewery named it their “pride and joy” upon opening in 2011. There’s also the Great White Buffalo, a crisp and refreshing witbier that is as easily accessible as it is to drink.

Minimalist Brewery Tours

For those in search of a tour, Buffalo Bayou might be a bit lacking, though their interior taproom will have you drinking in the shadows of their towering stainless-steel equipment.

Instead, the brewery emphasizes a communal space to drink with friends, play games atop their rows of picnic tables, and enjoy the local fares of food trucks that stop by. If that weren’t enough, then their rotations of clever and inventive beers should make Buffalo Bayou ripe for repeat visits.

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Photo: Justin Jerkins

Tips for Visiting

Arriving early is an important first step if you want to secure a seat at the picnic tables that pepper the outside patio and indoor areas.

Fear not if you’re rolling through an hour later, however, just bring your own lawn chairs if seating is a priority.

With limited hours at the brewery, Buffalo Bayou also makes its way out into the community regularly. Keeping up-to-date on Facebook will let you know what pubs, brewhouses, and events they’ll be popping in throughout the week. 

The $10 token exchange only applies on Saturday afternoons. Friday evening happy hour is pay-by-the-pint at $7 each.

Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company

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