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The Hay Merchant

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BA SCORE
99
world-class

23 Reviews
Reviews: 23
Visits: 93
rAvg: 4.67
pDev: n/a
Taps: 76
Bottles: 25
Cask: Y
[ Bar, Eatery ]

1100 Westheimer Rd
Houston, Texas, 77006-2727
United States
phone: (713) 528-9805

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @haymerchant

Notes:
Place added by: champ103 on 02-16-2012

No notes at this time.
Place: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 23 | Visits: 93
Photo of Buck89
4.75/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Visited this place when I was on business last month. A really fun atmosphere, with a good diverse crowd. The beer selection is phenomenal, heavy with local Texas offerings, but also with many great beers from California and the East Coast. Really friendly staff that will help you find you're looking for. The food was good but not great. We will definitely visit this place again. (387 characters)

Photo of rwf08
5/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Love this place. Go often enough to where the bartenders know me. Special events for Mud Turtles are always good. They'll do beer dinners with Underbelly also. Those are amazing as well. (186 characters)

Photo of marieli
4.91/5  rDev +5.1%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 5

You can go quietly try a brew or two, you can enjoy with a friend or group, you can take your family to brunch. The selection of beer on tap is very impressive. Not always perfect, but generally there's something for everyone and something new to try if that's what you're looking for. Not sure what a 5 for selection even is. But what makes this a place that stands above others, at least in Houston, is the awesome menu that is accessible to foodies and those more traditional, and the quality of the food itself. Even if the beer selection wasn't as good, this would still be a viable place to eat. If you're into food, I would suggest many other great restaurants before this, including Underbelly right next door, but you have to make time for a stop in The Hay Merchant. (783 characters)

Photo of BoljaBoy52
5/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

This place is phenomenal. I came in with a group of 9 on a busy Saturday night, and the manager came right to us and didn't stop helping us until our group was all sitting together. The beer selection seemed endless, and the food was absolutely amazing and cooked perfectly. I wish i didn't live 2 hours away, because I cant wait to go back. (341 characters)

Photo of Pro_Magnon
4.95/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

GROWLER FILLS!! HUGE SELECTION OF DRAFT BEER!! PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY WINGS!! Also, very attentive service. Never had to look around wondering where my server was. Plenty of tv's for games. Nice-ass spot. (205 characters)

Photo of MLDucky
4.75/5  rDev +1.7%

Great atmosphere, excellent selection and great specials tied to Houston pro sports teams and Houston area breweries. To me, it's great to see local support like this. When I'm in town I always stop by for a visit. Unique food selections as well. (250 characters)

Photo of caffeineTX
4.5/5  rDev -3.6%

This is around the corner from me and it is a great bar. It loses points from me because it gets too loud inside for me and the porch is very small and often crowded unless you come in for lunch or something.

The wall has rotating taps of a wide variety of beers ranging from easy drinking session beers to polarizing sours, smoked beers, and IPAs so there is stuff that will appeal to the casual drinker and the craft beer snob/enthusiast. (442 characters)

Photo of Tuck_leepulin
4.71/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 4

My favorite bar in Houston and one of my favorite all time bars anywhere. My biggest problem is trying to decide what to get. There are always an incredible amount of drafts to choose from and always many cask selections which is one of the biggest selling points for me. They usual have some vintages on tap at very reasonable prices. My last visit I had a 2011 Stone RIS at the same price of a fresh Stone RIS and so I could try it aged with no effort on my part. The only food I have had is whats on the late-night happy hour such as the pig ears and they were quite delicious. Excellent and attentive staff even when the place is packed. (641 characters)

Photo of synergy7
4.8/5  rDev +2.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

To echo every other review here, this place is amazing. The happy hour deal is unbelievable (where else where you get Stone IRS for $3?!) and they don't skimp elsewhere, some fantastic options available too.

Atmosphere is very cool, settled down to watch the Germany vs. Brazil World Cup match and was very at home despite being a total stranger to Houston. I can't say enough about the selection, had an excellent Deschutes Obsidian on nitro and Live Oak Hefe, fantastic stuff.

If you're in Houston, pay a visit here, it's worth the trip. (542 characters)

Photo of ShuTex
5/5  rDev +7.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Came here based on previous reviews and we were not disappointed in the least. Ask if Stewart is around, he will give some great recommendations and will have a great conversation with you about what they have. The other employees know their stuff and make great local suggestions. If you are in Houston stop by hay merchant. Their beer selection is nothing short of amazing. This establishment comes with a very high recommendation. (433 characters)

Photo of DoubleSimcoe
4.51/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75

The Hay Merchant is a place every beer lover should pilgrim to at least once in a lifetime. The quality of beer here is beyond belief!

Cool joint, unassuming from the outside but sprawling inside. Plenty of tables and a long funky-shaped bar. Nice decor, lots of hipster wood. They have a food menu, but me thinks it is better to go next door to Underbelly and then have some beers at the Merchant.

Damn busy on a Friday night, late August. Great patio to enjoy the sunset lights and some beautiful faces. We got great service at the patio from a knowledgeable server, even though the place was seriously crowded.

It is all about the beer! 76 taps, 5 casks, beer heaven. Old Stock, Stone Ruination, Karbach Cherries of Fire, Troubadour Imp Stout bourbon-barrel aged (in house, Buffalo Trace!), Brewdog Isle of Arran. Their menu is divided by styles, including one called "Not for the faint of heart".

I would literally move here if I lived in Houston. (967 characters)

Photo of Kappakoosh
4.84/5  rDev +3.6%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.75 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Update: I recommend everyone stop by, try the food and enjoy the beer selection. The food isn't your typical pub fair..it is exceptional and I have yet to find something I didn't like. Ask how to start the "mud turtle" program. If you are serious about beer, you might enjoy taking part in it. (293 characters)

Photo of GermyHammer
4.77/5  rDev +2.1%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

Great beers served at appropriate temperatures and in proper glassware - they taste amazing. Love the 20 oz Pilsner glass and the Left Hand Milk Stout never tasted so good.

Awesome happy hour specials - $3 yumtastic beers till 6:30, and not just for the cheap beers either.

Didn't try the food but from what I saw and smelled it looked pretty good though a bit pricey compared to the beer.

Love the interior and nice patio but the music was too loud and so were the customers inside. Had to yell to be heard across the booth above the music one day, and on a weekend night my eardrums were hurting from this idiotic East Asian kid who had the (non-stop) piercing laugh of a screeching harpy; it was enough that I could not have enjoyed a second beer.

Service was excellent the first time and fair the second. Some staff know their beer, others not so much. For how busy it was Saturday they did a good job keeping up.

Growlers for a decent price and apparently they'll be having growler happy hour from 12 am - 2 am in the near future.

Overall this place fucking rocks, they know how to do beer right. I don't see myself going anywhere else for a quality beer in Houston. (1,177 characters)

Photo of jkoogler
4.31/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.25

The selection of beer is outstanding. They also offer some premium beers in bottles if you're interested in the "cellar collection." Food is good as well. Not the typical bar food. Nice selection of desserts too. The chocolate chip bread pudding is great. Or perhaps you prefer the lemon cream pie with cider. (309 characters)

Photo of LittleDon
4.69/5  rDev +0.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

Escape the Houston heat and have a beer or two, or three, or more. Cool inviting atmosphere and plenty of fine beers from which to choose.

Thursday afternoon and I just happened to be in the Montrose area of Houston. It's late July and it's Houston hot, upper 90s and plenty of humidity. Walk into the Hay Merchant and I've been transported into a different world. Dimly light, cool, lots of concrete, iron, and wood. The front windows facing Westheimer are large and let in enough light to avoid giving the place a cave like atmosphere. Plenty of beer to consider. Four hand pumps and about 12 to 15 Texas brews. The pours are generous and the bartender knowledgeable and quick with a healthy sample when asked. Wound up with a pint of Karbach Hopadillo (3/pint happy hour) and an 8 oz. snifter of Real Ale Kraken (8/not on happy hour list). Alas, it's back into the Houston sun for the 45 minute drive in traffic back to the hotel. Looking forward to my next opportunity.

Liked the best: Cool atmosphere. Lots of top notch beer. Parking in back. Happy hour prices are great.

Liked the least: Close-ish to downtown so it's a hassle to get there and back if you're coming from outside the loop. Small, I'm curious how crowded it gets Wednesday night on.

Would I return: I'd make a special effort to do so. (1,310 characters)

Photo of tvl89
4.74/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 3

The hay merchant is one of the best bars in Texas and perhaps the nation. The beer selection was pretty good and their prices were reasonable. The food was just below average. I tried the ear pigs which were awesome and a gumbo which was not so good. Overall the hay merchant is an awesome bar with the best beer selection. I highly recommended. (345 characters)

Photo of Premo88
4.31/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 5 | food: 4

A friend of mine and I had four beers and an appetizer for $25. Totally worth what we got, which include 16 oz. pints on tap of:

Real Ale Phoenix Double ESB
Real Ale Fireman 4
Karbach Sympathy for the Lager
St. Arnold Lawnmower

That's not a who's who list of expensive beers, of course, but we got what we wanted, enjoyed it and will definitely be going back. They had 50+ beers on tap with a fantastic spread throughout the various styles, from simple lagers to imperial stouts. (481 characters)

Photo of texasnomad
4.78/5  rDev +2.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Came here on a recommendation of a friend. This place is located where "Charlie's" used to be on Westheimer, but in an aparently new building, right across the street from the old Tower Theater (El Real Tex-Mex, now). It is indeed easy to miss as there does not seem to be any signs. But life is one big road with lots of sign. It was a Sunday afternoon, and the vibe there was very laid back and relaxed, but I suspect it is not always such, perhaps on Fri or Sat night.

This is a great place if you love good beer and are interested in trying new ones. They have a great beer menu with information about style, glassware, geography, alcohol content, etc. Anyone from an old kreusened beer drinker to a neophyte who is beer curious will find this info enlightening. Superb selection of tap.

I had also heard that the jefe was a former chef at Brennan's Houston. The menu points to this in spirit. I had a muffaletta which was excellent and makes me hungry as I write this. I also had a bowl of seafood gumbo, which somehow reminded me of beef stew, and with which I was unimpressed. I think Goode Co. Seafood has a better gumbo. In any case, I suspect there are some real gems on the menu.

Will go back soon.

UPDATE: End up back it this place yesterday, a Friday, at about 5:45. It was indeed
much more crowded. Though we did have a choice of seating, it was only counter or bar, and even those options quickly sizzled away after we sat. It was quite loud in there, but it was possible to enjoy a conversation, and the replaced remains a wonderful venue to leisurely explore a corner of the world of craft beer. The crowd reminds of the same sort that I used to encounter down the street at Cafe Brasil in another era, but everyone has mostly grown up and gotten raises. Nonetheless it is still a mixed-age crowd of the young at heart.

Straight-forward food offering. This time we had the Vietnamese Chicken Wings which are cooked with a caramelized fish sauce and local honey glaze. These were delicious and cost $6 for 3 complete wings. We also had the Duck Confit stuffed jalapenos, which are just that, but also stuffed with goat cheese and bacon, and they are of coursed battered, rolled in cornmeal(?) and deep-fried. Good spiciness, but the filling had a thin mouthfeel which could be improved. In any case, I will probably explore the menu more before I order these again. The menu does appear to evolve, at least based on a sample of two, since the competent muffaletta I had last time was not the menu this time.

For the record, I had a Live Oak Hefeweizen and a Buffalo Bayou 1836 Copper Ale, while my wife started with the Green Flash West Coast IPA and finished with a Liefman's Cuvee Brut.

Once again, I will be back to this place. (2,753 characters)

Photo of BeerHunter76
4.63/5  rDev -0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 5

If you don't know where the Hay Merchant is you will most likely drive right past it. There is not much in the way of signage at this place, but what it doesn't have on the outside is MORE than made up for on the inside. Hay Merchant has one of the finest tap selections in Houston behind The Flying Saucer in quantity. The deocr on the inside is wood heavy, one big screen and two smaller screens excellent for football or soccer. The bar is big and the staff behind it are knowledgable and friendly. Food at Hay Merchant is an interesting American nouveau cuisine (try the fried pigs ears!). Finally the tap selection is outstanding! They keeps the taps up to date with the latest and greatest in TX and what we can get outside the state as well. Special beer dinners and pint nights. If you are looking for a new favorite craft bar this should be the place. Go in once and you are sure to go back. Do not miss this place!

Nostrovya! (936 characters)

Photo of Hopmodium
4.48/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5

Better than the rating can possibly give considering that I have visited many places like this across the country. This IS THE BEST TEXAS can offer, no doubt. Growler refills! I drive 40 miles to find this and will not complain. My lady and I celebrated my 33rd birthday here without mentioning it and were treated like I did. Refilled my growler with (512)2 for $24.95 and purchased a 1/2 growler of their Pecan Porter(for $4.50 without refill but w/ HM logo, beer only $12-) for reasonable price anywhere S of Mason-Dixon. Multiple, awesome cask selections which made me quite happy. Nitro for those of you as well. Food was not the best but that is what I read ahead of time and expected and did not mind considering I went during off-peak hours on a Thursday evening. Parking could be troublesome most times when mating occurs. GO TO THIS PLACE during off hours if you want to avoid stereotypical Houston douchbags. Lived here for 66% of life and can honestly say that finding a place like this is rare and worth any true beer drinkers time. On par with rest of country as far as options are concerned. (1,106 characters)

Photo of n2pux
3.96/5  rDev -15.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

Hit this place before the Kasabian show at Fitz. It really is a good addition to the Houston beer scene. Crazy busy & loud for a Thursday night. But no worse in that regard than say, the Flying Saucer downtown. That doesn't really bother me. But some may prefer the cozier & quieter ambience of the Ginger Man or the Petrol Station. Seats at the bar were pretty uncomfortable ...almost like they were designed to get you to drink up & make room for the next party. Service was a little slow but no worse than most places when they're that busy ...and it was knowledgeable.

Where the HM shines is in the large tap selection. While Texas distribution laws really limit what beer lovers here have access to, HM does the best it can within those limits. There seems to be a real emphasis on the growing Texas brewery scene as well as a good selection of out-of-state faves. My party had Brouwerij Bockor Jacobins Rouge, Alaskan IPA, Karbach Pontificator, & BrewDog Tokyo* ...all served in the proper glassware & at the right temp. I saw no evidence of anything resembling a bottle list. I'm probably in the minority who would be disappointed in that.

So, while HM won't change your mind if one of the aforementioned local pubs is your favorite, it is a nice addition in a part of town that really needed it. Look forward to trying them again next time I'm in the area. (1,367 characters)

Photo of jaymesbawned
4.4/5  rDev -5.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Finally made it in after a couple weeks of bugging my wife about this place. IT was pretty busy, but it WAS St. Patrick's Day, so I can't blame them for that. Sat in the main dining area up front. Also have a bar in the back up some steps, and a patio outside. Of course awesome beer selection, rotating all of the time. Had a Karback Pontificator Smoked Doppelbock and the brand new Buffalo Bayou Chai Porter. Both beers were great. The Chai porter(Also called Sessionist #2) was crazy, I cannot believe they got those flavors into the beer! I had the Blood Sausage Queso and it was kind of meh. too much sausage, not enough queso and the tortiallas were a little slimy. My wife got the Carolina BBQ sandwich and it was amazing, though. the potato chips were also very good. Light with a touch of lime to them. I will be definitely coming back to this place. hopefully they iron out the queso, but otherwise everything was great! (930 characters)

Photo of champ103
4.6/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Edit: I have to upgrade the food score to 4. While not everything they do is great. Like the fried pigs ears (just bad IMO), bone marrow is never up to snuff, and the very average burger. The other stuff is very innovative and interesting. Pork Sliders are excellent, and my stand by. Blood Sausage Queso is out of this world good. As are the mussels and any other fish they come up with. Don't dismiss the food, very different than most any other pub grub you will come across. The rest of the bar speaks for itself.

The long awaited arrival of Hay Merchant is finally here. An ultra funky bar that is split into three sections (in one large room). The bar area is directly in back with some high top tables, the metal bar, that looks and feels like slate, goes along the entire back. With the tap handles covering the back wall as well. A sectioned off chalk board that lists all the beers, and the tap handles are all pieces of steal or other objects. Like a can of Cult 45 or Billies Beer. The cask engine handles are custom made as well. A slightly larger dinning area is in front with some custom made low top wood tables and booths. The third area off to the left with some more tables, two dart boards and a TV. A really unique feel, and comfortable. Though when it fills up, it is loud.

The service is incredibly knowledgeable and well trained. Though with the massive amount of people coming to the soft an public opening it can get slow. I can't really hold that against them though.

The food is interesting. Pub grub like burgers and wings. Though other stuff like ox tail, chicken and waffles, lamb ribs. It is certainly good, I just have not been wowed by the food yet.

On to the beer! At first I thought they had only 60 taps, but it is well over that number that always rotates as well. No crap on tap either. Tons of locals that range from Karback, Live Oak, to Jester King. To stuff like the Lagunitas, and even some of the Dogfather lineup. The regular tap wall is impressive enough, but for me the real treat is the cask selection. They will have 5 casks at all time, and that is probably the most ambitious cask programs in the country. Cask for the opening: Dry Hopped Hopsicle, Clown Shoes Hoppy Feet 1.5, Avery Czar, Saint Arnold Whiskey Barrel Stout, Jester King Das Wunderkind. Did I mention they do growler fills, and you can even buy kegs to go.

The quality can't be beat, just like at Anvil, the attention to detail is amazing. Two coolers for the kegs. One for the lagers at a certain temperature, one for the ales at another temperature. Every keg has its own regulator, and the lines are always clean. I have rarely, if ever seen attention to detail like this at a bar.

Just an excellent place to grab a beer. The shear number of beers is not what is most impressive, but the knowledge, drive to being a place just for beer, and the attention to detail is what separates this from the others. The best beer bar in Houston bar none. If not one of the better beer bars anywhere. I will be here a lot. (3,036 characters)

The Hay Merchant in Houston, TX
99 out of 100 based on 23 ratings.