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The Hay Merchant

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BA SCORE
100
world-class

71 Ratings
Ratings: 71
Reviews: 19
rAvg: 4.67
pDev: n/a
Taps: 76
Bottles: 25
Cask: Y
Beer-to-Go: 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:
None, yet.

(Place added by: champ103 on 02-16-2012)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 71 | Reviews: 19 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Gagnonsux
4.5/5  rDev -3.6%

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

The Hay Merchant in Houston, TX
100 out of 100 based on 71 ratings.