While I was sitting at Odell Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO last December, I had an epiphany when it came to tap rooms: Texas breweries don't have nice tap rooms because they can't sell beer on-site.
I don't know why it took me so long to realize that our tap rooms are 10x lamer than other states! I mean, yes, there are nice ones like St. Arnold's in Houston, but that's few and far between folks.
Most young breweries have a warehouse, a couple of taps in the wall and a bar table to serve it from. It's functional, but it sure isn't pretty.
BUT! With the slate of beer bills close to becoming reality, nicer tap rooms might be in our future! I think if breweries are allowed to charge for samples, pints, etc. they'll put more money into a useable space! I can't wait to see what the breweries come up with!
On Friday afternoon, the Texas House used voice votes to approve the bills. A final House vote on Monday will push the bills to Gov. Rick Perry's desk. There's currently no real opposition, so this is fo'realz people!
I've been keeping up with these bills for awhile, you can read past articles
Here are my favorite tap rooms (places that actually have rooms, not just an open warehouse) in Texas right now (in no particular order):
1. Hops and Grain: It's a small room but it is a good space. The room has a/c, seating and a view of the brewery. My favorite thing about this place? Plenty of toilets! Because it's in a shared warehouse, there's a communal bathroom that is HUGE.
2. St. Arnold Brewing Co.: It's a grand beer hall. I remember when they used to have that warehouse on Hwy 290... the good ol' days. The new location has a huge beer hall with plenty of taps. There's usually a line to get in but it's a good deal! Even though there are at least a dozen picnic tables, you might have to sit on the floor if it's really busy, which is only a minor inconvenience.
3. Deep Ellum Brewing Co.: The open-air space below the pergola is lovely! You get your beer inside the warehouse, but there's a nice seating area in the front of the business. There are several picnic tables and wine barrels turned into tables. Bring a lawn chair just in case!
4. Jester King Brewery: Fairly large ranch-style tap room. No seating area inside the room but plenty of space outside!
5. Tie between Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling and Branchline Brewery:
Not much seating in either place but it's a good spot to hang out if it's 100 degrees outside. I might give RC an extra point because they have cool artwork on the walls.