First Look: Southern Yankee Beer Company
We’re back with another First Look after only a couple of weeks since the last one. This is actually the 12th of these I’ve done since we started in September of last year. I feel like a broken record when I say that it’s so damn fun to see Houston’s beer scene explode, but it’s true, and it keeps getting bigger and better. When do we reach “max capacity” for new breweries in Houston? Hopefully not soon!
I attended Southern Yankee’s soft opening and, yet again, had a great first impression of a brewery’s opening.
Located almost squarely between Hardy Toll Road and I-45 North on FM 1960, Southern Yankee has a convenient location in a small strip center with adequate parking. Their taproom is casual and, of course, shiny and new. A large bar is the center of proceedings, and impresses as it features a see-through top with different design patterns created with different types of malts. It’s definitely a bit hard to describe, but one of the cooler bar tops in town and comparable to the one at Ingenious Brewing Company.
In addition to the awesome bar, there’s pub-style seating in the taproom. It’s not a huge space, but it’s bigger and more finished out than quite a few of the taprooms I’ve visited over the last year. The location is inviting and chill with board games to play and a fair amount of TVs throughout. They also have one of those fun boards where you can “leave” a beer for a friend. They do not have a kitchen, but do already have food trucks scheduled for the days they’re open.
As much as I enjoyed their taproom, I was most happy with the quality and selection of the beers offered. Ten beers at a brewery opening is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the brewery pulls out some interesting stuff. Southern Yankee definitely had a couple of unexpected choices for their debut. Interesting and unique brews are what really makes me excited when hitting up a new spot. All beers can be ordered a la carte and range from $4 to $6, or you can get a flight of four 5 Oz. pours for $8.
I started with Foolish Monk Belgian Wit which tastes and feels a lot bigger than its 4.0% ABV. It wasn’t as zesty and peppery as many witbiers but made up for that with excellent malt flavor. A blackberry laced version called Shrubbery Kiniggit was also available. I enjoyed the base beer more, as the complexity of the malt really stands out, but Shrubbery Kiniggit has a quality blackberry flavor.
Dope Village Altbier is another beer that stood out based on it’s malt flavor. Complex, toasty caramel malts balance well with the crisp feel and somewhat dry finish. Dope Village is an excellent example of the style and what I’m looking for in an Altbier. Is it too early to ask for a Sticke version?
RedX Express Red Rye Ale also wins with full, complex malt flavors. Bready and caramel notes dominate with a touch of rye spice. This one has an appropriate bitterness to balance the sweet malts and impresses enough in a style that often feels a bit mundane. Porter’s Porter is a solid Robust Porter with quality roast flavors with the expected notes of coffee and chocolate.
Mole, Mole, Mole was one of my favorites and one of Southern Yankee’s more interesting offerings. Its an Imperial Stout brewed with cacao nibs, ancho chilies, cinnamon and vanilla to simulate a Mexican Mole. There’s plenty of rich malt flavor that’s buoyed by the special ingredients. There’s not much heat, with the ancho adding just a little zip and smokiness. Cinnamon and cacao stand out the most. This is a high quality dessert brew that felt a step or two away from being absolutely amazing. Definitely one I’d love to revisit as it ages a bit to see what happens with the spices.
Who’s Paul? is the name of their American Pale Ale which features Citra and Amarillo. It’s a pleasant, well rounded example of the style that’s a good choice for their rotation. Southern Yankee also has a hazy IPA called Joose Pop that’s brewed with Belma, Citra and Mosaic hops. The haze and juice levels on this one are restrained compared to say B-52, Spindletap and Baa Baa Brewhouse, but Joose Pop has the low IBU and drinkability you expect.
Two brews, Fluffy Top Crop Session IPA and Grognak The Grodziskie, were listed as being “R&D” beers and ended up being two of my favorites. I’m usually not a Session IPA fan, as I often find them thin, but Fluffy Top Crop is one I can recommend. There’s more body and malt flavor than expected, but plenty of hop flavor and bitterness from Simcoe and Azacca as well. At only 4.5% it’s another one that feels bigger than expected.
Grognak The Grodziskie was my absolute favorite at Southern Yankee. For those of you who may not have had a Grodziskie, it’s a relatively rarely seen Polish style that features oak smoked malt in it’s grain bill. It’s also known as a Grätzer in German. Grognak is another Southern Yankee beer with a low abv (3.6%) that tastes great. The smoke flavor is very evident, but not as aggressive as often seen in smoke beer as lighter, less heavily smoked malts are used. Some people get heavy smoked meat flavors in smoked ales, but I didn’t taste much of that here, instead picking out light oak and smoky sweetness.
It appears the brewery will rotate beers fairly frequently, with a handful such as Foolish Monk, Porter’s Porter, Who’s Paul?, and Dope Village being mainstays. Southern Yankee’s website lists a lot of beers planned for the future. Talk at the grand opening was that a trio of beers from the Weizen family will be released in the near future. I’m looking forward to future releases after enjoying all ten launch beers. With an inviting taproom, great service, and solid brews I can easily recommend giving Southern Yankee Beer Company a visit.
Address: 930 FM 1960, Ste G, Houston, Texas, 77073
Phone: (832) 596-9681
Hours: Fri: 12p-12a, Sat: 12p-12a, Sun:12p-9p