A Day Off with Beer(s) by the Bay – A visit to Galveston Bay Brewing in Clear Lake Shores
One golden rule of a craft beer hobbyist is to never let a day off go without brewery visit.
Lucky for me, Galveston Bay Brewing announced on Facebook that Tuesday April 4th would be the first day of operation for their new location in Clear Lake Shores. Truthfully, I haven’t visited this brewery in years – and a lot of that had to with the beer selection. Many of my close friends were visiting often, but being a primarily hazy IPA drinker, I just couldn’t find anything I really enjoyed on the regular. Ghostship Gose was the standard pick in those days but I had troubles getting it routinely. When they closed the doors to their original location near 646 a few months back, I knew that something big had to be brewing and figured it was time to give them another try with the launch of the new taproom and restaurant. New brewery, new beers right? The stars were aligned and I had no more excuses – it was a perfect opportunity for a day drinking excursion near the water.
I packed up my fanny pack, tossed my large water bottle in the back seat of my car and headed down south on 45. I had plans to meet up with Josh, OG brewer from Saloon Door Brewery for a beer drop off that morning so after a quick text message, he was in route to meet me there. The drive from Pearland took about 35 minutes which was not bad at all. I arrived a few minutes before 11am, quickly threw my car in park and strolled up to the entrance of this brand new beer space. What a sight! The big bold letters on the face of the building immediately let me know this wasn’t the same brewery as before and they meant business. The dedicated golf cart parking out front told me they are also serious about the party. I can dig it.
The taproom was bright, clean and spacious with ample seating types. The focus point upon entering was the long bar top with a stunning view into the brewery. It was an easy and obvious choice for me since I was there to drink beer. Up close and personal. Complete with stainless steel views of the brewery in action, any position at the bar is an ideal spot for someone drinking alone. The bar sits about 15 people with comfortable chairs with padded back rests, thank goodness – I am beyond grateful for this often overlooked detail. During my visit, the bar staff was friendly, attentive and let me sample any beers I wanted before ordering. The number of hard seltzers flavors on the menu is sickening but being so close to the water, I suppose it makes good business sense.
It was time for a beer. I was able to place my order directly from my phone with a simple QR menu system. Pretty cool. The beer nerd in me wanted to order a few flights of beers to try em all, but I know how much it’s a pain in the ass to pour so I opted for half pours instead. I saw that Ghostship Gose was on tap, but being a green apple version – I decided to skip it and go with something less weird. I decided to order the Purple Pils, a czech style pilsner. Much to my surprise, it was actually purple and looked like grape kool-aide in my glass. The flavor was on point: easy to drink, clean balanced malt profile and once I got pass the goofy color, quite enjoyable. I am not one for the gimmicks but this beer was turning heads – giving people whiplash asking ‘what the hell is that!? At this point, the taproom was starting to fill up with thirsty guests and the intoxicating smell of food was making its way out of the kitchen. There was no short of staff this day either, service was stellar.
Along with my Pils, I ordered the beer pretzel with a side of queso and mustard. Josh was nice enough to let me nibbled off his appetizer of chips and queso while we chatted. Both delicious starters to what was turning out to be a great day off from work.
A quick glance at the food menu included all the coastal classics you don’t often see at big city breweries: fried shrimp, snapper, po-boys, oysters and boiled shrimp. Also featured were the more common American style options like burgers, wings, tacos and salads. But wait – $34 for a fish and chips dish? Is that a typo!? The beertender was quick to respond – nope! That’s right – GBB is serving up the biggest fish and chips you have ever seen. Call it a whale and chips because you can definitely share this with 2-3 friends. Jay Peek, previously at Gordon Street Tavern in Alvin, is running the kitchen here and you can tell, he isn’t playing around. Well done Jay! I know exactly what I am getting next time I visit.
Lets keep the party going, shall we?
Next up on the beer list was a whiskey barrel aged version of Bull Shark Scottish Ale. This scottish ale was awarded a bronze medal in 2021 at GABF and since it was my day off and all, I could probably use a bit more booze. Sitting at a cool 6.5% it carried most of the barrel notes in the aroma leaving behind a beer that was malt forward with a touch caramel and light fruity esters.
Already two beers in and I still haven’t drank any IPAs by this point. Thank goodness it was only 1pm so I decided to double down. I ordered a half pour of Tropic Thunder NEIPA and Sunny Day IPA. Between the two, Sunny Day was the clear winner for my tastes so I upgraded my short pour to the standard size for my full enjoyment. Crisp, hoppy and a bit floral, this beer was definitely the one for me. I wanted this time alone with my beer so I relocated to a table outside across the side street to enjoy the water views and chat with the locals. Now I remember why this is my favorite day off activity.
After finishing this beer, I was basically borderline buzzin’. I returned back inside and convinced Skyler Forshage, head brewer for Galveston Bay Brewing, into a quick brewery tour to see the rest of the building. Josh joined me, asked all the usual brew tour questions while I listened with one ear and admired the sights with my point and shoot camera as we navigated this dream brew house. One immediate observation I made was that the entire brew team looked happy to be there as everyone had a smile on their face. I get the sense that this was the beginning of something great for them too. With this new state of the art brewhouse, the future certainly feels bright. It was clear to me that this new location brought more opportunity than I originally understood walking in. Skyler pointed out one of his favorite features of the new spot – the large loading dock with easy access to the bay side view. Looks like a perfect place to throw a line in between batches!
On the way out, I checked out the merch area fully stacked up with tin tackers, t-shirts, and growlers. I can only assume you can purchase merch on your tab but there was a table counter with a chair next to it. Seemed like an unusual setup for a merch station and this space would be better utilized with a standing bar in my opinion. After all, that’s how we were using it.
Just as I was wrapping up my visit, I ran into a few familiar industry faces. Looks as though word was getting out quick about Galveston Bay and just as I was pulling out of the parking lot, more patrons were arriving – just in time to beat the dinner party crowds.
I am glad I had the opportunity to revisit Galveston Bay Brewery and try a few ‘new to me” beers again. All in all, it was a day off well spent. I hope others that may not have liked any of the beers in the past give it another shot. Add in the combination of great food options, this spot would make a killer date spot. I wish them nothing but the best success in this new spot and hope they find their core set of local regulars to keep them in business for many years to come. I am looking forward to my next day off so that I can visit again. If you enjoyed this article, please give it a share on social media and let the team at GBB know we sent you.
Galveston Bay Brewery is located at 902 Marina Bay Drive in Clear Lake Shores. Follow them on Instagram at @galvestonbaybrewing.