Where to find good beer
Historically, Fort Worth has lagged in the craft beer scene. They may have the oldest current microbrewery in North Texas and the original location of the Flying Saucer beer bar chain -- but that was all they had for the longest of times. In 2007, a new Ginger Man opened on Camp Bowie (and an award-winning brewpub for a brief moment in time) but, still, there was little else in town that would be considered a good craft beer destination.
Fortunately, Fort Worth is beginning to experience its own proliferation of better beer bars, pubs and restaurants just as Dallas has enjoyed over the past several years. While places like Rodeo Goat, Brewed and The Bearded Lady came to the local forefront in 2013, and Zio Carlo Magnolia Brew Pub continues to truck along, one player has finally stepped into a role that can give the Saucer and Ginger Man franchises a true run for their money: West Seventh's Pour House.
Unlike most new craft beer establishments, the Pour House has a bit of history. The original Pour House opened as a typical sports bar a block off Sundance Square in 1995, taking the homonymic name that seems requisite in any town for an establishment catering to the college and young adult crowd. Its second-floor site with Bourbon Street-like balcony was a mainstay of downtown workers during the week and local bands on weekends. However, craft beer was just not part of its business model nor customer base at the time.
With the development boom along West Seventh Street came rising rents all over the downtown area, and the Pour House relocated in 2009 to a standalone site almost across the street from the old Montgomery Wards building. It tried with limited success to recreate what it had at its downtown location, now competing with the new businesses just a block away, but late last year the Pour House went through a renovation and rebranding as a full-fledged craft beer bar.
General manager Shawn Howell, a long-time veteran of both the Flying Saucer and 8.0, now oversees a wall of 75 craft beer taps and a kitchen producing meals just a step up from its old bar-food standards. The main room is expansive and televisions plentiful, still holding on to its sports bar history with roll-up walls providing ample patio seating in good weather. A fixed stage is in the back for local bands and an adjoining room, once a different club altogether, separates the main area from darts, shuffleboard and billiards with a smaller bar of its own.
The Pour House is also still developing as a craft beer bar with special brewery nights and informal "beer college" classes starting to find their own footholds. It still retains its sports bar heritage with plenty of space and screens at eye level but now it is also cultivating its own West Seventh craft beer crowd, drawing just a little away from those too far from the downtown Saucer. Not that the Ginger Man and Flying Saucer aren't dear to us as beer drinkers but it is nice to see the market supporting a little local competition.
Recommended pint: Martin House Sugar & Spice, a nicely mulled winter warmer.