July 19th, 2010
Beer Island: Warm Welcome on a Hot Afternoon
In 7 Words: Open, Desert, Friendly, Local, Blue, Heights, Sand
Starting an afternoon of patio drinking might at first seem a simple feat. But as the decision rests on my shoulders of where to meet for the first leg of beers and verbal powwow, the pressure only intensifies as one o’clock approaches. I’ve always got an idea of what establishment will act as my last for the evening, as I usually close the night with the familiar. I make it a habit to explore the unknown territories before the alcohol and conversation have dulled my wits.
Speaking with friends on the phone, Beer Island comes up as a place none amongst us had experienced. It’s hot. We’re going to sweat no matter which patio is chosen. We may as well opt for an island, real or not. A view on the corner of Studewood and White Oak might not offer rolling waves, but it’ll sure as hell deliver rolling droves of pedestrians and cars for our sociological voyeurism.
My wife and I are the first to arrive to the quiet little bar. Large garage doors that open towards the patio and Studewood, fans recirculating humid gusts, the Counting Crow’s “Rain King” calmly coming through the speakers and two bartenders are all that stand to greet us this early in the day. No complaints here. I much prefer the desolate over the crowded, no matter how cool the place is.
We find a table outside, almost out of reach from the closest fan, decreasing the likelihood of us having to yell to be heard once more voices are added to the equation. We order a Blue Moon (one of two beers on tap, the other, Lonestar) and a Southern Star Pine Belt Pale. Leaning on the roughly finished bar I’m smitten with the selection of craft beers available and more impressively, local crafts. Along with our frosty mugged beverages we’re given two monstrous cups of water, a most welcome compliment on this one hundred degree day.
The rest of our friends begin pulling in as the clock strikes two. Also arriving are platoons of scooter enthusiasts. Expected, unexpected, strange, square, rugged, clean, yuppie, and hipster all begin finding their places at the remaining picnic tables like sand nestling into crevices and wrinkles on a sleeping sun bather. At first it seems a coincidence that so many scooters have shown up simultaneously. That is until the bartender informs us of the Houston Scooter Battalion’s monthly meetings on the first Sunday of every month. Neat.
We order our next round of beers, this time taking advantage of the $6.50 pitchers of Lonestar. Inhaling a breath of hot air before the frosty mug hits my lips, I take comfort in the idyllic circumstances by which I am surrounded. The sounds of more scooters and their owners mixing with the past week’s stories told by friends make for a strange unexpected ambiance in the middle of this bright afternoon.
Looking around for the bartender in an effort to refill our pitcher I notice the blue walls inside, coated with beer signs and promotional lights befitting of any bar. The used pool table residing just beyond the large garage doors lends itself for leaning rather than billiard sport.
As five o’clock approaches our stomachs begin their calls of hunger. “Do you serve food here?” I ask the bartender, kicking myself for the lack of forward thinking. “Sometimes. We’ll have hot dogs and hamburgers later.” Disappointment strikes. I confer with the rest of my tribe. Upon hearing the news, a verdict is reached that we ought to have one more beer and then close our tabs. With the selection of brews that is here at Beer Island, we decide that it needs to be taken advantage of; denying our stomachs a bit further in the name of this worthy cause. My wife and I switch over to Lawnmower and Fireman’s 4 for two more hash marks on our building beer tab.
Looking out onto Stoudewood, the sun still high in the sky, we toast to a fine afternoon and the bit of luck that brought us to this friendly neighborhood bar. Maybe moving to the Heights has its perks after all?
Where – 2631 White Oak Dr, Houston, TX, 77009 (View Map)
What – Comfort in the midst of heat and concrete
Wear – The word island in the name does not imply the allowance of bare feet and shirtless torsos, anything else goes
How Much – Slightly pricier than average, remember it’s mostly craft bottled beer, plan accordingly
When – Monday through Friday: 3:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., Saturday and Sunday: 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Web – Facebook