With the recent boom in craft breweries and bars in Houston it was only a matter of time before a new, boutique retail store to buy all of that beer popped up. Since our beverage laws don’t allow breweries to sell their beer on-premise, places like Specs, Kroger, HEB, Central Market, and Whole Foods fill the gap for us. But what about those special one-off, keg-only beers that breweries like Buffalo Bayou and No Label Brewing are making? How can you enjoy those at home, as opposed to hunting down a bar in town that may have it on tap the night you want to go out? Enter Premium Draught, a new, soon-to-open specialty retail store featuring 20-24 taps for growler fills and 4 doors of coolers that will be filled with bottles for purchase, organized by style of course. Premium Draught is located in the cozy strip center at 733 Studewood by Antidote coffee, taking the space once home to Kaboom Books.
After fellow beer nerd and blogger Jose tweeted about Premium Draught, I immediately had to know more, especially with the confusion around whether or not they would actually sell you a pint to drink in store while shopping. Unfortunately, this will not be the case as I found out after sitting with Johnny Orr, the proprietor of Premium Draught, over a few beers at Petrol Station. After spending ten plus years as a bartender at a few of Houston’s good beer bars, Orr decided that he wanted to open a place that made it easier to enjoy good craft beer at home. As an admitted homebody, Orr grew tired of having to hassle with finding parking (a notorious problem in this town), fighting crowds, and the general bar scene, thus the idea of Premium Draught was born.
Having worked in the industry for so long, Orr developed crucial relationships with distributors and an in-depth understanding into consumer spending and habits. Having watched people’s palates evolve through the years gives Orr behind the scenes insights that will guide his purchasing when Premium Draught opens. The saying “the customer is always right” means something completely different to Orr. No longer is it about getting your appetizer comped because it wasn’t warm enough, rather it is about listening to what customers want. If someone comes into Premium Draught and asks for a beer that he doesn’t stock, Orr wants to have the flexibility to adapt to requests and the evolution of the Houston beer scene in general. The advantage of a place like Premium Draught, over the other retailers in town, is being able to carry beers that aren’t packaged in bottles or cans. Sometimes, driving across town to a bar for that one special beer isn’t an option, but filling up a growler and taking it home to drink while you catch up on your favorite show, cook dinner or whatever, certainly is.
This concept is pretty unique to Houston with the exception of D&Q, who is having issues getting licensed to fill growlers, which leaves mainly big box stores to buy your craft beer from. Definitely a welcome addition to the burgeoning craft beer scene in Houston. A few other points of interest from our chat include plans to sanitize their growlers on-premise, though customers will be allowed to bring in clean, non-Premium Draught growlers, and probably the most important tidbit is his timeline for opening. Orr hopes to be open in two to three months barring issues with city permitting. The appropriate TABC permits have been acquired, so now the hold-up is the myriad of city permits and finishing construction. As the space gets developed I hope to visit again and report back with pictures!
I want to thank Johnny for taking the time to meet with me and a special thanks to Roby Fitzhenry at Always Creative (the people behind the new Open The Taps logo and Premium Draught’s website) for facilitating the introduction!