Houston homebrewers Jaime Robles and Dennis Rhee long had an interest in beer, but after touring brewpubs in other major beer cities, it was clear that they wanted a concept for Space City that gave an equal emphasis on both food and beer. Enter CounterCommon Beerworks & Kitchen.
The local brewing duo officially opened Bellaire’s first brewpub at 5413 Bellaire Boulevard in Bellaire Triangle Shopping Center, where it joins other restaurants like Blood Bros. BBQ and Dandelion Cafe. And, as the name suggests, the establishment is hoping to offer something unique to the region’s brew scene in terms of both food and beer.
With Rhee as head brewer, CounterCommon — which held its grand opening on August 6 — focuses on flavorful, low-alcohol German-style beers, including lagers, pale ales, and IPAs. There’s the Nein Schadenfreude — a crisp pale German ale that borrows its name from a phrase used on the show Ted Lasso to emphasize “good vibes;” the hazy IPA, Copy/Paste #1; and the versatile Munchin’ German light lager, which Robles and Rhee say pairs well with food.
But “just because it’s a brewpub, it’s not all about the beer or the drinking,” says Robles.
Robles says the family-friendly brewery, which offers comfortable seating for more than 120 people indoors and outdoors, also serves wine, gluten-free ciders from City Orchard, iced tea, a special coffee bean blend from Katz Coffee for non-drinkers, and dishes that go beyond your typical bar food, Robles says.
Executive chef Ignacio “Iggy” Olivera, who previously worked at local restaurants like El Big Bad, Riel, and Dak & Bop, fuses Robles’ Mexican and Rhee’s Korean heritages into the cuisine with clear homages to Houston. Highlights include a Korean fried chicken sandwich dunked in a gochujang barbecue sauce, fish tacos that use a tempura beer-battered red snapper, and bao stuffed with bulgogi beef and lemongrass chicken. There are also sharable plates, like the smoked cheddar roasted pork sausage, sourced from Roegel’s BBQ, which is served with a spent grain bread made by local baker Alyssa Dole.
Robles and Rhee say their K-So — a play on queso — is already a bestseller, combining cheese and a sweet and spicy gochujang glaze with chorizo and roasted jalapenos, with a side of Dole’s gluten-free pretzel sticks for dipping.
“We’ve always liked beer and food, and how that works together,” Robles says.
Engineers by trade, the brewpub duo met as students at Rice University in 2003, and shared an interest in homebrewing, which they began in 2008. Rhee, who once worked as a chemical engineer in Houston’s oil and gas industry, took a more serious dive into brewing, attending Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology to learn about brewing science and furthering his beer education at Doemens Academy in Germany. Later, after returning to Houston to work with Saint Arnold Brewing Company and helping launch a beer concept in 2017, he began touring brew scenes in different cities, like Denver, Portland, and San Diego with Robles. Both admired the brewpub’s ability to center on both food and beer, and wanted to bring that same concept to Houston, where many breweries so often focus on production and what’s on tap, but less on dining.
In Bellaire, in particular, they noticed a gap.
“There’s nothing like this in the Southwest part of Houston that fuses food like we do and then houses beer,” Robles promises.
CounterCommon is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and on Sundays; and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Happy hour is held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.