Adding to their small empire of drink in Montrose, the guys behind Anvil Bar & Refuge debuted craft beer bar The Hay Merchant in February 2012.
Set in a decades-old building steeped in history on the Westheimer curve, Hay Merchant pays homage to beer in much the same fashion that the two-year-old Anvil does for cocktails. Eighty craft beers are on tap at any given time, including five cask ales. An explosion in Texas brewing over the last few years brings unprecedented opportunity to showcase regional brands as well as several unique, national and international labels.
Hay Merchant Co-owner and Beer Director Kevin Floyd designed an elaborate draft system for the bar that includes a large, two-chamber cooler and a striking line of beer tap handles crafted from reclaimed fixtures, each with its own story. Indeed, the overall aesthetic of Hay Merchant—from the exposed bricks and beams of the original structure to the reclaimed pavers from Downtown that line one wall—seeks to honor the unique history of the city. The name of the place is a tribute to Mitchell Louis Westheimer, the civic leader and namesake of the thoroughfare, who actually traded in hay early in his career in the mid-1800s.
Patrons can enjoy a fresh brew inside at one of the tables handmade from salvaged wood, or at the bar itself lined with sturdy, custom-designed stools. A long, narrow “community” table at the center of the space offers an opportunity to meet fellow beer lovers. Outside is a patio with several “picnic-style” tables and a view of Downtown.
Beyond its beer program, Hay Merchant is also crafting a tavern food menu that goes beyond the typical. Executive Chef Antoine Ware’s rustic dishes include meat chips (cross-cut beef short ribs marinated in lime, chile, garlic and fish sauce then chargrilled), sweet and spicy pig ears and charred lamb costillas. But don’t get too attached; the menu changes weekly depending on the freshest ingredients available.
Hay Merchant is open 3pm-2am Monday-Friday and 11am-2am Saturday and Sunday.