Monday, May 12, 2008

Shiner Hefeweizen Review

Brewery: Spoetzl Brewery | Beer: Shiner Hefeweizen
Style: Hefeweizen | ABV: 5.6%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Shiner HefeweizenThe first thing I ever noticed about this beer, back when I was first starting to appreciate great beer, was the bizarre graphic of two men sharing the same head (or is it just one man?). Turn the graphic one way and its a wistful chap reminiscent of Phil Collins in a dirty suit after being dumped. Turn it the other way and he’s happy, but looks much less like Phil Collins. The sad chap is pouring a bottle of beer upwards to the happy one. I guess that’s why he’s sad; not because he was dumped but because gravity stopped working right and stole his beer.

I absolutely loved it, I had to have this beer! True, buying a beer based sheerly on it’s labeling is not a smart move; I’ve learned that the hard way. Luckily for me (and Shiner) this time I was not disappointed, I’ve been a big fan ever since. A few years back, Shiner changed the label design to a different interpretation of the one-headed-men concept, this time more stippled with the happy guy wearing a polo shirt.

While visiting my local supermarket a couple weeks back, I noticed a new Shiner design. Once I reached the six-pack my heart sunk as I realized that it was Hefeweizen and the weird little graphic was gone for good. The new design is very bold and colorful and really fits the flavor profile of the beer. But all of this is about a label, who cares, the important stuff is inside.

Shiner Hefeweizen is brewed in the Bavarian wheat beer style that is Hefeweizen. The beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized and brewed with Texas clover honey, and both lemon and orange peels. This makes the beer very unique, especially when compared to the other offerings I can find at local gas stations. Hefeweizen has earned many awards, including a gold medal at the 2002 World Beer Cup for specialty honey lager or ale.

Appearance: Pleasantly cloudy straw to pale orange body with a decent off-white dimpled head that dissipates rather quickly leaving a decent amount of lacing (Note: The sunset light in the above picture makes the beer appear more yellow that it appears in normal light)

Aroma: Sour citrus dominates, with some faint sweetness on top of a subtlety hoppy and grainy body

Taste: Very crisp and tart with huge citrus notes (that linger well into the aftertaste) with slight hints of the added honey - the hops and wheat are very much in the background here

Mouthfeel: Fizzy and a bit thin, but that’s what you are looking for in a summer’s day thirst quencher like this

Drinkability: This a great beer for Texas summers: goes down easy, refreshes and has a moderate ABV so you can keep drinking all afternoon

Verdict: Sour citrus flavors absolutely dominate this beer, so if you aren’t a fan of those flavors you probably aren’t going to like Shiner Hefeweizen much. If you happen to like sour citrus flavors though, you’re going to find a great refreshing beer that is quite affordable (depending on where you live). I’ve always have a fondness for this beer, and although I will always miss the creepy guy(s) on the label, the beer still doesn’t disappoint me.

: A

Shiner Bock Review

Brewery: Spoetzl Brewery | Beer: Shiner Bock
Style: Bock | ABV: 4.4%
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into pint glass

Shiner BockThe Spoetzl brewery was founded in 1909 in the town of Shiner, Texas by German immigrants looking to recreate the beers they were used to at home. The brewery is named after the second brewmaster and long time owner Kosmos Spoetzl. Today, Shiner brews up a healthy portfolio (reviews of all Shiner beers to follow) with Shiner Bock as the flagship product. We learned about the Bock style a few posts back in the review of Saint Arnold Spring Bock. We also learned that there is some contention as to what classification this beer even belongs to. But while this may in reality be an American Dark Lager, for now we’ll go with the brewer and call it a Bock.

Full disclosure: I drink a lot of this beer. Living in the Houston area, Shiner Bock is my faithful stand-by. I don’t always have the luxury of buying my beer from a specialty shop, or even high-end grocer. In fact, I end up having to buy a lot of beer from *gasp* gas stations. This is where Shiner (people mostly refer to Shiner Bock as simply “Shiner”) comes in. In an endless sea of macro lights, Shiner is the only decent beer to be found in many grocery stores, gas stations and skeezy bars in the area. Funnily enough, at many restaurants in the area, it’s even featured on the “import” list. Oh, Texas.

Appearance: Clear medium brown body with white head that fizzes out quickly, leaving moderate lacing

Aroma: Medium roasted malt body with vague hints of hops in the background

Taste: Roasted malt and caramel notes with a little booze and that famous metallic curve-ball at the end - nice caramel aftertaste

Mouthfeel: Quite dry and clean with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: I can personally assure you, Shiner can be drunk in large quantities over the course of a night

Verdict: This is certainly not the greatest beer in the world, nor the greatest Bock. Hell, as we saw in that Saint Arnold Spring Bock review, it might not even be a Bock. But still, I have a very warm place in my heart for Shiner Bock. It rescues me time and time again out in here the outback of American beer culture.

Just last weekend, I was attending a wedding, dreading choosing between choosing either tea or Bud Light after Bud Light. Then, out of nowhere my spirits lift when I hear the golden words: “They have a keg of Shiner.” I’m proud to say at my upcoming wedding, we will be having a keg of Shiner, too. Though, to be fair I’ll also have a secret stash of some higher-end beers. I guess that’s about the most perfect metaphor for this beer I could have come up with.

Grade: B-

I’m sure you have your own regional beers, that while not exactly world-class, seem to keep ending up in your hand weekend after weekend. Leave a comment and let me know.