Shiner Bock by Spoetzl Brewery
I'm still out rambling through Texas, taking pictures and making notes. Who knows when my travel experiences will find their way into a book or articles? Certainly, they are appearing in my blogs.
The house sitter is taking good care of the hacienda so I'm delaying my return. In addition to liking small town museums, I also like touring businesses that make a product. I have a couple of wineries on my itinerary, but today I thought I'd tell you about the Spoetzl Brewery which is the oldest brewery in the Lone Star State. The small brewery in Shiner, Texas, produces Shiner Bock, Blonde, Winter Ale, Hefeweizen, and Summer Stock.
Czech and German immigrants arrived in 1887 and settled the area eighty miles southeast of what is now Austin. The town became Shiner, and in 1909, the Shiner Brewing Association was founded.
In 1915, Kosmos Spoetzl, who was born in Germany and earned his Brewmasters degree there, bought the little Shiner brewery. He’d worked for several years at different European and Canadian breweries before moving to the United States. According to information at the brewery’s web site, they still use Kosmos Spoetzl’s original recipes. Their reputation for producing handcrafted brew also calls for the beer to be naturally aged before it goes to market.
Though the brewery has remained small with less than fifty employees, times have changed where distribution is concerned. Once upon a time, Shiner Beer was available only in Texas, but now it can be found in twenty other states thanks to the present owner of the brewery, Carlos Alvarez who expanded into other markets.
All beer contains the same ingredients of water, malt, hops, and yeast. The beer at the Spoetzl Brewery comes from an Artesian spring. Malt is simply the grain barley which has undergone a three-step process of malting - steeping, drying and roasting. Barley is steeped in water usually 2-3 days until it germinates. Then it’s spread into large, flat pans and heated which stops the barley’s sprouting and dries it. Then it’s roasted. The type of beer being brewed determines how long the barley is roasted. Light roast malt creates a lighter beer, and a burned malt (black) creates a dark beer like Shiner Bock.
The next ingredient is hops which are grown in a cluster of flowers at the end of a vine. These tiny clusters look like miniature pine cones, and the extract derived from them is the hops. This extract, the hops, give beer its individuality. Back before refrigeration, brewers made beer that was highly hopped because the hops were a natural preservative so beer would last longer.
Most people - like my darling husband - likes Shiner Bock because it's light, but not too light, and it's dark, but not too dark. It's just right. More flavor than a light beer, but not so flavorful that it's overwhelming or bitter. The mellow taste of Shiner Bock can be consumed very cold or at room temperature, and it pleases the palette both ways. He likes to kick back with a cold Shiner Bock while he's tending the grill.
This Texas beer from the little brewery in Shiner is a beautiful amber color that tells you it's situated perfectly between lagers and dark beers, and it goes exceptionally well with Mexican food or steak. Or by itself. Most Texans’ favorite time to indulge is when slaving over a hot grill. That's when a cold Shiner Bock is a little bit of heaven.
If you can't get to Shiner in person, you can take a virtual tour and see the brewhouse, lab, fermentation room, and storage tanks where the beer rests for twenty days. Each batch of beer is naturally aged for at least thirty days. The bottling process is shown on the web site where at least 5,600 cases are bottled each day. And this doesn’t even include the kegs. Each day from the warehouse, they ship about 8,000 cases and 500 kegs.
Manufacturing tours are great entertainment that's educational and easy on the budget too.