3/31/23: The Spoetzl Brewery's Shiner Bock

8:33 AM

Look at me, coming in under the wire to get my second bock post up before the calendar turns to April. Kudos to me, all around.

An unopened bottle of Shiner Bock sitting on a kitchen table.

Like I mentioned briefly in my last post, this spring seems to be a weird drought for the bock, a seasonal style I always anticipate. I only found one truly seasonal offering of it (that'd be MadTree's Guten Bock). The other beer I picked up was originally a seasonal beer but, due to fan outcry, has long since been made a core offering. That lager is, of course, Shiner Bock.

The Spoetzl Brewery's been a staple of Shiner, TX since 1909. Founded by Kosmos Spoetzl, they do their town of just over 2,000 people proud by shipping out over six million cases of their offerings across the US.

Shiner Bock, a 4.4% ABV lager (brewed with roasted malt and German specialty hops), has raked in a slew of awards. It has some ardent fans who loved the original seasonal release of the beer so much that they convinced Spoetzl, back in 1973, to offer the bock year-round (or maybe the bock was introduced in '73 and has since been made a core beer? The reading on the linked page isn't super clear).

The nose on my bottle is malty and roasty, with notes of caramel, brown sugar, honey, and a touch of hops (earthy and vegetably). I'm also picking up on some notable skunkiness in the back of my waft, which I hadn't thought to expect. Regardless, this is a pleasant enough bouquet. Purrl gave Shiner Bock eight whiffs, indicating it's a lager for her.

Torbie cat Purrl sniffing an open bottle of Shiner Bock.

That skunk I picked up on the nose carries right on through into the pallet. It hits heavy and it hits first. Aside from that, however, there's definite toasted malt (milk chocolate) and the rest of the goodness I gathered from the bouquet (caramel, brown sugar, and honey) with some decidedly toffee notes, to boot. But, in there in the finish, that skunk lingers. Which is strange--this isn't an old bottle (I picked it up earlier in the month) and it's in amber-colored glass. Unfortunately, that skunky quality taints the whole affair.

Disregarding the taste here, Shiner Bock drinks like a lager should. It's nice and smooth, crisp and intensely crushable. I guess that's that low ABV for you.

One fine spring day in high school, some of my buddies and I bought a kite. We took it into the middle of a windy field and spent an lazy Saturday afternoon watching it soar. Until one of my buddies (who didn't know how to fly a kite because he'd never before flown one) took the reins and brought it crashing down to the earth, where it splintered and shattered upon impact.

It'd been a fun day until that point. This whole memory is what my bottle of Shiner Bock is like: Good until it's not. Blame it on that skunkiness--I just can't quite wrap my head around it.

Long time readers may know that I have a special place in my heart for Shiner beers. I think their Oktoberfest is the best budget Märzen on the market and Holiday Cheer was my first ever Christmas beer (not the first I reviewed, the first I ever drank). Before this post, I'd had Shiner Bock maybe once or twice in my life, occasions far removed enough from the present that I honestly couldn't recall the lager's exact taste. Let's say I'd had fairly high hopes for this much-loved bock.

It's a shame, then, that I'm giving Spoetzl's Shiner Bock a 6.0/10.

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