From the arrival of the first European settlers in the Americas up through Prohibition, beer and brewing were very local to regional business. These smaller local breweries were mostly wiped out during the ban on alcohol sales in the 1930’s. After prohibition was repealed, innovations in mass production, shipping and refrigeration led to the rise of the national breweries. A few smaller breweries managed to survive all of the upheaval and keep strong regional followings, despite the national competition. One such brewery is Spoetzl Brewery, which has brewed it’s line of Shiner beers in Shiner, Texas since 1909. For decades Shiner beer was only sold in Texas, but the increased interest in craft beer has helped the brewery grow into one of the largest craft breweries in the US. You can now buy Shiner beers in nearly every state in the US. Shiner recently debuted in MA, adding to an already crowded local beer scene. Their flagship beer is a Shiner Bock, their take on the malty German lager style. Shiner Bock is now available locally on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Shiner Bock pours a caramel brown with a minimal off-white head. The scent is pretty mild, just a hint of semi-sweet maltiness. The malt is more evident in the flavor, notes of brown sugar, whole grains and a touch of caramel. As you would expect with a bock the hops are minimal here, just a touch of bitterness for some balance. Shiner Bock is very drinkable with the smooth finish you anticipate, from a lager beer. At 4.4% ABV it’s sessionable, but much more full flavored than most mass produced beers. While I’ve had better versions of the bock style this beer has a nice combination of full flavor and value, the price point is a bit lower than many craft offerings. If you’d like an easy drinking introduction to malty German lagers or you’re on a budget but don’t want to drink macro-swill you should give Shiner Bock a shot. Hoppy Boston score: 3.5/5.