As a Texan and also as a craft beer drinker, I feel somewhat at odds when presented with a beer from the Spoetzl Brewery, namely Shiner Bock. Much like the offerings from the Boston Beer Co, the flagship beers of these breweries are what I would call “craft lite,” seeking consensus and ease of drinkability on the palates of less adventurous beer drinkers, pulling back on flavor and aggressiveness, where smaller craft breweries find their niche.
|Maybe Spoetzl, by calling this their 2nd craft brew is acknowledging their normal production line as something other than craft?|
This is not a bad thing, for I don’t always want to pound my taste buds to death, but I still want some flavor to hold onto. For this reason I will occasionally buy a 12 pack of Shiner's “Family Reunion,” a sampler of their Blonde, Bock, Black Lager, and a seasonal wild card. Last year's season was the first of their “Brewer's Pride,” an Old Time Alt, this year the boys and girls from Shiner, TX are offering the second release in the line, a rye lager.
This new offering, Ryes & Shine, is a combination of rye, chocolate rye, caramel malts, and three varieties of hops. Dispensing the lager into a pint glass, the beer pours out a dark yet still translucent hue. Lots of active carbonation bubbles and ferments to the top of the beverage that sports a half finger, off white head that does not dissipate, and adheres to the pint glass's sides in an attractive lace.
A bready, malty nose with hints of spice greets the drinker as the first sip of this medium bodied lager hits the palate with a roasted caramel nuttiness and a slight generic spice that offers a nice, dry finish. As more of the beer is consumed, the generic spice develops more, and the sweetness of the body tempers considerably, offering a peppery aspect that brings out some of the flavor of the chocolate rye malts on the backend.
This beer seems to be an example, as was Shiner's Wild Hare Pale Ale, of the brewery's awareness of their position as a big boy in the land of craft breweries, and a need to address the wants of a thirsty public. While not an excellent beer, it is a solid effort from this brewery to offer a more diverse and unique product to the marketplace, and worth a try.
It’s been a Rye-mageddon here at the “offices” of Intoxico! Be on the lookout for a review of Sierra Nevada's Ruthless Rye IPA coming soon to this website.