Shiner, TX has had its own homegrown Bavarian-style beer since 1909, and Spoetzl, the last of the independent Texas breweries, has been distributing Shiner labels farther and farther outside the Lone Star State ever since. Shiner Bock — the brewery's most popular, year-round offering — is a tasty lager, and at 4.4% alcohol and 13 IBUs it lands in the Goldilocks zone between watery domestics and heavier craft brews.
Shiner has celebrated Oktoberfest with a Märzen-style ale since 2005, with a recipe calling for two-row Munich and Caramel malts along with German-grown Hallertau Tradition and Hersbrucker hops. At 5.7% alcohol and 18 IBUs, Shiner Oktoberfest is richer and sweeter than the Bock, but not so much as to make it less of a crowdpleaser.
Sold in both aluminium cans and brown bottles with an orange and gold label sporting a wide, relaxed Gothic script, Shiner Oktoberfest’s packaging suggests warmth and comfort rather than austere adherence to standards. The beer pours golden brown, with a thin head and some bubbling. A mild caramel scent as you lift the glass suggests the pleasant experience to follow.
The flavor begins slightly sharp, then sweetens on the tongue; we tried the beer out on drinkers on both sides of the hop divide and both those who loathe and love bitters were fine with the flavor. The clean finish seemed glassy, almost grassy to this drinker — no one else at our table seemed to think so, but the cheerful feeling that built as we finished our glasses led everyone to happily acquiesce to the description. As you might expect of a Texas beer, Shiner Oktoberfest paired reasonably well with tacos. Finish your glass before starting chocolate cake, though — sweets are not the best match.
Shiner is distributed widely in most regions of the country now; we’ve seen Oktoberfest already in stores in New York. While this brew isn’t a must-find, it’s a perfectly good beer worth picking up if you come across — if you’re one who finds heavily spiced pumpkin beers to be cloying, Shiner Oktoberfest is definitely a pleasant seasonal alternative.
Photos by Jordan Davis
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