In 1993 I was lucky enough to accompany my friends in the band CLAW HAMMER on a North American tour. I was the merch guy, the roadie, the money-collector, the designated driver, the hotel- and/or basement-floor-arranger etc. When the band played two nights in Texas (Austin and Houston), I found that in Texas they had a local beer that they were all quite proud of: SHINER BOCK. I thought it was pretty cool that this one was everywhere, as this dark amber bock beer from the SPOETZL BREWERY was a huge cut above the Coors Light, Bud and Heineken one typically finds as rock clubs. I drank ‘em by the bucketload in the hot Texas evenings, made even better by the fact that both clubs (both called Emo’s) had awesome outdoor patios where people hung out between bands, and where I sold T-shirts and CDs. SHINER BOCK had definitely converted this Californian, and I went home and told the people that they did it different in Texas. (Rock clubs in California, outside of my "local", The Chameleon, almost never served beer this good).
Flash forward to Tuesday night of this week. I’m in Dallas (Irving, actually) at some ridiculous suburban “party” restaurant called the Cool River Café, which despite the general yahoo vibe had/has a pretty decent selection of beers on tap. I saddled up to the bar and had them pull me a pint of SHINER BOCK, and, uh…..hunh. That’s a pretty ordinary beer. Granted, in the sixteen-year “interregnum” between 1993 and 2009, there’s been a couple of craft beer revolutions, and exotic beers of all stripes have found their way to my tongue. Back when I barely knew an ESB from an IPA, this was some pretty great beer. Now it’s a thin, malty, amber-brown grainy lager, with few discernable tastes outside of those faint malts and grains. I can see it still as a terrific “beat the heat” sort of beer, and believe you me, if it’s between this and the macros I’m going for a Shiner Bock all the way. But thrown up against all the highfalutin beers we’re normally ingesting over here at the HBJ? I don’t think so. 5/10.