Thursday, June 18, 2009


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.


Fowl Birdwatcher said...

something really changed for the worse at shiner around 99 or so, i had to quit drinking it entirely.

tedo said...

I'll disagree with Fowl. I've been drinking Shiner since 1996 and think its pretty much tasted the same. Sweet, thin, kinda tinny, but it is what it is. Shiner has some other more interesting beers, but as you stated if its the Bock and BMC, I don't have a problem picking up the Bock.

Jez said...

I think it's gone back and forth. Inexperience made me think it was good, then a couple of years ago, I wasn't impressed, then I had it again and thought it was okay.

Overall, I think you're being kind with a 5/10, but if you want a good Shiner beer, I recommend the Shiner Black. Great Black Lager.

Vince said...

I agree with Jez. I've gone back and forth on this one. I've enjoyed it many a time at Giordano Brothers in SF with their Pittsburgh all-in-one sandwiches. Then, after discovering it at the Safeway down the street from my house I was really turned off having it solo. I think it's one of those beers best enjoyed with a greasy meal. At least that has been my experience.

Ragged Tiger said...

I've discussed this very topic with numerous friends here in central Texas. We all think Shiner Bock changed sometime during the late 90s. It is watered- down, carbonated, and somewhat bland compared to what we remembered from the early 90s.

Shiner 100 is actually closer in taste to the original Shiner Bock.

Its just unfortunate that Shiner had to introduce an anniversary beer just to get back to their original flavor profile.