The beer is not bigger in Texas

4 Mar

On our trip, the third regional beer we picked up a sampler pack for was Shiner, hailing from Shiner, Texas. Of course we have had Shiner Bock before, but there were a lot of beers in their sampler pack that I had not even heard of, including a seasonal offering. So, we figured we would give it a shot. Plus, we found it everywhere.

I think our overall impression was “eh” but also what we expected. The beers are made for the desert and all those hot summer days. There wasn’t much alcohol or hop and the flavor and body was generally light, but if you’re feeling like a beer, they were better than water. We wouldn’t pick this up again, but we’d probably drink a Ryes & Shine, Shiner Blonde, or Black Lager if it was offered at a summer picnic.

Ryes & Shine, Brew Pride, number two: the sample pack came with five standard Shiner brews and one seasonal offering in the Brew Pride series. Given this was the seasonal, and we love Rye in our beers, we were excited about this one and tried it first. The nose was all malt, very caramelly, with no noticeable hop to the aroma whatsoever. It had a smooth, medium to light body, slightly sweet caramel malts, some rye to the tongue, and a slightly dry finish. Hops were not noticeable outside of those used to balance the beer. A dark German lager such as a Schwartzbier is much more complex than this beer; this seemed to be toned down for a segment of the American market. Not really my kind of beer, but not at all bad for a lager; a good springtime option. This is simple, good, but not great. That said, it was better than any of the Boulevard ales.

Bock: a good standard bock flavor with a light body that I thought was a little too thin. There is prevalent caramel malt and a slight spice. I also noticed a soft buttery aroma but none on the palette. There is nothing offensive about this beer, but I also did not think there was anything special. The thinness would allow me to drink it on a hot summer day, but I would pass this by for something drier, bitter, or more hoppy. Unlike a traditional European bock, this one would best be served ice cold.

Black Lager: this beer offered a slight roast aroma that was very pleasant and inviting, but this did not taste as good as a real German Schwartzbier. It was much less complex, but with that said, this is the best Shiner in the sampler pack. With the rich malt and a light bright body, this is a perfect beer for an Arkansas spring day, where the temperature swings into the seventies.

Hefeweizen: an ale with orange, lemon, and honey, it poured cloudy with a light honey nose. Miranda had one sip and was completely turned off by a strong, almost fishy flavor. I disagreed, but I still thought this was the downfall of the sampler pack. We both thought it was a little “off” and probably sat on the shelf too long for a Hefeweizen, which needs to be served fresh. This was not fresh. It left me with a cider-like taste. This mixed box was better than Boulevard’s, but this specific beer failed. I really hope this beer is much better served fresh.

Shiner blonde: not sure why a light lager is called a blonde; usually a light ale in the pilsner style is a blonde. With that said, what is this beer like, you ask? First, there was no real noticeable nose. To the taste, what I noticed first was lower carbonation than other beers typically in this category. This beer was also a bit ever so sweet, a result of the lower carbonation that makes any of the residual sugars more noticeable. This actually reminds me of a Mexican lager, which has a little more flavor, making it a good choice on a hot summer day over many of the American big boy industrial breweries.

Kosmos: named after the brewer, this is a dry-hopped lager. That said, there was no noticeable dry hopping to me. Also, this was a Vienna lager, a light brown, as it was richer than a German lager. It was slightly sweet, and a bit rich; not as refreshing as a lager should be, but still pretty good for the pack.
Overall lesson: variety packs are not necessarily worth it.

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