Shiner Beer is a country classic. Brewed by Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Tex., a small town occupied by 2,069 residents, Shiner has been in operation since 1909.
Today, Spoetzl ships 7 million cases of Shiner Beer to 49 states every year. Here are 10 other things you should know about Shiner Beer.
Shiner came before Spoetzl.
Spoetzl Brewery was founded in Shiner, Tex., in 1909 by Bavarian-born Kosmos Spoetzl, who served as brewmaster for almost 50 years. The brand Shiner existed prior to Spoetzl’s arrival in the States.
It was originally a brewing association, a collective of city residents who brewed for their community. “Although they were talented amateurs, they were farmers, ranchers, and so on,” a Shiner spokesperson told VinePair. “They eventually got ahold of Kosmos Spoetzl, who had previously run a brewery in Cairo, Egypt. Kosmos was the first fully trained head brewer to come in and this was a turning point for the brewery, which then became a proper working brewery.”
Shiner was indie before indie was cool.
Spoetzl is considered an independent brewery by the Brewers Association. The brewery is owned by Gambrinus, a brewing company based in San Antonio, Tex. Gambrinus also owns BridgePort Brewing in Portland, Ore., and the Trumer Brewery in Berkeley, Calif., a sister brewery to Trumer Brauerei in Salzburg, Austria. Gambrinus is the sixth-largest independent brewery in the U.S. and 14th-largest brewery here overall.
Shiner defies all odds.
This month, Spoetzl added a new brew to its Brewer’s Pride series: Shiner Fresh Hop IPA. Accomplishing this was no easy feat. Like many breweries, Spoetzl sources its hops from the Pacific Northwest. Brewing a fresh-hop IPA requires getting hops from bine to brew kettle very quickly (some say within 24 hours). To do so, hops had to be harvested at Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn, Ore., and shipped straight to Shiner, Tex. They did it in under 36 hours — that’s at least 2,200 miles in a day and a half.
Shiner’s brewmaster was a rebel with a cause.
Kosmos Spoetzl spent two years in a state penitentiary. The offense? “He did not stop making beer during Prohibition,” a spokesperson told VinePair. After serving his time, Spoetzl promptly resumed brewing.
Shiner Bock is a country music favorite, but nothing is sacred.
According to Digital Music News, the following statement was sent by Aldean’s “camp” to various U.S. country music stations:
“Jason Aldean is in the process of signing an endorsement deal with the Coors Brewing Company. With that, he has changed the ‘Shiner Bock’ line in the song ‘Take A Little Ride’ to ‘A Couple Rocky Tops’. We respectfully request you exchange this version with the one you are currently playing.”
As a result of the change, which swapped “Swing by the quick stop, grab a little Shiner Bock” for “Swing by the quick stop, grab a couple Rocky Tops,” some fans called Aldean a sellout.
Willie Nelson almost owned Spoetzl Brewery.
According to Shiner lore, Spoetzl’s head brewer once played dominoes with Willie Nelson. After a few beers, the game was getting close, and it was time to ante up. Nelson bet the keys to his tour bus, and Spoetzl bet the keys to the brewery. Luckily, the house won.
You can’t have Shiner without Bock.
Spoetzl releases three year-round brands, about eight seasonals, and four Brewer’s Pride beers every year. Bock remains a favorite. Brewed since 1913, the flagship brand began as a seasonal brewed for spring, then became a year-round offering in 1973. Shiner Bock now accounts for up to 80 percent of the total Shiner volume. Since 2001, Shiner Bock has earned 17 awards, including six Great American Beer Festival medals, eight Australian International Beer Awards, and two World Beer Cup awards.
Shiner has a twisted sense of humor.
Shiner beer bottles have twist-off caps, a craft beer no-no most often limited to cheap macro lagers like Bud and Bud Light. Why, then, do they do it? According to brewmaster Jimmy Mauric, it’s simple: “So you can get the beer out.” Watch him do it in this video, one of a very funny series.
(Another in the Q&A series: “Is Shiner a beer or a town?” Answer: “Yup.”)
‘Shine On,’ brother.
An award-winning ad man named Mike Renfro loved Shiner Beer so much, he wrote a coffee table book about it. In 2008, he published “Shine On: 100 Years of Shiner Beer” commemorating Shiner Beer’s 100th anniversary in 2009. The book is available in the brewery gift shop and on Amazon.
Shiner never forgets a birthday.
Shiner started celebrating its 100th birthday when it turned 96. In 2005, in anticipation of the brewery’s centennial in 2009, Spoetzl began releasing an annual birthday beer. Each year was a different, limited-release style. Apparently, the second time was the charm – the brewery decided to make the Shiner 97 recipe, a schwarzbier style first offered in 2008, a permanent part of its repertoire. Called Shiner Black, it’s now available year-round.