America’s Best Beer-Drinking City” (though CNN shafted us to the No. 6 position in a recent article, for some reason). Despite the near-innumerable quantity of beer labels that flood our taps and bottle shops, there was one American craft brand we couldn’t buy here, despite it being available in nearly the entire rest of the country. That all changed yesterday, with the official launch of Shiner Beer in Philly.
Shiner is made by Spoetzl Brewery, and has been for 100 years. Though it’s currently the fourth largest craft brewery in the United States, Shiner is made by a crew of around 100 people in a tiny town - Shiner, TX, population 2,069.
Brewmaster Jimmy Mauric, who we had a chance to chat with last week, has worked for Spoetzl for 35 years, starting at age 17 as a bottle washer and working his way up. And though the Texas facility is continuing to expand - with new fermentation tanks and a new bottling line - Mauric doesn’t expect to increase his staff that much. “We’re just real efficient,” he tells us, noting that in addition to being brewmaster, the size of the company means he also wears the hats of plant manger and human resources director.
Does the small-town love come through in the bottle? Shiner has a devoted following, as any displaced Texan will attest. We sampled the signature brew, officially known as Shiner Bock. The dark lager is slightly sweeter than Yuengling - which is an American-style lager instead of a German bock - but otherwise similarly drinkable and unfussy.
Origlio is distributing Shiner in Philadelphia, so look for the bock and also other labels - Wild Hare Pale Ale and Shiner Black Lager are two we’ve seen - around town on draft and in bottles and cans. Philly was the largest city Shiner was not available in before now, so it’s good to know we can cross that off the list. Is the beer worth the hype? Let us know if you try it.