Nick Carr on September 26, 2016 1 Comment Photo Credit: Spoetzl Brewery Quick Characteristics Brewery Spoetzl Brewery Location Shiner, TX Style Märzen ABV 5.7% IBU 18 Hops Hallertau Tradition, Hersburcker Malts Munich two-row, different caramel malts, ? Shelf Life 6 to 9 months Suggested Glass Mug or Nonic Pint Serving Temp 46-48°F Availability Fall Seasonal Food Pairings Roasted Chicken Tacos, Fried Macaroni & Cheese, Soft Creamy Cheeses, Vanilla Ice Cream w/ a little caramel syrup As October draws near along with many much awaited Oktoberfest celebrations, I find the shelves brimming with more and more examples of Marzën, that celebrational seasonal. Well, this week I went with the offering from Spoetzl Brewery. The Spoetzl Brewery was founded in 1909 under the Shiner Brewing Association. It was started by a group of German and Czech immigrants who dreamed of making available those styles of beer they had enjoyed in their homeland. The first head brewer was Herman Weiss, a Prussian born brewmaster who immigrated to Texas and settled in Galveston. Three years later, the head brewer position was taken over by Kosmos Spoetzl, with an option to buy the brewery. Kosmos Spoetzl had a deep brewing background with a three year apprenticeship in Germany and eight year stint at Pyramid Brewery in Cairo, Egypt. He came to the U.S. looking for a climate that would be better for his health. He settled in San Antonio. By 1914, he’d moved to a little town called Shiner, and in 1915 he bought the Shiner brewery and started brewing an old family recipe. When Prohibition hit, the brewery survived much the same way as several bigger breweries; they changed the product they sold. The brewery started making “near-beer” — a brew of less than 0.5 percent alcohol and selling ice on the side. It’s also said the brewery continued to brew small quantities of regular beer and sell it on the hush-hush. Kosmos died in 1950 and his daughter, Celile, took over the business for a spell, but ended up selling it in 1966. After this, it went through a series of owners, but the brewery has always managed to retain that small town feeling of ownership. Something’s Brewin’ in Shiner In the short film below, titled “Something’s Brewin’ in Shiner,” you can tell how proud the folks of Shiner, TX are of their brewery and it’s all summed up in, now-retired, town secretary Norma Goetz’s words “My husband always tells our friends and relatives from out of town we have three faucets in our house; hot water, cold water, and Shiner beer.” Video Source: Beef & Pie Productions on Vimeo Awards & Accolades for Shiner Oktoberfest This Oktoberfest recipe was first brewed as “Shiner 96” back in 2005. One of the five special beers released yearly running up the Brewer’s 100th anniversary in 2009. It was brought back as a fall seasonal in 2010, and it promptly won gold that year at the Australian International Beer awards. In 2011, it won silver at the European Beer Star awards and 2012 turned out to be a great year for Shiner Oktoberfest; it won gold at the Great American Beer Festival and silver at the Australian International Beer awards. Shop Shiner Beer on Amazon Ale or Lager: The Confusing Label Explained A quick note about the labeling on the bottle; this beer is called a “deliciously festive seasonal ale.” It’s confusing I know. How can it be a Marzën and an ale? Marzëns are lagers? Well, Shiner Oktoberfest is a lager, not an ale. I believe it may have something to do with Texas’s strict alcohol laws, which state that any alcoholic beverage with more than 4.0% ABV is considered an ale or malt liquor, while anything below 5.0% ABV is considered beer (no notes about lager). I know, again confusing. So, this basically means they can label anything up to 5.0% as beer or for that matter “lager beer,” but once above 5.0%, where beer can no longer be used and being already 1.0% ABV above where “ale” is supposed to be used, they have to use Ale. This seems to hold true for many of the Texas beers I’ve looked at, but not all. Who knows, maybe someone out there can clear this up down in the comments? I suppose it’s also possible it was just a slip-up in the labeling, though that seems less likely. I wasn’t able to get a reply back from Spoetzl, but will update this review if I find out anything. Ok, sorry about the long aside, but while perusing the internet for information I came across a couple places that were assuming it was an ale from the labeling. On to the tasting notes. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Shiner Oktoberfest. If you tasted this beer or have one in front of you as you read this review, please share your thoughts with everyone in the comments down below. Pour and Aroma: Color is a nice coppery gold. Clarity is superb allowing a good view of streaming lines of carbonation. Topped by a dirty ivory, two-finger stack of small-bubbled head. The stack collapses within a couple of minutes leaving islands fed by the venting carbonation. Aroma is pretty withdrawn in this one. It has an overshadowing light sweetness with just hints of toast and caramel. Light yeast signature and hops come through as a low leafy/grassy note. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is medium-light and has a pleasant, but shallow roundness. Carbonation is an appreciable low-medium across the palate. Bitterness is minimal and alcohol is unnoticeable. Taste is sweet on the front. Light caramel, some slight nuttiness, a hint of toast, a bit of crust. Nothing to flashy here. Mid-palate shows a light herbal bitterness. It turns sort of mineral-like as it hits the drop. Finishes semi-dry; with the malt sweetness dragging a bit. Aftertaste is of light caramel along with a brittle herbal/grassy, turning oh-so-slightly citrusy, hop afterthought.. FINISHING THOUGHTS This is a decent Oktoberfest. The malt complexity may be a little light and I catch a slight mineral-quality that throws me for a loop, but overall it is an easy drinking lighter iteration of the style. It’s an Oktoberfest playing on the safe side of an amber lager. Though there may be better examples out there I certainly wouldn’t complain if Shiner Oktoberfest showed up at an backyard Oktoberfest party, and neither should you. It would also make a great and safe introduction to those pale lager drinkers wanting an authentic Oktoberfest beer. Prosit!