Nick Carr on June 8, 2015 5 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Spoetzl Brewery Location Shiner, TX Style Fruit Beer (Prickly Pear Cactus) ABV 4.9% IBU 20 Hops Citra & U.S. Golding Special Ingredients Prickly Pear Cactus Fruit Suggested Glass Shaker or Nonic Pint Serving Temp 46-48°F Availability Summer Seasonal Food Pairings Balsamic Fruit Salad, Grilled Chicken, Light Goat Cheese, Peach Tart Summer’s just about full swing now and we’re in the thick of it. Hotter days, trundling lawnmowers, evenings balmy and alive with the hum of insects, chirp of crickets. It’s the time of the Pils and Helles, the Blonde and Bohemian; and time for some summer seasonals. This beer drew me more than maybe it would have, had I not done my own share of prickly pear brewing. Not beer mind you, but mead. A glorious dry mead it was, with honey drifting in among the fruitiness of prickly pear. The color was a wonderfully strange magenta, but stranger still, this color disappeared about a month after bottling. It still tasted wondrous, but changed to a more expected meadish honey brown. Shop Shiner Beer on Amazon Now, for those of you who don’t know mead, you’re missing out. Beer is made by fermenting grain, wine by grapes, and mead by honey. Just try it for yourself. It’s magic when well-brewed. A quote from 2010’s Robin Hood sums up all you need to know of mead: Friar Tuck: “Have you tried the honey liquor we call mead? Give’s a man a halo, does mead.” Most anyone who lives in the desert southwest will know the prickly pear, in some cases maybe too well. Those fruit sure look inviting upon the desert landscape. To see a flash of bright red or purple in the browns and washed-out greens. But, alas its name cannot be taken lightly. Even once extracted from the mother cactus, many times an unknowing or overly exuberant collector will be caught by the short and thin-as-hair spines guarding the surface of this delicious desert fruit. And oh, how these prickles persist once in your skin or perish the thought, your mouth. So, some advice for the rambunctious brewer looking for something new to throw in that next batch of beer: wear a pair of tough gloves and burn the prickles off before you imbibe. Ok, let’s see, we’ve covered mead (because I had to bring it up), we’ve covered prickly pear, because it’s what hopefully makes this beer something special (this is yet to be tested)… let’s learn a little something about the brewery before we jump into the true review. With its beginnings back in 1909 the Spoetzl brewery in Shiner, Texas has some deep roots. Even after all these years the brewers in Shiner have managed to doggedly keep their craft brewing independence even while gaining a reputation that’s grown far beyond their small town of some 2,000 residence. With prickly pear being so common in the desert southwest it isn’t a big surprise that a company like Shiner finally got the idea of dropping a few into a beer fermenter. Pour and Aroma This lager pours a copper-amber with a rosy tinge to it. Surprisingly there is no magenta coloring to be found, just that sort of whispery trace of red. It would be interesting to know if the beer started off with the prickly pear coloring and lost it, as my mead did, over time. It’s possible, Shiner probably lagers it for at least a month, if not longer. Even with a pretty violent pour only a thin off-white head forms and disappears within moments. Clarity is superb. Aroma is fruity, with strawberry making the strongest impression. Some peach notes and an all but unnoticeable hint of citrus. Can’t find any malt aromas at all. Reminds me more of a fruit spritzer than beer. Mouthfeel and Taste Prickly, gassy carbonation lends well to the satiating, medium body. Mouthfeel is somewhat drying. After the aroma the taste is an unexpected surprise. I figured the fruit was going to be way too sweet. Not the case, though noticeable it doesn’t overpower and slap you in the face. Strawberry/peach little citrus, much like the aroma, but at a more subtle and enjoyable level… at least when it’s cold. But here, the malt shows signs of life with a delicate bready quality. The swallow and drying aftertaste are bitter enough to play against the sweet fruit nicely. Finishing the Impression Though this beer doesn’t have a whole lot going on, pretty one dimensional when you get right down to it… that dimension isn’t bad. Cold, the beer is great as a summer lager with just the right amount of fruitful fun. When it warms though, it becomes a bit of a frightful mess, with way too much sweetness going on, at least for me. It’s worth a try. Drink it cold after hard work and it’ll be the best thing around.