“There’s nothing finer than an ice cold Shiner” – while this slogan stands true, I think visiting the place where the magic happens is rather fine too. 🙂 Last week, I had the chance to finally visit Shiner, TX – home of the Spoetzl Brewery and motherland of Shiner beers. This will be a two-part post, because I have A LOT to share! Let me start by saying that the hospitality, kindness, and generosity experienced on this trip were extraordinary. Thanks to everyone we encountered who made it a truly wonderful experience.
Jason, myself, and our friend Jessica headed out bright and early to beat the North Texas traffic as we headed south to Shiner. We jammed to Relient K’s new EP and chatted the whole way, enjoying views of the Texas countryside as we headed to our destination. After arriving an hour early (woo! lack of traffic!) we headed inside to meet up with Anne, who was our guide for the day and a sweetheart from the beginning.
She pointed us in the right direction for a quick lunch before our tour, so we headed to Friday’s Fried Chicken, a local joint just up the road from the brewery. Friday’s was such a homey small town eatery where the locals and visitors alike converged. With a wide selection of sandwiches, homemade baked goods, and of course, fried chicken, we definitely enjoyed our lunch.
We got back to the brewery just in time for the 1:30 tour which Anne was leading. She was the perfect combination of Southern hospitality and professionalism – keeping everyone interested and answering questions like a pro. Anne allowed us to take pictures on the tour (thanks!) but sadly our nice camera was accidently left at home, so iPhone photos will have to suffice. We started on the lower level as a group and were given a brief history of the Spoetzl Brewery. There were some neat photos of Kosmos Spoetzl, the first brewer and namesake of the Shiner brewery. Besides being an excellent brewmaster who was handpicked for the job by the local Germans and Czechs, he was known to be a fun and colorful man, wearing a purple and green tie in this famous image.
Then the group was led upstairs to where the brew kettles and the brewery’s laboratory are located. (Beckster was pretty excited to see the “Laboratory” sign, as one can imagine) The brews are seriously tested and monitored for quality levels – only the best!
Cups of hops were passed around so we could see and smell the different kinds used for different brews. Love the hands on aspect! Interesting fact: their hops are from Germany, the Czech Republic, and Washington.
Then we moved on to another section where you could peek into the brewery and see all the action happening, from bottling to capping, labeling to packaging. We got to see the crew at work and even witnessed them fixing a jam in the machinery. Thanks for your hard work, Shiner employees. 🙂
Anne walked us through the brewing process and discussed each of the current Shiner brews. She even shared some favorite recipes and stories of her own, like brownies made with the Shiner Bohemian Black Lager.
Side note: To any readers living in states with more strict alcohol laws (like Oklahoma), to find your favorite beers with higher than 3.2% alcohol content by weight (rather than the low-point versions), visit liquor stores to find what you seek. Good to know!
PS: If you’re ever on this tour yourself, check out the “King of Beers” chair. You’ll know what I mean 🙂
Turnover is very low at the brewery, and understandably so! The employees are well taken care of – benefits are wonderful and there’s no forced retirement. Fun fact: the longest working employee at the brewery was there for 63 years! While the brewery has seen its ups and downs, they’ve recently expanded to 90 employees after adding extra shifts. A very good sign – business is growing as more people fall in love with Shiner’s spectacular brews!
From here, the group was led down to the gift shop for shopping and sampling. But more on that later – the three of us were lucky enough to then go on an extended tour with Anne. Can’t wait to share more!
Stay tuned for part two where you’ll get a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes at the Spoetzl Brewery! 🙂