Tag Archives: Texas

The Shiner Series: Spoetzl Brewery (Part 2)

6 Jul

So after the group tour, Anne took the three of us on an extended private tour of the brewery. It was awesome getting to see the whole process up close. We got to see everything we viewed from afar upstairs; the bottles going in for filling, capping, labeling, and packaging.

Some cool production facts:
-They have 80 tanks for fermenting
-85% of their production is Shiner Bock
-They make 600,000 barrels a year
-635 bottles are filled a minute
-They produce 1000 kegs a day
-Less than 3% of the bottles are damaged in production

The brewery is very good about being economical and resourceful – if a bottle has a label error, it’s taken to be cleaned and then reused. If a bottle breaks in the process, the glass is kept and sent back to their manufacturer to be recycled. We got to see the bottle graveyard…rest in pieces…

Then we were taken to the packaging area, where the bottles are placed into 6 packs, then put into cases.

Then after a pallet of cases is ready, they are stacked and sent to get wrapped in shrink wrap for safe transporting.

Then we were taken to another section of the brewery where the kegs are produced and stored. It was a very happy place. πŸ™‚

The kegs are highly monitored for quality and quantity standards, and once they’re up to par, are sent to packaging and meet the shrink wrap machine too. Anne was telling us how they used to do that part by hand and it was very time consuming, as one can imagine. They would also play around sometimes and a poor brewery employee would end up like a shrink wrapped mummy. πŸ™‚

Then we wandered through the shipping/receiving area and headed back towards the gift shop. When guests are done with the tour, they’re given four wooden coins to trade for a small cup of their choice of brew. (don’t worry, they have kid-friendly options too!) So we perused the gift shop and picked up some goodies while enjoying a fresh taste of our favorite beers.

Then, we had a nice surprise – Anne had asked Jimmy, the current brewmaster, to come over and meet us! Jimmy was a pleasure to speak with…he’s been working at the Spoetzl Brewery since he was a teenager. He started at the bottom of the food chain and has steadily worked his way to becoming the brewmaster. That was such a great thing to hear – knowing that hard work pays off and now, he knows all the different aspects of the brewery from experience. He was such a kind man and after asking about any upcoming special brews, we were told of one that’s in the works. I won’t spill the beans, but folks, it sounds amazing!

Jimmy then introduced us to an awesome man named T-Bone, the shipping supervisor. He directed us to bring our car around to the loading area for a special treat. Let’s just say we had several extra passengers for the drive home! πŸ™‚

Fun fact: You’ll see a cute little white house on the property too – this is where Cecile Spoetzl, Kosmos’ daughter also known as “Miss Celie”, lived while she ran the brewery after her father’s death.

Then we went back inside to finish our sampling and relaxed in the hospitality room, where they show a video about the history of the brewery. There’s also this cool artwork on the wall, featuring Kosmos Spoetzl wearing that purple and green tie!

We went outside to take some more photos and finally had to say goodbye to the lovely town of Shiner. (I really want one of those benches, by the way!)

Thank you again to everyone we encountered on our trip – yall made it a truly unforgettable experience! An extra special thanks to Anne, Jimmy, and T-Bone: your generosity, kindness, and obvious love of Shiner beers has not gone unnoticed. I hope to visit yall again in the future! Prosit!

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The Shiner Series: Spoetzl Brewery

5 Jul

“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. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚

The Baker’s Bill

10 Jun

I’ve just found out about something called the “Texas Cottage Food Law” (thanks Alyssa!) which would make it legal to use a residential kitchen to run a food establishment. It’s currently illegal to have a home bakery of any sort in Texas – which is very sad! Think of all the delicious desserts and breads that people are missing out on!

So to all my foodie friends, please take 30 seconds of your time and call either 1-800-252-9600 or 512-463-2000 to let Governor Perry know that you support SB 81! Easy as that! Seriously, you can just call and say “Hi, my name is _______, and I support SB 81. Thank you.”

Please spread the word and help make it possible for home bakers to legally share their talents! You know you’d like me to bake something for you! πŸ™‚

For more information, visit Texas Cottage Food LawΒ orΒ Texas Bakers Bill on Facebook

The Shiner Series: Ruby Redbird

7 Jun

So besides the classic Shiner Bock, the Ruby Redbird quickly became my 2nd favorite Shiner beer. It really is the perfect summertime beer – the hints of ginger and grapefruit in this light and refreshing brew are to die for and when paired with particular foods, really brings home a brilliant flavor profile. And as a proud Texan, (if you couldn’t tell) the fact that Texas Ruby Red Grapefruits are used, makes it even more awesome. I haven’t seen them in the store the past few weeks, so sadly it looks like my Ruby Redbird enjoyment was shortlived. But hopefully we’ll see this seasonal brew again next summer – if you still find some, definitely try it while you can!

PS: I’m SO excited to announce that at the end of June, I’ll be visiting the legendary Shiner, TX!! I can’t wait to tour the brewery and see the homeland of my favorite brand of brew – and can’t wait to share it with yall! πŸ™‚