|Headquarters||Shiner, Texas, USA|
The Gambrinus CompanyFounder: Kosmos Spoetzl
Spoetzl Brewery is a brewery located in Shiner, Texas, U.S. The brewery is the oldest independent brewery in Texas. It produces a diverse line of Shiner Beers, including their flagship Shiner Bock, a dark lager that is now distributed in 49 states. The brewery is owned by the Gambrinus Company, a family-owned company based in San Antonio, which also owns Trumer Brewery in Berkeley, CA, and the BridgePort Brewing Company in Portland, Oregon.
The Spoetzl Brewery started in 1909. It was originally named "The Shiner Brewing Association," (SBA) and was founded by German and Czech immigrants who had settled around the central Texas town of Shiner. Unable to find the type of beer they had known in their home countries, they decided to brew their own. It is the oldest independent brewery in Texas and one of the oldest independent breweries in the U.S.
The leaders of the SBA named Herman Weiss of Galveston as the company's first brewmaster. Shiner was originally a "Lenten" beer, only available in the spring. As the brewery gained popularity in the area, the SBA began to look for a trained professional brewmaster. They found one in Bavarian-born Kosmos Spoetzl, a onetime soldier who had trained as a brewmaster in his native Germany. Part of the package that lured Spoetzl to Shiner was potential ownership of the brewery. In 1914, he co-leased it with Oswald Petzold with an option to buy in 1915, which he did, giving the brewery his own name but continuing to call the brews Shiner Beers. Spoetzl had attended brewmaster's school and apprenticed for three years in Germany, worked for eight years at the Pyramids Brewery in Cairo, Egypt, and then worked in Canada. He had moved to San Antonio in search of a better climate for his health, bringing with him a family recipe for a Bavarian beer made from malted barley and hops.
During Prohibition, Kosmos Spoetzl kept the brewery afloat by selling ice and making near beer. After Prohibition, only five of the original 13 Texas breweries were still intact. Following Prohibition, Spoetzl kept things small and simple, never going more than 100 miles for business.
In the 1970s and 1980s, the brewery's Shiner Premium Beer and Shiner Bock accounted for less than one percent of the Texas beer market. In 1983, Spoetzl produced 60,000 barrels of beer; in 1990, only 36,000. Sales improved after Carlos Alvarez of San Antonio acquired the brewery in 1989. Production grew to 100,000 barrels in 1994, and over the next ten years, production nearly tripled. The company now has 120 employees.
- Shiner Bock – Spoetzl's flagship beer. Bock has been brewed since 1913, almost as long as the Spoetzl Brewery has been in business. However, it wasn't until a few decades ago that Shiner began producing a bock beer year-round. Shiner Bock was considered a Lenten beer, and therefore was only made around that season. Today 73% of the beer made at the Spoetzl Brewery is bock beer.
- Shiner Premium – Premium is the direct descendant of Spoetzl's earliest brew. Although Premium has carried numerous names, such as Shiner Special, Shiner Texas Special and Shiner Blonde, the recipe has been virtually unchanged since it was first brewed in 1909. Premium was just re-introduced in March, 2013, featuring Shiner's famous "Cotton Boll" logo and distinctive gold packaging.
- Shiner Bohemian Black Lager — Originally a limited edition schwarzbier for the Spoetzl Brewery's 97th anniversary, it became a permanent part of the brand portfolio in late 2007. Black uses imported Czech Saaz and Styrian hops and dark-roasted malts.
- Shiner Kosmos —The original Shiner Kosmos was available in 1999 with a higher alcohol content and a different taste. This re-release is an American Pale Lager style beer available only in Shiner Family Packs, one bottle per six-pack.
- Shiner Prickly Pear Lager – A golden lager brewed with the juice from the Prickly Pear cactus. Available in Shiner Family Packs (one bottle per six-pack) and is the third in the "Brewer's Pride" Limited Edition series.
- Shiner Light Blonde – A light beer with only 99 calories, for people who want a light beer with character.
- Ruby Redbird – Brewed since 2011, it was formerly a summer seasonal. Popular demand led the brewery to introduce it year-round in 2015. It’s brewed with Texas Ruby Red grapefruit and ginger. This beer uses Munich malt and Mt Hood, Citra and Cascade hops and it is 4.01% ABV.
- Shiner White Wing – A Belgian white ale brewed with Belgian yeast, coriander, and orange peel; first released in 2013.
- Holiday Cheer – Cheer is an "old world dunkelweizen" brewed with Texas peaches and pecans. Malted barley and wheat are used. Holiday Cheer replaced Shiner Dunkelweizen as the brewery's winter seasonal.
- Shiner Oktoberfest – Märzen-style seasonal beer that has a deep amber color and slightly toasted flavor. First introduced as the 96 Anniversary Brew.
- "Shiner Birthday Beer" – A stout brewed with chocolate malt and real cocoa. In 2015, "Birthday Beer" honored the brewery's anniversary and served as Shiner's spring seasonal beer. Although the name will stay the same, the style will change each year.
- "Shiner Prickly Pear" – A light lager brewed with the fruit of Prickly Pear cactus, which is common in Texas and actually grows on the brewery grounds. Prickly Pear was previously available in the Family Reunion packages.
- Homespun* – Cream Ale, A full bodied beer.
- "Shiner Strawberry Blonde" – A summer seasonal beer brewed with strawberries. It combines pale and wheat ales with strawberries grown in Poteet, Texas.
Previously offered beers
- Shiner Old-Time Alt – Was available in Shiner Family Packs (1 bottle per 6-pack) and was the first in the "Brewer's Pride" Limited Edition series.
- Shiner Ryes & Shine – A rye lager; was available in Shiner Family Packs (1 bottle per 6-pack) and was the second in the "Brewer's Pride" Limited Edition series.
- Smokehaus – Spoetzl's smoked 'sommer' beer is brewed with pale malt that's been smoked with native mesquite. Smokehaus has an alcohol content of 4.89 percent by volume and an IBU of 16.
- Fröst – Shiner Fröst uses two-row malted barley, malted wheat and Munich malt for a full bodied flavor. Hallertau Tradition and Spalter select hops contribute to the aroma. Fröst has an alcohol content of 5.5% by volume, a bitterness of 25 IBU and color of 8 SRM.
- Dortmunder – Spring Ale Dortmunder Style has the malt profile of a Helles, the hop character of a Pils, but is slightly stronger than both. The brew is a renamed version of Shiner Fröst, and was released as the new Spring seasonal in 2011.
- Shiner Wild Hare Pale Ale – A classic American pale ale brewed with Munich malt with U.S. Golding and Bravo hop varieties.
- Shiner Hefeweizen
In 2005, Spoetzl began producing an annual brew in a progressive, anticipatory celebration of its 2009 centennial anniversary. The centennial program developed and produced one yearly special beer in small batches. The name of each such specialty beer corresponds to the age of the brewery: Shiner 96 was the specialty beer of 2005, Shiner 97 for 2006, and so forth. For the first two years, Spoetzl brewed Shiner 96 and Shiner 97 only from September through mid-December. In 2007, Shiner 98 was released four months earlier – in May – while Shiner 99 (2008) entered the market another two months earlier, in March.
Shiner 100 had the longest run of all the anniversary beers, seeing production all year long in 2009. After each beer's specified production run has ended, that year's beer is retired. However, Shiner 97 proved to be so popular that in 2008 Spoetzl brought the beer back as Shiner Bohemian Black Lager and made it a permanent offering. The Spoetzl Brewery originally intended to conclude its centennial beer production in 2009, but decided to continue the annual program indefinitely.
For 2009, Spoetzl changed the neck label for all their beers. The labels proclaimed Spoetzl's 100th anniversary and include the tag line "Here's to a century of independent brewing. Prosit!"
The annual brews and their respective styles are:
- Shiner 96 – Märzen/Oktoberfest
- Shiner 97 – Bohemian Black Lager
- Shiner 98 – Bavarian Style Amber
- Shiner 99 – Munich Style Helles Lager
- Shiner 100 Commemorator – Starkbier
- Shiner 101 – Czech-style Pilsner
- Shiner 102 – American Style Double Wheat Ale
- Shiner 103 – Wild Hare Pale Ale
- Shiner 104 – White Wing Belgian White Ale
- Shiner 106 Birthday Beer – Chocolate Stout
- Shiner 107 Birthday Beer – Hoppy Pilsner
- Shiner 108 Birthday Beer – Cold-Brew Coffee Ale (a Collaboration with Chameleon Cold-Brew)
- Shiner 109 Birthday Beer – Farmhouse Rye
Shine On is a coffee table book by Dallas author Mike Renfro, which documents the Little Brewery's history in photos as well as story. The book follows the brewery from 1909 to 2008. In addition to the history on the brewery, Shine On also includes the history of the town, as well as a look at some of the people responsible for making Shiner beer.
Working with their Austin-based advertising agency, McGarrah Jessee, Shiner's guerilla marketing efforts at the Austin City Limits Music Festival have consistently promoted their brand. In 2010, the company created the "Shiner Beer Local Stage", which featured a two-day lineup of local bands performing on a custom stage constructed under two billboards near Zilker Park. 2012 saw the creation of a beer garden, complete with a replica of the Spoetzl brewery facade.
In popular culture
In 2012, country artist Jason Aldean changed a reference to Shiner Bock a few weeks after releasing the song "Take a Little Ride". The original lyric, "grab a little Shiner Bock" was replaced with "grab a couple Rocky Tops" when Aldean signed a sponsorship contract with Coors.
A Texas historic marker was placed on the site in 1971
- Company; Gambrinus.com Gambrinus company website; accessed June 2016
- Shiner website
- "Shiner Introduces Limited-Edition Shiner 96 Commemorative Brew; Texas' Oldest Independent Brewery(R) Celebrates 96 Years of Brewing Tradition". www.allbusiness.com. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
- Spoetzl Brewery; Handbook of Texas online; accessed June 2016
- Shiner Bock: Texas’ Favorite Beer And Oldest Independent Brewery; article; posted December 21, 2012; Huffington Post; accessed June 2014
- Interview with Spoetzl Brewmaster; Drink Nation article;
- Spoetzl Brewery tour. March 20, 2009.
- Gubbins, Teresa (2012-06-22). "New Shiner beer, Prickly Pear, on the Market in Limited Supply". www.pegasusnews.com. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
- Beer description on the label. Spoetzl Brewery. October 26, 2008.
- Poling, Travis E. (2010-12-29). "Poling, Travis, ″Bottle & Tap″, ''San Antonio Current''. 12/29/2010". Sacurrent.com. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
- "Shiner Outfoxes Heineken at Austin City Limits Music Fest | Advertising and Marketing Wisdom: Adages - Advertising Age". Adage.com. 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
- "McGarrah-Jessee builds Texas brands with advertising and more". www.statesman.com. 2010-10-16. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
- "Jason Aldean Changes Song Lyrics To Accomodate [sic] Beer Sponsorship « The New Bull@100.3". Kilt.cbslocal.com. 2012-07-25. Retrieved 2014-02-26.
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