The Spoetzl Brewery is located in Shiner, TX, a short two-hour drive Southeast of Austin. Founded in 1909 and named after the Bavarian brewmaster Kosmos Spoetzl, it is the oldest independent brewery in Texas. In addition to its namesake Shiner Bock, the brewery produces a number of seasonal and specialty brews such as Shiner Blonde, Shiner Hefeweizen, Shiner Black, and Shiner Light Blonde. The Spoetzl Brewery offers free tours Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. And from Memorial Day to the Friday before Labor Day, additional tours are at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Shiner beer has been a tremendous supporter of Do512 over the years, from helping us out with some of our larger events to helping us launch and produce the Do512 Lounge Sessions, so we were excited to have an opportunity to take a day trip to the brewery. The Spoetzl Brewery is a lovely destination spot for a day trip from Austin, situated in a small community (roughly 2000 people) that loves their beer and religiously supports the Shiner brewery. Of the 90 employees who are working on-site on a typical day, many of them call Shiner home.
As we were approaching the brewery, we saw a number of people walking over from town to get their share of the free beer that Shiner offers up each day. You can basically just walk right in to their well-stocked gift shop and try samples of the five or six signature Shiner beers they have on tap. Once you show your ID to one of the friendly staff, they in turn give you a handful of wooden nickels that are good for a small cup of the beer of your choice. We took this opportunity to try out the Shiner Ruby Redbird, their delicious seasonal beer that is brewed with genuine Texas Rio Red Grapefruit and ginger. This lager beer is absolutely refreshing on a hot day, and a nice change of pace from your regular beer.
The brewery tour begins right there in the gift shop as you are sipping on your frosty cold beer. The tours are led by Anne Raabe, a welcoming tour guide who knows the ins-and-outs of this family-owned operation, and has been leading the tours for more than a decade. For the second part of the tour Anne takes you into the main building and informs you on some of the rich history of the place, before taking you upstairs to show you their massive copper stills. You also get to take a good look and smell of the hops and learn more about the brewing process. You then walk over to a viewing area where you see the actual assembly line where the beer is being bottled, capped, and labeled.
After the regular tour wrapped up, Anne took our small group on a private tour that most don’t get to experience. First we met Peter Takacs, who has been the QA manager at Spoetzl Brewery since the late 1990s. Takacs has worked in the brewing industry for more than 35 years, so as you can imagine he had a wealth of information to share with us. One of the more interesting things he told us was that for all the various beers they serve, each one just starts with a general idea. The idea then gets sent to Jimmy Mauric, Shiner’s brewmaster, who develops an original signature recipe for each one. They’re always coming up with something new, such as the anniversary beers they have been creating over the past few years. The latest is Shiner 102, their American Style Double Wheat Ale.
Anne then walked us into the actual assembly line, which was quite a sight (and sound.) You can’t really hear it from the second floor observation area, but when you’re down there in the guts of the machine you realize just how amazing the whole process is. We were able to walk around and watch everything happen from the time that the bottles arrive, to the time that those yellow boxes are full of beer, packaged, and ready to ship. It was a special experience for us, and we were honored that the staff took time to show us around.
If you ever have a chance to make it to Shiner, we highly recommend you head over for the brewery tour and meet Anne and some of the other friendly staff. Anne also told our group about a dynamite dessert recipe that combines brownies and the Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, so be sure to ask her about that!