I can admit when I’m wrong. During The Takeout’s recent fantasy food draft focused on supermarket (i.e. easily accessible nationwide) beers, my colleague Dominic Suzanne-Mayer scooped up Shiner Bock for his team before I could. “If I could find Shiner near me,” I said, “I’d drink it more often.” Well aren’t I turning red as a Jersey tomato, because Shiner is distributed to all 50 states and even Mexico.
It was time to right my wrong. I guess I’d just never looked for Shiner on shelves, beelining as I usually am toward something new, or something local, or something funky and cork-and-caged and imported from Belgium. Once I did look, there it was in my grocer’s refrigerator. It’s weird to wake up and find that what you’re looking for has been here the whole time.
So how did Shiner Bock fare after our separation of ignorance? Very well. The malt character was sturdy but not too chewy or cloying, and the hops were elevated just enough to provide intrigue for American palates used to IPAs. The beer was more flavorful than I remembered, but still quenching enough that I’d drink it at a summer barbecue. I’d forgotten how much I liked this beer.
I can’t think of bocks, a German lager style that’s just a small step up in richness from a märzen lager, without thinking of Cincinnati’s Bock Fest. It’s an annual celebration of the style (which encompasses substyles like brawny and boozy doppelbocks and lighter Helles bocks) that takes place in early March. College friends and I attended years and years ago, and my memories of the weekend are a blur of very strong beer, pretzels, stumbling around Over-the-Rhine, and the spectacle that is the competition for the title of Cincinatti’s Sausage Queen. Heck of a time. You should go, if you get the chance.
But that debauchery obscured the fact that bocks like Shiner’s version are actually quite quaffable and extremely food-friendly, the kinds of beers you want to have in your fridge for all occasions. Shiner Bock’s aroma clues you in to some of the caramel, light brown sugar, and bread-crust malt notes to come; the sip follows through with not-too-sweet Maillard richness clipped at the swallow by earthy, low-frequency hop bitterness.
Shiner Bock is a beer we’re lucky to have in all 50 states, especially at summer’s tipping point when fall weath—yeah, I’m not ready to talk about that yet, either. Let’s just close with my glass raised to Dom, who snatched a damn fine beer in that draft.
Shiner Bock is available year-round in all 50 states, and Mexico.
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