Distilled: Shiner Birthday Beer

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I’ve always been a fan of Shiner Bock (from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas) so when I saw Spoetzl had brewed a one-off stout to celebrate its 106th birthday, I thought why not? It seems odd to mark your 106th anniversary, but it’s a stout and made by a brewery that’s exceeded my expectations before.

When I was first introduced to Shiner Bock, I knew little about it and didn’t expect much. But I was pleased that it’s a surprisingly drinkable beer; an odd combination of being refreshing and containing enough depth from the roasted malt. I usually refer to Shiner Bock as my favorite grocery store beer, and find it tastes better on draft.

So having been pleasantly surprised by Shiner Bock, I dove into Shiner’s Birthday Beer Chocolate Stout. Unfortunately it’s exactly what it sounds like.

The limited-edition brew is characterized by strong chocolate overtones and a powerful sweetness for a stout. It’s basically like drinking a chocolate cake in beer form. The Birthday Beer’s overwhelming chocolate-y-ness was especially surprising given the beer was thin for a stout.

While this stout is not my cup of tea, and wasn’t exactly what I expected — which I’ll take the blame for because the birthday cake on the label should’ve tipped me off — it’s not exactly a terrible beer.

At 5% ABV, it’s a session-able stout, and the sweetness does lose some potency after a while. Or my taste buds adjusted. If the Birthday Beer had some more bitterness, or used roasted malts instead of chocolate malt and cocoa in the brew, there’s potential for some interesting balance here.

Instead, I view the Birthday Beer as a fairly solid dessert beer, something I’m not very excited about but will have on the rare occasion. And if dessert beers are your thing, Shiner’s Birthday Beer will surely satisfy.

I guess there’s always next year, as the bottle says another birthday beer is in the offing to mark 107 years.