Shiner Blonde – 4.4% ABV
The name Shiner is synonymous with the state of Texas. First, it’s the name of a tiny town of about 2,000 people in southeast Texas. Secondly it’s the name of a beer label of the same name located in that tiny town. Being a Texas kid, I know the name Shiner quite well. In fact, the words Spoetzel Brewery (pronounced spet-zel) and Shiner have been part of my lexicon for the better part of two decades. After all, unlike the frat daddies who savored Natty Light, Keystone, etc at all their get-togethers, flowing kegs of Shiner Bock were a staple at my fraternity parties. And when I say kegs, I do mean multiples. This stuff was a household name to anyone wearing our letters. And when over the years I have gone home to visit my parents, a six pack of Shiner is almost always in the fridge when I arrive. When Shiner Blonde made its first appearance in the local beer store way back when, I was eager to give it a try. Sadly, in my opinion it was not quite as good as their bock was, but I was already biased towards that particular flavor anyway.
Fast forward about 15 years or so and I find myself staring down a bottle of Shiner Blonde during a recent trip to Buy-Rite. The label design was different, but for old time’s sake I decided I might as well grab it and add it to my build-your-own six-pack collection. I’ve already been able to reminisce on old adventures with Abita and a few other “old friends,” so I might as well give a nod to a home state label I knew so well. Being that this is an American Bohemian-style lager, I went with the old trusty pilsner glass. The pour delivered what you would come to expect from something in this style – a clear light/pale golden body with nearly two fingers of white foamy head. This would quickly settle down to a thin film above the brew, almost disappearing entirely. But no matter, I’m there for the taste not the look. In a moment though. The aroma from this thing is light and grassy, not overly hoppy. To be frank, even the grassy bouquet is barely there. It’s quite subdued. I don’t remember it being this muted when I was college, but then again, we were chugging these when we drank them. No one paid any attention to the aroma, the body, the IBU levels. You know, all the particulars. None of that really mattered to us. Speaking of drinking them…
My first taste of this took me back well over a decade and reminded me of my first impression of Shiner Blonde. It’s ok. It’s not something I would say has any kind of “wow factor” to it. But then again, I’m not drinking some exotic foreign import. The flavor of pale malt is dominant up front. It is very much malt-forward, and although there is a slight sweetness, it is fairly withdrawn. There is very little hop presence in it at all. Like the aroma, the grassy/hoppy flavor is quite reserved and standing on the sideline. It builds ever-so-gradually as you continue to pull on the glass, but it never takes center stage. I do get a little bit of that tinny/metallic aftertaste after a pull or two. That never bodes well in my mind, but maybe it will subside as I continue to quaff this. There is a pretty good amount of carbonation, as I said before it delivered a nice big white head. The mouthfeel is rather light and slightly bubbly, making this one pretty easy to go down.
Overall, my average-yet-not-so-fond memories have not failed me in my old age. Shiner Blonde is a good lawnmower beer, something to keep in the fridge for those hot days when you need something light and somewhat watery to wet your whistle. Forgive me, I know this may sound harsh but I’ve become quite partial to the more complex, bigger-bodied beers these days. That’s not to say that this isn’t a decent brew. It’s just not one of my favorites, and knowing Shiner like I do, it is not their best entry. This could be considered a decent session beer. Granted, everyone’s palate is different and this is just my humble opinion. The only way you’ll know for sure is if you have a go at it. That being said, if you want something complex and bold, look elsewhere, but for something light and easy to cool you off on a warm day outside, give Shiner Blonde a shot. You just might like it. Cheers!