Febrewary: Shiner Holiday Cheer

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Brewer: Spoetzl Brewery
Location: Shiner, Texas
Type: Dunkelweizen
ABV: 5.4%

Has it really been 28 days since I started Febrewary? I suppose so. Doesn’t feel like it. Also doesn’t really feel like I accomplished what I set out to do, which was reduce the number of singles that I’ve recently purchased. Instead, I took this as an opportunity to drink some of the beers that I have been aging…make room for new beers to age. And so it goes with my final Febrewary entry.

I’ve had this bottle of Shiner Cheer in my aging collection for slightly more than three years. It was another one of the oldest in my collection. The rare thing about it is that it’s only a 5.4-percent ABV beer. Some believe that you shouldn’t really waste your time aging anything under 8 or 9 percent. However, I sometimes will make exceptions for beers that have a flavor that I think aging will enhance and showcase.

First, if you’ve never tried a freshly bottled Shiner Cheer, and you’re not averse to fruit-flavored beers, then I would highly recommend this Dunkelweizen (another new beer type for the lair!). Here’s a little bit more about this beer, from the label:

Happy Holidays from the “Little Brewery” in Shiner, TX. We hope you enjoy your Shiner Cheer, an Old World Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans. The malty flavors of this dark wheat ale are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. And Kräusening ensures a smoothness that makes the subtle peach and pecan flavors all the more satisfying. May your days be merry and bright and your Shiner be cold. Prosit!

A Dunkelweizen is a dark (“dunkel”) German wheat (“weizen”) beer with a naturally low bitterness and a natural propensity toward sweet, fruity flavors. Adding fruit and nut flavors to this type of beer seems like a given (although possibly a bit of overkill if done incorrectly). And Kräusening is a form of beer carbonation using active malt wort rather than sugars. I’m not sure about the precise details, but I have read that it’s supposed to produce a cleaner tasting beer. Oh, and it’s German. In case you didn’t catch that from the word. Or the umlaut.

So what happened to this beer after aging for three years? Beautiful, magical, almost-to-the-edge-of-terrible things. I cracked this open with a wary twist and upended the bottle into a glass. My reward was this lovely cushion of foam and the comforting scent of harvest-time peaches…that last batch that’s almost too ripe to eat…slightly brown, slightly bruised, but you take a bite and are rewarded with a flood of succulence across your taste buds, down your chin, running between your fingers.

Aged, this beer becomes almost entirely about the peaches. There’s still the trace of pecan along the edges as well as a distant echo of breadiness…the understated topping and crust to a late summer peach cobbler. What was once a beer of balanced flavors has now tipped toward a heavy peach bias. And it’s delicious…with just the slightest hint of a dangerous drop mere inches away. I think if I had let this age slightly longer than I did, it would have turned and this would have been a completely different review.

Again, if you like fruit-flavored beers, I say go find yourself some Shiner Cheer come Christmastime this year. Actually, start looking for this one around early November, and be forewarned: It goes very quickly. I missed my chance last year. This year? You can bet I’ll be ready. I have to be. I now have no more Cheer. And that’s a sad state to be in, denizens.

And so we end Febrewary. I still have a bunch of dark singles to deal with…but the good news is that I now have several openings available in my aging section thanks to tackling some of my older brews. Plus, there’s always the possibility of Darktober 2014. You never know…