GC: Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner attracts world of visitors
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Address: 603 East Brewery St., Shiner,
Tours: 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Clad in its yellow label and brown bottle, the Shiner Bock beer bottle is an icon that represents South Texas.
The Spoetzl Brewery, still on its original site from the early 1900s, sits in the heart of Shiner and droves of Shiner beer fans. Public relations representative for the company, Anne Raabe, is familiar with the brewery's tours and beer selection.
"The original brewery was established in 1901," she said. "But we've modernized it over the years and built the new brewhouse in 1995."
Since the brewery opened in 1901, additions have been added to the brewery grounds and so have the kinds of beers formulated on the premises. The first beer was the original Shiner Bock and every year, the brewmasters develop more and more.
TAKE THE TOUR
Though the tour is a brief 30 minutes, it offers visitors a behind-the-scenes peek of the goings-on at the brewery. The tour guide will bring guests through the brewhouse, where the ingredients are combined in the labs and the fermenting process takes place and the drink is stored in the large tuns and tanks; the bottling line, where all the different brews are bottled and packaged before they hit the trucks and are shipped out of the many stores that sell and distribute the dark drink; then back to the hospitality room where the tour began and also serves as the gift shop.
In the hospitality room, is where visitors will meet before and after the tours. Also, the hospitality room showcases memorabilia for Shiner fans.
If you show up before the start of the tours, which start at 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m., you can enjoy some of the brews produced at the Spoetzl Brewery. Each guest over the age of 21 is given four wooden tokens to exchange in the hospitality room for a cold beer. "The afternoon tours, especially on Fridays, are full. We get hundreds of people here," she said.
In 11 years with Spoetzl, Raabe recalls a few times when the Spoetzl brewmaster is out walking through the brewhouse or the plant and is surprised with a round of applause.
"I've been embarrassed a few times when Anne is doing her tours and she points me out," Brewmaster Jimmy Mauric said.
Mauric, Spoetzl's brewmaster and plant manager, is in charge of overseeing all the brews in production and other specialty brews that the brewery releases throughout the year.
He said that over the course of a day, the brewery will produce an estimated 12,000 to 15,000 kegs of beer a day. And depending on what the Spoetzl Brewery is producing, the brews offered will change.
"We have seasonals, and then we have anniversary beers, which we run all-year long," Raabe said.
All the seasonals are limited editions and the anniversary brews change every year. 2011's Double Wheat 102 was the brewery's anniversary beer and the upcoming winter/spring ale will be a Shiner Dortmunder, which Raabe described as having a "malt profile of a helles, hop character of a pilsner."
"My favorite... well it's a toss up between the Shiner Light Blonde, which we put out this year, and the original Shiner Bock," Raabe shared. She joked that the blonde helps keep her girlish figure since it is the low-carb brew with only 99 calories.
Mauric said his favorite was the Shiner 97 anniversary beer, which was a Bohemian Black Lager.
"It was a good, good product they were sure to bring back," he said. "It's now a part of the brewery family."
The brewmaster said the company has been continuing to grow so much that the number of brews made during production have increased each year. He estimated that Spoetzl produced the equivalent of 6.5 million cases of beer.
"This little brewery makes all the Shiner beer that everyone enjoys," Raabe said.