The Texas Tradition of Shiner Bock
Texas doesn’t have “seasons” like the rest of the country, but there are seasonal cues to the time of year. Like when Bluebonnets bloom to life and blanket the wide-open Texas spaces. That’s Spring. The one day in December when trees lose all their leaves…that’s Autumn. Winter exists as a concept and Summer–well, Summer is a way of life.
Translated, that’s HOT. Scorching, sultry, radiant, blazing days that turn to months that go on and on and on. The oppressive heat never seems to end. But then, subtly, big blue Mother Earth rolls The Great State from under those thundering rays, toward a cool welcome evening breeze–ahhh–October.
October in Texas is a glorious time of warm sunny days, great music, frisky chicks and pitcher after pitcher of Shiner Bock.
Nestled below the triangle of Houston, Austin and San Antonio is the tiny town of Shiner, home to the Spoetzle Brewery. Now, Shiner Beer, Spoetzle’s main product of almost 100 years, isn’t anything special. In fact, when I was a youngin’ in High School, we’d guzzle Shiner only because a twelve-pack cost $2.75. Like any cheap beer, if it’s cold enough you can drink it without wincing. Basically, Shiner is a step down from Lone Star and one step up from Buckhorn. But their classic Shiner Bock is a God given blessing.
A seasonal brew, Shiner Bock is a full-flavored, deep amber-colored beer. Its handcrafted brewing process [there’s only 50 employees] creates an inviting smooth taste without the excessive bitterness that characterizes many micro, specialty and imported beers. Unfortunately Shiner is only distributed to 22 states, so if you’re intent on sampling it for the first time, you may have to travel. If, when and where you find it, make sure it’s ONLY from the tap. Where that tap is makes no nevermind. Any common icehouse with picnic tables, a jukebox and tin pales of beer is fine most of the time. When it comes to October and Bock, however, I prefer to go to the hole.
That’s The Hole in the Wall in Austin. Officially named The Hole in the Wall Arcade and Restaurant, this well known establishment sits across the street from the University of Texas campus literally in the shadow of the Clock Tower from which Charles Whitman killed 14 people with his rifle in 1967. Inside it’s confines you can play pool, cavort with oodles of gorgeous co-eds, eat the world’s most dangerous food, Chicken Fried Steak, listen to great local music and of course, drink ice cold pitchers of Shiner Bock. Take it from me, Ol’ Son, if you’re in Texas in October, there isn’t a better place to plant your fanny.
What’s that? Another pitcher of Shiner Bock? Let’s see…It’s late afternoon, I’m in no hurry to get anywhere and Heather just challenged me to a game of strip darts…what d’you think, Hoss?