02 January 2009

Shiner Brewery Centennial

Shiner is fourteen miles west of Hallettsville in western Lavaca County. Shiner was incorporated in 1890. Czech and German immigrants soon became the dominant ethnic groups.

Shiner Brewing Association 1909-1914
Home Brewing Company 1914-1915
Petzold & Spoetzl 1915-1918
Spoetzel Brewery and Ice Factory 1933-1934
Spoetzel Brewery 1934-Present
Hermann Weiss, first brewer at Shiner, and his family
A group of Shiner businessmen established the original Shiner Brewing Association in 1909, with Herman Weiss as the first brewmaster. Weiss had closed his brewery in Galveston (Weiss and Sons) to move to Shiner. He was the first of several brewmasters, and his sons, Herman Jr. and Charles, also worked in the brewery. Weiss--who, coincidentally, is my cousin by marriage--later returned to San Antonio, to work for the San Antonio Brewing Association.

The founders offered the plant for lease again in 1914. Kosmos Spoetzl, a German immigrant brewmaster, learned of the Shiner operation and coleased the facility with Oswald Petzold with an option to buy in 1915. Spoetzl had attended brewmaster's school and apprenticed for three years in Germany and worked for eight years at the Pyramid Brewery in Cairo, Egypt, before moving to San Antonio in search of a better climate for his health. He came with the recipe for a Bavarian beer made by his family from pure malt and hops.

Kosmos Spoetzl had a simple marketing philosophy: A good beer will sell itself. So he set out to brew the very best beer he could. That done, he had to make sure that people drank it. So he bought a Model T, and with a couple of kegs iced down in the back, Spoetzl drove the country roads that surrounded surrounded Shiner, plying the the thirsty farmers with ice-cold beer. Spoetzl produced "Old World Bavarian Draft," which was a heavy, dark, all-malt German-style lager.

The Spoetzl Brewery trucks started rolling again the very minute Prohibition ended in Texas (one minute past midnight on September 15, 1933) to towns like Praha, Dime Box, Mickle Community and the Sandies. Spoetzl never went more than 70 miles out of his way in any direction for business. Spoetzl also changed the name (but not the recipe) to "Texas Special Export," and began bottling it for the first time, in the familiar longneck bottle. Kosmos died in 1950 and his daughter Cecilie-"Miss Celie"-inherited the brewery and was for a time, the only female brewery owner in the country.

Brewery records indicate that Bock was brewed here as early as 1917, but its popularity is a relatively recent phenomenon that owes to the old Austin hippie scene. Shiner premium became a popular beer for members of the Austin counterculture in the early 1970s for a variety of reasons (including low price). But when a seasonal shipment of Shiner Bock rode into town about 1975, it was "love at first quaff." By 1978, Spoetzl was brewing Bock year round to supply the Austin market.

Brewery tours are given Monday through Friday at 11 am and 1:30 p.m. The hospitality taproom is open Monday through Friday after the tour. The gift shop is open Monday through Saturday. Visit the Shiner web site at www.shiner.com. Every October until 2007, Shiner threw a "Bocktoberfest," a thank you party for its loyal supporters. But escalating costs forced the brewery to suspend the festival.

In 1999, the Spoetzel brewery purchased the defunct Frio brewery in San Antonio to test recipes and ingredients for its beers. These beers were not be sold to the public.

The Spoetzel Brewery today.

In October of 2005, the Shiner Brewery began counting down to their centennial celebration with the release of Shiner 96, an Oktoberfest-style beer; Shiner 97, a Bohemian black lager (which was so popular it was added to the regular lineup); Shiner 98, an Amber Lager; Shiner 99, a Munich Helles; and soon, 100, called Commemorator, a dopplebock.

Happy Birthday, Shiner!

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posted by hiikeeba at 08:46


Blogger assurbanipaul said...

Where is this text from?

10:44 AM  
Blogger hiikeeba said...

The "love at first quaff" is from Richard Zelade's Texas Monthly Hill Country guidebook (which tells a more complete version of the Shiner in Austin story), the entire text is from my TexasBreweries.com site, based on Micheal Hennech's book, and written well before "Shine On."

9:54 AM  

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