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Texas brew review: Shiner White Wing

Posted 8:24am on Thursday, Aug. 07, 2014

In Texas, Shiner beers are everywhere. Ask people from other states to identify Texas beer and they’ll probably list Shiner Bock and Lone Star as our definitive brews. Many Texans’ first foray into craft beer was drinking Shiner Bock, and the Spoetzl Brewery’s place in Texas brewing is significant and should be respected.

Regardless of the heritage, Shiner’s beers don’t move the needle much for beer geeks. Its beers are seen as safe, mainstream and pedestrian. You obviously wouldn’t expect imperial stouts or boundary-pushing IPAs from the brewery, but you can expect small challenges to beer-drinker palates that don’t normally seek to experiment much.

There is safety in Shiner’s brand. Texans feel comfortable in trying the newest Shiner beer. They know they’ll get something that might be a little challenging but probably won’t push them too far outside of their comfort zones.

In a program that has morphed some since its inception in 2005, Shiner has pushed its boundaries a bit by making an anniversary beer. The first was Shiner 96, which eventually returned to enter the annual rotation as the seasonal Oktoberfest. The most famous addition to the permanent lineup is Shiner 97, which returned as full-time core beer Bohemian Black Lager. Wild Hare (Shiner 103), from 2012, is also here to stay, and has served to guardedly initiate those who are terrified of hoppy pale ales.

Shiner 104 is a Belgian-style white ale called White Wing, and is also a permanent addition. In keeping true to its brand positioning of pulling drinkers over to the craft side, Shiner appears to have bitten back at the larger breweries that have sought to steal market share from Shiner Bock over the years.

Anheuser-Busch created Ziegenbock to directly compete with Shiner Bock, and now, with White Wing, Shiner has created a beer that can directly pull from Anheuser-Busch’s market share in its Belgian-style white ale Shock Top. Popular Coors beer Blue Moon is also an obvious target.

Of course, that wasn’t Shiner’s only goal in creating White Wing, but with flavor profiles that measure up and surpass both Blue Moon and Shock Top, it would be naive to think the shrewd marketers at Shiner didn’t have direct competition in mind. White Wing serves as an excellent trump for the two macro-brews with a light citrus, subtle balancing spice and a crisp bite that makes for a great summer beer. It’s refreshing, finishes clean and is accessible to most anyone.

Attempting to pull sales from the behemoths is nothing new for craft breweries, but Shiner’s size and distribution network means it might actually be able to put more than a small dent in the big boys with a direct, highly promoted competitor in the booming Belgian-style white ale market.

Quick sips

Revolver bottles Brass: Granbury’s Revolver Brewing will launch its second bottled beer at Central Market Fort Worth, 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday. High Brass, the lightly hopped golden ale that has been a mainstay for Revolver on draft since the brewery launched, will join Blood & Honey in six-packs and will be widely available throughout the area in the coming weeks. Rumors of Bock being the second beer to go into bottles appear to have been false. Maybe Sidewinder could be next?

Have a question, comment or Texas beer bulletin for Scooter? Shoot him an email at texasbrew@dfw.com.

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