Good Beer Hunting

Spoetzel Releases First Sour in 108-Year History, Shiner Berliner Weisse

The Spoetzel Brewery, proprietor of the iconic Shiner Bock, has long embraced German traditionalism. The company’s latest move, though, represents a departure from business as usual—even if it’s still distinctly German. Last week, the company announced it’s releasing Shiner Berliner Weisse, the 10th addition to its Brewers Pride canon, but the first sour wheat beer the company has made in its 108 years in business.

Some people seem surprised by the very idea of Shiner Berliner Weisse. (Admittedly, this chatter was measured mostly by casually perusing message boards.) Given the dueling facts that Spoetzel has filled its piggybank on the back of German beer, but has never released a beer like this, that’s a fair response. But  perhaps it makes more sense to instead ask why it took so long? How did it take more than a century for a company long beholden to the German cookbook to release the type of beer that once ruled Deutschland? 
Though most known for the Shiner Bock brand, it’s not as though Spoetzel hasn’t tinkered with things in the kitchen. Its Brewers Pride series has seen the launch of limited run Pale Ales, Kölsches, Pilsners, and more since making its debut. There have even been some funkier products to appear in the line, including a beer made with prickly pears and a Strawberry Blonde.
The Berliner Weisse, though, seems to be the first that clearly parallels what consumers are explicitly demanding at the time of its release. After all, the style has been ascendant this year. If like fashion, beer trends are cyclical, this one actually plays right into Spoetzel’s wheelhouse. As the back of the label itself suggests, “We stayed true to our German roots and brewed our own spin on ‘the champagne of the north.’” (Berlin, that is.) So it may be surprising, but from an historical standpoint, this was ultimately inevitable. And if ever there were a time for a Shiner Berliner Weisse, now would be it.
—Dave Eisenberg