Shiner Holiday Cheer

Dunkelweizen brewed with Texas peaches and roasted pecans and with natural flavors (and caramel color!)

Shiner Cheer

Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, TX

Let me start this review off, Dear Reader, by sharing with you my fondness for authentic Bavarian wheat beers, or weizens. It began many years ago as a summer thing with hefeweizens (unfiltered wheat beers, bottle-conditioned, leaving residual yeast sediment at the bottom of the bottle). I don’t recall which was my first, but I can say that a few of my favorites over the years include Schneider, Ayinger, and Franziskaner. Over time I’ve been able to sample the many variants of the category, such as dunkelweizen (dark wheat beer), weizenbock (strong), weizen doppelbock (stonger!), hopfenweisse (hoppy wheat, a collaboration between Schneider and Brooklyn Brewing), and even a couple of schwarz weizens (black wheat beers). (Aside – interestingly enough, I delved into this particular subcategory on my own as a homebrewer before becoming aware of any commercial examples. At the time, I was inspired by the black IPAs that were spreading like wildfire through the craft beer community. It was pretty darned good, too.  But I digress.) However, I can honestly say that I had never had a fruit and nut flavored weizen – until now.

Now, caramel color doesn’t exactly inspire tons of confidence in me right up front, but let’s see what we have. Shiner Holiday Cheer pours out a beautiful reddish-amber hue the color of maple syrup, topped with a generous beige head that gradually recedes to a solid 1/4″ of thick foam. It’s crystal clear, so right off the bat we know it’s a filtered wheat. Also not bottle-conditioned as evidenced by the lack of sediment. And caramel color added or no, it is pretty stunning.

The aromas are interesting: deeply caramelized and toasty Munich malt with hints of fresh peaches and a little pecan. Also a little bit earthy and spicy. No trace of the expected clove-banana-bubblegum-vanilla notes so often associated with weizens, though.

I venture a sip, finding it to be moderately light bodied, with a spritzy carbonation. It’s smooth and slightly creamy on the palate.

The flavor profile is initially mostly malty, though not especially sweet, with some crackery, toasty, and nutty notes. None of the typical weizen yeast profile evident. Then I get a very light peach note joining in, but again not sweet. There’s a balancing bitterness. The peach is more evident in the finish. Pecan is very subtle and probably coming across as part of the malty complexity. The fruit character is definitely more of an accent in this brew, and done very well.

Started out not real sure about this one, expecting at least some of the traditional weizen character, but by the bottom of the glass I’m rather enjoying it. I’d try with Crème Brûlée or a slice of custard pie; seems very dessert-y to me. Leaves nice partial rings of foam on the glass.

Rating     Appearance: 5/5     Aroma: 7/10     Palate: 4/5     Flavor: 7/10     Overall: 15/20


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