Sunday, January 18, 2009

Shiner 100: Commemorator

The Spoetzl Brewery is 100 years old this year, and that means their series of anniversary beers that started at Shiner 96 -- a Märzen -- has come to a culmination in Shiner 100 Commemorator, a lean, drily malty doublebock...kind of. At 6.8%, this is a big bock, a kind of low-side doublebock.

It's brown, but not dark brown; sweet, but not cloying (I mean, at all); big, but not huge. I know a guy at Shiner, and I can tell by the way this beer tastes that he had a hand in the formulation: it's not too big, it's wicked drinkable for the size, and it's not cloying. It's got the little bit of raunch I have come to like in dark, malty beers, that edge that comes from using dark-roasted malts instead of malt-based coloring agents: the taste of authenticity.

I'm actually on my second one already, and it's tasting like there might be another one in my glass before this Pittsburgh/Baltimore game is over. Hope the Steelers put the Ravens away and put one Pennsylvania team in the Super Bowl...

10 comments:

Steven said...

"It's got the little bit of raunch I have come to like in dark, malty beers, that edge that comes from using dark-roasted malts..."

Hmmm, was never one for roastiness in my dark bocks or Dunkles, always like the smooth, breadiness of Munich dark beers.

Seems that more and more newer brewers feel the need to add roasted malts to their Doppelbocks (for whatever reason), and the beers end up tasting more like Stouts than Bocks.

Lew Bryson said...

No fear: like I said, just an edge. It's not a deeply dark beer, and the bonus is that it's not a Sinamar beer. Its darkness is all created in the brewery. I was told by a respected Bavarian brewer (from a revered brewery) that five out of six Munich dunkels being made today are helles with Sinamar added. Depressing.

Bill said...

On the positive side, we're getting more helles in the states than we thought... it's just darker and labelled dunkel!

I'd bet some US brewers do something similar -- I enjoy Leinie's Creamy Dark, but with my eyes closed, I wouldn't know it was a dark beer.

Steven said...

"five out of six Munich dunkels being made today are helles with Sinamar added."

Bleah. Did he give any hints/clues/inklings as to which one not to avoid?

Having sampled the HB Dunkel here in Chicago, and finding it still pretty good, I'd hope it was 1 of 6... but I have a feeling Augustiner is the one savior in the bunch.

Lew Bryson said...

Bill, like that positive attitude! Malt colorings are the secret of the brewing business, the Scotch whisky biz, too: many whiskies have added malt-based caramel coloring.

Steven, um...I'd go with your gut feeling there. Yeah. I was shocked, but I have no reason to disbelieve him. Love the guys at Weyermann, but we saw those red Sinamar jugs at a LOT of the Bavarian breweries we visited.

sam k said...

Well, Sinamar's been around for more than a century, and has acquired a solid following in the international brewing community. You'd probably not be surprised at the number of domestic breweries using the product, too. Some of them are among our more popular regionals.

I've been told that since it's made from malt, its use does not violate the Reinheitsgebot. In truth, it is an easy way for a brewer to create a brand extension without having to tie up tankage and other resources.

It does add a certain amount of flavor to the end result, as I have tasted beers that I know are made with Sinamar next to the parent product (at the brewery, even), and there is a detectable, though minor difference.

Lew Bryson said...

I shouldn't have been so hard on the stuff, Sam: point taken. But boosting color a bit for uniformity is one thing; making one beer out of another just by adding malt color, that seems to be another thing altogether. No?

sam k said...

Oh yeah. I wasn't defending its use, just laying out the reasons why it's so accepted by the brewing community. I'd prefer the stuff disappeared altogether, but since it won't...

Stoney's dark used to be available only on draft. Why? Because it was easy to inject Sinamar into the keg via a hand tap, the same way green beer is born every March 14th. Always makes me skeptical when dark beer shows up as "draft only."

Professor Bartels said...

I always assumed dark beer was primarily on draft because it didnt sell enough to warrant the investment in packaging.

That having been said Stoney's black and tan has been available in cans.

although I do remember drinking various "dark beer" back in the 80's from michelob, becks, schlitz, schmidts etc.

Anonymous said...

I'm on number four. Only the Blonde and the Original vie for my affections.