To say that the taste of Shiner Smokehaus is bold goes too far. What is bold is making it in the first place. The Spoetzl Brewery of The Gambrinus Co. introduced a mesquite-smoked helles lager in the last week that will have some people going back for more and leave others scratching their heads.
That’s because smoked beer is uncommon in the United States and, with the exception of a few brewpubs and hyper-local microbreweries, almost nonexistent in Texas. But it is a German tradition dating back at least 500 years in the Bamberg region of the country. Rauchbiers are traditionally darker and taste like smoked meat after being well smoked with beechwood.
While that flavor is one I embrace in beer as much as meats, even some of the biggest fans of diversity in beer have a tough time with this one.
What the brewers at Shiner have done is taken a light Munich style helles and added just enough mesquite smoke to it right on the grounds of the brewery to give it a distinctive flavor. The malt in a helles is by nature very light and toasted only to the color of a Saltine cracker, so the mesquite flavor is present without too deep a penetration.
This beer was built for some barbecue and it succeeds. It didn’t overpower an oak smoked brisket or Granzin’s Meat Market’s smoked bratwurst and melded rather well. I consumed a few bottles on their own without food and still found it thirst quenching as thermometer inched toward 98 degrees.
Give it a try and tell me what you think.