|Image credit: The Gambrinus Co.|
After a few years of covering new releases from Shiner, I think I've finally settled on a phrase that describes my top-down view of the little brewery:
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
How did I come to this conclusion? Well, the change part has to do with recent efforts by Shiner to offer different styles of beer in its portfolio. Once upon a time, the only thing that ever came out of the Spoetzl brewery was a traditional German lager. In fact, that type of beer was standard issue at Shiner for over 100 years.
Since 2012, though, the brewery has branched out with products like Wild Hare Pale Ale, Wicked Ram IPA, Birthday Beer Chocolate Stout and FM 966 Farmhouse Ale. Taken in the same order, these represent Shiner's first ale, first IPA, first stout and first Belgian-style beer respectively.
That's all well and good, you may be saying, but how have things stayed the same? Clearly, those beers aren't all meant to taste the same. Instead, the similarity lies in that they are all good, albeit basic beers that appeal to a wide audience (that generally doesn't include hardcore beer geeks). Each is brewed to style, if a standard style description exists, and each is light-bodied and balanced with a mild overall flavor presentation.
In other words, the styles may change, but the approach has always stayed the same.
Of course, I bring all of this up because it also applies to the latest new beer to come out of Shiner, that being Homespun Cream Ale (5% ABV, 16 IBU).
Homespun is billed as the brewery's first American-style ale, which for some might bring about the question "What about Wild Hare?" Well, if you want to get technical, Wild Hare incorporated Munich malt, a German variety (surprise, surprise), making that beer more of an American...ish...style brew.
Anyway, back to the beer at hand, Homespun is a cream ale that goes by the book in being a brew with minimal malt notes, faint fruity esters and a lightly sweet corn character. Its recipe includes wheat malt, which is supposed to give the beer "a velvety mouthfeel and creamy head," but if you ask me neither of those things figures in all that prominently. The head dissipates quickly, which isn't out of the ordinary for a cream ale, and you really only get a feel for that velvety thing at the tail end of the finish.
What Homespun does feature, however, is a light and crisp character, thanks to the rather brisk effervescence. Couple that with an easy going grain bill and it's hard not to see this beer in the same light as what the BJCP describes as typical for the cream ale style.
Homespun Cream Ale will be available year-round on draft, as well as in 6, 12 and 24-packs of 12-ounce bottles. Look for it wherever Shiner is sold.