Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The strange case of Shiner Ruby Redbird

Image credit: Spoetzl Brewing Company
If we're being honest, when Shiner Ruby Redbird first arrived on the scene in 2011, this reviewer held the same opinion as others in that it didn't quite live up to expectations. A springtime special delivery from the folks at McGarrah Jessee, though, has provided the impetus for another look. So, why stand in the way of a second chance?

Being two years removed from any experience with this beer, this article began as many do, with a fresh taste and a bit of research. The latter, focused both on prevailing critical and public opinion, has led the mind down a particular path.

Along those lines, one imagines that when the brewers at Shiner discuss their summer seasonal, the dialog has a sort of Tales of Two Cities theme. You know the famous line, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." What other conclusion can be drawn, considering the wide-ranging opinions to be found on any of the popular online rating sites. A five here, a four there, a two, a one, a one-half. What gives? Is this a good beer, or a bad one? As they say, the truth likely lies somewhere in the middle.

Maybe the problem is that Ruby Redbird tastes more like ginger "ale" than ginger "beer". The mystery of the missing grapefruit no doubt influences that impression, but beyond that the spice is not subtle, the carbonation is lively, and the body is light. Granted, this concoction has a little more kick than Canada Dry, but pour it blindly and see how many people notice a difference.

Taking all that into account, it's hard not to see some level of appeal. It's brisk, with a soda-like body and consistency, and if you like ginger it has it in spades. Judge it as a beer and it's a tough sell, but judge it as a summertime beverage and you might be onto something.

Hey, it's better than a shandy.

*Originally published on

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