Thursday, March 12, 2015

Prickly Pear is Shiner's new summer seasonal

Image credit: The Gambrinus Company

Just for fun, imagine a world where Mother Goose wrote nursery rhymes about beer. Not just any beer mind you, but Shiner Prickly Pear, the brewery's new summer seasonal. Such a sonnet might go something like this:

Peter Piper poured a pint of Prickly Pear.
A pint of Prickly Pear Peter Piper poured.
If Peter Piper poured a pint of Prickly Pear,
Where's the pint of Prickly Pear that Peter Piper poured!?

You know the drill...say it ten times fast.

Getting back to reality, Shiner announced in January that Ruby Redbird would be transitioning to a year-round offering, and they followed that up yesterday with news that Prickly Pear would be taking its place as the brewery's warm weather rotator. As it just so happens, samples arrived at my door on exactly the same day, packaged along with cactus leaves, tweezers, band-aids and gauze. Apparently there's an element of danger in drinking this particular beer.

Prickly Pear, as it turns out, is likely familiar to many, since the returning recipe was originally released as the third beer in Shiner's Brewer's Pride series. And, from what I can tell, things haven't changed much in terms of the ingredient list, as the beer still features prickly pear (and other natural flavors) added to a mash of mixed grains and a combination of Citra and U.S. Goldings hops.

Now, having had a few prickly pear beers in the past, I will say that this incarnation differs quite a bit in terms of its color cast. Others I've had were more distinctive visually, most times with deeper pinkish hues. This one is perhaps best described as having no more than a tinge of pink color, or if we were to borrow a term from the wine world, the look of a rosé amber lager. Appearances aside, though, what really matters is whether the beer is any good.

On that note, the beer's aroma has a fairly strong floral element to go along with the prickly pear and other fruit flavors that are more strawberry-like than citrusy. Things tone down somewhat in the taste, as the tartness fades away almost completely, leaving soft but lingering fruit tones and a finish that is awash in wheat grain. It's a well-carbonated brew, with a light-to-medium body and a slightly more than mild bitterness.

So, would I drink it? long it's ice cold. Just out of the cooler, Prickly Pear is refreshing and unique, but once it starts to warm up the sweetness and intensity of the fruit picks up and it's just a little too much for my particular taste. If you like fruit infusions, though, this might be just the thing for your poolside or patio, especially if you're the type that likes a beer that doesn't really taste like one.

It's probably not a coincidence that the last statement above can also be said for Ruby Redbird, the brewery's now former summer seasonal. It's interesting to note, though, that Ruby Redbird is referred to by Shiner as "The Perfect Summer Beer." As for Prickly's now "The Official Shiner of Summer."

Prickly Pear is available in 6-packs, 12-packs and cases of 12-ounce bottles or cans, as well as in 24-ounce bombers and on tap. Look for it wherever Shiner is sold.

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