Friday, September 29, 2017

Sipping on 777, Shiner's new oak-aged IPL

Image courtesy of Gambrinus Co.

Released as the 12th offering in the Brewer's Pride series, samples of Shiner 777 IPL showed up at my door this week, along with the declaration that it "just might be the boldest Shiner you've ever put to your lips." Not only that, the brewery's new India pale lager was said to be "tripled-down delicious" as well.

Now, the tripled-down part is primarily in reference to the triple-7s in the beer's name. The origin of which comes from the fact that 777 is brewed with 7 varieties of hops, has 70 IBUs and it finishes out with an ABV of 7.0%. Of course, I'm sure those at the Spoetzl Brewery think the beer is delicious, too, so I suppose it's a bonus that the word "delicious" helps add a bit of alliterative flair to the adspeak.

On the topic of whether 777 is Shiner's boldest beer ever, that's more of a subjective statement. What can be said is that 777 is the strongest beer the brewery has produced - topping Wicked Ram's 6.0% ABV by a full percentage point. That, and 777 is a beer with some complexity, thanks to the mix of hops and time spent slumbering on southern oak staves.

The hops, in this case, cause 777 to exude more of an English influence, based on the beer's floral, earthy and herbal elements. So, don't read IPL and start thinking in terms of an American IPA.  There might be a faint pint note in the aroma, but I don't get a sense of citrus in 777. Really, if there's any fruit at all, it's more along the lines of an elderberry essence.

As for how it drinks, 777 is hop-forward, though a hint of caramel malt remains ever-present. It's a clean, medium-bodied beer that gets more herbal and woody as it warms, with the oak adding a tannic touch that serves to dry out the palate on the finish. There's some bitterness on the back end as well, but not enough that you'll be scrunching up your face like that old codger in the Keystone commercials.

Really, my only quibble with 777 has to do with a statement on the sell sheet suggesting the beer has a flavor "as big and fresh as a Texas pine" tree. If you ask me, 777 is more oaky than anything. But, either way, it makes for an enjoyable experience. Is it Shiner's boldest beer yet? I don't know if I'd say that, but 777 is certainly another good example of a continuing effort by the brewery to go beyond the ubiquity of its bock. And, boldest or not, it's one of Shiner's more interesting efforts to date.

Shiner 777 IPL will only be available for a limited time. Look for it on tap, in 24-ounce bombers, and in 12-ounce bottles as part of the brewery's Family Reunion six pack.

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