It's that time of year again. Everyone is winding down from a long year and looking forward to the holidays. This joyous season is filled with great friends, close family, delicious food, and drinks all around. In fact, it seems that almost every week, some friend or coworker is hosting an annual Christmas party, and while I know none of you will show up empty handed, you may be looking for that festive adult beverage to bring to the gathering. Never fear, Tastes of Texas is here. Come along as we review Shiner Holiday Cheer! (I'm sorry for that; I really am).
My fellow Texans, the Spoetzl Brewery located in Shiner, Texas needs no introduction. It's been the maker of our beloved Shiner beers since the early 1900s and boasts proud Texas staples like Shiner Bock and Shiner Blonde, both of which are readily available in most locales. Beyond the regular lineup, however, Shiner has made a recent habit of experimenting with its seasonal brews. Originally, Shiner offered two seasonal every year: Summer Ale and Winter Lager. The names of these two longstanding seasonals were changed in the mid-2000s to Kolsch and Dunkelweizen, respectively, as Shiner initiated a rebranding effort to appeal to its German heritage. To the disappointment of purists and the excitement of progressives, Shiner discontinued these classic seasonals shortly after the rebranding and began experimenting with new beers. For their winter offering they didn't have to test long as Shiner Holiday Cheer has been the winter seasonal ever since.
Holiday Beers and many winter ales/lagers are not for everyone. They're often inundated with spices and irregular flavors that many beer drinkers find off-putting, but if you're into original flavor profiles, it doesn't get any better than winter beers. Shiner claims that Shiner Cheer is an Old World Dunkelweizen (dark wheat) beer that is flavored with peaches and pecans, and the flavors are enhanced through the use of malted barley and wheat. Those of who you read my last beer review know how excited I get about malty beers, so suffice it to say, I was very excited about this review.
So without further ado, let's see if that excitement holds true as we look at Shiner's holiday take on a German classic.
Pouring into a standard pint glass, the beer appears light amber brown in color with a slight ruby tint. The most striking feature of the pour is how clear the beer is. Most wheat beers are unfiltered and very cloudy, but Holiday Cheer's is the exact opposite. The color made me anticipate a heavily malted flavor while the clearness caused me to expect a fairly crisp taste. The beer pours with a very thin head that dissipates quickly and slightly laces the glass.
The first flavor that hits your nose is a very heavy peach smell, which is to be expected given Shiner's description of the beer. However, I didn't notice any nutty scents, much less the heavy pecan flavor Shiner boasts. Below the initial impression there are notes of orange and plum and a bit of spiciness, though I could not pinpoint the exact spice.
The peach flavor rears its head early as the beer tastes very sweet, but not in an overpowering way. The pecan finally shows itself as there is a very strong nuttiness to the beer. The most surprising taste aspect is that the malt flavor is very light. Considering that Shiner advertises the malty flavor of this beer and that Holiday Cheer is a dark wheat, I expected a much heavier maltiness than was delivered. The same spiciness from the smell profile was present in the aftertaste.
Holiday Cheer has what I would describe as a medium body and has very light carbonation. The beer feels much lighter than most wheat beers, a feature I attribute to the heavier filtering, and it leaves a velvety feeling throughout the mouth.
I put the asterisk because as I said above, spiced winter beers are not for everyone. For those of you who enjoy that flavor, though, I would highly recommend this brew. The peach and pecan flavors are very unique compared to other beers of this genre, but, more importantly, they're incredibly Texas-centric. This alone makes Shiner Holiday Cheer a must buy for any good Texan this holiday season; it helps that it's damn tasty, too. I would have preferred less filtering and a better head, but those two concerns are hardly enough to not recommend the beer. If you pick up a sixer for your upcoming shin dig, you will not be disappointed.
Have a Happy Holiday Season, y'all. May your season be merry, your feasts bountiful, and your Shiner cold. Prosit and Hook ‘Em!