Welcome to our Happy Hour Question & Answer series, where we ask questions to interesting people in the alcohol world.
This week’s spotlight is on Nick Weiland, Senior Brand Manager for Shiner Beer. The Spoetzl Brewery was founded in Shiner, Texas, in 1909, by Czech and German immigrants brewing beer with old-world traditions and recipes for Central Texas. Since then, the brewery has grown to be one of the largest independent craft brewers in the country with beers available in all 50 states and Mexico. To this day, every drop of the award-winning beer is brewed right in Shiner, TX, where it all started 112 years ago. The brewery recently completed their Tex Hex IPA trilogy series of release.
Hops & Spirits: Before we get to the beers, how’d you get involved in the craft beer world?
Nick Weiland: I’ve always had a passion for beer and have been a homebrewer for years. So, as someone who’s been working in the marketing field for over a decade to be able to pair up my passion with my career, the opportunity that I was given with Shiner was just too perfect.
HS: What’s it like working for a brand like Shiner?
NW: Working for Shiner is actually a huge responsibility. Not only am I trying to grow and innovate an iconic brand but I’m also trying to stay true to our 100+ year history and the core essence of the brand and brewery. For so many of us, Shiner is bigger than just a beer, it’s a part of our identity and ingrained in who we are.
HS: Everyone knows (or should know) about Shiner Bock, but what else should they know about Shiner beers?
NW: Everything that is great about Shiner Bock is true for all the beers we brew. They are all brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX, they all use our artesian well water that the original founders discovered, they all use the highest quality ingredients with no cost cutting ever, and they’re all brewed by some of the most skilled brewers in the entire state of Texas. So, whatever style of beer you’re into, you know you can trust how it was made and where it came from.
I also want to mention that we use literally tons of local ingredients — our strawberries for Strawberry Blonde come from Poteet, TX, our peaches and pecans for Holiday Cheer come from Fredericksburg, TX and San Saba, TX, and we get lime and grapefruit from the Rio Valley — just to name a few examples.
HS: How does Shiner balance the legacy beers and crafting new beers to hit the market?
NW: At our core, we are a craft brewery. Now, we existed before “craft brewing” became common terminology, but we’ve always adhered to the core principles. First, always putting the quality of the beer before everything else; second, recognizing and reflecting our local provenance in who we are and what we brew; and finally, continually improving and innovating. While we’ll never change Shiner Bock, we also recognize our drinkers are interested in new and different flavors. Our challenge is to brew beers that our fans want to drink but in a way that is uniquely Shiner — the TexHex IPA series is a perfect example.
HS: How did the Tex IPA Trilogy come about?
NW: The TexHex series was years in the making. While Shiner is famous for its lagers, our brewing team has, over the last several years, also now perfected brewing ales. Creating TexHex was all about finding that intersection of Shiner’s essence paired with expertly brewed IPAs. We created a brand that is built on the concept of unique brews from the Southwest. We use cactus water that not only ties to our geography but brings a fantastic earthy minerality to the beer and complements our artesian water perfectly. We pair it with hops like Amarillo, Citra, and Strata that bring incredible citrus and tropical aromatics. And to bring it all together, we present it coming from our mystical ‘La Bruja’ character who represents how these brews magically came together.
HS: Can you talk about the three beers that are part of it?
NW: We are launching TexHex with three initial varieties but we already have several more in the works. Our flagship release is Bruja’s Brew — a 7% ABV and 60 IBU beer that features Amarillo hops. It would probably fall into the “west coast IPA” style classification but it’s a little bit different so we call it Texas style. The best way I can describe it is as an IPA specifically designed for the Texas heat. Despite being 7% this is actually a very light-bodied and refreshing IPA — crisp and citrusy are the best descriptors.
Our next beer is Desert Mirage. This is an 8% ABV and 45 IBU hazy style that uses a blend of four hops resulting in an immensely aromatic brew with a profile heavy in tropical flavors. Still easy-drinking and refreshing but with more body and a softer profile.
Finally, just this Fall we are launching Twin Dream. We call it a double IPA, but at 9.5% ABV, many may consider it a triple. It is just more of everything — more hops, more malt, more flavor. The incredible thing about this is just how balanced it is — it is a lot of flavor but it doesn’t overwhelm, some really impressive work from our brewers.
HS: When do you all know it’s time to bring a beer to an expanded market (or take it nationwide)?
NW: This is a tricky question. Some of our beers like Shiner Bock and Holiday Cheer are very popular nationwide, while others are a hit in Texas only. Since our Texas provenance is such a huge part of who we are, we generally focus on brewing beers for Texans — sometimes others catch on to them and we happily oblige and ship our beers to other states.
HS: Any other fun releases coming up (that you can tell us)?
NW: We do have more TexHex IPAs in the works, there are almost endless possibilities to innovate in that space and we’re really excited to bring more Texas style IPAs to our drinkers. We’re also making our latest Summer Seasonal, ¡Órale! Mexican-style lager, available year-round as a permanent addition to our lineup. I also wanted to call-out Shiner 1909, a heritage lager in the Munich Helles style that we’re making available year-round. Finally, we are working on making a long-time fan favorite more available with updated packaging and adding cans to the range. Hint: it starts with “Black” and ends with “Lager” — but rest assured, no changes to the beer recipe!