Shiner Holiday Cheer’s Fruity Character Surprises
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say those dreaded words: “I don’t like dark beer.”
My response is always the same: “’Dark’ is not a beer style.”
But if someone has made up their mind that they don’t like dark beer, they aren’t going to budge. For those people, I would like to invite them to close their eyes and try a mouthful of Shiner Holiday Cheer 2013. I drank it without knowing what to expect – it’s a Christmas beer, so it’s going to be big, malty and spicy, right?
Holiday Cheer, brewed by Spoetzl Brewery, is a Dunkelweizen, made with peaches, pecans and caramelized malts. So, yes, it pours a dark brown with a red hue, but it’s not an Imperial Stout or a Black IPA. Not by a long shot.
Rather, it’s crisp, light and fruity. It features malted barley and wheat, and carbonated using a traditional German process called Kräusening, so while it’s technically dark based on an eye test, it’s anything but dark on the palate.
My first surprise came when I got a whiff of it. Whoa. It was all peaches, and the nose was natural and subtle, not overblown like some fruit-flavored Leinenkugel brew. The flavor is even sneakier – I expected it to be sweet, but instead it was tangy, with a bright mouthfeel. What sticks on the palate after a few sips is the natural peach flavor that you will first experience on the nose.
At 5.4 percent ABV, it’s a beer you can sit down with and enjoy in relative quantity.
One complaint I had about Holiday Cheer is that there is a distinct lack of malt quality, both in the flavor and in the body. Where did those caramelized malts go? I expected at least a semblance of winter style, but this beer drinks like a summer shandy.
There is also almost no trace of hop bitterness, despite a 22 IBU rating. Yes, that’s low, but it’s enough that there should be a presence. I sure couldn’t detect it. No, this is decidedly a light beer in dark clothing.
Of course, there still remains the problem that the guy you know who will only drink Bud Light is going to recoil in horror if you place one before him. Calm him; gently tell him to fear not, because Shiner Holiday Cheer comes in peace.
And if the visual darkness of this well balanced beer still scares him? Well, that’s more Holiday Cheer for you.