(Spoetzl Brewery) Shiner Dortmunder Spring Ale

March 2, 2011

Greetings from the road. Mobile, Alabama has proven to be a gracious host. We’re not quite where we can begin to examine and enjoy the broad selection of beers available here that are not (yet) in Pensacola. Main sticking point, I could make a healthy argument for, is the jovial photo hounds the News Journal employs probably don’t wish to make a 1 ½ hour round trip just to snap a snazzy shot of whatever beer I’m rambling about this week.

Patience. We’ll have lots to discuss soon. In the meantime, the weather has been absolutely beautiful. Everyone wants to be outside to enjoy the warm afternoons and breezy, cool nighttimes. Things still aren’t quite sweltering enough to warrant reaching for a weizenbier to slake one’s thirst or a crisp European lager/pilsner. Instead, we’ll consider a beer that incorporates elements of both.

Spoetzl Brewery in Texas has been sudsing our palates with German-style beer since 1909. You may know them best for the eponymous Shiner Bock. Their current spring seasonal, Dortmunder, is actually a hybrid of styles. Originally, North Rhein-Westphalians brewed a wheat-based beverage meant to cure the parched palates of West German miners. The pilsner explosion from old Czechoslovakia changed the rest of Europe’s approach to brewing. This change in style exhibited itself primarily in Germany save Dusseldorf and Cologne who gave us altbier and kolsch respectively.

What Shiner does to the Dortmunder style of beer nowadays is similar to kolsch in that you have pilsner ingredients that get ale-fermented and then cold stored like a lager. By their classification on the label it leads one to believe that Shiner is eliminating that last step. No matter what, the end product is a nice combination of both sides of the beer family.

Utilizing 2-row barley and wheat with noble Hallertau and Spalter hops, Shiner’s Dortmunder exhibits crystal-clear gold color and a tall cap of thick foam. Subtle scents of grass and hay weave around some biscuity sweet malt with a hint of sharp hops at the end. Flavors and textures are clean, clear and sharp with no heavy unpleasant aftertaste. Some slight honey notes are present with a floral quality that becomes quickly balanced out by a moderate sting of bitterness from the hops. Sessionable at 5.5% alcohol, the Dortmunder Spring Ale gives the palate a nice transition during a season of transition.