Friday mornings are always the best and the worst. It’s great to climb into the Mighty Tundra and head to the beer store to choose a brew for the weekend. It’s also the worst because I’m such a pushover when it comes to being swayed by labels. That and the fact that a good sixpack of craft beer runs around 10 bucks.
Friday was no different. I strolled through the craft beer aisle and over to the cooler about 7 times before making up my mind. There were many, many beers that I haven’t tried yet but the season was changing. Summer seasonals appeared on the shelf. I had made a mental note to give New Belgium’s Somersault a try a few weeks ago but forgot about it when I chose their Ranger IPA for review last week.
I’d need a beer for Friday night after work (Robert the Bruce) and one for Saturday. I was nearing the seventh sojourn down the aisle when I spotted a newcomer way up top. It was an entry from the Spoetzl Brewery, maker of those great Shiner beers. This one was a summer seasonal. I guess it was about time for these beers in spite of the crap Illinois weather (high 50s on Fri.)
Beer brewed with Texas Ruby Red grapefruit juice and ginger.
Damn, Sam. I love Ruby Red grapefruit juice. It’s a Sunday night staple for me. I even heard that grapefruit juice helps lower your blood pressure. Here we had a summer seasonal beer (might as well get started) from a reputable brewery (I hear their bock beer is the best) and it’s made with grapefruit juice. Ruby Red at that! Hmm. Another 10-buck sixpack. What the hell. I paid. I left. I stashed the beer in the fridge.
Saturday rolled in with thunderclouds and the day was bleak and overcast until they opened up and drenched us for a couple of hours. I had gathered up some dry firewood and shelved it inside just in case the Manly Garage got a little chilly in the evening.
When beer time arrived, the temp was about 62°. A few 16” pine 2x4s soon brought the temp nicely into the low 70s. I had a lager glass on hand, an opener nearby and some nicely chilled summer seasonal beer in the fridge.
The bottle was uncapped exposing twist-off threads on the lip. I noticed too late the “TWIST AND ENJOY!>” statement on the side of the cap. But let’s begin, the beer’s already been paid for and it’s a mortal sin to throw beer away.
The beer poured up with an amber brown-ish color and the head came up yellow-ish white and somewhat thick. Carbonation was quite vigorous and medium and large bubbles raced to the top. I got a slight aroma of grapefruit from the full glass tried to swirl the liquid without spilling any. Unsuccessful.
The first sip took me completely by surprise. I was expecting a large slug of fruit pulp to hit my taste buds, but it was rather mild by comparison.I could not describe this first taste. I thought that the beer had some decent body to it but after the swallow was another story. I couldn’t put my finger on what the taste was.
I glanced back at the label and bingo! I knew what it was. I was tasting the ginger that was in this beer and it had a taste resemblance to Canada Dry ginger ale. Even at that, I had to dig for the flavor as the sips went on.
By the third sip, the head had for the most part disappeared. Only a tiny foam ring clung to the inside perimeter of the glass. Even the lacing was sparse. But I couldn’t get over how odd this beer tasted. It seemed to me to be a beverage that was an offspring of a bad mating of a ginger ale and a MGD 64. There was hardly any taste except for the wisp of ginger after the swallow.
Odd, but after swilling a couple of bottles of Ruby Red grapefruit juice every Sunday evening, I received no taste of it in this beer despite the grapefruit caricature on the bottle cap and the numerous mentions on the label. Just the hint of ginger and then, … nothing.
Every so often, I thought that I was drinking a glass of pop (soda to you other-ners.) If this was to be considered a soft drink, then it mostly resembles ginger ale rather than grapefruit juice. But it’s not a bottle of pop, it’s a beer. I must say that this doesn’t resemble a beer either. There is no malt flavor, no discernible hop tastes, just the slight sweetness and the twinge of ginger.
In this beer’s favor though, is its ABV. Sitting softly at a paltry 4.01%, you could probably guzzle it all day long and well into the evening. It would make for a good light beer at backyard parties if only there was a little more taste to it. Your guests would probably enjoy one, maybe two bottles of Ruby before asking for something with a little more flavor. The ladies on the other hand, will probably like it.
Sad to say it, but I was disappointed in this beer. Shiner, for the most part, churns out some damn good beer but this one fell flat. I’ll probably kill another bottle or two and go on to something with little more hair on it once this review is done. Lord knows I’ll still be sober by then.
Taste: C- > Chewing on a pencil may yield more flavor.
Smoothness: C- > Flavored, carbonated water which was stirred with a stick of ginger.
Drinkability: C- > Please, Sir. May I have something different?
Bang for the buck: D- > I do this so that you don’t have to.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) Smells sweet. (sip) Wow! That’s actually pretty good. (sip) Kinda tangy, kinda sweet. (sip) That’s not bad at all. (Damn. It’s a chick-beer.)
Shiner Beer 100 Bottle Salute