By now, beer drinkers everywhere likely recognize that familiar dark glass, yellow-wrapped bottle from Spoetzl Brewery. And ever since its iconic Shiner Bock reached 100 years old, the brewery has only gotten more experimental. Call it a malty mid-life crisis.
At 106, for instance, Spoetzl made a straightforward chocolate stout. Two years ago at 108, this Birthday Beer series leaned into modern cold brew sensibilities for a Coffee Ale. And last fall at the ripe age of 110, Spoetzl made what looked to be the craziest addition yet to its gradually expanding line: S’more, a chocolate and marshmallow ale.
Shiner S’more teaches us that a chocolate and marshmallow ale sits somewhere between an amber ale and a stout on the color scale—maybe it’s best to think of it as a really, really dark amber when poured. (Either way, this beer is not quite black.) As a nice touch, a small cloudy foam head gives a little visual nod to a perfectly charred (read: not burnt) marshmallow.
Just in case you didn’t think this was a dessert beer, the first sniff will end any questions. This particular Shiner really does emulate the alluring smell of s’mores. A heavy dose of chocolate-marshmallow hits the nose first, trailed closely by a faint honey-graham cracker aroma. Maybe a certain type of beer drinker wouldn’t want to move forward for tasting, but no one will deny this beer smells downright appetizing.
Exactly how much Shiner S’more you want will very much depend on personal preference.”
Dessert beers can be tricky, often straddling the line between “sweet” and “not going to be able to finish this.” But 110 years of experience evidently helps a brewer navigate such nuance. Shiner S’more delivers a surprisingly clean sip considering the intensity of the advertised flavors—this is a familiar, drinkable Shiner beer at the core and is in no way syrupy. As you find yourself in disbelief and gulping a bit faster to confirm the sensation, this beer’s s’mores presence comes through. Again, chocolate and marshmallow arrive first, but graham flavor follows in the aftertaste.
This beer relies on chocolate, vanilla, and graham cracker flavors to emulate a s’more, but Shiner S’more reminded me of a different beloved dessert: dirt pie. Both are well-orchestrated symphonies of sweet flavors (chocolate and marshmallow and graham versus chocolate pudding, chocolate cookie crumb, and whipped cream) that will delight almost everyone. But exactly how much Shiner S’more you want will very much depend on personal preference. If the mere thought of a chocolate marshmallow beer disgusts you, know that Spoetzl has created something much more palatable (and enjoyable!) than you’d fear. I stopped myself after one bottle in a sitting, but a six-pack didn’t make it through a holiday cold spell.