Over the years, we’ve been on several brewery tours. While most of them try to make the beer-making process interesting, there are only so many ways you can show people how just a few ingredients are turned into one of the world’s oldest and most popular alcoholic beverages.
When we had a free day during our trip to Texas, we looked for something to do. Visiting this place was always on my radar but now seemed to be the best time for a day trip.
The Spoetzl Brewery is located about 90 minutes from Austin, New Braunfels and San Antonio and just 2 hours from Houston.
While the brewery might not be a household name, many people will recognize their most known beer, Shiner Bock. If you’re in a Texas bar and order a “Shiner,” that’s what you’ll get.
The Spoetzl Brewery is located in Shiner, TX, population 2069 (for as long as anyone can remember).
If you’re looking to put the address into your GPS, it’s located at 603 E Brewery St, Shiner, TX 77984.
Brewery tours currently run from 11:00 a.m. on Monday through Saturday and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. The last tour is at 4:00 p.m. every day. The entrance fee is $15 that includes a token that can be exchanged for a Shiner beer of your choice. If you’re planning a visit, you can book your tour online reserving your place.
When you arrive at the brewery, the check-in is located in the original building.
From here, the tour group is led into the brewery building where the first stop is a film about the history of the brewery and its roots in Shiner, TX.
When telling a story, it helps if the founder of the brewery was a bit of a character and was arrested during prohibition for carrying alcohol across state lines (also known as bootlegging.) The brewery neither admits nor shies away from the claim that it may have happened.
While the brewery operated in Shiner for decades, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the beer became popular with the counterculture of Austin, TX. While Shiner was miles away from that scene in distance and culture, the brewery never tried to remove itself from what was growing to be their most loyal customers.
The brewery produced many beers but eventually one of their products became the primary brand. Shiner Bock.
After the history, the tour entered the brewery. They got the basics out of the way first.
We spent a few minutes in the room where we learned the ingredients of beer.
Then we were shown the vessels where the brewery made the beer.
From here, we were led to the observation area over the most amazing part of the tour, the bottling plant.
From the area where the bottles or cans are prepared.
To where the bottles are pasteurized
To where the bottles or cans are prepared for packaging into cases or boxes. I dare anyone who’s old enough to not think about putting a rubber glove on one of the bottles as it goes down the line.
In the next room is the machine that fills the kegs with Shiner Beers.
And the amazing robot arm that loads the empty kegs onto the filling line and stacks the filled kegs onto pallets for shipping. The robot is named after a former employee who would spend day after day packing full kegs. The story is once he retired, no one else could do the job so they purchased the robot.
Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about Shiner beers. He was working there for a while but was hired just before COVID shut down the tours. To the brewery’s credit, they didn’t lay off any employees. Instead, they put the guides to work dumping entire production runs of beer that didn’t meet quality standards. He said the crew spent several months opening bottles of beer and dumping them down the drain.
During our tour we learned the Shiner does not license any of the brewing of its beers to other breweries. For example, the Budweiser you drink is most likely made from a brewery near your home. If you buy a Shiner Bock anywhere, it was made in the brewery in Shiner, TX on this production line.
That’s pretty cool when I pick up a six-pack from the Publix around the corner from my home in Florida. There’s a certain Texas feel when you drink a Shiner, like how they encourage using their empty cans for target practice.
When we were finished with the tour, we cashed in our tokens for some beers from the bar.
There was a beer garden under a covering with picnic tables. If you wanted, it seemed like a place where you could spend some time enjoying a beer while the kids played a game of cornhole on the lawn.
The Shiner Brewery hit the perfect balance of education and storytelling to make a brewery tour interesting. They even had an interactive game to see if you could beat the bottling plant in putting a label on the bottle, but that was closed due to COVID.
If you’re in central Texas and have an afternoon with no plans or if you are a huge beer fan, I’d recommend making a side trip to Shiner, TX, and checking out the brewery.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary