If you're a fan of good beer (and who isn't?), then Winter is the season for you. I mean sure there are some nice Spring and Fall seasonal brews, and even a few decent summer ones (St. Arnold's Lawnmower comes to mind), but Winter is when breweries usually pull all the stops and make some great dark beers that confuse the palate and stretch the lines of what beer can be.
With the Spoetzl Brewery being one of my favorites on account of their still-amazing Shiner Bock (and their new series of yearly brews, capping next year on their 100th anniversary with Shiner 100), I couldn't wait to get a chance to try their Winter seasonal, Shiner Cheer.
A bit of a disclaimer first though. I can't say I'm real high on fruit in beer. I mean I love Pyramid Apricot on a nice warm day, and I'll occasionally throw a lime in a Mexican beer or an Orange slive in a Hefeweizen, but as a general rule I'd like my beer to be beer and not a beer/fruit juice hybrid. So I was a little unsure going in when I learned that it was an Ale brewed with peaches and pecans (though those are Texas staples, so it's not terribly surprising). It's been strangely tough to come by for the past few weeks, but I finally got some.
It's got an unusual ruby/brown color to it, but it pours nicely. The head comes out like it should, and in the end it looks like a beer should. Upon tasting, the first thing you will taste is that classic Shiner bitterness (I recognized it immediately from the Bock) caused by burning the malt. It's not a bad thing, in fact it's what makes the Shiner Bock what it is, but it's definately noticeable here and it lingers. The pecans are very understated, but after a couple seconds the peaches become blatantly obvious. It's strange, it takes a few seconds before the flavor of peach kicks in, and even when it does it's fairly understated-theres just enough peach to let you know that it's there. In fact, the peaches were much more evident on the nose, which I found surprising.
In the end though, I'd rate it a good beer-but not a great one. It doesn't have that heaviness that is generally associated with a Winter beer (to warm you) and that you'd expect. The peach flavor is nice, but overall the beer is generally unremarkable. A little malt bitterness, a little peach, and that's it-its honestly just a little too simple for me. I'm not sure that there's enough peach to satisfy those who like a sweeter beer, and I don't think those that like a heavy beer will be terribly moved by the peaches. I'd suggest that it's a good beer to try, and I'm glad that I did, but I couldn't see myself having it more than a couple times before the end of winter.