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Beer Review: Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner Ruby Redbird

Jun 5, 2011

Ding Points = 72.00

Pour: 50, Nose: 70, Palate: 80, Feel: 80, Global: 70

Tasting Notes:

OK, the cap for this beer has “The Perfect Summer Beer” emblazoned across it so it is certainly not afraid to declare where it thinks it is in the grand scheme of things. I like the confidence, I wonder if I will like the beer.

As folks that are clued in to the American beer scene know, the Shiner range of beers from Spoetzl are an interesting phenomenon. A loyal following in their home state, around the rest of the country they are generally thought of as a mediocre, pseudo-craft brewery that generally produces beer that is for the masses and perhaps only a notch above typical macro-swill.

Spoetzl Brewing, Shiner Ruby Redbird

Spoetzl Brewing, Shiner Ruby Redbird


The color of the beer is quite attractive. Poured from the 12 oz bottle (purchased as a single from Mac’s in Atlanta), the body is a clear, golden affair. REALLY golden in fact, but the head, retention and lace are perhaps the poorest combination that I ever recall seeing. The lack of head is to the point where if I were to observe this before knowing what it was, I would assume that it was a cider; it’s that clear, and completely lacks ANY head. Somewhat paradoxically, there is a good stream of fine carbonation that comes from the bottom of the glass, and lends a pleasing prickle to the mouthfeel of the beer.

The aroma has a slightly tart, fruit note about it, but I don’t think that I would ever pick it up as specifically grapefruit in nature.

The tastes are overwhelmingly citrus lemon for me, and are almost identical to those that I would expect to find in a traditional, English, lemonade shandy. In fact, as I drink it I can think of nothing else. The beer mimics thousands of such drinks that I have consumed over the years. It weakens a little toward the end of things and gets a touch acid-like, but the beer holds up pretty well. As others have mentioned in other reviews, I also get a touch of ginger but for me not as pronounced as others. A floral aspect to he the finish, as well some apple character.

This beer is without doubt the closest to an English Shandy that I have come across in 11 years in the USA. It is INFINITELY more authentic that the horrible concoction that Leinenkugel’s put out with the word ‘Shandy’ on the label (that is an abomination), and it impersonates the original quite well. Perhaps I am biased in that respect, AND I am a lover of grapefruit (although this beer hardly does much in that regard), but nevertheless I enjoyed this and would agree with  the fact that it is likely to go with the extreme Atlanta heat that arrived this week.

Other: Fruit Beer. 4.01%.


  1. Blackdog

    I have yet to find a Spoetzel beer I would buy twice, but if I see this on a singles shelf somewhere I will buy one, if for no other reason then to see how an English shandy is supposed to taste.

    • Steve

      If you can find it (or wait till next year) the Shiner Spring Ale (ale?) is a very good Dortmunder style lager (ale?). No, don’t know why it’s labeled as an ale, but the character and flavor fit the style quite well.

  2. Jaxbeerlover (azorie)

    Not ever had the desire to drink a shandy myself, kind of like fruit lambic’s. I try to have an open mind but it’ s like salt and watermelon, fruit and beer to me do not MIX!

    Since I never been to England in the high summer months, is this a summer drink?
    the Shandy thing?

    • Ding

      Yep, shandy is definitely a popular drink in the summer months and it is made with ‘English’ lemonade, which is similar to Sprite or 7-Up (in as much as it is a crystal-clear, carbonated drink but does NOT have a profound, ‘lemon’ element) that is quite sweet, but in a neutral sort of way, without a high citrus flavor.

      A mixture of approx. 50% lemonade with 50% bitter, lager or cider is common, but %’s can vary. Usually only cheap, inferior kegged beers or commercial ciders will be used in the drink, and it would be a crime to use a high quality cask bitter in this manner. When the % of lemonade drops significantly, the drink should no longer be called a shandy and will be referred to in some other way. Those alternative names are somewhat driven by the area of the country you find yourself in and some well-known ones are as follows; lager-top, bitter-top, bitter-dash, lager-dash, bitter-splash, lager-splash.

      This ‘watering down’ of beer in this manner is sometimes seen to as a sign of weakness, especially by northerners who have been known to use the phrase, ‘you soft, southern, shady drinker’ as a term of mild abuse.

      • Barm

        Don’t be so precious. Part of the joy of draught cask beer is that it’s cool, refreshing and abundant enough to squander a whole half pint of it on making shandy.

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