Shiner Bock is one of the best offerings of the famous Bock genre of beers. The beer has a strong place in the hearts of many beer lovers, so much so that many refer to it as the official beer of Texas. But many people, even the most ardent fans, still don’t know exactly what type of beer Shiner Bock is. Let’s provide a quick answer.
Shiner Bock is best classified as a dark American lager because of its moderate bitterness (IBU of 13), dark brown color (SRM of 17), alcohol content of 4.4%, and that fact that it is bottom-fermented rather than top-fermented.
There you have it – a quick answer addressing what type of beer Shiner Bock is, but there’s more to it. This article will explain in more detail the exact type of beer Shiner Bock is, as well as walk you through the factors that have informed this classification.
Let’s dig into it, shall we?!
Is Shiner Bock A Lager Or Ale?
Before we answer this, let us first examine what lagers and ales are.
There are different classifications of beer, but the broadest classification is ale and lager. The difference between the two classes is the fermentation technique brewers employ when brewing the beer.
Ales are prepared using the top-fermentation technique, which is done at warm temperatures (60˚–70˚F). On the other hand, lagers use the bottom-fermentation technique, which is done at colder temperatures (35˚–50˚F).
Shiner Bock is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast at cold temperatures, so it is classified as a lager.
What Kind Of Lager Is Shiner Bock?
Although Shiner Bock is classified as a lager, this doesn’t tell the full story as there are still several different types of lagers.
To properly classify this beer, we will rely on the guidelines of the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). This worldwide certifying organization considers a variety of factors in classifying beer.
According to the BJCP, Shiner Bock is a dark American lager. This classification is informed by certain factors, which we duly will consider below.
Do you enjoy Shiner Bock? Here are 10 other beers you should try.
Why Is Shiner Bock A Dark American Lager?
You now know for a fact that Shiner Bock is a lager. But, as we mentioned, there are different types of lagers. When classifying the beer as a lager, you only need to consider its fermentation technique. However, it’s a whole new ballgame when trying to fit the beer into a subcategory of lager, as you need to consider five factors.
These factors are bitterness (measured in IBU), color intensity (measured in SRM), original gravity, final gravity, and alcohol by volume of the beer. Let’s examine them one after the other.
As the name strongly implies, bitterness is how bitter a beer is. It is measured in International Bitterness Units (IBU). The higher the IBU of a beer, the more bitter it is.
According to the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, dark American lagers have an IBU between 8 and 20. Shiner Bock has an IBU of 13, which is well within the specified range for dark American lagers.
The second factor we will examine is the color intensity of the beer, which is measured using the Standard Reference Method (SRM). The higher the SRM of a beer, the darker the beer is.
The Beer Judge Certification Program states that dark American lagers have an SRM between 14 and 22. Shiner Bock has an SRM of 17, meaning it complies with the Program’s specified SRM standards for dark American lagers.
The third and fourth factors are the original and final gravity of the beer. Both gravities help brewers estimate the alcohol content of beer during and after fermentation.
The original gravity (OG) measures the fermentable and un-fermentable substances in the beer wort before alcoholic fermentation starts. Conversely, the final gravity measures the un-fermentable sugars in the beer at the end of alcoholic fermentation.
The Beer Judge Certification Program states that dark American lagers should have an original gravity between 1.044 and 1.056. The OG for Shiner Bock is estimated at 1.043, which is in accordance with the standard original gravity guidelines for dark American lagers.
Also, the Program states that dark American lagers should have a final gravity between 1.008 and 1.012. Shiner Bock has an estimated FG of 1.011, which also falls within standard requirements.
The last factor used for sub-classifying lagers is alcohol content, which is measured in alcohol by volume (ABV). The higher the ABV of a beer, the higher its alcohol content.
The Beer Judge Certification Program specifies an alcohol content between 4.2 and 6% for dark American lagers. Shiner Bock has an ABV of 4.4%, which means it meets the required alcohol content requirements for dark American lagers.
Since Shining Bock meets all of the Beer Judge Certification Program requirements for dark American lagers, it is classified as such.
If you’re interested in finding out if we think Shiner Bock is a good example of the style, read our review here.
Has Shiner Bock Always Been A Dark American Lager?
Shiner Bock is manufactured by the Spoetzl Brewery, which was started by German and Czech immigrants in 1909. The brewery’s name comes from Kosmos Spoetzl, a German brewer that purchased the company in 1915. This brewery is the oldest independent brewery in Texas and one of the oldest in the United States.
While it is not the first beer the Spoetzl Brewery produced, Shiner Bock is by far their most popular beer today. Shiner Bock has always been a dark American lager, like most of the early beers the Spoetzl brewery manufactured.
Interestingly, although first brewed in 1913, this beer remained seasonal – only produced during the Lenten period – till 1973. The change was precipitated by increasing sales and popularity among fans across the country, especially in Texas.
Are All Shiner Beers Dark American Lager?
As is the case with most successful breweries, the Spoetzl Brewery offers several active beer variants. While the brewery focused solely on lagers when starting out, it now offers some ale beers, like Shiner White Wing.
Among its lagers, the first generation was virtually all dark American lagers, but the Spoetzl Brewery now offers several black and pale lagers. Common examples include Shiner Light Blonde, Shiner Bohemian Black Lager, and Shiner Kosmos.
To be clear, not all Shiner beers today are dark American lagers. However, most of the beers the company brews are Bock beers, which is unsurprising considering Shiner Bock is Spoetzl’s best-selling beer.
There always seems to be some confusion about the style of Shiner beers. The Beer Judge Certification Program classifies Shiner Bock as a dark American lager, but many platforms and organizations prefer the term Bock beer. Any controversy about the company’s nomenclature was effectively ended when the company itself described Shiner Bock as a dark American lager.