As I mentioned yesterday, I had a good reason for my roundabout way home from New Braunfels. My impetus was the Spoetzel Brewery in Shiner, proud brewer of Shiner Bock (which is the best selling bock in America, according to the brewery tour). I’ve toured quite a few breweries across the country, so I figured I’d add another one to my tally. Yes, I’ve even toured the original breweries of the big three, which, regardless of what you think of their products, are worth visiting, if just for the historical perspective.
Spoetzel is celebrating its 110th year in production, making it the oldest independent brewery in Texas. After struggling in the late 1980s, the company was purchased by a San Antonio businessman who turned it around. They are now producing 1.2 million barrels a year which is distributed in all 50 states (they just added Hawaii), and they are continuing to expand.
As the largest business in tiny Shiner, the brewery had to innovate. They sell their spent grain to cattle ranchers, the used yeast goes to dog and cat food manufacturers, and they recycle their own wastewater (using the methane produced to heat the mash). As usually happens on these tours, I was able to sip special beers that aren’t bottled. A free tour with free samples = a great way to spend an afternoon!