Saturday, March 27, 2010

Shine On, by Mike Renfro

Shine On: 100 Years of Shiner Beer, by Mike Renfro

I love beer. My first Shiner Bock was opened shortly after moving to Austin in 1988 and I’ve never looked back. Dogfish Head, Victory, Rogue, and Stone craft some of my favorite offerings, but the little brewery in Shiner, Texas holds a special place in my world. After reading this photo-filled coffee table book, I see that I’m nowhere close to alone in that belief!

Shine On gives the corporate biography of the Spoetzl Brewery, founded in 1909. The story is actually quite interesting, giving a good overview of the industry in America as well as the details of this particular business. The number of times the brewery was on the verge of bankruptcy is surprising when looking at its success today; as the author says, “It’s a story that would ring of overdone fiction if it weren’t for the simple fact the whole damn thing’s true.” Today, Shiner Bock is seemingly everywhere; it is hard to imagine that it was nearly 1980 before it was actually brewed full-time.

The photographs that accompany the text are plentiful and include many sent in from loyal drinkers giving a friendly feel to the book which meshes well with the story being told. One of my favorites was of a Volkswagen Bug painted to resemble a bee; when Shiner introduced their hefeweisen (then called Shiner Honey Wheat) they built a “buzz” by sending these “bee-hicles” to local bars and encouraging people to try the new beer. A friend of mine and I dragged our families all over San Antonio chasing the slugbugs and getting free beer. That was a very fun night!

Rich details, colorful photographs, and fond memories make Shine On a refreshing read. It has a permanent place on our coffee table and brings a smile to my face each time I crack it open. If you enjoy Texas history and a good beer, open a cold one and spend an afternoon with this book.

First Sentence:
Just for grins, turn the air conditioning off for a few days.

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