This week's Grape Vine Market newsletter reports that Shiner 97 has arrived! That's exciting news for me, because last year's 96 quickly became a favorite of mine.
In case you don't remember, or live under a rock (or outside of Texas — same thing), Shiner is releasing a limited-supply new beer each year leading up to their 100th anniversary. Last year's brew was named 96 — for their 96th year in business — this year's brew is named 97, and so on. The 96 was an outstanding Oktoberfest beer that marked my first introduction to the Märzen style. I loved it and drank it constantly last fall for as long as it lasted. In fact, I liked it better than Shiner Bock, their flagship beer; I even wrote them a letter and begged them to make it a permanent part of their lineup. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who felt this way.
The Grape Vine newsletter reports that 97 is a "Bohemian Black Lager." If that means that it's a black beer in the mode of New Belgium's 1554 or the Brazilian Xingu brand, then I'm very excited, because I've really grown to love that style. North by Northwest brewpub makes a mighty fine black as well. Sez Grape Vine's Beerman:
"In spite of its dark richness, the Shiner 97 is one that even people who usually don't like dark beers will enjoy. It's actually very light on the tongue, and its crispness and low alcohol content make it an easy drinking beer. It's definitely worth a try, and once it's gone, it's gone."
The Shiner website has no mention of 97 yet, but it does say that, appropriately enough, the Old 97's will be playing their big Bocktoberfest bash on Oct. 14.
EDIT: Now when I say "it's here," I'm trusting the Grape Vine newsletter, which advertises it and actually gives a price. However, I just went across the street to the Hancock HEB and saw no sign of it.
However, I did see that that HEB has all Shiner products on sale for $4.99 a sixer — that's $1.50 off). Pretty good price, unless you think that's what Shiner Bock ought to cost all the time. (Now, I know HEB would never be so crass as to label it a "Back to School" sale, but the college kids are back and that store is the number one grocery outlet for students living on or near campus …)