I finally got a six pack of Shiner's 97th anniversary beer (see post below about how Spoetzl is releasing a new beer every year leading up to their 100th). I'm a bit disappointed to say that my anticipation exceeds the beer itself. That's not to say it's bad – it's actually a decent rendering of the black lager style. If you've never tried it – it's a pretty rare style – it is jet black, but doesn't have the heaviness of a stout or porter. Shiner has taken a nice shot at it, but it doesn't quite stack up to New Belgium's 1554, my first experience with black. It's missing a little something – there's a thinness to the taste, whereas 1554 has a warmth, a roundness to it that 97 lacks. The roasty taste is slightly stronger in the 1554 … or, for that matter Xingu or North by Northwest's Okanogan, other great examples. It's a creditable enough attempt – I'd give it a B – but I don't think I'll be developing the addiction that had last year to 96, the wonderful Marzen-style Oktoberfest beer from last fall.
I would include links and art, but amazingly, Shiner has yet to make any mention of 97 on their website. I could just include a pic of a 96 bottle, because the 97 bottle is identical.