Review by: Cory Smith
Whether it is fair or not, I associate Shiner with one thing and one thing alone, Shiner Bock. This dark delicacy was first introduced to me in college, and my friend who was the “beer snob” at the time, had me believe that this beer came from Germany. Now that I’ve done some
drinking research, I know that Shiner is out of Texas, and that they make amazing, German-inspired brews. One of those beers, is Shiner’s Holiday Cheer
Holiday Cheer is going to be a bit unique in our list of Christmas brews. Gone are the brown ales with ginger and cinnamon, and in comes a Dunkelweizen with Texas peaches and pecans. Yes, that isn’t a mistake, this beer is made to be a bit like a peach pie, and has all of the flavors that you would want in a holiday dessert.
This holiday Dunkelweizen is interesting because it looks like dark cherry juice. It has the deep, rich mahogany color that I want out of a dark german lager, but it then has a brilliant red hue that bursts through the glass. It really is the perfect color for a dark, Christmas beer. It reminds me a lot of the December 3rd entry from Goose Island, but Holiday Cheer is a bit more red. Overall, though, it’s a great-looking brew.
Right away I get an explosion of saccharine peaches. I might as well have just opened up a can of peaches in syrup and put that up to my nose — it has the same effect. Hints of vanilla and cherry try to make their way out of Cheer’s peachy grips, but the succulent sweetness prevails. There’s a little caramel aroma from the malt, some phenolic banana and clove aromas, but what jumps out at me more is that it smells like candied pecans. I know that’s what Shiner was going for, and they nailed it on the head. This reminds me of a peach pie with a graham cracker crust. It smells overly sweet, but juicy and delicious.
Shiner is really, really good at what they do. The mouthfeel of Holiday Cheer is exactly what I want from a Dunkelweizen. It’s vivacious, effervescent, and a great example of how carbonated a wheat beer should be. That being said, the carbonation isn’t harsh, it’s soft and cleansing. This beer leaves your mouth feeling refreshed, not attacked.
Unfortunately for Shiner, the amount of peaches in Holiday Cheer isn’t quite as apparent in the taste as it is in the aroma. That’s not to say that there are no peaches at all, but they are definitely more of a background note than the lead player. What I taste most is the beer style itself, the Dunkelweizen. It is yeasty, full of cloves and banana, and that flavor melds perfectly with the hints of nuttiness from the pecans. I also get a strange bitter flavor from Holiday Cheer, but I’m not sure if that is from the peaches, the hops, or the yeast. Either way, it’s almost like eating unripened peach skin — it’s not off-putting, but I’d rather it be a bit of a sweeter peach flavor.
Shiner decided to take an unorthodox approach when it came to making their Christmas Ale, they decided to use peaches and pecans. Unfortunately, this great idea falls just slightly flat for me. The dessert-like qualities that I got from the aromas weren’t quite as apparent in the actual flavor of the beer. Peaches and pecans are there, the beer is rich and full-bodied, but it just doesn’t have that “umph” that would make it a next-level beer. For that, I’m giving it an 83 B. I would drink Holiday Cheer again, and I know many people who really enjoy it. It’s a great departure from the overly-spiced beers of Christmas past and is a perfect excuse to have a beer for dessert. If you want to get out of the monotony of ginger, honey, and cinnamon, pick up some Holiday Cheer today.