How do you learn Czech in Shiner, Texas?

This is the press release the Spoetzl Brewery sent out to announce the release of Shiner 101, its newest beer:

The release suggests heading here for more information, mostly a video of Spoetzl brewmaster Jimmy Mauric talking about beer in Czech. At least I think it’s beer. He could be describing his pet poodle for all I know.

Is that really Jimmy Mauric talking? If you look closely you’ll likely conclude not, but that doesn’t matter. How closely might Shiner 101 replicate a “Czech-style” beer? I’m looking forward to finding out, but again that won’t be the point of the beer.

You can be darn sure it will be a beer of the region. Shiner’s Czech heritage is real. From the Czech Heritage Society of Texas:

The town was originally called New Half Moon but changed to Shiner in 1888. Czech and German immigrants were induced to settle in the area in the 1870s by Henry B. Shiner through his sale of cheap farmland. The prairie around Shiner was fertile and ideal for growing cotton. The Shiner Brethren Church was organized November 8, 1881. A cemetery is located adjacent to the Church. SS. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church was built in 1891. St. Ludmila’s Academy Catholic School was opened in 1897. The Spoetzl Brewery, which still operates today, was originally built in the early 1900s by the Shiner Brewing Association, a stock company of local men.

Mauric grew up in Shiner, playing on the brewery grounds when he was a kid. He started working in the bottle shop when he was 17, walking a mile and a half to work. He since bought the homestead where he grew up. When the wind blows from the south he sits on his porch and smells fresh wort (usually destined to become Shiner Bock, which accounts for 87 percent of production).

He was always good at fixing things and worked his way up at Spoetzl, becoming assistant brewmaster in 1991 and brewmaster in 2005. Spoetzel sent him to the Siebel Institute of Technology to master brewing. When he was in his 30s he attended an area junior college to learn more about computers and technology. This June he will have worked at the brewery for 32 years.

These days Shiner advertising makes a big deal out of the fact that “Every drop of Shiner is brewed in Shiner.” Mauric certainly believes where is in ingredient in the beer.

“You can duplicate the water chemically, but it’s like a seasoned pot: Most people have a favorite frying pan that just makes everything taste better,” he says. “I don’t think you could copy the flavor from our brewing kettles.”

And there’s the town itself, with a population of little more than 2,000, a place you’d likely never know about were it not for beer. Gonzalez, 20 miles to the west, is five times larger. Have you ever heard of it? In that case you are probably a barbecue savant and answered, “Sure, Gonzalez Food Market.”

“The pride in the beer has always been here,” Mauric says. “Good times. Bad times. How people related to Shiner was the beer.”

3 Responses to How do you learn Czech in Shiner, Texas?

  1. Pivní Filosof January 17, 2010 at 12:58 pm #

    The dubbing IS in Czech, with a pretty thick American accent, and it’s about the beer and how they brew it.

    Funny is the headline of the Press release. Czechs will never call plze?ské pivo anything that isn’t brewed in Pilsen, all the rest is sv?tlý ležák (pale lager)…

  2. Stan Hieronymus January 17, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    If you look at the label at the shinner101 site you’ll see that something after Czech-Style is blacked out. To sell the beer to Americans they are better off calling it pilsner. They’ll get extra credit (with me) if they call it pale lager.

    So what are those ? marks supposed to be. Apologies for the fact they never appear correctly with my blogging software.

  3. Pivní Filosof January 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm #

    The ? mark s the e with a diacritic like the z in ležák.

    The blacked out word is Pilsner, init? Of course they have to use to in the American market, it just looked funny written in Czech :)