These are the bird days of summer, and Shiner’s got just the beer to wet your whistle. It’s Shiner’s Ruby Redbird, the second time that the brewery in Spoetzel has released its Texas twist on a shandy, the classic beer-lemon mixture.
As you might be able to guess from the name, the citrus in this beauty of a brew is Texas Rio red grapefruit juice from the Rio Grande Valley, and it’s mixed with a taste of ginger.
It pours a light golden color that fairly gleams when it catches the light. There are flecks of red, but little visually to suggest the ruby red component. The bouquet is redolent of ginger over wheat and hops that rises robustly as you pour it.
This brew pours more like a ginger ale than a beer, all fizzy but without much of a head at all. That’s the mouthfeel you get, too, with a light carbonation that is reminiscent of a soda.
But the taste is not like a ginger ale or even a ginger beer. The folks at Shiner have blended the grapefruit, the ginger, the hops and the malt (“pure Munich malt and Mt. Hood, Citra and Cascade hops,” according to the label) so that they’re well balanced, fruit goes with spice with malt with hops. Nothing stands out or dominates. Everything is fairly smooth. It’s also relatively light, with only a 4.01 percent alcohol level.
In other words, it’s meant to refresh, to go down clean, to be a summertime treat.
But some people aren’t having any of that. The complaints I’ve heard about this beer include: “It’s too light.” “It’s not Shiner Black Label.” “It tastes like ginger ale.”
Well, guess what folks? If you want to drink Shiner Bock or Shiner Black Label, then drink those beers. That’s not the song Ruby Redbird is singing. It’s a different beer, as different as sourdough is from a baguette. Thankfully, there’s room for all tastes.
Frankly, on a day on which the thermometer hits triple digits, a dark beer is the one of last things in the world I want to think about drinking. (A California Cabernet Sauvignon is another.) That’s where Ruby Redbird comes in. So, enjoy a pint with some fish tacos or a spicy po’boy from one our food trucks, and chill out with a new Texas brew that most welcome in our seemingly endless days of summer.