I covered a bit of Shiner Beers and Spoetzl Brewery in my review of their Hefeweizen earlier this summer. Today, I crawled into a sample of their new seasonal, Fröst, a Dortmunder-style ale (according to the label) that debuted in January to replace their Holiday Cheer.
While Dortmunder is, of course, a lager, I’ve read that the term “ale” may be used in this case due to some archaic Texas labeling laws. The style was first brewed in the mid-19th century for the coal mining workers of the Dortmund, Germany, region to compete with the imported helles lagers of the Bavarian brewers. A number of the region’s brews survive and are available in the U.S. today, and several American brewers have taken a stab at the style, most notably here in the Midwest with Great Lakes Brewing’s Dortmunder Gold. As a style, one expects a basic full flavored lager.
While I’ve long been a casual fan of Spoetzl’s products since they’ve become available nationwide as perfect “tweener” beers (kind of like Killians or Sam Adams and directed toward “new” craft beer drinkers) this is probably one of their most unexpected quality offerings. In fact, if the large U.S. macro-brewers would make something this good, many of us critics would have much less room to grumble.
The beer pours pale straw in color, but with a rich creamy white head that might be expected in a true pilsner. The first sip is full and hearty on the nose with a malty richness, with a hint of herb, which breaks off sharply in a clean hop bite that lingers long after the finish. It’s not as dry as a northern pils, which lends to its “drinkability”—to borrow a macro term—but sweet and clean. This would be a very nice session beer.
While this certainly is NOT an explosive or big full-flavored craft beer, the likes of which we normally praise around here, this is an excellent offering for its style and highly recommended (as a fun training-wheels brew) as their winter seasonal offering or—even better—in place of a cold, wet macro-brew should the need arise after mowing the lawn on a summer day.