Day Trips: K. Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner

Tour the oldest independent brewery in Texas


Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

The K. Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner took advantage of 18 months of the pandemic without visitors to revamp their brewery tours. The result is an interesting 45-minute walk through the brewing process and 112-year history of the oldest independent brewery in Texas.

The tour leads up a back staircase into the bowels of the mega-modern complex. On the second floor past the shiny copper tanks, the hallway opens to a wall of windows overlooking the bottling line where every drop of Shiner must pass before it crosses your lips.


From there the tour guide talks her way through a museum dedicated to the Shiner story.

It began in 1909 when a group of Czech and German farmers created the Shiner Brewing Association. Bavaria-born Kosmos Spoetzl had worked in breweries around the world when he arrived in Shiner in 1914. His recipe for Shiner Premium mixed a yeast strain from the old country with local artesian water still used today.

Shiner Bock came later as a Lenten beer available only in the spring. The longhairs at Austin's Armadillo World Headquarters helped introduce the dark lager to the world.


Even with its local success, the brewery went through a succession of owners as they tried to compete against national brands. In 1989, the family-owned, San Antonio-based Gambrinus Company took over the Spoetzl family tradition.

From only distributing in a 100-mile radius of Shiner, Spoetzl Brewery became the largest craft brewery in Texas and fifth top-selling in the U.S.

The Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner is about 1.5 hours southeast of Austin. Tours are daily on the hour between 11am and 4pm, and on Sunday between 1pm and 4pm. It's always best to reserve a space at shiner.com.


1,581st in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at austinchronicle.com/daily/travel.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Shiner, Spoetzl Brewery, Kosmos Spoetzl, Armadillo World Headquarters, Gambrinus Company

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