by Felicia Winfree Cravens — When people hear the word Shiner, one of the first things that comes to mind is the brand of beer. What many don’t realize is that Shiner is brewed in a sweet little Texas town of the same name.
You actually have to go looking for Shiner to find it. Located between Houston and San Antonio, but well south of Interstate 10, Shiner is tucked away in the back roads along Alternate 90, among the many farm and ranch communities that dot the Texas landscape. It was founded by Czech and German settlers and established as a rail town in the late 1800s, and Shiner holds on to its history proudly.
The Spoetzl Brewery, where Shiner beers have been brewed for over a hundred years, draws tourists to the area regularly as a main attraction. An impressive facility on the edge of town, the brewery employs over a hundred people, and opens the plant for tours year round. Tours are only offered on weekdays, though, so visitors should plan their trip accordingly.
Downtown Shiner is a draw as well. A stately row of shops, complete with awnings and elevated sidewalks, face the train tracks on the edge of downtown, anchored by the Shiner Opera House. The Opera House hosts the Gaslight Theater, which features live theater productions and offers local youth volunteers the opportunity to apply for thespian scholarships. Just down the street you can encounter the Amish Furniture store (complete with buggy out front) and antiques stores around the corner.
Drive down the main road a few blocks to find Werner’s Restaurant; a country-cooking, local-favorite hot spot with excellent service, a varied menu, and a popular lunch buffet. It’s just a few blocks further to the magnificent Saint Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, one of several fascinating small town Catholic churches hidden throughout Texas.
Shiner has several places to stay for visitors who want to spend more than a few hours in town. The Old Kasper House Victorian Inn, for instance, is a quiet collection of rooms and quaint little cabins ready for vacationers. The nearby Derrich Domov B&B Inn and the Shiner Country Inn across town are also available at rates that won’t make the trip too spendy. Staying a night or two in Shiner will allow those who love to explore small towns – rather than merely drive through them – access to a range of day-trip destinations close by, such as Flatonia, Yoakum, Moulton, and Halletsville among others.
If you’ve ever thought about getting off the main interstates and experiencing the small towns of Texas, whether for a few hours or over a few days, Shiner is a great place to begin.
Felicia Winfree Cravens is a native Texan and writer. She’s the founder of the Houston Tea Party, Editor-in-Chief of Free Radical Network, contributing writer at Practical Politicking, and of course she also writes about small town Texas for The Pink Armadillo.