There’s nothing finer than a springtime shiner. At least, that’s what my bottle of Shiner FM 966 says. Shiner FM 966 is a farmhouse ale in style, a uniquely Belgian/French style of beer that is light, fruity, and spicy with distinctive yeast notes and high drinkability. In many ways, it’s similar to a fine white wine I think, and Shiner is certainly on track when they say that it’s a great beer for spring imbibing.
On the neck label, Shiner calls this a “spring provision ale”, but I’ve been drinking it over the summer and found it every bit as suitable as the weather warmed. Farmhouse ales actually encompass two sub-styles, saison or biere-de-garde. The distinction between the two is nebulous at best, although in my experience biere de garde is more suitable for lying down (biere de garde is French for “beer to keep”) while saison is a light seasonal brew best enjoyed fresh).
Shiner FM 966 seems to me more of a saison. The beer is only sold in spring and has an alcohol content of 5.7% by volume. I paid $8.49 for a six-pack. Shiner describes the beer further on the label:
A few centuries ago, during the cold winter months, farmhands in Europe brewed a “seasonal provision” Farmhouse Ale to be enjoyed once spring rolled around. In the farmlands of Shiner, TX that tradition lives on. Which is why our tribute to this style uses Golding, Sterling, and Meridian hops for a sweet yet lightly spiced flavor. Our incredibly refreshing Farmhouse Ale bears the name of the farm to market road just south of where our brewery has proudly stood for over 100 years.
Shiner FM 966 Farmhouse Ale pours to a pale golden color with a thick and creamy head formation and a tart and spicy nose. Taking a sip, the beer has a bright biscuit malt character up front followed by the peppery spiciness and bright citrus notes. There’s a tart quenching character to this beer and in the finish, some grassy, balancing herbal hops. Just a bit of them mind you, but enough to make this interesting. The underlying tartness and sourness from the pilsner and wheat malts and yeast used make this very refreshing, a perfect beer for the warming days but still cool nights.
Overall, much better than I thought it would be, and a credible stab at the style.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.