Monday, 25 September 2017

Shiner, Texas

by Anne Walker

I like a good car ride.  I am crazier than my dog Macy that way.  I can wag my tail just as well as her when it comes to staring out the window and eyeballing the passing scenery, trying not to drool on the windows. “This road eventually takes you to San Antonio” Abby explained.  I wasn’t really listening as much as fantasizing about the taco she promised from the hole in the wall Mexican restaurant we were heading.  “What?”  A brewery tour, Shiner being the biggest and oldest brewery in Texas with a fascinating story of being a little player growing up in a big world and a breakfast taco??  Madness!!!! Abby also recalled a fried chicken place called Fridays in town.  Imagining a brewery tour, preempted by a breakfast taco and followed by a crispy bite of fried chicken, is how my day started.

Driving into Shiner, we acknowledge a beautiful Catholic church,  literally impossible to miss and warrants a second look in the future.  A couple of blocks later, we are turning into our hole in the wall. Hole in the wall places, are anything I don’t like to look outside of my blinders, but this place was open, airy, bright and most importantly, safe.  I scan the menu.  Abby announces her usual bacon, bean and cheese.  Ohhh, I see they have machacado, my favorite for breakfast taco.  I took a chance on a great decision.  We hadn’t had much to say while consuming our tacos.  Enough for me, was watching Abby enjoy her food.  I gave her a bite of my breakfast, almost feeling that I should charge her for it’s absence from my mouth.  Instead, I let her buy breakfast.  Happy and satiated, we left for the next leg of our giant mini road trip, a couple of streets away.

Here is where I realized the downtown tour, two blocks of mostly vacant building surprising me given the amount of tourism the brewery must bring.  Out Abby’s window, I spy a giant factory that begged the question.  “What is that?...a giant water treatment plant?”...making no sense for this tiny town.  Abby replies politely because she easily could have tacked the word “stupid” to the end of her sentence…”that’s the brewery!”  She knew to park on the back side of the brewery for our tour.  I figure, it was just a low key operation and a simple way to park.  Wrong.  We were in tour group TWO for the initial tour of the day, despite our being there a half hour early.  The entire guest parking area was full.  I have been on tours before at breweries and a couple of distilleries, all different because of the different products and production size, but similar in the processes involving fermentation and packaging.  The most impressive thing about the Shiner brewery is the volume of its production and well, there is a pretty cool lab you get to see.  I couldn’t help wondering if it was real or just for show.

Giant dark clouds threatened in the background as Abby and I finish our last samples of beer and made our way back over the bridge to her secret parking spot.  I tease about storm napping in the back of the truck. Abby, kills the mood, stating that our destination for good fried chicken was less than three blocks away (of course), “we could easily walk”.  We split a two piece meal and side of mash potatoes and token gravy.  What can I say?  It was good ol’, spot hitting fried chicken. I will sneak out for it again.  I made dessert out of my side of the mashed potatoes.  My beer and fried chicken induced coma, made for a great ride home and the rest of my Friday off duty, back in our now seemingly huge town of Hallettsville.   

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