I often say that people who’ve never been to Texas will never really be able to understand me, and the same thing that makes this true makes Shiner Bock something more than just a beer. Most people are born into being Texan, though I surely wasn’t and there are things I carry inside me that go beyond having spent a few years there. Case in point: the one time I felt a connection (however slight) with George W. Bush is during his speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, when he said, “Some people say that I have a swagger. In Texas, we call that walking.” No one else laughed when that came across the television screen, and in that moment I knew something significant separated me from my city brethren.
The introduction of Shiner Bock into the Chicagoland area isn’t a cultural coup for those of us (okay, me) who have (has) decided that the pull of the big city is (for now) more compelling than feeling deeply and thoroughly at home lounging in the midst of cedar trees on riverbanks, watching sunsets atop the dam at Canyon Lake, and eating dinner on the Guadalupe while listening to the muffled sounds of the next Merle Haggard coming from the dusty confines of Gruene Hall. Yet somehow its existence here, in my new world, reminds me that I need to rekindle the parts of my old self that have, over the years, been eclipsed and beaten down by urban life. It’s a lot to ask from a beer, but it’s no big deal for Shiner Bock. After all, everything is bigger in Texas.