Shiner, Texas: More Than Beer

Shiner TX | Cleanest Little CityMost people know Shiner, Texas for its beer. Shiner is the home of the Spoetzl Brewery, the oldest independent brewery in Texas, known for producing Shiner Bock, a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 41 states. However there are other little known — but interesting — facts about this city in Lavaca County, named after Henry B. Shiner who donated 250 acres for railroad right of way.

Cleanliness, Polka, and Churches

The official slogan for Shiner, Texas is “The Cleanest Little City in Texas,” but it has also been informally referred to as “The Polka Capital of Texas.” At one point, it was home to eight polka bands, all from Lavaca County, and all playing songs in the style of music from their native homeland in Czechoslovakia.

The Joe Patek Orchestra would play songs such as “The Little Goose Polka,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and “Road to Moravia.” Moravia, now part of Czechoslovakia, is the heart of the old country. Many of the ancestors of the polka bandsmen, as well as those who danced to the music, came from Moravia.

In addition to having a rich Czech culture, Shiner also has a colorful history of landmarks. For many years, Shiner had a historic “Big Howitzer” cannon from World War I in Welhausen Park. In World War II, when the country needed scrap metal, the town unhesitatingly turned the cannon into scrap metal.

Although the cannon is now gone, Saints Cyril and Methodius Catholic Church, one of the world famous “painted churches,” is still in Shiner. Built in the 1890s and restored in 1954, the church is one of several renowned churches in the area that feature beautifully crafted painted glass windows and ceilings. It is frequented by tourists all over the world and can be found listed in the national registry of historical places 1983.

Land of Opportunity

“But Shiner is more than physical — there is a spirit in the air,” said reporter George Carmack, in a San Antonio Express-News article dated October 18, 1975.

Joe Patek and Charles Patek | Shiner TX

Brothers Joe Patek and Charles Patek

“The Patek family symbolizes how people from so many lands found Texas and America a land of opportunity…and how their love for their new homeland led to to contribute so much to the spirit of the state and nation.”

When young John Patek came to Texas from Czechoslovakia in 1889, he worked a year without pay to repay the man who paid for his passage to America. In 1920, he formed the Patek Band of Shiner. When John died, he left his sons five fertile farms. His sons carried on his farming…and music legacy.

At one point there were seven Pateks in the band — the father, John Patek, and his six sons: Jim, John, Charles, Laddie, Jerome, and Joe, who eventually took over the band and renamed it the Joe Patek Orchestra. Although the band played its last concert in 1982, the Pateks continue the family tradition of hard work with quality sausages at Patek’s Shiner Smokehouse.

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