Craft Beer 101: Shandies and Radlers

by: Tierney Pomone
August 21, 2015

Hurry, quick, before summer dies, grab yourself a shandy. It’s been hotter than hot this week which is makes it the perfect time to pick up (or make) a shandy. But, what exactly is a shandy, and how can you make one at home? It’s easier and more refreshing than you think.

Originating in 1922 as one of the original “beer cocktails,” the Radler (or Shandy) was given its name presumably due to its popularity among cyclists in German. I know, it sounds random, but see radler means cyclist in German and around this time frame cycling became extremely popular. Cyclists needed a refreshing, thirst quenching beverage on their journeys, so pubs started mixing lemonade with beer in a 50:50 mixture.

The official inventor is credited to Franz Xaver Kugler, a German pub owner, who upon receiving a swarm of cyclists mixed the beer and lemonade to ration his beer supplies. What a grand idea! Radlers are known by many other names including shandy, alster, and reldar.

Just like their plethora of names, the shandy can be made in a variety of ways depending on who you ask. The origin of shandy comes from the Shandygaff served in England and made with a 50:50 mixture of beer and ginger ale or ginger beer creating the perfect Midtown Mule. Some make shandys with carbonated lemon soda, some make them with grapefruit juice or carbonated grapefruit juice. The decision, ultimately, seems to come down to your personal preference. The one thing that can be agreed upon is that they are meant to be refreshing, hydrating, and low ABV.

The two most easily recognizable shandies would be Curious Traveler and Leinenkuge’s Summer Shandy. Both have the unmistakable lemony flavor added to a German-style wheat beer. Step off the beaten path with me to explore some lesser known shandies such as Narragansett Del’s Shandy, Widmer Brothers Hefe-Shandy (if you see this tell me!), Stiegl Radler, UFO Big Squeeze Shandy, or Sam Adam’s Porch Rocker. I can’t speak to all of them, but I did pick up a pounder can of the Narragansett Del’s Shandy when we were in Asheville and enjoyed every drop of it when we were camping the following weekend.

If you’re up for it, you can easily make these at home, too. Grab your favorite wheat beer, blonde ale, or even IPA and make a 50:50 mixture in your glass of beer + lemonade/lemon soda/grapefruit juice/grapefruit soda. Personally, I like it exactly as Zeroday Brewing makes theirs: half Cheap Date and half lemonade and just a splash of ginger beer. If you’re having a party, garnish them with a lemon or maybe even a strawberry for a different flavor. You can even make pitchers of them if it’s that kind of day. Go nuts with your shandies and radlers, maybe use a bit of orange in there too? I want to hear about what you come up with!

Categories: Craft Beer

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