The other day, while sitting at home, I heard a knock at my back door. Upon opening it, standing before me were the signs of summer. It's been a while since we've experienced a summer day, but when summer comes to visit, it brings some of the most refreshing, fruity, citrusy beverages we can imagine. One of these is called a shandy.
A shandy is a beer mixed with a soft drink, usually a carbonated lemonade, ginger beer or some type of syrup juice. The portion mix of the two ingredients is usually adjusted to taste. Most common, however, is a half-and-half split. Shandies became most popular in Western Europe, but have been taking the United States by storm for the past few years.
Throughout the world, shandies have many variants by name. In Germany, you could order a "Biermischgetranke", "Potsdamer" or a Berliner Weiss. These are all made with a beer base and have lemonade or sweet syrup added. In France, a "Demi-Peche" combines beer with a shot of peach syrup. Throughout Spain, you could order a "Clara" which is a 50-50 split of beer and Gaseosa (a soda, similar to Sprite). One of the most commonly used names to describe a shandy would be a "Radler." Radler is a German word for cyclist. This consists of a 50-50 mixture of beer and sparkling lemonade. The story goes, that in 1922 a German innkeeper was waiting for a group of cyclists who regularly traveled to his inn. He realized when preparing for their arrival he did not have enough beer so he blended the remaining beer with a fresh citrus lemonade. His cycling regulars really enjoyed this new mixture and the Shandy/Radler was born. Many establishments will offer a non-alcoholic version of this called "Rock Shandies." You will definitely see tables filled with these drinks in most European cities.
Over the past few years, shandies have grown in popularity. In the summer months, people are drawn to them because of their low alcohol content (ranging from 1% to 4%) and their deliciously refreshing taste. Unfortunately, shandies have a bad reputation when it comes to websites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. I believe this is truly unfair because people are rating the shandy as a beer rather than what they are, shandies. The sugar from the lemonade or juice in a shandy hides the flavor of the beer or alcohol, which makes the drink more palatable to people who might not like the taste of beer. If you are a true beer connoisseur, this may be the reason why you throw shade on the shandy. I have found that the only way to tell if a beverage is worthy of your taste buds is for you to try it for yourself. Shandies are some of the most refreshing alcoholic drinks you will find. They are very easy to drink and with their low alcohol content, you are set to enjoy more than a few responsibly.
Here at gotbeer.com, we have some of the best shandies available. We have fine imports like "Schofferhofer Grapefruit" (Germany), "Warsteiner Grapefruit" (Germany), and "Moosehead Radler" (Canada). If you fancy something from the good old USA, we have "Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy" and another from the Boston Beer Company called "Samuel Adams Porch Rocker."
So the next time you're out with friends or in the yard on a hot summer day and you're looking for something refreshing to enjoy, make sure you reach for one (or two) of our delicious shandies or radlers. You can thank me later.
JP has been in the beer industry for the past 22 years. First and foremost, he values his family and friends, then beer of course! Nowadays, you can find him in one of the many locally owned beverage centers helping customers finding that favorite style of beer to enjoy. He enjoys all beer but is most drawn to anything in the stout category. The darker the better. Cheers!