During a bike race in Munich in 1922, over 15,000 cyclists ended up visiting a small tavern run by a man named Franz Kugler. “Worried he would run out of beer, Kugler mixed his remaining beer supply with lemonade, and the radler was born,” recounts Dick Leinenkugel, the fifth generation president of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company.
Radler, German for “cyclist,” is another name for shandy. Short for shandygraff, a shandy is a mixture of beer and a little something extra – usually lemonade or lemon soda. Some shandy variations also include ginger as a main ingredient, but there are endless combinations.
Many beer purists don’t have a lot of respect for the shandy. They figure that if you want to drink a beer, you shouldn’t muck it up by mixing it with anything else. For those willing to give it a chance, the shandy can be a refreshing balance between citrus and a light, refreshing beer. It’s not a great beer for mid-winter, but it’s perfect for those days when you’re outside on the patio or relaxing under the sun with friends. “You can drink a few and you don’t get a sense of that fullness feeling with shandy that you might with heavier beers,” says Leinenkugel, adding that he’s noticed beer drinkers are starting to embrace the shandy as a warm-weather beer option. “We’ve been fortunate as a brewery to really see this trend continue to grow since we became the first U.S. brewer to introduce a shandy.”
Leinenkugel’s new foray into the world of shandies is its Grapefruit Shandy. It’s their second shandy, the first being the Summer Shandy that was introduced in 2007.
“Each batch begins with our traditional Weiss beer and is then combined with natural white grapefruit flavor to add notes of fresh-cut citrus,” he says. Beer fans will notice right away a great balance between the aroma of grapefruit and the subtle dry finish of the beer. “Based on early feedback, this is a beer that our fans and those unfamiliar to Leinenkugel’s have certainly gravitated towards.”
A few other shandies that are quite dandy:
Burlington, Vermont’s Traveler Beer Company’s Curious Traveler Shandy is a 4.4% ABV Lemon Shandy made with two-row malted barley, malted wheat, Hallertau-Hallertau Hops and fresh lemon and lime juices. It’s very a refreshing lemon-driven beer that’s the perfect accompaniment to croquet and various other yard games.
This beer is a collaboration between two famed Rhode Island companies: Narragansett Brewing and Del’s Lemonade. This 5% ABV beer is a combination of Narragansett’s Lager with lemonade. Still carrying a fair amount of malt flavor with the right amount of lemon, it’s not cloyingly sweet like some shandies. It’s the perfect beer for a day at the beach.
The aforementioned Summer Shandy from Leinenkugel has been a summer favorite since its inception in 2007. At 4.2% ABV, this combination of a weiss beer, blended with natural lemonade flavor, is a balance between malts and citrus flavors and is a great beer to relax with after an afternoon hike.
The Boston Beer Company’s foray into the world of shandies is a 4.5% ABV beer that is very reminiscent of the radler style. It starts with a golden helles lager that is combined with lemon flavor to create a refreshing, tart beer that is best suited to be imbibed on front porch while sitting in the sun.
This 4.2% ABV shandy is a mixture of Saranac’s lager and sweet, lemonade flavor. While a little bit on the sweeter side than some of the other shandies, the Saranac Shandy is still light and thirst quenching on a hot, summer day.