What’s Brewing?: Pick a shandy or a radler for Mom
Mother’s Day is Sunday. If you’re someone who buys mom a gift each year, it can be challenging to find that special something unless you’re in the habit of getting her the same thing every year. For those of you who are looking for something unique, I have an idea!
Remember just a few years ago when it seemed like fruit was in every other beer? Studies were showing that fruit beers were a top choice for many women, which is why we were seeing an abundance of them. Of all the great beers Fathead’s makes, Bumbleberry is still their top-selling brew. Fruit beers are still a top choice, and many of the women consuming them are moms. Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down?
Not every brewery has a beer with fruit on tap; however, every bartender can make a shandy or a radler for you on the spot if you know what to ask for. What is a shandy? What is a radler? Is there a difference? Mom might be interested in putting down that bottle of Merlot to go on a little adventure for something fruity and truly refreshing along with time well spent with you this Mother’s Day.
The term “radler” means “cyclist” in German. Although the exact history seems to have gotten lost, it makes sense that radlers were popular among cyclers who needed some quick carbs but without all the alcohol. A radler is often made up of mixing a lighter style of beer with a carbonated citrus beverage at a 50/50 ratio. San Pellegrino orange and lemon are excellent choices due to their concentrated taste, but I’ve found that the 50/50 ratio is a bit much. About one-fourth or one-third carbonated citrus to three-quarters or two-thirds beer seems to be more appealing for consumers here in the states.
“Shandy” is a British term and is almost identical to a “radler.” The only difference being that shandies incorporate all fruit juice flavors as opposed to just citrus. The carbonated fruit juice mixes well with beer and tempers the bitterness of IPAs, making both shandies and radlers more appealing to hops-averse consumers. The English standard shandy typically combines a Pilsner with a ginger beer. This was a favorite of 19th-century British soldiers who needed to ration their beer supply. Today, Leinenkugel Brewing Co. in the United States has made a huge impact on bringing shandies of all varieties to the consumer.
As you may have guessed, the terms shandy and radler are interchangeable. Basically, they mean the same thing. One is of German origin and the other British. Aside from the lighter beer styles that are generally used to create these tasty concoctions, try a stout mixed with a touch of Lemon San Pellegrino.
Not something I’d think would work well together, but the zest of the lemon pleasantly cuts through the rich coffee and chocolate-like flavors in the dark beer. It’s one of my favorite ways to consume a stout in the warmer weather. The other nice thing about shandies or radlers is that they’re lower in alcohol than most beers. Because most are light and crisp tasting, they pair well with BBQ chicken, fruit salads, watermelon and grilled fish.
Try asking for a shandy or a radler the next time you visit a brewery. I’ll have a radler, you might have a shandy. Regardless, Mom will love you for showing her a new way to drink beer.
Mix ’em yourself or buy them at a local distributor. Here are a few to try:
Susquehanna Brewing Co. (Pittston)
Orange is the New Ale (4.2% ABV). A refreshing sweet, citrus pure blood orange juice ale shandy.
Saugatuck Brewing Co. (Douglas, Mich.)
Blueberry Lemonade (5% ABV). Light, refreshing and unique. Tart lemonade will help quench your thirst, while the blueberry finishes off this perfectly invigorating shandy.
Leinenkugel Brewing Co. (Chippewa Falls, Wisc.)
Summer Shandy (4.2% ABV). This is a crisp weiss beer with natural lemon flavor.
Shock Top (St. Louis, Mo.)
Ruby Fresh Radler (5% ABV). Slightly tart, subtly sweet, majorly refreshing. This Belgian-style ale balances the delicious sweetness and tartness of the perfect grapefruit.
Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of “Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.”