You’ve seen them about town in your local bars and in the local beer stores, hell even your Tecate drinking neighbor fist pumps at the sight of one. They pop up at parties and your aunts chat you up on the first craft beer they actually liked but what the hell is it? What are these beers that have infected the masses and brought people into the craft beer fold? Radlers aka Shandy beers! But what in the name of the god of light is a Shandy or Radler? Let’s figure out what this infectious beer is and figure out where it falls within the annals of the storied history of beer.
Shandygaff is the first term in the historical timeline and it means a drink made of 2 parts beer and 1 part ginger ale/beer. The origin is murky but accounts point to Henry VIII or a novel called Tristram Shandy published in 1759.
Radler is the second term in the historical timeline and it’s German for cyclist. The beer was originally concocted in the early 1900’s for cyclist to rehydrate after long bike trip through a specific bike trail outside of Munich, think of it as the original Gatorade.
Shandy and Radler are now used interchangeably but for the sake of this post I will continue using Shandy as the term to describe these beer drinks.
What is a Shandy Today?
Today a shandy can be a variety of beers mixed with another soft drink, ranging from carbonated beverages to lemonade and orange juice. Traditionally they are low alcohol beers under 3.5% alcohol but modern versions have increased the ABV to just around 4%. A beer cocktail if you will!
Yes this does mean you can make shandies at home and forgo the hefty price tag of a six pack of 4% beer. If you make one at home try using a beer that’s not that hoppy and doesn’t have an assertive flavor. Try using a Pilsner or a wheat beer and add 1 part juice/soda for every 2 parts beer. For an added touch of class take your finished shandy and pour it in the sink and go to your room and cry yourself to sleep in tears of shame. When you pull yourself together, look at yourself in the mirror and take a good look at what disgrace looks like, take a selfie if you wish, go to your fridge, grab a real craft beer and savor the effort and time it took for a brewery to make that beer exactly how they intended it to be. You can just skip that part though if you wish, its optional.