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What next, Imperial Shandy?

Last year during the evening in which Veronika Springer was crowned Hallertau Hop Queen a man with a tray full of one-liter glass mugs stopped at our table, perhaps noticing I had an empty glass in front of me.

I went to pick up one. Roland Bitti, brewmaster at Augustiner-Brä, raised his hand to signal me to stop. He pointed to a slight difference in color between two glasses and spoke a single word.


I took a deep breath and picked up a liter of Augustiner Edelstoff instead. Rookie mistake (hey, it was dark, they looked much the same).

I thought about this today a) when I saw a story on the press release that the Alchemy & Science, the collaboration between Alan Newman and Jim Koch, has created The House of Shandy and that Curious Traveler is its first release. There will be more.

The press release says, “The shandy tradition dates back to the 17th century and is typically beer mixed with a citrus-flavored soda or carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale or cider. Today, English publicans pour a blend of traditional English ale with various lemon and lime beverages for their patrons though real lemons or limes are rarely used.”

I expect that beer-mixed-with-whatever purists can explain the difference between a shandy and Radler to me, but I’m lumping them together when considering “beer trends.” (I thought that Germany’s history with the Radler — “cyclist” in German — was confined to the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but let’s try to stay on point.)

So b) yesterday Jon Abernathy suggested he might have to stage a “Shandy Shootout” between the new Shock Top Lemon Shandy and Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy. I’ve had the Shock Top (4.2% ABV) and it certainly delivers the lemonade flavor the label delivers.

And before the evening was over c) Jeremy Danner declared it the Year of the Radler.

Yes, this looks like a trend.


11 Responses to What next, Imperial Shandy?

  1. Stephanos April 5, 2012 at 7:47 am #

    I’d assume the radler is premixed in keg, whereas shandy can be made to any proportion the customer so desires.

  2. Martyn Cornell April 5, 2012 at 8:01 am #

    British pub practice today, in fact, pretty much restricts shandy to the lager shandy, which will be lager-and-lemonade in (generally, I believe) equal proportions. This is not to be confused with the “lager top”, about four-fifth or five-sixths of a pint of lager topped up with lemonade. You can buy canned or (PET) bottled shandy, at around 2% or less abv, which will be an ale-based mixture, but it’s a very long time, personally, since I saw an ale-based shandy served in a British pub. (Although I may not go in the right pubs.)

    A century or more ago in British pubs, “shandy or shandygaff” was mild ale and ginger beer, “portergaff” porter and ginger beer and “shandybitter” bitter and ginger beer.

    I’m assuming the “cider” in the press release is what Britons call “apple juice” rather than what we call “cider” and USians call “hard cider”: I’m not aware of any British tradition of mixing beer with apple juice, and a mixture of (alcoholic) cider and beer is one of the several drinks called “snakebite” in the UK, not shandy.

  3. Bill April 5, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Milwaukee has a beer hall tied to Hofbrau (although not one of the giant Hofbrau-run beer halls that have opened around the country), and it has a number of beer-and-X offerings: beer and lemonade, beer and cola, beer and ginger ale, and even I think beer and wine. I’ve known folks who grew up in Michigan to mix beer and Vernors ginger soda, but don’t know if that was a family practice or a wider regional practice.

  4. C Bockway April 5, 2012 at 8:49 am #

    Or possibly the Candy Shandy, a Shocktop Lemon Shandy with a couple of Jolly Ranchers floated on top.

  5. beerwildered April 5, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Alaskan Brewing has a Ginger Shandy out soon as part of their “Rough Draft” series. They’ve been making it for a few years.

  6. Alexander D. Mitchell IV April 5, 2012 at 12:41 pm #

    And, you know, just now, this very few minutes ago, I walked in the door with a jug of all-natural raspberry lemonade……. now I feel compelled to go find a couple beers to blend this with. Maybe a witbier, a saison….. hmmmm, maybe one of Stillwater Artisanal Ale’s spiced saisons? Or if we’re going with the Imperial Shandy idea, a Belgian tripel?

  7. Sam A April 5, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    Imperial Shandy…isn’t that a Joosed or 4 Loko?

  8. Steve April 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    “…beer and cola…”

    Known in Germany as the “Diesel.” I first saw one served in Würzburg many years ago, the face I made must have been pretty good because the woman who ordered it was on the other side of the Bierhall and just laughed when she saw me.

    No thanks, I’ll have beer in my beer, thank you.

  9. Jon Abernathy April 5, 2012 at 10:04 pm #

    So I’ve tried a bottle of the Shock Top Lemon Shandy, and to be honest I’m a bit disappointed that there wasn’t more lemonade character to it (shock! horror! not enough soda flavor!). Of course, they only add “lemonade flavor” and not real lemonade, so who knows.

    Now I pretty much have to get the Leinie’s Shandy and put them head to head. And maybe I can talk an Oregon brewery or 2 to make a shandy again…

  10. Jess Kidden April 6, 2012 at 2:59 am #

    These pre-mixed Shandies, it seems to me, lose one of the “advantages” of mixing beer with a soda 50/50- they don’t have half the alcohol per drink as the beer alone.

    It looks like MC’s Leinenkugel’s and AB’s Shock Top Shandies both are 4.2% abv( BBC’s “Curious Traveler” doesn’t list abv) – the same relatively low alcohol level of “light beer” but nowhere near half of what Shock Top or Leinenkugel would be if cut with a non-alcoholic soda pop.

    Also, as I understand it, “lemonade” in the UK refers to a citrus soda pop like 7-Up or Sprite, not the American un-carbonated mix of lemon juice, sugar and water. Seems to me those sodas are not very tart/lemon-y to begin with, so once mixed the citrus would be even less noticeable. I’ve always thought it was the additional sugar that made them attractive to some people.

  11. braukerl April 6, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    I dunno Martin, perhaps a North/South thing? Bitter shandy was def a staple growing up in Yorkshire. I’m a little shy of thirty so not exactly back in the mists of time. On the other hand, I have never heard anyone order a lager- top north of the Watford Gap.

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