Friday, June 28, 2013
About those Summer Shandies...
If you've noticed a leap in the promotional advertising for a beer called a "shandy," you are not dreaming. This report notes: "2013 is shaping up as the 'summer of shandy'...while beer and lemon have been dance partners for decades, they have never had the marketing push and attention that they are currently enjoying."
Perhaps this push is motivated by the lower alcohol--no DUI angle. Perhaps it's designed to draw the fairer sex into the beer-drinking arena. A cynic might say it's to just make more money. Not that there's anything wrong with that...unless you're a socialist.
But just what qualifies as a shandy? And how does it differ from that classic German beverage called a "radler?"
The radler, or radlermass, is of German origin. Radler means "bicycle," and "mass" means litre of beer. It was reportedly invented in 1922 by Franz Xaver Kugler, whose tavern lay on the route of a famous bicycle race. When Herr Kugler realized that the size of the thirsty race contingent would likely overwhelm his supplies of beer, he made the call to mix his beer with a lemon soda concoction he had in his basement, which, alone, did not appeal to his clientele at all. Mixed, however, it became a magically refreshing potion. Many of today's "summer shandies" are radlers.
The British version was originally called a "shandygaff," and it was a mixture of ale and ginger beer. Some historical reports credit Henry VIII with devising the mixture. (Hey, with that many wives, a guy's got to drink something.)
Regardless, the two originally different styles seem to have morphed into one that falls under the name "shandy." While definitely a "lighter" beer, it is decidedly NOT a "light" beer. And no matter which you choose, they will be lower in alcohol, tasty and refreshing. Good for an "after-yard-work" beer.
You can, of course, make your own mixture at home. Use a pilsner, a helles, a kolsch or a dortmunder. Most recipes call for a half and half mixture, but some go 60-40. One caveat, though. The lemonade used in authentic radlers is not as sweet as what you might find commercially here. Making your own from scratch can control that sugar level.