Taste-Testing America's Most Popular Shandies
By Danya Henninger
July 30, 2014
Photo by: Danya Henninger
Do you know what a shandy is? How about a radler? A clara? A panache?
If you don’t, you will soon. Long a summer staple in Europe, the mix of lager and lemon soda known by all the above names is taking the U.S by storm. Sales of bottled or canned shandies surged more than 200% in 2013, and it looks like 2014 will grow even more, with several new breweries launching shandy or radler labels into the fray.
There’s a reason these beer-mixers are so popular during warm weather: they’re extremely, exceptionally, extraordinarily refreshing. Think of that mythical “ice cold” feeling Coors is always touting, and add the sparkling pop of a swig of just-above-freezing Sprite. Plus, since they’re traditionally only part beer, shandies are relatively low in alcohol, making them perfect for day-drinking your way through a trip to the beach, picnic or backyard BBQ.
Varying techniques are used to achieve the pick-me-up sip of these brew blends. Some, especially the newer offerings from craft operations, use real juice or soda as ingredients to mix with the base of ale or lager — mostly lemon, but grapefruit is also common. Others rely on “natural flavoring” for their citrus kick.
Which one should you seek out? We tried nine shandy/radler variations from breweries of all different sizes and locations, and ranked them according to how flavorful, drinkable and generally delicious they were. Flip through to see the results, listed in order of our least to most favorite, and then pick up a six-pack for your next bout of summer fun.