Maybe my taste, or lack of it, for beer was ruined back when I was a toddler and my dad used to let me slurp the foam off his icy cold bottle of Budweiser, but I’m just not a beer person. I hate hops.
And yeah, someone would probably call child services these days over the beer-foam slurping, but in my youth that was pretty much considered an adorable photo opp.
While I have no problem sipping straight whiskey, IPAs make me cringe. So I’m that person who, when faced with a beer-only booze selection, looks at the server and says, “Something sweet and stout or something light and fruity.”
The trick is to say it with no shame, and generally you get steered in the right direction.
For example, in the recent winter months my stout side was appeased by Hilltop’s (Plank Town’s new location in Pleasant Hill) barrel-aged Hobbit’s Habit Olde Ale. But now that summer is here, I want something light and fizzy.
Enter radlers and shandies.
I first discovered the shandy while living in Wisconsin, where Leinenkugel’s are everywhere (and kind of like Hop Valley, it’s owned by MillerCoors). Shandies, originally shandygaff, are basically a soft drink mixed with beer. It’s the perfect summer drink. Light, fruity, refreshing, and low in alcohol (4.2 percent ABV), a Leinenkugel’s Grapefruit Shandy is a fizzy cold end to hot day.
Leinie shandies also come in Summer (aka lemonade) and my personal favorite, Pomegranate, which I’ve been finding at Bi-Mart lately, among other flavors.
For those of you who watch such things, a Leinenkugel’s shandy is 11 on the international bitterness unit scale. An Oakshire Watershed IPA, for comparison, is a 70.
Leinenkugel’s pretty much dominates the shandy scene, but you can make your own local shandy. Ninkasi has a recipe for a homemade shandy, made up of 8 ounces of Helles Belles lager, 3 ounces of watermelon juice and one of lemon.
Radler is basically another word for shandy. The only distinction I’ve seen is that radler is a German word and shandy is English. As the story goes, the radler was invented when a German innkeeper was overwhelmed by a slew of cyclists and he mixed his beer with lemon soda to make it last longer.
Radlermass, the orginal name, means “cyclist’s liter.” And the low alcohol content comes in handy when it’s hot outside.
While possibly the most famous radler is Stiegl Grapefruit Radler (and trust me it’s delicious), those of us who are Oregon-centric can quaff a sweet Hopworks Totally Radler in grapefruit or lemon.
I’m not brave enough to start mixing beer and soda willy-nilly, but let it be known that I’m willing to try other people’s recipes. Got any good local mixes? Let me know!