It seems as though everywhere we turn this summer, there’s someone standing there offering us an ice cold Shandy. “So refreshing” they say, “drink up!” This delicious and somewhat guilty-pleasure beverage has become so popular, we wanted to dig into its history and learn exactly where it came from.
Shandy is a long-time European drink that has just recently gained popularity in the United States. The general definition of a Shandy is a beer mixed with some sort of non-alcoholic entity: soda, ginger beer, juice, and what we’ve come to know and love – lemonade. There is no “right way” to make a Shandy and the proportions of the beer/non-alcoholic part are completely up to the drinker (or brewer).
There are more specific terms for a Shandy throughout the world, depending on the contents of the drink. Famous throughout Europe as a Radler, this drink consists of a mixture of various beer and soda/lemonade. A Biermischgetranke, popular in Germany, literally means ‘beer-based mixed drinks.’ Often these are made with low-alcoholic beers and are usually 50% beer and 50% German-style carbonated lemonade. In Spain, a Clara is 50% beer and 50% citrus soda. In many parts of Europe, a Diesel is beer mixed with Coca-Cola. A variety of countries have their own tradition with Shandy and their own name for the drink.
So why the recent popularity in the US? One theory is that people are looking to drink more without getting as intoxicated. Shandy, on average, has much less alcohol content than other beers – Often coming in around 4.2%, compared to a Sam Adam’s Summer Ale at 5.2%. It’s also extremely refreshing, combining two of the most satisfying beverages to drink on a hot summer day – Lemonade and beer. Regardless, it’s apparent from the rising numbers of producers and sales that Shandy is here to stay (at least for the summer).
Now, to talk about our favorites:
Sam Adams Porch Rocker: Like the name states, this refreshing beverage is the perfect pairing to a relaxing evening on the porch. The light, citrus taste is more subtle than other Shandy and is a definite summer go-to. 4.5% ABV
Jacob Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy: A fan favorite throughout the US, this drink boasts a combination of traditional wheat beer and refreshing lemonade flavor. This Shandy has a strong lemon taste and scent, making it perfect for the lemon enthusiast. 4.2% ABV
Curious Traveler Shandy: This local Burlington, Vermont, beer is a delightful combination of traditional Hallertau hops and both lemon and lime flavors. A light, citrusy taste, perfect for sipping by the lake. 4.2% ABV
Although enjoying a delicious Shandy is only a quick trip to your local store away, we wanted to give you all the fuel necessary to really lean into this lemon-beer fad. Here is a simple recipe to follow if you’re feeling enthusiastic enough to try making your own Shandy:
1. Start with choosing and pouring your beer. We recommend a lighter beer such as a wheat beer, larger, or pilsner.
2. Choose and pour your non-alcoholic part. Although this is typically lemonade, we recommend trying it with sparkling lemonade, citrus soda, or raspberry/cranberry lemonade. The choices are endless and all will result you in consuming delicious alcohol, so why not?
3. Gently stir. Don’t shake, obviously, because it’s beer and will become a foamy mess. We hope you know this already but have to tell you anyway.
4. Enjoy! Drink responsibly, of course.
What is your favorite Shandy to enjoy during the summer months? Please share on our Facebook Page.