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A Handy Dandy Guide to Summer Shandy

What’s a shandy? Just mix lemonade with a frosty beer and you’ve got yourself an easy-to-drink, citrusy delight to help you keep up the ideal beach buzz.

What’s a shandy? Just mix lemonade with a frosty beer and you’ve got yourself an easy-to-drink, citrusy delight to help you keep up the ideal beach buzz.

Some combinations are too good to pass up: chocolate and peanut butter, neon clothes and 80s music, good friends and barbecues. As far back as the 1800s, folks recognized the irresistible attraction between beer and some of their favorite mixers. The British added ginger ale to their pints of pale ale, calling the concoction a shandygaff. Today, the cocktail’s shortened name, shandy, applies mostly to beer mixed with ginger- or citrus-based, non-alcoholic beverages.

Shandies are bubbly, zesty, easy-to-drink and refreshing. Typically, a shandy is made with lighter varieties of beer, whether pale ales, wheat ales, white ales or pilsners. Their popularity in the beer market has grown consistently over the past few years, with more and more big-name breweries adding their own version of a shandy to the fray.

As summertime unfolds, you’ll find plenty of fun, thirst-quenching options with which to stock your beach-time cooler.

So what’s a radler?

While used somewhat interchangeably, a shandy and a radler are technically different beverages. While a shandy often refers to any beer cocktail with fruit- or ginger-based mixers, radlers are more citrus-forward, typically mixed with sparkling lemonade, grapefruit or sodas.

The radler can trace its roots to Germany where innkeeper Franz Kugler claims to have created the beverage. One very hot Munich day, thousands of thirsty cyclists descended upon Franz’s beer garden. He cut the beer with lemon soda to help stretch his beer supply. Kugler probably didn’t invent the beverage as much as he invented the story, as the term was used earlier in history within German cycling clubs. Nonetheless, the radler has been popular throughout Europe ever since.

Popular shandy recipes

To make a summer shandy, you’ve got loads of options. If you’re feeling fancy, make your own lemonade with fresh lemon juice and simple syrup. Mix up some Country Time if you’re feeling nostalgic for childhood pool parties. With all the seltzers on the market, you can easily crank up the fizz as well. Start with your favorite summertime mixer, whether lemonade, grapefruit, lime or other citrus beverage. In a chilled pint glass, pour together a quarter cup (two ounces) of your mixer and a cold can of light beer. You can play by adding more or less mix, depending on your preference. Some bartenders might garnish with a sprig of mint or a citrus wedge.

A classic British shandy is a 50/50 combination of lemon soda (7up or Sprite can work) and light beer. A ginger shandy employs a quarter can of ginger beer, a squeeze of lemon and a light beer.

While most shandy and radler recipes contain gluten, you can make a gluten-free version by swapping out the light beer for a dry, hard cider instead. A word to the wise: just because shandies are light and juicy, they are still alcoholic. Many pre-made, store-bought shandies have an ABV between 2% and 5%.

Leinenkugel et al.

Wisconsin’s Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company brews one of the most well-known shandies in the United States. Their lemon shandy is sweetened with honey and is advertised as the “perfect summer beer.” At just 130 calories and an ABV of 4.2%, it really is an ideal beverage for your day at the beach or the pool. Leinenkugel’s seasonal grapefruit shandy and their lemon hazy IPA are further expanding the traditional shandy market. Other popular brands include Del’s Shandy by Narragansett Beer, featuring the Ocean State’s famous Del’s Lemonade. Narragansett and Del’s have even teamed up to create a mango passionfruit and a watermelon shandy option.

The list continues. Shock Top’s Lemon Shandy includes a touch of coriander and UFO’s Big Squeeze features tart grapefruit flavor. Sam Adams has a juicy summer collection as well: a citrusy Summer Ale and a lemon Radler called Porch Rocker. During the summer months, you’re guaranteed to find these familiar brands at your nearby liquor stores, though many of your favorite microbrews will likely release their own summer shandy twist as well.

When the days get longer and the grills are hot, it’s time to switch up your usual six-pack for something befit of summertime. Shandies and radlers are a fun option for the steamy season, especially with the abundance of flavors currently on the market. Like well-worn flip-flops and shameless tan lines, the beer shandy will no doubt become one of your signature summer drinks.

Ready to try a shandy? Take a look at some of our top shandy's sold on Drizly!