by Mark Tichenor
So, a couple weeks ago I ponied up to have my broken air conditioning system fixed. My first thought was to save the money and just go without for the short summer, but I’m glad I went with the fix, because it has been absolutely brutal outside. It’s like breathing hot plastic wrap, and I swear one of my Converse All-Stars partially melted to the pavement.
When it’s that hot, even beer is hard-pressed to provide actual refreshment. You’re losing pints of water through profuse perspiration anyway, so adding a diuretic like alcohol isn’t doing yourself a favor. Fortunately, though purists go fetal at the very thought, you can make your beer lighter in alcohol and more refreshing by turning it into a shandy.
A shandy, or ‘Radler’ as our German friends call it, is nothing more than beer mixed with lemon-lime soda, ginger ale, or (ideally) sparkling lemonade. I know, it sounds disgusting. And sometimes it is disgusting, but it’s very popular in Europe, and not at all hard to make, or have your bartender make, a mix that combines the best of both worlds.
If you’re going to do this, use a light lager that’s more on the malty side. . Munich style Helles beers like Spaten work well, as does Hefeweizen. This is also a great occasion to get rid of all that big box beer your cheapo friends bring to your parties. Avoid strongly hopped beers because hop flavor clashes with citrusy soft drinks and it’ll taste like hell. Make your proportions 50-50, and adjust from there. The shandy should still look pretty much like beer, but lighter in color.
You could always buy some of the premixed, commercially available shandies that are sort of faddishly hitting the market, but you really shouldn’t because making your own is so dang easy and the prepackaged stuff tastes like a household cleaning product.
Ultimately, shandy is the least snobbish expression of beer enjoyment, it’s taking the summation of brewer’s skill, farmer’s labor and maltster’s art, and then dumping soda into it. This in its own right makes shandy fun to drink, if only for the opportunity to thumb one’s nose at beer snobs. Still, even the most highbrow Imperial Stout lover would agree, when it’s so torrid out that your sneakers melt to the pavement, A tall, cold, sweaty glass of shandy is a fantastic way to deal wit the heat.
In other beers:
Custom Brewcrafters is joining in the fight against ALS. ‘Ales for ALS’ is a program sponsored by hop grower Loftus Farms and distributor Hop Union, with participating breweries nationwide. CB’s is brewing an IPA with the provided hops, for sale at the brewery’s tasting room. All proceeds go to ALS research.
Mark owns a laptop and likes beer. For more on beer, check out the beercraft blog, updated regularly, at beercraft.wordpress.com. Find him on Twitter @beercraft. Send your questions, suggestions, or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.