It’s almost summer. The asphalt in the driveway is melting, you’re perspiring in entirely unpleasant and undignified places, and you know that the number of beers it will require to take the edge off your heat-indexed misery will make it impossible for you to safely maneuver your lawn mower. Enter, the shandy. Made up of two of man’s greatest contributions to the problem of human hydration, this combination of beer and lemonade is going to save your sweaty bacon this summer.
The beer shandy started its life sometime early in the last century, in Germany. Story has it that cyclists frequenting a particular popular pub were consuming beer in the summer heat faster than the barkeep could restock it. To stretch his product for the thirsty wheelers, he cut it with lemonade. This early iteration was called “radler,” after the German word for “cyclist,” and it became exceedlingly favored by the pub’s clientele, who realized they could consume twice as much of this refreshing libation as beer and still ride sober on their bicycles. A star was born.
Currently, about a score of countries now have their own version of the shandy, combining all sorts of interesting nonalcoholic beverages — hello, Argentina, orange soda? — with their lager.
Enjoy. Then go do some yardwork, responsibly.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 cups water, divided.
- Zest of 1 large lemon
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- Chilled beer (I like an English pale ale or an American blonde ale)
- Lemon slices to garnish, optional
Make simple syrup: In a small saucepan combine sugar and 1 cup water to a boil. Boil, stirring, until sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, add lemon zest. Cool syrup to room temperature.
Make lemonade: Transfer syrup to nonreactive pitcher and add remaining 2 cups water and lemon juice. Refrigerate lemonade until cold.
To serve: Pour 1/4 cup lemonade into each of 4 chilled beer glasses and top off with cold beer. Garnish with lemon slices, if desired. Serve immediately.
Tip: For shandies on demand, make a double/triple/quadruple batch of the simple syrup; it keeps for weeks.
Radler: A German version mixing beer and German-style (carbonated) lemonade
Panaché: The French radler (see previous)
Turbo Shandy: Beer plus alcoholic lemonade (such as Mike’s Hard Lemonade)
Shandygaff: A British offering pairing beer with ginger ale or ginger beer
Bellissimo Shandy: Beer with a shot of limoncello
Photo Credits: Mike, and author.