Now you never have to choose between beer and a cocktail.

By Chris Hughes
May 23, 2018
Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Lindsey Lower; Food Styling: Mary Claire Britton

Living in Boston, you desperately look for the first trace of spring as soon as the snow begins to dwindle and muddy drifts only cling to patches of your morning commute. I moved to New England from Texas in 2011, and during my tenure, experienced two of the worst winters in its long, frigid history. But the dramatic changing of the seasons made me appreciate two things: the start of Red Sox season (if only to soak up some vitamin D along Yawkey Way) and the first crack of many Steigl Radlers—a blend of grapefruit soda and the Austrian brewery’s own Goldbrau lager. Away went the heavier brown spirits (minus a splash of bourbon for a Boulevardier or two), in favor of low ABV beer cocktails, perfect for swilling on patios.

Another choice quaff for al fresco days? Narragansett’s Del’s Shandy. The Rhode Island standout combines its flagship lager with lemon concentrate from another Rhody favorite, Del’s Frozen Lemonade. So, is there a difference between a shandy and a radler, despite their very similar sweet-tart flavor profiles? The short answer: not really.

A radler—which means “cyclist” in German—is a beer mixed with lemonade or citrus soda. The beer-loving culture that they are, the Germans essentially view a radler like Gatorade or any other post-workout sports drink. A shandy is a British term for the same kind of beer concoction, albeit with more variations. In addition to lemonade and lemon-lime soda, shandies may also include ginger beer, ginger ale, or fruit juice.

Related: How to Make a Paloma Cocktail

Whether you prefer to call them radlers or shandies, a number of great canned varieties abound. But you can also make souped-up versions at home using your favorite summertime fruits, herbs, brews, and bitters. For example, salty gose beers (or other sours) muddled with basil and lemonade in our Lemon-Basil Sour Shandy. Or a better craft pilsner (such as Mikkeller Brewing’s California Dream) blended with San Pellegrino Pompelmo and grapefruit bitters in our Grapefruit Radler—grapefruit garnish not optional. Like a Pimm’s Cup or G&T, these beer-based creations are a cinch to make, and ideal for lounging outdoors.