In England they are known as Shandies, in Germany they call them Radlers and these beer cocktails are now catching on all over the world. No matter what you call them, these concoctions are a mixture of beer and sodas or juices. In England the Shandygaf – or Shandy – can be a mix of ale with ginger beer, ginger ale, apple cider, hard cider or any other soft drink. Traditionally, though, a Shadygaf is beer and ginger beer. In Germany the ingredients are essentially the same but the style of beer used is, of course, lager. In both cases these refreshing mixtures are generally low in alcohol, generally weighing in at less than 4% ABV.
The exact origins are not truly known, but according to at least one account, the German version of the light, refreshing beverage can be traced back to June of 1922. At that time of the year, the weather in Germany can be very hot and humid; a combination that often calls for many brews to help cool and refresh travelers. Alas, during that hot month, Gasthaus owner Franz Xaver Kugler found himself without enough beer to quench the thirst of the bicyclists and mountain hikers that were his guests. To resolve his problem, Kugler quickly inventoried what he had on hand and discovered he was overstocked with lemon-lime soda. In a stroke of genius, he added the soda to the remaining beer and named it for the bicyclists that so often stayed with him. The Radler was born.
In England, the Shandy has been around for well over one hundred years. In fact, the Shandygaf is mentioned in a comic novel written by H.G. Wells, the writer of The War of the Worlds. In The History of Mr. Polly, Wells describes the Shandy as a mixture of two beers and ginger beer.
Variations of the drinks abound; one of the more popular mixtures is beer and cider known as a snakebite. Beer mixed with cola is often called a diesel in England, while Hefeweizen mixed with cola is called a Colaweizen in Germany.
Domestically these tasty summer treats are brewed and distributed by a number of breweries. Leinenkugel‘s Summer Shandy is an excellent example that is widely available. Dundee also makes a refreshing summer mixture of lemon and lager.
These delightful beer cocktails are a great way of beating the summer heat. So, break out the rocking chairs on the breezy front porch and relax with a cold shandy as the world slowly passes by. It is sure to put you in a summertime frame of mind.