BeerAdvocate: Shandies Inspire Summer Seasonal Releases

“Known as a Shandy or a Radler (the German word “radler” literally translates to “cyclist”), the mix of lager and sparkling lemonade or grapefruit juice has been sold in Bavaria since the early 1900s, and was popular among bicyclists for its refreshing flavor and low ABV. It remains well liked in Western Europe today.

While Shandies and Radlers have been brewed stateside for several years (Boulevard introduced its Ginger Lemon Radler in 2014, and the Shandy-focused contract brewery Traveler Beer Company got its start in 2012), the style has proliferated in the US, with several new summer seasonals featuring radler-inspired brands. Flying Dog Brewery and Great Divide Brewing Company introduced Radlers this spring, while Stiegl launched a lemon version of its popular Grapefruit Radler in the US market in mid-May. Bud Light Radler will hit the Canadian market this summer.

Flying Dog’s Summer Rental Radler, a 4.5 percent light lager brewed with grapefruit and passionfruit, debuted in April. The riff on the traditional style hits several consumer trends at once: sessionable alcohol levels and tropical fruit flavors. “We loved the idea of a slightly sweet and also slightly tart Radler that had more complexity than [the] traditional [lemon or grapefruit] citrus,” says senior director of communications Erin Weston. “As we saw with session IPAs, even the craftiest consumers are looking for low ABV, yet still flavorful, options.”

Great Divide released its Roadie Radler in April, too. “We’ve brewed plenty of high ABV beers over the years and this is our lowest ABV yet at 4.2 percent,” says founder Brian Dunn, who hopes the canned seasonal will be popular with outdoor enthusiasts. “I like that it’s so different [from the rest of our lineup] and I like that we are connecting with a segment of beer drinkers that may not have been drinking Great Divide in the past.”

The surge in popularity has also led to new twists on the concept. Contract brewed at Stevens Point Brewery in Wisconsin, a line of Radlers (a 60-40 blend of beer and tea) released by Owl’s Brew in October 2016 includes flavors like The Blondie (wheat beer and English breakfast tea, lemon, and lime) and That’s My Jam (Amber Ale with Darjeeling, strawberry, and hibiscus). “We think it’s a major growth category,” says director of marketing Amy Yakuboff. “Low ABV is on the rise and we’ve found that consumers are eager to try innovative flavor combinations.”

Jed Jenny, beer buyer at Baltimore bottle shop The Wine Source, has seen the number of Radler brands take off over the past four years. “We will have to be more selective this year as they are starting to become over saturated,” he says, adding, “I think there is room for growth on the creative end of this style.”

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