Rocky Mountain Brew Review: This is the Beer for Colorado Cyclists

“Beer and bikes are longtime bedfellows in Colorado, and it’s not hard to see why.  With plenty of wide open sky, beautiful summer weather, and countless bike-friendly trails and roads, one can find many uses for a bike across the state.  Likewise, Colorado’s unique craft beer scene has exploded, and it’s no surprise that biking has become as intertwined with brewing.  Probably the most iconic mix of biking and brews exists in Fort Collins with New Belgium, with their bike-inspired beers and the famous Tour De Fat.  However, there’s a new beer fad that’s bringing bikes and beers together in Colorado and across the country: the Radler.

If you’re unfamiliar, a Radler (pronounced: rod-lar) is a German style of beer that is part beer, part soft drink — usually something along the lines of lemonade, ginger ale, or fruit juice.  It’s also known as a Shandy beer or Shandygaff, which is the English variety of the same concept.  Back in Ye Olden Times, different mixes had different names — a traditional Shandygaff, for example, is beer mixed with ginger beer or ginger ale; a Portergaff is an Australian drink that mixes stout and lemonade, etc.  Nowadays, though, the terms have become less distinct and are used somewhat interchangeably for any beer mixed with a soft drink.

What does this have to do with biking?  Radler comes from the German word for “cyclist”, and the beer traces its origins to early 20th century Bavaria, where a crafty merchant started mixing his lager with lemon soda to satisfy his clientele riding their newfound bicycles.  The combination — known as a “radlermass” — proved the right mix of hearty and refreshing, and the style took off.  A classic summer and warm-weather beer, Radlers predictably have a much lower alcohol content than even lighter beers, meaning they are perfect for a long session of afternoon drinking or for staying sober enough to not fall off your bike on the ride home.  Especially popular in Europe, the Radler/Shandy style has started to hit the ground running in the US, where it has become quite popular for its refreshing and light feel.

As craft breweries have started experimenting with the Radler style, the drink has expanded in scope and variety, moving away from the sparkling fruit and soda additions commonly found in Europe.  Great Divide Brewing out of Denver just released the “Roadie”: a summertime Radler that sports grapefruit puree as its addition and the brewery directly links their quest and design for the beer with a love of biking in Colorado.  It makes them one of a handful of craft breweries around the country that have debuted original Radlers in the last couple years.

So if you’re out and about on a hot, sunny Colorado day, and you’re looking for something tangy, refreshing, and cool to drink next to your classic Colorado bike (fixed-speed, of course), try a Radler.  You’ll get a great beer and the hipster satisfaction of getting on the bandwagon before everyone else is doing it.”

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