By Norman Miller
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Itís over 80 degrees out as I write this and it has gotten me thinking about the hot summer months to come, and the beverages I will enjoy during those hot days by the grill.
There are many choices Ė hefeweizens, pilsners, Belgian wits -- but over the past two years I have developed a summer love affair with shandies and radlers.
Shandies and radlers are similar beverages Ė theyíre basically beer blended with fruit juice, typically a lemonade or other citrus beverage. They are popular throughout Europe.
Until recently, if you wanted to enjoy this extremely refreshing beverage, youíd have to blend it yourself. Now liquor store shelves have plenty of bottled and canned shandy and radler options.
If you want the best, turn to Austrian brewery Stieglbrauerei zu Salzberg and its Stiegl Radler.
The Stiegl Radler is a blend of the Stiegl lager and grapefruit soda. The result is a 2.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) beer blend that is just heavenly to drink. It is simply the most refreshing beverage, beer or otherwise, I have ever had. I donít even like grapefruit, but in this, itís a fabulous flavor.
The Radler is available in both 12-ounce bottles and 16.9-ounce cans. The low alcohol is great because you can have a few (or a six-pack as I did a couple of weeks ago) and you wonít have to worry about getting tipsy.
Stiegl also does a lemon version of the radler. Just like the grapefruit version, this is 2.5 percent ABV and is like drinking a really good, carbonated lemonade. Whatever fruit you like, pick one up and enjoy on a hot day. You will not be disappointed.
Another European option is the Schofferhofer Grapefruit Hefeweizen from the Binding-Brauerei in Germany. Like the Stiegl Radler, this has 2.5 percent ABV, but the base beer is a German-style wheat beer. And, like the Stiegl, itís remarkably thirst quenching, although sweeter.
Last summer I did a side-by-side tasting and chose the Stiegl because of the more natural flavors. The Schofferhofer had a slightly candy-like taste.
There are also many American-brewed options. Samuel Adams Porch Rocker introduced me to the style two years ago, and I drank it by the liter mug. The Porch Rocker is stronger than European versions, coming in at 4.5 percent ABV. It is a light helles lager blended with lemon.
While the European versions taste like what they are supposed to be -- a beer-blend -- the Porch Rocker tastes more like a beer with a lot of lemon flavor added. Itís definitely an easy-drinking beer worth trying if you havenít had it yet.
Another option is the brand-new Harpoon Big Squeeze UFO, the latest of the UFO series. This is a 4.4 percent ABV wheat beer made with grapefruit juice. Like the Porch Rocker, it tastes more like a beer with fruit added, rather than a blend. This has the taste of real grapefruit and is a great option for grapefruit juice lovers.
Other options include the shandies from the Traveler Beer Company (owned by the Boston Beer Company). They offer several choices, including the Curious Traveler, which is made with lemon and lime, and the Illusive Traveler, made with grapefruit.
And, debuting this week, is the brand new Narragansett Delís Shandy, a collaboration between Narragansett and Rhode Islandís Delís Frozen Lemonade. The beer is hitting shelves this week.
OK, this has made me thirsty. Time to grab a radler.
Contact Norman Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out the Beer Nut blog at blogs.wickedlocal.com/beernut and follow him on Twitter (@realbeernut) or Facebook (ďNorman Miller, The Beer NutĒ).
The Beer Nut: Quenching summer’s thirst
By Norman Miller