Q&A Beer: Shandy vs Radler and more!


Q: What is the difference between a Shandy and a Radler?

A: The short answer is about 70 years!  The oldest written record of a Shandy comes from HG Wells in  1853, who refers in one of his novels to a Shandygaff: two bottles of beer mixed in round bellied jug with Ginger Beer.

These days a Shandy is a Lager, usually a Pilsner, that is mixed with lemonade.  Now when the British say lemonade what they mean is a lemon or lemon lime soda, not American style lemonade with the pulp in it.  The proportions are traditionally 50/50, but they actually vary a bit to taste.  The result is a lower alcohol, refreshing cocktail that is perfect for the hot summer months.

The Radler was invented nearly 70 years later, in Germany, in a small town of Deisenhofen, just outside Munich, by an innkeeper named Franz Kugler.  During the Roaring Twenties, there was a HUGE cycling boom, and which caused large amounts of people to leave the city and enjoy their new hobby.   Kugler, to put it mildly, was not prepared.   On a warm June day in 1922, a reported 13,000 cyclists descended upon Kugler’s Inn.   Kugler began to run out of beer.  He also served lemon soda, which apparently no one was buying!   He began to mix the beer with the soda 50/50.  Lucky for Kugler, it was a hit! He named the drink the Radler, German for cyclist.

Since then Radlers and Shandies have spread across the world, and include many variants.  These days, the lemonade is not always a carbonated beverage, and sometimes even the beer is a Non Alcoholic version, resulting in a Rock Shandy!

Q: Are there other Beer Cocktails?

A: Many!  In Bavaria and Austria there is the Russ, a mix of Weissbier and Lemon soda that may have ties to early communists.  There is the Potsdamer, a mix of Light beer with soda that has a shot of raspberry syrup, which turns the drink red.  There is also the Berliner Weiss mit Schuss, a mix of Weissbier and syrup that comes in 3 flavors: Woodruff, Lemon and Raspberry.   In Germany there is also the Bananenweizen: Weiss beer topped with Banana juice!

Outside of Germany, many countries make a Diesel, which is draft beer and cola, though in England that is a name for 50/50 lager and cider (also called a Snakebite). There is also the Tango made of draft beer with gooseberry cordial. France has the Demi-Peche, beer mixed with peach syrup.   Australia makes the Portergaff – a half and half mix of stout and lemonade soda.   And in Chile they have the Refajo, lager and orange Fanta!

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