Welcome to Beer Cocktail month! We’re starting off with a drink that might not be a beer cocktail, per se… but, hey, it is the a common mixed drink with Beer as its base: the Shandy!
We made four different versions of the Shandy, and I’ll warn you: some work well, and some… didn’t If you want to jump to our #1 favorite, (the original Shandy), straight away, click here!
Let’s Try the Shandy, Four Ways:
Let’s Talk Shandy
A Shandy is a simple, classic beer cocktail combining beer with a mixer. Traditionally, it’s made with just beer and lemonade (Spoiler alert: This is my personal favorite), but there are lots of ways to get creative! There are already several variations throughout the globe that we’re going to play around with today, but as always I’d love to hear your favorite shandy combinations as well!
It should be noted: we simplified our test by using the same kind of beer for all four of these, so there is plenty of opportunity to introduce another type of beer for different results. Typically, a Shandy uses a light lager, (we used a Mexican style lager). They aren’t usually served with ice (as because both ingredients should already be cold.)
#4: The Diesel: Beer and Coca-Cola
By far our least favorite (and that’s putting it nicely), the Diesel version of a Shandy is popular throughout some of continental Europe. I have to wonder if we did something wrong, as this one just didn’t taste that great to me. It was a bit like when the soda fountain runs out of syrup. Not only was the taste pretty terrible, but we found that the drink actually separated after a few minutes… becoming weirdly clumpy looking. Yeah, I’m going to say this one is not greater than the sum of its parts and call it an epic fail in my opinion (I’ll speak for Chris on this one, too).
#3: The Fanshop: Beer and Fanta
Popular in Chile, the Fanshop mixes Fanta orange soda with beer. To me it just tasted a bit like watered down Fanta – although that Fanta sweetness still comes through (and maybe not in a good way). Again, maybe this one would taste better with a different beer, but this particular mix was not a winner.
#2: The Radler: Beer and Grapefruit Juice
The traditional German Radler combines lemon soda and beer, but we’re working with a variation using grapefruit juice. I will say, this one was really good; the grapefruit mellows a little bit with the beer, and it tastes very refreshing. With the craft beer movement I’ve definitely seen radlers coming straight from the brewery – and not just with grapefruit flavor too. I’ve seen them made with orange juice, raspberry juice and more. As for our experiment, grapefruit juice is a winner!
#1: The OG Shandy: Beer and Lemonade
There’s a reason this version is the classic. Like a boozy Arnold Palmer, the Shandy is refreshing and ideal for spring and summer. We used one part lemonade and one part beer, and it’s simplicity is part of what makes it so great! Use more lemonade or more beer – however tastes best to you.
For the beer, we used a low ABV (4.5%) Mexican-style lager from Thorn Brewing. The lemonade is just fresh lemon juice, simple syrup, and water.
If you wanted to add more flavor you could definitely do that! A few ideas:
- Replace some of the sugar and water in the lemonade with flavored simple syrup
- Add muddled mint or herbs
- Swap out the lemonade for a different juice (though arguably this might turn it into a “Radler”)
The other benefit of the “shandy” is that it is typically very low ABV (roughly half the ABV of the beer you’re using.) So that makes it a great choice for summer gatherings when you’re looking to avoid too much alcohol as well.
But What Else Could We Try?
- Try different beers— we stuck with one type of beer for all four of these versions, which is cheating a bit. Maybe an IPA would go better with the Coke? (Honestly, nothing could make me try that again, but you go ahead and tell me if it does!)
- Add flavors like rosemary or ginger to your lemonade’s simple syrup.
- Use flavored sparkling waters like La Croix or San Pellegrino.
- Add a little Sprite to the original Shandy for more sugar and carbonation.
- Use sparkling juices to keep up the carbonation.
- Try different juices other than lemonade and grapefruit. I’m curious if anyone is brave enough to experiment with grape juice and beer…
Things to Consider
- Avoid super sweet juices (or sodas) that overpower the beer.
- The non-sparkling juice versions do lose carbonation, so keep that in mind in terms of mouthfeel.
Let us know in the comments or our Facebook group what variation of the Shandy has worked for you— or what hasn’t. I love to see the fails, too, so I know it’s not just us!
Oh, and don’t forget that our Japanese Jigger is 15% off this month. It’s a good excuse to grab one if you’ve been eyeing it (and we know you have).
This jigger has one job and it does it well. Measure your ingredients perfectly every time, then toss it in the dishwasher. It’s durable and built to keep up, even when you’re deep in the weeds!