Radler is a refreshing and easy to make drink made by mixing beer with lemonade, or some other fruit juice and soda. I recently went on a trip to Germany and this was a common item on the menu. Instead of of a small selection of national beers and local craft beers like you would find in the States, a German restaurant would usually have several types of beer from the local brewery as well as mixes such as Radler or Colabeer. I never had the guts to try the Colabeer- a mixture of Coca-cola and a lager or Witbier- but I liked Radler and started making it for myself when I got back.
Wikipedia says this is called shandy in the States but it’s all pre-bottled and harder to find in my experience. I’ve been mostly disappointed by what I have been able to find in the craft beer isle- mostly a slew of low quality pumpkin beers around Halloween priced like a decent brew. Traveler’s grapefruit shandy is an exception- I’m not personally a fan of their lemon shandy- but again it’s priced like a craft beer and appears infrequently, at least where I live.
I prefer to mix my own to better control the taste and because it works well with less expensive beers like Yuengling, Miller and Pabst. I’ve made Radler with Indian Pale Ales and wheat beer but you lose some of the flavors of the craft beers by mixing it. It works better with less intense lagers. Yuengling is darker than what is normally used but I think it works well, though I would not recommend going to a porter or stout, the flavor doesn’t complement what you are adding as well.
To make this drink you will need
- A beer
- A fruit juice or soda- sparkling or straight lemonade, grapefruit juice, etc.
I would personally not mix these 50/50, you end up with a fruit drink with mild beer tones, and I prefer to keep the flavor of the beer front and center. The mix varies; with a fairly light lager like Pabst, you still get a lot of lemonade flavor with ~1 part lemonade to 4 parts beer, and obviously you can adjust to taste or to control the alcohol content of the finished drink.
Grapefruit juice is another good mixer. A ready-made version called Stiegl Radler is available in some grocery and liquor stores in the States- I see this more frequently than the Traveler shandy; it’s a good mix but fairly expensive.
Again, you can also mix your own- I find the grapefruit juice dominates the flavor of the beer more than lemonade does. I’d recommend a lighter mix unless you are OK with that. The drink works well, the sweet and sourness of the juice complementing the beer nicely.
I’ve tried doing this with orange juice but I don’t care for how it tastes, the orange doesn’t seem to work as well with the beer as lemon or grapefruit does.
In Germany sparkling juices are used for the mix but these are less common in the United States, and I don’t think adding Sprite or an equivalent will give the desired result. I haven’t experimented with finding sparkling juice brands or adding tonic water; despite the beer’s carbonation the drink made with flat juice is noticeably different.
TL,DR; Radler is a refreshing drink made by mixing lager with citrus juice or soda; give it a try this summer.