Allow your correspondent to begin with a bit of level-setting: there is absolutely nothing wrong with opening a cold beer on a hot day and pouring it directly down one’s parched throat. Clean, simple, effective.
However, as the long weekend approaches, let us suggest that maybe, just maybe, there is another method deserving of your consideration: the shandy.
For the uninitiated, a shandy (in its traditional incarnation) is beer mixed with lemonade or some variety of lemon-lime soda. It is delicious, refreshing and, due to diluted ABV, very conducive to the sort of marathon drinking sessions that holiday weekends were designed for.
Being fans of inebriatory experimentation, however, your pals at InsideHook elected to look past the “classic” recipe and forge some new ground. So we enlisted the help of Anne Becerra, certified cicerone, educator and Beer Director for Treadwell Park in NYC to fill us in on some lesser-known beer/not-beer combos worthy of your Labor Day Weekend consideration.
“There’s some debate about exactly what constitutes a shandy, but I don’t think names matter as much as enjoying the flavors in your glass.” says Becerra. “I completely understand why some purists might think this is blasphemy, but I think it can be fun. It’s not necessarily about trying to improve the beer, but rather using good beer to improve the overall quality of a drink. If you’d use a soda or tonic, why not a delicious beer?”
Below, a few of Becerra’s favorite concoctions — mix up a few this weekend and be sure to raise a toast to her.
“A lot of shandies are made with pilsners, but there’s a wide variety of styles that work really well with juices and fruits. One of my favorites to use is a Belgian or Belgian-style Witbier. A fresh orange juice/Belgian-style Witbier combo is like the beer version of a mimosa, without the cheap Prosecco hangover. Witbiers are often spiced with coriander and orange peel, so adding fresh juice is kind of an extension of those flavors, plus they’re delicious with breakfast and brunch.”
Try it with: “Allagash White.”
“Another option that I like with Witbier is a take on a mojito: muddling lime, mint and a touch of simple syrup, topped off with a creamy, citrusy Wit.”
Try it with: “A traditional Belgian example like St. Bernardus Wit.”
The Berliner Shandy
“There’s a style of spritzy, sour wheat beer called Berliner Weisse, originally from Berlin, but replicated all over the world. In Berlin, it’s typically offered with a shot of a sweet syrup like juicy raspberry or herbal woodruff. This cuts the sourness with just the right amount of sweetness, while still being incredibly dry and refreshing.”
Try it with: “Bayerischer Bahnhof Berliner from Germany, or The Bruery Hottenroth from California.”
The Grapefruit Shandy
“Grapefruit IPAs were a pretty big thing for a while, and a shot of a sweet grapefruit soda like Jarritos or Ting topped with an IPA can accentuate all the citrusy flavors of a classic IPA while quenching your thirst on a hot day the way a paloma or a greyhound cocktail would.”
Try it with: “Good options are Knee Deep Breaking Bud, or if you want full-on citrus, Sloop Juice Bomb.”
The Updated Michelada
“For a Michelada-type drink I like to sub the traditional pilsner for a light sour beer like a Berliner-style weisse or a Gose. They bring in the acidity and brightness that a squeeze of lime would and goses are brewed with salt, so that extra kick of salinity is super refreshing and makes sense with a savory drink like this one.”
Try it with: “Sierra Nevada Otra Vez or Anderson Valley The Kimmie, the Yink and the Holy Gose.”
The Dessert Shandy
“Black cherry soda like Dr. Brown’s with a roasty stout or porter can be reminiscent of a chocolate covered cherry — maybe not ideal for beach drinking, but as a summer-night dessert, it can be a nice, low-ABV alternative to an after-dinner drink.”
Try it with: “Greenport Harbor Black Duck Porter is a great choice, so is Bells Kalamazoo Stout.”
Bonus: The Ice Cream Shandy
“And if we’re talking desserts, over the years I’ve created some wonderful beer floats with all kinds of different ice-cream flavors and beer styles. One of my favorites is a passionfruit wheat beer, like Pasteur Street’s Passionfruit Wheat or Avery Brewing’s Liliko’i Kepolo (tart, tangy, tropical), topped with a scoop of coconut gelato — those flavors were absolutely made for each other.”
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