Beer and Lemonade: Do They Ever Mix?

LemonadeIf you’ve ever been sitting out on a hot summer day with an ice-cold beer in one hand and a refreshing glass of lemonade in the other, you may have wondered: Do these amazing drinks go together? After all, they taste pretty amazing separately, so what if they were mixed into one? Would it be a perfect combination of awesome and fantastic, or a foul-tasting concoction that never should have happened? Like adding Bailey’s to lime juice, for example.

Well, not surprisingly, thousands of drinkers before you have had a similar thought, and some of these daring people did go ahead and put beer and lemonade together. Now, depending on what type of beer or lemonade they combined, the experiment may not have gone very well. Other folks, however, had so much success that the beverages they created became popular cocktails in their respective nations.

Have you tried a Shandy?

Depending on where you live, or where you drink, if you order a Shandy from the bartender he might serve you a beer that’s topped off with ginger ale. Or, he might bring you back a beer that also has some cider. If you’re in a certain part of the United Kingdom, he might get annoyed and ask what kind of drink you actually want, since the term “shandy” can also refer to any type of boozy beverage.

In some regions, however, a Shandy is a mixture of beer and lemonade. According to folklore, the tasty beverage started making people very happy in Britain during the mid-19th century. Whether desperate people added lemonade to skunky beer to make it taste better, or they just thought it was an ingenious idea, we’ll probably never know. Since it’s a pretty fantastic and refreshing drink, the Shandy continues to be served in several types of variations today.

The basic and most common recipe for a Shandy involves mixing equal parts of lager and lemonade, although putting in more beer is always fun. If carbonated lemonade is your thing, then feel free to use that as well. You just need to be a little more careful when you mix the two together, as dumping soda into beer has a way of making it foam. Of course, if you don’t have carbonated lemonade but want to make sure the Shandy has plenty of fizz, then you can also throw some soda water into the mix.

If you don’t have lemonade, and only lemon juice, then don’t worry. You can still whip up a delicious Shandy for yourself and your friends. All you’ll need is a cup of sugar, three cups of water, a few lemon slices, a cup of lemon juice, and yes, some beer. If you don’t have lager, then that’s okay too, as plenty of people have made a delicious Shandy using pale ale or Indian Pale Ale (or IPA for the trendy folks) too.

How about a Guinness Shandy?

Yes, although Guinness is one of the planet’s most famous and darkest beers, that doesn’t mean that people haven’t tried mixing it with lemonade. In fact, according to the brewery’s website, the first Guinness Shandy is believed to have been ordered by a New Zealand rugby team. As the story goes, the team ordered the beverage by mistake while overseas, and found the newly created Guinness Shandy to be pretty tasty.

Now, some folks argue that Guinness is an acquired taste, as the stout certainly has a unique (but delicious) flavor. So adding some lemonade into the mix may either improve or ruin the beer, depending on your view of the stout to begin with. Then again, maybe the drink is just a welcome change of pace for Guinness lovers.

Have you had a refreshing Radler?

If you’re in Germany and ask for a Shandy, you may not get the beautiful mix of lemonade and beer you were hoping for, since it’s more commonly called Radler in that nation (no, not because it’s a “rad” drink). The Radler was created in the Bavaria region during the early 20th century and, not surprisingly, it’s become a popular beverage that’s produced and served throughout the European country.

According to one legend, the first Radler was mixed when an inn outside of Munich didn’t have enough beer to serve a massive group of thirsty cyclists (evidently they didn’t care that beer in fact dehydrates you, but who does?). As the cyclists grew angry, the owner, Franz Xaver Kugler, realized he had thousands of bottles of lemon soda in the basement. In order to stretch how much beer he had, he mixed the lemonade with the beer 50/50, and encouraged the cyclists to try out the fantastic drink he had created.

The drink, naturally, went over extremely well and Kugler dubbed the beverage a “Radlermass.” In German, the word “Radler” means cyclist, and “mass” is a liter of beer. Now that’s some fast and clever thinking!

Today, various German breweries produce different kinds of Radler, many of which include lemonade, but there are also kinds that are made with different types of juice like grapefruit. Regardless of the type of juice, and whether or not you’re a cyclist, drinking a Radler is a win-win on a hot summer day.