The Summer of Shandy: Taste Testing The Beer/Lemonade Combo (Part 1)

Doug Fairall

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade... then blend it with beer. That's the basic gist behind the shandy -- or radler if you're European -- a beer and lemonade style that is popular among certain warm weather enthusiasts.

Think of it as an Arnold Palmer, but instead of iced tea substitute a lager beer.

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With a plethora of options in the shandy style category, and with no real guidance about what these things should actually taste like (besides being beer-like and lemonade-like), it seemed prudent to round up a couple of beer drinkers to get their thoughts on six randomly selected shandy products from the local beer and wine store.

Besides myself (Doug) and my wife (Liz), I brought in someone who I know has a predilection for this sort of beverage (Lance), a light lager drinker (Mike), his girlfriend who's a huge fan of Saltwater Brewery (Kourtney), and a few people in various stages of craft beer exploration (Adam and Andrew). I hoped the group would provide a proper swath of the beer drinking public.

I asked for honest feedback on each beer sampled, and what follows is a non-scientific, no bullshit, and sometimes humorous review of six shandy beers. Some are rated, others are given with simple tasting notes.

1. Samuel Adams Porch Rocker
Marketed as a "tart & refreshing ... unique summer quencher is our twist on the Bavarian Radler, named for cyclists that originated this drink... for our take we combined the crispness of a golden Helles lager with a blend of lemons." Porch Rocker sits back with an abv of 4.5% and 8 IBUs.

  • Doug: Light apple and lemon aroma, odd sweet aftertaste - 4/5
  • Kourtney: I expected it to be terrible and it wasn't... then Mike finished it. - 3/5
  • Mike: That's a beer I could drink at a minor league baseball game. - 4/5
  • Adam: Slight apple aroma, initial lemon flavor, thin body, watery lemon finish. - 3/5
  • Lance: Very lemony at first, more apple toward the end. On a scale of Nicolas Cage to Bill Murray, it's a Harrison Ford. Good for summer, but can't drink a lot. - Harrison Ford
  • Andrew: Starts strong, fades into a solid mid, then not a fan of the aftertaste. It's no Sam Adams Oktoberfest...

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