Cultures throughout the world have long mixed citrus drinks and beer, sometimes to good effect. In Germany, some people will mix their beer with a lemon soda to create what they call a Radler. The first time I had this, I thought it was a joke, with the sweet fighting the bitter, but my sister drank it up — and she never touches a beer otherwise.
The Brits use lemonade and beer to create what they call a shandy.
That works better, especially when you let the brewer do the mixing for you. Why? Because the end result is less like a soft drink than a style of beer in which all of the ingredients work together to create a refreshing drink. (Think of a hefeweissen complete with a spritz of orange, only much lighter.)
The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company out of Wisconsin has introduced Leinie’s Summer Shandy, which is more than a novelty brew.
Pop the top on a bottle and let the lemon aroma leap out. Pour it into a glass and a decent foam builds up before settling into a nice lacy foam at the rim. The beer itself is cloudy yet boasts a yellow color that promises a touch of sunshine.
As you admire the look, that dominant lemon aroma begins to take on wheat aromas in a blend that is both tart and sweet. Both carry over into the flavor, with the lemon ranging from zest to candied lemon drops. Together, they create a drink that is uncomplicated, light and fun. The addition of citrus has also dropped the alcohol content to a lower level, meaning you could pound a couple of these after mowing the lawn and not lose the rest of your afternoon.
But once again, this combination is not for everyone. You have to like the idea of lemon invading your beer — or even beer invading your lemonade — for it to work. Don’t try this if the idea has no appeal.
Leinie’s Summer Shandy will pair with just about any food, from burgers off the grill to lemon meringue pie. Spicy foods, fried foods, salads all would get a lift from tart, bright lemon. The brewery offers a recipe for Summer Shandy Grilled Shrimp Tacos, which sounds like just the antidote to summer heat.