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Beer of the Week: Shiner Ruby Redbird


These are the bird days of summer, and Shiner’s got just the beer to wet your whistle. It’s Shiner’s Ruby Redbird, the second time that the brewery in Spoetzel has released its Texas twist on a shandy, the classic beer-lemon mixture.

As you might be able to guess from the name,  the citrus in this beauty of a brew is Texas Rio red grapefruit juice from the Rio Grande Valley, and it’s mixed with a taste of ginger.

It pours a light golden color that fairly gleams when it catches the light. There are flecks of red, but little visually to suggest the ruby red component. The bouquet is redolent of ginger over wheat and hops that rises robustly as you pour it.

This brew pours more like a ginger ale than a beer, all fizzy but without much of a head at all. That’s the mouthfeel you get, too, with a light carbonation that is reminiscent of a soda.

But the taste is not like a ginger ale or even a ginger beer. The folks at Shiner have blended the grapefruit, the ginger, the hops and the malt (“pure Munich malt and Mt. Hood, Citra and Cascade hops,” according to the label) so that they’re well balanced, fruit goes with spice with malt with hops. Nothing stands out or dominates. Everything is fairly smooth. It’s also relatively light, with only a 4.01 percent alcohol level.

In other words, it’s meant to refresh,  to go down clean, to be a summertime treat.

But some people aren’t having any of that. The complaints I’ve heard about this beer include: “It’s too light.” “It’s not Shiner Black Label.” “It tastes like ginger ale.”

Well, guess what folks? If you want to drink Shiner Bock or Shiner Black Label, then drink those beers. That’s not the song Ruby Redbird is singing. It’s a different beer, as different as sourdough is from a baguette. Thankfully, there’s room for all tastes.

Frankly, on a day on which the thermometer hits triple digits, a dark beer is the one of last things in the world I want to think about drinking. (A California Cabernet Sauvignon is another.) That’s where Ruby Redbird comes in. So, enjoy a pint with some fish tacos or a spicy po’boy from one our food trucks, and chill out with a new Texas brew that most welcome in our seemingly endless days of summer.

 

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Beer of the Week: Leinie’s Summer Shandy


Beer is good. Lemon is good. Beer and lemon together? Well, it depends.

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.

 

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