Don’t be taken in by all the “Summer Shandy” stuff. While Shandy beers seem to be an up and coming style or category of beer, the fact is that there is no such thing as a Shandy beer. There is, however, such a thing as a beer shandy.
Shandy is not a Type of Beer
A Shandy is not a beer. The commercials for the oft-advertised Leinenkugel’s brand of “Summer Shandy” describe it as a beer, and even many beer-related websites describe these as “fruit style beers.” They are not.
A fruit style beer is a beer BREWED with fruit, or fruit juice, etc. It will still taste like a beer, with a hint of the fruit.
The label for Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy differs from the advertising. It is described in labeling as a Weis beer with lemonade. This does not mean it is a Weis beer with lemon added to the brew.
What is a Shandy? It’s a Mixed Beer Drink
A shandy, in reality, is a mixed drink made with beer, or what we would today call a beer cocktail. It is a beer MIXED with lemonade, or a lemon or lemon/lime soft drink, or orange or other fruit juice, or more historically, ginger ale. Although the current definition of a Shandy seems to be most often described as beer mixed with lemonade or carbonated lemonade (basically lemon or lemon-lime soda) in equal parts, it is not clear how and when this definition came about. References to “shandy” in the 1800’s refer to the Shandy gaf, which is described as beer and ginger beer mixed in equal parts, but other references exist such as “beer shandy” being a glass of beer and a glass of ale.
Modern references to it usually do not bother to try to define with any sort of precision and there are other similar drinks from various regions. It does not taste like a beer and is usually only about half beer. There is a huge difference between a lemon brewed beer and a lemonade shandy. If you want a beer, then do not make the mistake of ordering a shandy.
Shandy’s are EASY to Make
And, you can make a shandy at home. It is so exceedingly simple you will soon realize that you are being ripped off by a bottled shandy since you are paying a beer price for what is simply half a beer. And, your homemade version will probably be better than any pre-bottled version, if you are into this kind of thing. A simple Google search will provide you with many examples.
Just as you wouldn’t call a wine spritzer a type of wine, people should not call a Shandy a type of beer. By the way, older recipes had ginger beer in them, as well, and any number of other ingredients.
There is a good deal of shady marketing going on in the craft beer world, and the marketing for this particular beer should be enough to rename it “Summer Shady” since the company both accurately describes what the drink is, a beer cut (or diluted!) with a mixer such a lemonade, while still calling it a “Seasonal Craft Beer.” Certainly half of it is a craft beer.
If a bar ran out of beer and then proceeded to cut the beer with a mixer while still selling it to patrons as a beer we would consider this a rip-off. Yet, this company manages to do it while talking out of “both sides of its mouth.” It tastes terrible, by the way. That is if you actually like beer.
Other Popular Beer Drinks
The success of the aforementioned brand has opened the way for many new products or for older products to become more accessible. There are many flavors used which plasticize the definition of Shandy. The “Traveler Beer Company” seems to be intent on mixing just about anything imaginable with beer and calling it a shandy. Leinenkugel has introduced many flavors, as well.
Beer cocktails have become a very popular category of mixed drinks in their own right, however, there are a number of traditional favorites. Like many other popular beer mixes, a Shandy has historically been a fairly specific entity, containing lemonade and sometimes ginger beer (not ale). It does not contain strawberry or some other fruit instead of lemonade. However, you can create many variations by adding other fruits or spices. When a Shandy stops being a Shandy and becomes something new is hard to decide. Such is the world of mixology!
Most people are unaware that you can mix beer with many different flavors, such as juice, cider, spices, etc. and come up with some very delicious drinks. You can, as well, mix beer with other beer!
Other examples of popular beer drinks include the Black and Tan (Guinness or other dark beer with a pale ale), the Snakebite (beer with cider), and the Michelada (beer with tomato juice). Similar to mulled wine or cider, you can also make mulled beer.