Alright, are we past the threat of snow? I’m looking at the 10-day forecast and it’s looking flake-free. And we wouldn’t get a classic Colorado snowstorm in June, would we?
Fingers crossed, but I’m ready to put snow in the rearview mirror and crack open a shandy to celebrate. Shandies — hybrids of beer and juice — are made for summer. Light, refreshing, a little sweet, they’re perfect for afternoons on the water or for cooling down after a bike ride.
In fact, shandy pioneers Leinenkugel — the Wisconsin-based brewery (which is well worth a stop for a tour if you’re ever in north-central Wisconsin) — bases its much ballyhooed Summer Shandy on the original, which was produced by Franz Kugler in 1922. Needing to accommodate a mass of cyclists after a bike race, tavern-owner Kugler cut his beer with lemonade and soda so supplies didn’t run out. It was a hit (still is) and so Leinenkugel replicates this by taking its Weiss beer and cutting it with lemonade to produce the Summer Shandy. It also makes a grapefruit shandy with, you guessed it, grapefruit juice.
But like with all things in beer, local and craft is better. Now, shandies aren’t necessarily in vogue with brewers, but there are plenty of typical shandies and shandy-adjacent beverages to try from local brewers that you’ll enjoy as the weather gets — and stays — warm.
Boulder Shandies — Twisted Pine
So enamored with the style is Twisted Pine that it’s collaborated with Upstart Kombucha (also of Boulder) to produce a line of pairings you can mix yourself to make a shandy. In The O.G., take a 10-ounce Trail Blazer blonde ale and mix with Upstart’s Berry Black Kombucha. In Rosey Rice, pour the Rice & Shine crispy rice lager with the herbal Rose Bud kombucha. For a classic shandy pairing, mix Twisted Pine’s Raspberry Rising wheat ale with Upstart’s Lemon Ginger Kombucha. And for something slightly sour, mix the tart Cerise cherry sour with the Lemon Lavender CBD kombucha.
Peach Wheat — Finkel & Garf
Finkel & Garf has several shandy-adjacent limited release beers like the Pink Guava Sorbet Sour, the Passion Fruit Hibiscus Sour and the Tropical Blonde loaded with pineapple and papaya. But it’s hard to beat the brewery’s Peach Wheat, a wheat ale conditioned on 300 pounds of peach purée. So strong and enjoyable is the peach flavor, you’ll think the purée was dumped right into the can.
Liliko’i Kepolo — Avery Brewing
This beer is as close to shandy as you can get without it being put on the label, and it’s excellent. Avery takes a Belgian-style white ale and adds four pounds of passion fruit puree to each barrel to produce a juicy, tangy and bold beer that’s drinkable in all situations where a shandy is called for — Avery suggests it works for breakfast, even. The subtle addition of spices are amplified by the juicy base.
Gettin’ Tiki With It — Left Hand Brewing
Canned nitro-style, like many other Left Hand brews, the Gettin’ Tiki With It piña colada wheat is the ultimate summer sipper. Brewers take a luscious wheat ale, made even smoother by the nitrogen, and add coconut and pineapple for a sip that bursts with tropical flavor. And if it wasn’t silky enough, Left Hand adds lactose to it to replicate the creaminess of a piña colada.