Re-post: Radlers and German mixed drinks

With the popularity of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy and the introduction of Sam Adams’ Porch Rocker Radler, we thought we would rerun this post from Ms. tisenfine on the subject of mixed beer drinks.

It was never easy being a German major who didn’t like beer. While all the other students were chattering in German while sipping brews, my very sober self was silently drinking water. I had to find a way to partake in the social rituals demanded of my academic program.

Luckily the ever-resourceful Germans, in addition to inventing beer (I don’t know if this is a real fact), have also created some of the most delicious mixed beer drinks. On my road to discovering just how delicious beer actually is, I consumed a lot of these Biermischgetränke so I consider myself a slight expert on the topic.

The standard Biermischgetränke is the Radler. Consider it the foundation on which other mixed beer drinks are based. A radler consists of an even mixture of helles and Limo, which is the German equivalent of Sprite. I know a lot of purists will howl at that definition of limo, but I’m not educated on the nuances of soda drinks, so… lay off. The taste is light and not overly sweet.

Radler means ‘biker’ in German, so you can imagine the target demographic for the drink. A biker could drink a Mass (liter) of Radler and still be sober enough to ride his bike home. I never got to ride a bike through Bavaria, but I did plenty of hiking in the Alps and I can tell you that enjoying a Radler is the perfect way to rest your aching legs.

My favorite variation on the standard Radler is the Russ’n. To make a Russ’n, replace the helles with weissbier. The weissbier makes it a little sweeter and yet more rustic due to the unfiltered hops. The name comes from the post-WW1 Bavarian communists who preferred their Radlers with weissbier.

In Austria, you can make a Almradler. Instead of limo, they use a regional soda called Almdudler. Almdudler tastes kind of like a weak, carbonated apple cider vinegar, which is much more refreshing than it sounds.

When I was still theoretically underage, I studied in Berlin which has its own Biermischgetränke. There, they take a Berliner Weisse and add a shot of raspberry syrup to make a Berliner Rot, or a shot of woodruff syrup to make a Berliner Grün. If drinking a red or green beer doesn’t make you feel super-classy, they serve them in dainty little glasses too.

Western Germany didn’t want to be left out of the Biermischgetränke either, but they decided to use cola instead. Thus, a Diesel is cola and beer. Diesels have a soft spot in my heart, because it was the first alcohol drink I ever tasted.

Making a Radler at home is incredibly easy. Use equal parts Sprite and a decent helles or weissbier, and pour the pop first. I’m pretty heavily against bottled Radlers (Stiegl, I’m looking at you), because I don’t like spending extra money on something with reduced alcohol. You know, less bang for my buck.

Getting a Radler at the bar is a little trickier. It’s not like the Bavarian biergartens, where you can add Sprite to your glass before handing it to the bartender. Try asking for a shandy, which is the British word for a similar concept. If all else fails, Hudy Amber with Sprite is a great way to join your friends but keep your head.

One Reply to “Re-post: Radlers and German mixed drinks”

  1. A shandy is a perfect example of something foreign that has gotten lost in translation. As with a radler, the “lemonade” portion should be a lemon-lime soda, that is what “lemonade” is in the UK.

    Very sad, Leinenkugel has given Americans an ill view of what a “shandy” tastes like…

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