What does the beer industry do when sales are flagging? Flood the market with new beers! With overall beer sales down across the U.S. (while craft beer steadily gains a share), mainstream brewers are finding solace in the growing popularity of malternatives — malt beverages juiced with fruit or other flavorings — whose sales grew 15% by volume between 2010 and 2011. So you’re not seeing quintuple when you’re spotting multiple versions of shandies — beer spiked with lemonade — on the shelves where before there were none. And with summer coming, we can expect to see many more.
Typical Yanks are just now discovering shandies while Brits and other Europeans have relied on them as a cooling summer staple for a century. With Leinenkugel burning up the market (their shandy has its own Facebook page), other breweries are stepping into the brush. Enter Utica, NY-based Saranac, which released its Shandy Lager & Lemonade this spring and appears to be the only craft brewer so far to do so. (Boston Beer Co. is releasing a Sam Adams variation on the shandy called a radler, and the company’s craft brew incubator, Alchemy and Science, has released Curious Traveler Shandy under the brand The House of Shandy Beer Company.)
Saranac’s version is exceptionally pale and exceedingly clear. It pours heady but quickly absorbs most of the head until it’s left with a clean, snow-white foam that clings to the edges and lightly coats the surface. Add to this the focused yet gentle lines of bubbles that float to surface and you realize what you’re looking at is a very pretty beer.
The 3.5% ABV liquid drinks so quickly that it was gone before I finished the review. There’s little that actually tastes like beer in this beverage — not a hint of noticeable flavor of hops, malt or yeast. What you do get is the feel of a mild, spritzy lemonade or an Italian lemon soda that very quickly turns sweet just before your mouth decides whether or not it wants to pucker. The tartness does last long enough to poke the underside of the tongue (in a friendly way), though the finish is just a touch medicinal.
This is an ideal quaff to pair with whitefish or salad drizzled with vinaigrette, or to serve to friends who don’t like the taste of beer – who, incidentally, are the exact audience the industry is trying to capture with the mass marketing of the shandy. Saranac beer is available in 26 states, most East of the Mississippi (although their soft-drink products — which include root beer, orange cream soda and ginger beer — are available in Arizona and California).
Have you tried a pre-made shandy? Mixed up your own? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Never fear, Captain 6-Pack is here!...read more ›
The Belgian Dubbel is a little more straightforward than Ommegang's pr...read more ›
There's a new app making waves in the booze world, and not necessarily for its functionality. ...read more ›
The bitter world of aperitifs and digestifs is one rich with history, but one without much tradition in the U.S....read more ›
Writers and musicians have a long, storied history with alcohol, and that intimacy with the bottle shows through in the memorable lines these artists ...read more ›
Arguably the first truly American expression of the India Pale Ale style, Ballantine's legendary IPA is back for the first time in decades ...read more ›
If you're looking for a mouth-puckering brew, Surette won't disappoint. ...read more ›
Going out in the city should be fun for everyone. Here's a few tips to keep you and your friends safe and having fun this fall....read more ›
Here are some places where you can "DrinkSalida"...read more ›
Couldn't make it to Denver for this year's Great American Beer Festival? Click through our slideshow to make it feel like you were there....read more ›
Of course Anheuser-Busch sponsors a room at a legal brothel....read more ›