The radler beer. If you are into recreational cycling or beer you have heard of the epic German low alcohol thirst quencher:) Oh yes! Half lager, half sparkling lemonade. Sweet and tart, cold and refreshing. Some call the radler beer a shandy, but a shandy is of British origin and can be made with a number of different carbonated drinks, whereas the radler is all about the Zitronenlimonade (lemon soda).
Radler stands for cyclist in a dialect of German spoken in the South. The name came about because a lot of recreational cyclists would drink the beer and lemonade mixture after a strenuous ride to Deisenhofen, a small town outside of Munich. Those riders were even able to make it back to Munich without incidents after enjoying a few drinks.
Last Friday night Chris and I went to a local craft beer and pizza joint that always has the latest of our area’s brews on tap. One of our favored Colorado breweries, Wibby Brewing Co. apparently just made a radler beer by adding raspberry lemonade to their signature Helles (which I frequently drink being a huge Pilsner fan and all). That Wibby Lightshine Radler reminded me of how much I used to enjoy the lager and sparkling lemonade combo. It is absolutely refreshing.
And here we are a few days later, I made us some radlers.
Radler Beer Ingredients
The classic Radler is mixed with Munich Helles and Zitronenlimonade. Munich Helles is a sweeter German lager originally created in response to the growing popularity of the original Czech Pilsner.
For this post I used a traditional German pilsner, not Helles and a sparkling lemonade I got at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t want your radler to taste too sweet, I’d recommend using the San Pellegrino lemon soda. It tastes tarter and harder. Just finished a radler with it while working on this post. It is in the nineties today.
I had my first radler beer almost twenty years ago on a very hot day while attempting to roller blade in Vienna, Austria. I was in desperate need of it as it turned out. A friend of mine was doing a year long internship there and it was the beginning of summer break for me so I went to visit. I remember those care free college years with such nostalgia…Anyways, the weather was beautiful, on the weekend tons of people came out strolling or rollerblading along the banks of the Danube. Everyone was drinking this yellow drink that kind of looked like a Hefeweizen.
Even though I am a decent skater, the rollerblading tired me pretty fast (I really wasn’t that impressed, I’ll stick with skating) and my friend and I ended up under the shade of an umbrella at a place that only served…radlers. I will never forget how refreshing my first four of them were:). We had the greatest afternoon people watching and sipping on our cold drinks. Later on, while living in Germany I’d get a radler beer once in a while. In Freiburg I was once served a fancy one with a sprig of rosemary in it. The fragrance of rosemary does add an extra aromatic dimension as you bring the glass towards your face, try it.
I guess you can call a radler a beer cocktail. In Germany it belongs to the Biermischgetränke category (beer mixed drinks). You won’t believe all the different beer and soda concoctions that are popular over there. Such variety.
Anyone who enjoys a crisp lager with lime or lemon, would enjoy a radler. It’s just a little bit sweeter. So easy to drink and even if you down
a glass a few faster than you would a beer, you will not instantly feel like the world is spinning:). Promise.
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- 12 oz chilled German lager (classic is Munich Helles, but a Pilsner works great too)
- 12 oz chilled sparkling lemonade
- ½ lemon, sliced thinly for garnish (optional)
- 1-2 rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)
- a couple of ice cubes for added sparkle (optional)
- Fill two glasses with 6 oz of lager each.
- Top with 6 oz of sparkling lemonade.
- Garnish with lemon and rosemary and drop an ice cube or two (optional step).