Radler’s for Summer 2017

Labatt and Molson push out local brews with their own grapefruit Radlers.

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The Radler, a beer and juice cocktail in a can, is ideal for the hot and humid weather of Toronto. The refreshing fruit juice, coupled with carbonation and low ABV, make the perfect beach drink. Enjoy a cold one in the sand without risking heat stroke. Since it’s just a summer drink, the Radler is only available seasonally. Over the past few summers the LCBO has been gifted with imports from Europe, and offerings from local breweries. This year the bigger Canadian breweries jumped on the Radler train giving us Rickard’s Radler from Molson, and the Bud Light Radler from Labatt. Moosehead, Canada’s oldest independent brewery, also has a seasonal Radler. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it on any of my recent LCBO excursions.

Fun Fact: The terms Shandy and Radler are almost interchangeable. A Shandy was popularized in England, while the Radler came from Bavarian Germany, source: (americancraftbeer.com). The ratio of juice and beer vary from 50/50, or 2 parts beer and 1 part juice. Shandy was popularized as lemonade and beer, while the Radler is better known as juice and beer.

Introduction of these new world Radlers into the LCBO market makes a fight for shelf space. Unfortunately seasonal brews get a limited section of the store, and consequently push out the more interesting local libations. An example being Amsterdam Brewhouse’s Sweetwater Squeeze Radler. This stands out from it’s compatriots by employing blood orange juice. However, it’s getting increasingly difficult to find on the LCBO shelves, as Labatt and Molson products are pushing it out. In my search for this Amsterdam Radler I spoke with a LCBO employee who mentioned the traditional Radler uses white grapefruit, while the new Radlers use pink grapefruit juice. This means a tart beer cocktail versus a sweet beer cocktail respectively. As someone who prefers a Campari and Soda – I’m not a fan of Molson and Labatt making overly sweet cocktail in a can.

Labatt’s Shock Top masquerading as a micro-brew type of beer further aggravates this situation of pushing out local breweries. They pretty much have the only commercially-made Shandy on the shelves. This year Shock Top’s own Citrus Radler joined the ranks of Bud Light and Rickard’s. Consequently, I tried this after sampling some of my preferred picks (detailed below) over the course of a couple days. Shock Top’s contribution was the most underwhelming out of all of them. It’s easy-drinking, sour, and really dominates on the grapefruit flavour. The drawbacks being this Radler tastes like that store-bought pink grapefruit cocktail. This means that the juices were probably from concentrate. This brew, like most Radlers, is more easily found at the beer store in Ontario.

Below are my recommendations for Radler’s to drink in what’s left of summer.

 

Stiegl Grapefruit Radler

Radler 1

Price: $2.90

ABV: 2.5%

Brewed By: Stiegl Getranke & Service Gmbh

Country/Region: Austria

Available in: 500 ml Can at the LCBO

This is the most easily-attainable Radler, and my first recommendation to those new to the Radler scene. I see it everywhere, it’s usually at the LCBO (seriously), and often one of the first to pop up at the beginning of the season. This Radler features grapefruit, lemon, and orange juices. Pale orange in colour, tart, medium carbonation, and rather cloudy. It’s probably unfiltered. Good for those who don’t like wheaty beers.

 

Sweetwater Squeeze Radler

Radler 3

Price: $2.50

ABV: 3.8%

Brewed By: Amsterdam Brewing Company

Country/Region: Ontario

Available in: 473 ml Can at the Amsterdam Brewing bottle shop.

I couldn’t get this one at the LCBO, as Molson and Labatt have pushed it out. I first discovered it on the cold beer section two years ago. From what I remember it’s not overly sweet, but a good alternative for those who don’t like grapefruit. If you can get your hands on it, please give it a try.

 

Waterloo Citrus Radler

Radler 4

Price: $2.75

ABV: 3.1%

Brewed By: The Brick Brewing Cider

Country/Region: Ontario

Available in: 473 ml Can at the LBCO or Beer Store

This is the local equivalent to Stiegl’s Grapefruit. It’s got the tartness, more on the grapefruit, lower on the carbonation. Easy-drinking, not overly fruity, and light. A good indication of the quality of ingredients with this one is there’s some visible sediments on the bottom of the glass – meaning fresh fruit juices. Not sure if it’s white or pink grapefruit, as the Waterloo Brewing website doesn’t specify.

 

Waterloo Grapefruit Radler

Radler 5

Price: $2.75

ABV: 3.1%

Brewed By: The Brick Brewing Cider

Country/Region: Ontario

Available in: 473 ml Can & 355 ml Can at the LCBO or Beer Store

This is the next best thing to a Shandy. Waterloo Citrus Radler combines their lager with fresh lemon, lime and apple juices. Instead of your typical lemonade, the radler features more tartness from the other juices. This makes it more complex, and of course offers an alternative those who don’t like grapefruit. This stands out as a little more complex, as you can taste the lager. Easy-drinking, good carbonation, and well-balanced.

 

BONUS

MAKE YOUR OWN SHANDY

Use any light summertime beer. Wheat beers, IPAs, and light lagers work well here. Don’t use a beer that’s already on the sweeter side, or if it’s high on the IBUs.

1 part simple syrup (1:1 water and sugar)

2 parts water

1 part fresh lemon juice

Top with beer.

OR

1 part beer / 2 parts beer

1 part lemonade

Drink.

 

MAKE YOUR OWN RADLER

Grapefruit Soda (I prefer Sanpellegrino Pomelo)

OR

1 part simple syrup

2 parts grapefruit juice **

2 parts sparkling water

Used the method of:

1 part beer / 2 parts beer

1 part lemonade

Drink.

 

** You can swap out the grapefruit juice for something sweeter, like fresh orange juice, or unfiltered apple juice, in which case you’d nix the simple syrup altogether. Feel free to experiment with other canned juice sodas, or use the Italian Soda method with high-quality syrups like Monin.

 

 

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