What The Hell Is A Radler?

What the hell is a radler? Our brewer Wes breaks it down.

Basically a radler is a combination of beer, usually a lighter beer, traditionally Helles Lager but I’ve also seen pilsner used before mixed with some kind of juice.

Traditionally lemonade is pretty common but grapefruit juice is also not unheard of. The thought is that one, it’s very refreshing and somewhat sweet depending on the ratio of juice to beer and also it’s low ABV in general so you can have one or two and not be knocked off your feet. Radler is German word for cyclists so the thought is if you’re biking around and you stop at a beer garden or pub and have a radler or 2 you can jump back on your bike and be fine to go.


When did it come to the U.S.? Who was the first radler producer?

I don’t know who the first radler producer in the U.S. was. It’s a relatively new phenomenon in the craft beer industry. There’s been some here and there for the past decade. I’d say also the increase in popularity and just how prolific this has become as far as a lot of breweries doing them kind of goes hand and hand with what we’re seeing in more breweries producing easy drinking lagers.


How is a radler different from a shandy?

Shandy is not really a German tradition whereas radler is. Shandy is more of an English tradition and it’s definitely more lemon juice based or lemonade with beer. It’s not usually Helles because that’s not English style. It’s very similar just comes from somewhere else. It’s got the same idea behind it: low ABV, easy drinking  and refreshing.

Grapefruit juice is relatively common for juice in radlers. That’s not something for shandies.

Obviously nowadays there’s plenty of places making lots of different fruit shandies. I see berry shandies a lot, and raspberry shandies, but lemon is the classic.


Listen to Episode 25 of Life Behind Beer to learn more about radlers and check out our review of Great Divide’s Roadie, a grapefruit radler.

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