Craft Beer Issue 2019
This is going to offend some people, but: I think being a picky eater or drinker is childish as hell. Of course, we should all be thoughtful and specific about the things we put in our bodies, but science tells us that our sense of taste continuously changes as we age. Some flavors that may have been too intense when were kids become more manageable as we get older. That’s why I think it’s important and rewarding to push the boundaries of my palate and discover new things that I like (mushrooms, vinegar, hot sauce) and the things I still hate (olives, dill pickles, cottage cheese).
So although I’m a self-proclaimed “beer hater” (I’ve always despised the flavor and aftertaste of brewed hops), I’ve recently found myself regularly consuming cans of the popular Stiegl Radler, a flavorful mix of grapefruit juice and beer. For those unaware, a radler is a German-originated beverage made by combining beer with citrus juice or soda, similar to a shandy. Stiegl’s grapefruit radler, made in Austria, is naturally cloudy, fairly carbonated, sort of like an alcoholic grapefruit soda, and with a sour aftertaste that I dig, but it’s still a little hoppy for my sensitivities. So I set my sights on the Belmont Station beer shop to see if I could find anything in the radler department that I liked even better. And since summertime is radler-time, here are five to try beyond Stiegl’s ubiquitous grapefruit version.
Stiegl Radler Zitrone
Hello, lemonade vibes! The “zitrone” (lemon) version of Stiegl’s Radler is actually way more enjoyable than the OG grapefruit. Made with 50 percent lemon soda and 50 percent beer, it’s sour, not too sweet, and the lemon flavor isn’t too overpowering. As many users on beeradvocate.com pointed out, this one’s more like a soda. Pouring a hazy yellow, its medium fluffy head died down pretty quickly, and I was spared the hoppy aftertaste that usually plagues my beer-dabbling.
Swill American Radler
BREWERY: 10 Barrel Brewing
This seasonal “American radler” from 10 Barrel is my new favorite (so thank heavens it’s the only one I was forced to buy a six-pack of in order to try it)! Made in Bend, Oregon, the can has an orange trim that led me to believe it’s made with orange citrus—but it’s actually a pretty perfect mix of lemon and grapefruit notes. It contains 4.5 percent alcohol per can, but you wouldn’t know it: It’s fruity, light, and much smoother than Stiegl’s, or any of the other radlers listed here.
Totally Radler Grapefruit
BREWERY: Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Hopworks’ Totally Radler doesn’t exactly live up to its “rad” name. Don’t get me wrong—if this were the only non-beer option at a party, I’d probably drink it, but I wouldn’t buy it again. (It’s got 3 percent alcohol, so I’d need to suffer through way too many to get a buzz.) Made with organic barley, organic hops, and grapefruit juice, I found this radler way too beery, and not nearly sour enough. If you’re a beer person, though, you might like this one.
BREWERY: Bitburger Brauerei
Brewed in Germany, Bitburger’s radler tastes exactly like its description: “malt beverage with natural flavor added.” It’s a 50-50 mix of pilsner and lemonade, but somehow it tastes just like beer. Yuck! And it’s only 2.5 percent alcohol, which, for me, makes it not even worth the trouble. Pass this one off to your beer-loving boyfriend.
BREWERY: Dortmunder Actien Brauerei
The saleswoman who helped me at Belmont Station said the German-made DAB Radler has become pretty popular, and I can see why. Besides being called “DAB,” it’s likely appealing to the anti-beer enthusiast for mastering the ratio: 60 percent beer and 40 percent lemonade, with 3 percent alcohol and a delightfully sour finish. If you like lemonade, this one’s for you. Made with both lemon and orange, it’s got a light mouthfeel, mild carbonation, and is quite refreshing.