This week’s Canada’s Craft Beer we head BC with our western Canada beer guy, Bryan Clegg. This month he's looking at that summer refresher, the radler. He tried out versions from Mission Springs, Parallel 49 and Steel & Oak - and he gives you a few tips on how to make your own version of the radler at home.
It’s June! That means it’s heating up outside. As the weather gets warmer, the desire for a great thirst quencher increases. And what’s better on a hot day than a good beer? Breweries are well versed on seasonal preferences, and some of them are picking up on the refreshing goodness of the radler.
So what’s a radler? I’m glad you asked. Radler is a German word for cyclist. The drink was invented back in the 1920’s in Germany by a fellow who ran a place called Kugleralm. One day, after a bike path to Madrid was built, a horde of cyclists descended upon Kugleralm with a mighty thirst in need of quenching. But alas, the proprietor didn’t have enough beer to satiate the mass. So he blended a previously considered useless batch of lemon soda with his beer as a way of making the beer last longer. He told the cyclists it was to keep them from getting too drunk to ride. The drink was a hit, and thus the radler was born.
I had my first radler last year. I was at Vancouver Craft Beer Week in the middle of a very hot, cloudless day and felt in serious danger of needing to take a break from beer drinking. Then I stumbled upon the Mission Springs booth and their Lemon Ginger Radler. It hit me like an immensely pleasurable slap in the face. At that moment, it was the most refreshing beer I’d ever had.
Mission Springs Lemon Ginger Radler
Mission Springs blends their radler with California lemons and ginger root infusion. The ginger is used well, just enough to hit the flavour profile without being overpowering. There are enough lemons to make your mouth pucker, and let me tell you, I could eat lemons all day. This radler is so good, I honestly have a hard time thinking of how it could be better. If you can find it, buy it.
3.0% ABV | Available: BC
Parallel 49 Tricycle Grapefruit Radler
Tricycle is a blend of Parallel 49 lager and red grapefruit juice, resulting in a tasty 3.5% ABV radler. The grapefruit flavour is prominent here, but there’s a stronger lager flavour compared to other radlers. If I had a complaint with this one, it’s that the cans fall short when compared to drinking off tap. Could be something to do with freshness, but the times I’ve had it off tap it was noticeably better than from cans.
3.5% ABV | Available: BC
Steel & Oak Radler
If you’re in the New Westminster area, I highly recommend stopping at the Steel & Oak tasting room. And if you happen to come in after a long walk along the quay on a hot day, the radler is a great option. What makes it great is that the lemonade is homemade, and it's mixed right in front of you. You can choose the beer you want to mix it with, and the ratio you want to mix it at. I’ve mixed with the Royal City Pale Ale and the United Front Braunbier and loved both.
Indeterminate ABV | Available: BC (Steel & Oak tap room only)
The Do It Yourself Radler
Maybe you’re out camping and brought some beer. But after a long day of pretending to be productive, you really want something refreshing without having to forgo beer. But alas, there aren’t any radlers within a 100 kilometre radius. Fear not! See that lemonade (or other fruit juice -- why not experiment?) you bought for the kids? Pour it in your glass at around a 50:50 ratio and voila, you’ve made yourself a radler. Now drink, and enjoy!
Bryan Clegg is the beer columnist for VanFoodies.com. Bryan has a wide and accommodating palate; whether it’s a tasty low-IBU ale or a ride on the IBU train to Hop Country, he’s happy to drink and share a story about the ride. Follow @vanfoodies on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.