Jacob Leinenkugel founded his brewery in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, in 1867, making it the seventh oldest continually operating brewery in the U.S. and the oldest business in Chippewa Falls. Leinenkugel was for most of its history a traditional brewer of German-style ales and lagers, but is now chiefly known for its fruit beers. One of its biggest sellers is the Summer Shandy, which is available both in glass bottles and in tallboy cans for your river experience.
Summer Shandy is a pleasant introduction to the shandy, a traditional English beer cocktail made of fizzy lemonade and pale ale, lager, or bitter. The German version is the radler, which is a straight 50/50 mix of beer and fizzy lemonade. Radler is the German word for cyclist, and the traditional story is that the drink was invented for a particular customer, a cyclist, who loved beer but wanted a lighter beverage for his rides. The shandy is the most common beer cocktail world-wide, and it has many variations depending almost entirely on the fruit flavor of the soda additive used.
Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy is a classic lemon shandy, and it is light, low in calories, and refreshing. It is a mix of their Weiss beer and lemonade. It also benefits from being more lightly carbonated than most lighter beers, so you get a pleasant effervescence rather than a carbonic assault on the palate. There is minimal hop content in this beer, and no hop flavor, either up front on the palate or in terms of bitterness. On pouring, you see a bright yellow liquid with a light, frothy head that dissipates fairly quickly. At 4.2 percent ABV, this is a beer for quaffing, not for chewing over. Drink it cold after mowing the lawn or floating the Black Creek for maximal enjoyment.
If you don’t like beer, or know someone who doesn’t, this beer is a gateway to the many options available for those who eschew traditional beer flavors. Shandies are a great bridge between beer and cider, or beer and wine, or alcopops and beer. Uncomplicated refreshment is the name of the shandy game.
Alex Ignatiev is the proprietor of Hub City Beers and Fine Cigars in Hattiesburg. Stokes Distributing, who provides promotional consideration for his piece, is the exclusive distributor of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.