Every summer, my normal beer-drinking habits morph into something slightly more plebian - I generally gravitate towards lighter beers and ales, usually mixed with lemonade during hot afternoons lounging around the pool. That preference is supported by long experience; for some reason, Mexican-style beers like Corona, Modelo and even bottles of Land Shark can be enjoyed in quantity on the hottest of days without giving me a headache.
So it should be no surprise that Shandies of various types are regularly sampled, along with some other lighter types that I wanted to try. Here's a brief look at some of what I've enjoyed this summer...
Sam Adams Porch Rocker
Wasn't expecting a lot, but I actually enjoyed this--and have purchased it on more than one occasion. Nice, solid brew with a light, lemon twang that was reasonably natural-tasting. Refreshing and dependable.
Leinenkugel Summer Shandy
I used to really like this brand. But that was before they began selling it at a premium price. Their original red ale was solid, but this shandy was a big disappointment. Forgettable beer with a very artificial lemon taste - more akin to a lemon cough drop than real fruit.
Hopping Frog Turbo Shandy
Easily the best beer I had all summer. Delicious ale, rich - but not too hoppy, with a rich, sweet, lemon zest that called upon me to drink more and more. Unfortunately, at about $7 for a 22oz bottle, that is unlikely. But this stuff is delicious - and that's not just hometown bias.
Great Lakes Brewing- The Wright Pils
This was a real letdown. I generally love GL beers, but I've found that more of their beers are starting to have the same "hop profile" - making it harder to discern what style of beer I am drinking. Pilsners should be light, golden, clean and drinkable -- but this was way too hoppy [and bitter] to fit the style. It was the same situation with the GL Oktoberfest I tried last fall...way over-hopped for the beer style.
Seems their brewmaster has fallen into the American craft-beer trap of throwing too much hop into the brew kettle. My feeling is that if you can't stay true to the real "style" of the beer--that's fine--but then you should just call it something else.
No, I did not try the grapefruit radler that seems to be the hot thing now. The local ultra-high end market in town had a couple cases of the stuff in the beer aisle, but I prefer the original lemon, which really does have more of the "lemon soda pop" mouth feel than more typical shandies, and is absolutely delicious. I usually take a few bottles of this to my friend's annual summer-ending luau and it's always a big hit. Awesome stuff.