Beer n' Juice: the Story of the Radler

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Over the last few years, the popularity of the radler seems to have basically come out of no where. 

The delicious mix of beer and juice has become one of our favourite summer time drinks. It’s generally citrusy, sweet and/or tart with just enough booze for us to remember that it’s beer but not too much that we’ll have trouble standing up after basking in the sun for a few hours on the patio, deck or in the backyard.

One radler after a game or a night out with friends is a responsible choice as well. 

Did you know the radler actually dates back all the way back to early 18th century England? 

Of course, in total English fashion, the drink goes by a completely different name. Though, in fairness, they did basically invent it. Then it was called a shandygaff, thankfully it was eventually shortened to shandy, which is a mix of beer and ginger beer or ale. Somewhere along the way, the recipe changed to often use sparking lemonade instead of ginger beer. The flavours are different, but the idea of mixing beer with something was more or less born. 

The shandy was once a popular drink in the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States. Apparently, my grandmother used to make it before I was born. I don’t know why she stopped. 

The ralder as we know it today has German roots. A man by the name of Franz Kugler owned a bar in a hotel in a small town near Munich. He built a cycling path to his establishment as cycling was huge at the time in 1920s Germany. In June 1922, as the story goes, Kugler had some 13,000 cyclists crash his bar. Needless to say, he was quickly running out of beer, so he mixed the beer with lemon soda. The drink became known as the radlermass, which translates to cyclist liter. Eventually, it was shortened to just radler. 

Today, the radler is made by brewers of all sizes and is available in a variety of different flavours. Some of my favourites include the Crafty Radler from Pumphouse out of Moncton and  Disctrict Brewing’s Lemon Ginger Radler. Both of which are available at Happy Hour. 

The Crafty Radler not only has the classic grapefruit flavour but tangerine juice has been added to balance the tartness of the grapefruit. It’s also delightfully carbonated. It goes well with bacon and eggs, if you know what I mean. 

The Lemon Ginger Radler, not surprisingly, is made with lemon juice and ginger. District also adds a touch of local Saskatchewan honey to add some sweetness and balance out the tartness of the lemon and the spice of the ginger. 

The cool part of radlers? It’s so simple to make your own. Just pick up some lighter flavoured beer add your favourite juice, carbonated or not and voila, you have your very own radler that you can make as strong or juicy as you like. 

Joel Gasson