I have had a bit of an obsession with radlers this summer. When I reach for a summer time beer, I am looking for something refreshing to quench my thirst and radlers do just that. A radler is beer that has been mixed with either lemon or grapefruit juices or sodas. I have seen them made with a variety of beer styles mixed with either lemonade or grapefruit juice. I have even had a black currant radler. Both the terms radler and shandy essentially mean the same thing. They both consist of mixing juice or soda with beer. The difference lies mostly in their origins. Radlers come from Germany where the story goes that an inn keeper mixed his beer 50:50 with lemon soda for the cyclists who nearly ran him out of beer. Radler is the German word for cyclist. Shandys have their origin in Britain where either a lemon soda or ginger beer was used to mix with the beer.
Central City Brewing has given us two very different radlers to sip on this summer. Both are pre-mixed with grapefruit juice however one is made with beer while the other is made with their Hopping Mad Cider.
The Red Racer Radler describes itself as “a blend of refreshing malt flavour and a balance of grapefruit notes.” In other words, they make their radler with a light blond beer mixed with grapefruit juice. When I poured the beer into my glass, it was very fizzy but had no head. It was a bright pink/orange colour and was very cloudy. The smell was mostly grapefruit, lemons, and a little bit bready. The taste was a bit wheaty at first sip and then all you could taste was grapefruit juice. It had a balanced acidity that makes only slightly more tart than sweet. The Red Racer Radler has an IBU of 16 and an ABV of 3.5%
I have never heard of radlers made with cider before and never even considered it. The Hopping Mad Cider Radler is a combination of an off-dry apple cider mixed with grapefruit juice. Unlike the Hopping Mad Cider, this cider doesn’t appear to be hopped as the name would suggest. When I poured this into my glass it wasn’t as fizzy as the beer radler with still had lots of fine little bubbles. The colour of this radler was a light pink/golden hue and was quite cloudy in translucency. The smell of this was all grapefruit. I did not detect any apple aroma from my glass. The taste of this cider radler was sweeter than expected after the other radler. The acidic tartness of the grapefruit hits you first and then turns sweet. After several sips, it began to taste a lot like apricots to me. The cider radler has a slightly higher ABV coming in a 4.2% and it is gluten free.
Both of Central City’s radlers are available in 473ml cans at most liquor stores around town for around $3 a can. I find this to be a perfect sized serving. The lower ABV makes these really drinkable so the little bit more you get in the tall cans is perfect. I was not really fond of the Hopping Mad. I really like cider but this just didn’t do it for me. However, I really enjoyed the Red Racer Radler. I will definitely be having a few more of those.