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What is the Difference Between a Radler and a Shandy?

These brew names are often used interchangeably and for good reason. The main difference is easily confused.

Both a shandy and a radler feature a blond lager (usually Pils or Helles) as a base, but are 50/50 mixed with a citrusy boost and herein lies the difference. A shandy is most often mixed with lemonade, or even lemon-lime soda while a radler can be mixed with any form of fruit juice including a grapefruit, for example.

The History

The drinks also differ in their origin stories.

The Shandy originated in the 1850s in England where it was earlier known as Shandygaff. The Shandygaff was a mixture of beer and ginger ale or ginger beer. By the late 19th-century, the ginger ale in the Shandygaff was replaced by lemonade or lemon soda, and the “gaff” was dropped to shorten the word to just Shandy.

The Radler was invented about 70 years later in Bavaria and was born out of necessity. Legend has it that in 1922, a large group of cyclists stopped by a Bavarian inn on the Munich trail for a drink. Beer garden owner Franz Xaver Kugler was running low on beer and was afraid his customers would get mad and leave. He mixed what he had left with the citrus juice he had on hand. From then on, Kugler claimed to have invented the thirst-quenching beverage, which he called the Radlermass (Radler meaning ‘cyclist’ and Mass meaning ‘liter’).

The Best Part?

Both are excellent options to quench your thirst on a hot summer day, plus they are extremely easy to make at home.

Since it’s half beer and half lemonade/fruit juice, the base beer matters. May we suggest our Golden Rule Pilsner, Golden Rule Blonde, Against the Grain Hefeweizen or Forge Ahead Pilsner? From there, you can add your citrus of choice and have some fun.

Here are a couple of our favorite recipes:

Grapefruit Radler
  1. In a tall glass, add ½ cup grapefruit juice and two teaspoons of sugar, and mix to combine.
  2. Top with the beer and garnish with a wedge of grapefruit before serving.
Ginger Beer Shandy
  1. Fill 2 pint glasses with ice. Combine equal parts ginger beer and wheat beer
  2. Garnish each with a lime wedge.