It's time once again for 10 Barrel's most polarizing, seasonal beer: Swill. To its fans, the name is clever and ironic; to its haters, the name couldn't be more accurate. This year they've coined it American Radler. But what is that and will it bite?
Radlers are traditional German shandies—aka, beer mixed with soda or lemonade. Many beer geeks gag at the notion of mixing perfectly good beer with anything else, but they should remember that this is an old German and popular Wisconsin tradition. Beer has long been made more refreshing and lower in alcohol by mixing with citrus sodas or lemonade. It's not sacrilegious; it's delicious. Presumably, Swill is labeled American simply because it's not from Germany. 10 Barrel even admits this is a love or hate beer, and included on the label a phone number for the haters to call with complaints.
Frankly, though, it's hard to imagine why someone would have a problem with this beer; it is something akin to being upset with innertubers floating down the river because they are not athletic enough.
Swill makes a superb summer drink by being light-bodied, low in alcohol, moderately sweet and a bit tart. Though you can taste some malt throughout, the primary flavors are orange and grapefruit. There is very little bitterness. These characteristics make is a gateway beer for cider fans.
Radlers are quite easy to replicate at home. Simply mix citrus juices or softdrinks with lighter beers. To make a radler with maximum Bendfluence, start with a favorite easy-drinking local brew. Sweet As from Goodlife or Ching Ching from Bend Brewing Company would both be excellent. Make sure the beer has some sweetness or tartness and is light on the IBUs. Then pick up one of Humm's fruity kombucha's (not plain or chai flavored) and mix them in equal parts. Typical radlers range from 50 to 75 percent beer, but the ratio is up to the drinker. Start at 50-50, then adjust to taste. Splash in some orange juice to sweeten, if needed.
Radlers are excellent with brunch and great with green salads. They are proof that beer is far more versatile than its common reputation. Try them with an open mind, but feel free to call 10 Barrel with any complaints.
Beer Event: Those Beers Were Made for Walking
This may be the precise fusion of Central Oregon mentalities; a mind meld of brewing and hiking. Here's the deal: Sponsored by the Oregon Natural Desert Association and Beers Made By Walking, local brewers have been heading out on hikes this spring with anyone who wants to join them. In turn, the brewers then produce a beer inspired by the plants and landscape viewed on the hike. Seriously. This is like Wordsworth in a bottle. "Each beer is a drinkable, landscape portrait of the trail," explains the press release.
The final hike is this Monday, with Worthy Brewing, in the Badlands.
9 am-1 pm, Mon., June 9. Register at bmbwjune9.eventbrite.com. Free.