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Food & Drink » Beer & Drink

Radlers Do Not Make You a Wuss

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If adding cola to lager is wrong, who wants to be right?

Whenever the temperature climbs above 80 degrees and Bendites are suddenly reminded that, yes, mosquitoes really do exist after all, the idea of pounding Boneyard and barrel-aged sours during summer barbecues can grow a bit off-putting. What if you want something reliably refreshing that won't send you into despair and dehydration by sunset? Maybe a good radler's the answer.

Radler—German for "cyclist", since it's been the preferred drink of Alpine road riders for decades—is simply mixing beer (usually on the lighter side of 5% ABV) and a mixer like cola, ginger ale, or assorted citrus juice. 10 Barrel's Swill is our town's one and only pre-mixed radler, a summer seasonal that mixes in lemon juice for an almost soda-like mouthfeel. But even before Swill, Oregonians were drinking Stiegl Radler in cans for years. Hailing from Salzburg, Austria, Stiegl is a mix of light sweetness and very bitter grapefruit that checks in at only 2.5%, pretty astonishing given the flavor profile. It's cheap, cheerful, and—granted—not exactly "crafty" by nature, but it still hits the spot when the heat ratchets up. (Even more remarkable: 12 ounces of it is 50 calories, less than half of Bud Light's count.)

But why let companies mix radlers for you? Europeans have been experimenting with them for centuries; there's no reason why one can't, say, mix two parts Crux Pilsner with one part blood-orange San Pellegrino...or the Jarritos flavor of your choice, maybe. And if you prefer your beer darker, no worries—take a Schwarzbier (black lager), such as Full Sail Session Black or Georgetown's recently-launched Craigalicious seasonal, and mix it 60/40 with made-with-sugar Dr. Pepper. That's how they do it down in Texas, where German-influenced beer heritage and devout loyalty to locally-made junk food go hand in hand, and it's actually really good, the sweetness of both beverages interacting nicely without getting too cloying. Every beer style has its time and place, and for languid Sunday afternoons without much to do, this could be the one for you.

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