Try These Variations On Your Next Summer Shandy

A tall, cool shandy might just be the perfect summer drink. Lightening a beer with sharp citrus tang creates an incredibly drinkable combination of two hot-weather favorites. The drink is usually made with a 50/50 mixture of a wheat beer, and lemonade or lemon-lime soda, and variations usually swap out the soda part of the equation, like using ginger beer in an English shandygaff, or grapefruit in a German radler. But that's not the only way you can mix it up. Tasting Table reached out to Jessie Massie, Head Chef at the Sierra Nevada Taproom in Mills River, North Carolina, and she gave us some great suggestions for a more unique shandy.

"I tend to be a bit of a purest when it comes to enjoying beer but mixing it up from time to time can keep things interesting," Massie says. A moderately bitter, juicy hazy IPA like Sierra Nevada's popular Hazy Little Thing could be paired with gin, lemon, and blackberries for a sharp and fruity celebration like its Hazy Little Bramble. Or, you can stick with a Citrus Wheat Ale and mix it up with Aperol, vodka, and orange juice for a Sunny Little Spritz. Fruit sours like Wild Little Thing are also ready-made for add-ins like rum, lime juice, and strawberries for a Wild Little Daiquiri. Massie says these mixes are "a great way to effortlessly impress the guests at your next summer cookout."

There are a lot of beers that pair great with summer shandy flavors

When you're picking a beer for a shandy, you want a beer that's going to have its flavor brought out by the mixer, without overpowering it. Hazy IPAs are a great choice because they still have enough hop flavor to hold on to their beer flavor, while also having tons of fruit notes that will be accentuated by the soda. Citrus wheats will end up a little juicier than an IPA, but these smoother beers really benefit from the acidic crispness that sharper lemon or lime soda adds to them. Sour beers, in particular, are very versatile for shandys, as their tang can work to balance out sweeter fruit sodas and juices, in addition to pairing with citrus in a classic shandy.

You can also mix it up even more by adding other popular summer liquors for a slightly more bracing shandy cocktail. How about pairing the double-orange kick of citrus wheat and orange juice with a little bit of tequila? Fruit sours could be even better because their sharp kick is a great stand-in for lime or lemon in tiki-inspired shandys with some rum. The shandy isn't just a recipe, it's a jumping-off point, and with beer, you have a world of great options.