A shandy made with spicy ale (photo courtesy Whole Foods Market).
 A ginger beer shandy leaves out most of the alcohol (it’s less than .5% ABV) and adds the flavor of ginger. Here’s the recipe from Homemade Hooplah.
 This Island Shandy from Tommy Bahama uses passion fruit juice instead of lemonade.
 How about a Mexican shandy? This recipe from Strawberry Blondie Kitchen, with Corona beer, lemonade and mango juice.
Like beer? Mix it with a juice drink like lemonade or fruit soda to create a shandy.
You can buy shandy in a bottle (photo #1)—artisan beer companies make it—but you can make your own, varying the beers, mixers, proportions and garnishes.
In fact, “make your own” is an idea for a summer weekend get-together. Tips for how to set up a shandy bar at your next gathering are below.
THE HISTORY OF SHANDY
Shandy is short for shandygaff. It’s beer diluted with a non-alcoholic beverage. It’s a traditional British pub drink that mixes lager with lemon soda, ginger ale or ginger beer. Carbonated lemonade, cider or other citrus-flavored soda can be used.
Whatever you use—you can even use ginger beer—you’ll find that shandy is a refreshing summertime drink. The shandy tradition dates back to the 17th century. Today, English publicans blend an English ale or beer with various lemon and lime beverages.
No one knows the origin of the word, but the first known print reference is from 1853. The tradition no doubt began earlier.
Shandy is a surname in the U.K.; and in Ireland, the name is a variant of Shaun (John). Gaff is an old term for a fishing hook or spear.
Perhaps the drink was first mixed up by a steward named Shandy, to hook in customers? Or in honor of the master of an estate, for whom the drink was first served?
Maybe, like the Cold Duck, it was an ad hoc thing: There wasn’t only half as much wine or champagne needed for guests, so some clever person thought to mix them together.
What about an Arnold Palmer? It arrived centuries later. Here’s the difference between an Arnold Palmer and shandy.
DIY SHANDY: CREATE A SHANDY BAR
It you’re looking for a Labor Day activity, how about a make-your-own shandy bar? Just assemble the ingredients, print out brief “instructions” and put them in a frame next to the beer.
Instructions can include: (1) Shandy is half beer, half non-alcoholic drink.(2) Create your own signature shandy with the soft drink and proportions of your choice. (3) Be neat and clean up your spills!
Supermarket shelves are awash with citrus soda: orange, Fresca, Seven-Up (lemon lime). Our favorites are:
Pellegrino Limonata, Aranciata and Aranciata Rosso
Dry Soda blood orange
GuS Meyer Lemon, Sparkling Grapefruit, Valencia Orange
So take stock of the options, then stock up.
Shandy Bar Ingredients
Lager beer (plus wheat beer, IPA or nonalcoholic beer, if you’d like to present different options—check out the different types of beer)
Ginger beer* as a non-alcoholic option
Citrus soda, sparkling lemonade, sparkling soda
Lemonade: plain, sparkling, Mike’s Hard Lemonade
Berry lemonade: blueberry, strawberry, raspberry (muddle the berries and mix with regular lemonade)
Glasses (start with small-to-medium size)
Swizzle sticks to stir
Paper towels for spills
A COMPARATIVE SHANDY TASTING
If you don’t want a DIY shandy bar, gather whatever shandy brands you can find and have a tasting.
Samuel Adams makes Porch Rocker, if you can still find it (the distribution period is through July). Anheuser-Busch’s Shock Top Lemon Shandy is available through August. Also look for Harp Lemon Shandy, Labatt Shandy and Saranac Shandy Lager and Lemonade.
Fentiman’s brews two soft drink shandy styles, non-alcoholic shandy and a low alcoholic version brewed to .5 ABV ABV (1 proof), which allows it to be sold as a soft drink.
An Arnold Palmer is not related to a shandy, except that they both use lemonade. Here are the differences.
We like to use shot glasses or juice glasses for this type a from-the-bottle beer tasting. It lets everyone try a small amount of each brand, and return to their favorite with a larger glass.
WHAT’S GINGER BEER?
Ginger beer is like ginger ale with a buzz. The big difference between ginger beer and ginger ale is that ginger beer is brewed (fermented). Most ginger ale is just carbonated water that’s been flavored with ginger, although some artisan brands brew their ginger ale.
Since ginger beers are naturally fermented, they have less carbonation and often develop a beer-like head when poured into a glass. Some ginger beers are sold unfiltered and appear cloudy, so gently invert the before drinking or pouring, to re-incorporate any separation.
Plus, the ginger flavor is more intense—much more intense.
Today’s brewed ginger beers are categorized as non-alcoholic drinks because their alcohol content is less than .5% (1 proof), which meets FDA requirements.
RECIPE: IPA SHANDY
Like IPA (India Pale Ale)? It’s the most trending style of beer in the U.S.
This shandy update from Whole Foods Market combines “a hoppy craft IPA and a throat-tickling ginger beer.”
Shandys are generally made with lagers and wheat beers. If you’re not a hops fan, use one of those instead.
You’ll also notice that the ingredients are beer and ginger beer. Play around with substituting lemon-lime carbonated drinks for the ginger beer, to see what you like best.
1 bottle (12-ounces) IPA, chilled
1/4 cup ginger beer, chilled
Optional but recommended: 3 dashes orange or ginger bitters†
Garnish: orange slice (studded with cloves, if you like)
Ingredients Per Tall Drink
1. COMBINE the ale, ginger beer and bitters in a tall beer glass and stir lightly to blend (but not hard enough to break the bubbles).
2. GARNISH and serve.
†The original Angostura bitters have a ginger undertone. They have recently released Angostura orange, in the $8.00 to $9.00 range. Connoisseurs may wish to spring for the fine artisan orange bitters from Bitter Truth in the $29.00 to $30.00 range.