Beer Panaché, or Shandy

It’s summer now in Portland, and that means the drinking culture changes. Portland’s always been a big beer town and that doesn’t change at all during the summer. However, there is a sizable cocktail scene as well, and breaking out the Negroni while it’s 85 and sunny outside (that’s hot for Portland, roll with me here) just doesn’t seem quite right. As is the tendency elsewhere, summer cocktails in Portland tend to become more dilute, sweeter, and a little bit less precious.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler, a Portland bartender of Clyde Common and Pepe le Moko fame, has a great video on what the a real shandy is all about. They are typically sold canned, but can also come in bottles. Stiegl’s Radler, which is made with grapefruit, is a great example of the variety. As Morgenthaler puts it:

It’s not about making the beer fruity or sweet, it’s about making the lemonade dry [silence, followed by maniacal laughter]

Truly, that is what it is all about. These are weak enough to drink just as you do water, although that certainly ruins the fun of it. Instead, I think it really gets at the heart of how beers are different from each other. Adding a little acidity and sugar to the equation distracts you from the obstinate bitterness that many beers start with and let you think a little more about the middle and finish of the experience. If you use a lager, especially a macro lager, you get a distinct corn flavor. If you use Corona or a Mexican beer, you don’t really taste much of anything afterword. And of course, if you use an IPA you finish the experience with the astringency of the acidity giving way to the same feeling of astringency, but with a different taste. The hops really come out. I’ve never heard of it being done with anything darker than an IPA (like a stout or porter)… although I suppose you could.

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Here’s the personal shandy/panaché that I used while I was writing this. It’s perfectly alright if you never make the same one twice. After all, that’s kind of the point.

Ingredients:

  • 4 maraschino cherries, pitted and without stem (I use the artificial stuff, since what’s life without a little whimsy, but you can also brandied amarena cherries)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar, or 1.5 ounces of 1:1 simple syrup
  • 1.5 ounces of lemon juice
  • 1 oz of cracked ice (only if you’re using sugar and not simple syrup)
  • A beer of your choice (I used Full Sail’s Session IPA)

Instructions

  1. Muddle the cherries at the bottom of a large glass. I used a pint glass, but you could also use a Pilsner glass or a stein
  2. Add the sugar/syrup and the lemon juice directly into the glass
  3. Add the ice, if you are using sugar
  4. Stir well
  5. Top with beer, filling the rest of the glass
  6. Enjoy!

As with many recipes of this general format, there is much creativity to be had when assembling this drink. You could skip the cherries or sub in some other berries. You could throw in some cocktail bitters (peach bitters and a wheat beer sound like a great combination!). Or, you could just keep it simple.

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