At Golding’s, where I work with1 Dylan of The Bottleneck blog, it’s not uncommon to see us indulging in a little game we call ‘Will It Shandy?’ when we’re trying out new arrivals to the taps. A shandy — that’s a beer mixed with lemonade, on the remote chance the word is unfamiliar to you — is a much-maligned thing, and this upsets us both greatly. They can be truly wonderful, in a few different ways and for a few different reasons. So, starting with the Platonic Ideal of the modern shandy — a simple pale lager and a mass-market lemonade — we sat down to try a few different types of beer and see what twists and nuances we could find; to investigate not just whether we thought something could shandy,2 but also to start to test the why. In the name of both Science and Silliness, we recorded our endeavours and you can listen to the result above — or indeed over at Dylan’s. Very many thanks to him for doing all the editing work, and to The Coconut Monkeyrocket for our theme music.3
Generally speaking, beer-blending is an ancient but neglected art. One of the under-appreciated joys of beer-bar bartending is the relatively-bountiful freedom to experiment with such things. Malthouse, with its thirty-odd taps, was ideal for this: I have particularly fond memories of the original West Coast IPA Challenge when I discovered that I massively preferred a 50-50 blend of Epic’s ‘Armageddon’ and Hallertau’s ‘Maximus Humulus Lupulus’ over either beer on its own.4 And speaking most-generally, mucking-with-things post-purchase is your sovereign right as a consumer-of-things. There are only a few wrong ways to drink, and they are all circumstantial, regulatory, and/or moral — none of them concern matters of taste. I heartily encourage you to experiment; with shandies, and beyond. Let me know of any serendipities into which you stumble, on your way. They might just work for me, too.
Sidenote: the Beer Diary Podcast isn’t dead. It’s merely resting. Again. Watch this space.
- Technically: “for”.
- To shamelessly verbify the noun— because that’s how language works, damnit.
- Dylan chose ‘Square Beer’ for this episode / project / thing, quite fittingly. But you might recognise the style and/or the name from the Beer Diary Podcast’s intro and outro — in which case, ten points.
- It’s turned into its own little tradition within a tradition. You still see people blending various contestant beers (the night now usually showcases a dozen or more) and sharing their findings. After I left the bar to work at Garage Project, I was delighted to hear of the invention of the Angry Zombie; equal parts Garage Project ‘Angry Peaches’ and Epic ‘Hop Zombie’.