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A Summer Shandy Recipe

The Shandy - a refreshing summer favorite!

In Life:

I’ve learned and realized a lot about family lately. Family doesn’t always equal people you share blood with. Oh no. People you share blood with are merely relatives. A relation. But family is more than that. As of late I’ve had some pretty rocky relations with my father’s extended family, him included. I don’t wanna burden you with things that make no sense so I won’t go into it. But I’ve learned through this experience that blood relation does not make a family. Family are the people who love you, take care of you and want the best for you.

While I do still consider a hand full of my blood relatives family (serious, it’s less than 10 people), I’ve learned that my real family is so much bigger. It encompasses people I’ve known for years, people I’ve met in the last couple years, and yes of course, some of my blood relatives. It also includes the family I’ve married into which I am so very grateful for. Talk about some amazing folks – The Martins are solid, good people. In the end, I’ve learned that family is what you make of it. And just because someone was once family, doesn’t always make them family. Families love, nurture, support and want only the best for each other. That’s my definition of family. And since this is my life, I control what family means.

But I must say, my favorite and most sacred part of my family is the bond between me and my husband, Jeremy. He’s my home and my most special family member. I love the rest of my family so very much. But he’s at the heart of it all. The love and support we provide each other has been more nurturing and fulfilling than any other relationship since my childhood with my parents. OK, so I know this is sappy and a little cheesy. But I’m feeling it right now. And I wanted to share with you.

What really prompted this whole “family” line of thinking was the little party we had to test this shandy recipe. It was a lovely family gathering consisting of me, Jeremy, my sister, her husband, their kids and our friends Ryan and Nicole (and their kids). Ryan and Nicole, while not blood relatives, are a perfect example of family for me. They are kind, good people. They’re funny and stable and would give you the shirt off your back – just because you liked it and wanted it. Seriously. Fantastic people. They are best friends with my sister and brother-in-law. And they’re family.

All in all, I’m so lucky to have such great people in my life. I thank God daily for the inspiration they bring, and the things I learn from them.

What about you? Do you have a non-traditional view of “family?” I’d love to know what you think. And how you define family.

In Cooking:

So today I bring you my third and final cocktail of the week – a summer shandy recipe. A shandy is little more than beer and soda mixed. But this is a special shandy. Because I’ve made it with homemade grapefruit soda (much easier to make than you’re probably thinking). And because I’m going to give you six beer options for drinking. Each beer provides a slightly different experience.

The Shandy - a refreshing summer favorite!

The Backstory: In November of 2012, we went to NYC for a visit. It was a great time and a great visit with Jeremy’s family. We went the week of Thanksgiving and while there, we met up with my dear old friend Blake. Blake’s a food guy (a chef up in Westchester) and when we do NYC with him, we eat and drink the most amazing stuff. Always is good hands. So he brought us to DBGB by Daniel Boulud. There I tried a shandy for the first time. I’d never heard of it before then. But one sip, and I was in love. So I asked the bartender how to make it. He told me, and I was amazed at how easy it was. I came home and tried to make it exactly as he said. I even used IPA as he said they did. But I didn’t like the drink. So I thought about it and did research and realized that I needed a different beer. Something less harsh than IPA.

The Experiment: Last week I headed over to Pearl Wine Co in search of beers. Pearl is a wine/liquor/beer store in the American Can Company in Mid-City New Orleans. Formerly known as Cork and Bottle, this new establishment sells top end/boutique beverages. This was my first visit, and I’m in love. I’ve now made this my go-to for wine, beer and liquor. I like supporting local, as you know. So the main reason I initially chose Pearl Wine Co is because they sell beer by the bottle. In this experiment, that fact was crucial because I knew I wanted to try more than one beer for this. I ended up finding 6 total beers that I thought should work in the shandy. I wasn’t 100% sure, but based on styles and flavor profiles, I had the inkling that they’d work out.

Since I had six total beers, that meant a lot of shandies to try. So I got a creative stroke of genius and decided to bring the beers and grapefruit soda to my sister’s to the party we already had planned for last Saturday night. Everyone there enjoys a good beer so I figured this would be a great way to introduce them to a new way of drinking it. As suspected, none of them were familiar with the idea of a shandy. Even better, they were all game to take part in my experiment. As you can see below I mixed up a sample glass of each the we each poured sips into our own dedicated cups. I had each person mark the combinations they felt worked. While I was thinking they’d all work, I wasn’t 100% sure and needed a field of palates to help me judge.

Our Summer Shandy Taste-Testing Event

As I said earlier, I made my own grapefruit soda for this experiment. You can use pre-made grapefruit soda if you’d like but really, a homemade grapefruit soda is better tasting and super easy to make. The hardest part is juicing the grapefruit, and you only need three of them. So really, it’s super simple. Below you can see how pretty mine turned out. It was simply one part grapefruit soda mixed with three parts club soda (or seltzer water – your choice).

Homemade Grapefruit Soda - Refreshing and Delicious

The Taste Test Field:  As I said, I tested six beers (all pictured below). It wasn’t really planned, but I ended up having a great mix of beers from different geographical locations around the country. I had a few styles too, which was part of the original plan. In the end, they all made for good shandies, as expected. Let’s take a look at each and how they worked.

Great Beers for Shandies, a refreshing summer cocktail!

  • Sierra Nevada SummerFest (Chico, CA) – This worked really well as a shandy mixer. It’s a beer designed for warm weather, and the grapefruit soda matched well with the flavor. The crisp, dry flavor of the summer lager balanced the tang of the grapefruit. This one was Ryan’s favorite one.
  • Ommegang Witte (Cooperstown, NY) – This is a Belgium-style whitbier. It’s heavy and cloudy and packed with wheat mash. While this matched well with the concept of a shandy, no one in the group really cared for it much. Because in the end, the whitbier flavor still was there. It was a bit subdued, but it was totally all the back end flavor. If you love whitbiers, go for this. If not, skip it.
  • Sam Adams Summer Ale (Boston, MA) – As with the SummerFest, this beer seems like it was made for a shandy. It was Nicole’s favorite shandy and was one of only two beers that everyone agreed made a good shandy. While it boasts similar ingredients to the Ommegang Whitte, it had a much more clean and crisp profile. It was fairly sweet but tasty.
  • New Belgium Rolle Bolle (Ft. Collins, Co) – This is a seasonal summer beer that made for a delicious shandy. This beer is brand new for this summer and was my personal favorite shandy. Most of the group also agreed that this made a delicious shandy. This ale is perfect for summer sipping with it’s citrusy notes and crisp finish. Perfect for hot weather.
  • Lazy Magnolia Indian Summer (Kiln, MS) – This was one of two local beers we tried. This may not be available in all areas but is definitely worth seeking out if you can find it. Indian Summer is a “spicy” beer due to the coriander and fruity due to the orange. It is not inherently a very sweet beer. However, it made the sweetest of all the shandies. What’s interesting is this is the beer that had the most distinct flavor change once made into a shandy. It was unbelievable. This one was my sister’s favorite. It makes a tasty shandy but beware, it’s a very sweet one. The beer taste is mostly lost.
  • Tin Roof VooDoo Bengal (Baton Rouge, LA) – So this is my second and final local beer. It’s a bit different from the rest of the field. It definitely had more hops than all the others and was a more bitter beer than the rest. I figured since I had my original shandy with an IPA, I could test with this less hoppy pale ale and see how I like the results. Well, this was the second one that got everyone’s vote. The pale ale stood up to the grapefruit soda and provided the most “oomph.” This was Jeremy and Adam’s favorite one. I really liked it a lot, too.

New Belgium's Rolle Bolle - a great beer for a sweet, light and refreshing Shandy

The Verdict: As I said, all the beers worked well. My personal favorites were the Rolle Bolle and the VooDoo Bengal. They were nothing alike but both so delicious. The Rolle Bolle provided a sweeter, lighter experience while the VooDoo Bengal provided a hoppy, bitter contrast. What I also thought was interesting is that everyone’s favorite differed. No one beer worked better than the rest. Which makes me feel confident in recommending them all for shandy mixing.

Tin Roof's VooDoo Bengal - great for a hoppy, bitter Shandy

This was a really fun experiment. It’s definitely a fun idea for a party or small gathering. Let me know if you end up trying anything like this!

Yield: 3 cocktails + extra syrup

A Summer Shandy Recipe

This tall, cool, refreshing shandy recipe takes cocktailing to a whole new level. Sit back and relax with summertime treat.

Ingredients:

Grapefruit Soda Syrup:

  • 2 cups pure cane sugar
  • 2 cups ruby red grapefruit juice (about 3 grapefruit)
  • Zest of 2 ruby red grapefruit
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Cocktail Assembly:

  • 3 cups chilled soda or seltzer water
  • 1 cup chilled grapefruit syrup
  • 2-12 ounce bottles of chilled beer (Summer Ales or Pale Ales work best)
  • 3 chilled tall glasses, preferably 12 ounces or larger

Method:

Grapefruit Soda Syrup:

  1. Place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour.
  3. Strain and discard solids and transfer the grapefruit syrup to an airtight container. Keep in the fridge until ready to use (up to two weeks) or freeze for up to six months.

To Assemble Shandy:

  1. To make the grapefruit soda, combine the three cups of club soda (or seltzer water) and one cup of grapefruit syrup in a pitcher or 4 cup measuring cup. Mix lightly.
  2. Add 2/3 cup of the mixed grapefruit soda to the tall chilled glass. Top with chilled beer (about 2/3 cup as well).
  3. Enjoy!

Prep Time for Grapefruit Soda Syrup is at least two hours.

Beer Suggestions:

  • Sierra Nevada SummerFest
  • Ommegang Witte
  • Sam Adams Summer Ale
  • New Belgium Rolle Bolle
  • Lazy Magnolia Indian Summer
  • Tin Roof VooDoo Bengal

Grapefruit soda syrup recipe based on one from MarthaStewart.com.

Prep:5 min

Total:5 min

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