In a battle of radler vs shandy, everyone’s a winner, but what exactly is the difference between these two refreshing drinks?
While beer-based cocktails in general are criminally underrated, the shandy and the radler are two of the most well-known, so let’s compare and contrast.
Both beverages sound like they could pass for fairly legitimate Brooklyn hipster baby names (Shandy Mendes and Radler Gosling, anyone?), and these two beer-based drinks are each the perfect answer to beating the heat at a summertime happy hour. In fact, they’re a lot more alike than they are different.
The shandy is made by mixing beer (normally a blond lager) with lemonade, or even lemon-lime soda. The ratio should be about 50-50 and you can mix-and-match with your choice of beer and fruity additions.
A radler—which means cyclist in German—is a similar citrus and beer concoction but can also include other fruit juices, like grapefruit.
Essentially, if you’re in the mood for a shandy and you order a radler, you’ll still be enjoying a beer-and-juice combination with a citrusy and refreshing taste. Shandy is the British name for it whereas radlers are the German name for them.
Both the shandy and the radler come pre-mixed in cans, and there are some fun alternatives on the market that include grapefruit juice and ginger beer. One of the most well-known pre-packaged shandies is the iconic Del’s Shandy by Naragansett—sold seasonally in many regions of the United States and made with a ‘Gansett lager mixed with Del’s Frozen lemonade (both Rhode Island-based brands). New in 2019, you can now also get Del’s Watermelon Shandy, sure to become a smash hit summer fave.
The Del’s Shandy has a steadfast following and many fans stock up when they can find it. (I was once gifted a precious Del’s Shandy while waiting in line to get into a bar by a man who had lovingly driven it all the way from Rhode Island to Chicago in his VW minibus.) But there are other brands available, from major breweries as well as local craft spots.
As for radlers, the gateway drink is often Stiegl Radler, a German grapefruit radler in those bold orange-and-white striped cans that seem to promise instant refreshment. (It also comes in a lemon version.)
Look around for local craft options for these fruity drinks too. Or, make your own.
The next time you’re in the mood for a thirst-quenching alcoholic beverage, think about whipping up a batch of radlers (everyone can participate in the fun and mix-and-match with beers and different flavors of juice) or crack open an ice-cold shandy. Check out our seven shandy and radler recipes for inspiration and beat the heat.
Chilled ginger beer adds a kick to this shandy. Pair with a lager (English style is recommended) and use a ginger beer that packs a punch. Get our Ginger Shandy recipe.
Give the original a try before creating your favorite pairings—our basic radler recipe calls for lager and some lemon-lime soda (but we won’t tell anyone if you use lemonade instead). Get our Traditional Radler recipe.
Is this a shandy or a radler? It’s hard to decide (especially if you’re using German beer), but this recipe is a snap with wheat beer and some chilled raspberry lambic instead of lemonade. Get our Raspberry Shandy recipe.
The Hop Over Radler
This recipe from Dutch Kills in Queens combines some unusual ingredients—falernum, genever, and orange flower water—with a hoppy IPA and lemon juice to create an extremely unusual radler. Get the The Hop Over Radler recipe.
Why let lemons and grapefruit have all the fun when you can mix beer with watermelon juice for a pink shandy? Get the Watermelon Shandy recipe.
Southern Peach Radler
The traditional radler is taken to the next level here and enhanced with peach brandy and fresh peaches as a garnish. You can make a big batch and scale these radlers easily for a party. Get the Southern Peach Radler recipe.
Pilsner is paired with mezcal and lemon along with bitters and some sugar to add sweetness in this enhanced summertime shandy. Get the Mezcal Shandy recipe.