Today it's a beautiful spring day in Southern California. The skies are blue, without a hint of the typical June gloom, and we just got home from a friend's PsyD graduation party where we sat in the backyard, ate some great food and enjoyed the sun. I can't think of a better context to be writing about two fruit beers I just discovered that will be perfect for summer.
The first beer comes from a category most readers won't be familiar with. It's called "radler." Radler is a German word meaning "cyclists," and traditionally refers to a 1:1 mixture of beer and sparkling lemonade. Legend has it that a German innkeeper who regularly supplied beer to passing cyclists (that's my kind of cycling!) realized in a panic that he was going to run out of beer on a particular busy day, and began mixing his remaining beer with lemonade. If this story isn't true, it's just as plausible that cyclists who wanted a slight buzz, but still wanted to be sober enough to continue their ride, invented the drink. Radler is more popular in Europe than the U.S., and is a subcategory of "shandy" (beer mixed with any soft drink).
The radler I tasted is sold at Trader Joe's under the JosephsBrau imprint. JosephsBrau is brewed by Gordon-Biersch, a brewery in San Jose, California founded in 1997 that also has a chain of affiliated brewpubs. JosephsBrau Radler is a refreshing mix of beer and lemon juice that has me coming back for more every time I crack open a bottle. Not because of its nuance or complexity, but because of its down-to-earth lemony sweetness. In fact, it reminds me of the lemonade served at the graduation party I was at today; one is never enough, but two might leave you feeling like you've had too much.
For the second beer, we're moving from lemons to huckleberries. UFO Huckleberrry Hefeweizen is exactly what it sounds like: a big, bold hefeweizen flavored with refreshing huckleberries (as one reviewer wrote: "What does a huckleberry taste like? A blueberry. But better"). UFO is made up of two east coast breweries, one in Boston, and one in Windsor, Vermont. They focus on wheat beers, often mixed with northern berries like huckleberries and raspberries. This is my first sighting of a UFO (ha!) beer, but I'm interested in trying the other beers they have to offer.
JosephsBrau Radler: Can be summarized in two words- Lemonade Beer. Delicious, refreshing.
UFO Huckleberry: Fruity and wheaty. If you like blueberry syrup on your pancakes, you'll like this.