Strawberry Sunset Is Back!
Shandies. You love them, we love them. I mean, obviously we love them. After all, we’ve released eight different shandies, including our imperial versions, many of which have graduated to yearly staples!
This month is a good month for shandy fans. We currently have The Bog and The Grove out and about, as well as 4-packs left of That Cherry Lime Good Good, and two new releases this month: Strawberry Sunset this week and The Purp later this month!
When we visited HQ this week, Brad met us at the door. He and Warehouse Manager Mark Graves were having an intense huddle trying to figure out the name of an operatic song so that Brad could add it to the brewhouse playlist for something they’re cooking up next week.
They riffed on how else they could be festive while making this upcoming beer. “We could throw in some parmesan,” Brad joked. “I wonder how that would hold up.”
Mark cringed and laughed. “Not well.”
As faithful readers of this blog know, the brewhouse loves to make playlists to help inspire them for what they’re making for the day.
For today’s dive into the world of shandies, Lauren shared that, “shandies are great for us from a production standpoint. The recipe is very basic and is a perfect starting point for new yeast pitches.”
While many of our beers get the dry hopping treatment, which, as Lauren explains, comes with the extra step of harvesting yeast warm before we can dry hop, shandies offer a different method.
“With the shandies, we are able to crash our tanks (drop the temperature down to around 32 degrees) before we harvest. A decrease in temperature helps our yeast flocculate (drop out of suspension), and that makes for a better yeast harvest and better pitches downstream,” she says.
Way to Be a Good Neighbor, shandies! We’re all about variety, so it’s nice to shake things up in the brewhouse when summer rolls around and it’s time to roll out the shandies. If you got the chance to check out our Belgian Quad R.A.D. 022 in the Tasting Room last year, you might notice it’s reminiscent of our Boughs of Barley. That particular R.A.D. batch served as the base beer for our Boughs of Barley varieties, but with shandies, it’s a different story.
“Shandies are interesting because the base beer is nothing like the final product,” Lauren shares. “It can sometimes be difficult to imagine what the final product will taste like.”
“When we do a new shandy we probably do more tastings of it than any other beer to make sure the flavor is just right,” she says.
(Um, call us next time, maybe??)
“Brian and Matt have this whole scale-down calculator so they can do small scale benchtop trials to dial in the flavor,” she explains. “There’s a lot of back and forth discussion on whether the lemon is punchy enough or if the strawberry tastes like a fresh strawberry or more like strawberry jam.”
Brewer Brad Young is a fan, both for the ease of brewing, and the fruity punch these beers have.
“Shandies are a big part of what we do here. The shandy-izing takes place in the cellar, but we make the base beer on the brewhouse. The base beers for each shandy are all very similar,” he says.
That’s where the cellar comes in and turns this base into vastly different shandies, like the four pictured here.
“They’re all wheat-heavy based beers, and a shandy is traditionally a wheat beer. The cool backstory with our shandy The Bog is that it was an accident when it first happened,” he says.
For our newer readers, Brad is referring to November 2013, when too much cranberry was added to our annual cranberry wheat beer. Since the final product was too tart for what we had planned, we added lemonade radler-style and The Bog as you know and love it was born!
“Then it kind of exploded into what we do now. It gives us a fun little niche,” he says.
Our lab team and production team particularly enjoy when we make shandies.
“For us on the brewhouse side, they’re probably the easiest to brew. It runs through smooth, and we do it so much we’re all good at it at this point. If I see that on the schedule, I’m like cool, nothing’s going to be too crazy,” Brad shares, laughing.
“It’s such a clean beer throughout fermentation. There’s not a ton of hops in it, we can get a good yeast harvest off of it. These are a lower ABV, so they don’t stress the yeast out as much,” he says.
(Note to self: give yeast shandies when they are stressed.)
Like our first happy accident that resulted in The Bog, we’ve come a long way in refining and dialing in our shandy process. “We make such a good, clean, consistent product on the backend – which is tough to do when you’re adding so much fruit and other ingredients post-fermentation! It’s become a more concise process through-and-through, and that’s since James and Brandon started here. Since they took over, we put in these new processes to make everything more consistent and efficient as possible. We tweaked and dialed in the centrifuge to clean things up. It’s cool to see that change overtime from when I first started,” he says.
“I think what we do here really shines in the shandies. As far as the quality of our beer, I think it shows heavily in those. Even though they’re fruited, it’s still a straight-forward beer. There’s not a ton to hide behind. It’s cool,” Brad says.
It’s true. While shandies may seem relatively simple on the surface (sarcasm: how hard can combining sugar and fruit and hops be after all??), there’s a lot that has happened that set us up for creating the fantastic shandies we enjoy now.
Ok, so now that you’ve had your fill of some beer nerd/science-y stuff, let’s get to the fun part.
Brad mentioned that he loves to dress our shandies up.
(You mean, like . . . dolls?)
“I like to put tequila in them,” he says.
(Ohh that makes so much more sense now.)
“I’m not much of a beer cocktail guy, but these are so heavily fruited and sweet and delicious that you can crack open a can and turn any one of them into a margarita,” he shares.
His favorite combination right now is The Grove and Espolòn Reposado. Ready for your cocktail lesson from Brad? Write this down…
“I just take a tall glass, make a regular margarita with the Espolòn and the lime juice and everything and then top it with the grove and give it a little stir. I’ve done it with all of them. Except The Purp, since it’s not out yet. I mean, Strawberry Sunset, that would be great for that, because strawberry margaritas are a thing,” he says, laughing. “It’s worth it. Very worth it.”
You might be onto something here, Brad…
You heard him! Grab your 4-pack of Strawberry Sunset starting today, May 7th, and enjoy as is, or join us in creating a shandy-infused margarita. If cherry and lime flavors are more your speed, That Cherry Lime Good Good is also only available in the Tasting Room for a limited time. If they’re anything like the rest of the year so far, they’re sure to be here one moment and gone the next, so don’t miss out!
Also, keep an eye out next week when we chat with Brewer/Cellarperson Mike McGrath about The Purp and its upscaled production this year!