Amstel Radler

Review: Amstel Radler

In Beer Reviews by Karl

Amstel says:


This beer doesn’t exist on the actual Amstel page nor the Heineken page, which is the parent company of Amstel.

Amstel Radler

Therefore, we’re just going to quote some Dutch we found on a similar page:

Amstel Radler is een verfrissende mix van Amstel bier en sprankelend citroenwater. Met maar 2% alcohol is het een licht bier en makkelijk te drinken. De combinatie van zuiver sprankelend citroenwater en Amstel bier maakt Amstel Radler een uitstekend alternatief voor die momenten dat extra verfrissing gezocht wordt.

De vergelijking met bier voorzien van een citroensmaakje ligt misschien voor de hand, maar wie ooit Amstel Radler heeft geproefd weet dat het verschil groot is. Dat verschil komt mede door de natuurlijke samenstelling van de mix. Amstel Radler is sinds maart 2013 in de Nederlandse supermarkt te koop. In de loop van april 2013 schenkt ook de horeca dit bier. Lees hier meer over de introductie van Amstel Radler.

Dat Amstel Radler een verfrissend biertje moet zijn, blijkt ook wel uit de eerste commercial van Amstel Radler. Een paar vrienden fietsen op mountainbikes in de bergen en op het terras onderaan de berg bestellen ze een Amstel Rader. Lekker verfrissend!

So, yeah. What they said. The Amstel Light site has a bunch of photos tagged #totallyradler for some reason that the Social Media Marketing office thought was worthwhile, though.


If I were to think of a beer that wouldn’t work well with lemon juice or soda poured into it, Amstel would be right up there. Newcastle would be another one, and then things like Bourbon County and Darkness and so on; obvious choices. So when we got an email offering up a few bottles of the new Amstel Radler to try out, we said yes, if only to see how odd the pairing would be.

It’s here that we say:

This beer was provided gratis from the brewery for the purpose of a review. 

Even though Amstel in the states basically starts and stops with Amstel Light as an option, the brewery has been around since 1870 and still produces Amstel Lager, but mostly the Heineken company uses the brand to pump out a light  beer that less and less people seem to be buying (part of the now infamous 9 Beers Americans No Longer Drink post from 24/7 Wall Street).

It’s unclear to me why they chose Amstel as their beer of choice to enter the radler game — Heineken seems like a much more natural fit flavorwise as a base, with the sharpness of the lager (“naturally skunked!”) pairing well with the sharpness of a citrus juice or soda.

Instead, tacking “Radler” onto the end of “Amstel” seems more like an attempt to pump up a sagging brand with a new trend, in the hopes that people (like me!) will talk about them again. In that effort, I say, Mission Accomplished. And I would like to point out that I’m not completely opposed to the idea of this being a successful product — I found the Stella Cidre to be quite decent, in spite of the fact that it was a cider pumped out by a beer company.

Should you think that the two should never mix, I’ll point out that STL’s second most sacred craft brewery, Urban Chestnut, just released a cider of their own.

So: Now that we’ve shown that it can be done and has been done, let’s talk about this, which didn’t do it.

Amstel Radler

It looks pretty, at least.

The happiest part of this drink is in the first half-second, where you get a bright, clean, clear sweet lemon liquid. After that, it’s a bit downhill. Hazy, dull and if you’re looking for the crisp bite of a European lager you’re to be sadly disappointed. There’s just no beer here; certainly not enough in any strength to stand up on its own. It’s not shandy enough to be shandy, it’s not radler enough to be radler, it’s just kinda low-tension lemonade. Mikael’s Haard Lemonade.

The rush of thick sweetness comes rushing after the lemon onslaught, covering and stickying up the nice light flavors on the front, leaving you with a palate sopped with weighty, papery, musty no-fun-ness.

Whatever beer is inside here hides so completely that it’s next to impossible to suss out; the whole point of a radler to me is Beer Plus Citrus in shared parts, not Citrus Covering Everything Up Entirely. I can drink a few millilitres of lemon drop shots if I want to accomplish a tiny lemon-sugar flavored buzz on a Saturday afternoon. Even Leinie’s Summer Shandy, the king of the category, balances their brew out with a clean, crisp and attenuated lagery finish that lets you know you are definitely not slamming one of those Zima-y bottles of Absolut whatever.

Is it refreshing? Sure, these are plenty crushable on a hot afternoon. Is it inoffensive? Yeah, it doesn’t make me mad or anything. On those counts, this is a hit.

Overall (you’ll please forgive me for paraphrasing Howard Roark), I won’t think of this poorly — I just won’t think of it. If you have the option of another radler or a shandy, think of taking the alternative.

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About the Author


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Karl has written about food, travel and beer for Chicago Magazine, Draft Magazine, Thrillist, Time Out Chicago and more. His book, Beer Lovers Chicago, comes out in early 2017, and if you're buying, he's likely having a porter or a pale ale.