For the past couple years, I’ve been a bigger fan of Leinenkugel’s summer offerings than their other year-round productions. For a long time, the only thing I could get other than M-B-C macros on draft while visiting family in Clare, Michigan was a lonely keg of Leinie’s Sunset Wheat. For a beer that tastes like Fruity Pebbles, it ain’t bad. Thus, it holds a sentimental place in my heart, tho I’ve moved on to other Leinie’s libations.
This changed when they introduced their Summer Shandy, which instantly took the place of the Sunset Wheat as semi-major-brewery fruit beer of choice when necessary. When I knew I was going to be hanging out in the out of doors drinking in the sun, I happily deferred to the Shandy as a quality session brew when I could find it. However, despite the brewery calling it the perfect Summer Refresher, there was always something a little sticky, a little cloying about the flavors coming out of the dark brown bottle with the shockingly bright yellow label.
All this changed when Leinie’s decided that what the Shandy really needed was an introduction to the canned-beer market. Fishermen rejoiced, as did I – because this is a happy instance where this canned beer is better than the bottled brew.
I’d have an actual image of us drinking shandys but they went down just a little too fast, resulting in forgetting the camera and I was teaching 3 people archery basics anyways. I am a terrible rangemaster but at least I’m a better beer buyer.
So with that, if you can find yourself a 12′er of Shandy Cans (a beer whose name I imagine being beloved by the late lamented Vegas performer Danny Gans) this holiday weekend, and a few hours camped out in a lawn chair with a baseball game on the radio, please do yourself a favor and give it a shot.
Why, you ask? Because it is exactly that which is disdained in other beers that makes the Shandy Can so quality: its excessive watery-ness. The mouthsmacking film that the bottled Shandy retained has been neutralized leaving nothing but a refreshing, thirst-quenching and light-drinking beer with tarter lemon flavor, fresher honey taste and the weiss beer base beneath. It just works.
Not to mention that you can get the aluminum can screamingly, headache-inducingly cold. Perfect for those 80+ degree afternoons. (Note: Always enjoy afternoon beers responsibly. I always ensure that I have everything I need for the rest of the night before starting afternoon beers, or at least have a good pizza place on speed dial.)
Could I make my own shandy with a better weiss beer and some lemonade? Sure. But I usually don’t want to. Could I find a better fruit beer while north of the Cheddar Curtain? Based on all our coverage of New Glarus, the answer is an overwhelming yes. Is Leinie’s Summer Shandy in cans still going to have a hallowed place as part of our Memorial Day weekend celebrations? You bet it will.