Monday, July 11, 2011

Potosi Steamboat Shandy

My love for shandy is well-documented, though, granted, largely in my comments regarding Brewery Creek in Mineral Point, WI. Well, today we review another Shandy, this one a brand new concoction from Steve Buszka (sorry if I butchered the spelling Steve!) and Potosi Brewery.

Let's talk a minute about Potosi. Last year I wrote a two-day profile of the Potosi Brewery and Museum in Potosi, WI. If you haven't been there, you should go; it's summer, what else do you have going on?

But, the best thing about Potosi Brewing Company is this: they could have very easily been content to re-open with a kitschy, paean to pre-Prohibition lagers and traded on some gerrymandered remembrance of so-called old timers. They could have beaten a dead brand into the ground.

But Potosi got something right that all of the other "revival brands" got wrong. It was never about the beer. People didn't drink Berghoff, Esser's, Fauerbach, Walters, or Augsberger because it was good beer. It was fine beer, but it wasn't anything that we would consider "good" beer today. These breweries weren't beloved because they made good beer (even though many of them made decent beer), they were beloved because they were part of the community and had a following and community attachment that these brands have not had in their "revivals". This is what Potosi has gotten absolutely right.

It also helps that they make really good beer. They have been on a roll this year trotting out a new Porter last fall, a new Oatmeal Stout last winter, and a phenomenal Czech Pilsner (seriously, one of the best in Wisconsin). And, today we review the new Steamboat Shandy, a blend of Good Old Potosi and Lemonade (Lemon and Cane Sugar).

Potosi Steamboat Shandy
BA (NA). RB(NA).
Appearance: highly carbonated and bright yellow with a quick, foamy head; it looks nice in the glass, though, really, who out there isn't just drinking this straight from the bottle?
Aroma: fresh squeezed lemon, a hint of sugar, and an earthy undertone that's a little bready that makes this definitely not lemonade
Flavor: the beer is definitely in the forefront of the flavor with a lemony astringency; the lack of the all-too familiar syrupy-ness typically associated with modern shandies (think Leinenkugels) is a pleasant turn; heck, there's even a slight grassy hoppiness in there that compliments the lemon
Body: light and refreshing; the carbonation keeps it even lighter
Drinkability: quite refreshing; grabbing one of these things on a ridiculously hot day is actually quite pleasant (and I don't, as a rule, even like to drink beer on hot days); at a barbecue or a party, this would be great beer to throw in the mix.
Summary: What makes this beer a great shandy is that it doesn't overdo the lemonade; the beer very clearly comes through with a definite clean home-made lemonade tartness to quench your thirst when the temps hit the mid-90s with 90% humidity (much like today. blech). Interestingly, although Wisconsin's brewing tradition is definitely German in origin, we haven't adopted the German naming convention for this lemon/beer mixture. The Germans call it a "Radler".

5 comments:

  1. ScottWalkerStinksJuly 11, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    A shandy must be an acquired taste. I thought it tasted like oversaturated lemonade that was much too cloying and I couldn't handle more than a few sips. I'll stick to a Lemonade - or - Snake Hollow Hollow or Fiddler's, both really good beers from Potosi.

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  2. While tasty, I don't consider this to be a true shandy. It's 5% ABV. This is a lemonade flavored beer, not a mix of beer and lemonade.

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  3. While not as good as Brewery Creek's Shandy, this blows away other products like um Sand Creek's Hard Lemonade, which is way too sweeeet...

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  4. Anon1: This is a great point and one of much consternation to myself. I LIKE that you can actually taste the beer in this, but it can be a disorienting experience - one that I think that Steve (the brewmaster) handled well.

    However, a Shandy (and Radler) are traditionally anywhere from 40-60% lemonade. This mix results in a much lower-ABV beverage (typically 3.5-4.5%). I heard that this mix is much closer to only about 5% lemon-juice with added cane sugar so the ABV doesn't dilute out as much and it is much closer to its original, undiluted, ABV.

    It is a tough line between beer and lemonade; much depends on the base beer and the base lemonade. Brewery Creek does a good job with it; Leinie's does not. Pretty much everything else falls between those somewhere.

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  5. That sounded high to me so I looked on the Net and asked a friend who lived in Germany for a while. The verdict is that a radler is more like 2.5% ABV on average. You're diluting a helles by 40-60% - a style of beer that is 5-5% ABV on the very high end.

    The whole point is to dilute the beer so that you A) have your thirst quenched and B) don't get drunk. Hence bottled/canned radlers are marketed bicyclers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

    German beer culture seems to be very different than American beer culture. Their beers are usually not as alcoholic as ours, i.e. - our craft beer. Notice how Capital Fest is 3.8%ABV. That's a summer/session beer. I can only imagine a German coming here and seeing 10% Belgian quads and other high octane fare being sold here in the summer months.

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