Finally, a perfect Radler (and a Great Lager)

Perfect time for a raddler.
Perfect time for a radler.

As my long-time readers may recall, my wife is not a huge beer fan, but does like a radler (and cider) once in a while. As such, I’ve made it part of my life’s work to brew her the perfect radler, to be enjoyed on our summer camping trips and during the long summer evenings. And perfect for her is not as easy as copying a recipe off of the ‘net, as her tastes are not overly main-stream. She’s not a fan of ones which are sweet, and prefers ones made with real juice in place of fruit-flavoured soda.

Last year I got close, but not quite close enough – the juice character was almost there, but the radler was a little too “beery”. I also found the malt character to be a little too 1-dimensional and lacking complexity. So armed with this near-miss, and a few nights of trying various commercial radlers, I moved forward with a new plan…and I freakin’ nailed it!


The Base Beer

My microbrewer, brewin a radler
My microbrewer, helping brew his moms radler!

The base beer for this batch does not fit into any particular style; it is a hybrid of a helles lager and a wheat beer, with bitterness on the high-end for either style and a touch of late-hop character…I actually brewed an extra keg of the base beer as something to enjoy on its own, and I may have found a new summer standard as this has to be one of the more refreshing beers I’ve ever brewed.

Stats

  • OG: 1.048
  • FG: 1.012
  • IBU: 23
  • ABV: 5.0

Recipe

  • 43.2% Pilsner Malt
  • 43.2% Wheat Malt
  • 1.6% Rice Hulls
  • 12% Vienna Malt
  • 19.5 IBU Warrior, 90 min
  • 3.3 IBU (7g/40L) Warrior, 10 min
  • 1.5L starter of W34/70 yeast (frozen, from last year)

Mash, Brew & Ferment

  1. Mashed at 66.7C, 60 minutes
  2. Sparged to collect 40L of wort, pre-boil gravity of 1.042
  3. Boiled for 90 min, with hop additions at 90 min (14g/40L) and 10 min (7g/40L)
  4. Chilled to ~18C and pitched yeast, fermented as per my rapid/warm lager method.
  5. Kegged after 14 days
radler and helles
♫ Radler to the left of me, helles to the right…here I am, stuck drinking two beers ♬

Tasting Notes

Appearance: The picture above makes the helles look darker than it is; it is a light copper colour and pours with a thick white head that lasts for several minutes.

Aroma: Bready, malt and a slight spicy hop presence.

Flavour: A cross between a helles and an american wheat beer – a malt profile that has the bredyness of pilsner and the character of wheat. The vienna gives the beer a bit more malt “umph” than you’d expect, while still allowing the beer to finish fairly crisp & dry. Aftertaste is a lingering malt character with a touch of hop bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, but light enough for quaffing on hot summer days. Has higher carbonation, which helps lighten the feel. Is whetting and refreshing, but not thin.

Overall: Not the most expressive of beers, but makes for a great lawnmower beer. Refreshing, crisp, but with enough malt and hop character to keep non-BMC lovers happy.


The Radler

The radler was made from the base beer. The process was straight-forward; 4 cans of frozen juice concentrate was filtered through a colander to remove the pulp, and diluted to a final volume of 10 L in a keg, stabilisers were then added to the juice, and lastly 10L of beer siphoned into the keg. The keg was force carbonated, and served.

Recipe

  • 10L of base beer
  • 2.5 tsp potassium sorbate
  • 0.25 tsp potassium metabisulfate
  • 2 cans frozen, unsweetened grapefruit juice
  • 1 can frozen orange juice
  • 1 can frozen pink lemonaid
  • ~8L of deoxygenated (boiled) and cooled water

Preparation

  1. Thaw juice and filter through a fine colander lined with a jelly strainer to remove the pulp. Collect in a measuring cup. Note the final volume.
  2. Add the juice to the keg
  3. Rinse the measuring cup with 1L of deoxygenated water; dissolve the sorbate and metabifulfate into this solution, add to the keg.
  4. Continue to add deoxygenated water to the keg, until you have a final volume of 8 to 9L.
  5. Siphon base beer into keg until filled; purge the headspace then shake to mix.
  6. Force carbonate as per usual.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pale yellow and cloudy. Pours with  a course white head that lasts about a minute.

Aroma: Grapefruit, grapefruit and grapefruit. With a touch of bread in the background.

Flavour: Up front is a nice refreshing citrus flavour; mostly grapefruit, but more complex and with enough sweetness to keep it refreshing. The malt character is present, but plays second fiddle to the citrus. Aftertaste is the same lingering taste you get when eating a grapefruit, balanced with a bit of malt sweetness. The beer is carabonated very high (nearly 3 volumes); this lightens the body and adds a little more acid bite that makes the beer even more crisp and refreshing.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, light bodied, and refreshing.

Overall: An amazing radler; not too sweet, but highly refreshing. My wife, for whom I brewed this for, loves it. A great beer for a hot day, or after some physical labour…plus the low alcohol means you can quaff pint after pint and still keep a level head. My best radler ever…and better than most of the commercial examples we’ve tried.

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