Ah, the shandy. It's a summertime staple, one that is usually mixed at serving. See, a shandy is beer mixed with a soft drink, usually a carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, or ginger ale, with fruit juices being an acceptable secondary choice.
The shandy was first embraced in 19th-century England. According to NPR, the drink was originally a mixture of champagne and ale known as "Rich Man's Shandy Gaff," with those who could not afford champagne substituting ginger beer or lemonade.
As cited by beer historian Martyn Cornell, an 1866 British parliamentary report on the mortality of troops in China noted with approval, "Soldiers drank a great deal of iced ginger beer with porter or ale mixed with it, and at the time, there was very little drunkenness among the men."
Today, the shandy carries on its tradition as a refreshing, lower-strength alcoholic beverage that satiates thirst and provides just a hint of buzz.
There are quite a few commercial examples, most notably in the range of flavors in Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, Jack-O Traveler Shandy by Traveler Beer Company, UFO Big Squeeze Shandy from Harpoon Brewery, and Widmer Brother's Hefe Shandy. Closer to home, Cigar City Brewing produced a Florida Weisse Shandy brewed with lemon and grapefruit zest called 'Lectric Lemon, and Barley Mow Brewing Company in Largo produces the shandy we will be discussing today, Calliope.
Calliope begins as a wheat beer made with organic cherries and Florida lemon juice. According to the can, it is named after "the legendary woodland fairy who feeds off the blood of unicorns." It pours brightly out of the can with a slight pinkishness to it but an overall yellow-hued color.
There's a big white cap of foam that lingers and only slowly dissipates. Aromas are sweet with hints of fruit, almost like candy. The flavor is crisp up front with some dominating lemonade flavors, and it
finally finishes with a bit of semi-dry cracker character.
I was able to find Calliope in cans at my local big box beer and wine store. This is the final month for this seasonal release, so get it while you can.
Barley Mow Brewing Company. 518 W. Bay Dr., Largo; 727-584-7772; barleymowbrewingco.com.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger dedicated to educating the public about all things beer, with a focus on Florida brews. He is the Brand Marketing Manager for Due South Brewing Company and has been a homebrewer since 2009. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.