(Boston, MA) – The Boston Beer Company plans to debut a variation of a Shandy known as a Radler in May called Samuel Adams Porch Rocker. It will be available in six-packs on a limited basis through July.
Wikipedia tells us that a Shandy is a “beer mixed with citrus-flavored soda, carbonated lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale, or cider. The proportions of the two ingredients are adjusted to taste, normally half-and-half. There are also non-alcoholic shandies known as ‘rock shandies.’ A shandy containing beer and cider is called a Snakebite. […] A radler consists of a 50:50 or 60:40 mixture of beer and German-style lemonade (not American-style lemonade but sparkling lemon soda (e.g., Sprite or 7 Up)).”
While Cider has hogged headlines in recent weeks as a rising alternative to traditional malt beverages, Shandy is worth noting and Boston Beer is just the latest entrant into the mix.
So why Shandy? Why now?
Breweries are looking for ways to curb receding market share to wine and spirits with new products geared toward those that don’t like the taste of beer. For those that do and drink craft beer on a casual basis, Shandy might appeal. Casual craft beer drinkers and drinkers that cling to flagships (and safe seasonals) still drive more volume in the category than those who experiment. Though breweries are increasing activity with barrels and so on, that fringe crowd is massive and can’t be ignored. Shandy offers a trade-up opportunity for those danging between premiums like Bud Light and crafts, and can work as a gateway to trials of other brands in the portfolio.
And with the fourth warmest winter on record, who knows what kind of heat this summer will bring, something that will only help Shandy sales.
The top dog in the style is Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy with between 200k and 250k barrels sold last year, a growth rate of 80% over 2010 (per MillerCoors earnings calls). That kind of volume ranks Summer Shandy in with the country’s largest craft breweries, reason enough for Leinie’s to expand Summer Shandy availability this year and introduce a seasonal Shandy program beginning this fall.
Other top breweries in the better beer segment got cracking on competing brands after seeing those numbers, many of which will debut this year. The biggest competition comes from Anheuser-Busch which is currently rolling out Shock Top Lemon Shandy and plans to make it available through August. Other oncoming competitors include Labatt Shandy, Harp Lemon Shandy and Saranac Shandy Lager and Lemonade.
As for Boston Beer, Porch Rocker Radler will be just a small introduction this year with the company placing focus on the off-premise channel for the inaugural release. Porch Rocker is described as a “traditional Bavarian-style Radler,” a blend of German-style Helles lager and real lemon.