Wednesday, 27 June 2018 14:29

Shandy: A summer dandy

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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In the beer business, some brands seem like almost a guaranteed hit. 

Make a solid New England IPA, put it in a 16-ounce can and package it in a four-pack, then crank up the hype machine and prepare for liftoff.

But when it comes to a beer-lemonade hybrid, there are no guarantees.

That’s why the success of Soft Parade Shandy even caught Short’s Brewing Co. partner Scott Newman-Bale by surprise.

“It is the most successful release we’ve ever done — by far,” Newman-Bale said.

The Bellaire- and Elk Rapids-based brewery first debuted Soft Parade Shandy last summer as a variation of its mainstay fruit beer, Soft Parade. The beer gained traction briefly and then just exploded when it hit the market in cans earlier this year, most notably in the 12-pack format.

“We sold more in five weeks than we intended to sell for the whole summer, or about four months,” Newman-Bale said. “We can’t even keep up. … These sales are insane.”

Our panel chose Soft Parade Shandy as the top beer in a blind tasting of five shandies, a sampling that we conducted alongside a mishmash that included a handful of goses and “miscellaneous” styles suitable for summer.

On the gose front, Green Zebra from Founders Brewing — a beer first brewed for ArtPrize 2017 — got our nod in a blind tasting. That’s despite some tasters swearing off the particular beer or watermelon flavoring in general — or both — before they knew the results. (Blind tastings are great equalizers that way.)

Driving our mixed-style tasting was an overall theme of beers to hydrate with on a hot summer’s day. And it seems we have plenty of good company among fellow beer drinkers across the state.

According to Newman-Bale, sales of lighter seasonals like Melt My Brain — a beer inspired by the gin and tonic cocktail — and Local’s Light American lager have been surging so far this year.

“Just in general, the lighter, super crushable beers are just flying (off the shelves),” he said




Soft Parade Shandy
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
4.2% ABV

Beautiful berry-like color with sweet red fruity aromas. It’s definitely on the sweet side, yet manages to taste super-refreshing.

Score: 62.4

Power of Love
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
2.5% ABV

Looks like a rosé, and features a berry nose. Flavor is tart and fruity, yet herbal thanks to a hint of rosemary on the finish.

Score: 61.8

Also tasted

Big Lake Shandy
Big Lake Brewing Co., Holland

Blueberry Lemonade Shandy
Saugatuck Brewing Co., Douglas

Skinny Dip
Farmhaus Cider Co., Hudsonville

(pronounced goes-uh)

Highly Recommended

Green Zebra
Founders Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
4.6% ABV

Looks like a hazy wheat beer, but the aromas quickly prove shocking. This is a watermelon BOMB, with a salty finish. It reminded some of Sour Patch Kids candy. Surprisingly, it works.

Score: 80.7


Passionfruit Gose
Perrin Brewing Co., Comstock Park
4.5% ABV

Pours hazy, with a nice head. Some sharp notes come through at first sniff, but the flavor is an inoffensive mix of fruity and salty, with a pleasing dry finish.

Score: 64.5

Cucumber Lime Gose
Arbor Brewing Co. 
4.4% ABV

Few beers have ever divided our tasters as much as this. Perhaps some just really dislike cucumber, which dominates this beer in aroma and flavor, where a hint of lime also comes through. Some liked it (hence its score), but a vocal minority described it as vomitous. Choose your own adventure.

Score: 65.7

FOR $600, ALEX


Bell’s Brewery Inc., Comstock

Hazy in appearance, this beer exhibited the characteristic estery notes befitting a Belgian-wheat hybrid. Fruit definitely sits in the background, forcing you to seek it out with your palate. Good if you prefer subtlety.

Score: 63

Also tasted

Black and Blue Berry Fruitsicle
Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven

Melt My Brain
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire

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