I think the first time I heard the word “shandy” was in reference to Leinenkugel. Certainly, that’s the first brand that comes to mind. The concept of mixing beer with a sweet soft-drink sounds pretty refreshing. It’s actually a tradition that goes back at least a century. It should be delicious.
But every time I try one, it’s merely okay. Leinenkugel and Curious Traveler are, to my taste, too sweet, and neither one has a particularly pleasing beer flavor. Also, the lemon tastes kind of like lemon candy instead of actual lemon. Sam Adams Porch Rocker goes the other way. It tastes like a lemony lager instead of a light and refreshing summer beer. And yet, I keep trying them, because the concept is a good one.
And so, with a hard-won skepticism, I purchased a six-pack of Narragansett’s offering, Del’s Shandy. I think the fact that it came in a tall, skinny 16oz. can is really what drew me in. Also, Narragansett is from Pawtucket, RI, so I can pretend I’m drinking Pawtucket Patriot.
Narragansett is an old and venerable brand in New England. The “Del’s” in the name refers to a brand of frozen lemonade, also from Rhode Island. So, more than a lemon candy flavor, this beer has a lemon Italian ice flavor, mixed with a well-established beer.
The verdict: This is the Platonic Ideal of the Shandy. You should all be drinking one now (assuming it’s hot where you are). Maybe it’s the higher quality lemon, but this beer really gets the beauty of the shandy. There’s a real lemony flavor, but the beer still tastes like beer. Overall, it’s delicious, in a summery way.
This beer is light (4.7% ABV), and it will evaporate rather quickly on you, so make sure you’re stocked up. Essentially, it’s an Arnold Palmer in beer form: a Beernold Palmer, if you will. Put a cup holder on your mower. Give the can a place of prominence next to your grill. Sit on your front stoop and listen to the crickets. Whatever makes you happy in the summer, make it a little happier with Narragansett Del’s Shandy.