On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast,” hosts Adam Teeter, Joanna Sciarrino, and Zach Geballe look back on the shandy movement and discuss whether they think the category can return amid the popularity of hard seltzers. Most commonly made from beer and lemonade, does the difficulty of packaging this product limit the drink?
For this Friday’s tasting, your hosts try the Red, White, and Blueberry Lemonade Naturdays from Natural Light. Can these new shandies on the market compete with the hard seltzer category this summer? Tune in to learn more.
Or Check Out the Conversation Here
Adam Teeter: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Adam Teeter.
Joanna Sciarrino: And I’m Joanna Sciarrino.
Zach Geballe: In Seattle Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.
A: And it’s the Friday “VinePair Podcast.” What up, good people?
A: Grand risings.
Z: That is a reference I do not get.
J: No. What is it from?
A: There is a really nice person in the beverage industry, I will not name his name, but every time he e-mails me, he says, “Grand risings, Adam.” I love it as a salutation. I don’t really understand what it means. Grand rise is like, let’s rise. But I kind of dig it. So grand risings, and how’s everybody doing? Are you doing well?
Z: I feel like we haven’t talked about this on the show in a while and I’m now immediately curious. Adam. What are you watching?
A: Oh, what am I watching?
Z: Do you watch in the summer, or is summer not TV time for you?
A: I watch sometimes.
J: What? It’s like summer vacation when you take off from school and you don’t watch TV? We work every day.
A: I have a reading list to get through. I got my Bookit here to go. I’m going to get my free pizza. I love Bookit. So on my own, because Naomi was not into it, I have been watching “We Own This City.”
J: We just finished it.
A: I have two more episodes to go. Is it amazing?
Z: This is like “The Wire,” kind of?
J: It’s really intense.
A: So depressing.
J: Yeah, it’s really depressing.
A: Yes. David Simon went back to Baltimore to deal with the police corruption. Of course, every single review you read about it is like, “It’s an amazing show. Just really sad that literally, nothing has changed in that city since he wrote ‘The Wire’ 20 years ago.” It’s just the same. And then Naomi and I are watching “Stranger Things.”
J: Oh, we haven’t watched it yet.
A: It’s fun. I get that there are people that have issues with it this season, like why they keep going. The kids are so much older. The actors are a lot older-looking, but it’s fun. It’s just a fun show. I will finish it and I’ll be like, “That was great.” We’ve already talked about this, but I think the best show I watched in the last few months was “Hacks,” and it just got renewed.
J: I haven’t seen the latest season, but the first one was awesome.
A: Yeah, the second one’s even better. It’s very well done. And I’m very happy to hear that it’s renewed because it has an ending in the second season that you’re unsure what’s going to happen. Right when it ended, it hadn’t been renewed. So people were like, “Don’t do this to us.” Yeah, but it’s really good. It’s really good. What about you guys? What are you guys watching?
J: A few weekends ago, Evan and I watched this show called “K-Food Show: A Nation of Broth.” It’s this Korean food show. It’s incredible.
A: On what?
J: On Netflix. It’s on Netflix now. I don’t know if it’s older than that, but it’s awesome. It’s these three Korean actors, and they go around the country trying different regional broth-based soups. It’s really amazing. It’s so cool.
Z: I’m just struck by the fact that there was apparently a time when the most popular show somewhere in Scandinavia, maybe Finland, was all about stacking wood to build fires. And you would just watch this guy build fires for hours. This has a little bit of that vibe to me.
J: Was it “New Scan Cooking?” Because I loved that show. I was a big fan. No, we just saw it and we were like, “Oh, man, this looks so good.” I highly recommend it. I mean, there’s a lot of butchery and things like that. So maybe not great for Naomi. But it’s such a wonderful show. I highly recommend it.
A: I’m telling you, man, this is why Josh has this massive prediction that he thinks one of the biggest spirits in the next 10 years in the U.S. can be soju. Because we’ve had this slow trickling of Korean pop culture coming into this country in many, many forms. And obviously, the Korean American population is growing. It just feels like that could be a big spirit very soon.
J: I mean, it’s massive around the world, right?
Z: I thought you were gonna talk about broth cocktails. I thought we were going there.
J: Oh, those are happening, too, though.
A: What about you, Zach? What are you watching?
Z: The thing that I watched with Caitlin relatively recently is “Human Resources,” which is the spinoff of “Big Mouth” from Netflix.
A: Oh yeah.
Z: We had a hot take that we actually like it better than “Big Mouth,” honestly. There’s a thing about “Big Mouth” where it’s maybe just gotten to a point where they’ve done what they can do with the characters. Yeah, they have more coming in. We’ll probably see it, but you run into this issue sometimes with shows about kids or teenagers. OK, how much drama can really happen to them without it feeling kind of preposterous? This show’s already pretty preposterous, but adults can get themselves into all kinds of ridiculous situations that teenagers may not be able to quite manage yet. And then the thing I’m watching on my own is, I got tipped off to a show that I’m surprised I wasn’t aware of before, which is called “The Expanse.” It’s a sci-fi show that started in 2015 or 2016. It just wrapped up its six-season run recently, so I’m just now getting into it. But it’s got two elements that I love. One is your sci-fi noir detective storyline, which I’m always a sucker for. And then also your mysterious weapon of incredible power storyline, both of which I kind of enjoy. So yeah, it’s cool. It’s got a little “Firefly” vibes with some space detritus deal and also some high-tech stuff. It’s fun.
J: Very cool. One other thing that we’ve been watching is “The Boys.” Do you guys watch that?
Z: I watched the first season and I have the second and third on my radar, but just kind of didn’t get to it yet.
J: It’s like an anti-superhero, superhero show. It’s really good. It’s pretty whacked out and inappropriate, but really, really great.
A: Oh, that’s so good. So we all know it’s summer. It’s Friday in the summer. Before we started recording, we were talking about how my father-in-law every summer drinks a Blue Moon with an orange slice. That’s what he wants. Josh was saying he has a Tommy’s Margarita to kick off the season. Do you guys have a thing? Have you ever had a thing? Did you ever have a summer where it was your summer drink? As we’ve discussed, you can’t say rosé, unless you’re a Whispering Angel person and that’s all you drank. Have you ever had like a summer thing?
Z: I had a sangria phase for sure.
A: Wow, cool. Josh did, too.
J: Interesting. Would you just make up your first big batch of the season?
Z: I always liked white sangria better than red sangria. So as soon as the farmers markets here started having stone fruits and berries and stuff, there were definitely summers where I basically had a sangria solera in my fridge. It was just constantly getting replenished. I had a couple of sangria summers for sure.
J: OK. I don’t think I ever did. I know rosé doesn’t count. I think before VinePair, I wouldn’t drink rosé until it was actually summer or warm out. And now we drink it so much earlier here or all year round. But I don’t think I ever did. What about you, Adam?
A: Besides rosé, I never really had an Aperol Spritz phase. I like the Aperol Spritz, but it’s always been a very hard thing for me. I know that it had a huge moment where everyone was drinking it. My issue with it was that it was hard to always have the ingredients to make it at home. To always know that I had a bottle of sparkling wine and a bottle of sparkling water.
J: There are three ingredients.
A: Then I open the sparkling wine and what if I only have one or two glasses and then I’m not gonna have it until the next weekend or whatever. And then the sparkling wine is flat. I like to order it out. I guess the first Covid summer, I had a Daiquiri summer.
Z: I remember this.
A: I had a ton of Daiquiris.
J: Zach remembers.
A: That was the closest thing I had to a summer phase. A phase that a lot of people have or used to have is shandies. And I’m curious, I feel like we don’t hear about shandies that much anymore. Why do you both think that is?
J: Well, for the record, I think shandies are still out there and people still drink them and they have their summer of shandies. I think probably because of hard seltzer, but also IPAs and hazy IPAs and fruit sours also factor heavily into why those forerunners are probably less popular now.
Z: I think Joanna hit it; that category came under pressure from two sides. If you were the beer person and the beer was the part that you liked and you just wanted something a little fruitier and maybe a little lighter in the summer, then you were going to gravitate towards fruited sours. If you were like, “I like carbonated fruit alcohol drinks, “you probably got swept up in the summer of White Claw or whatever. That was probably more your vibe anyhow. And the problem for a lot of these shandies and stuff like that is, I don’t know if they can compete in either camp super strong. If you’re a beer aficionado and a diehard, you’re probably already looking down your nose at a shandy. And if you’re someone who considers calorie count, a shandy is going to come in a lot higher than most hard seltzers.
A: I was never a shandy drinker.
J: Is it a Midwest thing? I feel like I only know friends from the Midwest who really love shandies.
A: I wasn’t aware of them until they had, seven or eight summers ago, they had their push with Leinenkugel’s. I’d never heard of them before.
Z: Which is a Wisconsin brand, to Joanna’s point.
J: Oh, OK.
A: Obviously, your wife is from Wisconsin.
Z: I have been to the Leinenkugel’s brewery.
A: Were they big out West?
Z: What’s interesting is there were definitely a couple of breweries out here that were pushing shandies. Where I first encountered them was actually in restaurants. They had this period of time among staff, I would say about a decade ago, where the drink after work at the bar was a shandy.
J: Like a homemade shandy?
Z: Yeah, like a light beer and lemonade. It’s hot out, you finished work, and you’re probably sweaty or a little dehydrated. The beer and the lemonade are both good at rehydrating you and getting you some electrolytes and things like that. But also, you could have a few of them because you’re cutting it with lemonade. It’s actually half the booze, or maybe not going half, three-quarters, or one-quarter or something. But you’re still getting a similar volume but a little less alcohol. And I think that’s where they’re at their best, as a refreshing lower ABV. Again, 3 to 4 percent, something that’s very sessionable. But I think that the problem is, as we’ve talked about in other ways on this podcast, it’s a product that when it’s done right and when it’s made from scratch or you’re not really getting a prepackaged version, it can be delicious. But the problem is, to make it work in a packaged format, the lemonade component always suffers. I feel like it just isn’t very good. So now you’re ending up with this drink that’s either not hard enough and not refreshing, or just a flabby, uninteresting drink that is not beer. It’s not crisp and refreshing because it’s got something sweet added to it. Nor is it refreshing and acidic and bracing in the way that a good lemonade or lemonade-based shandy could be. So that, to me, has always been the issue with them as a packaged product.
J: But isn’t it interesting, this lemonade trend we’ve been seeing the last couple of years? Aren’t these lemonade line extensions just shandies by another name?
A: I think so. What we’re seeing and what’s really popular in the U.S. is lemonade, alcoholic lemonade. We’ve seen this in our data set for years that people really love lemonade and alcoholic lemonade. Cocktails could learn from this, too, right? How do you do that lemon-forward style? An alcoholic Arnold Palmer would crush.
Z: You mean the John Daly?
A: Yeah, I love a John Daly. But someone who creates their own brand, almost someone who makes a bottled RTD John Daly, I bet that would crush.
Z: I mean, John Daly probably could use the money.
A: I’m sure he could. If you make an alcoholic John Daly in RTD form, send it to us. But I also do wonder if part of the issue is what we’ve always said about acid when it comes to canning. It’s really hard to do well because everyone I talked to who makes RTDs, etc., and uses acid, says it’s a very fine line you walk between the level of acidity and the corrosion inside the can. Which is crazy. It starts eating the lining, which you don’t want, and if you get the acid right, there’s only 90 days or something where it actually tastes really good with the fresh juice. And after that, it starts to get really bitter and sour and not bright, refreshing acidity. It’s more like sour, gross acidity. And you don’t want that, either. I think it’s really hard to pull off. Whereas around the world where they make radlers, shandies, etc., as you said, Zach, they’re used to fresh lemonade and a beer. We’re going to go half and half in the glass, enjoy. And that’s why people love them. It’s harder to pull off. Whereas with the seltzer, it’s like, watermelon flavor — this is good. People don’t care as much about it, does this taste like beer with lemonade?
Z: Well, it is the double-edged sword of everyone’s incredible familiarity with what lemonade tastes like. It’s an incredibly sellable concept and sellable flavor, but it’s also extremely recognizable to people. We have not tried, or at least I have not tried, have you guys tried the Simply Spiked Lemonade?
J: No, it’s upstairs.
A: It’s upstairs in the fridge.
J: Yes, it is.
Z: For a future episode, we’ll do that because I’m fascinated to see if that has a believable lemonade flavor. I would imagine it kind of has to be a product they put their name on. But I don’t know.
A: Yeah, I’m so curious. I don’t know if the shandy is ever going to come back in a big way anymore, but we have a brand that’s at least trying to bring the shandy back sitting here in front of us. Joanna, do you want to tell us what we have in front of us?
J: So we have some Natural Light Naturdays Red, White, and Blueberry Lemonade Beer. It’s a light beer with natural flavor.
J: A light lager with natural flavors.
A: Are you guys a Natty Light drinker? There is a sh*tload of flamingos. I mean, it looks like what I think Floridians think America looks like.
Z: What do Americans think Florida looks like? I don’t know, I’m confused.
A: I think both. You need a gator coming out of the water, and we’re good to go. First of all, were either of you Natural Light drinkers ever?
J: In high school? Yeah, in college.
A: Come on, drink responsibly.
J: I wouldn’t ever buy it. But if it was there…
A: I can’t remember the last time I had Natural Light. Oh, my gosh. Do you know what this smells like? It smells like the blueberry lemon from a Bomb Pop.
J: Oh, yeah. The rocket?
A: The red, white, and blue rocket pop.
Z: Oh, yes.
A: That’s what it smells like. The second you smell it is that blue lemonade, raspberry, whatever.
Z: Are you hearing the ice cream truck music in your head right now?
A: Oh, dude, there’s one that parks outside of my apartment because we’re by the park. Every evening, and then Saturday and Sunday, all day long.
Z: Is it Mister Softee?
A: It’s not a Mister Softee.
Z: I miss Mister Softee. That was a New York classic.
A: This one’s called Brooklyn Ice Cream. Not only does it have music, but then there’s clapping and “yays.” And then it plays the music and you’re just like, “ugh.” And I get it, man. But people know you’re there. They can see you. You don’t need the music. You’re parked. OK, so it smells pretty good.
Z: Let’s try it. I have to say this. It is subtler than I thought it would be.
J: Yeah. It’s not as sweet as I thought it would be.
Z: It’s not as in my face. Given the can, I was expecting to get kicked in the teeth with blueberry lemonade flavor. It’s more just a gentle tap.
J: It’s got that perfume-y flavored aftertaste to it, but it’s not overwhelmingly bitter or anything. It does still channel the Natty Light.
A: It has that rocket Bomb Pop flavor. And you know what else? It doesn’t have the aspartame aftertaste that seltzer has.
J: Because it’s not that sweet.
A: No, and it’s not trying.
Z: I actually think it’s pretty good.
A: Yeah, it’s not bad.
Z: I will be honest. They sent me 12, and I originally thought I would drink two of the 12, but I might actually drink a couple of these over the course of the summer. I don’t think it’s impossible to imagine that.
A: This is what my dad would call a lawn mowing beer for a really hot day. They did the flavor really well.
Z: It’s 4.2 percent alcohol, 133 calories. That’s not too bad.
A: No, no, come on. It’s a light beer. What do you want from it?
J: And you can still bro out with this, you know?
A: Yeah. All you need is — what are the bros wearing now? Jumpsuits.
A: Wasn’t there a whole movement with rompers? Like the romper shorts, hanging out. Yeah, man.
J: Like overalls?
A: Like shorts.
J: A traditional romper.
Z: The kind my daughter wears.
A: Yeah, after P90X, or what is the other thing? I think it’s P90X.
J: Is it a workout thing? CrossFit.
J: Just crush a few Naturdays.
A: And they just crush it on your forehead, and it’s the best. I mean, I’m making fun of it too much. It’s actually pretty good.
J: Yeah. Good job, Natty Light.
A: Do you think that they’re offended if you call them Natural? You’re mad at them when you call them Natural Light; they know they’ve done something wrong.
J: Formal name.
Z: They need a middle name just so I can go pull that on them.
A: Oh, Natural Light, what did you do today? Yeah. Pretty cool. Obviously, we’re having too much fun.
Z: It’s a Friday. What do people want?
A: But I’m telling you, if someone brought this to my house or to a picnic, I would have one.
J: Good to know.
A: Don’t you dare…
Z: At a pool party?
A: Yeah. And with that, I encourage all of you to go out and try a Naturday. Joanna and Zach, I’ll talk to you on Monday.
J: Have a great weekend.
Z: Sounds great.
Thanks so much for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” If you love this show as much as we love making it, please leave us a rating or review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it is you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show.
Now for the credits. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York City and Seattle, Washington, by myself and Zach Geballe, who does all the editing and loves to get the credit. Also, I would love to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for helping make all of this possible, and also to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who is additionally a producer on the show. I also want to, of course, thank every other member of the VinePair team, who are instrumental in all of the ideas that go into making the show every week. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again.
Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.