And yes, I made the obvious pun.
This past weekend I attended the inaugural Portland Radler Festival, AKA “Portland’s Most Refreshing Beer Festival,” organized by StormBreaker Brewing. There was a healthy spread of breweries offering Radlers, a fun and laid back atmosphere, and a lot of love for the beverage under the big tent.
So what is a Radler? I wondered that too at first, but after doing a little research I came to realize I’ve known the Radler by its British equivalent—the Shandy. I first encountered the Shandy at the Bohemian Beer Garden in my old Astoria neighborhood, where a friend of a friend from Germany ordered a combination of beer and lemon soda (it was probably Pilsner Urquel and Sprite). I had never encountered such a thing before that, but I remember really liking it.
It must have stuck with me because there was one summer where I made a lot of what I called “beer cocktails”—basically, Corona and Limeade. Then Schofferhofer came on the market—a mix of Hefeweizen beer and grapefruit juice that I fell in love with. And then at the recent Brewers Fest, it turns out I was drawn especially to beer that had fruit and citrusy flavors in it. The Radler is now one of my favorite beverages to drink.
For the Portland Radler Festival we were blessed with good weather—sunny and warm without being strangled by the heat. Tickets were $20 at the door, which got you a festival mug and eight tickets. And each ticket got you a 4oz tasting serving, which was plenty for me; four tickets gave you a full mug.
The participating breweries were StormBreaker, Baerlic, Great Notion, Montavilla, Coalition, Breakside, Pono Brewing, Base Camp
Wild Ride, Gigantic, Oregon Mead and Cider, Reverend Nat’s, Hi Five Cider, Culmination, 54 40, Stiegl, Ross Island, Hopworks, Widmer, Commons. Because of a number of extenuating circumstances, I limited my intake to five different Radlers. They were (with the brewery’s description):
- Base Camp’s FPGD—The FPGD, or Fuzzy Pink Guava Drink, is perfect for today!
- Coaliton’s Cerveza Paloma—A toast to summer and sunshine in a glass. Jacobson sea salt, lime zest, lime juice and grapefruit soda showcase refreshing flavors and aromatics reminiscent of lounging by the sea.
- Gigantic’s Gigantic & Juice—Gigantic IPA with citruses added including tangerine, pineapple and grapefruit juice! So refreshing. Enjoy!
- Montavilla’s Blood Orange ConCurrantly—Blend of Blood Orange American Hefe and Black Currant Cider. Bit juicy and tart notes from the cider, smooth drinkable body from wheat base that finishes tart and snappy from the pure addition.
- Widmer’s Mango Built For Two—A light and refreshing Mosaic Pale Ale was mashed up with Mango soda to bring you twice the mango flavor! Get on this tandem with flavors of black tea and mango and ride it to refreshing town!
They were all pretty tasty but my favorite was the Cerveza Paloma. It was just a tad sweeter than the others, but above all the juiciness of the fruit was prominent. I also liked the salt, which helped balance things out. It was a lot of fun to drink.
The Cerveza Paloma with a foamy head on it.
The most unusual to me was the Mango Built For Two (it was also my favorite Radler name). I loved the mango flavor and could have used even more! But it was nicely fruity and the slight bitterness of the black tea added a really delightful element. I think it would be especially good with highly spiced food.
The crowd was happy and enthusiastic, and the people serving the Radlers were cheery and good natured. It was a pleasure to be there.
Since this was the first year they held the festival, it was important that they got a good turnout. According to the StormBreaker Brewing Facebook page, the Radler Festival was a big success, and for that I’m glad. I look forward to the second annual Portland Radler Festival next year. Congrats to all the organizers and staff for producing such a quality event!
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