As much as we love the big, rich ales and stouts of winter, sometimes we crave a little palate relief. So when we received samples of a new line of radlers from Owl’s Brew, we were pretty stoked for the excuse to drink something lighter and more refreshing.
Radlers reportedly trace their origin to a small Bavarian town outside Munich, Germany. In 1922, an innkeeper there is said to have been inundated with a horde of thirsty cyclists. With his beer supply running low, he began cutting each pour with fizzy lemonade. He called the concoction a radlermass (or “cyclist liter”), explaining to his guests that its lower ABV would keep them from falling off their bicycles on the trip home.
Owl’s Brew Radlers, from the makers of the tea-based cocktail mixers of the same name, are the first standalone line of radlers on the U.S. market. Jennie Ripps and Maria Littlefield, founder/CEO and president of Owl’s Brew, respectively, made a foray into the beer industry after realizing how well their different tea mixers paired not just with spirits but also with wheat beers, amber ales, and stouts. The company’s four inaugural flavors include:
A wheat beer blended with English breakfast tea and lemon peel. It’s sweet, tart and citrus heavy, seemingly in homage to the lemonade of the original radler. Tea is present in the aroma but subtle in the flavor profile. One taster described it as “a lemon bomb,” which renders it ideal for warm days mowing the lawn or lounging on sunny boat deck.
(That’s My) Jam
The most tea-forward of the bunch. It’s an amber ale blended with darjeeling, hibiscus, and strawberry, which amounts to a musky, earthy aftertaste pleasantly reminiscent, paradoxically, of winter squash. It’s sweet and jammy, as its name suggests.
Short and Stout
A chocolate stout base blended with masala chai, pineapple juice, and coconut water. Notes of cocoa nibs, nutmeg, and clove are fully present, making it the most winter-friendly of the bunch. At 5% ABV, it is also the most boozy. It reminded our tasters of Thanksgiving.
We didn’t get to try this one (it won’t be released until March 1), but Owl’s Brew describes it as a wheat beer blended with white tea, watermelon, and pomegranate.
Owl’s Brew brews its radlers in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, at a ratio of three parts beer to two parts tea/juice. And at about 10 IBUs, they are purposely crisp, refreshing and not hoppy. Owl’s Brew calls them sessionable beers designed to appeal to drinkers who embrace an active/outdoors lifestyle.
“Our radlers are for anyone looking for a light and innovative beer! We love the fact that we have people trying the radlers who ‘aren’t very big beer drinkers.’ The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The line is currently available in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, and Ohio. And soon, you’ll be able to find them in Delaware, North Carolina, and Arizona. If you have a chance to try one, let us know what you think!