traveler beer coIt’s summer in the northern hemisphere, which means that unless you live in Australia, New Zealand, or Antarctica, you probably think that it’s hot. With craft beers and craft cocktails ruling the day here in 2015, there is more than a slight change that you are looking to welcome some cool, refreshing beverages into your parties, out on the lawns, or into your living rooms after spending some time outside the house.

In Europe, especially in Germany, there is a long tradition of mixing beer with citris drinks, like lemonade or limeade, ginger ale, fruit juice, or some other summer non-alcoholic beverage. This drink is known as a “shandy”. For various reasons that has not become a normal thing in the US yet.

However, many people have started to turn their nose up at “malt beverages” in favor of craft beers. With that in mind, the Traveler Beer Company sent us a couple of their offerings that would vie for that spot. Specifically we were given “Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy”, a lemon flavored wheat beer, and “Illusive Traveler Grapefruit Ale”, a grapefruit flavored malted wheat and barley ale.

Curious Traveler Lemon Shandy really is perfect for a summer day. This particular shady has a nice lemon-lime flavor that complements the wheat beer base. There is little-to-no head and the color is slightly cloudy and golden, resembling an unfiltered ale or a light colored apple juice. The taste starts similar to a German Heffeweissen with strong lemon, and finishes with a bit of lime. Beer drinkers and non-drinkers alike will probably enjoy this. It sits between something like Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse and Mike’s Hard Lemonade. The taste is not exactly like making your own lemonade and adding a wheat beer, but it is certainly refreshing and is better than “in a pinch” would imply.

Also, with the low alcohol content and the refreshing taste, it is easy to knock back more than 2 and not worry too much. While craft beers in America have been slow to embrace the shandy, this is the ultimate session beer. For the craft beer afficionados that think shandys “dumb down” craft beer too much, this may be something to have when you are trying to clean your palate after mowing the lawn. For the more open minded, or less sophisticated, beer drinker this is a lovely drink that still plays to the handlebar moustache crowd without being ironic.

Illusive Traveler Grapefruit Ale is also playing with the shandy for Americans. This tastes of something like Ocean Spray grapefruit juice, sweeter than all but the sweetest of ruby read grapefruits. It’s got a slightly orange straw color and a flavor that hints of both grapefruit and orange zest. Again this was very easy to drink, very refreshing, and great for being outdoors in the summer. This is not a complex beer for sipping and pondering. This is as much a malt beverage as a beer, and is lovely in its place.

Both beers are heavy on carbonation and sweeter than most other beer in this market. That’s both a good and a bad thing. It’s very easy to knock down several of these, but won’t satisfy the taste of the “serious” beer drinker who wants to taste the flavor changing as it warms on his or her palate. They also clock in at 4.4% abv, which is appropriate for the style (and a boon to the fruit flavors) but lower alcohol content than many craft beer drinkers have come to expect.

So, in most cases, these beers are going to be a great choice when trying to find something that both beer drinkers and “malt beverage” drinkers will be happy with. Especially if serving beer with lunch or if you live somewhere where 100 degrees fahrenheit is a regular occurance you really can’t go wrong with these. Every time I’ve talked with anyone who drinks these, they use the word “refreshing”, and it’s hard to improve on that description.