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Summer Shandy Shake-up

Citrusy, low-alcohol beers good for all-day sipping

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I'm not typically a fan of dressing up beer with other flavors, but back before craft brews were reborn, I enjoyed mixing real beer and ginger beer, 50/50, to create a low-alcohol shandy. In the summer, I switched to adding lemonade. The same drink is called a "radler" in Germany, and you can still create your own, but several brewers have done the mixing for you. Weighing in at around 4 percent alcohol, these beers are definitely quaffable.

Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy, $1.79-$2.39

This beer pours a cloudy straw color, with a thick, sudsy head that collapses quickly. You get a big hit of lemon Jolly Rancher on the nose, but there's a bit more going on taste-wise, with creamy lemon, soft wheat and malt up front. Honeyed citrus comes through on the finish. This Chippewa Falls, Wisc.-based stalwart has been around since 1867, and it was one of the first American breweries to offer a shandy. This brew comes in a 16-ounce can.

Samuel Adams Porch Rocker, $1.39-$1.79

This is about as clear and bright as a brew can be--light gold in color with the thinnest of heads. A helles lager (Munich's answer to Bohemian-based pilsner), this beer is flavored with fresh lemons, and that definitely comes through on the nose, along with touches of herb, citrus zest and smooth malt. Just the lightest of hops color the palate, which is a mix of soft malt and lemonade. This beer is definitely worthy.

Warka Radler, $1.59-1.99

In the glass, this brew looks like bottled lemon juice with a meringue froth on top. And it smells like lemonade, too. Of the three, it is the most like soda pop and the least like beer. The flavors are a mix of sweet citrus dominated by lemon and orange. The finish is a bit sweet, as well, but the saving grace here is the 2 percent alcohol by volume. Serve well-chilled and enjoy this 16-ounce can with a clear conscience.