Why you should care

Because there’s a better way to be drinking your Heineken.

This weekend, grills will be rolled out, coolers will be stocked and meats will be marinated ahead of Labor Day’s barbecue-inspired overindulgence. What better way to mark the beginning of the end of summer and the arrival of a new school year than with new ways to drink a brewski?

If you have yet to find a preferred beer, combining it with other beverages is a good way to ease into appreciating beer’s greatness.

But don’t submit to frat-star-style beer consumption. Instead, try the shandy, a broad category of drinks made with beer and any nonalcoholic beverage. With a shandy, the possibilities are endless. International incarnations find beer mixed with everything from liquor to sparkling wine to fruit juice. In the United States, the lemonade shandy is by far the most popular of this variety, with companies like Shock Top now capitalizing on the rising beer cocktail trend by selling a bottled Lemon Shandy.

According to master mixologist and TV host Bruce “Blue” Rivera, the shandy makes beer accessible to those new to the world of beer.

“I love the shandy because it is a great starting point for people who may not consider themselves beer lovers,” Rivera says. “If you have yet to find a preferred beer, combining it with other beverages is a good way to ease into appreciating beer’s greatness.”

Fresh off of being featured on SPIKE TV’s Bar Rescue for his work at SOYO Craft Bar in Yonkers, New York, Rivera has compiled four easy-to-make shandy recipes, taken from all over the flavor spectrum, to liven up your Labor Day drink menu. Feel free to change any recipes to suit your taste preferences.

The Clarita

Mix ginger ale or lemon-lime soda and a light beer of your choice. Why it works: It’s a light, refreshing summery drink. “The carbonation makes this very easy to drink on a hot day. You could pair this with any thick, sweet barbecue or hickory sauce,” Rivera recommends. “The lightness of the Clarita plays well off of smoky flavors. It’s a palate cleanser.”

The Spangria

Combine equal parts red sangria and light beer. Why it works: The beer’s bitterness is balanced by the sangria’s sweetness and deliciousness ensues. The outcome is like a wine spritzer with a kick, a way to put a boozy new spin on traditional sangria. Plus, Rivera adds, “the sangria lends a bit of refinement to the beer.”

Sweet Irish

Pour cream soda into a chilled glass. Top with Guinness and enjoy. Why it works: It’s a grownup update on the classic cream soda. For someone intimidated by Guinness’ weight, the Sweet Irish is a more approachable introduction to this classic stout. “As the Sweet Irish uses a heavier beer with caramel and coffee notes, the Sweet Irish would pair beautifully with vinegar-based barbecue sauce or any sweet-and-tangy flavors.” Versatile and comforting, the Sweet Irish could help satisfy your sweet tooth or hold its own alongside a hearty burger.

The Southern

Crisp and drinkable, the Southern unites beer with a summertime staple, sweet tea. “This drink allows you to display your personality as a host. Mix your favorite pale lager (Heineken, Corona, etc.) with your favorite flavored sweet tea and garnish with fruit slices of your choice,” Rivera suggests. “This is Southern hospitality in a glass.”

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