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Summer Shandy

Other reviews for this beer:
Jill Jaracz one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer read it ›
Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Chippewa Falls, WI

Style: Fruit Beer
ABV: 4.2%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Not good.)

Sometimes there are things in this crazy little world of ours that make us ask "why?". Why do Canadians refer to ham slices as "bacon"? Why do midgets prefer to be called "little people"? Why are they called "woodchucks" when in fact it's beavers that do all the chucking of wood, while woodchucks just dig big holes in the ground? Why do millions of Americans waste their weeknights watching a nationally televised karaoke contest? Why are we at war in Iraq? Why does the Sasquatch continue to hide in the forests of the Pacific Northwest when there are millions of dollars to be made on the freak-show circuit? Why did half the country vote for Texas Governor George W. Bush... twice? Finally, WHY THE HELL would ANYONE put lemonade in a perfectly good beer?

First of all, let me clarify the origins of this latest "craft" brew from Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. It's a beer credited to a small, 140 year old brewery in the northern Wisconsin town of Chippewa Falls that is now a subsidiary of SAB Miller, which means it is brewed in Milwaukee by a South African conglomerate. Got that? Face it Beer Dorks, Leinenkugel's has sold their soul to the corporate shit beer devils, and referring to them as "craft" is like referring to Michelob as craft. It ain't happening anymore. This is not easy for Nigel to admit, as he grew up in Wisconsin (that's right, I spent my summers in Wisconsin, and the rest of the year in Yorkshire- or so I was told). Leinenkugel's has abandoned some of their original craft brews, such as Northwoods Lager (one of Nigel's northern Wisconsin campfire favorites), Amber Light (good riddance), and soon Creamy Dark, in favor of Apple Spice, Sunset Wheat, and Summer Shitty. While a couple of solid- though not that great- brews remain for Leinies, they seem to be leaning more and more towards wussy shit beer that appeals solely to the ignorant beer drinking public who look to Anheuser-Busch, SAB Miller, Molson-Coors, et. al to tell them what is good.

To further rant on this topic, which I have already beaten to death, let me say this. By no means was Leinenkugel's ever considered one of the new-wave craft brewers. After all, it has been around for 140 years, meaning the pioneers in Wisconsin's Indianhead region were drinking shit lager from this brewery for decades. Beer drinkers from Wisconsin and Minnesota grew up with Leinenkugel's as a local alternative to the big brewers, though they, like most local brewers pre-1980, only provided a simple lager that pretty much tasted like any other macro brew. It wasn't until the 1990's, with the beginning of the craft brew movement that we see today, that Leinenkugel's expanded into a more diverse beer catalog. Red, Honey Weiss, Bock (the original Bock), and Berry Weiss increased the repotoire, with Oktoberfest, Big Butt, Amber Light, and Northwoods soon following. It was that damn Berry Weiss that ruined this brewery. Nigel likes Berry Weiss, don't get me wrong- it's very refreshing on a warm summer day, and is my beer of choice when stopping at the Leinie's Lodge at Summerfest or Miller Park on a 90 degree July day in Milwaukee. However, the success of Berry Weiss got into the heads of the folks at Leinie's (or, more likely, the folks at Miller). Since then, we have had the disgusting excuse for a beer, Apple Spice, forced upon us, and Summer Shandy is firmly in the same camp. These are gimmicky brews that are an absolute joke for anyone who has even the slightest bit of respect for beer.

To briefly sum up, Leinenkugel's claims that Summer Shandy is crafted in the tradition of the European Shandy brew, which apparently exists- most likely in France. After all, the only thing that is more disgusting and irrelevant than French beer is... well, French people. I've never heard of such a thing as a Shandy beer, but it supposedly is a beer mixed with real lemonade that Europeans enjoy on hot summer days. Since there are no seasons in England -thus, no summer (it's always November)- I've had zero experience with a Shandy. Anyone expecting a copy of Berry Weiss or Apple Spice, both of which are brewed with massive amounts of real fruit, will be disappointed to hear that Summer Shitty is brewed with "lemonade flavoring". Great. They brewed a weak Wheat Ale and dumped some lemon Kool-Aid into it. What a concept. This is supposed to be refreshing on a warm day? How the hell is Lemon Pledge refreshing, unless I'm a coffee table? This shit is disgusting- it makes Mike's Hard Lemonade taste like heaven, and it makes me feel sorry for my poor coffee table.

Let me say this- Summer Shandy is not as bad as Apple Spice, but that's like saying Stalin wasn't as bad as Hitler. It pours as disgusting as any beer you will ever see. A light yellow, with a very heavy head on the pour, that slowly dissipates into a bright white foamy trace. The beer is a horrid cloudy light yellowish color in the glass, reminding me of a pint glass full of polar bear urine. Yum. The smell is, well... it's lemons. Lots and lots of lemons. It smells like that bottle of Mr. Clean that you accidentally opened thinking you got the citrus kind, but by mistake you grabbed the lemon kind. So now we know it looks awful and smells awful, but how does it taste? Hmmm... I'm gonna go with awful. "Brewed with pure wheat malt and a touch of Wisconsin honey" it says on the bottle. Ok, tone down the lemon powder, and maybe I could actually taste either of those ingredients. It really does taste like furniture polish- I'm not being silly here (Nigel consumed mass quantities of Lemon Pledge as a tot, which may help explain some things). There is only a mild undertone that would indicate this is a Wheat Ale, and the honey is completely undetectable. It's far too sweet for a beer and virtually undrinkable. It has the aftertaste of a cheap lemonade made from concentrate- it's Country Time gone horribly wrong. It's very light bodied, and if you actually like this shit, you could probably make it a session brew. Please note, however, that if this is your session brew, Nigel is no longer your friend. All in all, if you want a refreshing beverage on a hot summer day, try a good Hefe Weizen or another type of Wheat Ale. Or, genius, try drinking WATER! Hello- can anyone say dehydration? If you're brave and looking to be grossed out, give Summer Shandy a shot, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Cheers!... wait, no cheers for this one.

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on April 25, 2007.
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