Summer shandy is a refreshing beer-based drink that combines lager or ale with lemonade or lemon soda. It originated in Germany in the 1920s and has become popular worldwide as a lighter, fruity beer option. But with growing concerns over calorie intake and beer’s reputation for being high in calories, many people wonder – how many calories does summer shandy contain?
The calories in summer shandy can vary depending on the specific brand and the alcohol content. Generally, a 12 oz serving of summer shandy contains around 150-200 calories. This is significantly less than a regular beer, which normally contains 150-350 calories per 12 oz serving.
The lower calorie content in summer shandy is due to the addition of lemonade or soda water, which dilutes the beer. The alcohol content is also slightly lower, ranging from around 2-4% ABV compared to 4-6% ABV for typical lagers and ales. Less alcohol means fewer fermentation byproducts like esters which provide calories.
However, calories from alcohol still make up a significant percentage of the total calories in summer shandy. The fructose from added lemonade or soda also contributes calories, as sugar provides 4 calories per gram. So while summer shandy has less calories than regular beer, it’s still an alcoholic beverage that should be enjoyed in moderation.
Calorie and Nutrition Facts for Popular Summer Shandy Brands
The most popular mass-produced summer shandy brands in the United States include Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy, Blue Moon Belgian White Ale, and Sam Adams Porch Rocker. Here is the calorie and nutrition breakdown for a 12 oz serving of these leading summer shandy beers:
Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy
– Calories: 149
– Carbohydrates: 14g
– Protein: 1.5g
– Fat: 0g
Leinenkugel’s award-winning summer shandy is brewed with traditional malted barley and wheat beers then blended with real lemonade. It contains 4.2% alcohol by volume. With just 149 calories per bottle, it’s one of the lightest shandy options.
Blue Moon Belgian White Ale
– Calories: 164
– Carbohydrates: 14g
– Protein: 1.1g
– Fat: 0g
Blue Moon Belgian White is a Belgian-style wheat beer brewed with Valencia orange peel and coriander. Their summer shandy version blends the Belgian white ale with lemonade. Blue Moon Belgian White summer shandy contains 5.4% alcohol and 164 calories per 12 oz serving.
Samuel Adams Porch Rocker
– Calories: 120
– Carbohydrates: 10g
– Protein: 1g
– Fat: 0g
Samuel Adams’s summer shandy offering is called Porch Rocker. It’s made with a base of Noble hops then combined with lemons for a fresh squeezed lemon taste. With just 4.5% ABV and 120 calories per bottle, it’s one of the lightest shandies available.
Calories in Summer Shandy vs. Regular Beer
To understand how the calories in summer shandy compare, here’s a look at the calories per 12 oz serving of some popular regular beer styles in the United States:
– Bud Light (4.2% ABV): 110 calories
– Heineken (5% ABV): 142 calories
– Guinness (4.2% ABV): 125 calories
– Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (5.6% ABV): 175 calories
– Samuel Adams Boston Lager (4.9% ABV): 160 calories
While beer calories can range widely based on the brand and style, typical lagers and ales provide 150-250 calories per 12 oz bottle. Compared to the average of 150-200 calories for most summer shandy brands, the addition of lemonade slashes up to 50 or more calories from a regular beer.
However, some light beers like Bud Light still contain slightly fewer calories than most shandies. So for the lowest calorie options, light lagers may beat out summer shandies by a small margin. But the added fruity flavor of lemonade and low alcohol content still makes summer shandy one of the lightest beer choices.
Factors Affecting Calories in Summer Shandy
What accounts for the differences in calories between various summer shandy brands and styles? Here are the key factors that affect the calorie content:
The alcohol percentage, measured by alcohol by volume (ABV), directly impacts the calorie count. Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram from carbs and protein. So the more alcohol in a summer shandy, the higher the calories. Low alcohol shandies like Sam Adams Porch Rocker have an ABV around 4.5% and contain only 120 calories. While higher alcohol versions like Blue Moon Belgian White Shandy with 5.4% ABV have 164 calories.
Grain or Malt Bill
The types of grains used in brewing provide carbohydrate calories. Wheat and barley are commonly used in summer shandies. More calorie-dense grains or higher proportions of grains relative to lemonade increase calories. Light beers use more rice and corn which have less calories than barley malt.
Added sugars from fruit juices, honey, or other sources boost calories. Some shandy recipes call for sweeteners to enhance the lemon flavor. And even 100% lemon juice contains natural sugars that provide calories, around 20 calories per ounce. Reading nutrition labels can help identify added sugar content.
Proportions of Shandy Blend
The ratio of beer to lemonade or soda water impacts calories. A heavier hand with the lemonade lowers the relative beer content and decreases calories. Lighter shandy versions contain around a 60/40 ratio of beer to lemonade. Heavier summer shandies may approach a 50/50 split which slashes more beer calories.
Low Calorie Shandy Alternatives
For those watching their calorie intake, here are some tips to lighten up summer shandy even more:
– Choose low-alcohol beers as the base – like light beers around 4% ABV
– Use diet lemonade or artificially sweetened sodas which contain zero calories
– Add extra ice to dilute and lower calories
– Mix with seltzer water instead of lemonade
– Go for a “shandy light” with 3 parts light beer to 1 part lemon juice
– Opt for light beer on the side with lemon garnish rather than blended
With smart tweaks, it’s possible to slash an additional 50 or more calories from a standard shandy. While still retaining the refreshing lemon flavor of summer!
Other Nutrients in Summer Shandy
Beyond calories, here is how summer shandy stacks up nutritionally:
– Carbohydrates: Summer shandies range from 10-15g carbs per 12 oz serving, coming from beer malt and lemonade sugar. This is comparable to regular beer.
– Protein: Around 1-1.5g protein per 12 oz, similar to other beers. The grain malt provides a small amount of protein.
– Fat and cholesterol: Negligible amounts, summer shandies contain no significant fat or cholesterol.
– Fiber: Minimal fiber since grains are fermented out during brewing. Shandies provide 0-1g fiber per 12 oz.
– Vitamins & minerals: Small amounts of B vitamins are produced during brewing, around 5% DV. Lemons provide vitamin C, but heat from pasteurization destroys some of the vitamin content.
So other than calories, summer shandy does not pack much in the way of nutrients. The grains, hops, yeast and lemon components make it mostly carbohydrates by macronutrient distribution, with minimal protein or nutrients.
Health Impacts of Drinking Summer Shandy
Here is a look at some of the health considerations around consuming summer shandy beers:
While summer shandies tend to be lower in alcohol than regular beer styles, the alcohol content is still comparable to most lagers and ales. Men should limit intake to 2 or fewer servings per day, and women 1 or fewer servings, according to US alcohol guidelines. Alcohol should also be avoided entirely during pregnancy.
Alcohol acts as a diuretic, causing fluid loss and dehydration. This can be exacerbated in summer’s heat. To stay hydrated, alternate shandy intake with water. Avoid excessive intake which can further dehydrate or lead to intoxication.
Blood Sugar Spikes
The carbohydrates from beer malt and added fructose cause a rapid spike in blood sugar when consumed. For diabetics or those monitoring blood sugar levels, the carbs and sugars in summer shandy should be accounted for.
At 150-200 calories per serving, summer shandy can quickly add to daily calorie intake leading to weight gain if overconsumed. Keep servings modest and account for “liquid calories.”
Since summer shandy contains barley and sometimes wheat malt, it contains gluten and is not suitable for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Opt for hard ciders or gluten-removed beers instead.
Overall, summer shandy is a tasty, fruity beer option to enjoy in moderation during the warm weather months. Keeping intake to 1-2 servings daily, staying hydrated, and being aware of alcohol and sugar content can help reduce potential health impacts.
Making Your Own Summer Shandy
Want to stir up the perfect summer shandy at home? Here are some easy from-scratch recipes to blend your own:
Basic Summer Shandy
– 12 oz lager or wheat ale
– 4 oz fresh lemon juice
– Lemon slices for garnish
Fill pint glass halfway with beer, then slowly add lemon juice. Add ice and stir gently. Garnish with lemon slice. Adjust lemon juice to taste preference.
Fruity Shandy Spritzer
– 12 oz wheat ale or pilsner
– 4 oz lemon soda
– 1 oz raspberry syrup
– Sliced lemons, oranges, strawberries for garnish
Fill glass halfway with beer. Add lemon soda, then raspberry syrup. Stir and add fruit garnish. Enjoy!
Refreshing Honey Shandy
– 12 oz hefeweizen or blonde ale
– 2 oz fresh lemon juice
– 1 tsp honey
– Lemon wedge garnish
Combine beer, lemon juice and honey in glass. Stir to blend honey. Add ice, lemon wedge garnish and serve.
Get creative blending different beer styles, lemonades, fruit juices, herbs and sweeteners. The options for homemade summer shandies are endless!
Where to Find Summer Shandy
Here are some tips for finding a refreshing shandy this summer:
Major grocery store chains like Kroger, Safeway, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s carry seasonal summer shandy selections. Look for variety packs to sample different brands.
Beer & Liquor Stores
Specialty beer stores and bottle shops will have the largest summer shandy selections. Look for limited small-batch shandies from local and craft breweries.
Bars and Restaurants
More bars are serving summer shandies like Leinenkugel’s on draft. Restaurants may offer shandy cocktails or radlers on their summer drink menus.
Many breweries release specialty summer shandies only available on location. Take a brewery tour and try their unique shandy variations.
Websites like Drizly or Total Wine deliver a huge variety of shandy options straight to your door for convenience.
Track down your perfect summer sip by checking grocery coolers, tap handles, and retail websites for the latest shandy offerings all season long.
Fun Facts About Summer Shandy
Want to impress friends with your summer shandy trivia knowledge? Here are some fun facts:
– “Shandy” comes from the English slang “shandygaff” meaning “mixture”
– Traditionally, shandy was a blend of pale ale and ginger beer – not lemonade!
– The first mass-produced summer shandy was Stiegl Radler in 1922
– “Radler” means “cyclist” in German – shandy was marketed to thirsty bike riders
– The classic seasoning for shandy is a dash of black pepper
– Summer shandies should be served ice cold – between 38-45°F
– Sales of Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy increased over 700% from 2008 to 2013
– Blue Moon Belgian White is the #1 selling summer shandy flavor
– Leinenkugel’s releases new summer shandy flavors annually
– There is a National Summer Shandy Day on April 24
Break out your favorite summer shandy and impress fellow beer lovers with these fun shandy facts!
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions about summer shandy calories and nutrition? Here are answers to some commonly asked questions:
Does summer shandy have more calories than beer?
No, summer shandy generally has fewer calories than regular beer styles. The addition of lemonade or soda water decreases the calorie density compared to full-strength beers.
Is summer shandy considered beer?
Yes, summer shandy is classified as a beer even though it contains lemonade or other juices. It’s brewed from traditional beer ingredients like malted barley then blended with non-alcoholic mixes.
Is there sugar in summer shandy?
Yes, summer shandies contain sugar both from the malted grains used to brew the beer base and from added lemonade, juice or soda mixes. This sugar contributes to the calorie content.
What is the lowest calorie summer shandy?
Samuel Adams Porch Rocker contains only 120 calories per 12 oz bottle, making it one of the lowest calorie shandies available. Using light beer and diet lemonade can also create lower calorie shandy options.
Are summer shandies gluten-free?
No, since summer shandies contain barley malt and sometimes wheat, they are not gluten-free. Gluten-free hard ciders add lemon juice or fruit flavors for a gluten-removed shandy alternative.
The Bottom Line
Summer shandy offers a crisp, refreshing taste blending the best of both worlds – beer and lemonade. While not the absolute lowest calorie beer choice, the addition of lemonade slashes up to 50 calories compared to full-strength beers. Sticking to 1-2 servings, selecting low alcohol versions, and alternating with water can help keep calories in check. Thirsty for the flavors of summer in one glass? A chilled shandy hits the spot!