Preview of Portland Radler Festival at Stormbreaker Brewing

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Bicycle riding is popular in Europe, where gas is expensive and energy efficiency is encouraged. In German, a bicycle rider is a Radfahrer, a term often shortened to the simpler Radler. As the story goes, a pub owner in Deisenhofen, a small town near Munich, created a bike trail through the woods to his place, and on a fine June day in 1922, the trail proved an unexpected success when 13,000 cyclists showed up in the course of the business day. The pub owner’s on-premise supply of beer was dwindling fast, but nobody was ordering his ample supply of Limonade (a soft drink similar to the USA’s Sprite or 7-Up brands), so he came up with the idea of blending beer half and half with the soft carbonated drink, creating an early version of an low-alcohol energy drink (actually, the British were even farther ahead of the curve, inventing the shandygaff – later shortened to shandy – in the 18th century, originally blending ale with ginger ale). Further research suggests that the Radler might go back to 1912, so this story remains a touch apocryphal. The Radler has long since proven to be a popular drink for those looking for a quick energy boost while moderating their alcohol intake.


Purplest festival mug ever…


The Radler phenomenon has long since crossed the Atlantic, and Portland’s craft brewing trade has adopted it as well. Brewers including Hopworks Urban Brewery and 10 Barrel have marketed their own variations of Radlers, and Portlanders have made their hometown the #1 market in the USA for the popular Stiegl lemon and grapefruit Radlers from Austria. As with beer drinkers in Europe, the Radler is seen as a low-alcohol beer alternative, and it’s popular with people who like sweeter flavors.

Of course, the creative types in Oregon’s craft beverage scene aren’t content to simply blend a blond ale or lager with lemon or lemon-lime soda. That would be too easy. So on Saturday, August 12th, 22 Radlers will pour at the 1st Annual Portland Radler Festival at Stormbreaker Brewing. Festival creator Steven Shomler and Stormbreaker hosted a preview session for media people, so here’s a taste of what’s to come.


Stormbreaker presents its Radler


Stormbreaker‘s own Rekall Radler is a 50/50 blend of the brewery’s Total ReKölsch with a specially created pink guava soda collaboration with Hot Lips Soda. At 3% ABV, it meets the low-alcohol standard, and the modest and light character of the Kölsch gives the soda plenty of room to show off.


Daniel Pereyo introduces Stiegl Radlers


Daniel Pereyo of importer S&H presented festival sponsor Stiegl‘s two Radlers in lemon and grapefruit variations. Stiegl, based in Salzburg, Austria, has been brewing since 1492, but hasn’t been afraid to keep up with the times. Portlanders have made this city the #1 market for Stiegl‘s Radlers in the USA, beating out even mighty Chicago. The Lemon Radler is a blend of 60% lemon soda with 40% Stiegl’s Goldbräu light lager, making for a sweetly refreshing thirst-quencher at 2% ABV. The Grapefruit Radler is also a 60/40 blend, this time of grapefruit soda and Goldbräu, and also clocks in at 2% ABV.


Philip Boyle presents Coalition Brewing’s Radler


Portland’s favorite Irishman and brewer Philip Boyle showed off Coalition Brewing‘s Cerveza Paloma, a 2.6% ABV Radler that starts with a sort-of-Kölsch style beer that has added salt, fresh lime zest, and lime juice, blended with grapefruit soda. Is it a traditional old-style Radler? Not really, but it’s worth trying, because this is the kind of Radler you get with a little experimentation. You wouldn’t expect a drink with a mildly salty finish to work as a low-alcohol thirst-quencher, but it does.

Brooks Cooper talks about the Oregon Mead Radler


Oregon Mead and Cider partner-owner-mead-and-cider-maker Brooks Cooper had plenty to say about what might be one of the most unusual takes on a Radler, because it’s based on mead rather than beer. The Lime Ginger Trinity Mead Radler (say that three times really fast, go ahead) blends the houses’s Trinity Mead with Pearl Soda Co.’s Lime Ginger Soda. The expectation was that this would be a bit of a sugar bomb, but Oregon Mead’s style is to let their meads ferment thoroughly, so they’re more attenuated, resulting in less residual sugar sweetness, and of course, we all know that ginger is good for you, right?


Hi Five Cider also showed an unconventional beerless Radler, blending their Passionfruit and Pin Guava Cider with Rose Cordial soda from Portland Soda Works for a 3.2% ABV cider/soft-drink hybrid dubbed Romancing the Radler. It’s gentle, sweet, and fruity. Germans have a drink called an Apfelschorle, a blend of apple juice and soda water, so think of this one as a “hard Apfelschorle,” albeit a pretty light one.


Katrina Matthews and Holly Isaacson present Zoiglhaus and Hopworks Radlers


Hopworks Urban Brewery, known for its commitments to sustainable practices and organic ingredients, was true to form with its popular 2.6% ABV Totally Radler, a blend of Organic HUB Pilsner with organic lemon juice. This one’s not particularly exotic, easily found in 16-ounce cans all around town, and is a near-classic take on a Radler, maybe a little less sweet than is typical.


Stiegl Grapefruit and Lemon Radlers, Hopworks Totally Radler, Hi Five Romancing the Radler


And finally, Zoiglhaus, the popular brewery and beer hall out in Lents, showed off its 2.4% ABV Orange Creamsicle Gose Radler, another departure from the Radler standard, but actually, not such an unusual thing for a Gose. In Leipzig, where Gose is still considered something of a hometown drink, it’s not uncommon to blend the beer with sweet syrups or even a shot of Kümmel (caraway liqueur). The blend of a Gose with orange-cream soda tastes quite a bit like those frozen orange creamsicles familiar to American kids everywhere. Fun, light, and yes, refreshing.


You might have noticed that “light” and “refreshing” are commonly repeated here. The other word to notice is “sweet.” These are not low-sugar beverages here; like the original Radler, they are blends of a typical-strength beer, diluted to half or less with a sweet fruit-flavored soda. There will be 22 of these to taste at the Portland Radler Festival. Which ones are you stoked to taste?


Also, and most important: how many festivals give you a purple mug for tasting? C’mon. Purple. Mug. Because purple. It’s a festival mug for the ages.


So festive! So purple! (Photo credit: Steven Shomler)


Festival Deets:

  • Presented by Stormbreaker Brewing, Stiegl, and Hot Lips
  • Portland’s Most Refreshing Beer Festival
  • 22 Radlers will be pouring
  • Incredible lineup: 19 breweries; bonus: 3 cideries/meaderies for gluten-free Radlers
  • Portion of proceeds go to Dollar for Portland
  • Festival is Saturday August 12th, noon to 8pm
  • Advance regular admission: $15; At the door: $20; Includes tasting mug and 8 tickets
  • The tasting mug is purple! C’mon folks, PURPLE!
  • Advance tickets on sale until 8/12/2017 at 10am
  • or
  • Tenting off half of N. Beech Street between N. Mississippi Avenue and N. Albina Avenue
  • Live music:
    12:30 – 1:30: Pencil Skirt Paula and the Straight Edge Rulers
    2:00 – 6:00: Buddy Jay’s Jamaican Jazz Band


Portland Radler Festival
Saturday, August 12, from 12 noon to 8pm
Advance tickets: $15; At the door: $20; includes festival tasting mug and 8 tickets
Have we mentioned that the mug is purple?
Stormbreaker Brewing
832 N. Beech St.
Portland, OR 97227
Festival runs from noon to 8pm on Saturday, August 12
Participating breweries, cideries, meaderies:

  • 54 40 Brewing
  • Baerlic Brewing
  • Base Camp Brewing
  • Breakside Brewing
  • Burnside Brewing
  • Coalition Brewing
  • Culmination Brewing
  • Commons Brewing
  • Gigantic Brewing
  • Great Notion Brewing
  • Hi Five Cider
  • Hop Works
  • Montavilla Brew Works
  • Oregon Mead and Cider
  • Pono Brewing
  • Reverend Nat’s
  • Ross Island
  • Stiegl
  • StormBreaker
  • Wild Ride Brewing
  • Widmer
  • Zoiglhaus


Radical Radlers? Prost!


Don Scheidt has been into good beer since before the dawn of craft brewing in the Pacific Northwest. He created the Northwest Brewpage, a regional guide to good beer in Oregon and Washington, back in the mid-1990s, but has since retired it. Don started writing the Washington state “Puget Soundings” column for Celebrator Beer News in 1998, and continues to do that today. Don also wrote about beer for the Seattle Weekly in 2005-2006.

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