Some purists may balk at muddling up a perfectly well adjuncted beer, but a little homebrewed ingenuity can jazz up your craft consumption. Whether you’re adding a spritz of soda or grinding up produce in a molcajete and sticking it in a coffee maker, new vistas of flavor will open up before you through a few bone-simple beer hacks. Try them out at a few holiday parties this year to astound your friends and impress your family as the craft beer MacGyver.
The radler (known also as a shandy) is the oldest and simplest approach. Dreamed up by an enterprising Bavarian tavern to offload some Limonade, it’s a 50-50 mix of lager and juice. You can go the easy route and pour the beer up roughly 50-50 with Simply Lemonade (for tang) or Reed’s Extra Ginger Ale (for bite), or take a knife to some fruits and roots and prep the mixer yourself. San Antonio is flush with tasty hometown lagers even in winter, so pick your favorite local brewer and make that six-pack stretch.
“Randalling” requires a few more letters and some more sophisticated gear. Invented by Dogfish Head in 2002 to give some IPAs extra pizazz, the “organoleptic hop transducing module” (“other-tasty-stuff-to-your-beer-adder” didn’t have the same ring to it) filters a brew upwards through a chamber filled whatever extras you desire. Dogfish Head sells a scaled-down version named the Randall Jr., but for some hop-forsaken reason, these cannot be sold in Texas, though there are several comparable imitators on the market.
Space alone limits what you can randall. If you want to ramp up the freshness on Southerleigh’s Uncommon Ale, run it through a bunch of spearmint leaves; if you want to get that York Peppermint Patty sensation, throw some dark chocolate squares in the mix (note: we advise against drinking an OJ-based radler after one of these). And, if you find yourself saddled with some really unpalatable suds gifted by your macro-loving uncle, load your randall up with some Citra hops and see if it helps. You can’t start with Coors Light and end up with Cantillon, but five minutes in the chamber just might make it palatable.
Some connoisseurs find that the humble French coffee press makes a good randall sub. Just mix ingredients and beer, let sit for five minutes or so, then push the plunger down and pour.
The ‘17 edition of the Bourbon County Brand Stout could still be had at the time of this writing; if you’re flush enough to put one of those suckers through the press, experiment with a small handful of blueberries or cacao nibs. You’ll sacrifice some carbonation, true, but you’ll be able to approximate some of the best BCBS variants without bartering a kidney on the Dark Web.