What to CookIce Cream & Frozen Desserts

Europe's Favorite Beer Cocktail, in Dessert Form

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Traditionally, a shandy (or shandygaff) is a combination of beer and lemon soda. You could order it in London pub, or even in a Paris café—where it was called a panaché. I had it for the first time on a Paris sidewalk in the 1970s. A shandy is called a radler (cyclist) in Germany because it’s associated with a cyclist’s need for quenching thirst, without imbibing too much alchohol—and has other names in other places.

A Strawberry-Lemon Radler (or Shandy, or Neither?)

A Strawberry-Lemon Radler (or Shandy, or Neither?) by fiveandspice

Braulio Shandy (Valtellina)

Braulio Shandy (Valtellina) by Erik Lombardo

These days, it seems that beer mixed with any kind of flavored soda or cola is called a shandy. Some beer producers make lemon-flavored beer to evoke the original shandygaff. I tend to shun flavored beers, but the idea of the latter sparked an idea: fresh lemon–flavored beer sherbet—basically, a marriage of good beer with homemade lemon sherbet. It would be a great twist on both the sherbet and the shandygaff, and a super refreshing summer treat for a sultry day.


A shandy for sipping can arguably be made with all kinds of beers, but a sherbet or ice cream made with beer requires a beer with relatively low bitterness—lagers and IPA’s and strong ales need not apply here, even if you love them for sipping (as I usually do)! The bitterness in beer tends to be exaggerated in freezing, while the other flavors are muted; this can make beer flavored ice creams and sherbets jarringly bitter but not particularly flavorful. After making a delightful sherbet with Belgian Wit beer (Hoegaarden), I decided to make a Shandy Sherbet with it as well.

Boozy frozen dessert reaches the next level.
Boozy frozen dessert reaches the next level.

Wit beer is a light wheat beer with hints of coriander and other spices, a high carbonation level, and relatively low level of bitterness. It has a subliminal citrus note too, unless that’s my imagination. Either way, it’s often served with a slice of lemon. The Beer Advocate says that American brewers have stayed close to style in making these beers, so it may be safe to assume that most wit beers will do fine in this recipe.

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Fresh Shandy Sherbet

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Makes 2 1/2 cups
  • 1-2 lemons, preferably organic or unsprayed (for zest and juice)
  • 1 11-12 ounce bottle (1 ½ cups) Belgian (or Belgian style) Wit Beer (I used Hoegaarden)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
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