Radlers’, what’s not to love? A clean, crisp, lager mixed with some refreshing bright citrus – it’s thirst-quenching and lower in alcohol, so you can throw quite a few back!
In this delicious version, I mix a Helles lager with some blood orange soda. I’m Trent Musho, and this is the Bru Sho. Let’s brew a blood orange radler.
This year for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to brew something my wife would love. While she does love a good beer, something like a radler is much more up her alley – a mix of a light-flavored lager and a bit of citrus. It’s the perfect refreshing drink for a warm afternoon.
Radlers are inherently German, so I thought a Helles would be a perfect base for this radler. To me, Helles lagers have a good maltiness and sweetness, but aren’t extreme on flavor, making it the perfect base for a radler.
And for citrus, what’s better than some blood orange on this holiday to represent the love I have for her? An excellent Valentine’s Day gift.
Typically, a radler is made on-site where you buy it. They quickly mix together beer and either some lemon soda or other citrus concoction. But since there are some radlers sold in cans, it made me think, why can’t I just have it on tap?
So that’s exactly what I did. But if you want it, you could just brew the Helles and mix on demand, so you can have your beer separately anytime.
This radler is absolutely delicious, bursting with sweet fruity flavor and backed by the crisp lager. And if you’re worried about brewing lagers, have no fear – I’m using the power of pressure fermentation to brew this one, so temperature control is not a big concern. I’ll walk you through how to ferment under pressure to make lagers a breeze.
Okay, now I’m getting a bit thirsty, so let’s brew! We’ll speed through the brew day today since the recipe is simple, but you can swap out the house for any lager or light ale you want. Anything that isn’t too flavorful will work great.
The big difference from my normal recipe is that this is a four-gallon batch. I’m sizing down to four gallons because I’ll be fermenting under pressure in my keg, which has a maximum capacity of about five gallons. We’ll need some headspace for fermentation activity, but more on that later.
First, let’s talk about ingredients. I would like to give a big thank you to Northern Brewer for supplying all the brewing ingredients used in this video. They’ve really been a great support to this channel and make these brew days easy to start.
Recipe for 4 gals (15.1L):
- 5.25 gals (19.9L) Water
- 43% German Pilsner
- 43% German Wheat
- 14% Vienna Malt
- 0.5oz (~14g) Warrior @15 min
- Lallemand Diamond Lager Yeast
- Mash @ 150ºF (~65ºC) for about 30 mins
- Boil for about 30 min
- Ferment around 69ºF (~19C) for 7 Days Under Pressure
- Original Gravity: 1.043
- Final Gravity: 1.010
- ABV: 4.3%
- IBUs: ~18
I heated up about 5 1/4 gallons of distilled water to about 155 degrees. I’m starting with distilled water to have the most control over this light-flavored lager.
To the water, I’m adding some salts. Here’s the water profile I’m aiming for; it’s a pretty basic lager profile.
Once the water is heated, I add the green bag and then the grains. The grains are 43g German Pilsner malt, 43g German wheat malt for added depth and mouthfeel, and 14g Vienna malt for a touch of toasty sweetness.
I plan to mash at 150°F for 30 minutes. This is a nice and short mash. Most conversion happens in the first 20 minutes or so of the mash. I’ll check the gravity after 30 minutes with a refractometer, and if I’m close to my pre-boil gravity, I’ll move on to the boil.
After the 30 minutes, I remove the grain and give the bag a good squeeze. I then crank up the heat for the boil. I’m also doing a super short boil, only 15 minutes.
Once I hit a boil, I merely drop in a wort chiller, a roll-flock tablet, and then the hops. You could totally use your favorite German noble hops here, but I went with Warrior for its neutral flavor profile. I used a half-ounce for about 18 IBU.
The boil was so short I barely blinked before I realized it was over, so I turned on the water chiller and chilled down to about 70 degrees. I love these quick brew days. I know it’s not very traditional for something like a lager, but it’s nice to move quickly through a brew day and get on with the day.
I took an original gravity reading and got 1.043. While it was chilling, I prepared the keg by sanitizing it. Usually, if you plan to ferment in a keg, it’s a good idea to cut the end of your dip tube so it doesn’t suck up a bunch of yeast when you go to transfer out, but I decided to forgo that and just see if it would work without permanently modifying my keg.
Once the beer was cooled, I transferred it in. Remember to keep about a gallon of headspace for fermentation. If you overshot your amounts a bit like me, you might need to just dump some of your wort, or you can always save it to make a yeast starter. I’m using Wyeast 2112 California Lager yeast.
I enjoyed it so much on my S’mores Lager, I decided to reuse it here. I just propped up a sample of it with a yeast starter a day before, then pitched it right into the keg and closed it up. Now it’s time for pressure fermentation.
In the last video, I spoke a bit about how to make a spunding valve, which is a way to control the pressure created during fermentation. If you have too much pressure, you’ll get stressed yeast and potentially a stalled fermentation or off flavors. So, having a spunding valve, you can set the desired pressure, which should be about 10 to 12 PSI for the best results.
And then it will release the pressure if it builds beyond that. Some say it’s a good idea to not add the PRV on day one, just so the yeast can take in any oxygen and get a strong start. So, I left my PRV open overnight. I also gave the keg a good shake to make sure I had plenty of oxygen to get started.
Then, on day two, I added the PRV. Within a few hours, I already had a good amount of pressure, so I dialed it in to about 10 PSI and then let it hang out in my living room. Fermenting under pressure means you don’t need to worry about temperature control as much.
Something about the pressure suppresses all flavors that would regularly be caused by warm fermentations, which is especially troublesome for lagers, which like to ferment cold anyway. I let this baby rock under pressure for one week.
A week later, I decided to check in on things by attaching some tubing and a picnic tap to a beverage connector. I could pull a sample, and as expected, since I didn’t cut the dip tube, there was a bunch of yeast sludge at the bottom.
But after a pour or so, I got to the beer and took a final gravity reading, which was 1.010. This means the beer is done and comes in at about 4.3% ABV. We officially have beer!
From here, you can lager or treat your beer as you would normally, or you could go ahead and pre-mix your radler. I decided to split up my four gallons of helles. Three gallons would stay in this keg, and one gallon would move into a new keg that I’d add the blood orange into.
The only thing I needed to do was first stabilize the beer that would be mixed with the juice since the sugars in the juice would kick back up fermentation. To do that, I put potassium sorbate and a camden tablet, dosed for one gallon, into the new keg, purged it with CO2, and then did a pressure transfer from our beer keg to this keg.
All you need to do for this is have higher pressure going into the beer keg than what’s in the other keg. Then, when you attach some jumper tubing from the liquid out to the liquid in on the new keg, it will easily transfer in.
It helps to pull the PRV occasionally to keep things flowing, and if your beer is cold, an easy way to check how much beer is transferring in is to look at the condensation on the side of the keg. It’s a good indicator of how much beer is inside.
From there, just let the stabilizers mix in and do their thing for one day. Finding blood orange juice is not an easy thing, but luckily, Trader Joe’s or even Whole Foods have some blood orange soda which works perfectly for this recipe.
Worst case, you could always just squeeze some blood oranges, but really, any citrus soda or juice would work great here if you can’t find blood orange.
The next day, I carefully opened the keg and added the soda. Oxidation isn’t as much a concern here since the Camden tablet or sodium metabisulfite has anti-oxidation properties, but still, I would move faster just to be safe.
I’m going for a 50-50 mix of beer and soda, so I added about a gallon of soda here. Once it’s in, I closed and added pressure to both kegs to get them nice and carbonated.
Finally, after a few days, I could enjoy both Helles and radler with my lovely wife. Man, this radler is good!
The soda adds a strong orange flavor with just a touch of strawberry notes at the end. It’s definitely sweet since we stabilized, but that citrusy sweetness makes this highly crushable and refreshing.
It’s actually awesome having this on tap as a nice alternative to high ABV beers.
I figured the ABV is around 2 percent since I mixed this radler half and half with beer and soda. The Helles is great by itself too, and with a little lagering time, it will clear up nicely. The Warrior hops leave a little to be desired in terms of the hop flavor, but if you use German Noble hops, you would get a more in-style Helles.
If you’re planning to keep this on tap by itself, it works great for this radler since it doesn’t stand out too much. The fun part about this radler is you can add any citrus you want. I wonder what a lime soda radler would taste like.
But best of all, my wife loves this radler. It’s a good feeling to brew something she can really enjoy. If you do brew this for yourself or a loved one, be sure to let me know on Instagram or on the discord server. Thanks for watching. Cheers and happy brewing!
Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy. I’ve been homebrewing for +20 yrs, an aspiring pro-brewer and micro brewery owner!