San Francisco, CA — Summer is here, and that means one thing for Tommy Hester and Wilson Barr: it’s shandy time. Hester and Barr, founders of startup TW Pitchers Brewing Company, are aiming to pioneer the next big thing in the American beer industry by becoming the nation’s first small batch craft shandy company.
Shandies, which typically refer to a blend of beer and fruit juice or soda, have been popular in Europe for years, but are just starting to hit their stride in the United States. Many breweries across the country release a version of a lemon shandy as a seasonal release in the warmer months, but most consider it a side-show to their traditional beer brands, and very few put much artisanal effort into them.
“The shandies we see coming out of most major American breweries are overly sweet, soulless lemon concoctions that are often pretty bland,” says Barr.
Even so, the popularity of shandies has been growing; IPA purists may still scoff at the idea of blending beer with other ingredients, but many consumers are turning towards shandies and fruit beers for a refreshing fix. TW Pitchers Brewing is hoping to quench the growing consumer interest by creating a line of high-quality shandies that stand out from other offerings.
“We use real juice, all natural ingredients, and we brew in small batches. The result is apparent in a better tasting brew,” explains Hester.
The startup brewery plans to stand out from the crowd by focusing exclusively on shandies and producing them year round.
“We are one of the first true craft shandy companies in the country, if not the first, and we offer shandies throughout the year so consumers have the option of drinking them whenever they want. We’re of the opinion that refreshing, approachable drinks don’t have a season,” remarks Barr.
TW Pitchers’ Brewing entered the shandy market with some gusto in 2013 by introducing Snake Bite – a blend of lager and apple cider. Snake Bite is based on a popular British pub-mixed shandy and is the first bottled version of the blend in the United States. Using juice from Fuji and Red Delicious apples, it profiles like a hard cider without the lingering sweetness and finishes clean and crisp like a beer. The company plans to introduce their second shandy in August – a grapefruit Radler with a hint of blood orange.
“We are really excited to introduce Radler. It’s a unique take on a classic German shandy and it’s absolutely delicious,” says Hester.
Tommy and Wilson, the founders of TW Pitchers Brewing met pitching for the Williams College baseball team. The dynamic duo discovered shandies while studying abroad in Europe and quickly got to work on their own brewery soon after graduating college. They are committed to bringing tasty shandies to thirsty people, one drink at a time.