I’m not going to lie and say I’m drinking this radler after a brutal 40 mile bike ride, even though that’s how ~99% of Coloradans spend their springtime weekends. Nope, I’m wearing sweatpants and sitting on my comfy couch drinking Great Divide’s Roadie Grapefruit Radler.
It might be spring, but Colorado isn’t done with winter yet. It’s frigid outside and rainy, and I’m taking pulls off a refreshing beer that’s designed to be consumed in the warmer months. It’s a little confusing to my tastebuds.
The other confusing thing is that one of my favorite Colorado breweries, Great Divide, has brewed this beer. Yes, that same Great Divide known for the bold, beautiful Yeti series, is moving into somewhat uncharted territory. Even the press release announcing Roadie seems to anticipate this reaction from anyone who’s previously had their beers. “Creating a radler is wildly different from anything we have brewed before,” says owner Brian Dunn.
Dunn is not wrong.
It’s an ale brewed with grapefruit puree, and you can tell they used plenty of it.”
When you hear the phrase, “grapefruit radler,” you probably think of Germany’s Stiegl Grapefruit Radler. My Cicerone pal who grew up in Germany says that unless you’re a young person in Deutschland, it’s frowned upon to drink radlers.
There’s no judgement in the US. If it’s hot outside, everyone with a brain grabs a saison, shandy, or a Stiegl Radler, which is made from 60% grapefruit soda and 40% Stiegl Goldbräu (a Märzen/pilsner-type beer). It comes in around 2% alcohol by volume, offers a fruit truck’s worth of grapefruit and lemon notes, and tastes nothing like a beer.
But back to this Colorado radler. The can is eye-catching. It features a silhouette of mountain bikers against a background of pastel colors. Even the can doesn’t look like any other Great Divide vessel, something that I have to imagine has been done purposely. But I’ve been wrong before; I don’t blame you for not trusting a guy who admitted to wearing sweatpants.
What’s inside this can is nothing like any of its other beers. In fact, like any good radler, it doesn’t really taste like a beer. It’s more like a boozy soda, but without any saccharine artificial flavors you might find in the malt beverages crowding shelves these days.
And unlike most radlers, the beer has no soda in it. It’s an ale brewed with grapefruit puree, and you can tell they used plenty of it, because those grapefruit aromas are intense. The finish is pleasant and tart, and warrants another sip immediately after you’ve had one.
I’ve enjoyed drinking most of the Great Divide beers I’ve had in the last six or so years I’ve lived in Colorado. Despite having had offbeat special releases at its anniversary parties and Yeti ice cream floats, this beer makes the least sense to me in the context of what the brewery’s been successfully bottling and canning over the years.
But you know what? This is a tasty grapefruit beer-y type drink, and if one of my favorite breweries wants to keep releasing well-made beers, even if they feel a little off-brand...?
I’m just a guy sitting on a couch wearing sweatpants. I can’t knock the hustle.