In a world that seems like the apocalypse is imminent, it seemed almost impossible that my endless beer reviewing would lead me to a perfect match. The negativity surrounding us, of course, has caused me to drink, but I wondered, after six months of taste testing, would I ever find the perfect beer to hoard in my bomb shelter and drink during nuclear warfare? Will there ever be a light, enjoyable beverage to aid me in the constant internal battle of being politically active and taking breaks from social media for my own mental health? Would I ever be able to find a beer that pairs well with finding peace in a world that seems inherently evil? After half a year of searching, the future looked bleak. However, not unlike other rare experiences - such as finding the love of your life at the supermarket or finding an old $20 bill in the back pocket of a forgotten pair of jeans - the best things in life almost always come to us the moment we stop looking. I should have known better than to expect a miracle that I was actively searching for; of course the brew for me didn’t come on a silver platter. It took time and persistence, but out of the blue, I discovered a beer that I could finish, whose flavors were pleasant and enjoyable to my sensitive palette. This is the story of how I came across The One.
Sitting in the empty Gaslight lounge on my laptop is how I spend the majority of my Monday afternoons. This is when I edit, contact bands, schedule events, and answer emails. An intern often joins me and we shoot the shit in between periods of vigorous typing. Our boss, JB, pops in from time to time to go over our work, discuss upcoming projects, and give us the pep talk that we didn’t know we needed. This Monday, things got a little deeper than usual. He gave us advice about our life plans and encouraged both Intern Grace and I (now post-Intern ‘Promotions and Event Manager Rebecca’) to grab a beer on the house to accompany our work since we seemed to be stressed out. I searched the cooler to discover that the only two canned alcoholic beverages I actually enjoyed from the bar were out of stock. Depression sank in, and I considered refilling my Nalgene and pretending the inside was a vodka-diet with lime instead of water. Thankfully, Intern Grace pulled out something new and suggested I give it a try.
It was Urban Chestnut’s Big Shark Lemon Radler. I was hesitant. I’ve tried fruity beer that others have promised ‘tasted just like juice’ only to spit it out after first sip. Intern Grace peeled (yes, the top peels off to make a makeshift tall boy cup) the lid from the can and I made her taste it before I did (I never said working for me was easy). She encouraged me to try it out after she took a sip, for she has read my reviews and is somewhat familiar with the kind of beer I might be into (a type of intimacy I have yet to share with anyone else). I sniffed-it wasn’t strong; it smelled like lemonade. I looked inside; liquid gold winked back at me. I tasted. My eyes lit up as I took a longer pull from the tallboy. Love at first sight has nothing on what I was experiencing.
The Lemon Radler keeps everything good about a light beer intact. The flavor isn’t heavy but it’s still there; there’s no doubt that what I’m drinking is a beer, and unlike so many others before it, the fruit flavors combine perfectly with the lager instead of trying to mask it. Radler’s are traditionally beer and soda mixed together, but Urban Chestnut took in some creative freedom, ditched the half-beer-half-alcohol combo that creates something with little alcohol content but tastes like a popsicle (I’m looking at you, Stiegl Grapefruit Radler, you’re delicious but you won’t get me drunk and you’re full of sugar) and instead pulled off a delicious and refreshing lemon flavored beer instead. The fact that they teamed up with local bike shop Big Shark to create this beautiful marriage between sweet and bitter makes things all the more special. Do I bike? Not really. Do I love craft beer? Not usually. Do I want to seem like the type of person who rides trails and enjoys a refreshing local beer after a strenuous and calorie burning ride through the trails of Forest Park? Absolutely. The beer actually tasting good to me is the best added bonus that I could have asked for. The world seemed less bleak with each gulp of Lemon Radler that I took.
I’ll never look at another beer the way I look at Big Shark Lemon Radler. How could I? The taste is sweet without being overwhelming, the can size is convenient, peeling the lid makes me look cool, and drinking a beer with a label sporting local bike shop collaboration makes me seem like the type of person who owns a tent. There is truly nothing better than curating a false positive image of yourself through the beverages you drink, and I so look forward to tricking everyone into thinking I’m a chill, outdoorsy girl who loves cracking open a cold one after a Sunday afternoon hike.
Readers, I finished the entire can with ease. For now, the lengthy search for a beer that even a ‘general beer hater’ can love has come to an end. But if you think you have a beer that can beat this one, send a sample to me at Gaslight--Radler and I are in an open relationship.
Rebecca Davis is a current promotions and event manager for Gaslight. She graduated from Illinois State University in 2017 with a degree in journalism. Rebecca loves dive bars, singing 'Linger' by The Cranberries at karaoke, and pineapple on her pizza. Her dislikes include the Trader Joe's parking lot, accidentally falling asleep with socks on, and summing up her personality in third person self-written author bios.