Summer is the best time for beer mixes and beer cocktails. Beer and soft drink mixes with the addition of spirits and/or fruit flavours suit the hotter days. Serve them in jugs with ice and they are a great drink with which to hang out or get a party started. Bung in a jigger or two of white spirits and you’ve got yourself a ticket to Margaritaville.

The traditional 50:50 lager and lemonade shandy (or radler) can be upgraded by adding fruit juice or using one of the trendy artisanal lemonades and sodas available. I tried a couple of shandy mixes made with the ubiquitous Panhead Port Road Pils. Its grapefruit aroma, robust hopping and a crisp lemon zesty finish will add to the overall fruity experience.

For a grapefruit shandy, shake 75ml grapefruit juice and 30ml sugar syrup with ice, pour into a glass and add 150ml sparkling water, soda or lemonade, then add a 330ml bottle of lager. Quenching citrus flavour, and not too sweet nor too bitter. You could sub in a grapefruit soda and save all the shaking and/or a shot of vodka to up the ante.

On a similar but different tack, a grapefruit beer shandy uses equal parts hazy IPA, lemonade and sparkling water to which a half part of grapefruit juice is added. Light-bodied with a sour quenching note, add vodka for the next level.

The Bees Knees is a bit more of a cocktail. Stir 1 tsp of honey, a single shot of lemon juice and a double of gin (try Bureaucrat) until the honey dissolves. Add ice and lager shandy mix, stir and serve. This has a nice interplay between sweetness and lemon, and you can dilute with soda or sparkling water to make it go further.

Replace the lemonade in a shandy with ginger beer and you have a shandy gaff. I had a tasty one made with Duncan’s Yum Yum Yuzu, a dry lager made with yuzu (a Japanese lemon variety). Another variation is the cranberry ginger shandy. Two equal parts cranberry juice and ginger beer in a glass with ice, add a half part of lemon juice, top with lager. I also tried this one with Duncan’s Yum Yum Yuzu and got spritzy drink with good integrated flavours.

The much-maligned Snakebite is another cocktail that works well with ice. The traditional 50:50 mix of cider and lager can be amped up with the addition of sweeter favours that mellow out the acidity. This includes fruit liqueurs like the blackcurrant crème de cassis or Chambord, a French raspberry liqueur. I recently tried a mix of Honesty Box Granny Smith cider and Port Road Pils with a shot of Chambord. There was a sweet raspberry aroma and flavour, but the sweetness was balanced out by the acidity. Going the other way, I added a shot of Campari to my snakebite and got an extra bit of bitterness to proceedings.

There is plenty of scope for experimentation with the snakebite mix. I recently free-styled a mix of my go-to cider – Peckham’s Orange-A-Tang with Port Road Pils and a double gin. This has a classic dry flavour of a good long drink, with the juniper adding to the aromatics and the drink’s bitterness.

The Bromosa is the name given to a range of beer cocktails that use orange juice. One calls for lager to be added to tequila, OJ and triple sec. Another has vodka and OJ added to a hefeweizen or IPA. In a similar vein, the Manmosa is OJ and a white beer like Hoegaarden. I made a Bromosa with tangelo juice, vodka and a dash of sugar syrup with more of the Pils to top. Full bodied with a good sharpness, this one also has a great orange colour.

Finally, the beergarita. Muddle lime wedges in a jug with agave syrup, add tequila, triple sec and ice. Stir and strain into an ice filled glass and then top with lager. This one is so good that someone has named this drink the Bad Idea.

Summer’s here – mix it up.

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