The Beer Nut: Pucker up for a Curious Traveler

Norman Miller

When Alan Newman, the former head of the Magic Hat Brewing Company, would travel throughout Europe, he was always amazed by the popularity of shandys, radlers and other versions of drinks made with beer and either lemonade or lemon-based soda.

There really wasn’t an equivalent in the United States, where beer geeks looked down upon blending beers with other beverages.

“Every country has them, they just have different names,” said Newman. “We always thought we should do a shandy at Magic Hat, but there was never time to do it.”

Newman is the new head of Alchemy & Science, a project with Boston Beer Company designed to enhance the craft brewing industry through interesting ventures. He’ll soon have the chance to introduce Americans to shandys with the brand-new House of Shandy Beer Company.

The idea behind Alchemy & Science, Newman said, is that he’ll be able to create products without the worry of running a full company.

“Alchemy & Science is a business incubator for beer businesses,” said Newman. “It lets me focus on the things that I’m good at — seeing an opportunity and executing that opportunity. I’m not the world’s greatest manager, but if you want to get something going, I’m you’re guy. If you want to do something new, I’m your man. If you have a blank sheet of paper and you want to start something, I’m probably one of the best people to do that.”

So with the House of Shandy Brewing Company, Newman saw an opportunity to grasp on an underdeveloped aspect of the craft beer industry. The first beer from the brewing company, the Curious Traveler, is in stores now.

“There was a time that I didn’t think we were going to get there,” said Newman. “It took us three or four iterations to get to the point where we said, ‘this is getting serious.’ We finally had a breakthrough when we started using real fruit instead of flavors. All of a sudden it turned into something we really liked.”

Curious Traveler uses a wheat ale as a malt and real lemons and limes in the flavors. It is light and crisp, with a balance between the fruit and the beer working out well in this beer.

“The beer mixes the great old European shandy tradition with good old American ingenuity,” said Newman. “Curious Traveler may not be the first or only shandy in America, but we are committed to making it the best tasting shandy with a special recipe and the finest natural ingredients.”

The House of Shandy Brewing Company will not be a one-trick pony. He said he is working on trying to come up with other shandy recipes. The next one, Tenacious Traveler, could be available within six months, although he won’t say how it will differ from the Curious Traveler.

The House of Shandy Brewing Company is also not the only project for Alchemy & Science. In January, they purchased Angel City Brewing Company in Los Angeles, and have recently started brewing there again, with the hopes of introducing “new and interesting” beers to craft beer drinkers.

Newman said he also has several other ideas in the works that he can’t discuss, but he said he is thankful to Jim Koch of the Boston Beer Company for giving him the opportunity to continue to contribute to the craft beer industry.

“I look at things very differently than they do,” said Newman. “I’m not sure why they’re enabling me.”

Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, email or call 508-626-3823. Check out The Beer Nut blog at