Philly Beer

Review: Wawa’s new Sunfest beer is a perfect can for summer

The strawberry lemonade shandy drinks like an extra-flavorful hard seltzer.

Sunfest is Wawa and 2SP Brewing's first summer collab

Sunfest is Wawa and 2SP Brewing's first summer collab

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

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With its sweet start and tangy finish, strawberry lemonade is a great summer thirst quencher. Add beer, like Wawa and 2SP Brewing Company just did, and it’s even more fun.

Sunfest Strawberry Lemonade Shandy is the latest collab between the Delaware County convenience chain and brewery, appearing on store shelves this week.

The Delco duo have a history together. 2SP head brewer Bob Barrar grew up five minutes from Wawa No. 2, and he was all in on creating the first Wawa beer — Reserve Coffee Stout — a few years back. The stouts returned each winter for the past three years.

Now the limited edition line has its first summertime release.

The bright pink, 4% ABV brew drinks a lot like the hard seltzers that are exploding in popularity. But instead of tasting empty, it has a bit more body to it. Think real frozen fruit pop, not Jolly Rancher.

A bubbly sip begins with a sugary note that quickly dissipates. It’s replaced with a lightly sour, lemony finish that doesn’t linger too long on the tongue. This is a beer that would work on its own or be good with a cooler full of chips and sandwiches. It’s ideal for the beach.

If you don’t already know, mixing lemonade and beer is pretty common. Called a shandy or a radler, the combo has been around for centuries.

The word “shandygaff” first appeared in British literature in the 1850s. It was originally used to describe beer mixed with ginger beer or ginger ale. Versions that swapped in citrus juice and seltzer became popular, and the word was shortened.

Radlers have a very specific origin story, though it’s not entirely proven. When a big group of cyclists arrived one afternoon at his Bavarian tavern in the early 1900s, innkeeper Franz Kugler was worried he’d run out of beer. So he added sparkling lemonade to each glass, and the name “Radlermass” (translation: “cyclist liter”) was born.

The Wawa/2SP addition of berry to the mix also has precedent. In modern Germany, radlers often come with your choice of syrup shot swirled in, with raspberry one of the most common flavors.

Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Bonus points for the Sunfest label.

On a background that calls to mind the 1960’s-inspired branding for Wawa Hoagiefest — hat tip to artist Peter Max — the can features a beer-holding surfer riding a hoagie along a cresting wave.

You can find Sunfest Strawberry Lemonade Shandy at six Wawas that sell beer (including the new South Philly “stadium” outpost), at 2SP’s Aston tasting room, and at some distributors and beer stores throughout Southeastern Pa., New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. Six-packs retail for $8.99.


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