SWMBO is a huge fan of Radlers. She'd drink them all year long, morning, noon, and night, if she could. Surprisingly, she doesn't like them all that sweet: maybe 70% Helles / 30% lemon soda. Which means the base beer has to be fairly good.
I don't think she'd mind if we made them with a cream ale or a blonde or a Koelsch, but for me, what makes a Radler enjoyable is the play between the sweet, tart soda, and the slightly bitter, slightly malty, slightly... something... beer.
It's that last quality I'm trying to nail down. What is it that makes Helles (and other German lagers) taste the way they do? Without the capacity to lager at home (yet), and brewing extract (or PM, if I need to), can I capture it? Do I make a Koelsch? Convert BM's Helles Belles to extract? Or should I just go buy a case of Hofbrau and call it good enough?
Or maybe I should just convince her that she prefers a Russn, and brew up a hefe.