Cristal | Union De Cervecerias Peruanas Backus y Johnston

180 Ratings
Read the review

Brewed by:
Union De Cervecerias Peruanas Backus y Johnston

Style: American Adjunct Lager

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-19-2002

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 93 | Ratings: 180
Photo of SilentSabre
3.92/5  rDev +40.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Let me begin by saying that I have never in my life had anything quite like this. Almost had a smell reminicent of a wet dog, but had other attributes as well that made it marginally appealing via smell. The taste, at first kinda reminded me of the way my basement smells, but finishes with a BIG corn taste that somehow tastes toasted like a corn tortilla, and is really tasty.
NO, I am not consuming orally, injecting, or smoking any kind of illicit street drug, this is just how peculiar this beer is. The way I described it would most assuredly turn most away from trying it out, but please, don't count this out. I encourge folks to try this stuff. It's strange, but quite good. Not alot of carbonation makes it fairly easy to kill these in decent numbers.
My first brew from south of the equator.(Foster's comes from Canada, not Australia). I'm a sucker for stuff from Spanish speaking countries anyway.

 913 characters

Photo of jwc215
3.88/5  rDev +39.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Twist off cap under a foil wrapper ... Well, that's... different.


Pours straw yellow with a well-retained white head that left rings of lacing down the side of the glass.

The smell is of mild hay. Slightly thin, but clean.

An initial mild bitterness is soon mixed with a gentle grassy sweetness. Light and refreshing, with some body to it.

The flavor holds up pretty well in the mouth. It leaves a clean, refreshing feeling.

This really hits the spot on a warm or hot day. It's a good, basic "session" beer. It's one of the best beers of this style that I've had from Latin America. It's also better than most macros, which what I based my rating on. For the style, it's better than most.

 714 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.84/5  rDev +37.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a Libbey style pilsner glass.

Bold and shiny brass body, not quite straw or pale colored. Lost of nice floating carbonation, reaching to a soapy bleach white and tall bright head. Nicely held up on the head as well with some staying power making for a nice looking lager.

Clean nose, with lighter grains and minimal sensing adjunct sweetness. Does come off a bit flour and airy a bit, but does manage a solid almost chewy sensing malt quality. Very minimal if non existent hop sense.

Palate makes no big surprises but manages to stay in the zone. Soft light sweet sensing malts and grains, with a touch of mild sugars in the mid palate. Clean crisp finish, slightly wet actually but not terribly compared to most adjunct lagers. A mild sense of adjunct sweetness on the finish, and forgoes a lot of overly sticky flavors as well.

Definitely one of the better imported adjunct lagers I've had in some time.

 944 characters

Photo of thekanna
3.83/5  rDev +37.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had at a beer tasting tent at the Crystal City Wine Festival on 9/19/10.

A: Clear yellow with a good amount of effervescence and less than a finger of head.

S: Some sweet malts, slight yeast, relatively undetectable.

T/M: Starts off with crisp, sweet malts which spike in a peak of carbonation before resulting in a smooth, creamy, almost fruit- or egg-tart-like aftertaste.

D: I'm not usually a fan of South American beers but this one was definitely an exception. Nice, flavorful, and relaxing to drink.

 512 characters

Photo of RonaldTheriot
3.75/5  rDev +34.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Cristal has a standard, white lager head, a clear, yellow-golden, bubbly appearance, and low-to-moderate lacing left behind. The aroma is of pungent, slightly skunked, bread aroma. Taste is of yeasty, bready malt with slight sweetness and bitterness. Mouthfeel is medium, and Cristal finishes crisp, refreshing, and highly drinkable.


 339 characters

Photo of jsisko01
3.58/5  rDev +28.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Pours a clear golden-yellow color with a centimeter thick head that dissipates instantly. Has decent lacing.

Smell - Very skunky. I could smell it right when I opened the bottle. Grainy and corn. Not really anything else in here..

Taste - Quite bitter with a strong grassy/skunk flavor. Grains and corn as well. Exactly like the smell..

Mouthfeel - Pretty light in the body with mild carbonation.

Overall - This can be easily compared to Lowenbrau, except more refreshing. Not too bad

 501 characters

Photo of EnojysAnyBeer
3.54/5  rDev +26.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Crystal clear golden-yellow body with no head.

S- Lots of corn smell going on. Other grainy and metallic tones also noticed

T- Tastes like corn and metal. Not bad but not good

M- Clean watery feeling and excellent carbonation

D- Beautiful carbonation and light feeling make for easy drinking

 298 characters

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.52/5  rDev +26.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Fresh bottle. Crystal clear, golden straw in color with a bright white head that drops quickly but leaves a good collar and some very minor lace. The aroma is of a sweet, grainy maltiness entwined with a lightly earthy and grassy hoppiness. The body is light and crisp in the mouth. The flavor starts sweet, reveals and odd lightly acidic "twang", and then some light hop flavor as it crosses the palate, and finishes on the dry side with some lingering malt notes. Refreshing and enjoyable. An interesting malt character makes this beer somewhat intriguing. Paired with an excellent balance, some decent hop flavor, and a very good drinkability - it's one of the better South American lagers.

 693 characters

Photo of ChristopherWIU-UTPA
3.48/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

I did not have high expectations of South American beers after visiting Central American and Colombia previously, but I was pleasantly surprised by Cristal. It pours smoothly, has a golden texture, has little carbonation sparkle, and has medium white head. It has a lightly pleasing malt aroma, no hard after taste, and goes down smooth without any edge.

This is Peru's leading export beer and I have had in a variety areas of the US, but I have this all over Peru as well.

Lima/Jauraz/Moche, Peru December, 2013-January, 2014

 529 characters

Photo of Mr3dPHD
3.45/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Served in a small stemmed pokal glass from the bottle. Enjoyed with a delicious Peruvian beef and pasta dish.

A - Bright yellow, crystal clear. Head was quite fluffy with decent retention. Not very much lacing however once the head began dying down.

S - Hint of lime right up front. Some nice bright citrus hops with no real malt present. A bit more interesting than your run of the mill adjunct.

T - Flavor was a tad disappointing after the nice aroma, although certainly not bad. Some dry bitterness trails throughout...sort of a crisp white wine dryness in the finish. You can definitely get some corn sweetness on the palette. Not a whole lot of malt character at all. The mild sweetness seems to be all filler. Should be noted that it was quite muted when compared to most adjuncts however, so that's a plus.

M - Light body. A bit watery with medium carbonation.

O - You have to go into a beer like this not expecting a whole lot, and in that sense, it actually did pretty well. When stating preference in the world of adjuncts, you can't really get too picky because they're all so similar...but I'd say this is on the higher end as far as quality goes. Not a great beer, but a pretty damn good adjunct. If you want a Peruvian lager and you have options, try a Franca if they have it (which they probably won't)...if not, this is a good second. A little better than Cusqueña at least, in my opinion. Enjoyable to say the least.

 1,439 characters

Photo of jmbranum
3.45/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light-gold clear brew with a 3/4 inch white head.

Basic pilsner style with little hop bite. Not good, but not interesting either.

Heavily carbonated.

Compared to other Latin-American lagers, it is a above average. (which is why it is rated as high as it is).

 276 characters

Photo of filabrazilia
3.45/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

The beer pours a pale straw gold with a thin white head that leaves good lace on the glass.

Pretty mild grainy aroma with notes of corn and alcohol.

The taste is pretty mild as well. Light malt and grain with a hint of malt.

The mouthfeel is carbonated to the point of tickling the nose. The beer is a little too dry in the finsih.

Not bad overall. It can be drunk when the weather is warm. I'm in Houston, it's August, and it's hot. Good beer.

 457 characters

Photo of WilliamPhilaPa
3.45/5  rDev +23.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a nice golden straw color, with a nice frothy white head that fades to a good lace. On the nose the aroma is earthy grainy and grassy. On the palate it is sweet at first then bitter and sharp in the mouthfeel, nice malt backbone, grassy, grainy and slight tang to it. Overall this brew is not that exciting but definitely drinkable…refreshing and crisp and easy to drink... more of a thirst quencher.

 408 characters

Photo of HalfFull
3.44/5  rDev +23.3%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

330 ml. brown bottle with a twist off cap and served in a pint glass. The 'Beer from the Andes' pours a clear light straw with a porous white cap. Retention is typically brief for the style yet keeps a light surface cap.

Nose is quite grainy and with a bit of lemony hops. Adjuncts aren't prominent and there is a light sweetness. Neutral again in flavor with a moderate bready texture and a light hop finish. Grainy nature gives a decent feel and the drink is unencumbered by negative factors.

This beer warms to reveal its true identity as a Pilsener as opposed to an Adjunct Lager in my view.

 598 characters

Photo of acrawf6
3.42/5  rDev +22.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours out a light straw with tons of carbonation bubbles. I guess this glass isnt so clean. Head is small, but the amount of bubbles keeps a small amount of head present.

Smell. Sweet with malts with jsut a little bit of pepperyness to it.

Taste. Interesting malt character. sweet at first, then dries up to an astringent mouthfeel. I also am getting a rye taste to it. strange. finishes slightly sweet.

Mouthfeel. does give me an astringent feeling in my mouth. Body is moderate, lot of carbonation.

Overall. A nice one to try, but forgetful since i dont think there is enough to make it stand out as a great beer, but above average for the style.

 660 characters

Photo of Jason
3.37/5  rDev +20.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

12 oz brown twist off that is foiled … very odd. No freshness date.

Appearance: Perfect clarity but that does not make up for the thin ring of lace that seems to leave quicker than the beer.

Smell: Sweet grain and adjunct aroma with a flowery hop in the back … clean nose to say the least.

Taste & Mouthfeel: Spot on lager crispness within the light body. Light on the malt with grain overtones all over the place. Quick rose water like flavours linger middle to end. Mild hop bitterness with more astringent grain in the finish.

Notes: A decent south-of-the-border lager. Certainly better than most North, Central and South American macro lagers … went great with a plate of Peruvian roasted chicken and fries.

 726 characters

Photo of tgbljb
3.35/5  rDev +20.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a crystal clear light amber color with large white puffy head, that quickly disappeared. Smell is minimal, with a moderate sweetish texture to be found. Taste is also very light, with a little maltiness. Finished nice and refreshing, but not much else. A decent beer, good as a spacer.

 292 characters

Photo of Morris729
3.33/5  rDev +19.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale golden straw color with a thin creamy white head that fades into a good amount of lace. Nose is sweet malts and fresh grains. Light in body with a very crisp mouthfeel due to all the active carbonation. Taste is initially sweet quickly followed by notes of bitter and acidic citrusy hops. Not a bad brew at all for what it is—a light and refreshing thirst quencher perfect for a hot day.

 401 characters

Photo of dstc
3.23/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from bottle with Best Before date of 04/Sep/2007.

Very clear, pale yellow appearance with full white head that lasted a fairly long time leaving a fine lace behind. Quit bubbly.

Clean sweet grainy smell, maybe a little hoppy.

Nice clean taste but with a bit of flavor to it. Not light a typical light Macro brew.

Very carbonated and light in the mouth.

Fairly good beer. Another nice refreshing beer for the hot Florida summers.

 451 characters

Photo of damndirtyape
3.22/5  rDev +15.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

330ml bottle (no date) poured into a glass mug.

Appearance: Clear pale yellow with a white foam that died down to a few strands of foam across the top and an occasional strand here and there. Nothing special.

Smell: Mild grassy hops with clean lager beer smell. Fairly appealing.

Taste: Clean crisp lager with some mild grassy hops at the end. Just a simple lager. Not grainy or corny.

Mouthfeel: Good carbonation with a thickness just a bit thicker than water. Average.

Overall / Drinkability: Just right for washing down a meal at a Peruvian restaurant - didn't get in the way of the food at all. Easy enough that I had two with no problem. Quite drinkable, but nothing special.

 689 characters

Photo of DoubleJ
3.2/5  rDev +14.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Cristal is labled as "Beer from the Andes", yet this is bottled in Lima, which is not in the Andes. From a marketing standpoint, Cusqueña is the truer beer of that long mountain range. But what about the beer itself? Here comes 330 ml. On to the beer:

Grassy yellow with a hint of gold. There's a small head formed on top, but it shows good head retention on top and spotty lacing.. The nose is nothing to be shameful of. There is a small dose of DMS, but it's got a pleasant hay and grass note and some sweet maltiness.

It's a surprise that this tastes less like an adjunct lager more like a watered down helles lager. There's dry hay at the begining, and it continues as a seltzery bitterness creeps in. Dabs of wood hit. In general, the overall flavor is on the lighter side, but with little nastiness, I can live with that. The body is very light and seems watery despite small bubbles bursting.

Now that the beer part is over, I can state that Cusqueña is the better of the two. But let's not laugh at Cristal, which is still better than many other nation's top-selling lager. At least I know that the one day I vacation in Peru, the macro options won't completely suck.

 1,182 characters

Photo of shererjt
3.17/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Beer from Peru? Sure, why not!

Poured a clear yellow with an average, white head and moderate carbonation. Nose had some faint hops, crisp malt, and that's about it. Still nice, though. Flavor was about normal for a macro-type with maybe a bit more bitterness and fairly dry. Mouthfeel was lively with a bit of a prickly feeling and quite clean. Drinkability was average.

Wasn't expecting much from this one, but it's really not bad. On the dry side, so if it's malt you want, look elsewhere.

 498 characters

Photo of Brutaltruth
3.16/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Enjoyed from the 11.2 oz bottle from a friend at work who bought this for his Peruvian goddess, and still managed to save me one---THANKS KEVIN!

Pours a crystal clear light yellow with a very quickly dissipating white head leaving no ring, lacing, nothing.....surprised really. Nose of light grains, light sweet honey, and floral hops. Flavors actually exceed the nose in quality and feel with lightly sweet grains and honey mingling with a light floral hops note tot he rear and a grain aftertaste that is rather pleasant. Crisp carbonation that is not present to the eye is fairly effervescent on the taste giving it a substantial lift in appeal. Overall a very nice lager with a good grain background and light honey sweetness. Perfect summer brew.


 766 characters

Photo of slitherySOB
3.15/5  rDev +12.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I think this is the best South American beer I've had. Light gold appearance with a 1/4 head that left some sparce laste. Hmm, pleasant smell. Nothing to complain about. Some faint hops, a bit of malt and caramel, and a little rice. Average taste. A little less caramel than the scent would have you believe, but that's forgivable. Mild hoppy bite and sweet malt flavour. I don't mean to be insulting, but this beer reminds me of what Budweiser would taste like, if AB gave a damn about their products. Good, crisp, crunchy autumn leaf mouthfeel that leaves the mouth happy. Good, drinkable session beer. In fact, I think I'll have another right now before I head out.

 668 characters

Photo of donkeyrunner
3.14/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 2 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Had at a birthday dinner with the 'rents at Machu Picchu in Somerville.

Clear, nice looking lager except for an insta-vanish head. Doesn't really smell like much, though maybe a little light grain which very well might be my imagination hoping for it to be there. At least it doesn't smell bad.

Taste is lightly hopped and a very lively, almost playful carbonation. Mouthfeel is a bit thin but goes well enough with the effervescence.

Not bad for washing down some Ceviche but not something I would recommend outside Peruvian fair.

 537 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Cristal from Union De Cervecerias Peruanas Backus y Johnston
2.79 out of 5 based on 180 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    Support uncompromising beer advocacy and award-winning, independent journalism with a print subscription to BeerAdvocate magazine.