Crystal Ale | Big Sky Brewing Company

38 Reviews
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Crystal AleCrystal Ale

Brewed by:
Big Sky Brewing Company
Montana, United States

Style: Kölsch

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.70%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by ZAP on 05-28-2004

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 38 | Ratings: 41
Photo of hopdog
3.33/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I had this one from a 12oz bottle.

Poured a medium golden color with an averaged sized white head. Aromas of citrus (light lemons) with light hops. Tastes of citrus, sweet malts and lightly bready. I found the body to be somewhat on the thinner body.

Notes from 10/11/05.

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Photo of DoubleJ
2.66/5  rDev -24.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.5

Enjoyed with black forest ham on rye, on to the beer:

The beer shines a pale goldenrod in my glass with a little bit of a sopay head on top. Aroma is dry grain and citrus, a little intense on the latter. Much of the taste is bitter grapefruit, and I found it to be a little unpleasant and unbalanced. Not much to write home about, but admittedly a fresher bottle might have helped here.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3.36/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This beer struck me as being pretty good, and better than other Big Sky offerings I've had. I've noticed Big Sky beers popping up everywhere, and their IPA is certainly no good, but I was curious about some of their other beers, and was plesantly (albeit minorly) surprised by this beer. Its smell is bad (overly corn-ish smelling), but its tasting is faintly hoppy and pleasant. Not a bad beer, and earns a weak recommendation from me.

Its appearance is a hazy bright yellow, with a head that is pleasantly abundant consisting of inconsistently sized bubbles. Aroma is a bit off-putting; this beer smells like corn grits. Flavor is good; very light but hoppy. Mouthfeel is unremarkable. There is a fair amount to like about this beer...I would drink this again.

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Photo of BillyB
3.83/5  rDev +8.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a bright straw yellow with a thick, foamy white head. Very clear.

Slight bitter taste with a hint of lemony citrus and faintly sugar-cookie/biscuity maltiness. This is a nice balance between bitter and malt where neither is overwhelming but both show their character.

Very light/thin bodied. Very soft.

A very drinkable beer.

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Photo of akorsak
3.9/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 12 oz bottle from Liquid Solutions.

A: The kolsch pours with a deep yellow color, crystal clear (and therefore spot-on with the name). The head was sufficiently large on pour and leaves some decent lacing in the glass.

S: The kolsch has a surprisingly assertive hop character, showing off a dry crisp zatec-like body. The malty body nicely supports the hops, showing off a grainy and fruity element. I am very pleased with the ale, as I was worried about getting a thin malty mess.

M: The assertive hops and sweet malts are nicely paired, creating a smooth and enjoyable brew.

D: Damn, I wish I lived in Montana, this is a real sessioner.

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Photo of BeerRun13
3.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a mostly clear, almost pale golden color. Small white ring with lots of bubbles from below.
Malty with some pungent hop aromas.
British hops and a slight citrus flavor. More of a pungent bitterness.
Light bodied. Good carbonation. Nice bitterness throughout.
I would have guessed British Pale Ale before Kolsch. Not bad at all, but I didn't get that Kolsh yeast character.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
3.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

I was hoping to find a different offering from Big Sky but this was the only option available so I gave it a whirl and it wasn't half bad.

It pours a crisp golden colour with a bubbly foamy white head atop the liquid.

Aroma is semi-sweet and grainy with a nice basic balance of malt and hops. There's a hint of chalky spiciness in the mix here as well.

The flavour is basically more of the same. It's subdued but flavourful. The sweetness permeates throughout with a bit of a caramel and sugar candy flavour, and it blends well with the malt flavour here. There is a touch of floral flavour from the hops but it is only faintly noticeable. Mouthfeel is light and crisp and easy drinking overall.

This one was basic but thirst quenching and pretty well made. It won't wow you but it gets the job done.

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Photo of Mark
3.56/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This refreshing beer was a pale gold and was topped by a thick white head. Lacing was good. Grainy aroma, almost pils like, with accent on malt. Strong malt base with a slight hop zing. A bit biscuity as well. While not too heavily hopped, it has a good long finsh which I found a bit interesting. Refreshing beer but a bit too lager like for me. I slightly suspected this but was hoping for something a bit more ale like in substance.

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Photo of woodychandler
3.49/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This poured with a big, thick, foamy, marshmallow-white head with decent retention. The color was a bright lemon-yellow. The nose was faintly malty, but I experienced a slight bitterness on the tongue. The mouthfeel tended towards thin. The finish was very dry with a lingering presence of hops. It wasn't a bad kolsch, but I've had better. That said, it was eminantly drinkable, especially on a humid day.

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Photo of RJLarse
3.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I picked up a six-pack of Big Sky Crystal Ale at a grocery store, to taste, review and enjoy. I poured this beer in to a pint tumbler.

Pours a light an orange/gold color and is crystal clear. A foamy two-finger head forms and is quite resilient, lacing the sides of the glass nicely.

The smell is mild, cereal, with herbal notes like fresh mown hay.

The taste is a cereal or biscuit flavor up front, followed by a sweet herb or vegetable flavor, grass or hay, and a mildly bitter hop finish. The flavors are reasonably well balanced.

The mouth feel is light, crisp and refreshing. The beer is moderately carbonated.

This is a very drinkable beer. Smooth and light, it would be a refreshing choice on a hot day. I’m not much on the style, but this is a good representative of it. One of the better brews I have had from Big Sky.

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Photo of SilentSabre
3.12/5  rDev -11.4%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I was unsure of what to make of this. A very lackadaisical pour (my mistake) yields a very weak and pitiful head. I will not judge this as I am aware its shortcommings are my fault. There is some chill haze and the colour is an orange peach ; slightly cloudy. The smell is very faint. It is lightly sweet and malty in the background. That taste seems quite muted, as well. The sweet elements are present here, but very subtle. There is a malty profile that manifests itself several seconds after you swallow a sip. This is a strange beer. It has little to offer in smell or taste, but at the same time, it's unoffenssive and very light. I could kill probably eight of these things with no trouble...especially if it were hot outside. Decent at best.

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Photo of Gusler
3.92/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-Tap @ Papago
The beer fresh from the tap is a nice clear blond color with a big fluffy white head that dissipates slowly leaving a fine curtain of lace to cover the glass. Nose has a fresh crisp hint of hops, sweet malt, quite appetizing; start is somewhat sweet with a pleasant grain profile and the top light to moderate in feel. Finish has a stern acidity, hops potent and the aftertaste dry, a real nice drinking beer; I had three pints, just damn good.

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Photo of brentk56
3.23/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a slightly hazy golden body with a fluffy head that leaves some lacing

Smell: Biscuity malt aromas dominate with a bit of grassy hops in the background

Taste: Starts out with a rather sweet, biscuity aspect that persists through the finish; after the swallow, the grassy hop flavors kick in

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and moderately carbonated

Drinkability: Not really to my tastes as this is way too sweet for me

Not sure why this is considered a Kölsch. Nothing on the label or website identifies it as such and this is way too underattenuated to be representative of the style. Had I rated it to style, the ratings would have been lower.

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Photo of Mebuzzard
2.83/5  rDev -19.6%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

poured into pint glass.
Appeared a light golden with small, but lingering head. Aroma was promising. A bit sweet but had some hops.
Taste was light, like a thicker Coors Light. Nothing special. Had some sort of creaminess to it that camoflauged the taste, or maybe there wasnt much flavor anyway. I could not drink two.

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Photo of mac56
3.77/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bought this at the local muni here in town - no freshness date, so no way of knowing how long it's been on the cooler shelf. Deep golden color. Moderate head that faded away quickly leaving moderate lace. Slightly floral aroma. Well balanced taste, slightly sharp, very quenching. Full satisfying mouthfeel. I could drink quite a few of these.

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Photo of russpowell
4.18/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This was a pleasant suprise, wasn'ty expecting a whole lot out of this, but was fairly pleased and impressed

Pour golden and clear with a chunky white head, Maintained a 1" head to the finsih with tenacious lacing

Smell: Floral hops, malt, and frutiness

Taste: Malty/husky goodness with floral hops filling in the taste gaps nicely.

Mouthfeel: Balanced and very smooth, carbonation is spot on!

Hope this highly drinkable ale grows distribution roots here in CO Springs, I was pretty happy with 3 of 4 beers on offer, only the most high profile Moose Drool failed to please me. This beer will be in my spring-fall rotation if availible.

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Photo of Mitchster
4.57/5  rDev +29.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Big thanks to my beer buddy Patrick for the donation!

Pours out to a sparkingly clear straw golden, forming a rocky bone white head with very good retention and very nice lacing. Very nice looking brew! Carbonation is moderate. The aroma is enticing...white grape juice is ungodly dominant (unlike anything I've smelled in a brew before) with freshly mashed pale malts, husk, very delicate and beautifully floral hops and a slight bit of skunk I can't put my finger on. Wow! The mouthfeel is snappy, very brisk, crisp and refreshingly clean with a light body. The taste is akin to the aroma...the malts are not too sweet and tone-down the grape-juice character...this is all balanced wonderfully by floral hops with an awesome lingering bitterness. Husks linger in the back of the throat and burps are spicy.

This is an amazing, under-rated brew. I was expecting a crappy "cream ale" or "micro-brewed domestic lager". I am ecstatic and could drink this all day long were it available in my area. A wonderful Kolsch and representative of the style. Highly recommended!

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Photo of HopHeadKen
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Thanx to friends from Valporaiso, IN for saving one of these for me.

Good PFFFtttt when the cap comes off; Pours clear golden yellow with a decent amount of thick white foam head that soon dissapates to a thin lace and ring around the glass.

The bottle contained a small amount of sediment, so I am guessing that it might be bottle conditioned.

Light malt and subtle hop aroma; and first taste is a mild hop flavor, somewhat citrus; this beer is smoothe with a hop aftertaste.

Not BIG hops like an IPA, but smoothe. I cannot identify the variety. Mt Hood ? Amarillo ?

Good as a lunch beer with a BLT - cold on a hot summer day !
Would be glad to drink more.

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Photo of BeerManDan
3.3/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

When poured it was an golden yellow with a orange hue. Not a lot of foam and some lace. I was kind of impressed with the taste and flavor of this ale. It had the usual hoppy flavor with a hint of yeast and a sweet/tart citrus taste at the end. A nice summer quincher after working out side in the heat of day.

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Photo of alexgash
3.18/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Slightly coppery, golden, clear (crystal). Creamy, dense, dirty off-white head. Light honey on the nose, with biscuit malt, some buttery grain, bread yeast, light apples, zesty/citrusy hop bitterness. More malts than hops. Diminutive malt flavors. Some biscuit, a little honey, faint apples, and a touch of butter. Soapy. Garbled hop flavors: tangy, citrusy, moderately bitter. Mouthfeel is a little soapy. Not as crisp and fruity as I like my kolsches to be. Still, not too bad.

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Photo of battlekow
3.82/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big Sky's Moose Drool and Scapegoat Pale Ale seem to be pretty popular around here; some places even stock cases of the former. Haven't come across this one nearly as much. It's pale, orange-yellow that could be described as "piss-colored," but I'll be a gentleman and call it "apple juice." Smells and tastes malty; nothing especially interesting going on here, but it is quite refreshing. It's frequently said that a beer would be good after mowing the lawn--well, I just did mow the lawn, a huge expanse stretching from my back door to the Milwaukee River, and this beer hit the spot afterwards. Personally, I prefer this to Big Sky's summer seasonal, the Summer Honey, as a beer on a hot day. If you like spices, though, go for the Summer Honey.

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Photo of freed
1.89/5  rDev -46.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Picked this up against better judgment because the label was so "a river runs through it." Pours a nice clear golden with a smattering of foam on top. Not much action inside the glass carbonation wise.

The aroma is somewhat odd, but interesting and perplexing. Not easily done. Its malt and sourness.

The taste is dreadful. Its almost like fermented alfalfa spouts. Sour malt and compost heap. Oddly enough the flavor falls of the palate quickly so you figure its safe to take another sip. Did this a couple times before finally pitching it.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.98/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Minimally dusted sunflower gold topped by an ivory cap that looks both lightly creamy and cottony soft. Rapidly popping surface bubbles barely outpace the carbonation feeding the head's underside, resulting in an extremely slow deflation. Squiggly splotches of lace appear on the upper portion of the glass with meatier chunks farther down.

The nose is pleasantly summery. It consists of lightly sweet grain and fruity hops with an herbal undertow. Crystal Ale is on the mild side with regard to flavor, but then most kolschs are. I guess a little palate adjustment is in order. As in the nose, herb-dusted orchard fruit is dominant. The beer starts out mildly sweet and minimally spicy and finishes gently bitter and tending toward dry. All in all, a good use of Crystal hops.

Although the body/mouthfeel is light (still well within bounds for the style), it actually has more heft than it appeared to have initially; especially as the carbonation fades. Most lighter beer loses mouthfeel as the ounces disappear. It's refreshing to see one go in the other direction.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Crystal Ale, in large part because the style isn't noted on the label and I was unaware that it's a kolsch until I started this review. It's good beer though and would probably be in my summer rotation if Big Sky would only extend their distribution area one more tier of states to the South.

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Photo of RushLimbmalt
2.06/5  rDev -41.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Pours a light golden color and has no head. It has that sour, bready aroma that Kölsch beers seem to have in common.The flavor is a bit thin and has an odd bitterness from the hops that is not enjoyable to me. This is the second time I have tried this beer and for some reason I remembered it being better. Maybe it just doesn't fit well as a wintertime brew.

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Photo of Reidrover
3.32/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Bought one single of this. I am assuming its a summer the freshness might be a problem.
Its a pretty average looking Kolsch..golden ,like Tate and Lyle syrup from the UK..large frothy pure white head..leaves a small amount of laceing.
liked the aroma of this very sweet and floral without being overbearing..even a hint of hop in the background.
taste is quite acceptable smooth sweetness at first ,than a burst of bitterness..and again a sweet finish. Honeyish in tone sometimes.
Its pretty average on the palate and is borderline cloying in the end..though it just manages to stay on the palatable side of it.
I dont think this is a bad certainllyisnt a good one either. Its one that i would accept but i doubt would buy again.

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Crystal Ale from Big Sky Brewing Company
3.52 out of 5 based on 41 ratings.
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