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 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 RoyalT
2/5  rDev -43.2%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Appearance – Clear and orange in color with a lame head.

Smell – The light hops and scattered spicing is spoiled by the overpowering nasty grain.

Taste – All I can get out of this is some cheap, candy sweetness and a hint of hops.

Mouthfeel – Very thin and flat and not refreshing.

Drinkability – Sorry I couldn’t find anything positive to say about this one. It just left me cold. I'm popping open my Bethlehem Brewery growler of Oatmeal Stout that Francisweizen sent me.

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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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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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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 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 feloniousmonk
3.37/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Clear, bright golden color, fizz, thin layer of whitish foam.
Minor aromatics, mostly malty sweetness, a whiff of fruit, drizzle of honey.
Lightness itself in the taste, delicate, and possessing a measured amount of flavor, just the tiniest amount, with a trickle clinging long on the palate, long after the swallow. Traces of apples and pears.
High in the drinkability factor, easily quaffed, with just enough taste to make it worthwhile, but not enough to be memorable.
An adequate stab at the style, but lacks that certian something that would really make it an admirable kolsch.

(Addendum: after reading other, higher rated reviews, I can see their points and recognize the validity of that appreciation, but it still does nothing much for me.)

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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 GClarkage
3.5/5  rDev -0.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

11/08/04- Sampled at the Big Sky Brewery on tap.

*from notes in August 2004.

Appearance- Poured with a generous head and very slight lacing. Kind of a pils color except a bit darker.

Smell- Smell of grains and grass. Maybe a hint of sweetness. Some kind of fruit but can't remember.

Taste- Was very crisp and lots of malts and hops. A bit sweet at the same time also.

Mouthfeel- Was a bit over-carbonated. Although, it did go down very smooth. Just remember those bubbles all over my mouth.

Drinkability- A very nice summer beer. Would be fairly easy to consume many of these over a hot summer day.

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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 Tballz420
3.55/5  rDev +0.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

This one is a plae straw gold color, nice bubbly white head on the top. Scent is fruity/lemony. Light malts up front, lemon influence. Touch of flowery hops in the back round it out. Thin mouth. I alway like to see the brewers interpretation of this style, this one isnt bad but i would rather have the Schells. Still would be great after mowing a few lawns.

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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 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 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 ADR
3.7/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Something new from Big Sky, one of a replacement series for Slow Elk Oatmeal Stout, though I hope they try a new and better Stout sometime...

Bright darker gold, almost luminous then chill hazing. Head is scant with about 20 seconds of duration. Laces in punctuation marks. Wild honey aroma, very sweet. Flavor is the epitomy of malty, seems to confirm the pale malt the name imples, being quite stuffed with treacle, brown sugar, trace of fig, slight nuttiness late, and lots of light caramel. Body is thickish, carbonation, lower. Hardly a trace of discernible hop. Not very refreshing to me, pretty unidimensional and not really balanced, but makes a definite statement. I like it in a different kind of way.

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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 NeroFiddled
3.8/5  rDev +8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big Sky's Crystal Ale delivers a crystal-clear golden ale that's sweet, refreshing, and tasty! It's bright white head drops quickly and it leaves little lace, but its brilliance and glowing, golden highlights help to make up for that. Sweet, honeyish malt greets you in the nose with a cusp of floral Hallertau hops; and the flavor is almost exactly the same. It's very clean in both the aroma and flavor; and it's nicely balanced towards sweet malt with a restrained hop bitterness and floral and delicately spicy hop flavor. It's very easy to drink, and with an alcohol content of 4.7% you could have a few; although there's not really enough complexity or finesse to lend it any more drinkability. In a word.... quaffable!

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