Kristale by Landstads mikromicrobryggeri, Belgian Strong Ale (?), ABV and IBU: unknown
This mysterious bottle arrived in my mailbox the other day. I know close to nothing about the beer or the brewer, other than that the bottle is mislabelled (it’s a Kristale, not a Kristlager), and that the brewer is a friend of fellow ratebeerian Cunningham. So, a real blind rating! This will show the world what an experienced rater I am, or, more likely, turn out to be a bit embarrassing for me…
I pour the contents into my glass, and note that the body has that homebrew look: a bit dirty-looking, cloudy and medium brown. The head is creamy, light-brown and very long-lived, it never reduces beyond a decent sized layer and the mandatory build-up at the walls of the glass. A quite ok amount of lacing.
The aroma is quite strong, one of the strongest aromas I’ve encountered on my journey into homebrew land so far! Being strong is of course only a good thing if the aroma actually is nice, and that is certainly the case for the Kristale. It starts out with pale malts, soon followed by hoppy notes with lots of fruits and finally very sweet caramel escapes the glass. The overall feel of the aroma is sweet, very sweet, but in a very inviting way. I get bubble gum, candy, overripe bananas, Dumle(!), yeast and a lovely vinous touch in the back. So far I’m very confused when it comes to the beer style, there are some many elements fighting for my attention!
The taste is moderate sweet with a very light bitterness and a very faint hint of acidity. I’m a hophead and usually I’m not a big fan of beers that are totally ruled by sweetness, but the sweetness of this one is really, really pleasant. It’s also a perfect fit with the sweet aroma and the flavours. The intensity of the flavours are a tad weaker than the aroma led me to hope for, but still quite impressive stuff: the caramel is there from the very start and far into the long-lasting aftertaste, hand in hand with spices and yeast. It’s Belgian yeast, right? I also get lots of sweet, ripe fruits, sweet honey, perfume, candi sugar and some vinous notes. I realise that I repeat the word “sweet” a lot, but again, this is a highly pleasant sweetness, there is nothing cloying in here.
The mouthfeel suffers a bit from The Curse of the Homebrewers, i.e. some unclean yeasty notes that also give a too chalky dry finish. Apart from that it’s quite pleasant, with a medium body, dry texture and soft carbonation.
So, let’s say that this is a Belgian Strong Ale? According to my slightly dizzy head right now I’d say that the ABV is approximately 7.5 % (but the dizziness may also be due to the fact that this is a very warm day and I’ve been bicycling 25 km).
Conclusion: a very tasty beer with wonderful aroma and flavours. Despite the dominant sweetness it’s highly drinkable. A bit dirty-looking and too much mouthdrying yeast, but still a high quality beer!
Ratebeer score: 3.4