Monday, May 14, 2012

Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbier (2012 original review)

A week ago I reviewed Sixpoint's "Apollo" - an American take on the niche German "kristallweizen" wheat beer style. It occurred to me that I'd never actually had a beer of that style that was real deal, so why not go to the world's oldest brewery and see how it compares?

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (663) - Albany, New York, USA - MAY 12, 2012
I recently enjoyed an American take on the kristallweizen style and it occurred to me that I’ve never reviewed an authentic German brew of the style, so what better beer to opt for than Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbier? It’s best described as a wheat beer for lager drinkers as it has only the basic qualities of a traditional wheat, but without nearly the complexity or energy.

I poured a 500ml bottle into an official Weihenstephaner glass.

Appearance: Bright pale gold, crystal clear with plenty of visible carbonation present. Forms a huge, bright white, foamy head which eventually dissipates but doesn’t leave much lacing on the glass.

Smell: A classic Bavarian wheat beer with half the aroma plus a hint of lager-like quality to it. Slight banana and lemonpeel, otherwise very mild.

Taste: I didn’t know what to expect with Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbier, but I was genuinely surprised when the palate seemed so overtly mild. It has a clean, slightly lemony, slightly watery taste up front. It slowly transitions to a more familiar wheat beer taste with light banana flavor and a subtle citrusy juiciness. There’s a biscuity maltiness in there, too - reminiscent of a Munich-style lager. The finish is crisp and clean, although that’s a somewhat redundant statement since the majority of the palate is clean.

It’s not that this is a bad beer (far from it), it’s just much more mild than I’d expect. It’s possible I had an old bottle, but who knows? I found I was able to enjoy this drink since I’m so familiar with the style and can concentrate on the subtleties in it that are flat-out overt in a more traditional wheat beer. Lager drinkers and general newbies will likely enjoy this beer more than seasoned veterans.

Drinkability: I drank this beer outside on a hot sunny day - the ideal setting for this type of beer. It went down very smoothly even though it was noticeably fizzy across the tongue like a lager. The mild palate and clean aftertaste made it quite refreshing. Its weight of 5.4% actually seems a little high since Weihenstephaner Kristall Weissbier seems so overtly mild overall. It does the job a wheat beer should do, and that’s what matters.

Grade: 6/10

NOTE: See my 2018 re-review to BJCP specs here:


  1. Nice review, but the picture suggests major pouring fail!

    1. lol, yeah. You know how heady those German wheat beers can be. Not sure why I didn't wait for the foam to settle and take another picture. If you watch the video you can see it eventually did.