Doing something truly innovative with a pilsner beer is hardly ever done in Belgium. However, the demand from Belgians for something different is definitely there, because around 60% of thirsty lager drinkers say they want more of a taste sensation from their favourite frothy beverage. Which was a challenge that Cristal was happy to accept as a brewer. The result is a refreshing and innovative pils: Cristal XTRA. Brewed with a unique blend of 3 grains to provide the added flavour sensation lager drinkers want – and then also left unfiltered to create extra natural character and that slightly cloudy appearance. And XTRA offers adds extra fun into the bargain, with its own unique lager glass.
Is it really possible to be innovative in the segment for lagers? Well, the answer is ‘yes’ – which is something they’ve known for a very long time at Cristal. In fact, it was way back in 1928 that the Alken-based brewer introduced the very first low-fermentation Belgian lager to the market. And it’s a pioneering role that the brewery has continued in recent years by actively pursuing the brewing of an even more local lager – and now also with a brand-new innovation in the category for lager. Meet Cristal XTRA!
To create Cristal XTRA, the brewery team at Cristal once again went looking for something unique – but without losing sight of the typical characteristics of a good lager. The result? A blend of 3 grains (barley, wheat and rye), that produces an extra taste sensation, combined with the familiar refreshing qualities and sheer drinkability of a chilled lager. Just the thing for those moments when you want that something… XTRA!
Working with Belgian hop growers and grain farmers
Cristal has set itself the goal of doing more than just bringing a change to the taste sensation of lager – it also aims to set a new benchmark in the way this type of beer is brewed. This is why Cristal is proactively committed to using as many local ingredients as possible and why the brewery works closely with Belgian farmers – something the brewers at Cristal held in high regard during the process to develop Cristal XTRA.
It was in 2021 that Cristal planted its first test field of brewer’s barley in Riemst. Today, the brewery is already working with more than 70 Flemish and Walloon grain farmers across the country. As a result of this close collaboration, 40% of all Cristal beer will be brewed using Belgian barley in 2023. And since 2021, Cristal has also been allowed to add the official “Brewed with Belgian hops” logo to all its packaging.
For Cristal, brewing locally doesn’t stop with the ingredients. The Alken brewery is all about taking a more forward-looking and sustainable approach to the entire brewing process. For example, since 2021 Cristal has been brewed using 100% green electricity generated by 6,500 solar panels on the brewery’s roof, as well as by 2 wind turbines in Alken. This is just the start of a commitment to work towards a more sustainable future for Belgium. And Cristal has big ambitions – aiming to be fully CO2-neutral by 2030.
Created for Belgians by Belgians
Cristal has set itself the goal of being a brewer that unites people who have a real passion for lager – both inside and outside the brewery. The way Cristal sees it, people are the most important link in the process of making a great lager. From barley and hop farmers, to brewers, delivery truck drivers and café owners – all of them play a crucial role in the success of Cristal lagers.
To create an innovative lager such as Cristal XTRA, the brewing team put its faith fully in the power of collaboration and passion, from one end of the production chain to the other. After conversations with Belgian lager lovers revealed that there was a lack of that special extra flavour sensation in the lager segment, the Cristal team joined forces with hospitality operators, Belgian farmers and lager drinkers themselves to embark on a cooperative journey of innovation. The result? Cristal XTRA, a lager that honours the traditions of lager while daring to rethink them. Refreshing. Innovative. And oh so definitely worth trying!