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Lil' Opal - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Lil' OpalLil' Opal

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

40 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 40
Hads: 373
Avg: 3.94
pDev: 29.7%
Wants: 36
Gots: 61 | FT: 6
Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  4.30% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 05-25-2008

A low alcohol Belgian-style Saison session beer aged for 17 months in lightly-used medium-plus toasted American oak barrels.
View: Beers (83) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 40 | Hads: 373
Photo of ajchocholousek
4.42/5  rDev +12.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into teku:

A vigorous pour leaves a small, weak, soapy, quickly-dissipating bright white head that has medium-large bubbles. The beer is quite effervescent overall. A beautifully vivid, moderately hazy, golden orange hue paints the body.

The nose is a luscious combination of peach, tangerine, lemon peel, and an earthy breadiness that shows a hint of vinegary acidity (the faintest) surprisingly intermingled with a luscious orange-peach marmalade sweetness.

Everything else comes along with no surprises (except a surprising amount of carb), following the previously mentioned attributes, but with perhaps with a touch of wood, and a surprisingly firm level of sourness. It's complex, it's delicate, yet intense. Notes of peach, lemon, apple, and a touch of a honey-like sweetness, yield near the end to a smoky, oaky, barrel-driven funk that finishes dry, but more woody than one might expect.

Overall, an exquisite beer. Complexity is the name of the game here. I appreciate this, considering my recent string of quite one-dimensional sours. I think this is an underrated brew.

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Photo of StoneTSR
4.34/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

APPEARANCE: Light orange-yellow in color with a very fizzy head with big, unstable bubbles exploding quickly. The head rises to about a half-inch, but comes and goes within 15-20 seconds. There will be no lacing to speak of on this one as there is not a single bubble the sticks around for more than 20 seconds. A small stream rises from the etching on the bottom of the glass, but that’s about it. Color is gorgeous.

SMELL: Tart, sour, green apple and a backbone of funk are the primary aromas. The apple seems to get stronger with each sip and slightly overpowers the pleasant barrel smells that may have faded a touch.

TASTE: The oak comes through much stronger on the palate than it did on the nose. Vanilla and a touch of oak start the sip out, giving way to a slightly vinegary, spicy, and fruity middle; lemon, orange and a hint of grass. The end is where the tart, green apple hits along with some unexpected hop flavors. Complex and very tasty.

MOUTHFEEL: Surprisingly carbonated, given the lack of bubbles in the glass, but a little agitation and Lil’ Opal comes to life in a big way. A nice pucker brings the palate from slightly sweet fruit flavors to a dry, tart, crisp, clean finish. Light body, extremely refreshing.

OVERALL: I’m really glad I didn’t hold out on this one until the cooler months because on this warm, end-of-summer day it really hit the spot. I truly wish this was available more often (and in Colorado) on a regular basis.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.14/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Saison yeast, fresh apple, crisp pear, a little bit of hops in the background. Hops are mellowed as compared to non BA version. Oak Barrel flavor is apparent and gives a nice tartness, but functions more as a backbone than the dominant flavor. Crisp, light mouthfeel with good carbonation.

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Photo of tprinzing
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this, but it was not as good as the other sours I've tried (only two others). I like this much much more than the regular Opal though. I'm liking barrelworks enough that I bought a shirt :-)

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Photo of scottfrie
3.73/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

375ml bottle into snifter.

A: Pours a clear golden apple juice color with a very fizzy and active bright white head that quickly foamed away into a faint collar. Wisps of lace were left down the glass.
S: Tons of oak on the nose alongside notes of spiced golden pear, dried fruits, tart notes of lacto and musty, earthy brett. I get a few hints of green or golden apple as well. Musty and very woody.
T: Again, the oak is the first thing that stand out to me. I get rich, buttery flavors of it up front with spicier woodier flavors of it in the finish. In the middle is bright flavors of spiced golden fruits and a mild earthiness. The tartness is very light and clean. I get a slight medicinal character near the end of the swallow, as well as a few notes of crisp, dry wheat.
M: Light body, crisp and clean mouthfeel with very ample carbonation that really fizzed up on my palate. Crisp and dry overall.
O: I liked Opal a lot and this was an interesting take. A bit of the carbonation needed to be burned off, but the oak flavors mixed with the mild tartness and earthy yeast character made this a very delicious and refreshing beer.

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Photo of iTunesUpdates
4.79/5  rDev +21.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Very great drink ability. Comes in around %6 2015 version.

This to me goes beyond what I have seen for farmhouse ales.

Wish I could drink this everyday. Will be trying to trade for this soon.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.34/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one that's continuing to develop, and while my first exposure to the beer was middling, just six months later it really came into its own with a nice tartness atop fruity notes and oak. That's the thing with Firestone sours -- they always have an excellent oak presence. Good stuff.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.05/5  rDev +2.8%

On tap at the FW Tasting Room – Paso Robles
Served in a FW Tasting snifter glass – 08/16/2014

A: Slightly hazed goldenrod body with a smallish off-white head that slips out to a collar in a few mere moments. Lots of dotted stick and a few light splashes that hang around on after the drink.

S: Smells of milled grains with sourdough bread and lemon rinds. Some mild earthy spiced oak there and a touch of lactic yogurt like aroma as well. Fairly nice but not incredibly pungent. Mostly fruity wheat malts, farmhouse yeast, and lemon curds.

T: Flavors open with a great tangy sour note that start to mellow as the drink develops further. I get a good amount of grainy wheat with lots of lemony fruit character backed by some faint farmhouse yeast, then followed by subtle layers of oak and vanilla spice. Touch of light lactic presence that I would describe as cream like. The beer is somewhat sour but sans any type of intense tart acidity. Very light and refreshing in that way with a nice dry finish. Although the flavors do tend to weaken as you make your way through the drink.

M: Very light with low bitterness and a light sour tang to it. Finishes dry and crisp with a very clean retreat.

D: Lil Opal is a tasty lil number. It’s not incredibly complex or all that intense however it offers a nice balanced table drinking experience. While I do love me that dry hop in the regular Opal I think the Brett works really well here. The wifey especially loved this offering. Looking forward to trying all the other Barrelworks productions.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

just when i thought normal opal was the best saison going, i go and have a glass of this one, wow is it delicious. refreshing light wheat malt base with copious brett and oak characteristics, and just enough tartness to be both citrusy and refreshing. maybe a little less dramatically hopped than regular opal, which i loved for its hoppy finish. this replaces hops with funk, and its a great tradeoff. so much sweet oak in the middle, it almost feels more substantial than its low alcohol really is. plush fuller body for a lighter beer too, with brett moving from almost grassy up front to all the way funked out as it finishes. super dry, just a little oak left on the tongue after i swallow. a joyous beer that i really need about a pony keg of to enjoy to the fullest. this is all day drinking wild ale, it would make a great sixes for firestone walker, although i bet we never see that. it would really do well i think, i would be a regular on it in that format! great accompaniment to almost any cuisine, versatile and delicious wild ale all around. maybe not the most complex or distinct, but its flawlessly put together.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
3.82/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Not bad. Not good. Kind of like George Cloony and his career: Lil' Opal pours gorgeously, and it has good traits, but it's also kind of, 'meh.'

Beautiful orange glow, while the aroma is inviting like a betacaratin sorority party. But once inside... a bit flat, a bit, "yeah, I'm ok with being here, but I could be doing something better."

It's ok, but it's just a Lil' (see what Raul did there?) of a letdown from the powerhouse that is Firestone Walker.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Corked and caged bottle courtesy of Doug. Thanks! Pours mostly clear yellow with lots of bubbles headed to be top and a one finger white head. Tart lemon peel aroma, hay, grass, oak, maybe a hint of sweet honey or apricot. Flavor is less tart than the aroma, some lightly tart Brett, bready malts, yeast funk, grassiness, light hop notes, and some citrus fruits. A nice vanilla oak presence in the taste. Very light bodied, plenty of carbonation, goes down easy. A nice balance of tartness, funk, and bready malts. Good stuff.

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Photo of 01001111
3.58/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep, clear, golden yellow with no head.

S: Flowers, brett funk, and a faint tartness.

T: Rich light malts, a quick wash faint tartness, then a very funky finish. Aftertaste is of strong wood flavors.

M: Medium body, light carbonation.

O: Interesting but not my favorite saison.

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Photo of Samuel906
4.16/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a 375mL bottle that I happened to find at the Paso Robles brewery and tasting room. Found it totally by chance while I was in there looking for some Stickee Monkee. Poured into a Firestone Walker Pivo Pils pilsner stange. Pours a bright, transluscent golden yellow with a vibrant white, thick head with lots of retention. Vigorous effervescing makes it seem alive. Honestly one of the best looking beers I've seen in a glass; it is the definition of looking inviting. Smell is interesting and complex: you can definitely smell the funk and tartness right of the bat and some brettanomyces musk. Some lemon, grapes and oak too. Taste is light, tart, and crisp, citrus. Amazingly easy to drink. Feel is very refreshing, leaves a great after taste. Overall, I really, REALLY enjoyed this beer. It has lots of good flavors, supremely refreshing, and looks amazing! Only downside is it is a bit pricey. This really bares nothing in common with it's namesake, Opal, and I really wish they had decided to make this a year round, widely distributed release instead.

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Photo of bpasquini
4.49/5  rDev +14%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up the bottle at the Bretta Rose/Stickee Monkee release
Think they changed the recipe from when this was added
Bottle says 5.9% ABV, time spent in barrels 14 months, 75% aged in French Oak, and 25% aged in American oak
A: Pours a slightly hazy goldfish yellow color and leaves a small white bubbly head on an aggressive pour, nice nucleation occurring, pretty good look to this beer

S: The room immediately is filled with some light fruit, barnyard hay, some funk and a hint of tartness, as you delve deeper you find, some vinegar, lemon zest, white grapes, and vanilla from the french and american oak barrels, it smells really good!

T: Initial flavor is Brett and tartness, then followed by some lemon zest, white grapes, more wine characteristics, slight presence of hops, then finishes with some hop bitterness, more wine characteristics and vanilla, the barrels really come through at the end and it’s fantastic, a little Brett on the finish as well, the tartness is medium in the start and slowly fades until you hit the crisp finish, no real lingering at all, great flavor profile for a Saison, possibly one of my new favorite saison

M: Tart, crisp, light, and refreshing, this is going to be an excellent summer beer!

O: Great beer, especially for a saison, hope I can make it back to FW to pick up some more!

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Photo of notchucknorris
4.32/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a hazed gold color with prickly carb racing up the sides of the glass. Forms a 1/2 finger bone white head before settling down.

S: A great lactic tartness, almost yogurt-like, smooth oak notes, lemon and vanilla. Smells absolutely fantastic.

T: This never gets as tart as the smell promises, but I don't really think it needs to to taste fantastic. Has a kind of grinding tartness that never gets too sharp, lemon pith, a touch of oak, brett and some sour green grapes. Refreshingly crisp mouthfeel. A fantastic saison.

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Photo of ehammond1
4.56/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Hazy golden with a finger of creamy near-white head. Not great retention or stick, but this is a very low ABV beer. A pretty color. Looks inviting.

A cornucopia of bright, juicy fruit character: lots of peaches, apricots, and maybe even some mango. A tiny bit of wheat grain and mild grass with a bit of wood. Interesting, complementary, earthy and fruity yeast as well. This is a really wonderful beer.

A juicy, delicious, complex, but incredibly drinkable beer. Peach and apricot character combine nicely with mild funk and grass, a little bit of oak, and some citrus zest. Somewhat dry.

Thin to medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Fantastic creation. I really want to see this in bottles.

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Photo of pmarlowe
3.45/5  rDev -12.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Taster glass. Blue Palms 4th Anniversary party.

A: Pours with a finger of cola-esque white head on golden straw-like body. Decent retention and good clarity.

S: Lots and lots of oak and barrel characteristics (spice), like a chardonnay, with floral and rose very prominent and banana and stone fruit there as well.

T: The taste is quite weak. Overly oaked and a bit thin, some fruity esters and harsh tannins. I'm not sure I would ID this as a tart beer if it weren't advertised that way.

M: Medium body, medium-light carbonation, and creamy mouthfeel.

O: So-so overall, like a poor man's Temptation. Smells good, but taste is lackluster.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.79/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap for Woodshop 7 held at Beachwood BBQ & Brewing in Long Beach, CA.

Pours a slightly murky honey orange with a foamy beige head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Foamy streaks of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, yeast, spice, and wood. Taste is much the same along with a distinct pickle juice flavor. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a great smell but the pickle juice flavor in this one is pretty weird.

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Photo of mikesgroove
4.35/5  rDev +10.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

on tap from notes

light golden amber quickly filled up the glass with tons of bubbling white foam. Crowning the top and hanging on for what seems like an eternity thick, coating lace is dropped all over the glass.

The aroma was thick with peppery spice, grassy notes, lots of herbal, earthy, and grainy hops. A touch of light peach or pear in here as well. Really just a nice well rounded aroma. Taste rolls through with loads of pepper, coriander, touches of grain. A gritty, earthy taste and feel to it as it was light in body but I felt as though I was chewing it. Light finish, light tartness, dry, very dry with a touch of a peppery spray

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Photo of Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours clean blonde color with a good white head and a ring or two of lacing on the way down. The nose carries some oak and light acidity plus a bit of white wine. Fairly strong sourness comes around along with a bit of funk. The flavor is fairly-funky and brings some white-wine acidity as well as a bit of lemon. Oak comes in as well. Mouthfeel is really nice with the acidity pairing well with a bit of a tannic presence. Really tasty and another solid experiment into the wild category from Firestone. I really hope this becomes a bigger program in the future.

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Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Churchill's

A: The pour is a clear golden color with a finger's worth of white foam.

S: The nose is fairly fruity (tropical and stone fruits) and sweet with nice notes of citrus and a light hoppiness.

T: The flavor is similarly fruity with lemon, peaches, and apricot? Some wheat and a light breadiness give the beer some backbone and a touch of bitterness for balance.

M: The body is fairly light with a refreshing, crisp carbonation.

D: I've been looking forward to trying this beer for awhile and it was actually pretty nice. If only Firestone would actually make these beers available more often.

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.46/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Rose & Crown's Firestone night.

A: Pours a hazy golden body that is capped by a finger of light beige head. Retention is short, with some nice sudsing down the sides as I drink.

S: Peach, apricots, hints of mango. Wheat, lemon rind, spice, and yeast.

T: Deliciously fruity, with orchard fruits like peach and apricot. Light hints of mango throughout. A wheaty mid-taste that is nicely complemented by lemon rind and undercurrents of yeast. A spicy finish (coriander?). Not very bitter, even slightly dry.

M: Very tasty and flavorful for something so low in ABV. I was very impressed.

D: This definitely changed my opinion re: Firestone's low-ABV beers. Now I'm beginning to feel like I haven't given them enough credit. This is a great beer. I really want to get six-packs of this.

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Photo of JamesP123
3/5  rDev -23.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured from tap - into pint glass - at Pint Sized Bar in San Rafael.

A. Cloudy/Hazy yello color, didn;t watch the pour, but when it came to me it had almost zero head and no lacing.

S. Smelled a tangy wheat, with aa little funkyness, but not much. Didn't pick up any hop presense, just a little tang from the yeast and some herbal/spicy notes.

T. Definately some corriander coming through. Tastes like it smells, tangy wheat beer with a good amount of spices. Light bodied with a slightly dry finish.

M. Light mouthfeel with a medium amount of carbonation.

D. The tangyness was a little much for me, couldn't see myslef having a second of these, if there are other decent options. Overall a decent beer, nothing over the top, nothing stands out as bad.

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Photo of bulletrain76
4.08/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Draught at the brewery tasting room. Hazy gold with a creamy white head. Wheat malt and herbal spice aroma. Duusty, doughy yeast, wheat tanginess. Pretty dry and refreshing, a bit fruity with lightly biter herbal hops in the finish. Light bodied, but still plenty of body considering the abv. Snappy carbonation. The wheat character is hight, with just a bit of farmhouse yeast influence, but overall a good summer quaffer. I could definitely session this one.
rerate: At the brewery again. This year it seems to be smoother and fruitier with more spice as well. A very nice, very drinkable saison.

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Photo of barleywinefiend
3.7/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from tap at Firestone in Buellton.
Poured a somewhat cloudy, straw yellow. The server immediately dropped an orange into it and I was PO'd. Leave it alone. Nose was of light citrus and wheat. Really light on the wheat and the ABV was light which made it very drinkable. It was a little spicy but smooth all the way.

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Lil' Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 40 ratings.