Lil' Opal - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Lil' OpalLil' Opal

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BA SCORE
87
very good

37 Reviews
THE BROS
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Reviews: 37
Hads: 359
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 3.33%
Wants: 33
Gots: 63 | FT: 7
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.
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Reviews: 37 | Hads: 359
Photo of Overlord
2.63/5  rDev -32.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Ugh.

Pours a pale yellow with a big white, soapy foam head. Smells like yeast and light citrus.

Taste ... too much spice. Some lemony/zesty citrus, some orange rind, and just way too much coriander/whatever for what otherwise would be a nice, drinkable, brew. For a backing this mild to have this much going on ... too much.

Thin mouthfeel. Wouldn't revisit. (361 characters)

Photo of JamesP123
3/5  rDev -23.1%
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. (757 characters)

Photo of augustgarage
3.37/5  rDev -13.6%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a generic tulip.

Pour is a golden amber with a magnolia head. Lacing seems good at first, but doesn't stick around. I detected a slight haze at first, but the beer actually has a surprising (atypical) clarity for the style.

Aroma is unusual. Many have pegged it as wheat, but I also detect hops, and an herbaceous savory character, almost like tarragon. There is a slight funk, but it reminds me of hops more than yeast. I wouldn't mistake this for a Belgian brew...

That said, there is no bitterness in the taste, just a continuation and emphasis of the flavors suggested by the nose. Finish is not particularly distinctive, but simply follows the lead of funky wheat smell on the palate.

Mouthfeel is relatively thin, though the carbonation is sufficient. ABV isn't too high (3-5%?). Quite drinkable, but not particularly exciting. A unique, if simplistic take on a farmhouse ale. (899 characters)

Photo of photomike
3.39/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A very good looking beer, this poured with a big pillowy pure white head into a bubble pint glass on tap at the Firestone Taproom in Paso Robles. A sign indicated 3.5% abv

Smell was really all wheat and honey to me...nothing like any saison I've ever had.

Taste followed suit. Lots of wheat flavor with some mild lemony, tangerine citrus notes. Very "wet" tasting...I wouldn't say watery, but its getting there. Not the best...kinda boring tasting, just generic sweet wheat...not a lot of depth here. Also, I'm not sure where all this immense spice talk is coming from. Maybe some mild nutmeggy type stuff going on here, but I really don't get much spice at all.

I have to agree that this tastes more like a wit or a weissbier than anything. Maybe like Blue Moon's tastier older brother.

The mouthfeel was rather smooth, clean ad refreshing, but I ended up with a bit of a cloying sensation after a while. Not a super sweet beer, but what sweetness there was really got to me.

This led to a rather low drinkability. 12 oz into my pint, I wasn't very interested in finishing it, but I was glad I tried it. This could be good very cold on a front lawn during summer, but not the best beer I've had. Would not buy again. (1,226 characters)

Photo of pmarlowe
3.45/5  rDev -11.5%
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. (644 characters)

Photo of ThreeWiseMen
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on-tap at Spike's in SLO.

Appearance: Clear straw-colored beer with gentle stream of carbonation and white ring of head.

Smell: Coriander, orange peel, grainy malts and a little bit of citrus.

Taste: A little too much coriander for my liking. Thought this was a witbier actually. Orange peel and some spiciness with sour Belgian yeast and some sweet malts.

Mouthfeel: High carbonation and light body with a clean finish. Some chewiness as well.

Drinkability: Not my favorite from Firestone, but a nice change-up. Will drink again. (544 characters)

Photo of mjl21
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On tap at the Monk's Kettle. Poured into a 10 ounce tulip glass. Comes in at 4.3%.

A-Has a cloudy yellow color. When poured it has a nice one finger head. Looks good when initially presented. The head ends up fading very fast into a small ring.

S-Definite funk can be picked up rather quickly. Also pick up on a lot of wheat notes, very much like a wit beer. There is also some lemon hitting my nose.

T-The funk present in the nose is not nearly as noticeable. It reminds me of a wit that has been spiked with apricot and tangerines.

M-Lighter bodied. Quite smooth with a nice level of carbonation.

D-Not good, not bad. I appreciated how light it was, but towards the end I felt the graininess of the beer beginiing to dry out the back of mouth.

Not my favorite from FW, but still one I am glad I got to try. (814 characters)

Photo of Halcyondays
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ,

A: Pours a cloudy yellow-orange, with a small white head out of the tap, fair retention, light lacing.

S: Light bretty funk, white bread.

T: Definitely funkier than your average saison, similar to Avery 15, but with more refinement. Raw earthy, dry funk is there, sourdough bread, a somewhat unexpected flavour, but pretty tasty.

M: Carbonation is light, gets almost flat by the end of the tulip, but easily drinkable and complex at the same time.

D: A good saison, flavours aren't dramatic, but they are interesting; I enjoyed this ale from Firestone. (586 characters)

Photo of 01001111
3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
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. (285 characters)

Photo of Zorro
3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Spikes in San Luis Obispo.

Slightly hazy orange colored beer with a decent head.

Smell is dead one for a Belgian wheat beer, lots of spicy phenols from Belgian witbier yeast. Also has scents of English style hops, earthy and leather with a hint of herbs.

Taste begins semi sweet with a big hit of spice to the tongue. Unexpected strong bitterness and herbal and woody. Something of a fusion beer this Belgian Witbier crossed with British Pale Ale. This is something like Gumball head with an English accent and a Belgian passport. The worst thing you could say is that 3F makes the American version with North Western Hops and calls it Gumball Head. Gets quite dry and herbal as you finish the glass.

Mouthfeel is good.

Easy drinking here. A natural summer session beer with low alcohol and an interesting flavor profile that is both Belgian witbier and English Pale Ale. (886 characters)

Photo of DoubleJ
3.67/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

On-tap at Stone World Bistro, on to the beer:

The ABV was listed around 4.2% on the menu, so I wasn't surprised to get a lighter tasting beer. It has a hazy yellow-orange glow to it with little head on top, an assortment of mixed fruits (predominantely peach and apricots) in the nose, and the taste....it was a little floral upfront, but it quiclky chnages to bits of citrus, yeast, and apricots. Slightly tart, I might add. Light in the mouth, but with some body and a sprinkle of carbonation. Very dry overall.

I had heard of this beer, but wasn't sure what I was getting. Quite interesting for a small beer. I found it to be a good mid-day beer and palate cleanser. Oddly, it reminded me of the Eisenbahn Pale Ale I had in Brazil back in January. (753 characters)

Photo of barleywinefiend
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
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. (322 characters)

Photo of scottfrie
3.73/5  rDev -4.4%
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. (1,140 characters)

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.79/5  rDev -2.8%
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. (533 characters)

Photo of RaulMondesi
3.82/5  rDev -2.1%
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. (457 characters)

Photo of MiScusi
3.88/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at Toronado in SF. Poured into a standard pint glass. Pours a hazy golden amber with a fluffy white cap. Belgiany on the nose... saison yeast is of course apparent. Taste has spice, wheat, belgian yeast finish. Nice saison, probably would enjoy it more in a different setting. (283 characters)

Photo of m1ked
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Stopped by the SD Toronado on a lazy sunday. Cubs White Sox game on. Not crowded at all....nice.

A- poured in a tulip. I didn't see a head on this thing at all. Couple of stray bubbles here & there. Translucent peachy orange.

S- Some yeasty banana coriander spiciness, white peppery.

T- More of the same but stronger on the palate. The yeasty spiciness is way more pronounced. Some lingering bitter spice.

M- Very light and crisp. The light but distinct carbonation plays well with the spice notes.

D- Saisons are my current crush. I don't know if it is the summer lover in me. This one is very tastey. (608 characters)

Photo of tprinzing
4/5  rDev +2.6%
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 :-) (202 characters)

Photo of t0rin0
4.01/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

First some notes given to me by the brewer at Blue Palms tonight. This is made from the 2nd runnings of the Wheatwine they did. Its fermented with Saison Dupont yeast. 50% wheat and 50% of that is Torrified Wheat, which contributes to the body.

Pours a murky yellow color, not overly attractive but for a "saison" I guess its alright. Small head, not much retention or lacing. I don't expect a beer made with 50% wheat to be real clear although I was surprised at the lack of head retention.

Aroma was spicy and sweet. Upon closer inspection the wheat became noticeable but mostly the belgian goodness of the yeast was dominant.

Flavor was an interesting mix of saison, belgian pale, and wheatwine. Wheaty, spicy, very sweet and belgian, no hops, and minimal bitterness.

Full bodied, good CO2 (duh, on tap), highly drinkable. No idea on abv but my guess is 5.0%. (868 characters)

Photo of Nugganooch
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%

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. (1,572 characters)

Photo of TheEremite
4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

this is a really good small beer. At 3.5% it packs in the flavor. There's no Brett funk despite the previous post, just lots of spicy, dry goodness. It's a little earthy too. A perfect summer beer. My only complaint is that it's not all that memorable... But it's impressive for the low gravity. (295 characters)

Photo of BMMillsy
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
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. (526 characters)

Photo of bulletrain76
4.08/5  rDev +4.6%
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. (599 characters)

Photo of charlzm
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Consumed 03/27/09 at Blue Palms, Hollywood, CA.

Presented in a tulip glass, this beer is a cloudy lemon/golden. A one-finger white foamy head quickly dissipated into slightly sticky bits of lacing.

Aroma provides a bit of tart citric sourness and a little dash of funk.

Tastes a bit like a witbier due to the pronounced wheaty tang. There is some VERY mildly musty funk and a touch of citric sourness as in the nose. Not very sweet, which is nice. Also a bit powdery, closing in on floral.

Slightly dry.

Light and very easy to drink, this is not a beer to be feared. While not an awesome saison, it's certainly got potential to be a gateway beer for those who appreciate it. (680 characters)

Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
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. (615 characters)

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Lil' Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 37 ratings.