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Lil' Opal - Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Lil' OpalLil' Opal

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BA SCORE
87
very good

37 Reviews
THE BROS
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no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 37
Hads: 361
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 3.33%
Wants: 33
Gots: 62 | 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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Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 37 | Hads: 361
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 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 Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
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. (585 characters)

Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +8.7%
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. (1,129 characters)

Photo of mikesgroove
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
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 (645 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)

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 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 Georgiabeer
4.29/5  rDev +10%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Toronado San Francisco. Poured a yellow/gold with no head but good carbonation. Smells slightly fruity like a wit with lemon, coriander, and apple. The taste is similar with nice clean, vibrant flavors of lemon, coriander, clove, and slightly sweet apple as well as some herbal flavors with a spicy finish. Very nice. The mouthfeel is crisp, clean, and smooth. Super refreshing, very tasty and a nice summer drink. (433 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 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 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 notchucknorris
4.32/5  rDev +10.8%
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. (530 characters)

Photo of ehammond1
4.56/5  rDev +16.9%
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. (752 characters)

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 Arbitrator
4.46/5  rDev +14.4%
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. (805 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 ILikeGoodCider
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on-tap 08-24-08 at JJ Brewsky's in Camarillo, CA.

A - Poured a slighty cloudy dark straw color. White head with good lacing most of the way. Half Hefe/half Saison to me...

S - A pepper spice up-front. Some acidic fruit sneaking in there.

T - My girlfriend put it well: "Tastes a little boozey. A little buttershots, a little dark rum & a little Red Bull." Haha True.

M - Light but distinct carbonation. It plays well w/ the spice notes.

D - Quite drinkable. I'm digging Saisons lately...maybe its the lazy days of summer kicking in.

If you see this handle on the row, give it a full pint. Paired really well with a Seared Ahi Salad. (647 characters)

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