Opal | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
221 Reviews
no score
Send samples

Brewed by:
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.50%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Bringing down the Farmhouse! Our interpretation of the rustic Wallonian Saison style is a harmonious blend of rustic grains, spicy yeast and unique sauvignon blanc tones. Inviting lemon grass and gooseberry meet peppery spice and fresh grain aromas. Spicy Belgian yeast create a complex yet dry and refreshing canvas with splashes of citrus and stone fruit with a bright tropical white wine finish. Hop bitterness is assertive yet harmonious rounding out slightly tart and refreshing.

Added by TheEremite on 06-29-2008

For Trade:
View: Beers | Events
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 221 | Ratings: 1,449
Photo of joe16siny
2.26/5  rDev -43.4%
look: 3 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

22 oz bomber bottled on 6/6/14 purchased 3/31/16. Like an ass i didn't check the date. Color was a very pale yellow. There was a touch of lemon, some yeast and it poured with a lot of foam. Will remember to CHECK DATES and seek out a fresh one.

 246 characters

Photo of seedyone
2.9/5  rDev -27.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

04/05/14 From bottle at home. Not a fav.

Flavors got better & filled out as it warmed to room temp, but never got where I needed it to go.

Grassiness superseded any hints of the claimed Belgian Yeast, which is what attracted me in the first place. It wasn't terrible, by any means, but I've been spoiled by all the other super brews from Firestone Walker I've tried. Simply put, it just not to my taste.

I'm finding that of all the types of brew I've tried, I'm fickle about Saison/ Farmhouse/ Sours, but I remain curious.

 527 characters

Photo of TMoney2591
3.05/5  rDev -23.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 2.75

Served in a Trooper shaker pint glass.

I've looked at this at my local bar's cooler for a while, figured it was high time to pick it up whilst cat-sitting relatively far away. It pours a clear straw topped by a finger of dirty white foam. The nose comprises flowers, Brett-like lemon zest, and a vague spicy sweetness. The taste brings in more of the same, with the now overly-strong Brett-ish-ness coming through as a strange, puckering bitterness. Yowza. The body is a light medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a drying finish. Overall, I just plain didn't like this stuff. It was all in that strange Brett-like character that ended up putting more pain on my tongue than a bite-sized Hitman Hart.

 717 characters

Photo of themind
3.25/5  rDev -18.5%

Earthy, rustic and enjoyable. This is a decent Saison but I feel the carbonation level is too high. Would I buy again...maybe. All in all, it's a decent take on one of my favorite styles but falls short for me do to carbonation. This may simply be a personal preference.

Bottom Line: Glad I tried it.

 301 characters

Photo of kevanb
3.26/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

650ml bottle, date 3/7/14, poured into a Firestone Walker Barrelworks teku.

The beer pours a slightly hazy, bright, golden straw color, hues of yellow and a bit of copper with a soft, bubbly white head, about a finger high that has mediocre retention and leaves no lace. The aroma is a bit blunt, a bit of funky barnyard, straw, crisp golden grain, some bitter hoppy aromas, light citrus but mostly wildflower and grassiness. The flavors are in line with the nose, bitter hoppy citrus, wildflower and grassy notes lead the way, the musty funk is definitely an undertone, the grain comes across but mostly as additional bitterness and funkiness, not any sweetness or chewiness. Not much fruit or brightness to speak of here, just a hoppy, bitter saison. The body is nice, fairly lively, a bit crisp, coats the mouth well, finishes dry, a good kick, but with a bit of an unexpected gentle softness.

Verdict: Easily the least impressive beer I've tried from Firestone Walker to date, it's bitter, blunt and lacks any delicacy and liveliness that makes the style so great. It's close to a Belgian IPA and for those that really enjoy that style, this could be a winner, but when looked at as a Saison, dry-hopped or not, it doesn't really do much for me.

 1,252 characters

Photo of TruePerception
3.27/5  rDev -18%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Firestone's Opal, dry hopped saison. 7.5% ABV. I don't have much experience with saisons, and I'm fairly certain the ones I had were far from indicative of style. So, we'll see. To be fair, I'm pretty sure dry-hopping is not standard of the style, either...

A: A very nice, very bright, yet hazy, slightly-green tinged yellow. Hazy, slightly-grey white in the dimple. Just the tiniest bit of head. No lacing.

S: Grassy and daisy notes up front. Citrus, falling between grapefruit and lime.

T/MF: Happily, the bitterness is fairly mild. Maybe, light pale ale levels. Unfortunately, there is not a lot going on, flavor-wise. There's a little bit of acidity, but it's not at all tart tasting. More grassy and floral notes.

Not bad, but nothing special.

Poured from a 22 oz. bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

 811 characters

Photo of PHBoiler
3.28/5  rDev -17.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Was really excited to try this beer as I'm a big saison fan. The beer is absolutely bright yellow/golden with a pillowy white head. The scent doesn't really give me much other than some yeast esters. I get cracker and banana notes from this yeast. I'm not enjoying this. It's like a cleaner belgian/hefe rather than the saisons that I'm used to. I didn't get anything from the "dry hopping."

 391 characters

Photo of GreesyFizeek
3.32/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

Bottle purchased at Nathaniel Square Corner Store in Rochester, NY.

Pours a golden light yellow, with a small, half inch head, and not a whole lot of lacing.

Smells like slightly skunky yeast, white pepper, light citrusy hops.

There's something off about this to me. The yeast is quite dominant, and hops and malt can't quite overcome that. The yeast feels skunky in a way, slightly estery. It's a pretty hoppy bitter beer, but it's a vague hoppiness, and a finish that's too astringent. I really thought I'd like this, but I can't say that I do.

This is light bodied, with a crisp mouthfeel, and a moderate level of carbonation.

This just didn't quite work for me. It wasn't bad, per se, it just seemed a bit off to my palate.

 732 characters

Photo of Alieniloquium
3.42/5  rDev -14.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3

650 mL bottle poured into a snifter.

Appearance - Pale yellow body. Clear with a nice white head. Big bubbles in a thick collar.

Smell - Herbal hop aroma. Pale malts. A bit of lemon.

Taste - Mimics the smell. Lemony flavor up front. Quickly becomes very herbal. Bitter and grassy.

Mouthfeel - Bitter. High carbonation. Aggressively hopped.

Overall - At first I really liked it, but it wore on me. The herbal flavors got tiresome.

 434 characters

Photo of cavedave
3.44/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Abeautiful 2 finger thick white head tops a cloudy without being murky straw colored beauty of a saison.

Light nose, not a whole lot going on, sweet grain and citrus with some light rounded yeast. Hmm.

Okay, it is a light/med. flavored beer, but has a really likable taste. Hops appear as bitter now, and lead yeasty tart, sweet grain, citrus, especially a lemon note, other fruitiness I can't put name to, ends with bitter taking on some complexity, pith and rooty notes coming in. Yumm.

Very light in mouth, a bit overcarbed my only complaint, definite carbonic note to the bitter. super refreshing, and nice finish.

Great beer? No. Good beer? Yes. A bit overpriced for what it is, but a nice refreshing one.

 714 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.47/5  rDev -13%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Proprietor's Reserve Opal Dry Hopped Saison Farmhouse Ale.

Uninteresting label art. 7.5% ABV. 2014 vintage. Bottled: 03/07/14 15:02. Gold foil with a pull-tab covers the neck and cap - which is a black and gold branded pry-off cap with a classy ornate depiction of a lion. Reviewed as a saison. Expectations are average given the brewery, whose offerings rarely impress.

Served cold into a Stella Artois stem-tulip at low altitude. Purchased at a bottle shop in Austin, TX.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: Three fingers wide. White in colour. Surprisingly thin for the style, lacking fullness and an even consistency. Leaves no lacing as it recedes, which happens fully within about 4 minutes - above average for the ABV. Complexion is mediocre.

BODY: Clear yellow/pale copper. I'm shocked at the clarity given this is meant to be a saison; was this filtered? It must've been. Average vibrance. Appears adequately carbonated.

Overall, this is an unconventional appearance for a saison, which makes me suspicious - none of the best saisons I've had have looked this filtered and clean. It's not a unique or special look for a saison, but I notice no egregious flaws.

AROMA: Lime zest, sea salt, lemongrass, clean barley, Belgian pale malts, hints of faint papaya, some crackery malts - maybe even a kiss of starchiness, subtly integrated floral hop character, honey malt, and some flowery nectar. Thankfully, white pepper has a notable presence; this is the main note I search for in a good saison. Let's hope it has a presence in the flavour too. Flaked wheat. Pilsner malts.

I'm not finding the white wine/sauvignon blanc notes mentioned on Firestone Walker's website. I don't really have any idea what in hell gooseberry tastes or smells like so I'm not sure if that's there, but I'm not finding any tartness and as far as fruit goes lime is definitely dominant. There's no overt alcohol noticeable, and any spicy yeast character is much more reticent than would be ideal...I'd prefer a more overt brettanomyces/funky character from the yeast.

A pleasant aroma of moderate strength.

TEXTURE: Has both a nice coarseness and a nice dryness to it - subtle enough to keep it refreshing but present enough to coax out a bit more depth of flavour. Carbonation is just a biteen high. It's got a clean presence on the palate and has an apt medium body. Not too thick nor too thin. Crisp and approachable. Well-executed overall; this texture complements the taste well.

It's not oily, gushed, hot, boozy, astringent, or hot, though there is a bit of noticeable alcohol warmth which is a bit surprising for its scant 7.5% ABV.

TASTE: The foundation is comprised primarily of pilsner malts, Belgian pale malts, honey malts, and flaked wheat.

The natural honeyed sweetness fits the flavour profile of a saison nicely and is to be commended. The floral hop character is subtly integrated and plays well against this malty backdrop. Some crackery malts, maybe some grains of paradise. Lime zest is more subtle here than anticipated, probably to its detriment. Not finding the papaya promised by the aroma. White pepper could be more prominent, if not dominant, and I find myself looking for more of a complementary yeast character - more spice, and especially more funkiness - would help fill out this flavour profile with a bit more of a noticeably Belgian character.

Ultimately for a saison it's a bit simple - but outside of style conventions this is still a more complex flavour profile than many beers have. Flavour duration and intensity is above average - which isn't necessarily a good thing in a saison. Overall, what really works here is the careful balance, but more subtlety, complexity, intricacy, and nuance is needed to really elevate this beer to a point where it can begin to compete with good Belgian examples of the style - not to mention world class offerings. I do like this beer, and it's growing on me more and more as it comes to temperature, but there's ample room for improvement.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I guess it just drinks like the base to a superior saison. Everything here is working and it's balanced, but some Fantome-esque elegant spicing or some Dupont-esque milky notes and brettanomyces yeast character would really set it off. I'll easily finish this bottle and this definitely surpassed my meagre expectations, but it's far from amongst the best beers in the style. The price point is a bit high for the quality as well. I'd actually probably get this again, which is more than I can say about many Firestone Walker beers. Worth a try, absolutely, but don't expect a great saison - or even a traditional one.

High B-

 4,664 characters

Photo of Salt-n-Beer
3.49/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Nothing too overly exciting. Hardly any head, mild farmhouse smell and not much of a mouthfeel to speak of. Not unpleasant by any means but for the price I was expecting something much more exciting.

 199 characters

Photo of daBoLTman
3.49/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Medium straw hazy color. Smells of grass, with papaya tropical fruit flavors. Tasted bitter up front, with fruit flavors coming through, finishing up with the hop body, and light carbonation to feel like it cleanses your mouth for the next sip.

 244 characters

Photo of HuskyHawk
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%

This isn't a beer style I appreciate, but will try to do it justice.
A: pours golden and sparking, with a bright white frothy head. Quite a pretty beer really.
S: bready/yeasty, like a bread dough rising, with some lemongrass and a little sourness, stronger than in sourdough bread.
T: the base flavor is malty "beer" in a generic sense. There is a bit of lemon peel, and a grassy flavor, a bit like Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, but with less subtlety and no mineral flavors. There's the same light sour characteristic that keeps this from being crisp.
M: highly carbonated, medium body. Not noteworthy.
O: better than some Saisons I have tried, not as good as others. I wouldn't seek it out again, but it was certainly well crafted.

 748 characters

Photo of ajm5108
3.5/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pretty watery mouthfeel, lots of lemony citrus and very much of the earthy yeast / hay you get from a lot of saisons. Good, but the mouthfeel was disappointing and the flavor is a mixed bag.

 191 characters

Photo of ARoman
3.51/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

On tap, poured into a wide flute. The aroma is floral with notes of lemon, muffin, lime soda, clove, and pepper. The beer is clear and brilliant with a pale gold hue and white, light foam head that has a light retention and no lace. The taste is a medium high bitter and medium light sweet with a light sour. The thin texture is fuzzy with a medium light body and flavors of lemon with a coriander zest, some floral and herbaceous notes, a pepper zest, and some toast. The finish is pepper and lime with bread crust. It has a near burnt quality that leads to an aftertaste that’s cloying and lightly astringent with flavors of wood, spicy pepper (clove late), and muffin

 672 characters

Photo of ThisWangsChung
3.52/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

22 oz bottle into a wine glass. From two days ago.

A: Pours a semi-hazy straw color. There's a finger worth of white-colored head, retaining itself decently. Some lacing is left on the glass.

S: Very lemony. There's a decent herbaceous component hiding in the background (I want to say similar to sage or coriander), but there isn't much of the saison yeast I wanted. An unabashedly 'Murican interpretation, to be sure - that's not a bad thing, though. The lemon, at least, is handled well.

T: I could have just put down "LEMON LEMON LEMON LEMON LEMON" here, and it wouldn't have been too far off what the flavor profile offers. Basically, it's little more than LEMON LEMON LEMON LEMON...and a touch of mid-taste herbs. At least this singular note is satisfying and handled well.

M: Low on both carbonation and dryness for the style. It definitely doesn't evaporate off the tongue the way Orval or Dupont does; frankly, it should. It is a refreshing, easy to drink brew nonetheless. The feel is a bit too syrupy, though.

O: One would expect a solid brewery such as FW to nail their first retail Belgian ale quite well, and indeed it does. However, it's missing a few details - it isn't rustic, it's a bit too syrupy, and far too one note (a properly great saison should have a gentle complexity to it). Having said that, it's damn enjoyable for what it is: a total lemon bomb.

 1,381 characters

Photo of Samuel906
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a very bright, light, transparent yellow. Vibrant color, with a very, very thin white head that quickly dissipates. Some malts, lemon zest, and pineapple on the nose, but it is fairly subtle. Taste is similar with lots of citrus, yeast, banana, and chardonnay grapes with a touch of black pepper spice. Some mild hoppy bitterness at the tail. Mildly sweet and tart. No booze whatsoever. Feel is fairly light with moderate carbonation, crisp and refreshing. Overall, not one of the more complex saisons I've had, but a smooth, and light mix of all the right notes. Great intro beer for someone looking to get into saisons.

 627 characters

Photo of bifrostguard
3.53/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Note: I was told this is 13% on tap

A - A golden color, cloudy with a moderate off white head and minimal lacing.

S - Sugar, candied fruit, butterscotch, apricots, anything sweet.

T - Butterscotch was the best description I heard for this. Super sweet and wheat laced.

M - Thick and sticky.

D - I'm glad this has got a high ABV cause I'm not sure how many of these I could take. I can taste why they used this to blend in the 12. However, not as good standing alone.

 472 characters

Photo of Auracom
3.55/5  rDev -11%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.25

10 oz. into a stemless wine glass on April 28th, 2014.

A - Semi-hazy golden, initially a lot of eggshell foam that delicately reduces down to thin wisps.

S - Ample yeast. Smells a lot like a Vivant offering with some German elements. Dry hay, lightly dank, honey cashews, armpit, light bubblegum, chives, white sugar, chardonnay.

T - Late arrival. Soft, herbal hops. Twizzlers, almonds, lemon grass, green tea.

M - Light body, appropriate carbonation, lightly sour but mostly bitter finish.

D - Mixed feelings on this one. It's a peculiar take on a normally refreshing style that I can't get on-board with.

 612 characters

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On tap for the Feral One release party at Firestone Walker Barrelworks in Buellton, CA.

Pours a clear light yellow with a foamy bone head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, grain, yeast, spice, and fruit aromas. Taste is much the same with grain, yeast, and spice flavors on the finish. There is a medium amount of spice bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a pretty good beer with a fairly mild set of aromas and flavors.

 613 characters

Photo of mothman
3.56/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy straw yellow. White bubbly head.

A lot of spices. Peppercorn. Grassy and earthy. Very green and herbal. Bready and dry. Yeasty. Very Belgian like. Lemon fruitiness.

A bit on the spiced side so not my favorite, but enjoyable.

 231 characters

Photo of Sandalwood
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a bright clear yellow color with a huge five finger frothy white head. There is a ton if carbonation and good lacing. The odor citrus lemon, clean, refreshing, pear, apple, spicy, clove, grapes, white wine, slightly bread like. The taste is refreshing, wine like, spicy, clove, slightly bitter, dry on the finish.

 322 characters

Photo of rodbeermunch
3.58/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Golden yellow pour, average amount of haze to it, good 3/4" white head, although it dissipates. Good bready, farmhouse humid hay aroma going on.

Taste, some lemon, wheat, that farmhouse humidity again, high carbonation. Way more than average amount of citrus stuff going on here, and it doesn't appear to be hop derived because this doesn't taste hoppy. Similar to Goose Island's Sofie. Mild pepper presence boosted by the carbonation levels. A good summer beer around the pool.

 487 characters

Photo of Dope
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%

Bottled 6/6/14

A: A lightly hazy straw pour with a very large and very fluffy white head. Head fizzes out at a decent pace, leaving just little smidges of lacing behind. Good retention, however.

S: Nice sweet pear aroma. Immediately follows is a white wine. I don't see any indication that this is wine barrel aged but it certainly smells it. Little hints of grass and pears in there too.

T: Taste is very similar. Pears and maybe apples, followed by a sort of generic white wine flavor that I can't quite place (I'm not a wine guy, sorry). Lots of it, especially through the middle. Get crackery malt and a little earthy spiciness, perhaps some black pepper? Finish is grassy, mildly bitter and drying.

M: Medium bodied, crisp, dry and spicy.

O: Interesting saison. Not sure what it's dry-hopped with. Lots of wine and pears/apples in this one. It's better up front than the finish, which ends up a little bit too spicy and dry. Not bad, fairly solid.

 961 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,449 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.