Opal | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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1,463 Ratings

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

Bros Score:
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Ratings: 1,463 |  Reviews: 227
Photo of Sammy
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of kylehay2004
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of jaydoc
4.1/5  rDev +4.1%

Photo of acurtis
3.52/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Photo of Texasfan549
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.56/5  rDev -9.6%
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 StonedTrippin
4.54/5  rDev +15.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

what cant firestone walker do? this saison is proof to me that they can absolutely nail any style they chose to brew. definitely one of the more refreshing and easy drinking saisons on the market, and also the most impressive beer in the five to six dollar range i can remember ever drinking. super pale blonde yellow in color with some haze. almost a faint lime green tint to it in the right light, with a lasting but relaxed opaque white head. the nose is the dry hopping first. not sure the varietal or varietals here, but its something quite citrusy. hardly a lick of bitterness in it, but the hops are nevertheless extremely prominent. refreshing and zesty i would say. the saison yeast is faint, just farmy enough without crossing into the french saison wet animal realm, and maintaining a grassy summer vibe all the way through. malt is light, probably pilsener mixed in with the wheat here just based on its color and lightness of feel. carbonation is strong, and its necessary. the hops make the mouth water for more, and one would never ever know that this beer was over 7% abv, it drinks like 4% even. i hope this is available all the time, i could see my fridge full of basically nothing else all summer. this beer is pure genius. a must try this spring.

 1,266 characters

Photo of GRG1313
3.25/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of kjkinsey
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of Knapp85
3.25/5  rDev -17.5%

Photo of djrn2
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +1.5%

From a bottle, pours a pale straw yellow with a thin wispy head.

Nose is very bright, citrus and floral hops, some spice and peppercorn, grass. Flavor is more herbal, hay, straw, floral hops, moderately sweet on the finish. This is a very balanced and even beer. Very solid and drinkable.

I would drink this again.

 319 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of metter98
3.96/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

A: The beer is crystal clear light yellow in color and has no visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high bright white head that died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface and a collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of lemony and spicy hops are present in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste has flavors of both lemony and spicy hops, both of which persist through the finish.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and slightly dry on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This saison feels very light and refreshing. It almost tastes a little like a white wine.

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Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

22oz bottle - again, I like the home winemaking seal, with the easy-rip opener - it beats the hell out of those impenetrable wax dealios.

This beer pours a slightly hazy, yet bright medium golden yellow colour, with a near-teeming tower of puffy, rocky, and chunky bone-white head, which leaves some randomly splattered snow rime lace around the glass as it lazily recedes - hello, gorgeous!

It smells of edgy and spicy yeast, musky florals, gritty and grainy wheat malt, some citrus, dried apple, and pear fruitiness, white pepper and clove, a free-range, if well-understated sugar syrup thing, and some tame leafy, weedy, and hay-like hoppiness. The taste is bready and crackery pale malt, an equal to the task zingy wheatiness, softened Belgian yeast, muddled earthy spice, some lemon/lime and pome fruitiness, ethereal notes of funk, more sassy leafy, floral, and grassy hop bitters, and a wee sense of metallic alcohol.

The carbonation is quite active in its probing and poking frothiness, the body a solid middleweight, and mostly smooth, as the yeast provides a small challenge to the success of that particular metric here. It finishes off-dry, but not by much, as the mixed malt sheds any sugary predilections it may have been holding onto.

Overall, this is one well-rendered version of the style, with the late addition of (presumably) West Coast hops adding a nice bittering and flavourful offset to the spice and yeast esters. Easy and enjoyable to drink, even with the generally undetectable booze and sort of aggressive bubbles. Good, good stuff.

 1,568 characters

Photo of kojevergas
3.47/5  rDev -11.9%
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-

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Photo of oline73
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of WillieThreebiers
3.75/5  rDev -4.8%

Photo of emerge077
4.01/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Thanks to Thomas for sharing, quick review from notes.

Extremely bright pale gold, racing carbonation, creamily textured foam, sudsy on the surface, leaving arcs of drippy lacing in its wake. Lasting surface coverage.

Aroma is grassy and grainy with a odd note of sulfur or something similar.

Taste is slightly floral with earthy hop elements and a toasted popcorn kernel malt character. Didn't get any advertised fruit, but wish I did, oh well. Brisk and dry across the palate. It quenches and keeps you coming back for more. Thankfully not overly phenolic as many American saisons can be.

 594 characters

Photo of zeff80
4.5/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of brentk56
3.79/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Appearance: Looks like a wheat beer, with a hazy goldenstraw color and a foamy cap that leaves a decent amount of lace

Smell: Smells like a hoppy Sauvignon Blanc; quite vinous, with some apple, banana and lemon grass tones

Taste: Wheat bread and banana, up front, with the vinous Sauvignon Blanc character building in the middle; grassy, peppery and lemony, after the swallow, with a tart but rather dry finish

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: I want to like this beer more than I do but the execution of this beer is less interesting than the concept; the austere, grassy and vinous hop flavors just don't mesh well for me with the saison yeast

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Photo of Boone757
4/5  rDev +1.5%

Photo of Kurmaraja
4/5  rDev +1.5%

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Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 3.94 out of 5 with 1,463 ratings