Opal | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
1,457 Ratings
no score
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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

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Reviews: 224 | Ratings: 1,457
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.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.54/5  rDev +13.8%
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.

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Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +0.3%

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.

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Photo of metter98
3.96/5  rDev -0.8%
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 +0.3%
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.

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Photo of brentk56
3.79/5  rDev -5%
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 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-

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Photo of emerge077
4.01/5  rDev +0.5%
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.

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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.

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Photo of oberon
3.8/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Bottled on 11/14/14.Pours into a large tulip glass a slightly orange tinged lemon yellow with a large sticky white head atop.Tropical fruitiness stands out most in the nose with a bit of funk and phenols.A little sharpness in the mouth,slightly fizzy.Hay and light funk at the onset of the palate with some tropical fruits and yeasty phenols coming in the finish.The beer doesn't seem as big as it is,it's refreshing but the mouthfeel seems it bit off,other than that pretty darn good.

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Photo of jlindros
4.15/5  rDev +4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Bottled 6/06/14

Pours a white fizzy bubbly 1 finger head that fades fairly quickly, very little lacing, very clear golden lemon yellow color.

Nose brings nice farmhouse saison aromas, mild funk but enough, grainy toasty malts, straw, hay, little pilsner like straw but not much, toasty, nice lemony note, a little lemongrass even, mild grassy floral hop aromas as well, little cereal and general citrus.

Taste brings more toasty grainy malts, cereal grains with saison malt and a little toasty pilsner and straw. Mild saison farmhouse funk, not a lot of funk, but plenty of saison farmhouse grainy and lemony grassy flavors. Plenty of grassy flavors, lemongrass, straw, even a little hay, and strait grassy notes, even some grassy floral hops in there, a little earthy note as well, nice floral almost dandelion like floral hops and esters from the yeast. Nice bitterness to cut through it all, adds nicely to the lemon zest and floral slight earthy hop characters, as well as mild esters. Nice farmhouse open field like flowery characters and grainy malts lingering on the dry finish, bit more bitterness, little sticky too, faint estery booze note, floral characters too.

Mouth is med bod, plenty of effervescent carb.

Overall pretty nice, not quite as funky as I tend to enjoy in saisons, but still pretty nice for a farmhouse saison, nice yeast funk-like characters, great floral overones, nice grassy aromatics and earthy grassy characters in general, nice lemony zest, etc, pretty enjoyable.

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Photo of wethorseblanket
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. Bottled on 3/7/14. Twenty-two ounce foil capped bottle.

A: Pours a clear pale yellow with 2-finger thick white head which fades slowly and leaves semi-rings and spots of lace.

N: Saison yeast, estery, grassy/hay, herbal, bright lemony citrus, cracked peppery spices.

T: Fairly straight forward Saison with citrusy hops and slightly vinous.

M: Moderate body and medium carbonation. Finishes dry, yeasty farmhouse and fruity.

O: Very nice white grape and citrusy balance. Pairs very well with food. Easy drinking.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap 7/12/2014 at Track 84 in Warwick, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a light gold color, with a large white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma contains wheat, Belgian yeast, citrus, some spice, caramelized malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out bready with flavors of Belgian yeast and a hearty but not too heavy malt character. Then some sweet flavors of citrus and spices come in. The hops presence is mild but complementary and brings a good balance. The after-taste is slightly bready.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

O: Tasty, goes down easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a decent beer to drink for a while.

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Photo of mactrail
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Beautiful light buttercup yellow brew with a white, fine-grained head in the Affligem chalice. Sprightly on the tongue but not quite the creamy dream you might hope for.

Fruity sweet flavors swarm on the palate. Fermenting pineapple, sweet Meyer lemon, Persian lime. It's malty and tangy with a smooth mouthfeel. The hops provide another layer of aromatics that is just sensational. The yeasty notes are plenty funky, given all the delicate fruit, but there's a tart edge and an overripe deep taste that is everything a Saison should be.

One of the best Saisons I've had. Overall, I love the crackery malt with passion fruit in the nose and a sudsy, tangy mouthfeel. From the 22 oz bottle purchased at Community Coop Market in Bellingham, Washington.

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Photo of russpowell
4.43/5  rDev +11%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Bottled 04/11/14

Pours an effervescent gold with a 3 inches of pearl white head. Above average head retention & lacing

S: Pears, slightly earthy; grassyness & sweet breadyness/pineapple

Follows the nose, lemons & grapefruit as well up front, slight lemongrass zip to it as well, faint doughy sweetness as well. A little bit of funk surfaces as this warms, grapefruit peel & grassiness, plus some dryness. Finishes grapefruitty, with lemongrass & dryness

MF: Medium bodied, lively carbonation; great balance

Great drinkability; not quite as good as Tank 7, but right on its heels

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Photo of Slatetank
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

I purchased this from Craft Beer cellar, enjoyed chilled in a saison glass.

The color is golden with hazed clarity and thick white cap w/ lots of head and tight bead. The smell is fragrant with floral/herbal hop aroma and light yeast ester which has a light mineral note with slight pine scent and some gentle tropical fruit -pretty complex smell.
The feel is very good light body with mild sweetness and spice texture and medium high carbonation with yeast in the feel and dry finish with low alcohol influence.

The taste is very good, lots of yeast flavors which give a vinous white grape and light herbal flavor with some citrus type noble flavors in the hops which are balanced by the slight pilsner flavor in the malt. This is a very drinkable saison -met and exceeded my expectations. I recommend this if you like a spicy, but not overly hoppy saison.

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Photo of Ciocanelu
3.75/5  rDev -6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Clear golden color with white head. Aroma is really fresh and fruity, floral and citrusy. Taste is also fresh, citrusy floral with some rustic farmhouse notes. Body is light and effervescent. Really fresh and easy drinking.

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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.

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Photo of vfgccp
3.94/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3.75

March 7th 2014 bottle, opened April 3rd 2014.

A - Clear, bright yellow body. Solid, clean white head has nice retention and ok lace.

S - Awesome nose. Apples, pears, banana, green grass, flaked oat, old dusty shed, and a steely dryness.

T - Light and softly bitter with surprisingly little fruit. Dandelion, celery, sweet wheat, touch of lemon, and bitter white pith.

M - Medium body, but missing the burst of carbonation that you really need with this style.

O - Pitch-perfect nose, but the mouthfeel and sweetness detract from what's otherwise a really nice beer.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.6/5  rDev -9.8%

The beer is pale yellow with a thick white head that quickly fades to a thin collar. The aroma offers lemons, wheat, herbal and floral notes. Lots of tart citrus. The flavor is dominated by dry hop bitterness, followed by tart citrus, particularly orange and lemon. Medium bodied with crisp, somewhat aggressive carbonation. Decent.

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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.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle from Londonderry
Pours a dark straw/light golden color with a frothy white head that slowly dissipates but sticks to the sides on the way down. Aromas of light bread, a bit of earthy funk, some lemon, and yeasty esters, with a fair amount of floral spice. The flavor is light sweet honey like malt with bits of sour berry, light stone fruit, a bit of earthy and funk. Solid bit of earthy hop flavor melds well with the rest of the flavors and the bitterness is firm especially in the finish. Medium body with a moderate to high level of carbonation. Nice saison, I really enjoyed it.

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Photo of smakawhat
3.88/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass.

This is a wild looking brew. Crazy neon bright glowing banana yellow with exceptional clarity. Real classic roaring column of middle carbonation in the glass, reaching to a nice creamy two finger head. Settles to half a finger with little lacing, but tremendous staying power. Great looking brew.

Clean sensing Belgian sweetness of sugars, almost gets into a taffy like smell on the nose. Slightly floral, and muted funk notes. Quite nice but seems to hint more to classic pale ale than farmhouse.

Once again a real nice clean palate. Mild sensing sugar, but the brew goes for mild estery floral and a good deal of garden and herb softness and earthy qualities. Soft peppery sage notes, almost minty as well. Lots of sensing like green herbs, thyme, sage, marjoram… and an almost honey like mouthfeel particularly on the finish. Interesting bitterness that creeps out of nowhere after awhile, particularly touchy on the middle of the tongue, and with an almost novocaine sensation.

Interesting take on a saison. Decent brew.

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Photo of Billolick
3.99/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber bottle w/ a 3-7-14 bottling date

Pours lightly hazed darker golden. Off white head, that leaves decent bits and irregular bars of lace.

Pleasant tropical fruit nose

More tropical fruits, including melon on the palate with light pepper.

Nicely done, highly enjoyable and well crafted. Helped wash down some BBQ in a palate cleansing and fat cutting manner.

Go get some.

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Photo of GarthDanielson
3.77/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a snifter, the beer is a bright, straw gold coloring, with carbonation bubbling in the body into a sparse, filmy, white head. Nose of toasted grains, a herbal blend, tangy sweet candy sugar, caramel, grassy and peppery hops, bubblegum, and hints of anise. Flavors are crisp and refreshing lemon and herbs forward, with a subtle booze kick, floral highlights, and a cracker backbone. Some solid clove, all spice, and grains of paradise in there, as well. Smooth and effervesced, with a sweet, tangy, and herbal aftertaste. The finish is light, smooth, and crisp, with a herbal linger. Very refreshing.

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Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 1,457 ratings.
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