Lil' Opal
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Lil' OpalLil' Opal
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Belgian Saison
Ranked #489
Ranked #7,980
3.97 | pDev: 9.32%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Very Good
Lil' OpalLil' Opal
Notes: 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: 62 | Ratings: 482 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of GuyFawkes
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Drank 6/13/14 @ Northdown.

Dandelion murkiness.

Minimal off-white head; minimal head.

Mildly tart strawberry nose.

Medium thin mouthfeel.

A pleasing blend if honey & mildly tart strawberry-perfect for quaffing in the summer months.

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Photo of Damian
4.65/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Drank from a 12.7 fl.oz.[375ml] corked and caged bottle purchased at Craft Beer Cellar, Belmont, MA
Batch: No.002
Bottled: 05/09/16
Served in a tulip

Pale gold and nearly crystal clear in appearance. The body was capped by a tight, frothy, finger-tall, bright white crown that dropped to a barely-there film. Minimal streaky lacing stuck along the glass.

The aroma was fantastic. Really crisp and bright with big, tart lemon notes. Fairly wheaty. There was a dry, powdery yeastiness that subsided as head receded. Good amount of Brett and funk as well. Touch of grassy hops. Some oakiness was also noticeable. Overall, surprisingly complex and very well balanced.

The flavor profile was similar to the nose but perhaps even punchier. Super bright and lemony. Quite sour, but the sourness was nicely offset by a crackery malt base and a subtle candy-like sweetness. This reminded me somewhat of Lemonheads. Big dry, oaky notes appeared as the beer moved along the palate. The beer finished with an intense, tart lemony kick and some lingering oaky tannins.

Outstanding soft, frothy mouthfeel. Medium bodied for the style. The liquid contained a super fine, zippy, fairly aggressive effervescence that turned light and fluffy on the palate.

Lil’ Opal is an outstanding saison/wild ale hybrid from one of my favorite domestic sour beer producers. The fact that this rested in American oak barrels for seventeen months prior to bottling is pretty insane and definitely reflected in the beer. I love that nearly all the beers in Firestone Walker’s barrel program are super oaky and complex but not overly tart or acidic. That said, they are also surprisingly affordable.

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Photo of patre_tim
4.24/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Golden amber with some carbonation, and 3 fingers of fluffy off white head.

Smells of Brett, sour funk, vinegar, lemons, overall very much like a lambic.

Sour, lemon juice and funk mix with dusty oak, a light sweetness, and unripe plums.

Medium body, with medium to low carbonation. Quite dry and slightly puckering.

Got this tonight in Syracuse, NY, where I am drinking it at a hotel. New Years Eve in a New York State hotel, this is Dec 31st, 2017. Excellent wild and funky brew, more of a wild beer than a saison in my opinion, but and excellent brew regardless.

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Photo of farrago
3.79/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Light dusting of loose bright white foam across the surface, not longlasting, as you’d expect not much lacing either. Bright amber orange hued liquid, clean with a very healthy amount of widely dispersed bubbles. The nose displays the oak right away but it is crisp and not particularly dominant, lots of space left for yeasty notes, green apple to pear fruit scents, something like coriander spice, tangerine to lemon citrus, finishes with some unprocessed grains. In the mouth it’s lighter bodied and just as clean and crisp here, the oak keeping it as angular as adding amplitude. Lavender, tangerine citrus, more peppery here but still has a savory herb edge as well. Here you get some pineapple to mango along with apricot, pear fruit but overall it’s so dry that it is difficult to call the fruit tropical. Floral finish without much funkiness. Borderline demure in character, about as food friendly as you can get with the oak barrel treatment.

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Photo of metter98
3.91/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: The beer is crystal clear dark golden yellow in color and has a slight amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a short white head that quickly settled down, leaving a narrow collar around the edge of the glass.
S: Light to medium aromas of toasted oak are present in the nose along with faint hints of Brett.
T: The taste is mostly dominated by the toasted oak and associated hints of vanilla. There are also hints of Belgian yeast and Brett.
M: It feels light- to medium-bodied and slightly tart on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation. There is a bit of dryness.
O: I found the oak barrel aging in this beer to be rather interesting as it helped to balance out the yeasty flavors and normally dominate a saison.

Serving type: bottle

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Photo of kitch
4.33/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

On tap at Firestone Walker The Propagator, Venice. A 3oz taster pour into a mini snifter.

Appearance: A mostly clear golden colour with a two finger white head that had good retention and left nice lacing.

Aroma: Tart, tangy, citrus orange, tropical peach and apricot.

Taste: Taste is similar to the aroma with tart, tangy, citrus and tropical fruit and a hint of funk.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, light bodied with moderate carbonation.

Overall: Refreshing and crisp. Very easy to drink.

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Photo of seedyone
4.26/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

From bottle at home. Very pricey. Not big on sours in general but a big Firestone-Walker fan, so I figured I'd take a leap. Hazy & golden. Dishwater head. Big fizz on the tongue. Lots of sour but little fruit. Tang is the word that feels right. Lemony comes in second, but none of the above take the reins.

Gauging with my proclivity for bigger, bolder stouts & barrel aged ales, this, although interesting, is on my one & done list. Been there...but still not sure why 'there' is even on the map.

As it warms the whole experience rounded out. The taste centers shifted farther back on the tongue. Became bigger, fuller. The sharp of the tang matured to one closer to a cheese tang. Sharp, but not acidic.

Now I'm imagining this with food. Apple pie & cheddar seems about right. Unfortunately at $17 per 12 Fl oz, I'll stick with a very dry cider.

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

Sample at Mikkeller Beer Celebration Copenhagen 2017, yellow session. Aroma has light funk, brett and barnyard notes. Taste is tart, dry with a light funk, hay and grass notes. Light body, high carbonation.

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Photo of HopHunter19
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - kind of a rusty, hazy golden amber color with minimal white head, no lacing
S - big lemon, white pepper, tart citrus peel, funk, sour cherry, slight barnyard
T - again big lemon, sour cherry, funk, barnyard, overly ripe fruits, white pepper
M - light to medium mouthfeel, carbonation appropriate for a sour, alcohol covered, aftertaste is funky barnyard, slight tart lemon
O - solid sour beer. Funky. But a refined funky.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.03/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

This one pours a slightly dark rusted orange color, with a small fluffy head, and a good amount of lacing.

Smells like pear, apple cider, lemon, grassiness, mild skunky funk, vanilla, and oak.

The base saison here feels a little simple, but it's definitely pleasant, with light pear and apple flavors, a little bit of grassiness, a funk that feels a little skunky, but not in an overall unpleasant way. The real star of this show, though, is the barrel character- they managed to get a wonderful creamy vanilla flavor, and a warm toasty oak flavor out of it, as well. FW seems to be the master at coaxing awesome barrel flavors out of beers, and this is no exception.

This is very light bodied, with a crisp mouthfeel, and a nice effervescence to it.

I'd wish for a bit more funky saison complexity in this one., if I could change anything about it. However, it's still quite tasty, with a killer barrel profile.

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Photo of Zythophile
3.9/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle Date: 5/9/16
Palate Contaminants: none

Appearance is a translucent light-medium gold. There's a little bit of fine head.

The smell is like a nice, lemony saison. It lacks the graininess that I usually find a little offputting. It's also slightly herbal.

The taste is a bit lighter than I've found in some of the better saisons I've had. The lemon zest is still there, but it's also slightly skunky. Slightly sweet, slightly sour, and not notably bitter. It all fades surprisingly quickly. I had high hopes, but it's just not that good.

The thickness is right down the middle, but the carbonation is a little coarse.

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Photo of AZBeerDude72
3.72/5  rDev -6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Pours a golden haze, very foamy and good lacing. Smells of vinegar and pickles, very sour. The taste is like apple cider vinegar, very strong acid flavors. Overall a good sour beer but not my type of beer. Will give it credit for it's style but to me this was a very stand off beer and not something I would get again.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

375ml bottle of batch 002. Bright yellow-orange, great clarity, looks fantastic. Aroma is very nice, brett, lemon, classy. Flavor is top notch, delicate, not really sour but brettanomyces, lemons, mild oak, just really good. Impressive.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.09/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12.7 oz, bottled 5/9/16, poured into a wine glass. Hazy golden orange, two finger head that moves into a thin lace. Grape wine notes, olive, lemon, funk. Taste is in line, with some melon and oak notes. Mouthfeel is medium, carbonation is medium. Overall, a tasty if pricey beverage. Worth a try for saison/funk fans.

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Photo of CHickman
4.12/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Batch No. 002, Bottled: 05/09/16; popped the cork and poured into a tulip, the color was cloudy bright yellow gold with a lot of active carbonation and bubbled racing up to the gigantic 3 finger frothy,foamy bright white head that was packed with tiny bubbles. The head did not budge and dissipated very, very slowly - I ran my finger through it and made a canyon, and it still stuck around for a few more minutes. The brew left excellent foamy lacing coating the sides and rings as it went down. A great looking beer.

Smells of barnyard funk, wet cardboard, lemon zest and fruity candy like Razzles up front. Got lots of fruit notes, wheat and earthy dry grains as well as a soapy aroma too. Last wave gets some peppery spices, brett, coriander and orange peel, then some more soft earthy notes. Complex with nice nimble citrus and grainy parts equally balancing it out.

Flavor is almost exactly like the aroma but with the additions of tart green apple, white wine, light oaky notes, wet grass, bubblegum and grapefruit. The barnyard funk, wet cardboard, lemon zest and fruity candy remain the most dominant parts of the taste, and even though it's only listed at 6.1% ABV, this brings some minor heat. I really like the way the citrus mixes with the toasted grains and peppery spices. It's refreshing and indeed a session saison.

Mouthfeel is light, thin and almost watery with a tart citrus attack that gives way to barnyard funk and then some mild spices that finish it clean and dry. It's quite a drinking experience to have so many shifts from a single beer. I really liked this beer and will seek it out. It's a bit expensive for a 375 ml bottle, but a definite treat from the BarrelWorks program.

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Photo of Franziskaner
3.99/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Light gold in color with just a faint trace of head. There's abundant carbonation bubbles erupting from within. The aroma is of tart wild yeast, tart raspberries, plum, and woodsy oak. The mouth is reminiscent of carbonated seltzer water, but is somehow watery and fairly quaffable for a wild ale.

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Photo of brureview
4.08/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a copper light copper color with a 3F head in a tulip glass. Nice looking beer.
Very prominent oak aroma. Some berry.

Tart, sour, puckering MF- as expected.

Taste is oak, light berry and an overwhelming Brett presence.

Is this a Saison or an approach like the Saison Brett from Boulevard?
Very smooth, and light Brett finish.Excellent balance of oak, Brett, and fruit.
This is more like a hybrid style beer, making it a pleasure to drink.

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Photo of dar482
4.35/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.25

Beer comes in a straw color.

Aroma offers butter, floral, grass, grainy malts, lemon, oak, funk.

Flavor is bright and refreshing with grass and lemony tart, a bit of green apple, light funk, effervescent carbonation, a bit of dry oak on finish. Wonderful combination of medium tart, a light and crisp Brett character and malt body.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.25/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer pours a nice white head that dissipates quickly. The beer pours a very beautiful and metallic medium gold. The beer's appearance is a bit darker than most other saisons but this one's still looks very good.

The beer smell is very good and is absolutely wonderful for the style. The beer has a slight tart note that cuts through the other notes. It isn't super sharp such that it covers all the other notes but strong enough to make itself noticed. The hop bitterness is a bit earthy that mixes well with this tart note such that it is sometimes hard to distinguish the two but still provides a nice bitterness. The notes that really make this beer worth it are the swirling vanilla and wooden oak notes that swirl around the tart and hops.

The taste is very good and while it isn't as good as the smell, it's certainly good on its own. The taste is much more bitter and acidic than the smell but none of the vanilla and oak notes are lost. The lactic acid and the brett are bit more present in the taste but it's still pretty good because they aren't overwhelming.

The feel is pretty good. It's unusually smooth and creamy for the style but the tingling carbonation gives it a nice dry feel to it.

Overall, a pretty good beer worth getting your hands and enjoying on a nice day.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.53/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a wine glass. The beer is akin in appearance to that of a sparkling wine. Little head that dissipates quickly. I tried this beer on tap at barrelworks, but this is a full review from the bottle.

Aroma is of citrus, lactic acid, oak, and some brett-like characteristics. Only a little bit of spice notes.

Taste is very similar to a funky sparkling wine. Great notes of funk, lemon, and grape. The oak does come through quite a bit. Vanilla and some Belgian spice are also prevalent. A bit grassy. Clean and crisp with moderate-to-high carbonation and a bone dry finish.

Overall, this could convert any white wine or champagne drinker. This beer is great. Previously at barrelworks I was comparing all world class sours, so I originally rated it a 83. I was wrong. It is definitely a 91. I see it pairing well well then higher end cuisine like pan seared halibut or scallops.

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Photo of gcamparone
4.49/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 oz corked bottle into a tulip glass.

Pours a slightly hazy golden orange body with a small white head that leaves little lacing or retention.

Aromas of tart lactic, lemony citrus, farmhouse funk, light oak, white wine. Really nice and inviting.

Taste is moderately tart with citrus, lactic tartness, wheat, peppery, light oak, finishes crisp and dry with medium low carbonation and a light easy drinking body.

Overall a very nice representation of the style, one of the better farmhouse ales I've had. Super balanced and really easy drinking.

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Photo of corby112
4.04/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy dark golden yellow color with ripe banana/straw colored edges and a two finger frothy white head that quickly settles into a thick, lasting ring. Decent retention with streaks of soapy lacing left behind.

Slightly earthy aroma with a nice balance of barnyard funk, musty bugs, sourdough bread, toasted oak and light fruit esters. Wild yeast dominates the nose with prominent barnyard funk. Subtle cheesiness, peppery spice, vanilla bean charred oak, hay and light fruit. Hints of apple and strawberry and cream but the lactic character gets stronger as it warms.

Fuller end of medium body with crisp acidity but not overwhelmingly sour. Decent amount of citric acid along with musty brett effervescence and lactic funk. Nice balance of acid and funk without overpowering the earthy farmhouse yeast and light fruit esters. Slight creamy texture with wild yeast, lemon spritz, hay and zesty citrus peel. Fruit isn't as strong as in the nose but this beer remains tart, refreshing and very easy to drink. Not quite as complex as the aroma suggests but still pretty interesting .

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Photo of ajchocholousek
4.42/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Bottle into teku:

A vigorous pour leaves a small, weak, soapy, quickly-dissipating bright white head that has medium-large bubbles. The beer is quite effervescent overall. A beautifully vivid, moderately hazy, golden orange hue paints the body.

The nose is a luscious combination of peach, tangerine, lemon peel, and an earthy breadiness that shows a hint of vinegary acidity (the faintest) surprisingly intermingled with a luscious orange-peach marmalade sweetness.

Everything else comes along with no surprises (except a surprising amount of carb), following the previously mentioned attributes, but with perhaps with a touch of wood, and a surprisingly firm level of sourness. It's complex, it's delicate, yet intense. Notes of peach, lemon, apple, and a touch of a honey-like sweetness, yield near the end to a smoky, oaky, barrel-driven funk that finishes dry, but more woody than one might expect.

Overall, an exquisite beer. Complexity is the name of the game here. I appreciate this, considering my recent string of quite one-dimensional sours. I think this is an underrated brew.

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Photo of StoneTSR
4.34/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 3.25 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

APPEARANCE: Light orange-yellow in color with a very fizzy head with big, unstable bubbles exploding quickly. The head rises to about a half-inch, but comes and goes within 15-20 seconds. There will be no lacing to speak of on this one as there is not a single bubble the sticks around for more than 20 seconds. A small stream rises from the etching on the bottom of the glass, but that’s about it. Color is gorgeous.

SMELL: Tart, sour, green apple and a backbone of funk are the primary aromas. The apple seems to get stronger with each sip and slightly overpowers the pleasant barrel smells that may have faded a touch.

TASTE: The oak comes through much stronger on the palate than it did on the nose. Vanilla and a touch of oak start the sip out, giving way to a slightly vinegary, spicy, and fruity middle; lemon, orange and a hint of grass. The end is where the tart, green apple hits along with some unexpected hop flavors. Complex and very tasty.

MOUTHFEEL: Surprisingly carbonated, given the lack of bubbles in the glass, but a little agitation and Lil’ Opal comes to life in a big way. A nice pucker brings the palate from slightly sweet fruit flavors to a dry, tart, crisp, clean finish. Light body, extremely refreshing.

OVERALL: I’m really glad I didn’t hold out on this one until the cooler months because on this warm, end-of-summer day it really hit the spot. I truly wish this was available more often (and in Colorado) on a regular basis.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.14/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Saison yeast, fresh apple, crisp pear, a little bit of hops in the background. Hops are mellowed as compared to non BA version. Oak Barrel flavor is apparent and gives a nice tartness, but functions more as a backbone than the dominant flavor. Crisp, light mouthfeel with good carbonation.

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Lil' Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 482 ratings