Lil' Opal | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

very good
53 Reviews
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Lil' OpalLil' Opal

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

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
A low alcohol Belgian-style Saison session beer aged for 17 months in lightly-used medium-plus toasted American oak barrels.

Added by BeerAdvocate on 05-25-2008

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Reviews: 53 | Ratings: 452
Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.03/5  rDev +1.3%
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 -2%
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 -6.5%
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 +6.8%
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 +2.8%
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 +3.5%
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 +0.3%
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 +2.5%
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 +9.3%
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 +6.8%
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 +13.8%
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 +12.8%
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 +1.5%
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 +11.1%
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%
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%
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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Photo of tprinzing
4/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I enjoyed this, but it was not as good as the other sours I've tried (only two others). I like this much much more than the regular Opal though. I'm liking barrelworks enough that I bought a shirt :-)

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Photo of scottfrie
3.73/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

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Photo of iTunesUpdates
4.79/5  rDev +20.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Very great drink ability. Comes in around %6 2015 version.

This to me goes beyond what I have seen for farmhouse ales.

Wish I could drink this everyday. Will be trying to trade for this soon.

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Photo of breadwinner
4.34/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This is one that's continuing to develop, and while my first exposure to the beer was middling, just six months later it really came into its own with a nice tartness atop fruity notes and oak. That's the thing with Firestone sours -- they always have an excellent oak presence. Good stuff.

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Photo of Nugganooch
4.05/5  rDev +1.8%

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.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of RaulMondesi
3.82/5  rDev -4%
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.

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Photo of BMMillsy
4.08/5  rDev +2.5%
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.

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Photo of 01001111
3.58/5  rDev -10.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Deep, clear, golden yellow with no head.

S: Flowers, brett funk, and a faint tartness.

T: Rich light malts, a quick wash faint tartness, then a very funky finish. Aftertaste is of strong wood flavors.

M: Medium body, light carbonation.

O: Interesting but not my favorite saison.

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Lil' Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.98 out of 5 based on 452 ratings.
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