Lil' Opal
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

Lil' OpalLil' Opal
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Farmhouse Ale - Saison
Ranked #455
Ranked #8,043
3.98 | pDev: 9.3%
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: 73 | Ratings: 507 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of StoutElk_92
StoutElk_92 from Massachusetts

4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Bottled: 05/09/16

Notes of tart apple, white grape, pear, sweet vinegar, oak, hints of leathery funk, wine, farmhouse, fruity esters, pale bready crackery caramelized malt, mild vanilla, some spice, with floral earthy grassy hops

Jun 19, 2020
Photo of GuyFawkes
GuyFawkes from Illinois

4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

May 02, 2019
Photo of SHODriver
SHODriver from North Carolina

4.5/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured into a delerium tulip to a pale golden yellow topped by a finger of dense white head which fades quickly to a collar around the edge of the glass with minimal lacing.
S: Smells of orchard fruits and lemony tartness along with a slight oak, funk, and grassy note.
T: Taste is pretty tart lemon on entry with some funk, slight chalk and some slight hay notes. Strong pucker throughout the drink. Swallow is orchard fruits and grassy notes with a little lingering lemony tartness. Really surprising how quickly the tartness washes away on the finish.
M: This beer is on the lighter side of things and is flirting with being watery. Carbonation is effervescent and slightly prickly while the beer has a drying finish.
O: Overall this is a very impressive beer. It has good flavors and some nice complexity which make it an interesting drink. Definitely more tart on the taste than the nose led on but that isn't a bad thing. Definitely happy that I picked this up and I hope to see them attempt to recreate it.

Sep 10, 2018
Photo of Treyliff
Treyliff from West Virginia

4.27/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

375ml cork & cage bottle poured into a teku
Bottles 5/9/16

A- pours a clear golden color with a two-finger creamy white head that has great retention after the pour, leaving a bit of lacing behind

S- fruity and peppery yeast aroma up front, with notes of apple, pear & stone fruit. Spicy oak adds a nice woody element & a hint of vanilla. Brett notes close it out with some earthy barnyard aromas

T- light and fruity up front with flavors of ripe pear, green apple skin and apricot. Mid-palate brings out peppery & spicy oak, which includes highlights of vanilla & oak. The finish brings out the brett earthiness with notes of dried hay and earth. Just a hint of tartness on the finish leaves you wanting more

M- medium-light body with moderate carbonation leads to a foamy mouthfeel and a semi-dry, slightly tart finish

O- a solid saison that has just enough tartness to keep it light and refreshing, giving it high drinkability

Apr 22, 2018
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bshefftz from California

4.35/5  rDev +9.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Great balance of brightness, funk, and barrel. Somehow both refreshing and subtly oakey at the same time. Less sour than many beers highlighting bruxellensis on the bottle and I think a better beer for that. Would try again.

Mar 01, 2018
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Damian from Massachusetts

4.65/5  rDev +16.8%
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.

Jan 21, 2018
Photo of patre_tim
patre_tim from Thailand

4.24/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

Jan 01, 2018
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farrago from New Jersey

3.79/5  rDev -4.8%
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.

Sep 24, 2017
Photo of metter98
metter98 from New York

3.91/5  rDev -1.8%
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

Sep 02, 2017
Photo of kitch
kitch from Hong Kong

4.33/5  rDev +8.8%
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.

Aug 31, 2017
Photo of seedyone
seedyone from New York

4.26/5  rDev +7%
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.

Aug 12, 2017
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Ciocanelu from Romania

3.75/5  rDev -5.8%
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.

May 24, 2017
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beergoot from Colorado

4.23/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Slightly hazy, light yellow body; lively carbonation; decent, one-finger thick head; some foam clinging to the sides of the glass. Typical brett aromas; funky, band-aids; trace of fruitiness. Tart; bready; some oak flavors coming through; citrus fruits; lemon, lime, tangerine. Medium-heavy body; velvety with a crisp, semi-dry feel; acidic.

A pretty decent barrel-aged saison, delivering a better-than-average flavor and mouthfeel experience. The barrel aging is done right, just enough to add that little extra wood presence to the palate without trampling over the basic beer.

May 15, 2017
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HopHunter19 from Missouri

3.99/5  rDev +0.3%
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.

May 06, 2017
Photo of Harrison8
Harrison8 from Missouri

4.51/5  rDev +13.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a frosted yellow-orange with a finger of white head on top. Moderate head retention, with barely any lacing left behind. There is a off-white, foamy ring that sits around the top of the glass for a long while. Aroma is pears, green apple, lemon, and spicy Belgian yeast easters. The aroma is dry, and kept short. Flavor profile is green apple, lemon, pears, apricot, with just a sprinkle of Belgian yeast spice behind. It's incredibly well balanced, with the natural tart and sour qualities coming out of the green apple, and lemon. Mouth feel is thick with a creamy, smooth texture. It doesn't feel fizzy, or overly carbonated, just a nice crispness to it. Overall, a sour that provides hints of sour and tart notes, but doesn't batter the tongue with sour qualities. Very well balanced, and extremely delightful.

Served in a 12oz snifter. Bottle.

Apr 23, 2017
Photo of TrojanRB
TrojanRB from California

4.57/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours a cloudy golden orange, with loose head that quickly settles to the surface, but then remains

Smells funky, some green apple, pear, lemon. Wine must as well.

Tastes of funky, oaky barn. Somewhat floral, and a bit of sweet apricot.

Full bodied, a little creamy, with a tartness that hits right in the center of the tongue (as opposed to the tip or edge)

Really well done, probably my favorite of the style

Apr 06, 2017
Photo of EMH73
EMH73 from New York

4.09/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Pours a clear light orange color with a thin, poorly retained white head that left no lacing. Smells and tastes of oak, barnyard funk, very tart apples, apricots and spices. Finishes moderately sour. Very well carbonated, light bodied and dry.

Mar 29, 2017
Photo of GreesyFizeek
GreesyFizeek from New York

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.

Mar 15, 2017
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Zythophile from District of Columbia

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.

Mar 05, 2017
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Brolo75 from California

4.46/5  rDev +12.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

375 ml bottle into a tulip

A: Pours a golden orange color, very hazy, no head retention or lacing, has a nice bright golden orange color.

A: Tart, sour funkiness, picking up some apricots, barnyard must on the back end, a layer of oak and white grape/wine aromas, solid.

T: Sour funk up front, touch of oak, saison spice, apricots, and more oak in the finish, very smooth and drinkable, very nice.

M: Light bodied with a good amount of carbonation, dry finish.

O: A well brewed beer, good balance of sourness, spice, and a touch of oak. Also, notes of apricot add another layer of tartness and sweetness, really good.

Jan 16, 2017
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AZBeerDude72 from Arizona

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.

Jan 15, 2017
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ArrogantB from Colorado

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.

Jan 02, 2017
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DrederickTatum from New Jersey

4.36/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.5

Pours clear golden with a fizzy head that dissipates quickly. Smells of lemon, hay, bretty funk. Tastes tart and oaky with soda-like fizziness. Very good.

Dec 16, 2016
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Smakawhat from Maryland

4.42/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the bottle into a tulip glass. Bottled May 9th 2016.

Excellent clear and clean looking body. Beaming but not crystal shimmerin tangerine orange, with a very noticeable roaring middle column of carbonation in the centre. Head creation is bright white but minimal. A half tiny finger top is always left creamy and like a skating rink. Excellent looking brew.

The excellence continues in the nose, mostly because of barrel sensing aromas. Slight wood but almost hints of wood shavings and rich mix of florals and sweet malts. Oak and wood tones go almost into fresh cedar, then there are the soft esters that come off this almost like thick juice. Peach mild sweetness, more barrel notes than creamy making for a delictable sensing flavor.

Palate is just soothing. Soft bodied, just nearly creamy malt feeling that gives extra oomph to the palate. Juiced peaches and apricot from esters and herbal excellent earthy warmth. Mild sensing acids with thick rich almost chardonnay like wine body but without the large buttery or oak monster flavors. Peach and apricot mid palate with and excellent soft rounded finish, even has a bit of herbal mint and sage qualities to top it off.

Fantastic barrel aging mix going on here that has done wonders.

Nov 13, 2016
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Apellonious from North Carolina

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.

Nov 12, 2016
Lil' Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 89 out of 100 with 507 ratings