Lil' Opal | Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

BA SCORE
89
very good
51 Reviews
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Lil' OpalLil' Opal
BEER INFO

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

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

BEER STATS
Reviews:
51
Ratings:
446
Avg:
3.99
pDev:
9.27%
 
 
Wants:
33
Gots:
75
For Trade:
7
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Reviews: 51 | Ratings: 446
Photo of iTunesUpdates
4.79/5  rDev +20.1%
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 ehammond1
4.56/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

On Tap

Churchill's Pub & Grille
San Marcos, CA

Hazy golden with a finger of creamy near-white head. Not great retention or stick, but this is a very low ABV beer. A pretty color. Looks inviting.

A cornucopia of bright, juicy fruit character: lots of peaches, apricots, and maybe even some mango. A tiny bit of wheat grain and mild grass with a bit of wood. Interesting, complementary, earthy and fruity yeast as well. This is a really wonderful beer.

A juicy, delicious, complex, but incredibly drinkable beer. Peach and apricot character combine nicely with mild funk and grass, a little bit of oak, and some citrus zest. Somewhat dry.

Thin to medium bodied with moderate carbonation.

Fantastic creation. I really want to see this in bottles.

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Photo of DaverCS
4.53/5  rDev +13.5%
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 +12.5%
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 bpasquini
4.49/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Picked up the bottle at the Bretta Rose/Stickee Monkee release
Think they changed the recipe from when this was added
Bottle says 5.9% ABV, time spent in barrels 14 months, 75% aged in French Oak, and 25% aged in American oak
A: Pours a slightly hazy goldfish yellow color and leaves a small white bubbly head on an aggressive pour, nice nucleation occurring, pretty good look to this beer

S: The room immediately is filled with some light fruit, barnyard hay, some funk and a hint of tartness, as you delve deeper you find, some vinegar, lemon zest, white grapes, and vanilla from the french and american oak barrels, it smells really good!

T: Initial flavor is Brett and tartness, then followed by some lemon zest, white grapes, more wine characteristics, slight presence of hops, then finishes with some hop bitterness, more wine characteristics and vanilla, the barrels really come through at the end and it’s fantastic, a little Brett on the finish as well, the tartness is medium in the start and slowly fades until you hit the crisp finish, no real lingering at all, great flavor profile for a Saison, possibly one of my new favorite saison

M: Tart, crisp, light, and refreshing, this is going to be an excellent summer beer!

O: Great beer, especially for a saison, hope I can make it back to FW to pick up some more!

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Photo of Arbitrator
4.46/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at the Rose & Crown's Firestone night.

A: Pours a hazy golden body that is capped by a finger of light beige head. Retention is short, with some nice sudsing down the sides as I drink.

S: Peach, apricots, hints of mango. Wheat, lemon rind, spice, and yeast.

T: Deliciously fruity, with orchard fruits like peach and apricot. Light hints of mango throughout. A wheaty mid-taste that is nicely complemented by lemon rind and undercurrents of yeast. A spicy finish (coriander?). Not very bitter, even slightly dry.

M: Very tasty and flavorful for something so low in ABV. I was very impressed.

D: This definitely changed my opinion re: Firestone's low-ABV beers. Now I'm beginning to feel like I haven't given them enough credit. This is a great beer. I really want to get six-packs of this.

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Photo of ajchocholousek
4.42/5  rDev +10.8%
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 mikesgroove
4.35/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

on tap from notes

light golden amber quickly filled up the glass with tons of bubbling white foam. Crowning the top and hanging on for what seems like an eternity thick, coating lace is dropped all over the glass.

The aroma was thick with peppery spice, grassy notes, lots of herbal, earthy, and grainy hops. A touch of light peach or pear in here as well. Really just a nice well rounded aroma. Taste rolls through with loads of pepper, coriander, touches of grain. A gritty, earthy taste and feel to it as it was light in body but I felt as though I was chewing it. Light finish, light tartness, dry, very dry with a touch of a peppery spray

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Photo of dar482
4.35/5  rDev +9%
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 breadwinner
4.34/5  rDev +8.8%
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 StoneTSR
4.34/5  rDev +8.8%
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 notchucknorris
4.32/5  rDev +8.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A: Pours a hazed gold color with prickly carb racing up the sides of the glass. Forms a 1/2 finger bone white head before settling down.

S: A great lactic tartness, almost yogurt-like, smooth oak notes, lemon and vanilla. Smells absolutely fantastic.

T: This never gets as tart as the smell promises, but I don't really think it needs to to taste fantastic. Has a kind of grinding tartness that never gets too sharp, lemon pith, a touch of oak, brett and some sour green grapes. Refreshingly crisp mouthfeel. A fantastic saison.

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Photo of Georgiabeer
4.29/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Had this on tap at Toronado San Francisco. Poured a yellow/gold with no head but good carbonation. Smells slightly fruity like a wit with lemon, coriander, and apple. The taste is similar with nice clean, vibrant flavors of lemon, coriander, clove, and slightly sweet apple as well as some herbal flavors with a spicy finish. Very nice. The mouthfeel is crisp, clean, and smooth. Super refreshing, very tasty and a nice summer drink.

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Photo of HattedClassic
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
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 ILikeGoodCider
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Sampled on-tap 08-24-08 at JJ Brewsky's in Camarillo, CA.

A - Poured a slighty cloudy dark straw color. White head with good lacing most of the way. Half Hefe/half Saison to me...

S - A pepper spice up-front. Some acidic fruit sneaking in there.

T - My girlfriend put it well: "Tastes a little boozey. A little buttershots, a little dark rum & a little Red Bull." Haha True.

M - Light but distinct carbonation. It plays well w/ the spice notes.

D - Quite drinkable. I'm digging Saisons lately...maybe its the lazy days of summer kicking in.

If you see this handle on the row, give it a full pint. Paired really well with a Seared Ahi Salad.

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Photo of ArrogantB
4.25/5  rDev +6.5%
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 StonedTrippin
4.24/5  rDev +6.3%
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 Thorpe429
4.17/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes.

Pours clean blonde color with a good white head and a ring or two of lacing on the way down. The nose carries some oak and light acidity plus a bit of white wine. Fairly strong sourness comes around along with a bit of funk. The flavor is fairly-funky and brings some white-wine acidity as well as a bit of lemon. Oak comes in as well. Mouthfeel is really nice with the acidity pairing well with a bit of a tannic presence. Really tasty and another solid experiment into the wild category from Firestone. I really hope this becomes a bigger program in the future.

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Photo of Samuel906
4.16/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

This is a 375mL bottle that I happened to find at the Paso Robles brewery and tasting room. Found it totally by chance while I was in there looking for some Stickee Monkee. Poured into a Firestone Walker Pivo Pils pilsner stange. Pours a bright, transluscent golden yellow with a vibrant white, thick head with lots of retention. Vigorous effervescing makes it seem alive. Honestly one of the best looking beers I've seen in a glass; it is the definition of looking inviting. Smell is interesting and complex: you can definitely smell the funk and tartness right of the bat and some brettanomyces musk. Some lemon, grapes and oak too. Taste is light, tart, and crisp, citrus. Amazingly easy to drink. Feel is very refreshing, leaves a great after taste. Overall, I really, REALLY enjoyed this beer. It has lots of good flavors, supremely refreshing, and looks amazing! Only downside is it is a bit pricey. This really bares nothing in common with it's namesake, Opal, and I really wish they had decided to make this a year round, widely distributed release instead.

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Photo of MissSmisje
4.14/5  rDev +3.8%
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 CHickman
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
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.

 1,711 characters

Photo of womencantsail
4.12/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap at Churchill's

A: The pour is a clear golden color with a finger's worth of white foam.

S: The nose is fairly fruity (tropical and stone fruits) and sweet with nice notes of citrus and a light hoppiness.

T: The flavor is similarly fruity with lemon, peaches, and apricot? Some wheat and a light breadiness give the beer some backbone and a touch of bitterness for balance.

M: The body is fairly light with a refreshing, crisp carbonation.

D: I've been looking forward to trying this beer for awhile and it was actually pretty nice. If only Firestone would actually make these beers available more often.

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Photo of charlzm
4.1/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Consumed 03/27/09 at Blue Palms, Hollywood, CA.

Presented in a tulip glass, this beer is a cloudy lemon/golden. A one-finger white foamy head quickly dissipated into slightly sticky bits of lacing.

Aroma provides a bit of tart citric sourness and a little dash of funk.

Tastes a bit like a witbier due to the pronounced wheaty tang. There is some VERY mildly musty funk and a touch of citric sourness as in the nose. Not very sweet, which is nice. Also a bit powdery, closing in on floral.

Slightly dry.

Light and very easy to drink, this is not a beer to be feared. While not an awesome saison, it's certainly got potential to be a gateway beer for those who appreciate it.

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Photo of Apellonious
4.09/5  rDev +2.5%
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 brureview
4.08/5  rDev +2.3%
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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Lil' Opal from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
3.99 out of 5 based on 446 ratings.
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