Firestone Walker Brewing Co.

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Wild Ale
Ranked #64
Ranked #598
4.38 | pDev: 7.53%
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
California, United States
Notes: We are fortunate to have great relationships with our local growers who provide us with superb fruit for our beers. Like last year, we had the opportunity to purchase fresh marionberries and boysenberries, both close cousins to the blackberry, so we pounced. For this vintage, fresh berries were added to Sour Opal, a beer matured up to 24 months in oak barrels, and then fermented using our proprietary blend of microflora for an additional 3 months. Bursting with ripe berries and brambles, as well as hints of jam, the fruit gives way to a rustic funk and soft oak flavors, finishing with a mouth-watering acidity.
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Reviews: 41 | Ratings: 338 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Noah_Aimar
Noah_Aimar from Oregon

3.87/5  rDev -11.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks is awesome, looks exactly like berry juice
Smell is sort of underwhelming for a beer I was hoping would be bursting with berries.
Taste is a bit subtle, no wow factor coming through for the hints of berries although it is obvious this beer is well crafted.
Feel is ok, very foamy carbonation.

This barrelworks creation was a miss for me, maybe I just wasn't in the mood. Luckily its still a great beer and I have two more bottles to see if it grows on me!

Aug 07, 2019
Photo of JamFuel
JamFuel from Sweden

4.46/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Batch 003.

Pours a deep, vibrant red with some wispy head.

Smell is tart with nice rolling notes of raspberries and blackberries and a hint of vinegar and cherries.

Taste is right on the edge of sour with a hint of vinegar. Big notes of raspberries, blackberries and a hint of sloe on the long, dry finish. Complex and juicy.

Mouthfeel is thin to medium with bright carbonation.

Overall, a terrific sour with great balance and depth.

Oct 14, 2018
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kitch from Hong Kong

4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

A 375ml corked and caged bottle. Batch No. 003, bottled on 8th November 2016. Poured into a 3 Fonteinen stemmed glass.

Appearance: A clear ruby purple colour with a big two finger pinkish head that dissipated quickly while leaving only sparse to no lacing.

Aroma: Tart, blackberry, mixed berries, lightly jammy.

Taste: Sour, tart, blackberry, mixed berries, with a touch of oak and funk.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium bodied with moderate to high carbonation.

Overall: Very nice blackberry aroma and flavours. Enjoyable and easy to drink.

Jul 10, 2018
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DefenCorps from Oregon

4.14/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

On tap at Apex. 2015 vintage.

Pink with a light pink head with good retention and lacing this looks great. The nose is jammy, bright and fruity, with a nice blend of seedless raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. A mild red wine note is present as well. The palate opens very fruity with the marionberry and boysenberry, noticeable in their lack of tannins, along with some strawberry. Jammy, moderately fatty to the detriment of the mouthfeel, this beer also has a nice vinous note. Red wine, vanilla, yogurt, a little lactic acid are present. Drying on the finish, this beer is medium light in body. Finish is a little lacking, maybe this beer was better fresh? The clean fruit expression is excellent, though.

Jun 18, 2018
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Stevedore from Oregon

4.21/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

375ml cork and caged bottle. Served in a wine glass. Pours a dark purple reddish body, light pink head measuring about one and half fingers, good retention, lots of lacing. Smell is tart blackberry, tannin, lactic acid, a bit of blackberry preserve, light lemon. Flavour follows; lemon, blackberry tartness, moderate lactic acidity, light tannin, a bit of red vinous character as well. Nice complexity, although the sourness itself is slightly one-note. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, good carbonation, slightly dry tart blackberry finish. A very nice wild ale with a good blackberry fruit presence.

Jun 13, 2018
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rodbeermunch from Nevada

4.23/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Have had this on tap a few times at the source, the high bottle price prevents me from taking any home, but on tap, good deal. Pours a color that is berry-esque, you get that light blue, purple, pink kind of blend of colors with this one and it even has a slight 1/4" head on it that is a lighter color than the body but in the same vein. Aroma was sour lemons and berries.

Taste is definitely pushed by the high degree of sourness to it. This is like an 8 or 9 on the 10 point scale. But it isn't a one trick pony, the berries are juicy and the oak is clean and impactful. They carbonate well and always seem fresh even if its an old batch. If you're looking for funky complexity this doesn't really do that, but it does do a very nice mix of sour and fruit with plenty of oak.

Jan 29, 2018
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Chcshammonde from California

4.17/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

I was psyched to find this at the Propagator's walk-in fridge in the gift shop. That place is awesome. The beer has a ruby and blue color to it. The smell is mild berries, oak, funk, sharp lactic tones. Taste does have a bit of depth and complexity, but not as much as others have described below. The beer is quite tart and sour, but not overly so. The berries lend a nice flavor profile that's blended with the base beer, and the oak wine barrels lend a sharp presence at the finish. I enjoyed it.

Jan 29, 2018
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StJamesGate from New York

4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Luminous raspberry. 4
Big balsamic + red fruit Pastilles. 4
Cherry cough drops, some wood, deep forest fruits, and milk funk. 4
Dry, snappy, light. 4

Boysenberry! Lots of fruit, low on tartness. I don’t know about anything lambic - could need time to get funky. But works fine as it is. 4

Jan 17, 2018
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andrewh995 from Arizona

4.34/5  rDev -0.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear deep purple with a small purple head. Smells of berries, funk, and some lactic acid. Tastes of blackberries, boysenberries, lactic acid, light vinegar, and acidity. Medium body with medium carbonation. Overall and incredible sour.

Nov 18, 2017
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Zythophile from District of Columbia

4.25/5  rDev -3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Bottle Date: 11/8/16
Palate Contaminants: other beer

The look is like liquid cranberry sauce. I'd call it clear-ish because it's neither truly opaque nor clear. Head is fine-medium.

The scent is like a funky blackberry cobbler, including the crust. Were blackberry Warheads ever a thought in anyone's head?

Tart, tart, tart. Certainly a sipper. There is a lot of concentrated blackberry. It's worth waiting a few seconds for the initial blow to disperse. What's there is pretty good, but I'd love a little more depth and complexity.

Not a whole lot of carbonation. There's a bit of warming feeling. The tartness just hangs around. Pleasant enough.

Sep 17, 2017
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GreesyFizeek from New York

4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Tap and Mallet in Rochester, NY.

This one pours a dark reddish brown, with a small head, and no lacing.

This is pretty acidic on the nose, with a soft raspberry fruitiness, some blackberry, and some bready malt.

This is pretty exceptional, and super wonderful. It's very fruit forward, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's 'jammy.' There's an almost bready and 'crunchy' malt character to this, kind of like pie. There's a very lemon-forward acidity- it's quite, quite sour, but in a great way.

This is light bodied, and amazingly crisp and clean.

FW very quietly puts out some absolutely amazing sours. This is exceptional.

Jul 22, 2017
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Brolo75 from California

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Batch No. 3 ABV 6%

A: Pours a reddish/purple color with a slight bright pink head, no retention or lacing, lots of carbonation, very hazy.

A: Lots of tart berry aroma, sourness, oakiness, fruity, almost like blackberry jam, very aromatic, slight barnyard funk, it's more sour and tart than it is funky.

T: Blackberry tartness hits up front and lingers for quite a bit, then there's a hit of sour notes along with some oak from the barrels, finish is very dry, berries come through really strong with soft sour and barrel notes, picking up a slight grape note along with more berry jam goodness, very nice.

M: Light bodied with a very dry dark wine like finish, lots of carbonation.

O: A lovely beer with lots of berry tartness and soft sour notes, it really taste like Firestone Walker did not hold back on the berries, could use more presence from the oak and it may emerge as it ages, overall, a world class wild American ale.

Jul 04, 2017
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StonedTrippin from Colorado

4.27/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

this was a delightful sour beer, but i found it somewhat one dimensional, especially compared to the other special firestone wild beers, and as much as i liked it, its not that different, and it didnt impress me like i wanted it to. the beer is deep purple in color, really intense and dense looking, yet rather clear and heady at the same time, really nice looking from the tap. i expected a little more of a bretty profile, but it may be so mature that its all gone sour, they say 27 months all together, which may have lead to this almost astringent acidity, its a lot, even a small glass. the berry flavor is amazing, and if i didnt read the description closely, i would have said blackberry for sure. the fruit is thus apparently not as distinct as it could be, and sort of rounds down to blackberry, super jammy and full though, sweet for a moment, ripe and fresh, real fruit for sure, giving way to a flash of a more vinegary sort of sourness before the bacterial acidity kicks in. it does have a lot of oak on it, but i think its done up to the point of losing some of the base beers magic and at the same time giving me an almost sour juice beer, as much as i like it, thats the obvious criticism. hard to be negative though about a beer of this quality, cool to drink it on tap, i just wish for more funk and less acidic, even some more malt flavor to this would help it i think. i look forward to trying the bottled edition some day. nice to see these beers showing up in colorado!

Jun 30, 2017
Photo of Todd
Todd from California

4.71/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

From BeerAdvocate magazine #124 (May 2017):

I recently bought a bottle of Batch #3 (bottled on November 8, 2016) at The Propagator in Marina del Rey, Calif. It has a gorgeous hazy plum color with a striking, dark pink-stained creamy head and lacing that lasts until the end, which is impressive. Far too many so-called “sour” beers land flat and lifeless almost immediately after pouring. The first sip brings big, bright, bursting notes of blackberries to the palate with an underlying vinous quality and oakiness, some savory spice suggestions, and prickly carbonation. And the piquant sourness brings a tart character with lemon, raspberry, and a tannic edge. It’s not overbearing, though, and allows the fruit, farmhouse-y funk, and soft breadiness to come through. The finish is super dry, leaving the palate thirsting for more. SLOambic is an American Wild Ale done right and hands down one of the best that I’ve had in recent years.

Jun 14, 2017
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q33jeff from New Jersey

2.59/5  rDev -40.9%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.5



LOOK: red-purple, no head.
AROMA: raspberry,...not strong.
TASTE: raspberry, baking soda,. Strong sour taste.
FEEL: mostly flat, touch of carbonation.

Tap at Isaac newtons.

2016 vintage.

Smoother than previously tried.

Age has helped this, but I still don't live it.


Jun 11, 2017
Photo of Phil-Fresh
Phil-Fresh from California

4.55/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5


A: Lots of Blackberries, followed by a lemony lingering sourness with a touch of funk.

A: Deep purple, almost plum color, clear, with a moderate white head with solid retention.

T: Crisp, Berry flavor upfront, with a moderately strong lemony lingering tartness and a touch of funk and oak.

M: Light bodied with moderate carbonation. The beer has a touch of acidity, but is quite pleasing.

O: Amazing! Very well executed and clean with great balance between the aroma, flavor and mouth-feel. Very easy to drink!

Jan 26, 2017
Photo of breadwinner
breadwinner from California

5/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Absolute home run of a beer, which manages to blend all the best parts of Firestone Walker/Barrelworks's repetoire - deft use of oak and tremendously nuanced and balanced sour+funk profile - with a veritable assload of blackberry (or, more precisely in the case of the 2015 batch, boysenberries and marionberries). This is what you want in a fruited sour - delightfully juicy fruit character alongside characterful oak, tartness, and funk. These guys manage to pull such interesting notes from their barrels, an almost savory character, herbal, like sage perhaps, as well as dry oak and a unique musty character, which isn't so much damp basement (a la 3 Fonteinen or Cantillon) as something I can't even really name, except to say simply that it's incredibly pleasant. The Barrelworks guys have managed to import all of the precision of the mother brewery, while applying it in a whole new realm, creating beers as unique as they are delicious. From Agrestic to Sour Opal to Bretta Weisse, these are just tremendously lovely and thoughtful beers that I'd drink every day and Sunday. Cheers, cheers, three cheers indeed.

(Edit: sweet Jesus, have had the immense good fortune to have this again. This isn't just exemplary, this is mind-blowing. The most recent tasting was from the keg, and you could've mistaken it for delightful blackberry pie, dustings of spice and vanillin oak, and perfectly assimilated vein of funk. I mean, truly, truly world class stuff here.)

Jan 24, 2017
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vfgccp from New York

4.21/5  rDev -3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

10/9/15 bottle, opened 10/23/16

Blackberry edition

A - Hazy plum jelly body with a light violet head. Nice rention and ok lace.

S - Acidic lemon, blueberry skins, and tart blackberries.

T - Loaded with juicy tart blackberries. Lemon, tanniny grape skins, and a touch of wood.

M -Light and crisp. Shade thin.

O - A nice, juicy American Wild.

Oct 23, 2016
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mothman from Minnesota

4.17/5  rDev -4.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Ruby red with a pink hue.

Smell is a bit better than the flavor. I have no idea what the berries are, but they are there. Sour and tart with light acidity. Lemony. Has a cranberry and green apple flavor to it.

Light bodied. Nice carbonation.

Solid beer. I enjoyed this.

Aug 24, 2016
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yung_peli from California

4.43/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a deep maroon w/ a half finger head that quickly recedes into a ring, some lacing
AR: Berries (black & boysen), lactic funk, oak
T: Follows nose, oak tannins and lactic funk on the back, fruity sweetness and a slight astringency
M: Good carbonation, medium body, dry yet slightly sticky on the finish

Apr 23, 2016
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crob3888 from California

4.75/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours a beautiful purple with a slightly pinkish-purple head that has excellent retention and leaves lacing on the glass. The aromas and flavors are immediately of tart blackberries, boysenberry jam, spicy oak, some farmhouse funkiness, and even a hint of mint too. Mouthfeel is fairly light and juicy but mouth puckering tartness is evident and enjoyable. Love this beer.

Apr 18, 2016
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SDRedDevil from California

4.87/5  rDev +11.2%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Draft pour at Barrelworks. Bright colorful purple color, smells of blackberries (i know its not blackberries but you can't tell the difference). Taste is berry forward with smooth oaky layers at the end. Easily the best sour I have had from FW.

Feb 18, 2016
Photo of Wolberjs
Wolberjs from California

4/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Looks like a fruit lambic. Dark ruby red with a lingering white head. Smells a straightforward black berry earthy. Taste is straightforward sour blackberry. Mouthfeel is smooth and pleasant. All good parts but nothing stands out. Good but not great fruited sour.

Jan 24, 2016
Photo of Raj
Raj from Illinois

4.16/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

From 12oz bottle.
A: pours a pretty dark red, almost maroon with wispy off-white head that fades quickly. moderate carbonation.
S: lots of fruit notes on the nose, raspberry, blackberry, dark currants. lemon and fruit skin smell lets you know that it its going to be sour. wood notes, vanilla.
T: very tart upfront with lemon, lemon rind, fruit (plum?) skins. Nice raspberry / blackberry jam as the sourness fades, fruity but not particularly sweet. some wood notes from the barrel, hay, little earthy funk. finishes clean without much lingering sourness.
M: a little thinner than some fruit sours. carbonation was nice but faded by the last 1/3 of the glass.
O: overall i liked this a lot. i'm not overly familiar with olallieberries, but sort reminded me of a cross between raspberry and currants. liked the wood notes. definitely no off flavors and not an acid bomb. this is a nitpicking, but for my taste i would have liked a little more funk, more carbonation, and a slightly less tartness. i've been impressed with barrelworks, they have been making really nice consistent wild ales with only a few stinkers.

Aug 09, 2015
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benzalman from California

4.5/5  rDev +2.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

My personal favorite of the firestone walker wild / sour beers. Had it on tap at barrelworks in buellton, california. Hoping to snag a bottle of this at some point!

Aug 03, 2015
SLOambic from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 97 out of 100 with 338 ratings