Firestone-Walker Lil Opal Review

Pint of Lil Opal farmhouse ale by Firestone-Walker

After my tour of the Firestone-Walker brewery, I had the opportunity to try a few of their beers. The first that I tried was Lil Opal. Lil Opal is a a Belgian style Farmhouse Ale and is Firestone-Walker’s summer seasonal offering this year. One reason behind the name “Lil Opal” is that it is a small beer created from the second runnings of a wheat wine, called Big Opal. The wonderful beer was fermented with Belgian Saison yeast and then racked into neutral Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc oak barrels.

Where I Found It. I enjoyed this beer at the Firestone-Walker brewery in Paso Robles, CA.

Serving Type. Lil Opal was served from the tap into a glass.

Appearance. The head of this beer is thick, foamy, frothy, and white. A thin layer of head remained in the glass throughout drinking it. The color of Lil Opal is orange-brown, or a clover honey-like hue. The beer is cloudy opaque as an unfiltered wheat beer of this style should be.

Smell. Lil Opal has a slight bouquet of cloves and an aroma of under-ripe bananas. It has a slight fruit flavor but the smell on the whole is not as intense as other Belgian saison beers.

Taste. This beer has a light saison taste with less cloves and banana than is expected from the smell. Lil Opal has a more of fruity and sweet taste than would be expected. The fruity taste might be described as a hint of pineapple or maybe peach. Just a touch of bitterness comes through in the finish.

Mouthfeel. This is a light bodied beer with a lower alcohol content. Despite the light body this beer was well carbonated which gave it a wonderful creamy texture.

Drinkability. This is a great summer beer that is very smooth and easy to drink. The saison style makes it interesting but is not over the top and subdued enough to make this a great session beer for the summer.

Rating. My ratings below are on a five point scale with five being the best score.

  • Appearance (20%): 4.0
  • Smell (20%): 4.0
  • Taste (40%): 4.0
  • Mouthfeel (10%): 4.5
  • Drinkability (10%): 4.5
  • Overall: 4.1


  • Style: Belgian Saison/Farmhous Ale
  • Brewery: Firestone-Walker Brewing Company [more info]
  • Alcohol by volume: 3.8%
  • Hops: 100% Saaz
  • Malt: premium two-row malt (50%), wheat malt (25%), torrified wheat (25%)
  • Yeast: Saison yeast
  • Beer Advocate rating: 3.67 (as of June 24, 2009)

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About David Jensen

David is a craft beer and photography enthusiast.
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