Dec 16, 2016

Firestone Walker Lil Opal

I’m not sure how Firestone Walker’s Opal is related to this bottle of Lil Opal (batch #002 enjoyed mid-October), but in reading the company’s material on the two, they never really seem to explicitly make a connection. They both share the same name, for the most part, yet both are vastly different beers. The beer I enjoyed two years ago certainly wasn’t your standard saison having been dry-hopped prior to packaging. Lil Opal, likewise, isn’t your run of the mill example of the style either.

Described as the beer that started the company’s Barrelworks program, this 6.1% ABV saison is aged for 14 months with Brettanomyces in both French and American oak barrels. The result is an outstanding beer with an excellent barrel influence and a wild tartness at just the right level, giving Lil Opal a dynamic and refined character. The barrel-aging and wild yeast combination has created an almost cider-like quality in terms of the beer’s mouthfeel and overall nature, though the vinous notes, funkiness and wood will tell you otherwise.

Lil Opal is a damn fine beer that drinks with an air of class while a wild streak runs almost unfettered in the background, letting you know that this is more than just your standard saison. I love the barrels’ impact on this beer — the vanilla and wood leave a lasting impression after each sip. This is a beer that I could enjoy just about any time of year and certainly look forward to finding more of it in the next release.