Tasting: November 17, 2014
Beer #: 650
Opal by Firestone Walker
You’ll see a number of labels that identify a beer’s style as “Farmhouse” or “Saison” (French for “season”). Both terms are interchangeable descriptions. Neither term is a particular style of beer but rather a general term for the recipes that were traditionally brewed on the farms of France and Belgium and consumed by the farm’s seasonal laborers. While the recipes would vary from farm to farm they had the common characteristics of being refreshing and more importantly, low in alcohol. A typical farmhouse or saison would fall into the 3.0 – 3.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) range. To put it in perspective, a modern Budweiser is about 5.5%.
Since there is a wide interpretation of the style and US craft brewers have a history of amping up every other old-world beer style – why not take what you’d consider the original “sessionable” beer and jack up the ABV? Opal from Firestone Walker checks in at 7.5% ABV. If I owned that farm – I might not get anything harvested.
Probably the only common characteristic from modern to traditional is probably the use of Belgian yeast.
Here’s the description of Opal by Firestone Walker from the company website:
Our interpretation of the rustic Wallonian Saison style is a harmonious blend of rustic grains, spicy yeast and unique sauvignon blanc tones. Inviting lemon grass and gooseberry meet peppery spice and fresh grain aromas. Spicy Belgian yeast create a complex yet dry and refreshing canvas with splashes of citrus and stone fruit with a bright tropical white wine finish. Hop bitterness is assertive yet harmonious rounding out slightly tart and refreshing.
My thoughts on Opal by Firestone Walker?
Belgian yeast delivers spicy clove and banana. I get some of the sauvignon blanc and peppery spice. A bit fizzy. All in all a nice Belgian-style ale. I’ll put Opal at 87 points.