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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

490 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 490
Hads: 1,235
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 16.11%
Wants: 35
Gots: 124 | FT: 3
Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co. visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
Saison / Farmhouse Ale |  7.90% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerBeing on 06-03-2007

No notes at this time.
View: Beers (27) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 490 | Hads: 1,235
Photo of chrisroarshack
2.29/5  rDev -41.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

I may have gotten very old stock on Le Merle, but I've had a sample on tap since then. Need to buy a bottle and see how it stacks up. Will re-review.

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Photo of Reaper16
2.4/5  rDev -38.6%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

375mL bottle served into a tulip glass

Pours a... bright orange color? What the fuck is this? I've never, ever seen a Saison this color. This is a Saison, right? Very fine bubbles make for 3/4 of a finger in head size. If this were a "blind" tasting, and you told me it was a saison, I would say "get out of here."

It doesn't smell like a Saison, either. Lots of lush fruits: guava, clementine, persimmon. Some earthy hop aromas. The yeast is giving off none of the usual phenolic or funky aromas that Saisons usually employ. Instead the nose is dominated by this abundance of fruit. It smells juicy.

Ugh. This is not a good Saison. It actually tastes pretty good, but I can't call it a Saison. It is so, so, so fruit-forward. Guava and persimmon for days, brash and bright. You know when red wine is sometimes described as "overextracted" (meaning that the grapes were extracted too much)? That's what this beer tastes like. It's like drinking the syrup from canned fruit. A dash -- only a dash! -- of clove coming from the yeast provides some other note, at least. I mean, hey, I like canned fruit syrup as much as the next guy. But not in my favorite style of beer.

It's pretty easy to guess what I have to say about the mouthfeel, right? If it tastes big and juicy, then the mouthfeel is likely going to be sweet and wet. Saisons are prized for their dry mouthfeel. Someone should have told that to North Coast. You could place my tongue in a sieve and out would come pure Capri Sun. This beer is like making out with a sheep dog in the rain.

Again, this kind of tastes interesting enough. But it meets almost zero of the qualifications of a good Saison.

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Photo of kojevergas
2.7/5  rDev -30.9%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

375ml brown glass bottle with hood and wire cap over a cork served into an EKU 28 stem-snifter in me gaff in Castle Rock, Colorado. Reviewed live. Expectations are high given the brewery. Acquired at Lukas Liquor in Lone Tree, Colorado.

Served straight from the fridge and allowed to warm slightly over the course of consumption. Side-poured with standard vigor as no carbonation issues are anticipated.

Not paired with food.

Yields a satisfying cork pop upon opening. No upsurging issues or anything.

A: Pours a two finger white colour head - a bit too thin - of slight cream, decent thickness, and good retention for the high ABV. Decent lacing. Body colour is a nontransparent translucent pale copper. No yeast particles are visible. No bubble show. Not quite on par for the style, but generally inviting.

Sm: Light funkiness, pale malts, some dull lemon zest, and fairly stale citrus ester hops. An average strength aroma. Surprisingly, no yeast is detectable. No alcohol is detectable either.

T: Lemon and citrus zest in a dull and somewhat stale sense. Pale malts. Hints of funk. No real yeast character. No alcohol comes through. It's too simple; there's little to say about it. Lacks complexity and subtlety. Not particularly balance either. Meh. It leaves a lot to be desired. Lacks the subtle peppery character present in every quality saison I've had.

Mf: Smooth and wet, with some tingly coarseness from the crystal malt. Decent carbonation. Okay palate presence. Doesn't feel custom-tailored to the flavours, but it works in general sense.

Dr: Drinkable but unremarkable. I wouldn't bother with this again. There are far better beers in the style. Not recommended. Hides its ABV well, but that's one of the few things it has going for it. A severe disappointment from North Coast.


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Photo of BaileysBrew
2.83/5  rDev -27.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

750 ml corked bottle

Uncorked the bottle and there was almost no pressure behind the cork. This made sense upon pouring, as there almost no carbonation. Odd for this style?

Appearance was golden with orange hues with a faint haze. Absolutely no head, even right after the pour.

Smell was grapefruit and orange with hints of yeast. No pepper or spice detected.

This beer was a bit disappointing to drink, mostly because it was very flat. That colors my review quite a bit. But it tasted a bit like a hard apple cider with just a touch of sparkle. There were some yeast notes and a little tangerine in the distance. It kept taking me back to my first attempt to homebrew a cider, and it wasn't that good.

The mouthfeel was actually pretty good if you took a big drink. That helped capture some of the carbonation and the viscosity was really right on--very smooth.

Overall, was not impressed. I think the carbonation would have made a big difference, but this still tasted alot like a bad hard cider.

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Photo of blakelive784
2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12.7 fl oz brown glass bottle served in a tulip, reviewed live:

A - Pours a hazy honey golden color with a fizzy, white, two finger head. Retention is OK. Standard fare.

S - Lemon, light pepper, slight funk, doughy yeast, and crystal malt. Relatively simple for the style, though balanced and inviting.

T - Heavy citrus, light peppery spice and basic yeast. That's about it. Simple. Could be a nice base for a better beer.

M - Light, crisp and refreshing. Nearly ideal

D - Needs some serious work. Too simple. Run of the mill Saison. I wouldn't seek it out again.

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Photo of JCarey
2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Corked 750 with a cool label. Was only 7.49 so I picked it up.

Pale orange with pretty minimal effervescence for a Saison. Half finger of head recedes quickly but leaves behind a small cap and some thin lacing.

Aroma is pretty barren Saison. I'm getting a lot of Apple Cider. No noticeable hop or malt character, and pretty mild for style. Not a whole lot of yeast personality in this beer. Reminds me more of a wine than a Saison.

Again, starts with apple cider. No hop flavors and very minimal bitterness. Ends slightly malty. With a bit of toast and bread. Not much of the yeast character I've come to love about the style presents itself. I get a bit on the very back of the swallow, but I wish that was more pronounced to the front and throughout.

Dry, but not the crisp dryness I should be getting. A bit sweet and keeps the mouthfeel from really being what it should.

I wish I liked this beer, but I'll pass on it the next time I see this in the store. I want to finish by saying that I am in NJ and this is a West Coast brewery. I think this beer suffered from being corked, as it was pretty swollen and tough to get out.

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Photo of goochpunch
2.92/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Pours out a slightly chill-hazed brassy tangerine with a wealth of tiny bubbles making their way to the head. Head is massive, foamy, and almost spills over the top. Leaves some near solid lacing on the glass. Nose is very fruity (over-ripe fruits) and candy sweet. I get a lot of peach and mango (which I would normally love, but, as I said, it's more of an over-ripe and near-rotten smell). Has a bit of a grain bite in the nose. Flavor starts off with a candy sweetness and some grainy character which leads into those over-ripe fruits again (but not so overbearing as in the aroma). A bit of an earthy hop comes in toward the finish alongside a dull bitterness and a flat yeastiness. The saving grace of the flavor profile is a finishing dryness and mild background acidity which save this from being an overall cloying experience. Mouthfeel is rather light in body with a jumpy carbonation although it isn't so forcefully carbonated that it pricks the tongue. Drinkability started off OK, but as it warms it gets sweeter and sweeter and the bitterness becomes more astringent. If I ever drink this again, which I doubt, I will definitely be having this ice cold.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
2.93/5  rDev -25.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2

Le Merle from North Coast pours a hazed orange-amber into a large snifter with aggressive carbonation and a nice thick white foam. Musty aroma of lemon pepper and bananas. Flavor includes hay, banana, grassy hops, and spice. Some alchol warming is present. No sourness or funk to be found and the bitterness is high for style. The bitterness becomes more balanced by yeast fruit flavors as the beer warms, however, at that point the particulate yeast begins to present some off (and not in a good funky way) flavors. Not my kind of saison.

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Photo of SilentSabre
2.95/5  rDev -24.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

I have mixed feelings about this beer. Three good things about this beer are 1) It has fantastic head retention. After taking a few sips and walking away for several minutes, when I return, there is still a lovely, white froth that almost looks like meringue a good inch thick remaining. 2) The smell is just wonderful with plenty of fruit and yeast and a very subtle "barnyard" smell that you really have to search for. This seemed to be pretty on-point for the style, although not 100%; still nice nevertheless. 3) Lastly, this had quite a collection of yeast and debris in the bottle, which is rather desireable to me. The one truly negative thing about this beer, is perhaps the most important: taste. A farmhouse saison should have a sour/tartness to it, IMO, and this did not. In fact, it seemed much more bitter on the finish, which was rather disappointing to me. I really enjoy this style, and had such high hopes for this drink. It is certainly not a bad beer, but as far as being a saison, I just don't think it is a very good representation of the style.

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Photo of womencantsail
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

A: The pour is a cloudy golden orange color with an enormous white head that eventually dies down and leaves some nice lacing.

S: The nose is driven by the cracker and bread malt aromas along with a strong yeast presence. Some light citrus zest notes along with some pepper and banana. Not all that much that says saison, and sort of bland.

T: As unremarkable as the aromas were, the flavor is similarly boring. The intense carbonation mutes what flavor is there. Again, this beer is mostly wheat bread and yeast (almost doughy) with a light citrus component.

M: Over-carbonated to say the least. The body is medium, but the intense carbonation is just a bit too much.

D: This is a rather lackluster beer. North Coast gets a lot of notoriety because of Old Rasputin and Old Stock, but I've found most of their other beers to be mediocre.

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Photo of ChainGangGuy
2.98/5  rDev -23.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance: Pours a cloudy gold body with a small, exceptionally fizzy white head.

Smell: Light, musty aroma of lemon, straw, pepper, and bananas.

Taste: Yeasty dough flavor with a little citric lemon, a little spice, too. Hint of wheat. Dry, banana-driven finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied. Highly carbonated.

Drinkability: An unremarkable saison with a brash, punishing level of carbonation.

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Photo of rickyleepotts
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

How cool… to have a beer named after you. Of course, only if the beer is good. But this beer promises to have some hints of fruit in there. Fruits and spice that is.

The first thing I notice is how big the bottle is. I like it that some of these beers have big bottles. A big bottle, since we are splitting the beers amongst us, provides a full pint a piece. That’s more beer to enjoy, and more time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

This beer looks like a wheat in the glass… perhaps a thicker, more robust Blue Moon. But smells nothing like a Blue Moon. It has a spicy nose, but a certain sweetness that is some of those fruit notes I keep reading about. The head is quite frothy too, which is unusual for lighter beers. (Yes, I did a proper pour.)

At first you are hit with some subtle carnation, but then you are just covered with utter sweetness. The beer explodes on the back of the palate and settles into a smooth, sweet aftertaste that quickly turns almost warm… those spices that I could smell a few minutes ago. The aftertaste lasts for a LONG time too. It just sits there, making you want to enjoy that rather than another drink. A big bottle could last someone a long time if planned accordingly.

The beer has a pretty high ABV too, nearly reaching 8%. So taking your time with a big bottle might be your best bet. The beer is good… not great, but very good. However I fear a beer like this won’t be very memorable. Taste is too complex to really explain, and since it’s such a new brew not sure I would even remember what it’s called unless staring at the bottle.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was a bit underwhelmed by this beer. For some reason I expected the makers of Old Rasputin, Old Stock Ale, and Red Seal to be able to make a little better Saison than this. Nonetheless, it wasn't bad.

It poured a pale, opaque yellow which reminded me of lemonade. Aroma was light, sweet, citrus-y and effervescent. In fact, this beer reminded me a great deal of Sprite or Sierra Mist. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really scratch my beer itch; it just seemed a bit insubstantial and almost in flavor like a shandy or a radler. Mouthfeel was very light and active.

Not bad, but I can't say I'll be having this again. I got this bottle at Discount Liquor in Milwaukee, and split it with Surly Sober.

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Photo of Westsidethreat
3.03/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A: Hard core carbonation. Fizzy snow white head is dominating the glass, allowing only a small dingy egg yolk colored body to form.

S: Loads of barnyard and wet blanket. Fair amount of floral pollen, daisies, clover honey and bread sticks. Overall, fairly fresh aroma.

T: Starts mildly tangy with notes of old lemon juice and bland pineapples. Spicy with stale seasonings…you can tell they are there but don’t pack much of a punch. Dry hay and some rounded yellow fruits and fresh grass clippings are the next batch of flavors to cross the palate. Finishes really bitter, all across the back sides of the tongue. More bitter than suits the style and adds off kilt balance of the other flavors.

M: Medium body, bit crisp in the mouthfeel.

D: Not really digging this one. Not a lot of balance which I prefer in my brews. This one is a bit flagrant and all over the place.

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Photo of StaveHooks
3.05/5  rDev -22%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 2.5

A - A hazy golden honey body with a generous amount of white foam. Very pretty. No lacing.

S - Sour Granny Smith apples, lemons, white grapes, earthy yeast, soapy hops, spicy Belgian yeast.

T - Green apples, tart cherries, lemon, pears, faint banana. The acidic fruit showcases a bold sweet pale malt. Heavy wheat towards the finish. Finishes with slightly sweet mineral citrus flavors then turns pretty dry right at the very end with lots of wheat.

M - Uber champagne carbonation fills the whole mouth with foamy bubbles on every drink. It basically robs half of the potential flavors. It's almost hard to swallow.

Get ready to belch...alot! This is a fruit filled Saison that I wish wasn't bombarded with fizzy carbonation, because it had so much potential. The carbonation really hurts the flavors and the overall enjoyment of drinking this beer.

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Photo of ojiikun
3.15/5  rDev -19.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 2.5

Live reviewed from the BrickStore in Atlanta.

Served up in an eponymously gold-leaved goblet. Barkeep had to pull in almost a dozen stages to control the massive, merengue head. Body is slightly hazy and wit-ish. Head fell fast but never disappeared.

Smell is much sweeter than expected for a saison, more like a BSPA. Sweet malts, though the yeast is more true to the style.

Taste is dry and farmy at first, but then is immediately overpowered by a copper-ey note that simply reminds me too much of blood. What malts can be found are clean and quality. Last notes on the lips are back to BSPA.

Mouthfeel is downright creamy and light.

Drinkability is hindered by the metallic tones which are so hard to take. Served with some nice, spicy or meaty food, it eases down well enough.

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Photo of theopholis
3.16/5  rDev -19.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- Fairly clear, very sparkly honey color. Decent head, but absolutely no head retention. Hardly any effervescence one it settles down.

Smell- Starts out with a nice, complex malt sweetness but then settles down to a....okay...it's still a fairly complex sweetness with some tartness in there. Quite inviting.

Taste- Not bad, not great. Well blended malt sweetens mixed with a hint of tartness. Just the barest hint of earthiness. Not nearly as complex as I would expect, and the over-carbonation gives it a bit of a salty taste.

Mouthfeel- As I said earlier, it's over-carbonated. But it's more of that. It's very course carbonation. It feels like the CO2 was never completely dissolved in the beer. It has more of a 7-up feel then a nice Saison.

Drinkability- Despite all the flaws I mentioned earlier, this is a worthy effort of a tough style. I would recommend you try it. Maybe I got a bad bottle. Maybe the brewer is still dialing in the recipe. Despite my disappointment with this particular bottle,, I WILL try it again, because I taste some real possibilities in this beer.

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Photo of badboyrsl84
3.18/5  rDev -18.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I searched long and hard for this one and I'm not sure it was worth all the trouble.

The pour was full of head. I was blown away and figured this was gonna be over carbonated and I was right. It was a gold color with an almost see through appearance.

the smell is very fruity with some citrus.

The taste was very very carbonated and has some citrus as well as all the other tastes that are found Belgians. Nothing special here. Maybe its a bad brew.

I will finish with, its very carbonated and will probably be a forgettable brew to me.

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Photo of Jablonski
3.19/5  rDev -18.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a cloudy yellow-orange with some sediment on the sides; the head is large and long lasting; minimal lacing on the glass

S: appears a bit subdued; mostly sour apple and a bit of spice

T: initially sweet with a banana flavor followed by a drier bitter aftertaste; I can sense a slight funky flavor to the beer, but it does not come out strong

M: good thickness, carbonation too strong

D: easy to drink; nothing too bad about the beer, but nothing special

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Photo of SmokinSmyth
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

A "Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale", I drank with chips and dip before dinner. I'm not sure what technically makes a beer "Belgian Style", but at the first taste I was reminded of some of the beers I had during my last trip to Belgium. It was very good, with a cork top like a champagne bottle.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Consumed on tap at Gather many eons ago. Poured into an enormous wine glass that somehow fit about 16-20oz of beer. Been wanting to try this for a while, but I feel that North Coast's Belgian-style offerings have never really impressed me too much overall.

Pours a slightly cloudy golden color with amber hues - with the enormous 3 fingers worth of frothy white head, this could easily be mistaken for a strong Belgian blonde ale or something similar. There's a little bit of build and thickness present, but it's a pretty unassuming beer overall, even within the ever-changing style at hand. Head retention is pretty low, and carbonation seems to die down rather rapidly as time goes on, leaves not much of anything unless aggressively swirled. Looks like many, many other Belgian-style beers I've seen before.

The aroma is a combination of slightly funky fruity esters from the yeast, as well as sweetness and mild bitterness from the malts and hops. Notes of banana, lemon peel, and pears immediately come in, followed by some light floral aromas (similar to violets) as well as pine, grass, and orange blossom. Some vanilla, as well sweetened toffee and caramel notes. Maybe sugar cane. I'm definitely looking into this more than I should, as far as saisons go, this is very, very toned down.

The flavor is near identical to the aroma, except for the fact that there's an ever more present note of banana no doubt from the yeast. I don't mind banana forward beers so much, but this definitely feels a bit one-note in the long run. Green apple, pear, and lemon peel make themselves noticeable. The sugar cane and vanilla notes are stronger here, and sort of overpower the delicate floral notes and perhaps barnyard or grassy flavors that this was attempting to go for. It's very mild, and the alcohol is stupidly hidden, which caught up to me in no time during consumption. Thick and creamy, and easy drinking, as any saison should be. Very mild, however.

If I'm going to go for a domestically made, affordable saison, I think I'd stick with Ommegang's Hennepin over this any day of the week. Simply put, this lacks the funky, rustic character than would classify anything as a saison in order to distinguish it from a strong Belgian blonde ale, which this far more resembles. Not that it's a bad thing - it's still a well made beer - it's just very mild and way too high in alcohol for it to merit practical consumption. North Coast definitely has better Belgian style offerings - this one at least could be a good introduction to someone starting to get into these types of beers.

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Photo of h0ppster
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured on tap

A - Very clear, bonde in color. Head is 2-3 fingers and clears up into an almost nonexistent lacy ring around the glass.

S - Strong fruit, light pepper, barn & funk. Alcohol comes through slightly but expected at 7.9%

T - very close to the smell - strong sweet fruit notes up front. Taste ends with a lingering sweetness and light peppery barnyard funk.

M - mouth feel is good overall.

Overall a tasty saison. A bit sweet, slightly out of style, but worth a try.

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Photo of ithacabaron
3.26/5  rDev -16.6%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Note: This review is as the beer stands "without lees." I did find, later on, adding the lees did help round out the beer. Still, the numbers stand.

Le Merle, the blackbird, pours -- no, leaps -- into the glass. Crystal clear liquid, the color of fire, is rippled by thousands of little bubbles. Up on top, a blowsy, thick mousse of paper white foam gathers on top. The bubbles keep coming and coming. Gorgeous.

Aroma is classic saison; all yeast, no hops. Good lashes of leather and musky papaya rise up from the glass. The esters are bold and in your face, if not as bright as they could be. Still, right on the money; this is like saison concentrate.

On the sip, strong fermentation esters jump out onto the palate; those esters, so promising on the nose, gush over into slight unpleasantness, like overly ripe, rotting fruit. There is a sour note in the back as well; a hint of vinegar and turpentine. Heavy. No hop flavor, no bitterness. In your face, to say the least; halfway through the glass, I can already feel a little headache coming on.

Mouthfeel is thick. Carbonation is there, but it doesn't fight the esters.

A grand misfire. Would I rather have people making this than some half-assed seltzer being passed off as Saison? (Looking at you, Sam Adams.) Yes. On the other hand, Saison is meant to be bright, refreshing, and rejuvenating. I'm glad I tried it (and my thanks to nrrd for the bottle), but one glass of this is more than enough.

Keep on reaching for the stars, North Coast. I mean it.

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Photo of pants678
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first North Coast brew and it's from the bottle into a make-shift chalice that's actually a large-type brandy glass. It's stark orange and is as cloudy as they come. It had a two finger head that retains decently.

Smells starkly of coriander and all things citrus. I can smell the alcohol coming through after a good spinning to get the head back. Very sharp aroma.

Hits the tongue just as sharp as it smells. Front heavy carbonation combines surprisingly well with malt and yeast giving off an intricate orange. What I expected from my first Saison. Not necessarily up my alley, it's good brew.The back reminds me of Duvel, a warm, not too sharp, cloudy mix of garlic and tart. The orange and coriander can be boring toward the middle, not particularly complex.

Again, very warming and has a solid balance of front and back. Does not come off as over carbonated.

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Photo of Onibubba
3.27/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a hazy straw yellow with a big, but ultimately short-lived, head. There is some hay in the smell, nothing too funky or spicey. Not bad. The taste is a bit "sharp." A good touch of bitterness too, botrderline IPA scale. Not what I want is a Saison. While seemingly smooth in body, this still drinks very high on the tongue. This improves after a great deal of warming, but the quaffability (love that word) is never at the leave a Saison should be. A bit hot too, surprising for its ABV. All in all, an admirable attempt, but not a beer I would come back to.

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 490 ratings.