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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

491 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 491
Hads: 1,241
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 16.11%
Wants: 38
Gots: 127 | 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 (28) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 491 | Hads: 1,241
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very good saison, which some people think is gone and reired. Pours foamy whitish body and big lasting soapy white head, lasting lace. A little farmhouse aroma, and spice. Taste is above average, complex spice. A nce drinking saison, more of a sipper, hat refreshes the Summer wheaher.

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at The Surly Goat in West Hollywood, CA.

Pours a clear golden color with a white head that settles to a thin cap on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of grain, spices, yeast, and some light fruity aromas. Taste is pretty much the same but there is also a slight soapy flavor on the finish. This beer has a light level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good saison that is tasty and easy to drink.

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Photo of metter98
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A: The beer is hazy golden yellow in color and has a moderate amount of carbonation. It poured with a finger high white head that died down yet consistently left a thin layer of bubbles covering the surface.
S: There are moderate aromas of floral hops, apples, lemons, spices and yeast in the nose.
T: The taste is very similar to the smell and is fruity with notes of spices and hints of sourness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and crisp on the palate with a moderate to high amount of carbonation. There are some hints of dryness in the finish.
O: The beer is very easy to drink and refreshing. It is a good representation of the style.

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Photo of StonedTrippin
4.1/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

outstanding saison here. this is easily my favorite north coast beer to date. it pours a pale goldenrod color, cloudy but neat looking at the same time. a one and a half inch head rests on top and doesnt go away. the nose is great, fresh farmy yeast delivers a very organic feel, not as funky as some saisons, but refined and elegant. the yeast is the star of the show here, but there is a nice wheaty malt base and some gentle fruit flavors, golden raison, tangerine, lemongrass. its a very well balanced beer, completely devoid of any alcohol presence, despite being nearly 8% abv. it still feels like a felicate brew at that level. the feel is great, excited carbonation gives it a really bright mouthfeel. the body is medium, and really satisfyingly drinkable. at less than 6 bucks a bottle, this is one of the better beers my money has bought lately. a great late summer/early fall saison.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.46/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Popped the cork with and poured into a snifter. The color is a really nice orange copper color. The head is nice at first then it settles down to a thinner white layer. The lacing is sparse. The smell is a little spicy with some wheat and just a very light aroma of funk. The taste is a little boozy with some spice and some grapes in there. The mouthfeel is bubbly and a little creamy. Not a bad brew. Pretty decent stuff for a saison.

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Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy apricot nectar color with a whipped egg white cap that retains beautifully and leaves nice shards of lace

Smell: Wheat bread, with a lemon and grassy aroma that features some spices, too, such as coriander and a hint of clove

Taste: Fruity, up front, with apple and pear bleeding into the lemon and grassy bitterness, with spices arriving by mid-palate (white pepper, coriander and clove); after the swallow, flavors mellow out but there is a residual sweetness that builds, almost like a tripel

Mouthfeel: Medium body with spritzy carbonation

Drinkability: One of the top domestic saisons I have encountered - really catches the spirit of the style; this bottle is at least a year old and I tried it the day after I tried my four year old Jubilee which, though similar, had developed a bit more complexity

Thanks, rsyberg01, for the opportunity

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Photo of BEERchitect
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A fitting beer for a late summer night. Kinda cool outside and sitting on the porch after a long day's work. Saison it is.

Le Merle begins with a serious pop with the cork. the beer shows very active carbonation and a billowing eggshell head that maintains constant replenishment because of the efforvesence. Golden to orange in color, the beer shows a modest haze, great retention, and ample lacing.

The whole gammot of fruits can be found in the nose: peaches, pears, apples, appricots, pineapples, under-rippened berries, mangos, papayas, orange zest, and lemons are all recognizable. Spicy pepper, corriander, curraco, and light plastics round out the phenols.

Flavors do much the same. Very fruity, spicy, and well, Belgiany. Lightly vineous, tart, and acidic taste amplify the zesty and vibrant fruits. It's easy to forget about the malts. These are very well attenuated and give a subtle cracker-like crisp grain flavor along with a confection sweetness that provide the daintiest of backdrops for the showcase of fruits and spices.

The body is quite light and crisp for its fruitiness, sweetness, and boldness. A moderate hop bitterness persists and has a problem ajoining to the beer properly. Very warm, nearly hot to the mouth with a sharp carbonic bite from the CO2 activity.

The spicy-fruity attributes of the beer are in the keeping of Saisons. Even the sweetness suggests so. Though there is little to complain about the beer, it is not wonderful as we expect from great Belgian varieties.

Edit: After the beer looses its carbonation a bit, the mouthfeel and aggressive textures fade nicely, leaving the fruity, spicy blend to work their magic.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Rick's in Alexandria, Served in a Mikasa tulip.

Pours a slightly-hazy golden color with a HUGE rocky white head. Retention is phenomenal. There's a thick sheet of lacing as it goes down. Really impressive-looking beer.

The nose starts off with some peppery phenols plus some herbal spice. Light pilsner malt behind that. Muted nose, but pretty nice. The flavor is heavy on the yeast, with just a touch of malt and hops as background. Pretty good amount of spice being carried through by heavy carbonation.

The body is light-medium. Dry and smooth through the finish with a bitterness level that is a bit above average for the style. No noticeable alcohol until the final portion of the finish.

Overall, pretty good. This has a nice yeast profile but gets the alcohol level a bit too high. I think taking this down to 6-6.5% would lead to a more crisp and drinkable beer.

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Photo of largadeer
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - Hazy orange with blond highlights. The first pour produces an enormous head that takes a few minutes to settle down.

Smell - Fruity and spicy; overtones of citrus and tropical fruit, subtle notes of clove.

Taste & body - Grassy and yeasty, mild banana-like sweetness mixed with a pleasant lemon juice sourness. Spicy, citrus-like hops provide a long, bitter finish. Medium in body with high carbonation.

Notes - An easy drinking saison with good character, and at $7 per 750ml bottle you really can't go wrong.

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Photo of biboergosum
3.8/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml solid, caged and corked bottle.

This beer pours a hazy medium straw colour, with a ton of thin, wispy, teeming white head, which leaves some chunky lace around the glass as it recedes. It smells of crisp peppery yeast, pale malt, and citrus. The taste is sweet wheaty malt, candy sugar, citrus rind, and a bit of yeast. The carbonation is quite even, the body light, a bit airy, but still, well, there. It finishes fairly dry, some new-found warming alcohol playing aside the latent citrus and yeast.

A nice, ramped up saison - all the grain, yeast, and fruit, with a slight elevated booze warming. What's not to love, especially from this summer-forlorn winter denizen?

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy, golden amber color with a two-finger, very bubbly, soapy, off white head of foam. It left sticky patches of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled phenolic with spices and yeast. There was a nice grain presence.

T - It tasted very spicy and yeasty with some sweet caramel and grain flavor. Some fruitiness, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a very nice saison. Another very good brew from North Coast.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sun-drenched honey with a light fogginess and a Belgianesque amount of carbonation. The eggshell colored crown isn't comparable to that country's best, but let's see what happens once it gets comfortable in the glass. The foam is whipped frothy as it melts, moderately rocky, and is beginning to deposit thick strands of sea foam lace.

The nose is everything that a saison nose ought to be. It's as bright and as fresh as a spring morning, delivering plenty of apple, pear and freshly zested lemon, along with a yeasty spiciness that is a perfect counterpoint to the sweet juiciness of the fruit.

For those lucky enough to drink North Coast Silver Jubilee 25th Anniversary Ale, Le Merle is that same beer 'with a few changes'. Although my flavor memory doesn't go back that far, this offering falls a bit short compared to the earlier beer. It's a near thing, though.

The malt backbone is an essential piece of the flavor profile puzzle, although it's the least sexy member. It provides a biscuity sweetness and allows the top notes of ripe fruit and spice to do their thing. Golden apples and tart pears are still appreciated, along with clove, cardamom and a few threads of horse blanket funk. Hops add considerable bitterness and an herbal-grassy flavor. The finish is tight and drying.

The mouthfeel, although good, needs a Belgian brewer's touch. It's best in the top half of the bottle (which is where I've chosen to score it). The bubbles begin to tire in the bottom half, providing less lift and eliminating any hope of a light creaminess. This is clearly the beer's weakest feature and could use some spiffing up.

Le Merle (The Blackbird) is probably in the top tier of American saisons. Here's hoping the brewers continue to tinker because it wouldn't take much to make this offering soar in the same skies as the world's best. Nice job North Coast.

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Photo of oberon
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an oversized wine glass a sort of hazed milky peach-like color with a thick blooming white head,complex aromas of yeasty clove spice,lemon pith,and overripe pineapple mainly,the funk is there but not overly so.A somewhat sharp mouthfeel is somewhat of an annoyance at first but it mellows after a bit,flavors start out citric and green from the abundance of hops used,it then shows off its funk and yeast elements wich kept the beer from being off the charts for me.Its alot better than some Belgian counterparts,its complex and enjoyable.

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Photo of mikesgroove
3.72/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Lots of carbonation coming up from the bottom of the glass, letting me knows this was most definitely a live one. A two inch layer of white foam then came up over the top, settled down to a broken crown and coated the inside of the glass with decent lacing.

The aroma was rather odd, sweet at first but as I really let it explore there were some light fruity notes, maybe peach and pineapple with a biscuit like note, very odd, but also very good. The flavor was more of the same, rich notes of caramel whirled over the tongue and separated into a light and fruity Belgian yeast and a grapefruit and pineapple like floral hoppiness. Strange, but awesome I have to admit. Really quite complex. The flavor took a turn toward the bitter and dried out the palate appropriately, creating a nice dry, and inviting session for the next sip. Great medium feel was a little bit heavier then I thought it would be, but very well carbonated and an awesome session beer. Very rich for such low ABV.

Overall I am not sure what to call this style but it was definitely unique to say the least. Really quite nice and a classic for me.

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Photo of nickfl
4.45/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A - A thunderous pop as the cork comes out of the bottle indicates vigorous carbonation. The beer pours hazy and golden with a finger and a half of loose, white foam that leaves behind moderate lace as it settles.

S - Sweet citrus and musky funk. Notes of lemon and orange as well as a bit of coriander and pepper.

T - Very yeasty up front, with a hint of vanilla. Lots of clove, banana, pineapple and pepper. Herbal hops and oranges come in up top. The finish is more yeast and hops with a lingering warmth and citrus pith bite.

M - Full bodied with high carbonation and a reasonably dry finish.

D - This is pretty easy to drink despite being big and flavorful. I have noticed that many North Coast beers have more flavor than aroma and Le Merle follows that trend as well. The nose is pleasant enough, but it fails to fully reflect the depth of the flavor. Overall this is an excellent saison and a wonderful example 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 jlindros
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I'm a bit saison fan, and also a North Coast fan, but somehow this never showed up on my queue until I went to a North Coast tasting at Julios and realized how good it was.

Big pop when the cork comes out, and pours a large but fizzy and airy looking almost 2 finger head that fades semi quickly thanks to all the large air pockets and bubbles, but leaves some spotty lacing, mostly clear golden pilsner color.

Nose brings plenty of farmhouse funk, which is why I liked this one, lots of Belgian yeast phenols with even a hint of phenolic booze, some fruity bubblegum esters even, hints of lemon rind and citrus, and a little saison spices, as well as plenty of grainy malts, some wheat, little malty sweetness and bit toasty even, nice aromatics with a bit of straw and wet hay like must.

Taste starts with the sweet malts actually, a little candy like sweet syrupy candi sugar even, bringing a hint of booze as well, booze tingle. Then into the saison characters, a nice farmhouse funk but not as much as I remember from the tasting, into light saison spices like coriander and bit of clove, orange peel, lots of citrus zest with a little lemon too, lemongrass, etc. Nice wheat characters, toasty malt flavors with some straw and a bit of musty wet hay. Fair amount of phenols from the yeast, as well as mild fruity esters and bubblegum, little peppery too. The bitter citrus rind and candy gets a little too much. Finish is still a bit sweet and sticky but dries a bit, more lingering orange peel and bitter zest, light spices, little wheat and grainy malt lingering.

Mouth is med bod, nice effervescent carb.

Overall mixed on this one, I don't remember it being nearly as sweet as this and also more funky, a lot more farmhouse on the samples we had, probably another batch, but this was still pretty decent but hard to drink the whole 750ml by myself.

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Photo of mactrail
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Fruity and moderately sweet with the usual Belgian drying finish. Hazy golden color with just beautiful piles of foam. Not a gusher, but the lacing and clouds of bubbles after each sip are as lovely as I've seen.

Aroma is spicy with the fermenting pineapple smell. Flavor is rich with that funky tang that counteracts the malty sweetness. Pear fruitiness and apple skin tannins. A bold amount of clove-like spiciness emerges after some sipping, though that maybe that's the sediment talking.

This is in many ways a model Saison. It's on the strong side, but with enough flavor to drink well. It also doesn't have that overdose of yeasty craziness that I find too often in clumsier examples. Also this is the best I've had from a brewery that does not do much for me otherwise. From the 12 oz bottle purchased at Bine & Vine in San Diego.

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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 TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 12/13/2013 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a bright gold color, with a thin white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains caramelized malts, Belgian yeast, some spices and some fruit.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty but not too heavy malt character and Belgian yeast. Then some mild sweetness comes in from flavors of caramel and a little bit of spice. Then some tart apple flavor follows with a mild but complementary hops presence creating some balance. The after-taste is slightly tart and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

O: A little tasty, goes down easily, good kick, not too filling, decent representation of style, it’s a solid beer but there are better choices within the style.

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Photo of russpowell
3.97/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opens to a resounding pop!

Pours an effervescent apricot with 2 fingers of pearl colored head. Average lacing & head retention

S: Musty apples & pineapples, plus apple blossoms

T: Apples & pears, some lemon & a touch of white pepper up front. A bit of booze warmth, plus mushroom as this warms up, along with a touch of pineapple & some dryness. Finishes fruitty with candi sugar dryness, came close to a 4.5

MF: Medium bodied with a slight stickyness & low carbonation

Drinks fairly easy, a good saison that really opened up as this warmed

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A great funky nose and a flavor to match! What a spot on example of the style from an American producer. If saison is your thing, then this is definitely one to try. Great level of smooth carbonation to it Too bad this hasn’t shown up in Brooklyn yet (from what I have seen).

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Photo of superspak
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 1/17/2014. Pours slightly cloudy golden amber color with a 1-2 finger dense white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of huge lemon zest, peach, apricot, pear, apple, orange peel, straw, grass, pepper, clove, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great complexity of fruity/spicy yeast ester and moderate malt presence; and great strength. Taste of big lemon zest, peach, apricot, apple, pear, orange peel, clove, pepper, straw, grass, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of lemon zest, peach, apricot, apple, pear, orange peel, clove, pepper, straw, grass, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity of fruity/spicy yeast ester flavors with moderate malt sweetness; with an awesome malt/yeast flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with smooth, crisp, and slightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic saison! All around awesome complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast ester and malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a glowing orange body with a bright white head forming thick and flowing with a dimpled head. Fine bands of chunky lacing layer in this head, very nice look to it. Aroma has big ripe layers of tropical fruit flowing throughout each sniff, spicy black pepper in the background gets dusted on. I'm getting mango, pineapple, with a mild citrus note flowing pretty amazing levels of fruit move into my senses. Spicy Belgian yeast notes adds another layer, I've never seen this beer in person only on the internet, a case as recently landed in Steubenville, OH and I'm jumpin' on it. Flavor has tropical fruit bursts with a layer of spicy dry yeast cakes, this is an amazingly big juicy fruit spiked with mango pineapple and other tropical fruits. Spicy Belgian yeast flares it's flavor with hints of black pepper spiciness, pretty intense and complex Saison a bit bigger than traditional versions almost 8%. Really coats the palate and the carbonation level is kicking quite nicely, what a robust Saison, usually when brewed in a more Belgian style the effervescence is incredible and the body is rather light or airy compared to this. I'm not going down a cloying road just a more rounded malt body with less airy carbonation with a bit more alcohol involvement than I'm used to within this style It mirrors as a light triple versus a big saison. Overall quality and enjoyment level is high I'm glad I randomly ran into this beer close to home.

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 491 ratings.