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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,162 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,162
Reviews: 483
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 10%
Wants: 34
Gots: 96 | FT: 4
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 (20) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,162 | Reviews: 483
Photo of cadenwhitaker
3.46/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 22oz bomber into a glass flower vase.

I feel like I did everything right. I poured it into a large vessel so the sediment would mix (rather then having 1 pour be completly clear and the next one the consistency of mud). I let it breathe and warm into near room temperature.

However, this is good, I mean I really like Saison's, but this one isn't breaking any ground for me. It tastes like any other Saison that I've had... is that a bad thing? I don't know.

I guess I'm expecting more variety from this category, I don't know why, maybe I'm used to categories like IPA where no two breweries will make the same thing.

Overall a good, drinkable farmhouse that I enjoyed but not enough to get me to stop drinking Hennepin or Dupont

Photo of CMW
4.33/5  rDev +11%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Golden yellow with a large white head that has good retention. Some decent lacing and carbonation.

S - Very fruity. Smells like grapes and oranges mixed together. There is also a yeast note present.

T - Reminds me of champagne. White grape flavors mixed with biscuit malts and bread-like yeast. Very good.

M - Light body with bubbly carbonation.

D - Extremely drinkable, period.

Photo of xhcadamx
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Honey with orange highlights. Big head that subdued tons of tiny bubbles.

S - Apples and pears, spiciness I am assuming from the yeast. Very refreshing.

T - Apples and pears with a biscuity malt. Spiciness (again assuming from the yeast).

M - a tasty dry finish that keeps you wanting more.

D - WOW. Where is the 7.9%??? Dangerous.

Photo of morimech
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden color with a large white head that hangs around for a very long time. Had to pour slowly and carefully to avoid foam from overflowing the glass. Heavy lacing is left on the glass. The smell is citrus and lemons. Just a light spice note in the aroma. The flavor has a huge citrus and lemon element up front. Just a hint of spice and finishes very dry. Light body with abundant carbonation. I enjoyed this Saison as it is more citric and less spicy. I also enjoyed the dry finish.

Photo of Naugled
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle

A- Nice straw hazy beer with clean white head.

S- Tart zesty aroma with hints of lemon.

T- Citrusy and a bit salty with a tart bitter finish.

M- Thin bodied with crisp carbonation

D- Good saison but not my favorite for drinking. However, I find it is very good with food.

I would buy this again.

Photo of homebrewhawk
3.8/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml corked bottle served in a Duvel tulip. Opens with quite a pop. Plenty of carbonation. Pours a hazy gold with a big white head. Spice and citrus in the aroma. Some noble hop aroma comes out as it warms. On the lighter side of medium bodied with a spritzy mouthfeel from all that carbonation. More spice and a little tart lemon in the flavor Very dry. There is a little funk in the finish (in a good way). Maybe a little past its prime, the flavors could have been a bit brighter.

Photo of dino213aa
3.86/5  rDev -1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Beautiful light golden color with mild haze. Head pours loose and frothy and leaves plentiful uneven head. Head dissipates slowly.

S: The first thing I noticed was white grape. Also notes of sour apple and salt.

T&M: Starts off with light fruity notes of cherry and lemon. flavor gets progressively sour as expected for a saison. Finishes slightly bitter.

D: Overall this is a very easy drinking saison with a rewarding blend of looks, aroma and taste. I've had this sitting in my fridge for a while and was putting off reviewing it. However it as surpassed my expectations. Worthwhile.

Photo of htomsirveaux
3.59/5  rDev -7.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle tried 14 Oct 2008.

Poured into a tulip glass. Cork comes out with a loud pop. Large off white lacy head. Cloudy golden orange color. Smells of yeast, sour cherries, cider, ethanol, faintly musty. Starts with yeast and lemon, progressing to a tart/sour cherriness. Finishes dry and slightly bitter. Cidery aftertaste. Medium body.

Good but I prefer saisons just a little sweeter.

Photo of biggmike
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a cloudy yellow golden color with generous white head that dissipated to a thin film along the top. The aroma was of citrus, spice, and yeast. The flavor was of the same with more citrus coming through. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied. The drinkability was pretty high and would be nice on a hot day.

Photo of djeucalyptus
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

pours a foggy glowing marigold that glistens with grapefruit round the edges. An impressively full eggshell head erupts, fueled by a steady stream of bubbles dancing through the fields of marigold. The head has stunning retention before crumbling like a deflated meringue to a gravely cap that deposits a fair bit of lacing down the glass.

aroma is bright, fresh and zesty with fruits and citrus bursting forth. Lemons, pears, grapefruit, apricots and kumquats. A touch of biscuty malt when I try to block out the fruit. A bit of peppery spice recalls edible flowers like nasturtiums. A touch of light belgian yeastiness adds a touch of subtle depth that is brilliant.

A sweet malt hits the palette up front, quickly washed away by a crisp and juicy citrus spice. The light biscuit malt is definitely hiding in the shadows, letting the fruit and yeast shine through. Definite lemon, grapefruit, and pineapple mixing with a peppery, dandelion green-like spice. Doughy yeast adds a bit of spice. The sweetness returns, almost maple sugar like. The sweetness and the up-front fruit is a touch strong compared to others in the style... an interesting take.

crisp, clean, a hint drying, a hint sweet on the tongue, and surprisingly well rounded. The carbonation, while full, isn't over the top or hot. The alcohol is barely detectable, blending smoothly into the carbonation which almost yields a creaminess at points. As the bottle nears the bottom, the mouthfeel gets a bit thicker and the carbonation struggles. Not quite as zippy and poppy as I'd hoped, but still fairly impressive.

A definitely interesting experience. A bit sharp and direct at first, mellowing out through the bottle to a somewhat and uninspired finish. A touch on the sweet/fruity side of saisons, although definitely a worthy interpretation. I was hoping for a bit more farm funk and a bit less citrus and in-your-face sweet yeasts, although it was still fairly enjoyable. Easy drinking and finishing the bottle posed no challenge. Definitely worth trying a bottle.

Photo of atsprings
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Well, here we go again, another American brewed Saison, and on-draft no less, I've only had a few of these I've liked. This one is served a nice hazy orange-yellow with a frothy off-white head that diminishes to a thin layer. The aroma is lots of sweet malts and fruits with yeast, spice and some orange peel. The taste is an enjoyable initial that quickly gives way to a sour aftertaste. The beer is a little heavier and harder to drink than I expect from the style. This one is somewhat enjoyable, but still far from Hennepin or Big Boss Surrender Monkey.

Photo of bcm119
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 into a tulip glass. Hazy dark straw color with a foamy, boisterous off-white head. Fresh aroma of yeast; nutty and bready. Champagne-like: bubbly and light on the tongue, with vinous fruit flavors opening into more complex, nutty/earthy flavors. Mouthfeel is perfect-- light, yet full and creamy at the same time. Flavors are bright, complex, and fresh. Hints of hay, hops, and minerals show up at times. Nothing dominates, but the creamy complexity of earth and fruit flavors and the perfection of the mouthfeel make this an impressive beer, especially for the relatively cheap price of $8 per 750 ml. Outstanding.

Photo of tai4ji2x
3.83/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle with cork. no date found. poured into tulip.

clear, golden straw color. lots of fluffy iceberg head that doesn't fade easily - eventually settles into a thin, bumpy layer of foam. fizz seems to rise non-stop from the bottom of the glass. good lacing.

fruity, overripe peach and hint of pear. definite, but gentle, farmhouse funk, bordering on hints of sulfur, with trace of wet hay. hints of pepper and grassy hop and a phenolic end. bready yeast whiffs.

blast of fruit on the palate: very ripe apple, peach and pear, plus other estery complexities, melding with a balanced, white peppery, phenolic note. malt is slightly overpowered by all of this however, but nonetheless keeps a bready, yeasty note throughout. hops are simple and grassy/herbal, with moderate bitterness. fruit and peppery phenols do linger in the finish, with a hint of acidity.

fluffy and almost all smooth, but then some acidity and astringency, and then a slightly over-prickly carbonation.

can get very fruity and and more funky upon further warming.

something just a tad over-exuberant about it all, esp. the fruitiness that borders on overripe and somewhat unexpected level of funk.

Photo of elricorico
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Orange gold with an oversized creamy white head. Major visible carbonation rushing to the top keeps the head around forever. Lacing surronds the glass as it goes down. Only complaint was waiting for some of the head to settle so I could drink.

Aromas of lemony citrus zest, faint black pepper, and just a hint of yeastiness. Some apple or pear in there. Fresh smelling, inviting.

Unusual heat to the tip of the tongue, but otherwise light fruity citrus flavours with a touch of spice to it. Moderately sweet, somewhat dry. Only a faint tease of yeastiness.

Mouthfeel is on the lighter side of medium, and while it is highly carbonated, it is never coarse.

I had hoped for a little more, but this is a nice enough beer. Easy to drink and pretty pleasant overall.

Photo of Proteus93
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Served on tap at Beer Run in Charlottesville, as per most of my draft selections!

A: A bright, somewhat 'glowing' yellow... quite vibrant, though a little hazy. White, fizzy head that forms fairly tight - but not enough to be creamy. It lingers all the way down, though.

S: A somewhat sweet lemon scent, a little bit like a witbier in that it is kinda 'breakfast cereal' like. There's a bit of a fruity yeastiness to it other than lemon... soft apple and pear peel, with a little alcohol pepperiness. Overall, the aroma is fairly mild.

T: Lemony, with some tart fruit notes accenting the lemon flavour quite nicely. A leafy bitterness, and a touch of spiciness.

M: The feel is a rather assertive 'sparkling' sensation. The bubbles feel finer, more like the shimmer of a champagne, which is quite nice. It gives it a delicate feel that is appreciated.

D: Big enough to be a slow sipper, and the feel is wonderful. Flavour and aroma come just a tad short for my palate, but it's a decent beer nonetheless. Happy to have tried it.

Photo of khiasmus
3.85/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A cloudy, drizzling day in what is normally a bright meadow. Marigolds are glistening through the fog, making the whole scene look yellow-gold hazy. There seems to be a layer of cloud directly at the top of the line of sight, and if I walk to the edge of the precipice I can look down and see billowy, pillow-like foam. Some thin clouds appear to be sticking to the walls of the gorge, but not going anywhere soon. I brought a knapsack, let's see what I have for lunch?
I open it and immediately can smell the white pepper, it must have spilled in my bag... "Ah yes, there are my clove cigarettes, I think i'll light one up..." I can smell the bread, white pepper, and something else... "Ugh, I must have left that bottle of apple juice in here last week... smells a bit sour, almost like a brett beer I had once..."
I heave to and begin eating my lunch, drizzling some honey on the white bread I brought, topping with some swiss cheese and white pepper, finishing off with a swig of vodka from my flask. "Good thing I brought an IPA with me to, these hops balance all of this quite nicely."
The beer has the mouthfeel of a thick champagne... the carbonation so high it feels like swallowing a cotton ball, a full body, a dry finish from the hops...

Oh. I suppose I was just imagining. Well, imagine with me and you'll have a glimpse of what this beer is like...

Photo of kkipple
3.64/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750ml bottle courtesy of my bud Chris.

A. Initially fizzy sediment filled tarnished gold with a small white head, ends up rather still and lifeless after a few minutes. Low retention, no lace.

S. Smack of green apple sours, high and reedy spice note that wavers over everything else, pointed Belgian yeast crack and layers of sweet sugary malt. Sharp and immediate. A little boozy, this smells young and lacks the depth of character and smoothness that the best Saisons have. That said, the only real flaw is being brash and two dimensional.

T. Sweet honey malts held up by loads of Granny Smith apples, pepper, warm alcohol and more fruity esters. Bitter hops in the finish help. *Almost* a bit of starchy pumpkin going on. Very intense, very American. Clean and almost refreshing, the finish is tart-sweet and short, a bit dry.

M. Highly carbonated and lively, medium body, slightly sticky.

D. Decent. A little too tart and simple but I'd never turn one down. A good example of an American crack at a rather tough and broad style.

Photo of NEhophead
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml brown bottle; caged and corked.
Served in a snifter.

Pours a very clouded, brilliant gold with shades of camel. Dense, bright white foam that stands an inch-high for a several moments. Thin patches of lacing with pretty good strength.

Dry, yeast-filled must that overwhelms the senses. Bland pepper and corriander amidst a stiff-malted wheat background. Very faint notes of banana and lemon.

Aggresively tart citrus flavors up-front that last well into the aftertaste: lemon, green apple, pear, lime, and grapefruit. The lingering mustiness doesn't stand a chance to ground the intense sour quality. Slightly burnt malt character with firm notes of black pepper and corriander. The citrus qualities blend quite well in the finish and leave a balanced aftertaste.

Medium bodied; surprisingly clean given the intensity of the citrus flavors, but very active on the palate with on-going waves of carbonation.

This isn't a bad version of a Saison, but it tastes a little too solvent-like and artificial for my taste. Pretty typical for an American Saison in my experience.

Photo of bifrostguard
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Bubbly, pale yellow translucent color with a small off white head.

S - Lemon, pears, apples with a notable spiciness. Perhaps pepper or nutmeg?

T - Apple and pear fruitiness. Yeasty and spicy. I'm not really enjoying the spice flavors, but they are an interesting interpretation on the style.

M - Smooth, but a bit thin.

D - It's a good beer. Not really to my liking so while I certainly don't mind drinking it, I am ready to switch to something else after one.

Photo of yemenmocha
4.47/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden with large bubbled white head. Appearance is deceiving - looks like any old beer.

Nose is ripe with apples, apricots, and again... very ripe overall in fruitiness. It's quite assertive, and quite welcome. Trace of apple cider and boozy aromas come through also.

On the palate the high carbonation is noted, with an apple cider like sweetness, but with contrasting sour flavors that round it out. This is also a champagne like beer, if there is such a thing.

Very drinkable.

Photo of Arbitrator
3.92/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cooled bomber poured into a glass.

A: Hazy orange with slight yellow tones and active effervescence. Generous head remains for many minutes and leaves lacing as I drink.

S: Yeast, bananas, apple, kiwi, pineapple, and mango. Very much a fruity bouquet and quite pleasing to smell.

T: Parallels the nose with a nice blend of sweet fruits, spiciness, and malt. However, there is a pronounced and imbalanced sourness that brings down the overall blend.

M: Medium-bodied, with good carbonation and a crisp feel.

D: Quite good, although the ABV means I'd probably just have the one. It was an interesting enough flavor that I want to go back and have another to see if my impression of the sourness was just off.

My first saison, and overall quite a good brew.

Photo of bort11
4.27/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bng thanks to jaxon53 and the Secret Santa '08 for this one.

750 ml corked bottle, poured into a Boulevard Smokestack goblet. Crisp off white head stands tall. Gradually recedes to a filmy cap. Color is a hazy golden yellow.

Smell has a great apple and pear fruitiness. Nice dry yeast smell. Taste is a dry fruitiness. Tart apple and pears and finishes with a tart hops flavor. Very crisp and refreshing.

Mouthfeel is very dry and has a tart pucker. I really like this Saison, and I'm not sure why it's not available locally, since other North Coast beers are available.

Photo of simonjohansson
3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Note: I havent tried too many saisons, so Im not an expert on the style.

Smell: yeast, banana, sour, reminds me of cider, some sweet fruits (pineapple, apple, kiwi).

Taste: sour, almost like cider/wine/champagne, yeast, some spices/herbs, some bitternes, and fruits, mentioned above. I liked it, but after a while I got tired of that sour touch.

Overall: interesting beer, with some fine flavors. On a hot day I think it would be quite refreshing.

Photo of danmouer
4.1/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Saison is a favorite of mine, and so I snatch up every would-be saison that arrives on my retailer's shelf. Fairly new to my neck of the woods is North Coast Brewing's Le Merle (Blackbird). I picked up a Belgian-style corked 750 ml and sat down to a serious session of suds sucking.

THe beer poured with an appropriate light orange hue--clear at first but soon clouded by the ample effervesance stirring up the bottle lees.

The aroma that first greeted me as nose hit the chalice was pilsner malt and maybe a hint of noble hops. Not much fruit and spice....at first, but sweet cookie-like malt-and-hops. Beer! I thought.

The flavor just deliciously malty but balanced with a lovely bitter twang and a distinctive but well balanced sour note. Hops are clearly here. The peppery quality of a Belgian yeast strain comes through nicely here in the mouth, especially on the back palate and in the after-taste. A cleansing bitter whop of hop oils cleans the palate as the spicy-sweetness fades.

The only serious drawback, to me, is the alcohol. It is certainly smoothly warm and pleasant, but I'm personally not a big fan of high-alcohol saison. This should be more like a session beer, not seeking to compete with trippels and strong blonds! The 7.9% abv is just more than I want in this beer style. Other than that, mouthfeel is medium light, crisp, clean and full of prickly spritzy carbonation.

Despite the alcohol, the high attenuation, tart acidity and moussy carbonation make this a guzzleable beer--that's drinkability taken to a dangerous level!


Photo of calise1122
4.24/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Belly up to the desk, with a flute glass and a corked bomber. Pandora is handling the music... starts me off with Billy Joel; Miami 2017... I wouldn't have picked it, but it is her party to dj.

Twist the bottle, not the cork and away we go.

Song Change: James Carr; She's Better Than You

Pours lots and lots of head. Thin baby caviar foamy head that takes up 2/3rds of the glass. The compromise begins; with the suds and hazy light golden straw liquid trading hands until a the foam gets called with a nice inch think frothy layer. Lacing is nice, holds on tight.

Song Change: Kings of Leon; Red Morning Light

Smells a bit like dry grass rubbed on the remains of a home built, pine and plywood lemonade stand. Wood, lemon, hay, it is all there and smells very nice...

Song Change; Van Halen; Running with the Devil

... hops are a big part of this funk bomb. You know what? These kids are selling lemonade by day and hawking nickel bags by night... funktified and true. Very nice aroma... very nice.

Taste is...

Song Change: Guns N' Roses; Don't Cry

Sweet Child of Mine would suit this Saison better... very sweet on the front. The funk didn't get kicked out of the party, they are just playing in the back room and when you walk in, it's only a faint noise in the background. You walk in expecting to see the band in the foyer and instead some chick who has been sucking on jolly ranchers for the past 45 minutes grabs you by the neck and starts making out with you. But she also had some eggplant parm for dinner. It is a weird taste, but kind of nice... and just when you think about that contrast... the funk in the back room starts to pick up a bit and you head back there to get comfortable.

Very nicely carbonated, very crisp, feels like a nice champagne...

Song Change: Stone Temple Pilots; Interstate Love Song

... the easiest way to describe it is clean, in that soap suds... fill up the sink kind of way. Very nice

I think this is extremely drinkable... if it were not 12:22 on a Sunday and I had another bottle it would go down very easily. Refreshing, clean and overall very very good. Plus, I haven't heard Interstate Love Song since who knows when. I need to go back and listen to the whole album.

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 1,162 ratings.