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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,127 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,127
Reviews: 477
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.28%
Wants: 34
Gots: 81 | 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 (22) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,127 | Reviews: 477 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bunnyhustle
3.3/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This, I believe, was my first Saison and I have to say I'm confused. This was a good beer but nothing what I expected from the style. It could have been a Belgian Strong Pale Ale or possibly even a Tripel and I wouldnt have noticed the difference. Poured into Duvel glass. Pours a hazy golden yellow with massive rocky head. Smell was of yeast, bread, and some fruits, the fruits were very muted. Taste was a little bland I though. It certainly had that grassy, straw-like Pale Ale taste to it with some yeast and sweet fruits but not much. Either this was too complex for its own good, or it wasnt complex enough, I still cant tell which one it was. Mouthfeel was medium with somewhat high carbonation. Overall an enjoyable beer, but there was something I just didnt get. Expected some funk and I was left funk-less.

Photo of kyoes
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750ml Bottle servered in Chimay globlet.

Nice saison, lacks the funk one would expect. Very fruity notes, orange, green grapes, rasin, and a little spice.

Medium-high carbonation. Light bodied.

Deep gold color, cloudly, thin head. Very nice for a domestic.

Photo of twiggamortis420
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dark color for a saison, it is dark golden in color with a fat, pillowy white head that sticks around nicely.

Sweet smelling. Honey, green grapes, willow bark and bright green pears.

Tastes much the same as the nose. Funk is there but is counterbalanced by the bright fruity flavors of honeydew melon and pears. Smooth floral finish.

This saison is a bit on the sweet side with not enough funk to it. Intense and bright tasting, it is good but not quite great.

Photo of ccrida
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into my Lost Abbey goblet, Le Merle is a clear, bright, dark gold with a large, fluffy white head that is slow to subside and leaves foamy chunks of lace.

Smell is fruity farmhouse esters, dry and mineral laden pithiness, spot on, really very nice.

Taste is also drier, pretty simple, grainy with some tropical fruit and spicy hops on the dusty finish. Good, but there is something about it in both the taste and smell that remind me of a macro lager, pils or corn or something, maybe just sugar. Overall, it's a little underwhelming.

Mouthfeel is dry and spritzy, with a medium light body that is just slightly cloying.

Drinkability is pretty good, a nice little saison, authentic and true to style, but there's no wow factor, and it's ultimately forgettable.

Photo of roblowther
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 3 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750ml, corked, caged, and it was just begging for me to take it off the shelf & back to a good home. It pours pale, cloudy gold with a thin near-white head that really doesn't hang around to party. The smell, though, makes daddy happy. It's strawberries, lemons, wheatgrass, sugar, a hint of caramel, and a whole lotta makin my mouth water. Taste is drier than the smell hinted at, with tart fruit yielding to a crisp taste and a really clean finish that just makes you want more at the very end. It has an aged cheese taste in there somewhere. The Northcoast guys have outdone themselves on this one. Mouthfeel is creamy, nicely carbonated, and just a hair thin. Drinkability is very good. The flavors balance very well & make me want more. I'd move to a farmhouse if this is what it meant!

Photo of MiScusi
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A- bright yellow with an airy bright white foamy head.

S- quite earthy. Lot of phenols.

T- Again, very earthy. Yeast did lots of work on this flavor. Also a mild lemon taste to it too.

M- medium-high carbonation. Very light bodied.

In comparison to a well known saison, Hennepin, this one has a lot less tropical fruit thing in it and much more of the saison yeast character.

Photo of brdc
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Large corked bottle, poured into a tulip. I have to thank this to someone for sending it as an extra, but unfortunately lost my trade book in a basement flood. Please let me know if I missed your name here.

Hazy bright golden, nice but relatively small white head, decent retention but little lacing.
Fresh fruit aroma, particularly lemons and oranges, yeastiness, spices abound.
Medium bodied, but not a lot of carbonation, it has a similarly fruity and yeasty taste, lots of spices, which actually dominate the taste. There are herbal touches, some funkiness, earthy notes.
Nothing to blow you over, but a very solid and worthwhile saison, and like any good saison, matched a creamy pasta with ham dish easily.

Photo of acrawf6
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours out a nice hazy light orange hue with a frothy one inch white head that rests nicely on top. a good, and typical look to a nice saison.

Smell. Spicy esters come out, and is on the sweet side. fruits come out, i get mostly a apple and pear juice that is accompanied with the spiceness with a little allspice and a black pepper hotness.

Taste. A very interesting flavor. Initially reminds me of a belgian strong pale ale, and la fin du monde comes to mind (but a bit sweeter). The styles seems similar at times, but i think the higher alcohol in this one brings more characteristics to a bspa or even a little of a tripel. But the spiceness comes through as it warms that gives it more of a saison feel. Has a noticable sweetness, but is by no means overwhelming. There is a noticable level of alcohol that contributes to the flavor, and adds a bit of the hotness to the flavor. There is also a good touch of a hop character, not bitter, but just enough to give notice. Finishes with a nice level of allspice flavor and sweet fruit- apple juice from concentrate and a touch of pear come to mind.

Mouthfeel. Body is on the fuller side for the style, which is certainly helped by the alc. The high level of carbonation helps out and lightens it up, making it feel quite drinkable after a few sips. Overall i think a nice balance.

Overall, a rather enjoyable beer, and a very nice belgian style american beer. I'm not completely big on other belgian styles this brewery has made, but i think they did a very good job on this one. Certainly sticks out with the flavor, and still has a nice drinkable bit to it. I do think it is a little bit of a hybrid between a saison and a bspa, but the details isnt important. I enjoyed this beer and look forward to buying it again.

Photo of Patrick999
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cool, a domestic saison. I'd seen this one before but for some reason never thought to try it. 750ml bottle, corked and caged.

A - With some firm coaxing, the cork gave way in a controlled manner. Poured into a goblet, passes the saison appearance test with flying colors. Very substantial soapy meringue head, cloudy gold body. Ranks right up there with the very best Belgian examples of saison.

S - Passes the saison aroma test, too. A little peppery, but not quite so much peppery as a fruity aroma I can't quite place. Maybe some apple, strawberries that are about to go bad...also perhaps the pungent smell of lychees about to go bad.

T - Interesting, not really too hoppy saison, more of a wheatgrass taste, with some of that about-to-ferment fruit. Near 8% ABV not terribly noticeable, just peeking through occasionally. There's a definite element of funk as it warms. A lot of interesting flavor, but somehow doesn't come off to me as very integrated or locked in, maybe due to seeming a bit heavy on the pungent fruits. And I'm not crazy about the aftertaste, which to me almost seems macro lager-like, shockingly. I'm not knocking this too much, though, as it is complex and not at all boring. In edit, I agree with the guy below, though, this could use more of the peppery spice to balance it out, or more hop.

F - Has the Belgian feel pretty well down, feels pillow-light even though carbonation is high. Medium body.

D - As is often typical of the style, easy to drink. As someone who loves this style, I'd pick up again. It might not be quite as dialed in as some of the Belgian examples, but it's very clear that the guys at North Coast did their homework. I like seeing American brewers make beers like this, and I like it even better when they make it all the way down to the tip of Florida.

Photo of Tdizzle
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

750mL corked and caged bottle purchased at Vendome Fullerton.

A- Poured into a Duvel tulip glass, this beer pours a completely opaque light-orange color with a massive, bubbly, white-colored head that takes a very long time to settle down to a thick layer over the beer. Each sip yields some very thick and soapy lacing on the glass.

S- Sweet tropical fruits and spicy Belgian yeast are the primary characteristics of the aroma. There are notes of fresh-cut grass and citrus rind as well.

T- The taste is fairly sweet at first, with some spiciness from both yeast and hops to balance it out. A slight metallic bitterness emerges right before the dry finish, which leaves a bit of a lemon grass flavor on the palate.

M- The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy with fairly aggressive carbonation.

D- The 7.3% ABV is well-hidden, but this beer is rather heavy on the stomach. One Duvel glass was plenty.

Photo of Gehrig
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Orange-apricot colored body supports three fingers of white foam. Ample carbonation and solid duration. Lots of fruity malt emerges in the smell--orange, melon, lemon--with only subtle farmhouse aromas. In fact, were it not advertised as such, locating this as a farmhouse ale would be difficult. Delicious taste, very smooth with decent carbonation, mixing the fruit with modest spiciness. Apricot and lemon blend with faint pepper that, while nice, is one area of clear improvement Le Merle could use--more spice.

Creamy smooth texture is a definite plus, making this even more drinkable. North Coast has a gem in Le Merle, one of my favorite farmhouse ales. Excellent.

Photo of DoreenAndDave
3.65/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Beer is golden/amber, slightly cloudy, with a rich white head.

Aroma is somewhat nondescript. Slightly lemony.

Taste is strong. Lots of citrus, mostly orange and lemon. A dry, slightly bitter finish.

Feel is somewhat thin and a little light. Lots of carbonation.

Drinkability is good.

Overall, a very good, but not quite excellent beer. It's lacking some spice or earthiness or complexity that are typical of the saison style.

Photo of JBogan
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a medium/light orange with a large white head which leaves a solid lacing in my glass.

Smells a bit musty, like an orange left in the 3rd drawer of your Granny's "hi-boy". Not offensive yet nothing to get excited about.

Tasted along the same lines. I tried it on the colder side and then let it warm up, it really didn't make a whole lot of difference. Some citrus along with that musty-ness. Good tasting but not world class.

Mouthfeel was pretty decent. Somewhat thin but with enough carbonation to make your tongue happy.

All in all this was a rather drinkable brew, especially considering the price. There's other and better offerings out there if you want to impress a friend, but if you come across this and want a beer of this type, then you get your bang for the buck with this one.

Photo of stumac
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

alrighty! about to check out the new saison in my city!

pours up a vibrant orange with a great frothy white head. great retentive lacing. the nose is hay, subtle citrus. tastes of slight citrus, very musky, sweet malt, full bodied, dry finish, super carbo.

decent but this is no Saison Dupont.

Photo of BretSikkink
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pale golden with lots of orange highlighting. White head is quite large, somewhat rocky as it recedes, and very thick and foamy. The froth leaves lots of little islands of lace on the glass.

Lots of citric fruit zest on the nose along with a good amount of sweet pale malts and a small yeasty earthiness.

Lots of light fruits: apple and pear are quite prominent, along with some clove, white pepper, and a really solid pale malt component. They all work together serviceably.

The mouthfeel is a little wan at times, odd given how much carbonation is visually evident. I was more impressed early on than as the bottle is nearly gone. The finish is dry and a little bitter from the herbal hops. Lingering grassy aftertaste.

Nice saison. I'd be happy to find it at a bar.

Photo of mynie
4.4/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very, very nice pour. Goodness. It's been a while since I've come across a beer such as this. Looks almost like Duvel. Sunshiney yellow, perfect haze, perfect big retentive white head.

Smells like a really good saison. Spot-on saison. Lemony, weedy malt profile with big spicy yeast and a solid background of noble european hops. Complex and firm without being overwhelming or showy.

Tastes just as firm, just as perfectly balanced. Weeds and citrus start things off and they move quickly into the really wonderful middle dominated by firm, spicy Belgian yeast. There's not that much to describe (I always feel silly attempting poetry while describing the way a beer tastes, anyways...) aside from that fact that the balance here is simply perfect.

Photo of pwsoldier
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Note: This is the first Saison I've tried, so I'm not really sure whether or not this is typical of the style. I was fairly impressed with this one though.

Poured from a 25.4 oz bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a hazy copper with an impressive creamy off-white head. Plenty of lacing.

S - Green apples, a bit of spice from the hops and some earth notes from the yeast.

T - Citrus and apple up front followed closely by spicy hop notes in the finish. Bready and earthy yeast notes are present throughout.

M - Medium-bodied with a dry finish. The carbonation is a bit higher than I would have liked. The hops leave a slight aftertaste of spice that leaves your palate begging for more.

D - The bottle was big, but I had no problems finishing it. The high carbonation forced me to take it slow so I could burp between sips, but overall this is a very smooth and refreshing beer. I would definately have it again.

Photo of number1bum
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a hazed pale golden color with some yeast sediment floating around, and a creamy two plus inches of nearly white head on top. Keeps a full lace and leaves some webbing on the sides of the glass.

Smell indicates a pretty nice Belgian yeast strain, with some spice and lemon zest. Also a bit of pale malt sweetness.

Taste is pretty straightforward, but what it is is done quite well. There is a light underlying pale malt sweetness with some yeast and slightly tart lemon flavor, along with some spicy pepper through the finish. Not terribly complex, but quite tasty. Pepper really starts to come out more and more the deeper in the bottle I go.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and is very crisp with a very forward, but appropriate, carbonation.

This is a very nice saison and I found it quite refreshing. Probably a great intro to the style for someone unfamiliar, as it's not terribly complex or funky. The only thing that puzzles me slightly is that the label makes note of "abundant hops" and "tropical fruit" characteristics, neither of which particularly jump out at me. Oh well, I still like it.

Photo of dbONE
4.55/5  rDev +17%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This was given to me in corked belgian bottles from the folk at NC. I went home after the event and poured the 2008 batch in a clean belgian glass.
As the fog emerging from the freshly corked bottle settles it pours nicley into a large belgian glass. The carbonation takes over as the bright golden color appears under the bright whit head.
Citrus and tropical flavors land on the tongue with an explosion of carbonation. Some hints of Brett and spice drop from the sides as the glass tips to lace the glass like, well lace.
The mouthfeel is light and it stickes to a touch of sourness that plays into the aftertaste.
An easy drink that will find yourself opening the other bottle you were gonna cellar.

Photo of GClarkage
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

07/19/08- Purchased at Ledger's in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle. Forgot to look for freshness info. Poured into my Troutslayer tulip.

Appearance- Golden yellow-orange colored pour. Full one inch plus pillowy head. A nice large rim remains for the duration of the beer. Leaves behind small specks, spots and light sheets of lace.

Smell- Typical saison style nose with a good amount of corriander, clove, white pepper, etc.

Taste- I've had three of these over the past year and found two of them to be slightly metallic, although the last one I had was not. It had a nice authentic belgian style yeast flavor with some mild funk. Decent amount of corriander with the main flavor concentrated on white pepper, some powdered sugar and a handful of hops.

Mouthfeel- Brisk and above average carbonation level.

Drinkability- Very good job creating this belgian style. Would have liked a bit more funk in the nose and flavor, but I guess you can't ask for everything..well, unless you're Fantome.

Photo of ShrLSU
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Poured a cloudy bright orange color. The head was nice, white, and foamy, Once settled in the head receded but lacing clings to the glass well.

S-Citrus fruits, coriander, spices, and yeast. A very spicy smell but very vibrant and complex. Perfect scents for a saison.

T-Crisp and refreshing at first. Very fruity on the first taste then the spice tingles in your mouth. Somewhat tart on the finish but very refreshing.

M-Light and well carbonated. Kind of spicy and tingly at first but mellow and refreshing at the end..

D-This is a great saison by the North Coast folks. It's great to have them back in Louisiana. I was very pleased with this beer.

Photo of Slynger
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

La Merle pours a foggy, orange tinged, honey with a loaded lid of fuzzy-fine ivory.

Most excellent smell. Lightly sweet cookie dough and yeast, along with both sweet and tart sides of lemons, apples, and pears. Throw in some funk, some spice, and a good balance, and there is your nose.

buya. Zesty, spritzy, medium-full with the flavor to back the smell. Biscuity malts with a drop of honey, green apples and pears with drops of lemon, yeasty and black peppery spice with some farmyard funk.

Good f'n beer. Gotta be one of the best Saison's I have tried, rivaling even its Belgian origins.

Photo of sholland119
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a cloudy light amber with abundant head and nice lacing.

S-Citrus fruit with a hint of yeast in the background.

T-Very crisp fruitiness and also a little bit tart. A bit of yeastiness and spice in the finish.

M-Light and a bit tart. Pleasant.

D-Very drinkable for the style and ABV.


Photo of Viggo
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle at the annual biegaman Summer Saison tasting! Thanks Jan.

Pours a cloudy amber/orange, medium sized white head, drops down to a thin ring, some lace spots, looks okay. Smell is okay, a bit buttery, citrus, yeasty, some toast, sour/tart finish, a bit cheesy, not bad. Taste is sugary up front, sweet malt, yeast, butter, some light citrus/orange peel, woody, bread, not bad, light tartness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation, refreshing, decent saison. Thanks Jano!

Photo of IronDjinn
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Loud robust pop upon releasing the cork on this bottle, followed by the aroma of berries and yeast. Initial pour was almost all head, tall white bubbly head. Eventually what is revealed is a cloudy apricot hued saison, crowned by a thick chunky white head that retains forever it seems.

Wheat, fruit, berries, spiced yeast on the nose, some wet grassy hops. Mild, yet tart and spicy.

Grassy, floral flavour at first, tart wheat and yeast start to ante up in the middle, along with the berry fruit, very faint raspberries that linger on. The finish is a spicy, peppery affair, herbal hops akin to dandelion greens. Possesses a zesty lemon aftertaste, a nice finishing touch, but in the end the raspberries do shine through and linger, along with mild baby greens.

Nice body in the mouthfeel, the carbonation does a fine job of holding up this saison and giving it a decent solid base to be presented on. We've reached the realm of Baby Bear's porridge with this attribute.

I'm not a regular saison drinker, but I'm enjoying this one thoroughly. Not too tart or bitter, my stomach hasn't turned due to the yeast (the 'ol "map of Japan" side-effect in one's undergarments), and I'm craving more. Not only that, but the head still hasn't subsided, still a good finger's width of solid white foam near the bottom of the chalice. Yeah, this one's enough to bring me over to the style, if not this particular label's interpretation. I'll be picking up more.

Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 1,127 ratings.