1. American Craft Beer Fest returns to Boston on May 29 & 30, featuring 640+ beers from 140+ brewers. Tickets are on sale now.

Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,151 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,151
Reviews: 481
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.03%
Wants: 33
Gots: 91 | 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 (21) | Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | Likes | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 1,151 | Reviews: 481 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bcm119
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
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 -1.5%
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 -3.6%
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 +1%
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%
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 -6.4%
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 -9.3%
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 -9.3%
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 +14.9%
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 +0.8%
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 +9.8%
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 -7.5%
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 +5.4%
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 +9%
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.

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

A - brilliant clarity, very soft orange colour, gigantic head, and lively carbonation streams, leaves big chunks of lace clinging to the glass.

S - tart lemons off the start, but quickly dissipates, hay, pepper spice, very fresh

T - good bit of spice to balance out the sweetness up front, finish is drying alcohol, mild tartness and a lingering bitterness.

M - very light thanks to thin body and agressive carbonation, effect is "airy" moreso than "creamy," noticable alcohol, warm and smooth.

D - runs a fine line between a tripel and a saison... call it what you will, it drinks quite nicely.

A well done attempt by an American brewer. I'm thinking a little more wildness and/or hopping would push it into definite saison/farmhouse territory, and would also increase the complexity. As it stands, it's a very good Belgian inspired beer, just not as exotic as I had hoped.

Photo of champ103
4.3/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a hazy golden orange color. A two finger white head forms with excellent retention. As the rocky foam recedes, rings of patchy lace are left behind.
S: Funky yeast up front. A great funky barnyard aroma of hey and grass. A passion fruity medley of pears, apples, oranges, and melons. Excellent.
T: A wonderful fruitiness. Melons, oranges, bananas, pears, ext. Maybe the best fruit medley I have come across in a beer or the style. A nice spicy flavor lingers on the tongue. Plenty of funky yeast and barnyard flavors as well.
M/D: A medium body that is perfectly effervescent. Very dry, crisp and clean. This is exceptionally smooth and easy to drink for a nearly 8% ABV.

North Coast continues to blow me away, and one of the best breweries anywhere. This is a great Saison. I seem to say this a lot about North Coast, but this is one of the best American made versions I have had. Highly recommended.

Photo of magictrokini
3.42/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours yellow with a puffy white head. Orange peel, lemon, wheat, pepper, and earthy yeast. Grassy, fruity taste with some spice, particularly the white pepper. The yeast was nice, not overpoweing, but enough to give you some funk while keeping the beer light.

Photo of abrand
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into tumbler with dinner for Thanksgiving dinner.

A- This beer pours a golden hazy color with a very thick few finger head which dissolves fairly quickly. Fairly good lacing lines the glass.

S- This brew gives off a very good aroma. Lots of fruit hit the nose. There are also hints of musky wooden pines.

T- Pretty wicked brew with a lot of complexity. Taste consists of fruity orange and melons. Very mild bitterness and very smooth.

M- Medium bodied with good carbonation

D- Pretty solid beer from North Coast. My experience with this style is lacking so I don't have much to compare to, but I will definitely explore more Saisons.

Photo of aerozeppl
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Nice clear golden color. One and a half fingers white head with some spotty lacing.

S: This is probably the best part of this beer. Nice funky nose right up front. Hints of overripe fruit

T: Very sweet up front. Hints of apples and other fruit. A little bit funky as well.

M: Very nice crisp mouthfeel. A little bit dry in the finish. Well carbonated with a nice bubbly feel as well.

D: Much better than I thought it would be. Very nice traditional take on the style. I think this beer would cellar nicely. I might just grab a bottle and throw it away for a while.

Photo of atigerlife
4.41/5  rDev +13.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Corked bottle opens with a big pop. Pours golden wiht a huge 2+ finger creamy white head that has very good retention. Good lacing. Tons of carb. rising. Very impressive to look at.

Aroma of yeast, citrus and somewhat grassy.

Taste is hay, yeast, citrus, apples, spices and some sweetness.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and very cleansing.

Overall, very drinkable. Very enjoyable. It will go well with a variety of food. Very refreshing. Very impressive.

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

750mL cork-finish with no date. Poured into wide-topped flute (Blanche de Chambly glass).

Appearance: Pale yellow straw. Thick foamy head, slow to recede yet leaves little lacing. 1/4 inch remains after 1 minute.

Nose: Fruity esters, orange, apple, pear, and white peach. A hint of pale wheat and a touch of Italian bread.

Palate: Spicy up front and has good carbonation. Lots of mixed fruits, with yeast-spice gliding way out on the finish. Grapefruit and grass come up, almost like a NZ sauvignon blanc. Finish is moderately long and leaves the impression of a crisp white wine.

Notes: A solid beer, not the best "saison" I've had, but a damn drinkable brew from a respectable company. It's going to go really well with my Baby Boucheron cheese, toasted baguette slices and Quinta do Coa Olive Oil (Portugal)! Cheers!

Photo of IBUnit63
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Corked & caged 750 ml into Ommegang chalice with a solid pop of the cork...

Pours a natural honey/lemon gold with ample carbonation up to pillowy, finger-and-a-half head that claws nicely to the glass.

Excellent yeast electricity merges with mild melon, slight citrus, a little vanilla and almost a Champagne essence. Complex yet quite approachable.

This shows off almost a dry Riesling texture. Merging with the solid yeast electricity is the carbonation strength and husky light grains. The stealth sweetness of the vanilla and melon tones emerges, along with some mild apple tartness as well.

Has a wine-style feel to it - hearty braised malt, mild grape sweetness and palate dryness along with a carbonation tingle. A very pleasant New World saison.

Dowsn't drink too terribly quickly but it's a solid example of the style.

Photo of beerthulhu
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured a bright, hazy tangerine orange with a monstrous 3 finger off white head that was dense and foamy in nature. Retention was incredibly well lasting while the lacing was splotchy, foamy and random. Visible carbonation was moderate strong.

S: tart orange peels with a light yeasty funkiness and cobwebs that was fair in strength.

T: An acidic nature and tart oranges greets you upfront. Dough, sour oranges, lemon peels and a moderate funkiness stand out. There is some underlying sweetness to the palate as well. Some sour fruitiness of pears, apples, pineapple, and bananas are contributed by the yeast. A nice hoppiness of musty citrus with a musky cellar quality add to the overall depth and flavor. Tart, yeasty and practically everything you can ask of per style.

M: a medium carbonation with tart dry oranges that lingered long after the swallow. The body was light to medium in fullness.

D: Very good drinkability, with a nice tart yeasty character makes this a smooth and delightful drink by style and definitely worth checking out. Finishes as strong as it starts.

Photo of Voonder
4.29/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy golden colour with big bubbly white head. Smell is sweet and fruity - grapes, pears, grass. Taste is a bit sour and fruity. Really well balanced with perfect level of carbonation beer goes down very well. Great stuff, taste is unbelivable - so complex and really interesting. Would have more!

Photo of bunnyhustle
3.33/5  rDev -14.4%
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.

Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 1,151 ratings.