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Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
503 Reviews
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Le MerleLe Merle

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States | website

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.90%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerBeing on 06-03-2007

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Reviews: 503 | Ratings: 1,283
Photo of utopiajane
3.92/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Pours milky with golden yellow , apricot and orange hues. Fat head of cream colored foam that falls slowly and leaves lace. Nose is delicate but vibrant fruit. Tropical pineapple and pear nectar. Light crisp malt sweetness, bright floral. Peppery and grassy. A more neutral than funky yeast with a slight tart twang.

Taste is light refreshing and fruity. A touch of pepper and hop bitter finish this one dry. Active carbonation accents a light breadiness. Yeast is earthy. The beer has a tartness to the overall drink that keeps the palate engaged. The only noticeable alcohol in the beer is a a sweet almost syrupy element in the finish. More peppery as it warms.

Complex and delightful with a pleasant bit of strength from abv.

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Photo of Ian_B
4.11/5  rDev +5.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Hazy yellow with a tinge of orange. Billowing foamy head with good retention.

Peppercorn and herbal spices on the nose, with quite a bit of dry-hopped tropical citrus and a doughy yeast with complex esters and phenols (though these may get lost only slightly behind the tropical hops).

Taste of light peppercorn and lots of tropical juice along the lines of guava. Lots of juicy herbal flavours as well, with earthy phenols.

Quite smooth, medium body, but with a lot of carbonation and dryness from the yeast. Very well balanced.

Tropical and herbal juice, with a fantastic peppery crisp carb.

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Photo of Huhzubendah
3.43/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Hazy orange body with a thick, off-white head. Aromas include stone fruits, yeast, a touch of fruity hops. Apple, pear, melon, Belgian yeast strain. Moderate sweetness. More akin to a tripel than a saison. Decent, but one pour is plenty. Sweet + alcohol = limited drinkability.

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Photo of Lard_City
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

I always have trouble with analyzing saisons but this one is pretty simple. Very mild malt and hoppiness with a decent carbonation burn and a bit of sweetness. Very little aftertaste. Quite refreshing.

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Photo of ClavisAurea
4.34/5  rDev +11%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

12oz bottle served in a wine glass

Appearance: hazy gold and very bubbly

Nose: fresh fruit, yeast, classic Belgian yeast, coriander, tropical fruit

Taste: tropical fruit, yeast, bready and fresh, the ample bubbles lift all the flavors off the tongue and make for a great mouth feel. Slight hops bitterness in the finish but not enough to distract from the greatness of this beer.

Overall: I really enjoyed this Saison. It's part of a 4 pack so I'm cellaring the rest to see what changes.

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Photo of breakingbland
3.89/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a bottle into a snifter. The beer is a cloudy orange/gold with a slightly off-white head that dissipates quickly.

The aroma is of funk and sweet candy.

The taste follows the aroma but with the funk slightly underplayed. The aftertaste lingers as leather and a slight astringency.

The carbonation is a bit coarser than expected. The beer itself has a good body.

I like this beer quite a bit and hope to be able to find it locally.

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Photo of wedge
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Solid orange, fairly hazy, with an expansive puffy head that deflates to a lumpy froth. Smell is yeasty...peppery oranges, dried flowers, spicy phenolics, and crackers. Peppercorns, apple, lemon, honey, coriander, bubblegum, and a powdery sort of sweetness. Fluffy bodied, crisp, and just a little tart. Not bad, but not quite coming together for me.

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Photo of The-Adjunct-Hippie
3.98/5  rDev +1.8%

Singles cooler, y'all.

Appearance (4.75) : Gigantic head about four fingers/five inches tall, very creamy, dense, and full of life. The body is ginger-honey-blonde color and is mostly transparent, I'd say about 10% or 20% opacity. Head stays and leaves generous lacing on the glass. North Coast seems to do their appearances right. Their caps always stay long and have such a good view to them.

Aroma (4.25) : Sheesh. It's almost like an Oktoberfest. Or a Wit. Or both. Wheat, orange peel, vanilla, cinnamon, spices, some faint maple syrup, some crisp lemon lime soda. Regardless the aroma is just fantastic. And it's loud, too.

Taste (3.75) : Complex is the word. And metamorphosis. Kids, learn your spelling words.

I will break it down as pertaining to different parts of the tongue because really, it is that complex.

1) Tip - Starts off tasting like an average wheat beer or american lager. A light blonde flavor with lots of pop.

2) Middle of the tongue - and as you move it to the middle, there's a slight sourness, trademark of a Flanders' style ale. There's some Bubble Tape going on there, too.

3) Back of tongue - ...and as it hits the back of the tongue towards the swallow, a heavy alcoholic paint-like taste comes in like a wrecking ball but thankfully leaves soon after you swallow.

The taste overall is something to be reckoned with. Goosebump-prone, even. It's not bad, per se, but man that alcohol kick really blows everything else away. As I said though, it disappears rather fast once it's down the hatch.

Mouthfeel (4) : Medium bodied, creamy, fluffy, ending crisp.

Overall (3.98) : I've only had two other Flanders' style ales, and this one takes the cake for character and flavor. I find it hard to believe it's only a 7.0% ABV, because that alcohol taste really kicks hard at the end. I am glad I picked up two, and not only one, but if I had picked up three, I may have regretted it. Okay in small doses.

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.56/5  rDev -9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured this into a chalice, and it's a very hazy orange-copper, with barely a head at all.
It smells like antique funk, with some peppermint. Basic, but quite nice.
Tastes like a funky citrus/ wheaty version of the beer's scent. There's some bubblegum leading up to its tart, medicinal finish, yet this remains more sweet than dry and an underlying peppercorn dominates the aftertaste.
Feel is medium and crisp.
Overall,this was okay. Impression left was of a somewhat harsh Belgian saison as far as the peppercorn aspect, which is a less desirable departure from the more refreshing balance I've experienced in such styles.

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Photo of DoubleJ
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

How did it take me this long to sample Le Merle? With a single corked and caged 375 ml bottle, I had a great compliment to dinner. On to the beer:

This is a darker blonde beer with a big frothy head which retains well. The aroma is appetizing with a dry, cidery/ sour apple note and a pinch of vague spice true to the saison style. With its alcohol nearly hitting 8% ABV, perhaps it's no surprise that a note of booze is tasted. Still, this is one fun saison that goes sweet, tart, and bitter in one session. It starts sweet and dry, then a wave of apple tartness dominates. A rush of bitterness finishes it, and overall this mélange of senses work well together. The beer gets more interesting when its fun, champagne-like bubbly carbonation massages the inside of the mouth.

Here's a possible drink to wash down dinner. It's not cheap $(4.99 for this 375 ml bottle), so pick a good occasion to celebrate with this liquid.

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Photo of Jacobob10
3.34/5  rDev -14.6%

12.9 oz bottle at O'Donnell's Pub in Harrison, NJ.

Poured into a Le Merle chalice. Proper glassware at the bar... nice!

Amber colored with a lot of haze and a thin layer of white foam on top. The head clings to the sides of the glass but leaves no lacing behind. Fruity aroma mainly consisting of apple. Very sweet and not as dry as I prefer saison to be. Overall, this just wasn't very good. It was missing the funk and spice that I love about the style.

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Photo of cjgiant
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%

A: nice straw yellow, hazy with a fluffy white head. Visible carbonation sustains this for a while.

S: a light funky smell combined with such fruits as apple, pear, white wine (grape), and perhaps nectarine. The is also a light spice noticeable, which also resembles an alcohol whiff in some smells.

T/M: the initial tastes remind me of white wine with a dull farmhouse undercurrent (hay, tobacco). As the beer warms, there's also a prune/plum taste. The carbonation is quite strong, adding a slight bite to the earthy spices that come along a little after the initial flavors. The lingering taste resembles the fleshy fruit from the smell, but more balanced with the overall farmhouse taste and feel.

O: a more fruity version of a saison, less dry than a bunch I have had. I enjoyed it more than those, as the style is sometimes just a bit earthy and dry for my tastes.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.83/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, 2014, 7.9%
A 3.5 - peachy-golden ale with a thin off-white head that fades fairly quickly to a foam
S 3.5 - fruity, peach, apricot, white wine, apple juice, yeast
T 4 - lots of fruity esters: apple, grape, peach, apricot, papaya; yeast, lighter malt notes as this seems to ride off the yeast and esters for flavor
M 4.25 - fuller body, effervescent, finishes dry and fairly clean with some faint white pepper on the finish
O 3.75 - enjoyable, but not something I'd get again.

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Photo of Hesscabob
4.49/5  rDev +14.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried about 3 years ago and realized I did not do a review. A golden, hazy, bubbly saison with tons of fruity and spicy aroma leaving the glass. My first saison and I was so intrigued by Le Merle that I named my dog after it. Truly a great saison for warm, cold or whatever weather/ time of the year.

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

12oz bottle poured into a tulip
A: Golden orange with a 1.5-finger head
S: Light wheat, cereal, a hint of fruit esters and Belgian yeast
T: Matches the nose adding a bit of pronounced citrus and light hop notes
M: Medium-bodied with pleasant carbonation
O: Refreshing, surprisingly light on its feet and with good balance. Fits the style well; enjoyable on a warm summer afternoon

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Photo of 57md
3.67/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light and clear copper color with a finger of head that quickly dissipates down to a film of froth. The nose is classically funky. The funky yeast is also upfront in the flavor profile. There are mild peppery notes in the finish, which is the best part of this drinking experience.

This is a decent example of the style, but “decent” is about the best I can offer for a review.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a one of my glasses out of the 12 oz bottle. This beer pours a clear, light to medium golden color with a nice thick, fluffy white head that is over an inch thick when first poured. Head eventually settles to a nice ring lining the inside of eh glass and some decent lacing. Has some nice fruity aromas of papaya and apricot along with some peppery spices and funkyness. The aforementioned spice is very much upfront tastewise and it gives way to flavors of fruit such as banana, apple, papaya, apricot, and even a bit of grape. Rounded out with a very slight touch of salty vinegarness. Weird and not what I would expect for a finish flavorwise from a beer of this style, but it actually works very well. has a crisp, smooth, medium bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Easy to drink in the way well crafted beer should be. Dangerously drinkable for its 7.9% ABV I'd say, as the 7.9% ABV is nicely masked.


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Photo of SABERG
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a modified tulip glass.
A - Color of day lily, beautiful carbonation traces through a field of flower rests against a pillowing white head.
S - French saison yeast base? Modest nose, flowers from the day before, hints of tangerine, blood orange.
T - Aged lemongrass, tangerine skin, grain is tightly wrapped around the fruit esters.
M - Carbonation keeps this in step, body is on the thicker side, oils reside on the mouth for a sweet linger. Not offensive.
O - A fine offering, leans to the meaty side of fence. The beer pours beautifully, glows in the glass and with a slightly lighter body could be spectacular.

Cheers all

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Photo of thecheapies
3.84/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Goldy-blonde. Lightly turbid. I got the short stack, for head. Quickly made into a ring.

Floral aromas of fruit yeast, wildflower, and fusel. Marmalade, white pepper, and dry tropical rind.

Flowery yeast esters, booziness, kumquat, white peach, faint pepper, and pear. Not musty enough. Needs some farmhouse stank. Really piquant, as is.

Alcohol costs this one points. Thin body and mild carbonation, but all kinds of breathy heat sneaking in.

A solid beer. More like a BSPA brewed with saison yeast, in my book.

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Photo of Kurt_Dog
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the best Saisons I have had made by a US brewery. North Coast makes some good stuff. Aroma of light sour lemons. Taste of Belgium yeast. Quite nice, refreshing, would seak out again. I really like Old Rasputin as well. Nice to drink local beers from California. Fresh and delish.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.45/5  rDev -11.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light golden color with a white head and some lacing. Pours with excellent clarity from tap to snifter. The aroma has citrus as well as peach or pear juice. Nice fruity nose. The taste is earthier but still has a fruitiness. Grassy, milky citrusy hop character works with the fruit and damp hay notes. Fair bitterness, the brew finishes clean and balanced. Overall, this is a pretty decent saison, for an American version.

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

12 oz bottle from "Lifesource" in Salem $3.49 Pours a slightly hazy,fine carbonated golden colour..large rocky white head. fine summer fruit aromas ,nectarine, papaya, some apricot., a little barnyard hay in the back. Nice Taste is the same but a little more spicy/peppery and floral. Nice mouth feel..very fine carbonation. Long lasting after taste from the hops I assume. A fine beer for a warm humid spring night

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Photo of MartzMimic
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours from the bottle a clear gold with a foamy white head. A heady aroma of yeast, barnyard funk, spices and fruit. Those are all present in the taste, but there's a bit of sweetness present as well. The fruit - banana, apple, grape, some citrus - really comes through with great balance. Medium mouth, but a little chewy. Still, the carbonation gives this beer the crispness you expect from a saison. La Merle will definitely be added to my list of favorite farmhouse ales.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.37/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy straw golden orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. Big two finger white head that slowly fades into a thin film. Leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Smell: A yeasty, fruity, and fairly spicy Belgian style aroma with a good presence of Belgian yeast and fruit hints. Upfront Belgian yeast with hints of farmhouse funk along with some clove, pepper, and coriander spicing. Sweet hints of Belgian candied sugar. Pale malt with hints of wheat, straw, grains, and cracker. Fruit hints of banana, apple, pear, white grape, lemon, and orange. Some bubblegum hints as well. Subtle earthy hop background with hints of grass. A very good Saison aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a nicely yeasty, spicy, and fruity Belgian Saison style aroma with good notes of dried fruit and spices. Upfront Belgian yeast with good notes of farmhouse funk, clove, white and black pepper, and coriander. Pale malt with bready notes of wheat, grains, straw, and cracker. Sweet taste of Belgian candied sugar. Big fruit presence with dry notes of banana, apple, lemon, orange, pear, and white grape. Some notes of bubblegum along with some earthy hop notes of grass. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a carbonation level on the higher side. Nicely spicy and drying on the finish.

Overall: A really good American take on a Belgian Saison. Very good mix of yeast, spice, and fruit flavors.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a North Coast tulip.

A: Crystal clear golden color. Rocky off white head retains well. Blotches of thick foamy lacing.

S: Very complex yeast aromas. Good and musty. Freshly ground black pepper. Clove. Perfumey. Grassy and oily hops. Stale bread and crackers. Vague tropical fruits and perhaps some pitted fruits (dates?) far in the background.

T: Nice and tart up front. Citrus rind tartness. Tropical fruits, pithy orange and tangerine. Lots of musty yeast. Medium malt sweetness. Moderate clovey phenols and some oily hops temper this sweetness. Alcohol is perceptible toward the back end. Medium sweet finish with a lot of lingering yeasty must.

M: Hefty medium body. Stiff scrubbing carbonation effectively lifts it off the palate and keeps it from feeling weighty. Mild alcohol warmth.

O: Great stuff. It's a very brawny and muscular saison. Not as light and drinkable as most in the style tend to be these days, but it's very complex and bold.

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 503 ratings.