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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 (29) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 491 | Hads: 1,241
Photo of cichief
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had on draft at the Frisco Grill, Columbia, MD.

A- Pours a nice hazy gold, with an ample white head.

S- Smells of yeast and sweet malt.

T- Begins rather sweet, but is balanced, lots of fruit/citrus, a very pleasant biscuit finish.

M- Lots very small bubbles, no fizziness, medium body.

D- A very drinkable beer, quite refreshing.

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Photo of allengarvin
4.58/5  rDev +17.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Poured into a Chimay glass, this beer leaves an enormous head, of Duvel proportions. Excellent retention, solid and frothy. The is a slightly hazy orange, with fine bubbles streaming up. Yeasty aroma full of spicy phenols, a delicate fruitiness, and some nice herbal hoppiness. Excellent flavor, with a light sweetness, honey vanilla fruitiness, dry grassy hops, plenty of yeasty spiciness. There might be a trace of brett funk--I'm uncertain, though. Finish is nice and dry.
The body is perhaps a tad watery--too much carbonation released in the pour?

Excellent saison.

[On edit: 2 months later, and I've enjoyed about one of these a week. Bumped the drinkability to 5. This is at least the equal of Dupont, possibly better.]

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Photo of asabreed
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Corked and caged big bottle into a Duvel tulip. Didn't realize this was North Coast until I popped the cork.

Appearance: An insanely huge, billowing white head of foam, like ice cram, with big bubbles sucking to the glass. Body is a hazy golden yellow, with tons of tiny bubbles swirling and surging toward the top of the glass. Even with subsequent pours it leaves such insanity, and the lacing's left in clumps and nice lines.

Smell: Initial hints of yeast, earthiness, minor alcohol whiffs, light cream, spice and pepper, lemon zest, along with some sour cherries and strawberries. Not much phenolic activity and / or funkiness, but I like that in that it's balanced and complex without trying too hard to be like a Fantome or Dupont or any of the other heavy hitters.

Taste: Yeast and spiciness initially with lemon, sour cherries, a bit of warming alcohol, earthiness, subtle herbal hop characteristics, all leading to a semi-dry finish with a good sour and earthiness, sliding into a bit of hop bitterness. Very nice and balanced and flavorful.

Mouthfeel: More medium-bodied than light, but with a good crispness and fairly full-feeling carbonation.

Drinkability: A very solid domestic version of the style, from a brewery I continue to be a big fan of. I paid around $8 for the bottle, which I think is certainly worth it. Again, what it doesn't mess with is the phenolic funkiness of a lot of true non-domestic Saisons, but then again, I'd rather have it be balanced and complex without the risk-taking into unworthy and unbalanced territory.

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Photo of RickSawyer
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Golden honey with white pillowy head. Light traces of lace across the glass. Smells earthy, buscuits, tropically floral, hints of banana and mango. Taste begins with french baguette, then transitions into some grassy earth, green apple, mild banana funk, some unripened pine apple, all very well balanced. Creamy mouthfeel could use some more carbonation to hit that champaign-esque feel traditionally found in saisons. Very nice for an american take at the style.

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Photo of goochpunch
2.92/5  rDev -25.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 1.5

Pours out a slightly chill-hazed brassy tangerine with a wealth of tiny bubbles making their way to the head. Head is massive, foamy, and almost spills over the top. Leaves some near solid lacing on the glass. Nose is very fruity (over-ripe fruits) and candy sweet. I get a lot of peach and mango (which I would normally love, but, as I said, it's more of an over-ripe and near-rotten smell). Has a bit of a grain bite in the nose. Flavor starts off with a candy sweetness and some grainy character which leads into those over-ripe fruits again (but not so overbearing as in the aroma). A bit of an earthy hop comes in toward the finish alongside a dull bitterness and a flat yeastiness. The saving grace of the flavor profile is a finishing dryness and mild background acidity which save this from being an overall cloying experience. Mouthfeel is rather light in body with a jumpy carbonation although it isn't so forcefully carbonated that it pricks the tongue. Drinkability started off OK, but as it warms it gets sweeter and sweeter and the bitterness becomes more astringent. If I ever drink this again, which I doubt, I will definitely be having this ice cold.

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Photo of Rudgers73
4.92/5  rDev +25.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

The beer pours a bright orange-juice like color with a decent cloudiness to it out of the 750 mL corked and caged bottle. The head is a solid inch and slowly settles down to a retentive 1/4 inch thick foam. Lots of aroma in this one. Very fruity, mainly citrus and banana. There is a definite tart grapefruit aroma in there too. The beer itself is relatively mild in flavor. A surprise much like my first try of Saison DuPont. There is a nice prickly CO2 body that gives a lot of pepper notes to the semi-sweet, semi-bitter beer. The aftertaste is strong metallic hops and oily at the end. A very good example of an authentic belgian style saison IMO. This is similar to the Jolly Pumpkin's Bam Bière, but has more of that undetectable alcohol than the sessionable JP, again a bit more true to the style. This is a great example of an American brewer that really captivated this delicate and unique Belgian style.

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Photo of jwc215
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours hazed golden with a large fluffy white head that becomes rocky. It leaves plenty of lacing.

The smell is of lemongrass with earthy notes and candy sugar. Peppery, musty, doughy, biscuity, yeasty.

The characteristics in the complex nose are there in the taste - maybe a tad more mellow, but not enough to adjust the scores for. Sweet, spicy and sour. Finishes with a refreshing dryness.

Well-carbonated without being prickly.

This is on-spot for style. Try pairing this with pork chops, red cabbage, saurkraut and mashed potatoes - everything in there will complement the various aspects of this well-made brew.

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Photo of Onslow
3.42/5  rDev -12.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Network Difficulties - Please Standby ... Pours a slight hazy golden orange .. light fluffy head, lacing a bit low for a saison ... funked up honey smell ... light and tangy, some nice bitterness, lower sweetness ... in an umbrella: is a well made American saison that is enjoyable and goes down smooth with lots of refreshing qualities! ... drank while enjoying a blank screen then the Dynamo in the CONCACAF semi's 2008!!!

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Photo of BeerZack
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a cloudy dirty orange color with big bubbly head that sticks.

Spicy grassy hops, lemon zest, bready malts, hay and a slight sour funkiness all come out in the nose.

Crisp carbonation keeps it light and effervescent. Good bit of acidity.

Sweet bread and hay flavors balanced by the aggressive carbonation (which immediately foams in the mouth) and a good dose of lemony acidity. Somewhat dry bitter finish.

This is no little knock-off Saison, this is the real deal with nice acidity and even a mild funk. Would like to see how this ages.

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Photo of joeack
3.73/5  rDev -4.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a golden straw with two inch fluffy head. The smell was quite tame with not a lot of the hay, wet straw smell normally associated with a Saison. Taste was fruity and musky and the drinkabilty was good. Wouldn't seek this one out but it was good to try and compare with all the other Saisons out there

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

Bright lemon yellow body. Voracious carbonation from the looks of it. There's a big pillowy dove white head that acquiesces to a rocky terrain as it dissipates. Really good aroma of belgian yeastiness, doughy maltiness and spice. The flavor doesn't disappoint either. Honeyed malt flavors lay a base. Tropical fruit nuances dance around (peaches, mango and papaya). Hops give an herbal presence to the beer. The mouthfeel is not as charged up as the appearance seemed to indicate. Oh, it's got some scouring power were you to pair this with say a crispy duck in red coconut curry sauce. But it's not gaseous or bloating. Body is light to light-medium. All in all, this is pretty damn enjoyable.

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Photo of bark
3.82/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

The colour is orange-yellow; the liquid is a bit hazy. There is almost no head at all.

The smell is yeasty and sweet with some metallic bitterness. It is well balanced.

The taste is mild and fruity. I noticed hay and dough. There are some mild bitter flavours. The aftertaste is fruity with notes of dough and grass.

The carbonation is strong, the bubbles medium to large. The liquid is mid-smooth.

An interesting interpretation of the saison style. Perhaps it is a little too "clean".

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Photo of Gmann
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured out of a 750ml corked and caged bottle; review based on second half of the bottle with the yeast poured. Pours a cloudy (almost milky) golden color (first half of the bottle was fairly clear). The smell is on the faint side but is true to the BPA and Saison style; light floral sweetness and some yeast funk. The taste is light and not overly complex, more Belgian Pale Ale. There is a light candi sugar sweetness and a light Belgian spice profile. The beer stays true to the tart side of saisons but doesn't quite deliver the spice or funk of top notch saisons. However the brew does not taste bad, at all. The feel is moderate with very active carbonation, finishes very well balance. This is quite the drinkable brew, very light in the feel, the alcohol is well hidden and it tastes like a good BPA. A very good representation from an Amercian brewer.

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Photo of baggio
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle shared with fellow BA Bark at Oliver Twist, Stockholm

A: Yellow and very unclear. Some thin lace on top.

S: Orange, yeast, tropical fruits.

T: Hay, Orange, Coriander, Pepper, Peach, Wheat.

M: Lots of carbonation in this one. It has a fresh feel to it and feels very belgian.

D: Easy drink. Could have this all night long.

Had this beer in between imperial stouts and dipa's and it was very refreshing. This is good beer. Go try!

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Photo of dill
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

served on tap in a North Coast snifter.

A: highly carbonated, deep gold in color with a thin, white head.

S: very earthy aromas with a bit of maltiness.

T: citrus flavors with a bit of spice. a bit sweet with a bitter finish.

M: crisp with a medium, tight carbonation.

D: I enjoyed this one slowly and wasn't eager to go back to it. I really like the tanginess and appreciate that it's not too strong, but it's not my favorite in this style.

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Photo of Billolick
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Large bottle, caged and corked, no freshness nor bottling info offered. Pours light apricot amber, semi cloudy and initially shooting up a HUGE eggshell head, it slowly becomes a puffy and long lasting meringue. Leaving gobs of thick sheeting and ringed lace. Plenty of micro bubbles continuing to rise. Nice looking glass of beer. Nose is multifaceted with whiffs of soap, perfume and light pepper. Love the style and this is a worthy take on it. More perfume, plenty of pepper, spiced tropical fruit such as bananas, melon, mango. Moderate, subtle drying hops late. Complex, interesting beer. Well worth a try.

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Photo of scruffwhor
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a great hazey hay colored sunshine. Hnts of pale orange mix and dazzle the eyes. Agood head greet right after the pour, but eventually recedes to nothing. The aroma is a spicey mix dry fruits ad vibrant minerals. Very good recreation of a Belgian classic. The first sip is a very spicey fruit. Hnts f cinan and nutmeg. The middle and finish is little dryer. The finish is reminiscat of dry English water mixed with chammomile. The palte is smooth, yet dry and fruity. Dried fruits and unsweetened. Great rendition of a hard to mimic Belgian classic.

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Photo of Bubba83
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Picked up the 750ml corked bottle from BevMo in Sunnyvale, CA.

Appearance - Poured slowly into a snifter at 50 degrees. An excellent golden hue with yellow highlights towards the outside of the glass and a nice orangey hue through the middle. A good deal of head sits on top (2 finger length) from even just a slow pour. The head is pure bright white, and the bubbles are on the smaller side for a Saison. Tiny bubbles emanate from the bottom of the glass throughout the session and lacing is great.

Smell - Smells of funky horse with a black pepper burn. Faint highlights of tropical fruits and red apple at the tail end of the whiff. Definite pineapple here once the pepper subsides.

Taste - Lemon and Faint tropical fruit notes arrive first with an excellent flavor, but I wish they would last longer. Quickly the black pepper and coriander take over, making for a predominantly spicy flavor that ends earthy. Pineapple comes through a bit better as it warms. Overall flavor reminds me of Pranqster, no surprise here.

Mouthfeel - As with all of the other offerings from North Coast, the mouthfeel is superb. I almost gave it a 5. Nice and vibrant on the tongue, almost to the point of dancing, yet isn't annoying to swallow. As you refill your glass with more the bubbles in the head get smaller and you are treated to a bit of a creamyness that is in great balance with the carbonation. The density is also well done, it's light and refreshing without being watery, has some oilyness there to keep it feeling slick.

Drinkability - It's pretty good. I could definitely see myself having the whole wine bottle size by myself after working on the farm. Perhaps a little heavier than some saisons but just as refreshing. Surprisingly quaffable for being so spicy.

Give this a try but don't expect it to be much different from Pranqster.

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Photo of IntriqKen
3.93/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Pours out a cloudy pale lemon colored liquid with a soft, pillowing snow white head that stays around forever making lots of sticky lace as you drink.

Aromas are sort of a funky, farmhouse, bready yeast with some sweet malts. I know this will sound strange but there is something 'warm' about the aromas.

Taste is very lightly sweet amber malt with a touch of lemon and then some of that funky, bready yeast and light peppery spices to finish with.

Aftertaste is slightly spicy and 'spritzy' with a nice tingle continuing on and on.

Mouthfeel is tingly and creamy from all of the carbonation. Unlike many reviews of this beer, I did not find it overly thin for the style.

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Photo of BeerBelcher
3/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I was a bit underwhelmed by this beer. For some reason I expected the makers of Old Rasputin, Old Stock Ale, and Red Seal to be able to make a little better Saison than this. Nonetheless, it wasn't bad.

It poured a pale, opaque yellow which reminded me of lemonade. Aroma was light, sweet, citrus-y and effervescent. In fact, this beer reminded me a great deal of Sprite or Sierra Mist. It wasn't bad, but it didn't really scratch my beer itch; it just seemed a bit insubstantial and almost in flavor like a shandy or a radler. Mouthfeel was very light and active.

Not bad, but I can't say I'll be having this again. I got this bottle at Discount Liquor in Milwaukee, and split it with Surly Sober.

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Photo of Dukeofearl
3.63/5  rDev -7.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle from La Bodega in Riverside, CA. for $7.99 in January 2008. My wife and I have enjoyed this one many times, but I just realized that I have never reviewed it.

Pours a slightly hazy golden yellow, with a moderately fluffy head. "Middle of the Road", as Chrissy Hinds once sang. But more to the point, that's not necessarily a bad thing....

Aroma of a mild yard funk, not strong in the style. However, that actually means an increased drinkability. Flavor of a nice malt balanced by a yeasty organic, slightly barnyard funk. But the main flavor is a gentle lemony fruitiness. Generally lighter and more accessible than the better known versions of the style.

As mentioned above, this one has been seen in the house before, so it has something good going for it. Generally a very drinkable, nice version of the style. Not "out there" in something new, something wild, something weird, but overall, a good drinker.

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Photo of dfillius
3.68/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Enjoyed in a wine glass.
A: 1/2 finger of immaculate white head quickly fizzles away to a thin sheen. Hazy gold color, looks like pineapple juice. Quite pretty! The fizzy head was the only negative.
S: Fruit and lactic creaminess. Barley malt syrup, apple cider. Last bit from the bottle with lots of yeast smells a lot like tropical fruit! Like a pineapple malt.
T: Pear cider. With dregs of yeast, this beer is MUCH better and fruitier. I would recommend swirling the yeast into this one.
M: Too fizzy and sharp with carbonation. Like a big mouth full of foam. With the yeast it is much smoother, but it had been sitting a while when I had that drink too.
D: One bottle between 3 people would be perfect. It was a little harder between two.

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

Bottle purchased from New Beer, NYC, NY

Poured with a big soapy head, pours like a good belgium, cloudy, hazy, copper penny color, lace throughout the entire glass.

Some malt, citrus (lemon), Very carbonated. Malty, clean up front, very carbonated, very refreshing.

I thought Saisons were supposed to have some funk to them, which this doesn't.

Nice drinking beer for the style

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Photo of Halcyondays
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at the Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach, CA,

A: Pours a cloudy yellow, with a firm nice head, with good retention and really good lacing.

S: Really faint, some light maltiness and spices though.

T: Main flavour is a bit of an acidic lemon, with white pepper, maybe some coriander spiciness, bready malt and earthy hops throughout. Similar to Dupont, but the acidity is more upfront and overt, while the spiciness is more mild.

M: Crisp and refreshing, acidic, slightly medicinal.

D: A pretty good American saison, nose could use a little work, but overall, pretty good, $6 for a glass at Beachwood.

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Photo of bruachan
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

nice looking label. what appears to be an arty rendition of a bird adorns the front

the beer is super foamy. i didn't get very far into my pour before i had to abort. as it descends i see evidence that lacing will be good and sticky. the liquid is gold with amber whispers

a highly hopped aroma presents itself in the form of bold lemon notes and some typically noble spiciness. the yeast's own spice penetrates, as well. all in all the bouquet is large and features the hops and yeast most noticeably. peach?

it's a yeasty tasting beverage, as well. spicy. a complex malt-based (but yeast influenced) caramel element. sweet, bitter and with a strong noble hop flavor. a little chunky for a saison, but i suppose i'll forgive (it's hard for a homebrewer to criticize deviation from style guidelines). certainly dinkable

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