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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: 1,285
Photo of highTempo
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving: 12 oz bottle poured into a goblet.

The color is a warm amber, with an orange undertone and a bit of cloudiness/haziness. I've seen others describe this as 'straw' but this glass is definitely darker and more red than that. The red tones and richness of the color is unusual for a saison and really nice.

It pours with a foamy, clear white head but it dissipates quickly. I would like a little bit more retention in the head but all that's left is a little lacing after less than a minute. Still, the color is great.

The smell is definitely like a cider. Other folks that have said that up here are spot on. It's a bit sharp and crisp - hits the back of the nose. There's some citrus and just a little bit of malt and yeast. The carbonation already comes through in the nose.

The flavor really picks up for me. It's definitely still fruity. There's some herbal quality, maybe grassy, with just a bit of bitterness at the end. The finish is really rapid which matches the 'sparkling' quality of this beer. There's not much alcohol presence and what is there hits and evaporates quickly. It's only a little bit sweet to me. The citrus quality counters that nicely and the finish is dry.

Overall the carbonation is what I would call 'sharp' and 'small'. The body is thin and sparkling. it's light for a saison. This is a good beer for people who like 'crisp' beers.

I would recommend this for people who like hard ciders, traditional Hefes, or who want a drinkable beer that has a remarkably high alcohol content relative to the body and 'drinkability'. It's not my favorite saison ever but it's very good and I'd definitely grab a bottle if I saw it available again.

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Photo of JCarey
2.9/5  rDev -25.8%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Corked 750 with a cool label. Was only 7.49 so I picked it up.

Pale orange with pretty minimal effervescence for a Saison. Half finger of head recedes quickly but leaves behind a small cap and some thin lacing.

Aroma is pretty barren Saison. I'm getting a lot of Apple Cider. No noticeable hop or malt character, and pretty mild for style. Not a whole lot of yeast personality in this beer. Reminds me more of a wine than a Saison.

Again, starts with apple cider. No hop flavors and very minimal bitterness. Ends slightly malty. With a bit of toast and bread. Not much of the yeast character I've come to love about the style presents itself. I get a bit on the very back of the swallow, but I wish that was more pronounced to the front and throughout.

Dry, but not the crisp dryness I should be getting. A bit sweet and keeps the mouthfeel from really being what it should.

I wish I liked this beer, but I'll pass on it the next time I see this in the store. I want to finish by saying that I am in NJ and this is a West Coast brewery. I think this beer suffered from being corked, as it was pretty swollen and tough to get out.

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Photo of Badger6
3.94/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bomber into a tulip.

A: Pale coppery yellow body, with a nice bubbly head that recedes to a retained layer of head on the surface of the beer. Lots of lacing.

S: Bready and yeasty, Peppery spice notes and tree fruits.

T: Yeasty phenols with pepper and citrus. Bready and sweet. A little bit of funk in the finish, with some booziness. Very nice to drink.

M: Light with a medium carbonation, mild bitterness.

O: Huge fan of the North Coast brewery, and finding this was a real treat. Did not disappoint. Very good quality, and a nice rendering of the saison style. Only complaint would be the amount of the sweetness, just a little too much.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.02/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle was poured into a tulip.

Appearance: A one finger head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pale yellow with great clarity and vision of bubbles coming up through the glass. Spotty lacing on the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Bready, vanilla, yeasty esters, spices, pepper, floral, and apple.

Taste: Pepper, citrus, bitterness, bready, vanilla, apple, yeasty, and a little booze. Nice stuff

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, a little dry, medium to high carbonation, a little chewy, and mild bitterness in the rear.

Overall: The warm weather is headed to Boston. So happy to be enjoying this beer as the weather gets warmer. Many more if these as the weather gets better.

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Photo of CowsandBeer
4.06/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with cool holographic label poured into a Tallgrass Brewing Co tulip.

Appearance: Pours a clear golden body with three big fingers of thick white head. Persistent head and nice lacing.

Aroma: Peppery yeast, grassy hops, damp cellar, lemon tartness, orange sweetness. The pepper notes meld really well with the tartness and hops. I could smell this forever.

Taste: Upfront is all white pepper, hay and spicy yeast. Middle is taken by the citrus fruits and the grassy hops. Finishes with a nice biscuit malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation, slightly drying, warming.

Overall: A refreshing, easy drinking saison which I can see myself drinking in the summer. Peppery, grassy, and nicely tart. Worth a try at least once.

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Photo of brureview
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer was a clear golden color with a 1/2 finger head poured into a tulip.

Carbonation bubbles from the bottom of the glass.

The aroma was excellent: light clove and spice. Most Saisons have spice and/or clove; this aroma delicately worked well into the balance of the beer. The aroma transitions well into the taste.

Mouth feel: carbonated- not overdone as in many other Saisons.

Taste : excellent. Fruity, spice, clove. Sometimes the taste in a Saison is not fruity enough or is dwarfed by the spice. In this beer, there is delicacy and nice balance of fruit and spice in the taste.

Finish- spicy- works well in the aroma/taste character of the beer.

Overall: one of the better Saisons I have tasted in a while. Well balanced, fruity, spicy, not too carbonated, and well balanced.

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Photo of mactrail
3.96/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Fruity and moderately sweet with the usual Belgian drying finish. Hazy golden color with just beautiful piles of foam. Not a gusher, but the lacing and clouds of bubbles after each sip are as lovely as I've seen.

Aroma is spicy with the fermenting pineapple smell. Flavor is rich with that funky tang that counteracts the malty sweetness. Pear fruitiness and apple skin tannins. A bold amount of clove-like spiciness emerges after some sipping, though that maybe that's the sediment talking.

This is in many ways a model Saison. It's on the strong side, but with enough flavor to drink well. It also doesn't have that overdose of yeasty craziness that I find too often in clumsier examples. Also this is the best I've had from a brewery that does not do much for me otherwise. From the 12 oz bottle purchased at Bine & Vine in San Diego.

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Photo of superspak
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 1/17/2014. Pours slightly cloudy golden amber color with a 1-2 finger dense white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of huge lemon zest, peach, apricot, pear, apple, orange peel, straw, grass, pepper, clove, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great complexity of fruity/spicy yeast ester and moderate malt presence; and great strength. Taste of big lemon zest, peach, apricot, apple, pear, orange peel, clove, pepper, straw, grass, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of lemon zest, peach, apricot, apple, pear, orange peel, clove, pepper, straw, grass, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity of fruity/spicy yeast ester flavors with moderate malt sweetness; with an awesome malt/yeast flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with smooth, crisp, and slightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic saison! All around awesome complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast ester and malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.41/5  rDev +12.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark translucent honey golden with a creamy, foamy light tan head.

S: Apple. red berries, citrus, earthy poppy and Belgian yeast in the nose.

T: Sweet citrus, honey, mango and tropical fruit flavors. Delicious!

M: Perfect amount of carbonation, medium-light bodied and refreshing.

O: The touch of honey flavor really pulls everything together and makes this one of my favorite saisons.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Nice, towering white head with ok retention and low lace. Massive amounts of carbonation in the class. Straw yellow body.

S - Lemongrass, fresh celery, peaches, earthy hay. Nice fruit sweetness.

T - Bright lemon and parsley right up front into an orange zest, yeast, and dry grass center. Delicious peach chutney backend finishes dry.

M - Medium frame with great carbonation.

O - A really nice saison on the fruity side of the style.

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Photo of HoppyBastard
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 1 pint 9.4 ounce corked bottle into a Shaker pint glass.

APPEARANCE: A beautiful hazy golden color, highly carbonated with a three finger head even after a careful pour, excellent retention with significant lacing.

SMELL: Somewhat assertive, pears, white grapes, apples, some farmhouse funk, a little spice.

TASTE: The taste follows the nose, initially sweet malt almost like a pilsner, pears, white grapes, apples, not as funky as some farmhouse ales but it's there, the alcohol 7.9% is perceptible but fairly well hidden, finishes dry, almost effervescent with all the carbonation, reminds me of Champagne.

PALATE: Highly carbonated and finishes dry, very drinkable.

OVERALL: I will buy this again. Very good and reasonably priced. I would say this beer is not unlike Duvel, costs less and is made in America.

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 12/13/2013 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a bright gold color, with a thin white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains caramelized malts, Belgian yeast, some spices and some fruit.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty but not too heavy malt character and Belgian yeast. Then some mild sweetness comes in from flavors of caramel and a little bit of spice. Then some tart apple flavor follows with a mild but complementary hops presence creating some balance. The after-taste is slightly tart and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

O: A little tasty, goes down easily, good kick, not too filling, decent representation of style, it’s a solid beer but there are better choices within the style.

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Photo of eric5bellies
3.74/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.75

Drank from my Mane Liquor Tulip

A - Pours a cloudy copper colour with a small with head that retains well and laces.

S - Yeast and lemon citrus

T - Up front some nice yeast flavours followed by lemon citrus. The finish is a little sweet and sticky

M - Medium body and low carbonation just the way it should be.

O - I really liked this beer, although it is let down by the residual sweetness. Recommended

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Photo of GratefulBeerGuy
4.8/5  rDev +22.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

12.7 oz bottle with cork

A pale gold and super hazy, rushing and flowing look, a gyser of bubbles creates a 2" tower of foam, clumpy, fizzy and well retained.

A zingy, zesty, sour earthy yeast upfront, tangy and citric with lemmon but hearty with a touch of honey and wheat. Inviting and very complex smell!

Oh, Damn. That is one easy sip , super complex feel and flavor with huge sour fruits, dry earthiness with wheat. Zippy, light and smooth, did i mention how complex it is?!? Seems to evaporate with a dry bite right before the finish. Clean, clean, like sparkling water, the yeast is just delightful, this one gives just about any Belgian/French saison a run for it's money in all aspects. I think I'm in love.

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Photo of h0ppster
3.23/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Poured on tap

A - Very clear, bonde in color. Head is 2-3 fingers and clears up into an almost nonexistent lacy ring around the glass.

S - Strong fruit, light pepper, barn & funk. Alcohol comes through slightly but expected at 7.9%

T - very close to the smell - strong sweet fruit notes up front. Taste ends with a lingering sweetness and light peppery barnyard funk.

M - mouth feel is good overall.

Overall a tasty saison. A bit sweet, slightly out of style, but worth a try.

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Photo of magictacosinus
3.2/5  rDev -18.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3

Consumed on tap at Gather many eons ago. Poured into an enormous wine glass that somehow fit about 16-20oz of beer. Been wanting to try this for a while, but I feel that North Coast's Belgian-style offerings have never really impressed me too much overall.

Pours a slightly cloudy golden color with amber hues - with the enormous 3 fingers worth of frothy white head, this could easily be mistaken for a strong Belgian blonde ale or something similar. There's a little bit of build and thickness present, but it's a pretty unassuming beer overall, even within the ever-changing style at hand. Head retention is pretty low, and carbonation seems to die down rather rapidly as time goes on, leaves not much of anything unless aggressively swirled. Looks like many, many other Belgian-style beers I've seen before.

The aroma is a combination of slightly funky fruity esters from the yeast, as well as sweetness and mild bitterness from the malts and hops. Notes of banana, lemon peel, and pears immediately come in, followed by some light floral aromas (similar to violets) as well as pine, grass, and orange blossom. Some vanilla, as well sweetened toffee and caramel notes. Maybe sugar cane. I'm definitely looking into this more than I should, as far as saisons go, this is very, very toned down.

The flavor is near identical to the aroma, except for the fact that there's an ever more present note of banana no doubt from the yeast. I don't mind banana forward beers so much, but this definitely feels a bit one-note in the long run. Green apple, pear, and lemon peel make themselves noticeable. The sugar cane and vanilla notes are stronger here, and sort of overpower the delicate floral notes and perhaps barnyard or grassy flavors that this was attempting to go for. It's very mild, and the alcohol is stupidly hidden, which caught up to me in no time during consumption. Thick and creamy, and easy drinking, as any saison should be. Very mild, however.

If I'm going to go for a domestically made, affordable saison, I think I'd stick with Ommegang's Hennepin over this any day of the week. Simply put, this lacks the funky, rustic character than would classify anything as a saison in order to distinguish it from a strong Belgian blonde ale, which this far more resembles. Not that it's a bad thing - it's still a well made beer - it's just very mild and way too high in alcohol for it to merit practical consumption. North Coast definitely has better Belgian style offerings - this one at least could be a good introduction to someone starting to get into these types of beers.

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Photo of TownDunkel
3.99/5  rDev +2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4

this is my true for saison and it is delicious beer I must say anyways there's no more of you your parents is looks like a normal amber but without clear white head that dissipates quickly the smell reminds me of fruits maybe even a slight acidic taste and then finally the taste delicious! Farmhouse funk in the beginning which Melos to tropical and normal fruits the mouth feels were really stands out here at last with you for several minutes why you can still enjoy the flavors overall I would say this is one of the best beers I've had in awhile maybe not a daily drinker though due to the complexity

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Photo of jlindros
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

I'm a bit saison fan, and also a North Coast fan, but somehow this never showed up on my queue until I went to a North Coast tasting at Julios and realized how good it was.

Big pop when the cork comes out, and pours a large but fizzy and airy looking almost 2 finger head that fades semi quickly thanks to all the large air pockets and bubbles, but leaves some spotty lacing, mostly clear golden pilsner color.

Nose brings plenty of farmhouse funk, which is why I liked this one, lots of Belgian yeast phenols with even a hint of phenolic booze, some fruity bubblegum esters even, hints of lemon rind and citrus, and a little saison spices, as well as plenty of grainy malts, some wheat, little malty sweetness and bit toasty even, nice aromatics with a bit of straw and wet hay like must.

Taste starts with the sweet malts actually, a little candy like sweet syrupy candi sugar even, bringing a hint of booze as well, booze tingle. Then into the saison characters, a nice farmhouse funk but not as much as I remember from the tasting, into light saison spices like coriander and bit of clove, orange peel, lots of citrus zest with a little lemon too, lemongrass, etc. Nice wheat characters, toasty malt flavors with some straw and a bit of musty wet hay. Fair amount of phenols from the yeast, as well as mild fruity esters and bubblegum, little peppery too. The bitter citrus rind and candy gets a little too much. Finish is still a bit sweet and sticky but dries a bit, more lingering orange peel and bitter zest, light spices, little wheat and grainy malt lingering.

Mouth is med bod, nice effervescent carb.

Overall mixed on this one, I don't remember it being nearly as sweet as this and also more funky, a lot more farmhouse on the samples we had, probably another batch, but this was still pretty decent but hard to drink the whole 750ml by myself.

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Photo of artdob
4.12/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

This yellow golden pour is topped with a head reminiscent of the suds left from receding waves on the California coast. The nose is robust. Like stepping into a bakery. Yeasty esters in abundance. Light fruitiness of apricot. Scones anyone?

The palate is greeted with strong citrus tones that were mostly hidden on the nose. Warm roasted grapefruit.

Mouthfeel has a zinginess with much warmth coming from this beer. This is to be savored, and enjoyed slowly.

Beautifully presented in a corked bottle with the champagne like wire trap over the top. A nice offering from the brewmasters at North Coast.

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Photo of Drewfer
4.16/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from the 750mL bottle into a tulip glass

Appearance: Golden, close to the color of apple juice, with a lemony white head.

Smell: Hint of citrus with a bit of spice to it, very pleasant

Taste: Begins tart, but finishes with a nice but brief sweetness. Citrus very present throughout.

Overal: A beer I keep going back to, especially in the summer months. It has complex flavor that can repeatedly be enjoyed. Highly recommended for a refreshing beer before or during dinner.

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Photo of JMScowcroft
3.74/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

North Coast Brewing Co. - Le Merle, poured into a Lawson's tulip.

Look - Pours a hazy golden orange with a thin bubbly head that runs away quickly and leaves brief bubbly sliding lacing.

Smell - Aroma is fruity white grapes, very wine-like with a slight hint of brett.

Taste - Carbonated champagne-like bite with a sugary sweet after affect of Belgian sour yeast. Definite sweet caramel sugar.

Mouthfeel - Sticky and sweet, medium to heavy bodied. Not boozy and good drinkability.

Overall - Not bad, but a bit bland overall. More like a just OK Belgian Tripel and along those lines it is a little one-dimensional. It's not terrible, but it's barely above average.

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Photo of SanDNigel
3.46/5  rDev -11.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

375ml into chubby tulip
A- Hazy golden yellow. Big-bubble white head that runs away as fast as it can (you can hear it..)
S- Raunchy bread dough is the first thing I can think of. I guess a touch of anise. Pretty funky
T- Like it smells. That super caramelly heavy tripel kinda thing. Its good but doesn't make me wanna jump up n down
M- The big bubbles help whisk away the heaviness of the beer body. Bubbles feel huge
I don't know if I would buy this beer again, but I am enjoying what I have in front of me.

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Photo of Brew_42
3.34/5  rDev -14.6%
look: 2.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

They were handing out samples of this and I was pleasantly surprised. Took home a bottle myself..

Pours hazy yellow

Smells citrusy

Taste citrusy up front with a hint of spices on the end. The after taste is pleasant and fruity

Palate- Very crisp and refreshing

OVerall- I thought it was a great saison. Definitely worth trying.

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Photo of jamiecoppin
3.62/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Poured from 375 bottle into a New Belgium Tulip

Appearance: hazy dark yellow. Initially a very frothy, impressive head that dissipates rather quickly.

Smell: not overly aromatic. Slightly grassy. Lemons.

Taste: Dry. Wow. That yeast really kicked up some phenols. Slightly bitter but mostly spicy. Kind of peppery. Lemons up front with a slight tropical fruit aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: This beer would be great with food. The palate scrubbing capability of this beer is very high. Holding this beer in your mouth is equivalent to having pop rocks in your mouth.

Overall: Not a bad Saison. I will visit this again in the future.

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Photo of Hunter
4.48/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Golden ale, billowy head, decent lacing.

Smell: Fresh notes of wheat, light malt, grassy tones.

Taste: Light, bubbly, almost champagne-like notes of crisp fruit. Very little by way of alcohol, but it makes for a subtle presence in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light, bracing.

Overall: This is a lovely beer, worth looking into.

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