1. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  2. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

980 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 980
Reviews: 463
rAvg: 3.9
pDev: 10.26%
Wants: 29
Gots: 57 | FT: 2
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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerBeing on 06-03-2007)
View: Beers (23) |  Events
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Latest | High | Low | Top Raters
Ratings: 980 | Reviews: 463 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of carpezytha


3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip at 50 F.
A: Pours a cloudy light honey/straw color with a fairly hefty head with large bubbles which dissipates without much of a trace.
S: Wool carpet, pencil shavings,
T: Straightforward funk, light citrus, a little pear.
M: Decent body, somewhat effervescent.
D: Good everyday drinker.

Serving type: bottle

09-05-2010 20:11:04 | More by carpezytha
Photo of BeerResearcher


4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

16.9.4 oz dark brown bottle. No freshness date.
It pours a hazy orange-hued amber color with a thin white head along with some flecks and patches of lace.
A nice range of smells from farmy, to musty basement, mixed fruit, nutty barley, floral hops and earth.
The flavors are as wide ranging. Tart fruit, zesty citrus, doughy bread with a dose of white Zinfandel wine all mix and play well together.
A bit of an astringent medicinal twang leaves a bit of a raspy mouthfeel, although not in an entirely bad way.
You can tell some care went into this brew. It's a Saison with a purpose in mind.

Serving type: bottle

08-31-2010 00:46:51 | More by BeerResearcher
Photo of PEIBeerGuy

Prince Edward Island (Canada)

3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, apple juice-yellow. A nice bit of fast-popping white head forms. It lowers quickly, but a mostly full film of it stays the whole drink down.

A bit of green apple, a bit of dough, a creamy smell... perhaps like porridge & milk, and some plantain (more plantain than banana, I think).

The taste is pretty much the same as the smell. Unfortunately, I was expecting something fruitier / hoppier, and ended up getting something that is one of my least favourite flavours of beers.

Very smooth and creamy, but with lots of fizz, too. Leaves a chewy yet dry kind of feel in the mouth. It also leaves a bit of sharp sweetness (it feels/tastes more sweet than bitter) that lingers for a bit that I don't care for... probably one of the main things I don't like about this kind of beer.

Pretty drinkable, but just not my type of thing.

Serving type: bottle

08-30-2010 12:56:43 | More by PEIBeerGuy
Photo of HalfFull


3.9/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I pour the La Merle into a wine glass. Like many a saison I've tried in the past, I wait for the bottle to get it's true nature vs. a draft version. Poured from a corked 750 ml., I struggle to remove the cork yet get a welcome POP when I find success. Golden straw on the pour and nicely clear, with a cap that settles slowly amidst a volcanic boil of carbonation from below. Great retention overall.

Touch of noble hops on the nose and a bit of spice and a nice lemony yeast character. Slight alcohol presence but well within expectations.

Flavor follows with a subtle spice character. Nice but not overwhelming on the senses. Finish is pleasant and of moderate depth. An enjoyable saison that doesn't offer the depth of a great Belgian Saison but is nonetheless a beer worth seeking out. A rather dry saison that I hope to see more of, and better than the tap version.

Serving type: bottle

08-23-2010 08:14:01 | More by HalfFull
Photo of omnigrits


4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a perfect pint glass from the cork-and-cage bottle... probably a mistake because this beer needs no laser-etched encouragement to make bubbles. The head is huge and is taking a long time to subside to a point where I can take a sip, but in the meantime the aroma is oh so Belgian. Slightly musty, slightly citrusy. A clear, golden, honey-coloured beer. Plenty of good-looking lace.

A spicy, citrusy, earthy taste. Very strong and bold flavours. Wow, not for the feint of heart. Medium bodied with plenty of carbonation, as you've probably already gathered. All in all, a very nice saison. Yeah, I'd definitely buy this again, and maybe let it warm up a few more degrees before popping the cork.

Serving type: bottle

08-21-2010 23:34:31 | More by omnigrits
Photo of steelerguy

New York

3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A - Deep gold with a touch of amber, nice frothy head that hangs around for awhile thanks to the high carbonation.

S - Earthy aroma with some spice and old fruit.

T - Much like the aroma, lots of fruit flavors, but with a sour tang as if they have just turned. There is also a good bit of spice, perhaps a touch too much.

M - Dry finish although not as much as most Saisons, a little more body than usual. Carbonation and alcohol keep the finish dry even if it does have more body than your typical Saison.

D - Nice Saison, complex flavors, but a little too much sour for me to keep it nice and refreshing.

Serving type: bottle

08-14-2010 00:02:46 | More by steelerguy
Photo of scottfrie


4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle into sauvignon blanc wine glass.

A: Pours a clear, light orange honey with light pink highlights under a billowing dense white head that took a long time to fade into a thick, bubbly layer. Spare spots of soapy lace were left.
S: Big notes of complex spice and earthy tones with sweet notes of golden fruits. Hints of pear, white pepper, herbal earthy hops and peach juice.
T: Follows the nose in addition to hints of doughy and faintly bubblegummy yeast, lightly tart green apple, clove, lemon, plum, apricot, sweet malt, and a slight, slight funk.
M: Medium body with ample carbonation that froths up in the mouth at first, but as the beer sits it dies down to a comfortable level. Finish is rather sweet. Alcohol is well hidden.
D: Tastes a lot like a tripel. Not a bad beer at all, and one of the better saison's I've had, but this has a lot of fruity and spicy sweetness to it, more akin to a tripel. I was expecting a little more funk, and there is hardly any. Still, highly drinkable and delicious.

Serving type: bottle

08-10-2010 03:37:04 | More by scottfrie
Photo of donniecuffs

New Jersey

3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Sampled this at Savor 2010. Poured a hazy yellow-gold hue, with a finger of white, decent retention, and good lacing. Very citrusy in the nose, with orange, lemon, and apricot, and a little spicy (coriander). The taste was a nice blend of spicy citrus, with nothing really standing out as overpowering. Slightly spicy in the finish, with very little hint of the alcohol content. Very lightly carbonated; smooth and light on the palate. Overall a serviceable and somewhat sessionable golden ale.

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2010 21:56:03 | More by donniecuffs
Photo of detlefchef

North Carolina

4.68/5  rDev +20%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Looks so, so pretty. Brilliant golden color with a delicate head that reforms with each swirl.

Deep, abundant pear and spice aromas and more pear on the palate with a vibrant heat on the finish. Somehow both lingering and clean, which makes this such a regal beer.

God I love this beer. Hands down my favorite foray into Belgian styled beers made by a brewery that doesn't specifically specialize in them.
Pairing: Herb-roasted quail with pear and caramelized onion

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2010 13:33:34 | More by detlefchef
Photo of Long813

Ontario (Canada)

4.38/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Dated: NA
From: Premier Wine & Spirits

A: Hazy golden-orange body with three fingers of white bubbly head. Head dissipates into a ring about 1 cm high and leaves loads of lacing. Very carbonated.

S: Strong presence of spices, yeast, sour fruit and grains.

T: Very pleasant mixture of grains, lemons, hot spices and notable funk.

M: Light bodied and high carbonation. Thin bodied and extreme carbonation makes for a frothy texture. Leaves a funky aftertaste and the alcohol is quite noticeable on the way down.

D: Absolutely outstanding. First of the style for me, but it reminds me of Duvel. It could use some time to mellow out though and I'd like to try it again with the yeast sediment mixed in/

Serving type: bottle

08-03-2010 01:35:12 | More by Long813
Photo of Vonerichs


3.58/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear straw color with a good amount of white frothy head.

Smell is mostly lemon, a little yeast.

Taste is also lemon and a slight funky yeast. This doesn't have the nice peppery hint that I like in saisons. Overall, pretty light in flavor.

This mouthfeel with high carbonation.

No detection of alcohol and light body makes this an easy drinker.

Overall, a good beer but too light in flavor for me.

Serving type: on-tap

08-01-2010 04:00:30 | More by Vonerichs
Photo of edrachman

New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on a cool summer evening in the back yard.

It pours very well with just the right amount of head. The look was a very hazy, almost cloudy golden straw color -- very nice actually.

Very sweet smell with hints of fruit.

Taste was very good, light malty taste in the background with straw upfront. However, my bottle had a fair amount of carbonation. Definately a drinkable beer and could have another right now!

Serving type: bottle

08-01-2010 00:25:07 | More by edrachman
Photo of mithrascruor


3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle poured into a chalice.

Appearance: Pours a hazy dark yellow color. Light foamy white head turns quickly to a film.

Smell: Light aroma of orange and lemon, together with some yeast and wheat.

Taste: Mild flavor of citrus and grain. Yeast comes into the picture eventually, and there's a bit of a barnyard flavor in the finish and aftertaste. A bit too much lemon, but generally pretty refreshing.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied and smooth with lots of carbonation.

Drinkability: No alcohol presence in the taste, but a bit light-bodied and too much lemon.

A mild but pretty tasty saison. Certainly worth giving it a try.

Serving type: bottle

07-22-2010 22:36:34 | More by mithrascruor
Photo of saintwarrick

South Carolina

4.13/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Murky old gold pour has a floral scent mixed with Belgian sugars and some passion fruits. Taste is nice and sharp, champagne mixed with light fruits and sugar. Has nice thick mouthfeel where other lesser saisons feel a little watery. Very well-crafted brew that finished dry with a touch of watermelon. Definitely a must-try for any saison lover. one of the better domestic saisons.

Serving type: bottle

07-20-2010 07:08:46 | More by saintwarrick
Photo of andyfrancis


3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

bubbles on top of bubbles with more bubbles. Almost violently carbonated, with the head growing from the bottom as fast as it reduces on the top. Cloudy yellow pour, but it could be some chill haze, almost white head. Looks pretty great in a wine glass

Just getting some sourish yeast on the nose. This thick head may be acting as a bit of an aroma barrier. Aroma growing in complexity as it warms.

Bitter up front, quickly overwhelmed by cascades of spice and fruit esters. Yummy.

Crisp, fairly clean finish, faint lingering hints of the spice and fruit.

Could and will drink all 750ml easily, and will be feeling just fine afterwards. Alcohol is very well hidden.

Overall...pretty, pretty good. On par with any of the other american attempts at the belgian farmhouse style.

Serving type: bottle

07-14-2010 04:56:15 | More by andyfrancis
Photo of sweemzander


3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750mL corked and caged bottle poured into a tulip. No bottled date.

(A)- Pours a clear goldenrod to pale yellow/orange color that produced a solid fluffy white head with good retention behind it.

(S)- A big dry hay and tart lemon aroma. Hints of clay and a cider-like finish.

(T)- Same as the smell. A dry hay/straw with a light tart lemon flavor. Finishes lightly sweet with bits of earth.

(M)- A huge bubbly carbonation level that dances all over your mouth with each sip. Crisp, tart, and dry.

(D)- A good Saison. Has a crisp and refreshing feel to it with some good flavors typical of the style. Not the best I have had, but it was still enjoyable and easy to consume except for the ridiculously high carbonation level.

Serving type: bottle

07-07-2010 22:54:34 | More by sweemzander
Photo of OlRasputin989


4.43/5  rDev +13.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into Duvel tulip...

A: pours almost perfect into the tulip with the beer meeting the head right in the middle of the lettering. the beer itself is a rich and hazy straw golden color with a large head that fades slowly leaving soapy, sudsy lacing.

S: a very light aroma, though well balanced. i pick up yeasty notes of mango and pineapple along with lemon and pepper, most likely a characteristic of the hops used, with a noticeable malt background of butterscotch and honey.

T: very sweet and breadlike upfront. the tropical fruits become very noticeable again and blend well with the spicy, grassy, and bittering hops. finishes fruity with lots of white pepper and sourdough. a very complex and well balanced blend

M: medium full body that is frothy. becomes dry and astringent but still manages a clean finish. just a bit of alcoholic warmth adds more character to the drink.

Overall, another wonderful beer from North Coast. everything is well balanced and easy drinking, without sacrificing complexity. I will definitely buy this again.

Serving type: bottle

07-01-2010 23:50:23 | More by OlRasputin989
Photo of OskarL


4.05/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden/orange color with a fluffy two finger head with decent retention that leaves some lacing.

Smells a lot of orange, lemon, malt, yeast and some spices.

Tastes of malt, yeast, spices, tropcial fruit, tart apple finishes with orangel zest.

Mouth feel is medium body with good carbonation, dry finish

Serving type: bottle

06-24-2010 00:19:17 | More by OskarL
Photo of MenloBeer


3.63/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass.

A: Pours a hazy, golden green. Nice head with excellent carbonation throughout. Head simmers down but sticks around for the whole glass. Not a lot of lacing, though.

S: Lemon, spices, a touch of cloves. Grass is present, with a hint of vanilla. Some hops, but not overly so.

T: Spice and citrus notes, with a clean, dry finish. Touch of Brettanomyces is evident, and some light hop accents. Crisp.

M: A soft touch on the mouth, not overly oily. Carbonation makes the beer "dance" a bit.

D: Yes (but only in the summer)! This beer is nice, bright and crisp (see supra), a great summer sud. I don't think I'd like it if the weather were below 70 degrees, as it's too sharp a little sharp on the taste buds.

Serving type: bottle

06-22-2010 01:16:31 | More by MenloBeer
Photo of ASapozh


4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought the pint at BevMo. Has a yellow golden hue to it, cloudy and pale in color. Smell has notes of fruit and yeast, similar aroma to a common Belgian ale. Real nice, refreshing, drinkable with warm weather. Tastes a bit sweet with hints of Belgian yeast. A good beer from a great Brewing company.

Serving type: bottle

06-17-2010 20:13:07 | More by ASapozh
Photo of avalon07

South Carolina

4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had an orange color and a cloudy consistency. There was a quarter inch of foamy, fairly long-lasting head. Good lacing.

S: Nice, fruity smell, with traces of malt and yeast.

T: Tasted of malt, Belgian yeast, tropical fruits, and some spices. A nicely vibrant flavor. ABV% is barely noticable.

M: A highly carbonated beer with a super smooth finish. Light-bodied.

D: A highly drinkable saison.

Serving type: bottle

06-11-2010 13:49:31 | More by avalon07
Photo of puboflyons

New Hampshire

3.98/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled at the Brattleboro, Vermont Brewers Festival on May 22, 2010. The pour is a hazy, cloudy yellow with about three inches of foamy head that takes a few minutes to settle down. Yeast and wheat are evident in the aroma so it smells like it should. The taste is also full of wheat and yeast notes. Not all that bad but some US-brewed Belgian style ales are better.

Serving type: on-tap

05-22-2010 23:32:11 | More by puboflyons
Photo of chaz01


3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasting portion at a North Coast beer tasting event at a local grocery store. Poured into a champagne flute glass. The beer rep from North Coast indicated that the philosophy of the brewer was to make beers that closely resemble the style guidelines for that type of style (i.e., to make the perfect beer for that style), and that Le Merle was a fine example of that philosophy for the Saison type.

A: Cloudy, golden to light orange in color with a thick foamy head

S: Orange and fruity aroma with some tropical fruit aromas present

T: Somewhat yeasty with a fruity pineapple flavor. Bitter finish, tasting somewhat of orange peel

M: Medium bodied with OK carbonation levels.

D: Light, refreshing and a little bittersweet. A bit more hops that what I normally consider in a saison, but I think that adheres more to the original style. Would make a nice pairing with a fruit cocktail or some type of fruit salad.

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2010 05:14:17 | More by chaz01
Photo of trevorjn06


3.35/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a Unibroue tulip glass.
Pours with a lovely head, but this soon fades to a faint ring of foam around the glass.
The aroma is very mild malt, a bit metallic with a hint of fruit, in fact it smells a bit like a dry white wine.
As soon as it touches my lips I can tell it is quite carbonated. It is prickly on the tongue with a very mild malt flavor. Quite dry and the mild fruitiness comes through in the taste as well, perhaps peaches? It's not sweet at all, just fruity. There is a very subtle hop character that comes through a bit as the beer warms. On the finish there is the Saison tart/sourness but it's not quite as dominant as some examples. Overall this beer is a little thin feeling, there is not much substance to it.

It would be good chilled on a warm summer day but overall it just doesn't do it for me. Not that there are any bad flavors present, the ones that are there just don't come together in a very interesting or exciting way

Serving type: bottle

05-22-2010 00:35:59 | More by trevorjn06
Photo of biegaman

Ontario (Canada)

4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Flinty clarity does not ensure a rugged looking beer. On the contrary, this sparkles a bright and sunny golden even despite the pressing haze. Although its bubbles climb into the high range of decibel levels, for all the noise these craftsmen make little is accomplished; any head that forms collapses like a house built of straw. No foam also means no lace.

Generous doses of pepper and lemon are grounded in farmhouse hay; if summer has a smell this is it. The bouquet is musty and zestful, exactly as a saison should be, with hints of tropical fruits. Yup, banana and papaya and traces of mango and guava. This reminds me more of a beach resort I visited in Cuba then it does the breweries I saw in Wallonia.

That taste of guava continues on and adds great depth to the otherwise typical notes of hay, cereal grains and straw. There is some subtle spices, white pepper and grains of paradise, but, oddly enough, their flavours are perceived without much zest or pungency (however, as the beer warms, they seem to as well).

If the label is to be believed, this beer (nearly 8%) would seem too strong to be quenching. But it's not! The dry, toasty malts, the tinkling savor of the yeast, the effervescent brush of the bubbles and the light herbal character of the hops all make this a well manicured and impeccably lush ale, a perfect candidate for a sunny afternoon snack.

As a rule, the best saisons come from Belgium. Naturally, there are exceptions to every rule. Still, this is suspiciously good - if it were a drawing I'd swear that the Americans traced it! Exception or not, I don't recall the last time I had a saison (Belgian or otherwise) that I enjoyed quite as much as this. This is "American Art" indeed, North Coast.

Serving type: bottle

05-18-2010 16:23:37 | More by biegaman
Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 980 ratings.