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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

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

1,036 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,036
Reviews: 468
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.28%
Wants: 29
Gots: 60 | 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:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: BeerBeing on 06-03-2007)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,036 | Reviews: 468 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of bobsy
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a rich orange with a large rocky white head. Nice retention and lace. Juicy nose, with marmalade (thanks Eric), all kinds of citrus, some grain, grass and a dash of pepper. Flavour is very fruity for a saison, and with only the mildest hint of funk, making it drink like a classic golden ale. Surprisingly sweet and juicy with perhaps too much residual sugar for the style, and lacking some of the complexities of the nose. The body and carbonation are both medium.

This is a nice beer, but a not a remarkable one. I expected better, but wouldn't mind drinking it again.

I believe this saison came from BBrianBoogie - thanks man.

bobsy, Feb 04, 2010
Photo of ritzkiss
3.7/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

750ml corked and caged courtesy of bobsy - thanks for bringing this Rob!

Pours a golden orange which is a few shades darker than your average saison. Piles of head rush to the top of the glass and take their sweet time up there leaving a rocky meringue head and lots of lacing down the glass.

Nose is superbly fruity - loads of lemon meringue pie, orange marmalade, candied orange rind, a hint of sweetness and a touch of zest - would gladly smell this one for some time.

Taste is a little bit of a let down after the nose. The hefty malt base asserts itself more than I would want in a saison and gives it a sweetness that seems out of place. Still, lots of lemons, a light grassiness, a hint of peppery zing, a light dryness in the finish.

Just too sweet and thick when I look for more light and springy. Certainly not a bad beer and the nose is fantastic - just not in the elite for me.

ritzkiss, Feb 03, 2010
Photo of Moonraker7
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle poured into a Hennepin glass.

A: Slightly cloudy with a fairly substantial head.

S: I don't smell a whole lot, mostly fruit.

T: Taste is very fruity, with little alcohol

M: Pretty heavily carbonated, but easy to drink

D: Would buy again, very nice Saison, but more fruity than most others I've had of this type.

Moonraker7, Jan 24, 2010
Photo of DoppleJock
4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

750 ml bottle poured into a tulip glass.

A: Poured an mild amber with a big, foamy head. A lot cleaner than I expected. Not a lot of murkiness from the yeast. Almost looks filtered.

S: Big fruity scents. Lot of fleshy fruits like apricots. Mild yeast and floral esters. Almost no barnyard funk.

T: Tastes like it smells. Lots of fruit, like apricots, up front. Semi-dry all the way through. Alcohol is hidden well. Nice taste.

M: Smooth and silky. Goes down really easy.

D: Le Merle is "le merde" (in a good way). I could drink this one all day.

DoppleJock, Jan 23, 2010
Photo of taylorhamrick
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had 12/29/09

Pale yellow color, with a huge soft head. The beer is slightly cloudy, but you can see the bubbles rushing through, and the bubbles at top burst, leaving giant caverns in the head. The smell is primarily strawberries, a little overripe, smells of grapeskins, really bready yeasty smells, a bit of herbal, spicy smells - clove, with a hint of lemon and acid. The taste is incredibly grainy, like slightly cooked grains, still a bit raw. The taste is very spicy, peppercorns and lemon, a bit of grassiness. There's a bit of yeasty tartness and bite, with a slight breadiness in the background. Reminds me a bit of a granny smith apple - there's a note of sweetness, but the tartness of the skin kind of dominates. It finishes very dry and fruity. The spiciness becomes a bit too harsh at points, but still nice. The body is quite light, and the carbonation adds to the airiness, and creates quite a bite. Finishes very dry, pushing the limits of dryness and lightness, but I found that as it warmed, it became a quite enjoyable beer.

taylorhamrick, Jan 15, 2010
Photo of rebel1771
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Pours a nice golden wheat color with a fluffy white head that sticks around a while.

S: Sour, citrusy and yeast. Smells awesome.

T: Funky yeasty flavor right up front. Peppery flavors along with hints of apple and pear.

D: This was my first Saison and I have to say I liked it. Can wait to try a few different breweries.

rebel1771, Jan 07, 2010
Photo of theboozecruise
3.83/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750 ml bottle into a Chimay goblet... hazy amber color to this one, nice finger of white head, great retention and lacing. Looks great.

Smells like a fantastic ale... floral, definitely some citrus in there too. Orange smells come out more on the aroma than anything else.

Taste is more of the same... some wild floral flavors, hints of citrus... seems like the dominant flavors have switched from the citrus to the floral characteristics. I like it, for sure, but could use some balance. Just seems to be missing something to make it great.

I'm not a big fan of the bitter taste left in the mouth... but it's still plenty drinkable. A definitely above-average ale, but not the best.

theboozecruise, Jan 02, 2010
Photo of drpimento
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pretty good brew. My standard is Dupont Saison and so while this beer is a nice attempt, it's a little too malty sweet. But, not bad. Poured with an excellent foamy, frothy, off white head and lots of lace. Aroma was very nice as well: malty, yeasty, and a hint of lemon. Body is very good, perhaps a touch malty heavy. Finish is nice with a malty, yeasty, lemony quality. Session beer? perhaps.

drpimento, Dec 28, 2009
Photo of russpowell
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Opens to a resounding pop!

Pours an effervescent apricot with 2 fingers of pearl colored head. Average lacing & head retention

S: Musty apples & pineapples, plus apple blossoms

T: Apples & pears, some lemon & a touch of white pepper up front. A bit of booze warmth, plus mushroom as this warms up, along with a touch of pineapple & some dryness. Finishes fruitty with candi sugar dryness, came close to a 4.5

MF: Medium bodied with a slight stickyness & low carbonation

Drinks fairly easy, a good saison that really opened up as this warmed

russpowell, Dec 18, 2009
Photo of taigor
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On-tap poured into snifter.

A - Poured golden yellow, transparent with slight head that dissipates quickly leaving slight lacing around the glass.

S - Very fruity and earthy with spices.

T - Slightly bitter at first followed by fruits and lots of them.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

D - Very good saison and abv is pretty well hidden which makes you want it more.

taigor, Dec 07, 2009
Photo of stephens101
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a pale yellow orange with dense fluffy cloud-like white head that recedes slowly but never completely fades. A multitude of bubbles flow perpetual from the bottle of the goblet. A bit of yeast and some zesty fruit aromas float patiently to the nose. A slight yeast funkiness may be present, but it might be that I'm looking for it. Anyway, on to the taste. Grainy and yeasty with a spicy layer on the outside and some sourness penetrating toward the end. More lively fruits exist. Goes down dry, with little alcohol noticed. Very drinkable and not too barny (new word I just made up) as some Saisons tend to be. Love this one, and am developing a palate for the Saisons. I never thought that would happen.

stephens101, Dec 04, 2009
Photo of prototypic
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Le Merle pours a straw color. It's full of haze, but backlighting gives it a golden look. It's topped with a very active, fluffy white head. It stretches over two and a half fingers tall takes quite a while to dissipate. Actually, I'm not sure it will completely. Lacing was relatively light trailing down the glass.

The nose is very good. It has a strong yeast presence throughout. That scent alone is impressive and smells delicious. It features some light fruit notes. There's a little citrus orange and lemon, in addition to a touch of sweet apple. It definitely has an earthy vibe to it. It's slightly musky, but that aspect's somewhat subtle. Alcohol is blended very well. The more I smell it, the more I like it. This is damn fine smelling beer. Perhaps the best part...there's nothing vegetal about it.

The flavor is good, but isn't quite as strong as the nose. It's a little sweet and fruity up front. Lemon and orange flavors are noted, but they take a back seat to apple and pear. It's a little spicy, but those flavors aren't strong enough to identify individually. Suffice it to say they complement the fruit elements nicely. Yeast is a prominent flavor throughout and contributes greatly to the overall flavor. I like it. It's a little musky and has some earthy notes that emerge late. Alcohol is not noticeable at all. It's good, but the flavor isn't quite as lively as the nose. That's not to say it isn't damn good beer. It is. I'm impressed.

Le Merle has a body that falls just short of medium. It's smooth, but it would benefit from just a bit more body. Carbonation is active, but doesn't negate its smooth feel. Drinkability is good. This is a tasty Saison that goes down easy. The abv is relatively modest at 7.9%. I'm really close to awarding the next highest score here, but it's just not quite that drinkable. I'll polish off the 750, but don't feel like I need more than that. It's an enjoyable beer though.

North Coast really impressed me with this release. I don't know why I had reservations. I don't think I've been disappointed in any of their beer. This one really is a nice take on a Belgian style. I think if it had a little more body and the flavor were just a tad stronger, it'd be right there with the top Belgian Saisons. It really isn't far off at all. Impressive stuff. Check it out if you have the opportunity.

prototypic, Dec 04, 2009
Photo of unclejimbay
4.85/5  rDev +24.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Le Merle
North Coast Brewing Co.
Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 7.90 %
reviewed 11/25/09, 750ml > snifter


Appearance looks like cloudy witbier in appearnace, light hazy golden color with fluffy 2 finger head. Excellent head retention and lace.

Smell reminds me a of a clove/tart/wheat aroma with some other mild spce notes mixed in.

Tastes as it smells. Creamy. Tart. Pils & Wheat Malts. Spicey. Dry. Crisp. Very appropriatte for a Saison IMHO.

Drinkable is a 5.0. Right on according to style in my opinion. The most enjoyable Saion I have had to date IMHO since I first tried a Hennepin. In one word....
Impressive. Very impressive NCBC. You surpassed my expectations on this one indeed. Thanks to "kstrickler" for an excellent trade and the higlight of our trade to date. I have been wanting to try this one for awhile now. I do have NCBC in my area, but have never seen La Merle.

unclejimbay, Nov 30, 2009
Photo of blackc5
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Well, my web browser just ate my full review, so I will summarize this quickly. Overall an excellent saison, and one I would buy again. I really enjoyed the balance of flavors and the wonderful mouthfeel. Taste is nicely balanced between the earthy hops, the yeasty flavors and the touch of tropical fruit.

It is dry and crisp, yet somewhat creamy, with little sweetness and just a touch of bitter. Overall, I quite enjoyed it and drinkability is very high for an 8%'er.

blackc5, Nov 30, 2009
Photo of dolemite77
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Great beer...

pours honey gold with a creamy meringue head-- the carbonation in this bad boy keeps the head throughout the drink....

smells musty and spicy, like a good farmhouse saison should.

flavor is lemony and tropical, with the subtle spices that a saison brings. Some yeasty funk, but nothing too overpowering. Stale hops give a nice earthy flavor.

Mouthfeel is as you would expect from a saison-- carbonation plus...

Drinkability is high here because it all works together well, and this would be a good higher alcohol summer beer...

dolemite77, Nov 14, 2009
Photo of coldmeat23
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

GLASS: Tulip
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees

This pours a clear, golden, peach color, with light, amber hues. Two-fingers of foamy, eggshell colored head sits on top. Retention is fairly good. Lacing is good, but pretty slick, so it keeps sliding back down.

Big notes of tropical fruits are noticed first. A good level of belgian yeast is here. It has a sort of 'fruit bread' kind of scent. There is also a nice earthiness, presumably from the hops.

This is quite a balanced taste. The yeast and the fruits are well-matched. The earthy notes of the hops provide a nice amount of dryness, which counters the sweetness, almost perfectly. There is no bitterness to speak of, which lends to the enjoyment of this beer.

This has a medium body and a high level of carbonation. There is a bit of roughness around the edges, with a touch of creaminess in the middle. It makes for an interesting mouthfeel.

This is very well-balanced and easy drinking. Along with the 7.9%abv, which is only lightly noticed, this is quite drinkable.

coldmeat23, Nov 12, 2009
Photo of siradmiralnelson
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from 750 ml caged and corked into New Belgium Globe Glass.

A. Opened with a loud Pop. 3 finger head with large bubbles. Nice golden color. Not much lacing left on glass. Decent head retention. Lots of bubbles rising up. Lots of carbonation.

S. Yeast, malt, sourness, spices, a little funk, citrus. Definitely has the Saison smell to it.

T. The funk hits you up front from the yeast. Tropical fruit, malt, sourness, citrus, spices, touch of sweetness at the end. Taste improved as it went down. Spices come out a bit as it warms.

M. Light/medium bodied. Crisp and dry. Lots of carbonation. Selzer like.

D. Very drinkable. Not the best I have had, but still pretty damng good beer. I must be a sucker for Saisons.

siradmiralnelson, Nov 09, 2009
Photo of Brenden
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I reviewed this one, from a great trade with JJFoodie, before the site crash. Fortunately, I still had some left from my 750 to review again.

This one has a champagne pour: a massive white head sits on a cloudy deep amber brew. I thought it might dissipate quickly, as it didn't seem that tight, but I was pleasantly surprised when it tightened up at about two fingers and leaves lots of dense, thick lacing.
A subtle aroma with a little less sweetness than I might expect, but plenty of Saison character includes the typical mix of fresh fruits, citrus, tropical and lighter, with a light spicy note and a gentle hint of hops with a firm yeast.
The taste is mild and gently fruity with the gentle spice underlying with a little herbal something as well. Hops do linger lightly underneath it all.
There's a nice creamy smoothness with a bit of crispness in a medium body with moderate carbonation.

Brenden, Nov 01, 2009
Photo of bump8628
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

750 ml corked and caged bottle.

Pours into a tulip glass golden-orange with 3 fingers of creamy white head. A rush of bubbles rises up from the bottom of the glass showing this beer's considerable carbonation.

The aroma is mild for the style but quite nice with hints of spice and subtle ripe fruits like banana, pineapple, and pear. A little bit of a solvent note comes in at the end.

The taste is again mild for the style but nonetheless pleasant. Plenty of tropical fruit notes can be found along with a subtle citrusy spice reminiscent of coriander. The finish is fairly crisp yet creamy and the alcohol goes almost unnoticed.

A pretty solid saison. Much more delicate than most. It lacks that blast of fruity, spicy, tart yeast character that the really great ones have. Maybe a good jumping off point for those new to the style.

bump8628, Oct 23, 2009
Photo of KrisPaulk77
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Le Merle is my first experience with Saison, and Saison-styled ales. I was not disappointed.
The beer was poured into a Chimay goblet. It poured a light and hazy golden yellow. It was capped with a nice and fat white head. Some lacing was seen.
The aroma was spicy and citric, with some sugar and malt sweetness, some Belgian yeast aromas, and a hint of banana. Very little in the way of hops on the nose.
The taste was a mixture of components. Notes of pepper and apples and citrus mingled with a little funk, malt sweetness, crackers, bready yeast, Belgian spice, and something floral, while the crispness of the mouthfeel, and the dryness of the finish all made for a wonderful beer.
Again, this is my first experience with the saison style. I will be returning to sample more beers of this style. Thanks to North Coast for a beer like Le Merle. Truly enjoyable.

KrisPaulk77, Oct 12, 2009
Photo of jhoban19
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a North Coast goblet. one of 4 beers on the menu at a favorite neighborhood restaurant.

A: golden color with a good amount of fizzy bubble haze. minimal head, though I'm guessing I can chalk that up to the waiter's delicate pour.

S: wild yeast, some citrus, but mostly green apple funk. exactly what I was expecting given the style. hints of tropical fruits, mostly mango and a bit of ripe banana. really a great combination of aromas.

T: good sour apple flavors, spice, hops and funk. citrus/tropical fruits fight for a place on the tongue, though admittedly I'm unable to determine the exact flavor. just the right bitterness at the back end. the 7.9% ABV is masked quite well.

M: refreshing and dry. carbonation, bitterness and sour apple really tingle on the tongue and sides of the mouth.

D: Le Merle really complemented every aspect of the meal I was enjoying (creamy cauliflower soup with truffles, pappardelle pasta with pork marinara and smoked bacon, cheese plate including ricotta with honey, aged white cheddar and herb goat cheese). a very good saison, though I am a novice to the style so my sample for comparison is relatively small. given that small sample, this brew was exactly what I was expecting and it did not disappoint.

jhoban19, Oct 12, 2009
Photo of ShogoKawada
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This was poured from a 750 into a snifter. The coloration on this was very nice, a rosy peach. Aroma and taste are classic saison, if a bit simple. This is a very tasty beer, with enough carbonation to move it over the tongue with relative ease. Light, crisp, sweet, tangy, mildly tart, a bit dry twoards the end. Drinkability was also pretty high.

All in all, this is a very solid saison that is reasonably priced considering its origin and my location. I would buy this again.

ShogoKawada, Sep 18, 2009
Photo of Tone
4.55/5  rDev +17%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy, golden color. 1/3 inch head of a white color. Great retention and decent lacing. Smells of tart malt, yeast, citrus, acid, and sweet spice. Fits the style of a Saison / Farmhouse Ale. Mouth feel is crisp and sharp with a high carbonation level. Tastes of tart malt, yeast, citrus (banana), slight sweet malt, slight hop, and slight alcohol (which becomes stronger as it warms). Overall, this is exactly what I think of when I think Saison - I highly recommend.

Tone, Sep 18, 2009
Photo of TheDoorman
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Light hazy yellow body with a healthy white head. Subtle aroma of sugar, grass and hay. Tastes somewhat bland with a crisp hop bitter finish, characteristic of the style. Lemon. A touch of tang. A bit too sweet. Light feel and nice dry finish. Alcohol noticeable at a fairly high gravity for the style.

Overall a very nice, round, drinkable beer, but nothing special.

TheDoorman, Sep 13, 2009
Photo of cokes
4.28/5  rDev +10%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Lightly smoky deep golden hued with a frothy mess of white suds on top. And then they stick for a good long while.
Pale malt nose of crackers and hay, slathered in applesauce and kiwi, dusted in peppercorns, squirted with pink grapefruit and pineapple juice, and served with a side of melon and old leather.
Crackery, saltine-like and dry right away on the tongue. Hay adds further aridness. It sweetens with papaya, sweetened citrus punch, apples, and rock candy. It turns denser and breadier towards the middle, as yeast grabs a foothold. Mildly funky with pepper and wet concrete. Hops bring a grassy closure, with a flirty alcohol nip.
Medium bodied, imitating something much lighter with its uppity CO2, and airy texture.
This is a competent, delicious Saison, and aside from the scenery, probably the highlight of my stop at FT Bragg/North Coast.

cokes, Sep 09, 2009
Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 1,036 ratings.