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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

1,115 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,115
Reviews: 473
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.28%
Wants: 31
Gots: 77 | FT: 4
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)
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,115 | Reviews: 473 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of sweemzander
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

Photo of OlRasputin989
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
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.

Photo of OskarL
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
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

Photo of MenloBeer
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
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.

Photo of ASapozh
4/5  rDev +2.8%
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.

Photo of avalon07
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
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.

Photo of puboflyons
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
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.

Photo of chaz01
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
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.

Photo of trevorjn06
3.35/5  rDev -13.9%
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

Photo of biegaman
4.25/5  rDev +9.3%
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.

Photo of jdhilt
3.9/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a five+ finger thick, off-white head that takes forever to fade, leaving some lace. Hazy amber color. Good carbonation and medium bodied. Light peach nose. Flavor is sweet peach and yeast. Imagine that a sweet saison! $9.20 for a 750ml caged & corked bottle from Colonial Spirits Acton, Ma.

Photo of ludachris
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This took almost as long to pour as it did to get the cork out of this thing. The colour is a creamy peachy orange with three fingers of fluffy, meringue head that displays excellent retention and leaves spots of chunky lace behind.

The nose is quite vinous with notes of sour green grapes being quite prominent amongst the Belgian yeast, over-ripened pears, chewy biscuit, and light tropical fruits it stands with.

Sweet and delicate tropical fruits move to the middle of the palate as the tart green grapes move to the back, giving a slight puckering effect, all of which occur over a bready/Belgian yeast backbone. As the beer warms, the tart grapes and notes of sour apple make up and become stronger in the finish.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied, very creamy, and sporting an excellent balance. The alcohol is nowhere to be found, making each pleasurable gulp go down easy.

This marks my first Saison and it has left me more than satisfied. Rich, flavourful, and very easy to drink, I think this one was definitely worth its higher price tag. I can't wait to try their Old Rasputin which I've got lined up next.

Photo of Gobzilla
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A: poured a yellowish orange with a bubbly three finger head that really doesn't die out.

S: the belgian yeast really comes out on the nose with a hint of tropical fruit aroma along side the sweet smell of the yeast.

T: Has lots of candy sweetness from the yeast that does not hide the booze at all. The alcohol really shines on the taste despite being only a 7.9 abv beer.

M: It's light to meduim body with fairly good carbonation.

D: the beer is a decent offering from north coast that really holds belgian characteristics on the taste. Good beer for a hot summer day.

Photo of dandigsbeer
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I believe that learning new beers is an evolution. Most of us probably started with watered down American Lagers and then progress. For me it was first nice flavorful ales. Then stronger hoppy IPAs. And now it is the Belgium Saison style.

This beer from North Coast has a good flavor, but not as much as some Saisons I have had. It when really well with the chicken dish I had at the Yard House in Glenview, Illinois outside Chicago. The appearance of these beers are perfect for spring and summer. Heavy in alcohol so keep that in mind as you drink these.

Flavor is a great cross of fruity notes and hops. Making it quite different from ales and lagers. For me, I am looking for a nice chilled lemony flavor that is going to make me feel like spring.

Photo of beertunes
3.93/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into tulip. This is one of the prettiest beers I've seen lately. A light orange (bordering on deep yellow), with almost 2 inches of fluffy, white head that had good retention but no lacing.

A nice yeasty aroma greets the nose, with some fruit tones and spiceyness added in. The flavors are in solid agreement with the aromas, spicy, yeasty, fruity and a sharp, dry finish are the highlights.

The body is good, full, well-rounded and supple without being heavy. Drinkability is very good, I could easily have several of these beauties.

Overall, another fine beer from a brewery who, perhaps, doesn't get all the love they deserve. You should try this ASAP.

Photo of ocelot2500
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden orange color with a frothy white head that leaves plenty of lacing.

Smells of apple, lemon, and yeast spice.

Tastes of the fruitiness with a spicy finish. Lemon notes dominate with the tartness backing it up. Notes of apple and pear also make there presence known. Yeast gives off the clove spice. Grassy notes are also present.

Mouthfeel is medium with a light, airy amount of carbonation.

Photo of badboyrsl84
3.15/5  rDev -19%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I searched long and hard for this one and I'm not sure it was worth all the trouble.

The pour was full of head. I was blown away and figured this was gonna be over carbonated and I was right. It was a gold color with an almost see through appearance.

the smell is very fruity with some citrus.

The taste was very very carbonated and has some citrus as well as all the other tastes that are found Belgians. Nothing special here. Maybe its a bad brew.

I will finish with, its very carbonated and will probably be a forgettable brew to me.

Photo of kzoobrew
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

After a bit of an unexpected break from BA I figured there would be nothing better to get back into the swing of things than a new review. With the beautiful blue sky and the sun shining it just feels like a good day for a saison.

Poured Le Merle into my Duvel snifter. Even with a moderate pour a rather impressive head is produced. Creamy white mousse head stands 3 fingers tall and is in no hurry to leave. The head finally recedes leaving a modest cap set atop which does manage to linger for the duration of the glass. The lacing left behind is equally as impressive as the retention. The body is a hazy apricot color with plenty of visible carbonation. While not the best looking Saison I have had, it is damn close.

The aroma is earthy and dominated by a dry peppery characteristic. Slightly rustic and musty but falls short of anything I would call funk. The secondary aromas are much brighter than those up front. Apple and citric smells pair with a fresher grassy and citric earthy presence. Malt is sweet and a bit doughy which works well they typical belgian yeast notes. Pleasant aroma but not a show stopper.

The first thing I notice about the flavor is the overall sweetness. The malt provide a rather biscuity sweetness which the citrus flavor only seems to accentuate. While I am not opposed to a sweeter Saison, this is a tad too sweet for my preference. Spice and rustic flavors come into play soon after providing a pleasant attempt at balancing the taste. Cardamom, cloves and a bit of white pepper. Musty flavor along side of an astringent grassy hop profile round things out. Flavor is pleasant overall and certainly fits the style though lacks when it comes to personal preference.

Mouthfeel falls just short of crisp as the finish is just short of dry. The visible carbonation noted previously does not translate into the mouthfeel. The feel is smooth and enjoyable. The lingering sweetness prevents the finish from being dry, a quality I tend to prefer in the style. Once again the characteristics and appropriate for the style just not what I look for in the style.

While not being the beer I would ideally drink when I reach for a Saison, Le Merle drinks quite well. Very enjoyable and extremely easy to drink. This is one I would recommend as it is worth a look, it just would not be the first one I reach for.

Photo of mothman
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into New Belgium globe glass.

Pours 2.5 fingers of off white head. Great retention with lots of lace. Color is a hazed bright orange sunset.

Aroma: Some barnyard funk, lemon zest, orange peel, pepper, and yeast. A decent saison aroma.

Taste: Tons of spices and fruit notes. Pears, orange peel, lemons, apples, coriander, yeast and grassy hops.

Mouthfeel: Crisp, slightly smooth, and refreshing. Medium bodied with a higher amount of carbonation. Ends dry.

Overall, a solid saison and represents the style well. Fairly drinkable and I really like this one. I let this one sit in the cellar for almost a year and it turned out nicely.

Photo of corby112
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On draft at the 4th Ave. Pub in Brooklyn.

Pours a very hazy dark golden yellowish orange colt with golden dark ripe banana hues when heldto a light source and a half finger frothy white head that slept settles into a lasting ring. Minimal spots of small lacing left behind.

Slightly tart earthy aroma which is also quite floral with hints of peppery spice and crisp light fruit, mostly apple and pear. There is also a good amount of bready yeast, banana and clove. Very complex aroma. Hopefully the taste lives up to t.

Fuller bodied than expected with some soft carbonation up front the fades into a slightly tart earthy flavor mid palate. There is a nice amount of zesty peppey spice with maybe some clove? I'm also picking up some flora(petal) notes that blend very well with the crisp light fruit notes. Hints of banana, apple, pear and apricot. Sweet, spicy slightly dry and somewhat tart with a clean finish. The alcohol flavor is present but overall the high ABV is excellently masked, making this beer dangerously drinkable. I had to stop myself from pounding the glass. Complex and very tasty. Recommended!

Photo of theopholis
3.13/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

Appearance- Fairly clear, very sparkly honey color. Decent head, but absolutely no head retention. Hardly any effervescence one it settles down.

Smell- Starts out with a nice, complex malt sweetness but then settles down to a....okay...it's still a fairly complex sweetness with some tartness in there. Quite inviting.

Taste- Not bad, not great. Well blended malt sweetens mixed with a hint of tartness. Just the barest hint of earthiness. Not nearly as complex as I would expect, and the over-carbonation gives it a bit of a salty taste.

Mouthfeel- As I said earlier, it's over-carbonated. But it's more of that. It's very course carbonation. It feels like the CO2 was never completely dissolved in the beer. It has more of a 7-up feel then a nice Saison.

Drinkability- Despite all the flaws I mentioned earlier, this is a worthy effort of a tough style. I would recommend you try it. Maybe I got a bad bottle. Maybe the brewer is still dialing in the recipe. Despite my disappointment with this particular bottle,, I WILL try it again, because I taste some real possibilities in this beer.

Photo of Daniellobo
4.4/5  rDev +13.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Rather nice saison from North Coast, and a great social bottle.

Presentation: 750 ml corked bottle. Succinct blackbird (Le merle) label design over the image of a grey silver bird over a black background. Brief side paragraph notes style inspiration and main characteristics. Lacks a recognizable date of bottling, and shows Alc. by Vol. (7.9%) Poured into a tulip glass.

A - Pale to deep gold pour, a bit hazy, with a very generous head, good retention, and nice lacing.

S - Rich fruity and spicy nose, a bit pungent and sour, a tad wild, but fresh nevertheless. Citrusy and good for the style.

T - Complex and inviting flavor, fruity, dry, with a touch of a sour-pungent yeast, a bit wild but very manageable. Sweet dry and citrusy finish.

M - Light to light-medium body. Crisp and a bit dry. Great finishing bite.

D - A very drinkable brew. Does not push the envelope for the style but offers great accessibility.

Notes: Sure enough, it may not be an icon for the style. But it is a great brew to share and socialize around, opens up a great craft conversation and more often than not works very well. One to keep around and pop up in a receptive group. The taste is rich enough to be meaningful, presentation and appearance work very well, and it is rather drinkable even for those unaccustomed to these brews.

Photo of cleverbeername
3.63/5  rDev -6.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottle, 50*, snifter

a redish brown, off white head. good but not great. color is saison like, but a little too clean

S fresh and crisp smelling, hints of baked spices and orange peel

T apricot, yeast, nice acid. well rounded, but flavors needed an increase of temp. to really come out toward the end.

m mid body, style wise it probably on the lighter side

D pretty good, but not great. i would probably not have two, but its worth the price for one.

Photo of weatherdog
3.45/5  rDev -11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

75cL bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

It pours a golden hazy orange with an off-white head that doesn't quit; helped on by the Duvel etching. Minimal lacing down the side of the glass.

The smell is huge pepper and some lemon to me. Classic saison smell. The back end has just a whiff of alcohol.

The taste mirrors a lot of the smell with a huge pepper bite followed by some lemon and maybe some orange. At the end there seems to be something just a little off putting. I don't know if its the yeast or what but the best i can describe it a little oily-tasting. It detracts from the initial good flavor. At the very end there is some Belgian yeast esters with some alcohol as well.

This beer is very carbonated and practically foams in my mouth. I'm glad i choose to use the Duvel tulip to knock some of it out of solution as it's sitting here. Besides that it's pretty light on the tongue and good drinkability. I haven't had that many examples of the style but this one just had something a little off in the taste.

Photo of Zaplt
3.68/5  rDev -5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Appearance - light, clear, light gold, whitish head - little to no lacing

smell - mmm belgian yeast funk - citrus ? fruity, a lot of pear, banana? fruit !

taste - very refreshing and woah did they do an amazing job with balancing the alcohol - 7.9?! tastes like 5 - 6. Very fruity belgian yeast tates - pear is strongly present - *champagne like - hops are not overwhelming at all but for a saison I think it is generously hopped.

mouthfeel - carbonation feels strong but not overwhelming the finish is a bit resiny for a saison but I like it. Smooth - particularly for the alc.

Overall - Decent beer, I liked it but something felt a little off. The yeast seemed a little strange??? I'm not sure. Decent job though.

Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 1,115 ratings.