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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
87
very good

1,072 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,072
Reviews: 472
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.28%
Wants: 31
Gots: 65 | 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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,072 | Reviews: 472 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of BeerManDan
4.47/5  rDev +14.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

When poured, the color was a hazy light yellow with nice white foam and medium retention of lace on the side of the glass. The smell had a fruity aroma, with a hint of citrus.

Fruity aroma and a soft, sweet maltiness. Lively mouth feel with a finish reminiscent of brut champagne. Nicely balanced and very pleasant as a sipper on a hot day or anythime!

BeerManDan, Jun 20, 2009
Photo of swierczt
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 750 ml bottle into Chimay goblet. Foamy white head after pouring. Slight lacing on the glass after a couple of minutes. Very effervescent with many tiny little bubbles. Straw yellow in color.

Nose is very fruity (pear, apple, honey aromas) and slightly yeasty. About what I would expect from a Saison.

Tastes smooth and somewhat creamy, full bodied.
This quickly fades to a dry sourness first in the front and then in the back of your palate. The sourness seems to intesify a bit before fading completely. Not at all what I was expecting. Taste is very different than the aroma.

I found Le Merle to be very drinkable and more complex than I had anticipated. Overall, I enjoyed this offering from Northcoast and would recommend trying.

swierczt, Jun 19, 2009
Photo of TheMistler
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Lots and lots o' head. Big bubbled, barely off white, it has a pleasing if hardly discernable golden tint. The color of the beer itself reminds me of a mead, deeply golden, hints of amber, and cloudy.

Tangy nose, the slightly sour funky notes hovering over light but sweet malts. Biscuit, and certainly some honey sweetness. Citrus and light fruits. A little bit of a dusty quality from the yeast. Very slight nostril-tingling spice, white pepper. Overall the nose is much more crisp than I feel my description gives it credit for.

Biscuit malt is noticeable right up front, but the taste is much like the nose - tangy (and nice) - and that takes over rather quick, though the tang continues to develop. Honey sweetness is not as noticeable as it was in the nose. Slight bittering, grass notes. Tangy, dusty yeast brings up the rear. Finishes quite dry, possibly aided by the ABV, which is otherwise very well hidden.

Starts very creamy, but with lots and lots of prickly carbonation making itself known. Medium bodied. Overall, smooth, nice. The carbonation put my stomach in knots a bit, but for a sipper this is pretty drinkable.

TheMistler, Jun 12, 2009
Photo of NiceGuyMike
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

This beer poured golden clear with loads of streaming bubbles.
A huge pillowy white head heavy lacing keeps you occupied as you prepare yourself for tasting.

Smells of fruity Belgian yeasts with a touch of sourness that hints what you're in store for.

You're initially hit with a curious twang. The twang reveals itself as a basic sourness. Some bitterness follows up the rear (it is an American interpretation so bitterness is a must). Good Belgian fruity back flavor is always nice and curiously abundant.

This ale is silky smooth and creamy. This is such an excellent quality compared to the bitter sourness.

The 750ml kicked me in the ass. Much stronger than I would expect from a 7.9 abv brew. It is an interesting and I think I'll have to try it again in a few months. The sourness is a bit disconcerting, but overall I liked it.

NiceGuyMike, Jun 06, 2009
Photo of mhatters
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured in a Duvel glass from a cork-finished 75cl bottle at my house (purchased from State Line Liquors in Md)

Pours a straw golden with a thick fluffy white head.

Classic Saison nose, wheat, spice, goodness - a touch of light fruit

Yeast, wheat, pear, apple and banana with coriander, clove and a hint of pepper.

nicely carbonated, easy to drink, refreshing in the heat. A great Saison, it would be fun to have this, Dupont and Fantome at the same time for a taste-off

mhatters, Jun 04, 2009
Photo of pants678
3.25/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

My first North Coast brew and it's from the bottle into a make-shift chalice that's actually a large-type brandy glass. It's stark orange and is as cloudy as they come. It had a two finger head that retains decently.

Smells starkly of coriander and all things citrus. I can smell the alcohol coming through after a good spinning to get the head back. Very sharp aroma.

Hits the tongue just as sharp as it smells. Front heavy carbonation combines surprisingly well with malt and yeast giving off an intricate orange. What I expected from my first Saison. Not necessarily up my alley, it's good brew.The back reminds me of Duvel, a warm, not too sharp, cloudy mix of garlic and tart. The orange and coriander can be boring toward the middle, not particularly complex.

Again, very warming and has a solid balance of front and back. Does not come off as over carbonated.

pants678, Jun 04, 2009
Photo of froghop
3.38/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

pours a semi-clear yellow, lively carbonation, extremely large white head, and good lacing.

smell of grain, sweet fruits, malt in the back, and a touch of smoke.

taste is fizzy, pear, peach, grain, yeast, and a touch of sour malt, ends on the dry side.

froghop, Jun 03, 2009
Photo of clayrock81
3.53/5  rDev -9.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark gold with orange tints with a frothy white head that sticks around for awhile and leaves sticky lace patches. Has that yeast smell I am accustomed to, as well as some sour fruits with the citric hops and some spices and a faint dose of caramelized malt. Light and smooth, goes down easy with some bubbly carbonation on tongue. Just not the greatest taste though, as the tartness from the fruit flavoring seems to override the taste of the fruits (I'm picking up apple, orange, citric) and the sweet malts. Finishes crisp and dry. Not bad, but I can think of better farm ales.

clayrock81, Jun 01, 2009
Photo of Buebie
3.38/5  rDev -13.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Got this bottle for christmas in 2007, been cellering since.

Poured from a brown 750, caged and corked. Off the pour the beer foams like its infected, hopfully it is not.
4 inches of cola like head form up. The color of the beer is a transparent dark golden. The head receeds to leave a half inch white froth. Thick spotty globs of lace line the glass in islands, not a solid lace drape.

Aroma of pepery spice, grassy hops, lots of cereal grain maltyness and a semi sweet citric rind aroma. Some cloves and herbs in there. A touch of alcahol at the knose, with a yeasty funk. Sourdough bread and a belgian like fermented honey aroma.

Mouthfeel is pretty creamy, still with a good doseage of carbonation, but definatly more light in feel from that carbonation flare up. It just has a more full body to the feel. Carbonation is crisp with a real bite to it. It seems like it wants to foam up though in my mouth as I sip. I'm nervous that this is going to cause me GI problems later.

Taste seems much more laid back then the aroma. Its picking up bitters though into the swallow with alot of non traditional hop flavors. Grassy with alot of bitter lem rind zestyness.
Some malt in the middle with more of that fermented honey taste, resembling very strongly an imperial kolsch.
I really dont know how to describe the taste. I know I dont care for it and am not enjoying it, but for the style it seems to follow the guidlines. Its not fruity though and definatly a bit more warm from alcahol. Compared to other saisons I've had this on is very dry, bitter and bready with plenty of sourdough flavors.

Buebie, May 31, 2009
Photo of mltobin
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This offering from North Coast Brewing came in a corked bottle, which the cork came out with a loud pop ! Thankfully, the beer did rise a bit, but not enough to pour all over the kitchen, whew ! The color is a nice light golden with a thick, big head. The smell is like faint hard cider. The taste is a bit sharper than some other 8% saisons but very enjoyable. I tasted cloves, apples, a crispness. Mouthfeel is bubbly with some fruit tones, and tart/spice aftertaste. Drinkability is good, an interesting saison. I had read about La Merle on this site in the past and am glad that I finally bought it, very enjoyable.

mltobin, May 28, 2009
Photo of kylesobrien
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: This one pours a foamy white head, and is quite effervescent. Lots of tiny little bubbles, clearly visible as this brew is quite clear with little in suspension. Color is a beautiful golden yellow with a slight orange hue. La Merle looks the part -- on appearances alone, there's no mistaking that this one's a saison.

Smell: Immediately after pouring a glass, the aroma of honey and orange peel is apparent, as well as a slight suggestion of jasmine. As the ale warms, the scent of coriander and a mild hop fragrance are more obvious. I'm having trouble trying to describe the hop character I'm noticing, but it's definitely there.

Mouthfeel: Surprisingly full-bodied. It's a bit stronger than quite a few saisons at 7.9% ABV, which may account a bit for the more robust mouthfeel. It's not quite what I would consider an easy to drink thirst-quencher, which is what I understand the original saisons were for the farmhands who drank them. It is smooth, however, which makes up for the fuller body of the ale.

Taste: This is the hard part for me. I like the way La Merle tastes, and if I didn't know it was a saison, I'd think it was a great American brew in the style of a Belgian golden ale. This one is tasty. While saisons are tough to classify, I'm not sure I would personally call this a saison. The first sip tasted sweeter than I had expected it to taste; the overall profile was almost a cross between a tripel and a saison. The slightly tart dryness which often makes saisons such a good warm weather beer does not seem to be present in this example of the style.

I must admit I had very high hopes before I popped the cork, since North Coast is a wonderful brewery which produces several beers I truly admire. Over the years I've come to realize that saisons comprise my favorite European style of ale, and I've been lucky enough to try quite a few imports. I'd certainly buy this one again, but as a consequence of the sweetness and the lack of moderate acidity to balance it out, it's definitely not one of my favorites within the style.

Drinkability: This one is definitely drinkable. I like it, but once again, I'd say it's not really my style, given the other saisons I've tried and really enjoyed. One of the best American interpretations of a Belgian brew I've had in a while, but the lack of balanced dry and tart flavors and the heavier body make it hard for me to call it a saison. If you like Belgian golden ales, I'd suggest giving this one a try. But if you're looking for a Belgian-style seasonal ale which is great to drink on a warmer afternoon, I'd save this one until the leaves start falling once again.

kylesobrien, May 26, 2009
Photo of Jablonski
3.18/5  rDev -18.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: pours a cloudy yellow-orange with some sediment on the sides; the head is large and long lasting; minimal lacing on the glass

S: appears a bit subdued; mostly sour apple and a bit of spice

T: initially sweet with a banana flavor followed by a drier bitter aftertaste; I can sense a slight funky flavor to the beer, but it does not come out strong

M: good thickness, carbonation too strong

D: easy to drink; nothing too bad about the beer, but nothing special

Jablonski, May 25, 2009
Photo of canucklehead
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Nice to see the Artist series available in BC from North coast. This is a big Saison with a full mouthfeel and more hops than usual for the style. I likes the fruit notes on the nose and the finish and the fuller mouthfeel actually made it more versatile with greater varieties of food. Nice work from NC on a style that invokes Spring for me

canucklehead, May 19, 2009
Photo of Sammy
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A very good saison, which some people think is gone and reired. Pours foamy whitish body and big lasting soapy white head, lasting lace. A little farmhouse aroma, and spice. Taste is above average, complex spice. A nce drinking saison, more of a sipper, hat refreshes the Summer wheaher.

Sammy, May 19, 2009
Photo of callmemickey
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Orange-hay colored body with a slight off white head. Mediocre retention and spotty lacing.

S: Farm fresh floral character. Orchard tones including ripening apples and peaches. Slight earthy breads.

T: The taste, like the nose, is soft and rounded... which isn't always a bad thing, but does diminish the ability to explore the depth of flavor. Mostly a fresh breeze flavor.. grassy with slight fruit flavoring. Not much spice. Some alcohol creeps in.

M: Smooth and crisp. Light bodied.

D: This is a good saison... it just lacks in the complexity and cohesiveness of a well crafted saison. Worth exploring.

callmemickey, May 16, 2009
Photo of xmorgan
5/5  rDev +28.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

First things first. Saison is a cool concept, but originally this beer should be low alcohol, it's meant to be a potable beverage right?

That said this is a beer for the working class, and after a hard days labor in the field of carpet covered squares, I needed some potable refreshment, for re-hydrating my mind, and body.

The Bistro in Hayward CA. is the place, the atmosphere to accomplish such tasks.

I dig saisons and this beer from North Coast was an awesome interpretation. The bouquet was of flowers and fruits, the taste had a bit of spice, but it had a pleasing evervesance that I really dug. It at almost 8% did not have an alchool prescence that lesser beers at such percentage may have.

Overall, I dig this beer. Drinking a 750ml bottle on my own, gave me time to appreciate it, as it warmed it got better, more drinkable. It reminded me of Pure Mead, at the first taste, and later as my palate dried. This is excellent with strong cheese and fruit. A white wine alternative...

xmorgan, May 13, 2009
Photo of lstokes
4.22/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I love the experience of uncorking a beer, so points for that, although the tortured blackbird is not really what I think of when I think of this beer. The first pour had a way-too-aggressive head, but second pour settled to one-finger and a hazy gold beer with just a bit of carbonation around the edges.

Smell is flowers and fruits with a bit of banana and spice, taste hits you sweet up-front and then dries out like a nice wine with some substantial spice and a lot of citrus, a light, bubbly mouthfeel with a touch of alcohol. Not very funky at all, but a very solid American un-funky interpretation of the style.

lstokes, May 11, 2009
Photo of firkinhophead
4.43/5  rDev +13.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

No freshness date, but it was on sale at Tower on Buford Hwy, so I suspect it has been there a while.

Uncorks with a resounding pop. Very frothy pour, with a big foamy head of loose bubbles that settles to a nice cap and leaves a good amount of lacing. Color is a hazy, golden yellow.

Flowery, fruity aroma, with notes of homeysuckle blossoms, papaya, apple, melon rind, a smidgen of banana, and bready malt. Very nice.

Taste has a honey sweetness on the tip of the tongue that is quickly followed by a dry fruitiness that suggests a German Rhine wine, some lemony tartness, faint white pepper and mace spices, and some grainy sweetness coming back at the end.

Mouthfeel is crisp and light, but with a solid body. Active carbonation keeps it on the bright side.

Overall a well structured, complex saison. Stands with the best in the buisness.

firkinhophead, May 10, 2009
Photo of hwwty4
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a corked and caged 750 into my Tripel Karmeliet tulip. This beer pours a sunny orange with a massive, rocky, bright white head that leaves ample lacing as it recedes. Le Merle has a typical aroma of a Saison. Lush, ripe golden apples, pears, apple skins, grass and damp earth. Green apple skins, biscuits, toast and what I would call a hay flavor, are surrounded by a rich pale malt sweetness that pulls all the flavors together. The mouthfeel is light and crisp leaving a great interplay of tingling carbonation on the tip of the tongue. With summer approaching, nothing beats a great saison for a refreshing beer. This is a great American example of a Saison.

hwwty4, May 02, 2009
Photo of Birchgrove77
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle pulled out to celebrate the first BBQ of the season.

Pours a beautiful orange hue with cloudiness increasing as the bottle gets drunk. Intial smell was quite inviting with a definite citrus aroma, but as the beer warmed the Pilsner malt came through with a bit of sour funkiness.

Initial taste was of some honey with a touch of clove followed by a great fresh orange character. I would say this was perfectly carbonated, but the beer seemed a tad heavy on the mouthfeel with a touch of alcohol. No real discernable hop character but I wasn't really expecting one with this beer. Some funkiness, but quite pleasant and helped round this beer out. Will definitely purchase again for the summer months.

Birchgrove77, Apr 26, 2009
Photo of SurlyDuff
4.38/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

It's the first 80 degree day since...oh, last september. How wonderful to have a tasty saison like this to celebrate!

Pours a thick looking golden yellow sunrise-y color. The last pour of this 750ml caged and corked bottle was very cloudy, packed with tasty yeasties.

Great aroma of some farmyard funky yeast, spicy corriander and clove, and some banana bread.

Great full body brew, but equally crisp and refreshing like a good hefe. I really enjoyed this, though I admit i'm impartial to the style. Good strong zesty flavors here, nothing lacking or at want.Just a good all around saison, true to style, and just what I wanted on this premature summer day.

SurlyDuff, Apr 22, 2009
Photo of EPICAC
3.55/5  rDev -8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a very cloudy golden with amber tints, and is topped by a thick, meringue-like, off-white head that retains well and leaves patches of lace. The aroma carries fruity notes of citrus, bananas and apricots, as well as hints of yeast and a peppery spice.

Sweet and bready malts move into a banana fruitiness in the center. The finish is mildly grainy and has a peppery spice that strengthens as the beer warms. Medium-bodied and smooth with moderate carbonation.

I'm not sure what I look for in a Saison, but not many have it. This beer is pleasant enough to drink, but just doesn't have that extra something that makes me say "Now this is a Saison!"

EPICAC, Apr 22, 2009
Photo of lehkost
3.58/5  rDev -8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I tried this beer last year, but I fear the keg had been sitting around too long, and there was nothing exceptional about it to me.

This time around, I found a beer with zing and character, boldly bucking tradition, but maybe in a good way.

This beer calls itself a saison, but instead of dry spiciness, I got tart and smooth character. Rather than tasting like a typical saison, or a typical Belgian or California variety of beer, I feel that this beer has more in common (as far as flavor is concerned) with a Sauvignon Blanc.

Don't get me wrong. I love Sauvignon Blancs, and I really enjoyed this beer. This beer has all of the visual characteristics of a saison, including an unbridled effervescence, but the tart, fruity flavor is much more reminiscent of a white wine, in my opinion.

I tried to balance my rating here, since I feel it is a poor implementation of the style, but a wonderful beer worth trying, if only for its refreshing uniqueness.

lehkost, Apr 21, 2009
Photo of mtrentm
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a corked 750 ml into a snifter

A: Clear golden straw color with a 2-finger head that quickly dissolves leaving some spotty lacing.

S: Love the nose! Granny Smith Apple notes upfront with a medly of other fruit as well. Has a little bit of funk & yeast rounding out the finish.

T: Sweet, semi-sour fruit upfront followed by a little spice with some hay/yeast on the finish.

M: Crisp & carbonated mouthfeel. Nice bubbly dry finish, reminds me of a nice Champagne.

D: A very solid saison by North Coast

mtrentm, Apr 19, 2009
Photo of brentk56
4.05/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: Pours a hazy apricot nectar color with a whipped egg white cap that retains beautifully and leaves nice shards of lace

Smell: Wheat bread, with a lemon and grassy aroma that features some spices, too, such as coriander and a hint of clove

Taste: Fruity, up front, with apple and pear bleeding into the lemon and grassy bitterness, with spices arriving by mid-palate (white pepper, coriander and clove); after the swallow, flavors mellow out but there is a residual sweetness that builds, almost like a tripel

Mouthfeel: Medium body with spritzy carbonation

Drinkability: One of the top domestic saisons I have encountered - really catches the spirit of the style; this bottle is at least a year old and I tried it the day after I tried my four year old Jubilee which, though similar, had developed a bit more complexity

Thanks, rsyberg01, for the opportunity

brentk56, Apr 18, 2009
Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 1,072 ratings.