Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

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very good

1,119 Ratings
no score

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Ratings: 1,119
Reviews: 475
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.28%
Wants: 31
Gots: 78 | 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)
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Ratings: 1,119 | Reviews: 475 | Display Reviews Only:
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.

Photo of biancasaur
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Golden, moderately clear with slight haze, pretty!

First smell: Funky, sweetish-tart, lots of pear, honey. Funky but delicate, not overwhelming.

First taste:
Delicately funky, quite evident pear taste. Light and refreshing with a slight bitterness. Pleasant, sparkly, full but not-thick mouthfeel. Mmmm.

While drinking:
Champagne!!! (How'd I miss that?) Bubbly champagne feeling. *Lots* of white wine character, light citrus fruity (grapefruit). Mild, subtle, delicious hops. Gentle alcohol character - I was informed halfway through of the alcohol content and was surprised how high it is. On a half-empty stomach, I felt the effects after one glass - wow.

I found this to be a very drinkable beer, putting me in mind of a warm summer day and gentle breezes. For its delicacy, it's richly complex. I'd definitely buy again and share with friends on some idyllic sunny day.

Photo of pmccallum86
4.03/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy peach color with a light creamy head that leaves little lacing on the glass.

Smell is very fruity. Lots of pear, peach, banana and various citrus aromas.

Lots of fruity flavors, just like the smell. Some pears, bananas, maybe some saaz hops and light malt flavors. Good tasting saison, definitely a fan.

Lots of carbonation, smooth and creamy. Very refreshing beer, goes down well.

Very good drinkability, this beer would be terrific on a warm summer's night.

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

A - Huge pop and a little geyser on open. Pours murky like honey, stark white tight bubble head, good retention.

S - Acrid, sharp, lemony sour.

T - Some malt sweetness, overcome by lemon and bitter.

M - Very carbonated, fair coating, good balance.

D - I like it, I can do the bottle at least. :)

Photo of eat
4.15/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A bottle of bobsy's, already open when I showed up at ritzkiss' place. Thanks Rob!

Pours a cloudy light-honey colour with a decent covering of white head.

Smells like honey, spices, candy, citrus rind and musty yeast. Big, awesome smell.

Tastes of yeast, spices, sweetness and some funky mustiness. You can notice the alcohol but it blends well with everything.

Duvel-like feel. Lively carbonation and a slightly-sticky medium body. Very nice.

This is the first serious Saison I've had, I'm really into the style. I'd definitely look for this one again.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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.

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.

Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 1,119 ratings.