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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

1,128 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 1,128
Reviews: 477
rAvg: 3.89
pDev: 10.28%
Wants: 34
Gots: 81 | 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:
Beer added by: BeerBeing on 06-03-2007

No notes at this time.
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Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 1,128 | Reviews: 477 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Birchgrove77
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
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.

Photo of SurlyDuff
4.35/5  rDev +11.8%
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.

Photo of EPICAC
3.6/5  rDev -7.5%
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!"

Photo of lehkost
3.56/5  rDev -8.5%
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.

Photo of mtrentm
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
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

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

Photo of jwinship83
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750 ml bottle with no freshness date purchased from a place thats clearing them out, so it must be older.

A- this one pours a hazy straw colored body with a massive white fluffy head. the head lasts almost the entire length of the glass and leaves a solid wall of lacing behind.

S- the smell on this one is rather subdued. it has several wheat like qualities. clove, bubble gum, and lots of yeast. some sweet fruity malts in here too.

T- the taste follows the nose. lots of yeast and fruity malts. banana, pear, and apple. lots of spicy clove, coriander, and bubble gum.

M- light to medium bodied with ample carbonation. no trace of alcohol.

D- easy to finish the bottle, and almost a sessionable ABV. this is something i can see myself having this again. espicially if the price break i got it with holds up.

Photo of CrellMoset
3.73/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

La Merle, enjoyed courtesy of IBUnit63, who accidentally left this one over at my house during a tasting and then most magnanimously imparted it as a gift upon my person. Many thanks! Split w/ a friend, with my portion poured into a cervoise.

Appearance: Pours a translucent at first but increasingly hazy yellow orange amber, capped by an absolutely mammoth, uncontrollable, outrageously fluffy head. Maybe this bottle is old, but the carbonation here is huge, great, off the charts, and though it's difficult to manage, it's not un-Saison-like. Plenty of visible carbonation - rapid, fine-bubbled - rises swiftly to the head, which recedes perhaps a little quickly for the style, though does leave a few nice blobs and clouds of sticky lacing on the sides of the cervoise.

Aroma: Relatively weak is the first thing I note about it, but it does open up a little as it warms. Curaco orange peel and other citrusy notes are dominant, coupled with mellow, relaxed, faded spices, like someone left the top half off the little thing of cloves in the back of the spice cabinet for, like, a year, maybe two, and then, oh my god it's Christmas and my ass is makin' a mincemeat pie, do we have any - oh yes, thank god, we have clo - wait, what the fuck are these lifeless sticks? These aren't cloves. But, you know, better than that. It's not bad, but not particularly amazing either.

Taste: Interesting. Relatively well attenuated - that is, it's pretty dry, but there's still a faint, simple, honey-like note present - with ample spiciness, fruity notes, and (pleasantly) a kiss of funk. Not sure if this one's Bretted or not (eh, I'll check later). The spices - the obligatory clove and coriander, primarily, though perhaps with a little ginger - are accompanied by pineapple, orange peel, lemon zest, and a few other tropical notes, perhaps papaya, and the latter category definitely dominates the former. The slight kiss of funk only comes through in the finish, sort of a dry, musty, attic-like note, reminiscent of hay or something. Overall, it's a solid taste, and a good progression of flavors.

Mouthfeel: A little thick, perhaps, for the style, and given the proliferation of carbonation that was visible prior, I'm actually a little surprised this one doesn't come off as lighter and crisper. It's even, and though it's still relatively airy, it floats over the tongue a little too "low," if you know what I mean. Beware fog!!

Drinkability: A drinkable if in my opinion slightly below average saison. I say that not literally - it's quite a good beer - but I really like saisons, and this one just doesn't quite rise to the level of some of the more amazing ones I've had. It's a relatively heavy, thicker, candied fruit-like mess, but doesn't have the amount of sweetness you'd expect, the freshness of the spices in the nose, the ... eh, you get the idea. It's good, I'd drink it again, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. Give it a shot.

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

aroma: spicy Belgian yeast notes with some frutiness, very faint plastic and solventy alcohol aromas

apperance: pale gold, clear with a slight haze, large tan white head that is very fluffy that persists

flavor: upfront spicy notes, medium low tang in the middle, medium fruitiness also in the middle complementing the tang,
finishing with a medium high bitterness, some slight solventy alcohol notes, faint plastic aroma does not come through in the flavor, finsihes dry

mouthfeel: medium low body, high level of carbonation with an initial carbonic bite

overall impression: a good classic example of a not brett saison, the beer has no faults but the flavor could have been more

Photo of errantnight
4.11/5  rDev +5.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

On tap at El Prado in Silverlake/Echo Park.

Pours a creamy, hazy, pale orange. Looks a bit like a creamsicle. No real head to speak of or lacing. Almost seems like it's the bottom of the keg, although they assure me it's not.

Fortunately this smells a heckuva lot better than it looks. Huge plume of grapefruit with a bit of crackling warm spice, tangy and fresh.

The taste delivers more than the nose promises... a big grapefruit middle is met by delicate spicing against a cracker/biscuit malt base, and a deepening funk/mustiness that brings this up another level.

Mouthfeel is creamy and rich, but sits lightly. Almost... fluffy, with a bit of a refreshing tang at the finish with moderate even mild bitterness.

Of the two saisons sampled at El Prado this evening, this would be my pick. Not what I'd want all the time in my saisons, but really captures the wild, funky haphazardness of the style. A beer with character, flavor, and style.

Photo of nighthawk
3.75/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750mL bottle, corked and caged, with no apparent freshness or vintage date.

Cork comes out with a nice pop, followed by a rush of fruity, musty aromas. Nice way to start a beer.

It pours a hazy, bubbly orange that softens to yellow at the edges. Lots of carbonation seen, producing a large tight head that settles to a well-retaining cap. Little lacing.

Aroma is a nice mix of clove, bubblegum, musty and fruit odours. Might be a bit of spiciness to it up front, mellows nicely with the fruity notes.

Big carbonated feel on this beer, accented with fruit notes makes this feel like a nice lively tropical drink. Some further sips and inspection reveal the deeper musty/wet hay flavours and a mild clove, with a touch of granny smith apple tartness. Turns slightly bitter on the finish with some floral leaning to citrus hop taste.

Mouthfeel is light, highly carbonated almost to the point of feeling fizzy. It hits somewhere between semi-dry and semi-sweet.

I hope I'll be able to get this beer around here come summertime; it's nice and light, refreshing and pretty tasty. Goes down pretty well, though the carbonation is just a tad overdone.

First saison I've tried, and I'm definitely hankering for more. This is a decent brew, more straightforward than complex, but definitely tasty. Recommended.

Photo of goatgoat
4.5/5  rDev +15.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a hazy tangerine orange. A voluminous frothy head falls slowly into large island. Sheets of fine frilly lace coat the glass.
Aroma well poured hits me at with a light citric tartness at arm's length. Closer it reveals a distinct sourness, earthy, floral, spicy and fruity.
Taste starts very earthy. A bright tartness presents with citrus. Finish is slightly musty "dirty socks" and a barely there smooth bitterness. Excellent balance.
Very light body with generous carbonation, moderately dry. Alcohol is well hidden.

I was walking the juniper woods in 80 degrees today. This was a perfect beer to come home to. Light, complex but with an easy drinking dryness. This brew is one of the reasons saison is quickly becoming one of my favorite styles.

Photo of jujubeast6000
3.48/5  rDev -10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed (bottle):

Pours a golden colored body, pretty cloudy, with a smallish white colored head. Has a belgian flower aroma, sugary, and super sweet. Carbonated palte, with a sour taste, mediciney. Warming up, mellower, medicine taste is gone. Flowery taste.

Photo of BarrelO
3.98/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a goblet.

A: Hazy orange color with a huge head that becomes a thin film. Good amount of lacing.

S: Fruitiness abounds. Apples, grapes, hints of citrus.

T: Like a cross between sparkling wine and hard cider. I would have preferred more citrusy fruitiness and less apple/grape fruitiness. Fortunately, the hops and bready yeast provide a nice counterpoint and prevent the fruitiness from becoming cloying. No trace of alcohol. Drying finish.

M: Light and heavily carbonated. A bit too carbonated, as a matter of fact.

D: It probably could have benefited from a bit more hop character, but still a quality saison. I have yet to be let down by a North Coast brew. Would go well as an aperitif or with a light lunch on a hot summer day.

Photo of dougfir
3.78/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a nice golden color, with two-finger foamy head and plenty of lacing and vibrant bubbles from the glass. Nice smell of citrus and sweet malt. Initial taste is bright, dry citrus with some bread yeast. Nice mellow spice and sweet maltness. Finishes with a slight metallic taste and warm alcohol notes. Some hoppy bitterness around for the end as well, but very light.
Overall this is a good, basic saison...nothing too crazy. No wild yeast, no unusual spices.

Photo of kmeves
3.42/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Pours an opaque yellow with a fine bubbled white head and some lace. Aroam is medium sweet with Pils malt, light lemon, bread and nicely spiced. Flavor is initially sweet malt flavor with a good deal of bready yeastyneess and ample spice. Lingering bitter/dry finish. Mouthfeel is crisp citrus with a medium body.

Photo of cadenwhitaker
3.46/5  rDev -11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a 22oz bomber into a glass flower vase.

I feel like I did everything right. I poured it into a large vessel so the sediment would mix (rather then having 1 pour be completly clear and the next one the consistency of mud). I let it breathe and warm into near room temperature.

However, this is good, I mean I really like Saison's, but this one isn't breaking any ground for me. It tastes like any other Saison that I've had... is that a bad thing? I don't know.

I guess I'm expecting more variety from this category, I don't know why, maybe I'm used to categories like IPA where no two breweries will make the same thing.

Overall a good, drinkable farmhouse that I enjoyed but not enough to get me to stop drinking Hennepin or Dupont

Photo of CMW
4.33/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A - Golden yellow with a large white head that has good retention. Some decent lacing and carbonation.

S - Very fruity. Smells like grapes and oranges mixed together. There is also a yeast note present.

T - Reminds me of champagne. White grape flavors mixed with biscuit malts and bread-like yeast. Very good.

M - Light body with bubbly carbonation.

D - Extremely drinkable, period.

Photo of xhcadamx
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - Honey with orange highlights. Big head that subdued tons of tiny bubbles.

S - Apples and pears, spiciness I am assuming from the yeast. Very refreshing.

T - Apples and pears with a biscuity malt. Spiciness (again assuming from the yeast).

M - a tasty dry finish that keeps you wanting more.

D - WOW. Where is the 7.9%??? Dangerous.

Photo of morimech
4.2/5  rDev +8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden color with a large white head that hangs around for a very long time. Had to pour slowly and carefully to avoid foam from overflowing the glass. Heavy lacing is left on the glass. The smell is citrus and lemons. Just a light spice note in the aroma. The flavor has a huge citrus and lemon element up front. Just a hint of spice and finishes very dry. Light body with abundant carbonation. I enjoyed this Saison as it is more citric and less spicy. I also enjoyed the dry finish.

Photo of Naugled
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

750 ml bottle

A- Nice straw hazy beer with clean white head.

S- Tart zesty aroma with hints of lemon.

T- Citrusy and a bit salty with a tart bitter finish.

M- Thin bodied with crisp carbonation

D- Good saison but not my favorite for drinking. However, I find it is very good with food.

I would buy this again.

Photo of homebrewhawk
3.8/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml corked bottle served in a Duvel tulip. Opens with quite a pop. Plenty of carbonation. Pours a hazy gold with a big white head. Spice and citrus in the aroma. Some noble hop aroma comes out as it warms. On the lighter side of medium bodied with a spritzy mouthfeel from all that carbonation. More spice and a little tart lemon in the flavor Very dry. There is a little funk in the finish (in a good way). Maybe a little past its prime, the flavors could have been a bit brighter.

Photo of dino213aa
3.86/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Beautiful light golden color with mild haze. Head pours loose and frothy and leaves plentiful uneven head. Head dissipates slowly.

S: The first thing I noticed was white grape. Also notes of sour apple and salt.

T&M: Starts off with light fruity notes of cherry and lemon. flavor gets progressively sour as expected for a saison. Finishes slightly bitter.

D: Overall this is a very easy drinking saison with a rewarding blend of looks, aroma and taste. I've had this sitting in my fridge for a while and was putting off reviewing it. However it as surpassed my expectations. Worthwhile.

Photo of htomsirveaux
3.59/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750 mL bottle tried 14 Oct 2008.

Poured into a tulip glass. Cork comes out with a loud pop. Large off white lacy head. Cloudy golden orange color. Smells of yeast, sour cherries, cider, ethanol, faintly musty. Starts with yeast and lemon, progressing to a tart/sour cherriness. Finishes dry and slightly bitter. Cidery aftertaste. Medium body.

Good but I prefer saisons just a little sweeter.

Photo of biggmike
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This beer poured a cloudy yellow golden color with generous white head that dissipated to a thin film along the top. The aroma was of citrus, spice, and yeast. The flavor was of the same with more citrus coming through. The mouthfeel was medium-bodied. The drinkability was pretty high and would be nice on a hot day.

Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
87 out of 100 based on 1,128 ratings.