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Le Merle - North Coast Brewing Co.

Not Rated.
Le MerleLe Merle

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

491 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 491
Hads: 1,243
Avg: 3.91
pDev: 16.11%
Wants: 38
Gots: 127 | 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.
View: Beers (29) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
Reviews: 491 | Hads: 1,243
Photo of ablaze
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Rich and golden with a light haze...eggshell head that's a bit foamy, but incredible lace.

Warm, rounded lemons and sunshine fruit...dry, clovey incense with a Belgian flair.

Soft and sticky, full bodied, lively and upbeat throughout. Sugary lemons, peppery middle, and somewhat cloying, muted hops. Fresh cut hay with clean hops popping out in the long finish. Straightforward...fruity, bold, grainy and surprisingly refreshing.

Very Belgian and simply awesome. Sip and enjoy, especially this time of year, can't help but to recommend. Try with honey-grilled chicken or maple salmon.

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Photo of blackc5
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of micjah
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Slightly hazey golden yellow color that creates a large healthy off-white head.

S: I smell sweet and spicey with a faint honey and fruity undertones.

T: A nice musty yeast funk with some honey and other minor spices (maybe pepper), exactly what strong summer seasonal should be..

M: Great carbonation, with an extremely smooth start and a dry tart finish that prevents you from putting the glass down without taking another sip

One of my favorite farmhouse, strong summer ales that I have ever sampled. I really like this beer.

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Photo of taigor
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
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.

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Photo of jacamp16
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Tried this the other night after eyeing it in the store for weeks. Gotta love mark downs. This beer poured a slightly hazy golden color with enough carbonation to give it as many fingers of head as you'd like. Head fell to a finger or so for the duration of the drink. I could look at and smell this beer for days. Immediate smells of citrus, tropical fruit, and a little barnyard lure me in. For me, this nose was almost perfect. The flavor on the first sip was dominated by the carbonation. Made the spice really jump out at me and almost made it feel as though my tongue was cut. The tropical fruit was there, but not as present as the nose would have suggested. As the beer warmed, alcohol became more of a factor and started to detract from the experience due to a little more heat than I would like. Medium bodied, but again, carbonation took away from the mouthfeel. Overall, great beer that I would look to pick up again.

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Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.22/5  rDev +7.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Sun-drenched honey with a light fogginess and a Belgianesque amount of carbonation. The eggshell colored crown isn't comparable to that country's best, but let's see what happens once it gets comfortable in the glass. The foam is whipped frothy as it melts, moderately rocky, and is beginning to deposit thick strands of sea foam lace.

The nose is everything that a saison nose ought to be. It's as bright and as fresh as a spring morning, delivering plenty of apple, pear and freshly zested lemon, along with a yeasty spiciness that is a perfect counterpoint to the sweet juiciness of the fruit.

For those lucky enough to drink North Coast Silver Jubilee 25th Anniversary Ale, Le Merle is that same beer 'with a few changes'. Although my flavor memory doesn't go back that far, this offering falls a bit short compared to the earlier beer. It's a near thing, though.

The malt backbone is an essential piece of the flavor profile puzzle, although it's the least sexy member. It provides a biscuity sweetness and allows the top notes of ripe fruit and spice to do their thing. Golden apples and tart pears are still appreciated, along with clove, cardamom and a few threads of horse blanket funk. Hops add considerable bitterness and an herbal-grassy flavor. The finish is tight and drying.

The mouthfeel, although good, needs a Belgian brewer's touch. It's best in the top half of the bottle (which is where I've chosen to score it). The bubbles begin to tire in the bottom half, providing less lift and eliminating any hope of a light creaminess. This is clearly the beer's weakest feature and could use some spiffing up.

Le Merle (The Blackbird) is probably in the top tier of American saisons. Here's hoping the brewers continue to tinker because it wouldn't take much to make this offering soar in the same skies as the world's best. Nice job North Coast.

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Photo of ktrillionaire
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - The brew pours a golden-orange hue, and is capped with a stratospheric head, a la Duvel. Surprisingly little lace results.

S - The nose is quite funky. I get a blast of green apple, hay-straw, and green grassy notes. As it opens up, lemon verbena and apple cider notes appear.

T - The caramel-type base is unfortunate here, because with a purely pale-pils type of malt, this would be phenomenal. As is, it is quite good. Flavor specifics include breadiness, orchard fruit, apple skin, herbal and floral blossom notes, and a sweet booze punch on the finish.

M - Pretty good; no complaints here.

O - I am surprised how good this is. I guess I shouldn't be, as North Coast makes several high quality brews.

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Photo of CascadeConan
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Very light straw color, fizzy head and an eruption of carbonation flowing from the bottom of the glass, puts champagne to shame.

The smell is a grab-bag ranging from a slight musty, wet hay to tart citrus, earth and the subdued spice of the yeast.

The taste is tart, lemon zest, earthy with noble hops, white pepper and coriander. A beautiful dry twang on the end of each sip that is complimented nicely by the higher level of carbonation and a medium body.

This beer is very drinkable, well hidden alcohol and paired nicely with rosemary, fingerling potatoes and lamb. I really enjoyed this beer and I can see myself heading for more saisons like this in the future.

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Photo of tiffanya
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Stella Artois 40cl glass.

Appearance: Golden-amber haze, rocky head, ample lacing on the glass as the head slowly fades.

Nose: Fruity, lightly musty, hint of spice.

Taste: Light bitterness. Soft malts with fruit/citrus. Notes of peppery spice. Hint of tartness.

Mouth-feel: Light-medium.

Le Merle was quite quaffable and didn't have an overwhelming musty-wet-blanket aroma that accompanies some saisons. Drank the entire bottle in about an hour-and-a-half. Would like to revisit this one again.

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Photo of edrachman
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on a cool summer evening in the back yard.

It pours very well with just the right amount of head. The look was a very hazy, almost cloudy golden straw color -- very nice actually.

Very sweet smell with hints of fruit.

Taste was very good, light malty taste in the background with straw upfront. However, my bottle had a fair amount of carbonation. Definately a drinkable beer and could have another right now!

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Photo of calise1122
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Belly up to the desk, with a flute glass and a corked bomber. Pandora is handling the music... starts me off with Billy Joel; Miami 2017... I wouldn't have picked it, but it is her party to dj.

Twist the bottle, not the cork and away we go.

Song Change: James Carr; She's Better Than You

Pours lots and lots of head. Thin baby caviar foamy head that takes up 2/3rds of the glass. The compromise begins; with the suds and hazy light golden straw liquid trading hands until a the foam gets called with a nice inch think frothy layer. Lacing is nice, holds on tight.

Song Change: Kings of Leon; Red Morning Light

Smells a bit like dry grass rubbed on the remains of a home built, pine and plywood lemonade stand. Wood, lemon, hay, it is all there and smells very nice...

Song Change; Van Halen; Running with the Devil

... hops are a big part of this funk bomb. You know what? These kids are selling lemonade by day and hawking nickel bags by night... funktified and true. Very nice aroma... very nice.

Taste is...

Song Change: Guns N' Roses; Don't Cry

Sweet Child of Mine would suit this Saison better... very sweet on the front. The funk didn't get kicked out of the party, they are just playing in the back room and when you walk in, it's only a faint noise in the background. You walk in expecting to see the band in the foyer and instead some chick who has been sucking on jolly ranchers for the past 45 minutes grabs you by the neck and starts making out with you. But she also had some eggplant parm for dinner. It is a weird taste, but kind of nice... and just when you think about that contrast... the funk in the back room starts to pick up a bit and you head back there to get comfortable.

Very nicely carbonated, very crisp, feels like a nice champagne...

Song Change: Stone Temple Pilots; Interstate Love Song

... the easiest way to describe it is clean, in that soap suds... fill up the sink kind of way. Very nice

I think this is extremely drinkable... if it were not 12:22 on a Sunday and I had another bottle it would go down very easily. Refreshing, clean and overall very very good. Plus, I haven't heard Interstate Love Song since who knows when. I need to go back and listen to the whole album.

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Photo of rebel1771
4.24/5  rDev +8.4%
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.

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Photo of Billolick
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Large bottle, caged and corked, no freshness nor bottling info offered. Pours light apricot amber, semi cloudy and initially shooting up a HUGE eggshell head, it slowly becomes a puffy and long lasting meringue. Leaving gobs of thick sheeting and ringed lace. Plenty of micro bubbles continuing to rise. Nice looking glass of beer. Nose is multifaceted with whiffs of soap, perfume and light pepper. Love the style and this is a worthy take on it. More perfume, plenty of pepper, spiced tropical fruit such as bananas, melon, mango. Moderate, subtle drying hops late. Complex, interesting beer. Well worth a try.

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Photo of Haightfulbrew
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

From a 750ml in California

Pour: Pale golden blonde, light haze, and instantly huge three finger head, light and airy, which slowly settles around the edges. Great lacing and a central tower of foam persist throughout. Plenty of carbonation, and quite tight. This beer sat open in the fridge from lunch until dinner, and still poured a four finger head.

Nose: Lemon, clove, orange, pineapple, some wheat and honey. Grassy, a bit of Belgian funk, and some saazy hop. Nice light Belgian nose all around.

Taste: Lemon and citrus lead off, and persist throughout. Some sweeter stuff, along with coriander and spice in the middle, then hoppy spice and dry to finish. The high alcohol content is completely hidden. Off the cuff, I would have called it 5.5%.

Mouth: Medium thin body. Tight, sharp, aggressive carbonation leaves a burn on the tongue that fits the style.

Overall: Great beer. A nice introduction to the Saison, albeit a very high alcohol one. Worthy try for Stella drinkers looking to break out of the box. Wonderfully quenching. Perfect lunch time beer.

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Photo of bcm119
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750 into a tulip glass. Hazy dark straw color with a foamy, boisterous off-white head. Fresh aroma of yeast; nutty and bready. Champagne-like: bubbly and light on the tongue, with vinous fruit flavors opening into more complex, nutty/earthy flavors. Mouthfeel is perfect-- light, yet full and creamy at the same time. Flavors are bright, complex, and fresh. Hints of hay, hops, and minerals show up at times. Nothing dominates, but the creamy complexity of earth and fruit flavors and the perfection of the mouthfeel make this an impressive beer, especially for the relatively cheap price of $8 per 750 ml. Outstanding.

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Photo of Erish
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Reviewed from notes. I poured this bottle into a large wine glass.

A: cloudy honey gold color, good cream-colored head quickly falls into a skinny cap with good lacing.

S: floral, honey, clove, a hint of banana, grape.

T: overall a very vinous, pleasantly sour character; the front has honey, sweet bread-like grain, the middle has apple, banana, a bit of Belgian funk, the finish is gently floral and fruity.

M: medium-bodied, silky, moderate carbonation, somewhat sour; very nice.

D: I could definitely see myself quaffing one or two of these after working the fields of Flanders!

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Photo of bskrtz
4.25/5  rDev +8.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Cork sealed small format bottle served cold in glass beer challis at Fat Pour, Chicago

A) Hazy, golden brass with billowy off white head

S) Lemon zest, alcohol esthers, sour dough & apricots

T) Outstanding - sweet caramel malts, mild hops, apple pie & other yummy baked goods

M) Well balanced, medium body. Alcohol is a bit high for the style but hardly noticable

O) Thoroughly enjoyed this beer but note: found it closer to a traditional Belgian blonde than Saison. Another good beer from the folks at North Coast.

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Photo of chugalug06
4.26/5  rDev +9%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A good looking bottle. Nice subtle label. Brew pours three-finger, white, fluffy soap, head. Brew is Very murky orange-yellow.

Pineapple, orange, lemon, pepper, and Belgian spice. Slightly tart.

Very smooth and drinkable. High carbonation, wet and refreshing. Lemon, orange and peppery-spice dominate. Yep, is a mild tart saison.

Whoa. This brew totally caught me off-guard, as it sat on the shelf, I almost passed it by... Glad I didn't. Highly recommended at the $7 price and for an easy summer drinker. Compares well to Great Divides Colette.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a glowing orange body with a bright white head forming thick and flowing with a dimpled head. Fine bands of chunky lacing layer in this head, very nice look to it. Aroma has big ripe layers of tropical fruit flowing throughout each sniff, spicy black pepper in the background gets dusted on. I'm getting mango, pineapple, with a mild citrus note flowing pretty amazing levels of fruit move into my senses. Spicy Belgian yeast notes adds another layer, I've never seen this beer in person only on the internet, a case as recently landed in Steubenville, OH and I'm jumpin' on it. Flavor has tropical fruit bursts with a layer of spicy dry yeast cakes, this is an amazingly big juicy fruit spiked with mango pineapple and other tropical fruits. Spicy Belgian yeast flares it's flavor with hints of black pepper spiciness, pretty intense and complex Saison a bit bigger than traditional versions almost 8%. Really coats the palate and the carbonation level is kicking quite nicely, what a robust Saison, usually when brewed in a more Belgian style the effervescence is incredible and the body is rather light or airy compared to this. I'm not going down a cloying road just a more rounded malt body with less airy carbonation with a bit more alcohol involvement than I'm used to within this style It mirrors as a light triple versus a big saison. Overall quality and enjoyment level is high I'm glad I randomly ran into this beer close to home.

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Photo of bort11
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Bng thanks to jaxon53 and the Secret Santa '08 for this one.

750 ml corked bottle, poured into a Boulevard Smokestack goblet. Crisp off white head stands tall. Gradually recedes to a filmy cap. Color is a hazy golden yellow.

Smell has a great apple and pear fruitiness. Nice dry yeast smell. Taste is a dry fruitiness. Tart apple and pears and finishes with a tart hops flavor. Very crisp and refreshing.

Mouthfeel is very dry and has a tart pucker. I really like this Saison, and I'm not sure why it's not available locally, since other North Coast beers are available.

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Photo of biegaman
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
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.

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Photo of HoppyBastard
4.27/5  rDev +9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 1 pint 9.4 ounce corked bottle into a Shaker pint glass.

APPEARANCE: A beautiful hazy golden color, highly carbonated with a three finger head even after a careful pour, excellent retention with significant lacing.

SMELL: Somewhat assertive, pears, white grapes, apples, some farmhouse funk, a little spice.

TASTE: The taste follows the nose, initially sweet malt almost like a pilsner, pears, white grapes, apples, not as funky as some farmhouse ales but it's there, the alcohol 7.9% is perceptible but fairly well hidden, finishes dry, almost effervescent with all the carbonation, reminds me of Champagne.

PALATE: Highly carbonated and finishes dry, very drinkable.

OVERALL: I will buy this again. Very good and reasonably priced. I would say this beer is not unlike Duvel, costs less and is made in America.

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Photo of ShrLSU
4.28/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A-Poured a cloudy bright orange color. The head was nice, white, and foamy, Once settled in the head receded but lacing clings to the glass well.

S-Citrus fruits, coriander, spices, and yeast. A very spicy smell but very vibrant and complex. Perfect scents for a saison.

T-Crisp and refreshing at first. Very fruity on the first taste then the spice tingles in your mouth. Somewhat tart on the finish but very refreshing.

M-Light and well carbonated. Kind of spicy and tingly at first but mellow and refreshing at the end..

D-This is a great saison by the North Coast folks. It's great to have them back in Louisiana. I was very pleased with this beer.

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Photo of JRhode
4.28/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

750 bottle poured into Duvel Tulip.

A- Bright glowing orange with nice head. A beautiful beer.

S- Some citrus notes, sweet malt, spicy funk, estery.

T- Citrusy, a little hop bitterness. Definitely some bready/yeasty flavors too. Doesn't finish as dry as authentic saisons (Dupont).

M- Full bodied, creamy; maybe even a little syrupy for the style.

D- 7.9% abv is well masked. No trouble drinking a 750, although we'll see when I try to stand up. Nice food beer.

One of the best domestic saisons I have tried. Not quite the dry crispness and phenolic impressions on the finish that a Fantome Printemps has.

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Photo of Voonder
4.29/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours cloudy golden colour with big bubbly white head. Smell is sweet and fruity - grapes, pears, grass. Taste is a bit sour and fruity. Really well balanced with perfect level of carbonation beer goes down very well. Great stuff, taste is unbelivable - so complex and really interesting. Would have more!

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 491 ratings.