Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
1,358 Ratings
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Le MerleLe Merle

Brewed by:
North Coast Brewing Co.
California, United States

Style: Saison / Farmhouse Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.90%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by BeerBeing on 06-03-2007

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Ratings: 1,358 |  Reviews: 522
Photo of ithacabaron
3.26/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Note: This review is as the beer stands "without lees." I did find, later on, adding the lees did help round out the beer. Still, the numbers stand.

Le Merle, the blackbird, pours -- no, leaps -- into the glass. Crystal clear liquid, the color of fire, is rippled by thousands of little bubbles. Up on top, a blowsy, thick mousse of paper white foam gathers on top. The bubbles keep coming and coming. Gorgeous.

Aroma is classic saison; all yeast, no hops. Good lashes of leather and musky papaya rise up from the glass. The esters are bold and in your face, if not as bright as they could be. Still, right on the money; this is like saison concentrate.

On the sip, strong fermentation esters jump out onto the palate; those esters, so promising on the nose, gush over into slight unpleasantness, like overly ripe, rotting fruit. There is a sour note in the back as well; a hint of vinegar and turpentine. Heavy. No hop flavor, no bitterness. In your face, to say the least; halfway through the glass, I can already feel a little headache coming on.

Mouthfeel is thick. Carbonation is there, but it doesn't fight the esters.

A grand misfire. Would I rather have people making this than some half-assed seltzer being passed off as Saison? (Looking at you, Sam Adams.) Yes. On the other hand, Saison is meant to be bright, refreshing, and rejuvenating. I'm glad I tried it (and my thanks to nrrd for the bottle), but one glass of this is more than enough.

Keep on reaching for the stars, North Coast. I mean it.

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Photo of mdcrouser
3.62/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the caged, capped and corked bomber bottle into a standard pint.

Deep gold, tiny bubbles of carbonation arise to the top, easily visible in an otherwise transparent beer.

I'm picking up light farminess, some Belgian characteristics, with some spices. All fairly muted though.

Lemons, pears, some grassiness, and a slight hoppy burn. Not at all complex - flavors are good, but just sitting there.

Juicy and a crispness almost like you'd expect from a pilsner. Closes dry.

From North Coast, I expected better - almost akin to a giant pilsner with Belgian yeast.

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Photo of nezelrac
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

poured from a 750ml into a tulip

A - pours a hazy dark golden color with ample foam; fine-beaded head is voluminous at first and settles to a finger with minimal lacing after a few moments

S - mild fruit and floral esters are present but the nose is dominated by yeast notes and light malt back notes; some lemon/citrus pith and zest as well;

T - yeast and sour bread dough with a backdrop of pale malt; lightly honeyed citrus note; hint of biscuit; good length - spices and tartness increasing across the palate to the long yeast and baked lemon inflected finish

M - mid-weight for a saison; good CO2 as well; a fleshier style

O - a very enjoyable saison that is more much Belgian than American; good stuff

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Photo of hosehead83
3.92/5  rDev 0%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a corked and "caged" 350ml bottle into a wine goblet.
Orange-gold in color, with a rather moderate head of white foam.
Aroma-Spicy Belgian yeast, fruity.
Taste-Tangy, spicy, spiced pears, refreshing and quaffable for the strength. Mouthfeel and character fade a bit as it warms, leaving a low carbonated muddle. Doesn't have the high carbonated staying power of a lot of other Saisons. That being said, Le Merle is a pretty good American offering of a farmhouse ale.

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Photo of willjschmidt
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Sierra Nevada hop tulip glass.

A: Pours a bright golden color with a very thick white head.

S: Yeast, some light fruit, a hint of spice.

T: Slightly tart, some light fruit in the form of green apple and lemon. A hint of spice, some white pepper. A decent of alcohol is apparent in the finish.

M: Medium bodied, very highly carbonated.

O: A decent saison but too boozy in the finish.

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Photo of ummswimmin
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

I opened this tonight and poured it into a belgian glass.

This beer poured with a decent amount of carbonation. I picked up fruitiness from the top of this beer. I get some spice, as well.

The Merle tastes very good. There is a decent does of sour and yeastiness. I get some vineyness in the beer as well, almost like the slight presence of a sharp white wine.

I like the texture of Merle. It is moderately heavy, and it plays across the pallatte.

At the end I get some bitterness, which pairs pretty well with this aftertaste.

This was a good purchase.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
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 chocosushi
3.85/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Cellared for a bit.
750 -> 3 White Wine Glasses.

A ~ A hazed gold/pumpkin color with a very bubbly head.
Settles into a sea-foam cap. Good lacing. Light sediment.

S ~ Prickly fresh lemon, white grapes, & Dry hay

T ~ Lemon follows through pretty heavy, at times turning into a candied lemon peel flavor. A good yeast character Moves into dried peaches, faint cranberry, and some stainless chardonnay flavors as well. Nice.
Letting it warm, I pick up a bit of cinnamon & ginger spicyness with a bit of date/raisin flavor as well. Hefty does of carbonation.

M ~ Pretty Dry with spicy, fruit-filled body. Very carbonated but it honestly adds depth to the fruit flavors.

D ~ Very drinkable, very basic Saison. Northcoast does not usually disappoint. Great for the pricetag.


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Photo of ManuelHerrera
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A - Murky golden orange that's hazy with a foamy head. Light lacing makes for an attractive saison.

S - Heavy lemon and citrus peel notes sting into the aroma with mild notes of soap sud and sourness. Yeast notes tie the whole aroma together.

T & M - Flavor is quite sour with heavy lemon-lime flavor with hints of herb and floral notes blossom as the flavor lingers However that vanishes quickly as the sourness begins to overpower the overall palate. The beer feels light and heavily carbonated, and the sourness cuts into the finish of the beer.

O - Light and relatively easy to drink, although it's a bit dry and sour for my taste.

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Photo of gatornation
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

on tap in a 12 oz pour

A- a cloudy light gold pour ,with a fluffy white head

S- was light lemon grass with with some pepper and spice some hops with bread and leather

T- was a tart lemon with some wet hay and leather funk,baked bread malts with some hops

m was crisp and carbonated with a refreshing lemon tartness

O-good saison a little overpriced and not a top tier saison especially at the price point wont buy this in the bottle but will have it on tap again when i see it..its worth a try as it is a goos saison

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Photo of SesideMarketBuyr
3.68/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Cracked a 750ml of this guy on a friday afternoon, great weather accompanied by some really tasty brew. Right off the bat it had a nice rich golden yellow color and a nose full of orange rind. I enjoyed the beer, great summer brew, but the finish was a little and I do mean a little unsatisfying for me. The second time I tasted Le merle, (which has an awesome story and bottle art), just wasn't as memorable as the first time. Definitely worth purchasing though, a really tasty and well crafted take on a saison.

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Photo of codfeast
3.7/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

bottle to tulip.

A: A hazy, light orange color, thin head gone in a flash.

S: Lots to smell here. yeast, orange rind, apple now and later, damp wood or hay.

T: Sweet start bubble gum, peach and apricot. then the spicy yeast kicks in. followed by a very tart, finish.

M: tingles the tounge. Finish is almost tannic, sucks the saliva from my mouth.

O: Maybe because it's pissing rain and cold at the end of June, but the beer just is not doing it for me today. certainly not without it's merit, but perhaps if going with North Coast today should of had an Rasputin.

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Photo of beerman21
4.48/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Not my first review of this beer nor the last time I taste it. I've become a huge fan of farmhouse ales and this really was the one that broke me in to them.

Appearance... Pours a golden unfiltered heavenly inviting sunshine concoction. White four finger head explodes upwards almost spilling over my glass, mind you this is me pouring very consciously... The white soapy sticky head takes minutes to subside... I'll be honest I’m no writer this is just one gorgeous looking beer. If there was a death row brew this might be my choice not for the taste but just to visually admire.

Smell.. Sour green apples, apricots, tangerines, raspberries, passion fruit, guava, yeasty animalistic barn yard funk. The smell is so complex and a little all over the place but in a good way.

Taste.. more of the same from the smell but more intense. Alot of tropical fruit belgiany yeast funk. Very very good stuff.

Overall one of my all time favorites creamy mouthful, complex and highly drinkable! Love it.

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Photo of ColForbinBC
4/5  rDev +2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

375mL corked and caged bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

Pours a hazy orange with a huge, fluffy paper white cap that rose to fill the glass quickly. Great retention with minor lacing.

Aroma of horse saddle/leather funk, lemongrass, pepper, undercooked biscuits and a finish of earthy hops. Pleasant and inviting.

Lemon and spice lay it down first with saddle leather coming in through the middle. The finish is of undercooked biscuits and somewhat dry. A faint warming with a touch of spice lingers.

Medium bodied with good carbonation. Fluffy and smooth on the palate. Finish is peppery with a faint warming.

Overall this is a solid saison. It's not overwhelming, but it performs pretty well. A very good example of the style.

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Photo of OneDropSoup
3.63/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

On tap at House of 1000 Beers in New Kensington, PA.

Poured into a stemmed tulip: Took a while to pour thanks to the huge, dense, cream white head over a shiny straw body, hazy. Head drops to a finger, leaves meringue lacing.

Sweet smell of ripe banana, a little bubblegum, a little hay-like smell hanging around in the background, lightly herbal.

Taste is sweetly lemony with some sweet, lightly biscuity malts backing it up. Again, a little banana, slightly doughy, with a surprising prick of tartness at first in the finish, but that fades. Not bad, but on the sweet side for my liking. Sharp booze kick after a while.

Feels a little steely at first, moving a flattening kind of sweet feel, ending tart & gushy at first that hangs around into the aftertaste. Doesn't choke me with yeastiness like so many farmhouse ales.

Not bad overall, on the sweet side for my liking, as mentioned before, but doable.

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Photo of rickyleepotts
3/5  rDev -23.5%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

How cool… to have a beer named after you. Of course, only if the beer is good. But this beer promises to have some hints of fruit in there. Fruits and spice that is.

The first thing I notice is how big the bottle is. I like it that some of these beers have big bottles. A big bottle, since we are splitting the beers amongst us, provides a full pint a piece. That’s more beer to enjoy, and more time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

This beer looks like a wheat in the glass… perhaps a thicker, more robust Blue Moon. But smells nothing like a Blue Moon. It has a spicy nose, but a certain sweetness that is some of those fruit notes I keep reading about. The head is quite frothy too, which is unusual for lighter beers. (Yes, I did a proper pour.)

At first you are hit with some subtle carnation, but then you are just covered with utter sweetness. The beer explodes on the back of the palate and settles into a smooth, sweet aftertaste that quickly turns almost warm… those spices that I could smell a few minutes ago. The aftertaste lasts for a LONG time too. It just sits there, making you want to enjoy that rather than another drink. A big bottle could last someone a long time if planned accordingly.

The beer has a pretty high ABV too, nearly reaching 8%. So taking your time with a big bottle might be your best bet. The beer is good… not great, but very good. However I fear a beer like this won’t be very memorable. Taste is too complex to really explain, and since it’s such a new brew not sure I would even remember what it’s called unless staring at the bottle.

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Photo of tempest
3.8/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

While drinking this, all I could think about (in terms of reviewing) was how much this tastes like Pranqster. There's a big, spicy phenol note after a lighter barley note. The deeper herbal and earthy flavors are missing, like you might find in something from Fantome. The beer is also force carbonated, which makes the beer feel heavier. It's in line with tasty takes on the style from American brewers, but it can't quite stand up to Belgian saisons.

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Photo of brotherloco
4.14/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml C&C Bottle into a tulip.

Pours cloudy pale gold with a thin white ring, minimal lacing.

Fairly rich aroma. Citrusy American hops blend into sour and stinky cheese. You know, the good kind. A salty brine emerges as well.

A lot of these elements follow through into the flavor. There's a real sweet and sour start, with the sour funk winning out in the middle and finish. Complex and multi-layered, refreshing and filling at the same time, I'm loving it.

Crisp and sharp carbonation, medium-low body and a dry finish. Really suits the style well.

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Photo of dgilks
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy pale gold colour with a big, fluffy off-white head. Fair head retention.

Spicy, herbal aroma with a touch of lemon. Soft but appropriate to style.

Very soft malt with a peppery, spicy yeast profile. A few, lemony esters come through as well but this is a very spicy saison.

Medium-light body with moderately-high carbonation.

A decent saison with the right flavours but it lacks a bit of X factors with the flavours not quite hitting all the high notes of a Saison Dupont or Bridge Road Chevalier Saison.

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Photo of InsolublePancake
3.6/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A- Corked and caged bottle opens with a very loud pop, propelling the cork some distance. Pours a clear light amber with a very nice head that takes its time going down.

S- Quite cidery, with sweet and tart aromas of apples and pears. There's a touch of barnyard funk and a good dose of caramel malt as well.

T- Applesauce fruitiness upfront segues into a tart cider flavor backed by grainy malt. Hops add a pleasant earthiness and a good dose of bitterness on the end. The overall impression is of a tart, dry beer, but there is an underlying sweetness beneath it all.

M- Medium-bodied and slick with a rather low dose of carbonation.

Decent beer overall and fairly representative of the saison style. It lacks some complexity, but overall it's a pretty good beer. I might drink it again. Not a bad choice for fans of the style.

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Photo of ADZA
3.75/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This brew pours a hazy golden hue with decent carbonation that leaves behind a two finger head and little lacing,the smell is honey,alcohol,fruity bread and raisins soaked in honey,it has a medium bodied well carbonated dry mouthfeel and has tastes of fruity floral esters,bready malts,raisins soaked in honey and finished with a citrus hopppy dryness and overall nice but was expecting more cheers.

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Photo of spinrsx
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bomber - Thanks to Phyl21ca

Appearance - Hazy gold/amber colour with a very large size fizzy white coloured head. I can't make out much carbonation due to the haziness and there is some good lacing. The head lasted for around 5 minutes before it was gone.

Smell – Breads/grains, cloves, lemons, bananas, coconuts?

Taste & Mouth - The beer has a high amount of carbonation. I can taste lots of lemon and wheat mixed with cloves and yeast. There is also some bananas and a flavour that I couldn't quite put my finger on.. I guessed coconuts. The beer finishes with a grainy and tart aftertaste.

Overall – I really enjoyed this beer and would have it again for sure. The taste was well balanced and I made it though the bomber quicker than I had anticipated.

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Photo of dyoung3
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasted this one as a sample at Cowgirl Creamery in Washington DC's beer tasting. Poured in a small IKEA glass about 2 ounces.

Appearance: Little more orange/copper than I expected for a Saison. Definitely not as carbonated as the Dupont but almost a welcome attribute.

Smell: Belgian presence but not very George Clinton (aka funky)

Taste: Man, this is a tough one. I probably didn't drink enough to give this beer justice but it was a little too cidery for me which in turn translated into a bit of perceived sweetness. Could have been a lack of hop balance but that is what held me back in the Dupont so I'm not sure where I stand on this style I guess. Remnants of the Klokke Roeland were buzzing in my head, a beer I have yet to review. Can't say I didn't enjoy it though.

Mouthfeel: I actually enjoyed the viscous nature of this beer more so than the Dupont's high carbonation. The alcohol was not as evident as you might think for a 7.9% beer but I could absolutely drink an entire bottle of this.

Overall: Would recommend but not necessarily over other Saisons since I don't have that much experience with them. Am definitely eager to explore the style further especially with the Stateside Saison from Stillwater. Next time...

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Photo of brendan13
3.65/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Pours a clear pale orange with a 3cm white head that slowly falls to a thin whisp.
S - Slight pepper spice and peach fruit notes.
T - Pepper and peach also in the taste with a pale malt sweetness.
M - Slightly bitter, lighter side of medium bodied. Quite high carbonation. Slight tartness.
O - Quite a clean Saison. Not bad but not especially interesting either.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.46/5  rDev -11.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Popped the cork with and poured into a snifter. The color is a really nice orange copper color. The head is nice at first then it settles down to a thinner white layer. The lacing is sparse. The smell is a little spicy with some wheat and just a very light aroma of funk. The taste is a little boozy with some spice and some grapes in there. The mouthfeel is bubbly and a little creamy. Not a bad brew. Pretty decent stuff for a saison.

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 1,358 ratings.
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