Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

Le MerleLe Merle
Liked This Beer
3.9 w/ 1,367 ratings
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: 1,367 |  Reviews: 524
Photo of warnerry
3.53/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Pours mostly clear straw color with massive four finger creamy white head. Head has excellent retention. Leaves a nice lacing.

S - Quite a bit of yeast in the aroma. Also some decent spice and a lot of semi-tart fruit, apples and a bit of lemon, and a noticeable sweetness.

T - Tart fruit up front, again apples and lemon. Here is also a layer if sweetness on top of the tart. Certainly unique among the saisons I've had. Yeast funk comes in the middle with more tartness on the finish.

M - medium mouthfeel with a semi-dry finish

O - Definitely stands out. Doesn't seem like a very traditional representation if the style. A bit too fruity to be great, but still enjoyable.

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Photo of TTAmod
4.44/5  rDev +13.8%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 mL bottle poured into snifter.

A: Typical saison. Cloudy light-gold color with a fluffy, white head.

S: Lots of sweet fruit, some Belgian yeast, and a tad bit of funk

T: This one is a lot sweeter than the nose makes it out to be. Primary fruit flavor is...orange or mango. Hard to tell. There's a lot of yeasty taste and a bit of funk (tastes like wet hay...hard to describe) at the end with a slight alcohol burn.

M: Thin-moderate body. Lots of carbonation, yet somehow silky smooth. Extremely nice.

O: The Saison is one of my favorite types of beer. This particular one is EXTREMELY authentic. This brewery has done the nearly impossible in making an authentic-tasting American Belgian ale. Honestly, this is one of the best saisons I've ever had. It's refreshing, fruity, sweet, yeasty, and funky, just like a sasion should be.

Also, for $7.99 for a 750 mL....it's an unbelievable value.

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Photo of Derek
3.68/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Hazy straw with a white head, great retention and lace.

S: Big fruity aroma (bubble-gum like), with some spice and a hint of funk (Brett?).

T: The bubblegum fruitiness is predominant, with some underlying spice, grass and earth. Grainy bread from the malt.

M: Moderate body is smooth. Although there is a bit of sharpness, there really isn't any acidity. A bit more like a bier de garde?

D: Fresh and full of flavour at the brewpub... went well with the rockfish. The saison style is somewhat open to interpretation, and while I liked it, it just wasn't stellar IMHO.

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Photo of laituegonflable
3.65/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a pale golden colour with mild haze and strong, furious bead. Head is off-white, fluffy and generous like whipped egg white. Looks pretty great.

Saisony on the nose, some organic notes with spicy barnyard, stone fruit, slight citrus, peppery character and some floral freshness hanging at the back. Hint of liqueury booze as well, pretty decent.

Taste is surprisingly tangy with a strong orange flavour upfront that then gets distinct off/rank notes midway with some capsicum, mustard seed and horsey note towards the back. Slightly boozey with a touch of heat but quite sweet on the back, and some more spice would be great; hint of marmalade finishes off. Not bad but a bit too much residual sweetness and doesn't finish as crisply as I'd like.

Full, fair stickiness with slight booze hit and dryness on the back, could use more to cut off the fullness.

Decent saison notes, but another argument in favour of capping saison ABV at 6%. The booze warmth just overrides the otherwise really pleasant saisony notes and they should be allowed to speak for themselves.

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Photo of TenHornsProud
3.93/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours a light orange with a small, fine white head that fades almost instantly.

Smells of sweet malt, some spice/phenol from the yeast and not much else.

Up front taste is sweet with some pear notes and is followed with the classic phenolic, spice taste of a Belgian saison yeast. Finally, there is some noble type hop bitterness that lingers on the palate, which fits the style quite well.

High carbonation and dry, my requisites for a saison.

This is a great saison that is absolutely worth a try. It is a nice, almost classic, example which has a sweet, phenolic, slightly fruity taste. The yeast character is interesting enough to accent the hop and malt/sugar accents.

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Photo of zeff80
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a cloudy, golden amber color with a two-finger, very bubbly, soapy, off white head of foam. It left sticky patches of lace on the glass.

S - It smelled phenolic with spices and yeast. There was a nice grain presence.

T - It tasted very spicy and yeasty with some sweet caramel and grain flavor. Some fruitiness, too.

M - It was crisp, sharp and smooth. A medium bodied ale with a dry finish.

O - This is a very nice saison. Another very good brew from North Coast.

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Photo of drcarver
3.71/5  rDev -4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a corked 750 mL bottle.

A - golden body with a 2 finger frothy white head. head fades slowly leaving behind quite a bit of lacing both down the side and on the surface of the beer.

S - has a sweet aroma, that of a nice white wine. sour notes of apples also present

T/M - a nice crisp bite of fruit as well as a bite from the carbonation hit first. tastes very much like how it smells with a nice light body that down not coat the tongue. white wine and apples are the most prominent flavors. finishes clean.

O - a very nice saison.

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Photo of eclipse54
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A 750 mL corked and caged bottle picked up at the local Co-op for the girlfriend. Saisons happen to be her favorite style, and she had become particularly fond of this one after having it on-tap at The Front Door and again at the recent Barley Bros. Traveling Beer Fest (aka Boise Beer Fest). Anyway, this review is for the bottled version. No date information to be found as it goes into a Deschutes tulip...

A golden straw colored body with an ever rising stream of bubbles from the bottom of the tulip glass. These bubbles fuel a massive three-inch head of fluffy, foamy white bubbles that hang around for quite some time. Smells of funky yeast, straw, hay, some zesty citrus, and a bit of light fruit (apple, pear). Taste is of yeast, grain, straw, some tart pear, and a bit of apple. Finishes a touch dry, but not sticky or unpleasant. Overall, a very good saison that I'll gladly split with the girl when she's willing to share.

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Photo of jera1350
4.15/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this one in the cellar for over year now. Not sure what the exact age is however.

A slightly deep gold color with a thick billowy head of clean white foam. Lots of lacing and great retention.

Very strong nose of honey sweetness and fruit. Pear and apple fruit to be exact.

Apple and pear fruits blend with a moderate honey sweetness. A solid hop bitterness as well with some citrus notes. A little spice at the end. Pretty complex and plenty tasty.

Medium bodied with a smooth and dry feel. Could use a touch more carbonation.

I'm not the biggest fan of the saison style, but this is one of the few that I really liked. Lots of fruit and plenty of sweetness that others in the style often times lack. Very drinkable and enjoyable.

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Photo of ithacabaron
3.26/5  rDev -16.4%
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 -7.2%
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 +2.6%
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 +0.5%
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 -5.1%
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 +6.4%
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 +9.5%
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 -1.3%
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 -7.7%
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 -5.6%
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 -5.6%
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 -5.1%
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 +14.9%
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 +2.6%
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 -6.9%
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 -23.1%
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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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
Beer rating: 75.3% out of 100 with 1,367 ratings
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