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Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

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very good
515 Reviews
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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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Reviews: 515 | Ratings: 1,326
Photo of oberon
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured into an oversized wine glass a sort of hazed milky peach-like color with a thick blooming white head,complex aromas of yeasty clove spice,lemon pith,and overripe pineapple mainly,the funk is there but not overly so.A somewhat sharp mouthfeel is somewhat of an annoyance at first but it mellows after a bit,flavors start out citric and green from the abundance of hops used,it then shows off its funk and yeast elements wich kept the beer from being off the charts for me.Its alot better than some Belgian counterparts,its complex and enjoyable.

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Photo of pinotboy007
3.54/5  rDev -9.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Purchased chilled at Arrowine, Arlington, VA.

A - Pretty exceptional. Gorgeous cloudy gold with a tinge of orange and a dynamite, rocky head that eventually settles. Lots of lace at first, but it fades.

S - Weakest component but mostly because it's so subtle. Can barely detect malt, some citrus, maybe a hint of warm spice.

T/M - Very nice; citrus, yeast, with decent carbonation that doesn't overwhelm. Quite creamy.

D - Very drinkable, especially in this warm weather but I could see enjoying this year round.

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Photo of JohnGalt1
4.3/5  rDev +10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 picked up at the Coop over the weekend for about $7.. I can't believe I've never reviewed this before... it is pretty much a goto anytime I want a Saison. Poured into my New Belgium snifter.

3 finger rocky head looks like the top of a meringue pie... but it does die back quick and leaves only ribbons of horizontal lace as I swirl the glass .. brew is slightly hazy gold.. looks pretty.

Aroma is fresh.. beautiful green apple ... green tea and fresh lemon zest. Fruity for sure with a background yeasty spiciness... a little white pepper and subtle but present in my nose light fresh nutmeg.

Flavor is soft and well rounded without any pointy edges.. pale malts with under-ripe green grapes and a little less than the aroma green apple skin.. the lemon is also more muted with some white peach and pear essence. White peppercorns and maybe wafting clove. Some bitterness and grassy hops.. but the luscious fruitiness and phenols are more than enough to make this a fantastic brew. Finish is dry with more of the spicy green apple and mango (?!).. Carbonation is very big yet somehow smooth..

Not as dry as many saisons, but I definitely respect the touch and care that went into this brew. Very drinkable.. not getting any alcohol burn despite the relatively high ABV... La Merle is a great value and I will continue to pick it up often.

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Photo of Murchmac
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Everything you'd expect from a saison and North Coast brewery. If you can get your hands on this beer, get it.

Yesterday I drove to the middle of nowhere Gilroy, CA in 107 heat to get a broken pepsi machine. The dust bowl backyard where it was kept had two dogs, a septic tank, and a broken down porsche. The man did not want to help us put this 500lb machine in the truck, until he realized all 100 pounds of me and my gimp friend were not putting it in. After third degree burns from pushing the machine into the truck we drove it to Oakland and outran the hookers on bikes. When we came home, we sat on the stoop and drank this delicious beer while watching the sunset over the ocean.

At least the end of the day was good.

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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 Douglas14
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours out a nice pale golden color with an extremely pillowy head that doesn't leave much lace but keeps a solid 1/8 inch layer above the beer the whole way down. Hops, citrusy fruits and, as the bottle says, tropical fruits - banana manly. The taste is fruity, tart, and sour...not as funky as I thought it would be. Hops and yeast appear as well. This brew has such a cool flavor...it's got a unique touch to it that makes it great. Lots of carbonation keeps this beer interesting. Very drinkable, very awesome.

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Photo of ArrogantB
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Nice orange color, hazy, decent white head. It smells pretty yeasty. Some citrus in the flavor, yeast. The alcohol is well hidden and this is easy to drink but it seems like the saisons I've had have more spicy, pepper flavors than this one. This was interesting but i don't think I'll go back to it.

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Photo of julian
4.04/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bought at QFC in Everett, WA - 750ml bottle

A: golden and straw colored mostly opaque with moderate cloudiness and a shimmering of orange when put up to the light. visible carbonation, this is one fizzy looking beer! pours with a thick CREAMY and towering white foamy head. heavy and sparkling lacing. wow, perfect example of the style!

S: light floral hoppyness mixed with fruity esters, somewhat sour note while maintaining a moderate earthy and nutty spicing. somewhat yeasty to the nose.

T: ABV mostly unnoticeable. yummy fruity citrus taste complimented by unique saison yeast profile and earthy spicing. somewhat dry but also malty sweet. nicely balanced!

M: pretty fizzy as expected, and typical of the style. crisp and refreshing. would be an excellent hot summer day beer!

D: given the more than tolerable ABV which is nicely masked, and the fruity taste of this is one beer I could drink more than once in a sitting...but probably not more than twice given that it's a 750ml bottle.

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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 weezyfart
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This is a delightful Saison from a brewery that consistently puts out solid product. It has a lovely golden orange color that gleams in the glass. The aromas are delicate with some banana notes as well as slight citrus and light funk. What really stands out is the taste and drinkability. Banana again on the palate with a little lemony zest on the back, the Le Merle reminds me a lot of Hennepin. While this may not be as traditional as, say, Saison Dupont, this is a beautiful beer and one that I will try again.

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Photo of sweethome
4.01/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ML bottle - corked. Quite a blast when I popped the cork. Pour is hazy honey color, thick white head. Climbed right to the top of my Verboden Vrucht Goblet. Okay lacing.

Nose is quite subdued. A bit of yeast and fruity esters.

Nice dry entry, then some fruity malts, effervescent, some yeast, honey, flower petals. Very nice build on the mouthfeel. Drives out and back, bringing in a nice hop bittering in the back of the mouth and on the finish, but not much hop flavor until the very end. I don't think they used any spices here. Fruity flavors, pineapple and mango come to mind.

A very nice representation of the style. Reminds me a lot of the anniversary beer this brewery did for Whole Foods. Slightly drier if my memory serves me.

This is one fine drinking beer, every thing I love about this style - refreshing yet complex, flavorful yet sublime, brings in the best of every ingrediant.

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Photo of ahalloin
3.74/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Poured from the 750mL corked bottle. A: Pours a golden yellowy fluid that seems unfiltered in that it is not translucent. The head that formed quickly (and dominated the glass) is luxuriant and fluffy with larger bubbles near the outside and smaller foam bubbles at the center. Even on the second pour, the head was huge and frothy. Carbonation continues to sneak through the fluid as it sits in the glass. S: The smell has that characteristic yeasty Belgian Saison quality. The underlying base is Belgian yeast but a little wild with citrus, other fruits, and spice! T: The flavor carries a nice hoppy punch at the nose which gives way to a peppery, fruity dry finish. MF: The carbonation is full and tickles the tongue throughout. The balance seems skewed toward the hoppiness, in other words, I could use a little more body to the beer. Overall an interesting example of the style.

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Photo of Franchise
4.62/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This offering from North Coast pours a foggy orange leaving a very carbonated body and a thick 3in head. The nose is fantastic, lemon, orange, wheat, honey, musty, grass, earthy spicy hops with a sour citrus, candi sugar, ending.

The taste is dry, crisp, salty, sweet carbonation in this fruity mouthfeel. Spicy, delicious clove honey, ripened fruit, plums, pears, peaches, wheat, syrupy coating the back of the tongue with a sweet earthy bitterness in the finish.

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Photo of Atlas1
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Cool. A North Coast saison. I like it. I like it a lot.

Popped the cork to a hugely carbonated beer. Man. After letting this one sit for a while, to blow off some steam so to speak, I was able to sit down and sip. But the pour yielded a massive foamy white head. It looked like a bubble bath on top of fizzy cloudy apricot-colored liquid. Good lace. Waaaay too much carbonation for me to start things off, but the initial product sure was good looking. And it did finally die down after all. The nose is fruity (peach, lemon, orange) and spicy. Pepper and coriander and clove rise into my nostrils. Sweet, almost sugary malt scent is there as well. Very nice, but subtle. The taste follows suit, delivering a spicy fruity kick with a noticeable dryness. Really tasty beer, this saison. Mouthfeel is tangy and dry.

This is another quality product from the gang at North Coast. I'm a fan of the saison/farmhouse style but I don't drink them very often. This one is a bit fruitier than some I've had, but I think it actually adds depth to this beer in my opinion. Really nice stuff here. More please.

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Photo of grub
3.85/5  rDev -1.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

sampled may 24/08 as part of biegaman's annual summer saison tasting, with a mix of BA/RB represented. biegaman shared this one, so thanks jan!

750ml bottle, corked and caged.

pours crystal clear golden yellow with a small fluffy white head. the head drops slowly and leaves a few spots of lace.

aroma is nice. touch of alcohol. bread. cracker. light spice, but i'm not picking out any one in particular. light floral hops.

taste is good. medium bitterness level. nice light citrus character - orange, tangerine, bit of grapefruit. white bread. crackers. alcohol. light floral character again.

mouthfeel is good. medium-high carbonation level. medium-light body with a nice dry finish.

drinkability is good. a little more bitter than i'd expect from a saison, but it works. i also enjoyed the subtle spicing. overall, quite nice.

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Photo of irishkyle21
4.16/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours with a huge white head. Great lacing and retention. A rush of bubbles after each refile. Has a hazy golden color.

Smells of yeasty spices, citrus, other fruits and a little sour funkiness.

This is one refreshing and drinkable beer. Tastes of light grassy/citrusy hops, spices, a bit of funk and tartness.

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Photo of giblet
4.32/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

9 dollars for this bottle. i forgot to look at the size but it was big! the fact that you got a lot of beer that was very good made it worth it.

it poured nice and crazy. about 3 inches of head with very active and steady carbonation. very tiny bubbles but a bunch of them. smells fruity like citrus yet earthy. cloudy pale color with some yeast that is near impossible to not disturb. i had my bottle that sat in the fridge for two weeks, carefully uncorked it, and very carefully poured it. i was so careful that when it was half empty i let the bottle lay on its side so as to not disturb any more yeast.

taste is quite good. very much the belgian style with sweet citrus, nice tingle on the palate yet with nice dry finish. crazy lacing too.

suckem up and movem out.


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Photo of spointon
4.33/5  rDev +10.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I poured this one from a 750ml brown bottle featuring the slogan "American Artisan Series".

A= This ale is a beautiful, slightly dark yellow color with lots of streaming carbonation release. The head poured 2 inches of creamy white froth and hung on for a long time - eventually settling to 1/4 inch. Lacing was pretty good down the glass.

S= This one smells of lemon, candied sugar, yeast, alcohol and yes, that famed saison horse blanket aroma (its a good thing).

T= This ale is complex! While I would say it fair to call it typically fruity/funky from the Belgian yeast, it is also slightly sour in the middle/end of a swallow. Cleanses the palate well and leaves you wanting more!

MF= Light and refreshing body. The carbonation makes this a perfect ale for a hot summer day.

D= Another outstanding ale from North Coast brewery. I will definitely seek out more of this...

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Photo of IdleAaron
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Apperanc: Golden yellow, reminds me of wheat.

Smell: Grain, citrus (grape fruit?) Candy sweet finish.

Taste: First taste wasn't too great I thought it was skunked. I think this may be due to the huge head (3"). After I let it settle back it was much better. I tated citrus with a nice clove finish.

Mouthfeel: Sharp, crisp, full, good.

Drinkability: Easy drinking.

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Photo of pershan
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at Frisco Grille in Columbia, MD.

The beer poured a cloudy, dark straw color with a thin white head into a chalice. The aroma had that distinctive Belgian yeast profile, with sweet and sour components. The flavor was more of the same, with bubble-gum sweetness and sour apple tartness both fairly prevalent. The sweet/sour flavor lasted long after the last swallow - an interesting style. A fairly fizzy mouthfeel. All in all, a very refreshing and drinkable beer for those hot summer days that will surely be showing up here in the Baltimore area fairly soon.

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Photo of MMAJYK
4.47/5  rDev +14.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A- Bright and golden. Transparent. Head is 1" and lacing is decent with slight patch work on the sides of the glass.

S- Citrusy of lemons and oranges. The candi sugar is present and melds well with the citrus.

T- Very clean and crisp with same citrus notes carrying over from the nose. The candi sugar though is not so strong as in the nose which is nice. That sweetness gets old to me pretty quickly. This is the best tasting Saison I have ever tried.

M- Relatively thin and super clean. Carbonation is high. Very refreshing.

D- Too drinkable. I got a bottle for my g/f while sitting at The Map Room in Chicago. I had to help her drink this. Amazing brew.

Overall- This is the most clean and refreshing Saison I have tried to date. Very true to style and just outstanding.

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Photo of MrHungryMonkey
3.95/5  rDev +1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Rich straw color, with golden hues. Not exactly clear, it's more translucent. Massive head - so nice.

Tart yeasty aromas. An underlying malt bed Wild smell.

Oh my. Wild tartness with an earthy funk really pokes through. Soft malt character is unobtrusive behind the wildness. A little alcohol is notable in the very back. After the initial pizzazz the flavors balance a little more into a highly drinkable brew. Medium body, mild carbonation.

I love the wild twang, it draws me in for more and is very satisfying. Num.

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Photo of malcontent
3.91/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hazy, golden body highlighted by gobs of streaming bubbles feeding the two fingers of rocky head. Average lacing follows.

Aspirin-like phenols mask aromas of hay and clove in an otherwise uneventful nose. Hold that, hints of mango surface as the drink warms. Cool.

Apple skins, slight citrus peel twang lead into what I swear is a Belgian Special B malt body. Discernible hop finish winds up clean after all is said and done.

Full mouthfeel with carbonation that borders on over aggressive. Still, a good try at the style from one of the more consistent American breweries.

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Photo of dedrinker
3.75/5  rDev -4.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A hazy orange glow with a disappointingly thin white head. Aromas of oranges and lemon grass. Flavors of coriander, citrus, alcohol, and a fresh, doughy malt-like character hides beneath. Prickly carbonation, medium body, bitter-spiced finish. My bottle says 9% alcohol, not 7.9%

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

Had on draft at the Frisco Grill, Columbia, MD.

A- Pours a nice hazy gold, with an ample white head.

S- Smells of yeast and sweet malt.

T- Begins rather sweet, but is balanced, lots of fruit/citrus, a very pleasant biscuit finish.

M- Lots very small bubbles, no fizziness, medium body.

D- A very drinkable beer, quite refreshing.

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 1,326 ratings.
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