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Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

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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: 512 | Ratings: 1,319
Photo of mynie
4.38/5  rDev +12%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very, very nice pour. Goodness. It's been a while since I've come across a beer such as this. Looks almost like Duvel. Sunshiney yellow, perfect haze, perfect big retentive white head.

Smells like a really good saison. Spot-on saison. Lemony, weedy malt profile with big spicy yeast and a solid background of noble european hops. Complex and firm without being overwhelming or showy.

Tastes just as firm, just as perfectly balanced. Weeds and citrus start things off and they move quickly into the really wonderful middle dominated by firm, spicy Belgian yeast. There's not that much to describe (I always feel silly attempting poetry while describing the way a beer tastes, anyways...) aside from that fact that the balance here is simply perfect.

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

Note: This is the first Saison I've tried, so I'm not really sure whether or not this is typical of the style. I was fairly impressed with this one though.

Poured from a 25.4 oz bottle into a snifter.

A - Pours a hazy copper with an impressive creamy off-white head. Plenty of lacing.

S - Green apples, a bit of spice from the hops and some earth notes from the yeast.

T - Citrus and apple up front followed closely by spicy hop notes in the finish. Bready and earthy yeast notes are present throughout.

M - Medium-bodied with a dry finish. The carbonation is a bit higher than I would have liked. The hops leave a slight aftertaste of spice that leaves your palate begging for more.

D - The bottle was big, but I had no problems finishing it. The high carbonation forced me to take it slow so I could burp between sips, but overall this is a very smooth and refreshing beer. I would definately have it again.

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Photo of number1bum
4.13/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

This one pours a hazed pale golden color with some yeast sediment floating around, and a creamy two plus inches of nearly white head on top. Keeps a full lace and leaves some webbing on the sides of the glass.

Smell indicates a pretty nice Belgian yeast strain, with some spice and lemon zest. Also a bit of pale malt sweetness.

Taste is pretty straightforward, but what it is is done quite well. There is a light underlying pale malt sweetness with some yeast and slightly tart lemon flavor, along with some spicy pepper through the finish. Not terribly complex, but quite tasty. Pepper really starts to come out more and more the deeper in the bottle I go.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied and is very crisp with a very forward, but appropriate, carbonation.

This is a very nice saison and I found it quite refreshing. Probably a great intro to the style for someone unfamiliar, as it's not terribly complex or funky. The only thing that puzzles me slightly is that the label makes note of "abundant hops" and "tropical fruit" characteristics, neither of which particularly jump out at me. Oh well, I still like it.

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Photo of dbONE
4.55/5  rDev +16.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

This was given to me in corked belgian bottles from the folk at NC. I went home after the event and poured the 2008 batch in a clean belgian glass.
As the fog emerging from the freshly corked bottle settles it pours nicley into a large belgian glass. The carbonation takes over as the bright golden color appears under the bright whit head.
Citrus and tropical flavors land on the tongue with an explosion of carbonation. Some hints of Brett and spice drop from the sides as the glass tips to lace the glass like, well lace.
The mouthfeel is light and it stickes to a touch of sourness that plays into the aftertaste.
An easy drink that will find yourself opening the other bottle you were gonna cellar.

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

07/19/08- Purchased at Ledger's in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 750ml bottle. Forgot to look for freshness info. Poured into my Troutslayer tulip.

Appearance- Golden yellow-orange colored pour. Full one inch plus pillowy head. A nice large rim remains for the duration of the beer. Leaves behind small specks, spots and light sheets of lace.

Smell- Typical saison style nose with a good amount of corriander, clove, white pepper, etc.

Taste- I've had three of these over the past year and found two of them to be slightly metallic, although the last one I had was not. It had a nice authentic belgian style yeast flavor with some mild funk. Decent amount of corriander with the main flavor concentrated on white pepper, some powdered sugar and a handful of hops.

Mouthfeel- Brisk and above average carbonation level.

Drinkability- Very good job creating this belgian style. Would have liked a bit more funk in the nose and flavor, but I guess you can't ask for everything..well, unless you're Fantome.

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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 Slynger
4.42/5  rDev +13%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

La Merle pours a foggy, orange tinged, honey with a loaded lid of fuzzy-fine ivory.

Most excellent smell. Lightly sweet cookie dough and yeast, along with both sweet and tart sides of lemons, apples, and pears. Throw in some funk, some spice, and a good balance, and there is your nose.

buya. Zesty, spritzy, medium-full with the flavor to back the smell. Biscuity malts with a drop of honey, green apples and pears with drops of lemon, yeasty and black peppery spice with some farmyard funk.

Good f'n beer. Gotta be one of the best Saison's I have tried, rivaling even its Belgian origins.

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Photo of sholland119
4/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A-Pours a cloudy light amber with abundant head and nice lacing.

S-Citrus fruit with a hint of yeast in the background.

T-Very crisp fruitiness and also a little bit tart. A bit of yeastiness and spice in the finish.

M-Light and a bit tart. Pleasant.

D-Very drinkable for the style and ABV.


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

750 ml bottle at the annual biegaman Summer Saison tasting! Thanks Jan.

Pours a cloudy amber/orange, medium sized white head, drops down to a thin ring, some lace spots, looks okay. Smell is okay, a bit buttery, citrus, yeasty, some toast, sour/tart finish, a bit cheesy, not bad. Taste is sugary up front, sweet malt, yeast, butter, some light citrus/orange peel, woody, bread, not bad, light tartness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with high carbonation, refreshing, decent saison. Thanks Jano!

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Photo of IronDjinn
4.15/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Loud robust pop upon releasing the cork on this bottle, followed by the aroma of berries and yeast. Initial pour was almost all head, tall white bubbly head. Eventually what is revealed is a cloudy apricot hued saison, crowned by a thick chunky white head that retains forever it seems.

Wheat, fruit, berries, spiced yeast on the nose, some wet grassy hops. Mild, yet tart and spicy.

Grassy, floral flavour at first, tart wheat and yeast start to ante up in the middle, along with the berry fruit, very faint raspberries that linger on. The finish is a spicy, peppery affair, herbal hops akin to dandelion greens. Possesses a zesty lemon aftertaste, a nice finishing touch, but in the end the raspberries do shine through and linger, along with mild baby greens.

Nice body in the mouthfeel, the carbonation does a fine job of holding up this saison and giving it a decent solid base to be presented on. We've reached the realm of Baby Bear's porridge with this attribute.

I'm not a regular saison drinker, but I'm enjoying this one thoroughly. Not too tart or bitter, my stomach hasn't turned due to the yeast (the 'ol "map of Japan" side-effect in one's undergarments), and I'm craving more. Not only that, but the head still hasn't subsided, still a good finger's width of solid white foam near the bottom of the chalice. Yeah, this one's enough to bring me over to the style, if not this particular label's interpretation. I'll be picking up more.

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Photo of Blakaeris
4.5/5  rDev +15.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours golden yellow with a slight orange hue. Head is initially thick and boisterous but quickly dissipates.

Aroma is full of citrus fruit and peppery yeasty spices. Lemon and pineapple make a strong impression. Abundant hops have a floral character. Alcohol has a strong presence.

Taste is starts off honey sweet with plenty of lemon and tropical fruit. Then the yeasty spices - notably coriander and pepper - take over. Finish is clean and surprisingly bitter with floral hops. Alcohol and mildly tart fruit lingers on the tongue.

Mouthfeel is medium bodied. Not as carbonated as expected, resulting in a slightly syrupy feel.

Overall a pretty good offering. Very accessible and easy to drink, even for the uninitiated. I will drink this again.

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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 joe1510
4.07/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Binny's Orland

Le Merle pours a hazy apricot with enthusiastic carbonation that explodes from all over the glass. The body becomes straw golden when backlit. A soft pour produced a three finger pure white head that eventually fell to a solid finger and never dipped below that. The carbonation keeps the now craggy head around for the entirety of the drink. The head leaves patchy spider webbed lacing here and there down the glass.

The aroma right off the bat is loaded with fresh fruit that's very inviting. Peaches and apricot is the first thing that comes to mind, neither are clear cut but seem to meld together. Each swirl brings forward a helping of orchard fruits; gritty pear, perfectly ripe tart green apples, and although not an orchard fruit, bubblegum. There seems to be a dusty somewhat clove driven yeast in the background. The malts are pale and candied aroma to the overall beer. A mild grassy hoppiness brings up the rear. As this beer warms some mild, clean alcohol fumes greet the nose. I'm conflicted on the scoring for this. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

The flavor doesn't quite live up to the vivid aroma. There's still a fresh fruit platter of ripe refreshing fruitiness that nose suggested but it's more muddled than I would have liked. If each component came out a little more it would make this a great beer but I do think the carbonation has something to do with this. The mild clove, dusty yeast and ripe apricot show up on the swallow to add another layer to this already juicy beer. This is a good beer but the flavor is just too muddied upfront to make it really stand out.

The carbonation is on the high side and seems to detract from the overall flavor and mouthfeel. The carbonation is prickly and moves a little too quickly to let me appreciate the beer the way I'd like. The body is on the lighter side of the spectrum and right where it should be. After this beer sits awhile the carbonation becomes more manageable.

This is a tasty Belgian-style beer. The refreshing fruity qualities and light body make this a treat to sip on warm summer days. Le Merle is a sipper when you take the alcohol into consideration but can go down very easy.

North Coast lists Le Merle as a saison; it reminds me of a hybrid saison/tripel. There's good flavor throughout this beer with a good amount of fresh summer fruits. This is another quality brew from North Coast. I really like the things this brewery does.

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Photo of Jwale73
3.88/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml corked & caged. Served in my Maudite tulip. Poured a hazy orange-gold. Tight, two and one half inch off-white. Head was refreshed with each pour but eventually settled into a thin consistent skim. Some lacing, but very little adhered during the tasting. Scent of belgian yeast, citrus, and perhaps candi sugar, but fairly subdued overall. Taste consistent with nose. Some tartness attributable to the citrus quality, but very clean and crisp, also some wheat and perhaps green apple. Spiciness was very subdued for the style. Mouthfeel is light, effervescent, as well as tart. Somewhat lacking in terms of the qualities that are characteristic of a farmhouse (e.g. spicy character and farmhouse funk), but very drinkable and a solid tribute to the style.

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Photo of JDV
3.58/5  rDev -8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Bottle shared at tasting. Thanks!
Pours a bright golden orange color with a lasting whitish head that left nice lacing. Smell is sweet, floral, and dusty dandelions. Taste is sweet, faintly tart, delicate and floral. Light funky tartness to it gives it some depth and along with the fizzy light body it is quite easy to drink. Nice.

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Photo of Ben4881
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

La Merle
North Coast Brewing Co.

The first thing that strikes me about this beer is the massive billowing white head that sticks around for quite a while and settles to a quarter inch layer of bubbles. Underneath the bubble bath like layer of foam is a beer that is a hazy golden yellow with hints of orange highlights. I was afraid to attempt agitating the yeast in the bottle due to the highly apparent amount of carbonation. After most of the beer was deposited I used what beer was left to agitate the yeast. That had an enormous effect on the color. The beer was much thicker, and no orange was present. The beer became an opaque golden yellow, almost tan color.

To me, this beer smells like a Belgian Ale ought to smell. Yeasty bread notes are present, as well as the fragrance of bananas and a hint of alcohol.

Contrary to the smell, this beer is very sweet and fruity. I detect flavors of apples, peaches, and apricots up front. Then the taste morphs, for a brief moment, into a very strong alcohol flavor. Then, quickly, a fresh fruity finish that gives way to a mild dry aftertaste with a complex combination of alcohol, fruit, and bitterness.

This beer feels just like it looks. It has a medium body, which is expressed in the overall haziness. This beer also has a boat load of carbonation, present in the mammoth eruption of bubbles. The carbonation definitely lightens the body somewhat.

The combination of a strong alcohol flavor and a sweet fruity flavor makes this beer a sipper. The mild dryness of the finish makes taking another sip that much more pleasurable. A pint is ideal for sharing, and I would not be able to take down another in the same sitting.

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Photo of Kraken
4.05/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured from corked and caged 750ml into over sized wine glasses . Split with my brother while waiting for a pizza. Pours with a nice 2 finger off white head. Mild lacing billowy fine head like drifted snow. Smell is fantastic belgain yeast slight candy sugar and a spiceiness. Taste is very nice a slight bit of citris, very rich very smooth and creamy. Very tasty, as it warms you begin to a get a hint of grapefruit, light hop bitterness ,alcohol becomes apparent as it warms. Long finish Mouth feel is complex. Moderate drinkability. Very nice beer true to style

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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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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.91 out of 5 based on 1,319 ratings.
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