Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
517 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: 517 | Ratings: 1,344
Photo of cjgiant
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%

A: nice straw yellow, hazy with a fluffy white head. Visible carbonation sustains this for a while.

S: a light funky smell combined with such fruits as apple, pear, white wine (grape), and perhaps nectarine. The is also a light spice noticeable, which also resembles an alcohol whiff in some smells.

T/M: the initial tastes remind me of white wine with a dull farmhouse undercurrent (hay, tobacco). As the beer warms, there's also a prune/plum taste. The carbonation is quite strong, adding a slight bite to the earthy spices that come along a little after the initial flavors. The lingering taste resembles the fleshy fruit from the smell, but more balanced with the overall farmhouse taste and feel.

O: a more fruity version of a saison, less dry than a bunch I have had. I enjoyed it more than those, as the style is sometimes just a bit earthy and dry for my tastes.

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Photo of barnzy78
3.83/5  rDev -2.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

12oz bottle, 2014, 7.9%
A 3.5 - peachy-golden ale with a thin off-white head that fades fairly quickly to a foam
S 3.5 - fruity, peach, apricot, white wine, apple juice, yeast
T 4 - lots of fruity esters: apple, grape, peach, apricot, papaya; yeast, lighter malt notes as this seems to ride off the yeast and esters for flavor
M 4.25 - fuller body, effervescent, finishes dry and fairly clean with some faint white pepper on the finish
O 3.75 - enjoyable, but not something I'd get again.

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Photo of Hesscabob
4.49/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Tried about 3 years ago and realized I did not do a review. A golden, hazy, bubbly saison with tons of fruity and spicy aroma leaving the glass. My first saison and I was so intrigued by Le Merle that I named my dog after it. Truly a great saison for warm, cold or whatever weather/ time of the year.

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

12oz bottle poured into a tulip
A: Golden orange with a 1.5-finger head
S: Light wheat, cereal, a hint of fruit esters and Belgian yeast
T: Matches the nose adding a bit of pronounced citrus and light hop notes
M: Medium-bodied with pleasant carbonation
O: Refreshing, surprisingly light on its feet and with good balance. Fits the style well; enjoyable on a warm summer afternoon

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Photo of 57md
3.67/5  rDev -6.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Pours a light and clear copper color with a finger of head that quickly dissipates down to a film of froth. The nose is classically funky. The funky yeast is also upfront in the flavor profile. There are mild peppery notes in the finish, which is the best part of this drinking experience.

This is a decent example of the style, but “decent” is about the best I can offer for a review.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.05/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a one of my glasses out of the 12 oz bottle. This beer pours a clear, light to medium golden color with a nice thick, fluffy white head that is over an inch thick when first poured. Head eventually settles to a nice ring lining the inside of eh glass and some decent lacing. Has some nice fruity aromas of papaya and apricot along with some peppery spices and funkyness. The aforementioned spice is very much upfront tastewise and it gives way to flavors of fruit such as banana, apple, papaya, apricot, and even a bit of grape. Rounded out with a very slight touch of salty vinegarness. Weird and not what I would expect for a finish flavorwise from a beer of this style, but it actually works very well. has a crisp, smooth, medium bodied mouthfeel with moderate carbonation. Easy to drink in the way well crafted beer should be. Dangerously drinkable for its 7.9% ABV I'd say, as the 7.9% ABV is nicely masked.


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Photo of SABERG
3.82/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from a 12 oz bottle into a modified tulip glass.
A - Color of day lily, beautiful carbonation traces through a field of flower rests against a pillowing white head.
S - French saison yeast base? Modest nose, flowers from the day before, hints of tangerine, blood orange.
T - Aged lemongrass, tangerine skin, grain is tightly wrapped around the fruit esters.
M - Carbonation keeps this in step, body is on the thicker side, oils reside on the mouth for a sweet linger. Not offensive.
O - A fine offering, leans to the meaty side of fence. The beer pours beautifully, glows in the glass and with a slightly lighter body could be spectacular.

Cheers all

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Photo of thecheapies
3.84/5  rDev -2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 4

Goldy-blonde. Lightly turbid. I got the short stack, for head. Quickly made into a ring.

Floral aromas of fruit yeast, wildflower, and fusel. Marmalade, white pepper, and dry tropical rind.

Flowery yeast esters, booziness, kumquat, white peach, faint pepper, and pear. Not musty enough. Needs some farmhouse stank. Really piquant, as is.

Alcohol costs this one points. Thin body and mild carbonation, but all kinds of breathy heat sneaking in.

A solid beer. More like a BSPA brewed with saison yeast, in my book.

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Photo of Kurt_Dog
4.01/5  rDev +2.3%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

One of the best Saisons I have had made by a US brewery. North Coast makes some good stuff. Aroma of light sour lemons. Taste of Belgium yeast. Quite nice, refreshing, would seak out again. I really like Old Rasputin as well. Nice to drink local beers from California. Fresh and delish.

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Photo of Stinkypuss
3.45/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.5

Pours a light golden color with a white head and some lacing. Pours with excellent clarity from tap to snifter. The aroma has citrus as well as peach or pear juice. Nice fruity nose. The taste is earthier but still has a fruitiness. Grassy, milky citrusy hop character works with the fruit and damp hay notes. Fair bitterness, the brew finishes clean and balanced. Overall, this is a pretty decent saison, for an American version.

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

12 oz bottle from "Lifesource" in Salem $3.49 Pours a slightly hazy,fine carbonated golden colour..large rocky white head. fine summer fruit aromas ,nectarine, papaya, some apricot., a little barnyard hay in the back. Nice Taste is the same but a little more spicy/peppery and floral. Nice mouth feel..very fine carbonation. Long lasting after taste from the hops I assume. A fine beer for a warm humid spring night

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Photo of MartzMimic
4.15/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4.25

Pours from the bottle a clear gold with a foamy white head. A heady aroma of yeast, barnyard funk, spices and fruit. Those are all present in the taste, but there's a bit of sweetness present as well. The fruit - banana, apple, grape, some citrus - really comes through with great balance. Medium mouth, but a little chewy. Still, the carbonation gives this beer the crispness you expect from a saison. La Merle will definitely be added to my list of favorite farmhouse ales.

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Photo of MattyG85
4.37/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a Duvel tulip glass.

Appearance: Pours a very hazy straw golden orange with a moderate amount of bubbles. Big two finger white head that slowly fades into a thin film. Leaves a decent amount of lacing.

Smell: A yeasty, fruity, and fairly spicy Belgian style aroma with a good presence of Belgian yeast and fruit hints. Upfront Belgian yeast with hints of farmhouse funk along with some clove, pepper, and coriander spicing. Sweet hints of Belgian candied sugar. Pale malt with hints of wheat, straw, grains, and cracker. Fruit hints of banana, apple, pear, white grape, lemon, and orange. Some bubblegum hints as well. Subtle earthy hop background with hints of grass. A very good Saison aroma.

Taste: Like it smells, a nicely yeasty, spicy, and fruity Belgian Saison style aroma with good notes of dried fruit and spices. Upfront Belgian yeast with good notes of farmhouse funk, clove, white and black pepper, and coriander. Pale malt with bready notes of wheat, grains, straw, and cracker. Sweet taste of Belgian candied sugar. Big fruit presence with dry notes of banana, apple, lemon, orange, pear, and white grape. Some notes of bubblegum along with some earthy hop notes of grass. A very good taste.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with a carbonation level on the higher side. Nicely spicy and drying on the finish.

Overall: A really good American take on a Belgian Saison. Very good mix of yeast, spice, and fruit flavors.

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Photo of ryan1788a5
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into a North Coast tulip.

A: Crystal clear golden color. Rocky off white head retains well. Blotches of thick foamy lacing.

S: Very complex yeast aromas. Good and musty. Freshly ground black pepper. Clove. Perfumey. Grassy and oily hops. Stale bread and crackers. Vague tropical fruits and perhaps some pitted fruits (dates?) far in the background.

T: Nice and tart up front. Citrus rind tartness. Tropical fruits, pithy orange and tangerine. Lots of musty yeast. Medium malt sweetness. Moderate clovey phenols and some oily hops temper this sweetness. Alcohol is perceptible toward the back end. Medium sweet finish with a lot of lingering yeasty must.

M: Hefty medium body. Stiff scrubbing carbonation effectively lifts it off the palate and keeps it from feeling weighty. Mild alcohol warmth.

O: Great stuff. It's a very brawny and muscular saison. Not as light and drinkable as most in the style tend to be these days, but it's very complex and bold.

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Photo of highTempo
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Serving: 12 oz bottle poured into a goblet.

The color is a warm amber, with an orange undertone and a bit of cloudiness/haziness. I've seen others describe this as 'straw' but this glass is definitely darker and more red than that. The red tones and richness of the color is unusual for a saison and really nice.

It pours with a foamy, clear white head but it dissipates quickly. I would like a little bit more retention in the head but all that's left is a little lacing after less than a minute. Still, the color is great.

The smell is definitely like a cider. Other folks that have said that up here are spot on. It's a bit sharp and crisp - hits the back of the nose. There's some citrus and just a little bit of malt and yeast. The carbonation already comes through in the nose.

The flavor really picks up for me. It's definitely still fruity. There's some herbal quality, maybe grassy, with just a bit of bitterness at the end. The finish is really rapid which matches the 'sparkling' quality of this beer. There's not much alcohol presence and what is there hits and evaporates quickly. It's only a little bit sweet to me. The citrus quality counters that nicely and the finish is dry.

Overall the carbonation is what I would call 'sharp' and 'small'. The body is thin and sparkling. it's light for a saison. This is a good beer for people who like 'crisp' beers.

I would recommend this for people who like hard ciders, traditional Hefes, or who want a drinkable beer that has a remarkably high alcohol content relative to the body and 'drinkability'. It's not my favorite saison ever but it's very good and I'd definitely grab a bottle if I saw it available again.

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Photo of JCarey
2.9/5  rDev -26%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.25

Corked 750 with a cool label. Was only 7.49 so I picked it up.

Pale orange with pretty minimal effervescence for a Saison. Half finger of head recedes quickly but leaves behind a small cap and some thin lacing.

Aroma is pretty barren Saison. I'm getting a lot of Apple Cider. No noticeable hop or malt character, and pretty mild for style. Not a whole lot of yeast personality in this beer. Reminds me more of a wine than a Saison.

Again, starts with apple cider. No hop flavors and very minimal bitterness. Ends slightly malty. With a bit of toast and bread. Not much of the yeast character I've come to love about the style presents itself. I get a bit on the very back of the swallow, but I wish that was more pronounced to the front and throughout.

Dry, but not the crisp dryness I should be getting. A bit sweet and keeps the mouthfeel from really being what it should.

I wish I liked this beer, but I'll pass on it the next time I see this in the store. I want to finish by saying that I am in NJ and this is a West Coast brewery. I think this beer suffered from being corked, as it was pretty swollen and tough to get out.

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Photo of Badger6
3.94/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured out of a bomber into a tulip.

A: Pale coppery yellow body, with a nice bubbly head that recedes to a retained layer of head on the surface of the beer. Lots of lacing.

S: Bready and yeasty, Peppery spice notes and tree fruits.

T: Yeasty phenols with pepper and citrus. Bready and sweet. A little bit of funk in the finish, with some booziness. Very nice to drink.

M: Light with a medium carbonation, mild bitterness.

O: Huge fan of the North Coast brewery, and finding this was a real treat. Did not disappoint. Very good quality, and a nice rendering of the saison style. Only complaint would be the amount of the sweetness, just a little too much.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.02/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle was poured into a tulip.

Appearance: A one finger head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a pale yellow with great clarity and vision of bubbles coming up through the glass. Spotty lacing on the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Bready, vanilla, yeasty esters, spices, pepper, floral, and apple.

Taste: Pepper, citrus, bitterness, bready, vanilla, apple, yeasty, and a little booze. Nice stuff

Mouthfeel: Light bodied, a little dry, medium to high carbonation, a little chewy, and mild bitterness in the rear.

Overall: The warm weather is headed to Boston. So happy to be enjoying this beer as the weather gets warmer. Many more if these as the weather gets better.

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Photo of CowsandBeer
4.06/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle with cool holographic label poured into a Tallgrass Brewing Co tulip.

Appearance: Pours a clear golden body with three big fingers of thick white head. Persistent head and nice lacing.

Aroma: Peppery yeast, grassy hops, damp cellar, lemon tartness, orange sweetness. The pepper notes meld really well with the tartness and hops. I could smell this forever.

Taste: Upfront is all white pepper, hay and spicy yeast. Middle is taken by the citrus fruits and the grassy hops. Finishes with a nice biscuit malt backbone.

Mouthfeel: Prickly carbonation, slightly drying, warming.

Overall: A refreshing, easy drinking saison which I can see myself drinking in the summer. Peppery, grassy, and nicely tart. Worth a try at least once.

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Photo of brureview
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The beer was a clear golden color with a 1/2 finger head poured into a tulip.

Carbonation bubbles from the bottom of the glass.

The aroma was excellent: light clove and spice. Most Saisons have spice and/or clove; this aroma delicately worked well into the balance of the beer. The aroma transitions well into the taste.

Mouth feel: carbonated- not overdone as in many other Saisons.

Taste : excellent. Fruity, spice, clove. Sometimes the taste in a Saison is not fruity enough or is dwarfed by the spice. In this beer, there is delicacy and nice balance of fruit and spice in the taste.

Finish- spicy- works well in the aroma/taste character of the beer.

Overall: one of the better Saisons I have tasted in a while. Well balanced, fruity, spicy, not too carbonated, and well balanced.

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Photo of mactrail
3.96/5  rDev +1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Fruity and moderately sweet with the usual Belgian drying finish. Hazy golden color with just beautiful piles of foam. Not a gusher, but the lacing and clouds of bubbles after each sip are as lovely as I've seen.

Aroma is spicy with the fermenting pineapple smell. Flavor is rich with that funky tang that counteracts the malty sweetness. Pear fruitiness and apple skin tannins. A bold amount of clove-like spiciness emerges after some sipping, though that maybe that's the sediment talking.

This is in many ways a model Saison. It's on the strong side, but with enough flavor to drink well. It also doesn't have that overdose of yeasty craziness that I find too often in clumsier examples. Also this is the best I've had from a brewery that does not do much for me otherwise. From the 12 oz bottle purchased at Bine & Vine in San Diego.

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Photo of superspak
4.32/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 ounce bottle into tulip glass, bottled on 1/17/2014. Pours slightly cloudy golden amber color with a 1-2 finger dense white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Spotty foamy lacing clings on the glass, with a moderate amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of huge lemon zest, peach, apricot, pear, apple, orange peel, straw, grass, pepper, clove, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Fantastic aromas with great complexity of fruity/spicy yeast ester and moderate malt presence; and great strength. Taste of big lemon zest, peach, apricot, apple, pear, orange peel, clove, pepper, straw, grass, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness. Lingering notes of lemon zest, peach, apricot, apple, pear, orange peel, clove, pepper, straw, grass, wheat, bread, light honey, herbal, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a while. Incredible complexity of fruity/spicy yeast ester flavors with moderate malt sweetness; with an awesome malt/yeast flavor balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium-high carbonation and medium bodied; with smooth, crisp, and slightly slick mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is very well hidden with only a slight warming present after the finish. Overall this is a fantastic saison! All around awesome complexity and balance of fruity/spicy yeast ester and malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to sip on for the ABV. A highly enjoyable offering.

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Photo of BierJager89
4.41/5  rDev +12.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Dark translucent honey golden with a creamy, foamy light tan head.

S: Apple. red berries, citrus, earthy poppy and Belgian yeast in the nose.

T: Sweet citrus, honey, mango and tropical fruit flavors. Delicious!

M: Perfect amount of carbonation, medium-light bodied and refreshing.

O: The touch of honey flavor really pulls everything together and makes this one of my favorite saisons.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.19/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A - Nice, towering white head with ok retention and low lace. Massive amounts of carbonation in the class. Straw yellow body.

S - Lemongrass, fresh celery, peaches, earthy hay. Nice fruit sweetness.

T - Bright lemon and parsley right up front into an orange zest, yeast, and dry grass center. Delicious peach chutney backend finishes dry.

M - Medium frame with great carbonation.

O - A really nice saison on the fruity side of the style.

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Photo of HoppyBastard
4.27/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

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

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

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

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

PALATE: Highly carbonated and finishes dry, very drinkable.

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

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
3.92 out of 5 based on 1,344 ratings.
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