Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

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Le MerleLe Merle

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

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: 508 | Ratings: 1,308
Photo of scott451
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip. A towering bubbly white head on a fairly hazy apricot. Strong carbonation. The head soon diminishes to a persistent thin layer. Minimal lacing.

Very nice smell. Understated sweet spices with some citrusy malts. In the taste there are complex malts with a nice bite at the finish. Fruit flavours come out as it warms. A pronounced lingering twang at the finish.

Medium body and well carbonated. Very drinkable. True to the style. This could be tweaked into a very nice saison.

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

I love the experience of uncorking a beer, so points for that, although the tortured blackbird is not really what I think of when I think of this beer. The first pour had a way-too-aggressive head, but second pour settled to one-finger and a hazy gold beer with just a bit of carbonation around the edges.

Smell is flowers and fruits with a bit of banana and spice, taste hits you sweet up-front and then dries out like a nice wine with some substantial spice and a lot of citrus, a light, bubbly mouthfeel with a touch of alcohol. Not very funky at all, but a very solid American un-funky interpretation of the style.

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Photo of HamdenHector
4.18/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

A: moderately hazy; medium gold in color; 2 finger off white head that receded to a wispy cap; very nice, long lasting lacing;

S: coriander is predominant with a little citrus and black pepper behind it;

T: coriander up front; some citrus tartness gets added in the middle, followed by orange pith; moderate bitterness with a little spice at the finish;

M; medium bodied; moderate to high carbonation; moderately dry finish; hides the ABV well;

O: nicely done;

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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 brureview
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
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 vfgccp
4.19/5  rDev +7.2%
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 morimech
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a clear golden color with a large white head that hangs around for a very long time. Had to pour slowly and carefully to avoid foam from overflowing the glass. Heavy lacing is left on the glass. The smell is citrus and lemons. Just a light spice note in the aroma. The flavor has a huge citrus and lemon element up front. Just a hint of spice and finishes very dry. Light body with abundant carbonation. I enjoyed this Saison as it is more citric and less spicy. I also enjoyed the dry finish.

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

A - Honey with orange highlights. Big head that subdued tons of tiny bubbles.

S - Apples and pears, spiciness I am assuming from the yeast. Very refreshing.

T - Apples and pears with a biscuity malt. Spiciness (again assuming from the yeast).

M - a tasty dry finish that keeps you wanting more.

D - WOW. Where is the 7.9%??? Dangerous.

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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 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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Photo of stewart124
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Righteous Room.

Poured into a snifter this was golden with a decent amount of white head and lace. When it was poured into the snifter my guess was this was bigger than 5%.

Nose has plenty of Belgian spice, green apple and pear esters with some grassy notes.

Taste is clean and refreshing. Nice amount of light bread characters with some more grass and earthy notes. More apple and pear esters hit the spot with just a touch of lemon. Mouthfeel is light to medium with just the right amount of carbonation. There are hops present and they do add something of a grassy-earthy spice or zest. All this comes together in the finish and it is a tart but clean dry finish.

Another job well done by North Coast. This left me wanting nothing more than another snifter of Le Merle.

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Photo of WYVYRN527
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

750 ml. bottle, corked and caged, poured into a tulip glass.

A: Deep golden in color, almost orange, with a foamy white head that slowly settles. Lacing is solid and sticky.

S: Yeasty up front, with some honey notes, giving way to some citrus, pepper, and grassy undertones.

T: Fresh bread and funky yeast in the foreground, with a mid-palate consisting of pepper, citrus, and fruity esters. Finish is clean and has a grassy note.

Notes: Moderate to medium in body, with a very clean mouthfeel. Great complex flavor and balance make this a very palatable brew. For the money, Le Merle is a steal, as it rivals some of its Belgian counterparts.

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Photo of KrisPaulk77
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Le Merle is my first experience with Saison, and Saison-styled ales. I was not disappointed.
The beer was poured into a Chimay goblet. It poured a light and hazy golden yellow. It was capped with a nice and fat white head. Some lacing was seen.
The aroma was spicy and citric, with some sugar and malt sweetness, some Belgian yeast aromas, and a hint of banana. Very little in the way of hops on the nose.
The taste was a mixture of components. Notes of pepper and apples and citrus mingled with a little funk, malt sweetness, crackers, bready yeast, Belgian spice, and something floral, while the crispness of the mouthfeel, and the dryness of the finish all made for a wonderful beer.
Again, this is my first experience with the saison style. I will be returning to sample more beers of this style. Thanks to North Coast for a beer like Le Merle. Truly enjoyable.

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

Poured in a Duvel glass from a cork-finished 75cl bottle at my house (purchased from State Line Liquors in Md)

Pours a straw golden with a thick fluffy white head.

Classic Saison nose, wheat, spice, goodness - a touch of light fruit

Yeast, wheat, pear, apple and banana with coriander, clove and a hint of pepper.

nicely carbonated, easy to drink, refreshing in the heat. A great Saison, it would be fun to have this, Dupont and Fantome at the same time for a taste-off

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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 blackc5
4.2/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Well, my web browser just ate my full review, so I will summarize this quickly. Overall an excellent saison, and one I would buy again. I really enjoyed the balance of flavors and the wonderful mouthfeel. Taste is nicely balanced between the earthy hops, the yeasty flavors and the touch of tropical fruit.

It is dry and crisp, yet somewhat creamy, with little sweetness and just a touch of bitter. Overall, I quite enjoyed it and drinkability is very high for an 8%'er.

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

A: Slightly hazey golden yellow color that creates a large healthy off-white head.

S: I smell sweet and spicey with a faint honey and fruity undertones.

T: A nice musty yeast funk with some honey and other minor spices (maybe pepper), exactly what strong summer seasonal should be..

M: Great carbonation, with an extremely smooth start and a dry tart finish that prevents you from putting the glass down without taking another sip

One of my favorite farmhouse, strong summer ales that I have ever sampled. I really like this beer.

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

On-tap poured into snifter.

A - Poured golden yellow, transparent with slight head that dissipates quickly leaving slight lacing around the glass.

S - Very fruity and earthy with spices.

T - Slightly bitter at first followed by fruits and lots of them.

M - Medium bodied with medium carbonation.

D - Very good saison and abv is pretty well hidden which makes you want it more.

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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 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 ktrillionaire
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

A - The brew pours a golden-orange hue, and is capped with a stratospheric head, a la Duvel. Surprisingly little lace results.

S - The nose is quite funky. I get a blast of green apple, hay-straw, and green grassy notes. As it opens up, lemon verbena and apple cider notes appear.

T - The caramel-type base is unfortunate here, because with a purely pale-pils type of malt, this would be phenomenal. As is, it is quite good. Flavor specifics include breadiness, orchard fruit, apple skin, herbal and floral blossom notes, and a sweet booze punch on the finish.

M - Pretty good; no complaints here.

O - I am surprised how good this is. I guess I shouldn't be, as North Coast makes several high quality brews.

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Photo of CascadeConan
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Very light straw color, fizzy head and an eruption of carbonation flowing from the bottom of the glass, puts champagne to shame.

The smell is a grab-bag ranging from a slight musty, wet hay to tart citrus, earth and the subdued spice of the yeast.

The taste is tart, lemon zest, earthy with noble hops, white pepper and coriander. A beautiful dry twang on the end of each sip that is complimented nicely by the higher level of carbonation and a medium body.

This beer is very drinkable, well hidden alcohol and paired nicely with rosemary, fingerling potatoes and lamb. I really enjoyed this beer and I can see myself heading for more saisons like this in the future.

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Photo of tiffanya
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into Stella Artois 40cl glass.

Appearance: Golden-amber haze, rocky head, ample lacing on the glass as the head slowly fades.

Nose: Fruity, lightly musty, hint of spice.

Taste: Light bitterness. Soft malts with fruit/citrus. Notes of peppery spice. Hint of tartness.

Mouth-feel: Light-medium.

Le Merle was quite quaffable and didn't have an overwhelming musty-wet-blanket aroma that accompanies some saisons. Drank the entire bottle in about an hour-and-a-half. Would like to revisit this one again.

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Photo of joaopmgoncalves
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Poured to a Duvel glass.

A: The body is opaque orange-y to copper-y. Poured a two finger thick white head that soon became a very thin head with lots of retention and lacing.
S: I'm currently with a cold that unables me to feel the aroma in its wholr but I can feel the phenolic touch with a very proeminent profile of yeast and breadiness.
T: Sweet, Bready and yeasty. Actually, as I drink this beer it feels like a mariage between a wheat beer and a belgian strong pale ale. Which actually explains the opaqueness in the appearance.
M:The mouthfeel is very soft eith an awesom crescendo of bitterness to a mild level. High carbonation, high body. Great.
O: Second North Coast beer. As a saison, I look at this with a mix of wheat beet and BSPA. It explains the variations on a BSPA base. It's really interesting.

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Photo of edrachman
4.23/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I had this on a cool summer evening in the back yard.

It pours very well with just the right amount of head. The look was a very hazy, almost cloudy golden straw color -- very nice actually.

Very sweet smell with hints of fruit.

Taste was very good, light malty taste in the background with straw upfront. However, my bottle had a fair amount of carbonation. Definately a drinkable beer and could have another right now!

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Le Merle from North Coast Brewing Co.
88 out of 100 based on 508 ratings.
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