Le Merle | North Coast Brewing Co.

very good
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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 jujubeast6000
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed (bottle):

Pours a golden colored body, pretty cloudy, with a smallish white colored head. Has a belgian flower aroma, sugary, and super sweet. Carbonated palte, with a sour taste, mediciney. Warming up, mellower, medicine taste is gone. Flowery taste.

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Photo of phishgator
3.48/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a tulip glass. Nice rich golden, hazy with medium carbonation. Big white head that stays awhile. The notes are of grassy hops, fresh plain yogurt, and Belgian candi sugar. The flavor is very tart and a bit too funky for my tastes, not that it is completely off style, but it more resembles a sour ale than farmhouse. The appearance is great, but after that not much else is working.

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Photo of cpetrone84
3.5/5  rDev -10.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A-very cloudy urine like yellow with tons of thin bubbly off white head.

S-yeasty lemon up front, candied sugar is strong, a fair bit of spice and corriander behind with a touch of grassy hay like hops in the back.

T-much sweeter than the nose would let on. The yeast is subtle but present, tons of candied sugar and lemon with just a hint of banana in the back. the spice is very subtle and almost not there, the hops are citrusy with a touch of hay in the finish.

M-a little light in body but soft and creamy feel to it. It is quite wet and juicy throughout and lacks a dry finish I like. Carbonation is just fine and has a clean crisp finish.

D-this is a little muddled and simple, not bad and easily drinken. Nothing special and a little sweet in the flavor.

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Photo of weatherdog
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

75cL bottle poured into a Duvel tulip

It pours a golden hazy orange with an off-white head that doesn't quit; helped on by the Duvel etching. Minimal lacing down the side of the glass.

The smell is huge pepper and some lemon to me. Classic saison smell. The back end has just a whiff of alcohol.

The taste mirrors a lot of the smell with a huge pepper bite followed by some lemon and maybe some orange. At the end there seems to be something just a little off putting. I don't know if its the yeast or what but the best i can describe it a little oily-tasting. It detracts from the initial good flavor. At the very end there is some Belgian yeast esters with some alcohol as well.

This beer is very carbonated and practically foams in my mouth. I'm glad i choose to use the Duvel tulip to knock some of it out of solution as it's sitting here. Besides that it's pretty light on the tongue and good drinkability. I haven't had that many examples of the style but this one just had something a little off in the taste.

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Photo of Freshie
3.52/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This is one of those styles I am not crazy about. But, I can recognize when I see a good one.

The appearance is golden and cloudy. Foamy white head. Many bubbles rise to the surface.

The smell is fragrant. Fruit, earthy yeast.

The taste is sour, like a cider. Sweet and crisp fruit flavor. Aftertaste is bitter, and yeasty.

This is to be expected in this style but is still not my cup of tea.

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Photo of warnerry
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
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 TheManiacalOne
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

On-tap 12/13/2013 at Track 84, in Warwick, RI served in a tulip glass.

A: The beer is a bright gold color, with a thin white head that fades slowly and leaves a thin lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is faint but contains caramelized malts, Belgian yeast, some spices and some fruit.

T: The taste starts out bready with a hearty but not too heavy malt character and Belgian yeast. Then some mild sweetness comes in from flavors of caramel and a little bit of spice. Then some tart apple flavor follows with a mild but complementary hops presence creating some balance. The after-taste is slightly tart and slightly bready.

M: Crisp and a little smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

O: A little tasty, goes down easily, good kick, not too filling, decent representation of style, it’s a solid beer but there are better choices within the style.

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Photo of bifrostguard
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A - Bubbly, pale yellow translucent color with a small off white head.

S - Lemon, pears, apples with a notable spiciness. Perhaps pepper or nutmeg?

T - Apple and pear fruitiness. Yeasty and spicy. I'm not really enjoying the spice flavors, but they are an interesting interpretation on the style.

M - Smooth, but a bit thin.

D - It's a good beer. Not really to my liking so while I certainly don't mind drinking it, I am ready to switch to something else after one.

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Photo of PEIBeerGuy
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a cloudy, apple juice-yellow. A nice bit of fast-popping white head forms. It lowers quickly, but a mostly full film of it stays the whole drink down.

A bit of green apple, a bit of dough, a creamy smell... perhaps like porridge & milk, and some plantain (more plantain than banana, I think).

The taste is pretty much the same as the smell. Unfortunately, I was expecting something fruitier / hoppier, and ended up getting something that is one of my least favourite flavours of beers.

Very smooth and creamy, but with lots of fizz, too. Leaves a chewy yet dry kind of feel in the mouth. It also leaves a bit of sharp sweetness (it feels/tastes more sweet than bitter) that lingers for a bit that I don't care for... probably one of the main things I don't like about this kind of beer.

Pretty drinkable, but just not my type of thing.

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Photo of NEhophead
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

750ml brown bottle; caged and corked.
Served in a snifter.

Pours a very clouded, brilliant gold with shades of camel. Dense, bright white foam that stands an inch-high for a several moments. Thin patches of lacing with pretty good strength.

Dry, yeast-filled must that overwhelms the senses. Bland pepper and corriander amidst a stiff-malted wheat background. Very faint notes of banana and lemon.

Aggresively tart citrus flavors up-front that last well into the aftertaste: lemon, green apple, pear, lime, and grapefruit. The lingering mustiness doesn't stand a chance to ground the intense sour quality. Slightly burnt malt character with firm notes of black pepper and corriander. The citrus qualities blend quite well in the finish and leave a balanced aftertaste.

Medium bodied; surprisingly clean given the intensity of the citrus flavors, but very active on the palate with on-going waves of carbonation.

This isn't a bad version of a Saison, but it tastes a little too solvent-like and artificial for my taste. Pretty typical for an American Saison in my experience.

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Photo of jbsteiny
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Brought a 750mL back East from BevMo in SF to enjoy with friends. A bit disappointing due to my high expectations -- i love saison and North Coast, so maybe I built myself up too much.

Cloudy orange-gold with a sizable head that recedes to a thin foam and oddly leaves little lacing. Faint aromas -- fruit (white peach, tangerine); biscuity malt, a bit of the funky yeast -- but even when warmed, this never attains appropriate Belgian funkyness for me.

Tastes okay, the coriander and fruit come out with a solid pale malt backbone, but again, I find this lackluster. Dry finish, and eminiently sippable at 8%, but I prefer other examples of the style that are more affordable and better distributed.

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Photo of clayrock81
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a dark gold with orange tints with a frothy white head that sticks around for awhile and leaves sticky lace patches. Has that yeast smell I am accustomed to, as well as some sour fruits with the citric hops and some spices and a faint dose of caramelized malt. Light and smooth, goes down easy with some bubbly carbonation on tongue. Just not the greatest taste though, as the tartness from the fruit flavoring seems to override the taste of the fruits (I'm picking up apple, orange, citric) and the sweet malts. Finishes crisp and dry. Not bad, but I can think of better farm ales.

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Photo of chaz01
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasting portion at a North Coast beer tasting event at a local grocery store. Poured into a champagne flute glass. The beer rep from North Coast indicated that the philosophy of the brewer was to make beers that closely resemble the style guidelines for that type of style (i.e., to make the perfect beer for that style), and that Le Merle was a fine example of that philosophy for the Saison type.

A: Cloudy, golden to light orange in color with a thick foamy head

S: Orange and fruity aroma with some tropical fruit aromas present

T: Somewhat yeasty with a fruity pineapple flavor. Bitter finish, tasting somewhat of orange peel

M: Medium bodied with OK carbonation levels.

D: Light, refreshing and a little bittersweet. A bit more hops that what I normally consider in a saison, but I think that adheres more to the original style. Would make a nice pairing with a fruit cocktail or some type of fruit salad.

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Photo of lionchow
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazy light gold with a big white head that recedes into a rocky white head.

Fruity aroma of pears and apples.

Flavor is slightly sweet, with a spicy yeasty bite. A bit of funk and bitterness lingers. Flavor is not as spicy as I would expect, and not dry enough.

Mouthfeel is lively from the carbonation.

Overall an ok saison, but not as satisfying as other options.

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Photo of dgilks
3.53/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hazy pale gold colour with a big, fluffy off-white head. Fair head retention.

Spicy, herbal aroma with a touch of lemon. Soft but appropriate to style.

Very soft malt with a peppery, spicy yeast profile. A few, lemony esters come through as well but this is a very spicy saison.

Medium-light body with moderately-high carbonation.

A decent saison with the right flavours but it lacks a bit of X factors with the flavours not quite hitting all the high notes of a Saison Dupont or Bridge Road Chevalier Saison.

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Photo of Maxwell
3.54/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I love this bottle. It is artsy and minimalistic with its outline of a merlin bird. I especially love the subtle touches of yellow for the beak, eye, and beer name. The color scheme is simple: black, white, and gray with touches of yellow. I also love the choice to cork this beer. I think fat bulbous corks are awesome, and I love the little twisty things that go over it, as well as the designs on the top of the little twisty things. Overall the bottle feels classy and simplistic and I really enjoy it. This bottle is definitely worthy of a prime spot on your shelf.

The beer pours a nice paling yellow at the bottom of the glass with a slight oranging on the top. It’s almost straw yellow with a slight ambering at the top, and a huge fat whit bubbly head that has a decent retention, and sticks to the sides of the glass, forcing peaks to run up the edges in a wall of lacing. The beer is also quite hazy, but sits in the glass beautifully. The smell is light and fruity sweet with some nice lingering spices and a strong underlying citrus orange kick. Pineapple also seems to be present in the smell, which is lovely.
The beer tastes quite strangely bitter, with a very harsh cut on the tongue. There is a nice light fruity flavor to this beer, much like the smell with spicy hints and very sour feel in the mouth and on the tongue which has got me lips puckering slightly. This is far more of a sour-ale than any other saison I have tried, reminding me more and more of a lambic ale. Carbonation and harsh bitter/sour attacks the tongue right off the bat and hides some of the more slight spicy flavors that seem to exist as ghosts in the beer. The beer leaves the tip of the tongue tingling with harsh bubbles, and thus mutes a lot of the after-flavor as well. Orange and slight pineapple are still present in the flavoring. Overall I feel like the beer sits too sweet and harsh on the tongue which kills other flavors complexity and doesn’t really make it for me. This beer has an awesome bottle and pours very lovely in a glass, but its taste and smell don’t deliver. I rank this a meh beer with an awesome bottle (I really like the bottle if you haven’t noticed…).

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Photo of pinotboy007
3.54/5  rDev -9.7%
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 kaseydad
3.54/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Into the Bubba Gump glass ya go.

Pours a clear straw colored ale with a MASSIVE frothy white head. Suprisingly no lace at all. The smell is refreshing and clean. Lotsa dark fruits (plum and pear), orange, floral and light malts. The taste is a combo of malty, spicy and fruity. All competing together with a malty start, fruity middle and spicy finish. Got the burps started on me. Light hops and peppery aftertaste. Average mouthfeel. Nothing noteworthy. Overall I thought this was decent. Love the brewery but this just wasn't one of my fav's from them. +1 for the bird you can gaze at on the label while partaking....though he does look slightly in pain.

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Photo of WorldWideStout
3.54/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Cloudy orange yellow. Initial pour with nice white head but it dissipated pretty fast, too fast for a saison. Not much lacing.

S: Bananas, oranges, apples, Belgian yeast.

T: Yeast is much more prevalent. Beginning is all yeasty spiciness. Fruits come in the middle to balance out the yeast, and the flavor becomes rather sweet, which goes through the end of the sip.

M: Really quite lovely. Carbonation is there and stays through the end of the sip, but it is creamy and smooth as well.

O: I like sweet, and this was one of the sweeter saisons I've had, but I felt it lacked depth and complexity.

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Photo of Zorro
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Fairly hard to extract cork comes out only after resorting to a cork puller. Loud pop and high carbonation level.

Heavily chill hazed gold colored beer with a very tall white head with a slight yellow tinge.

Sweet and floral with a fairly spicy scent most of which is coriander. Lots of honey and flower aroma with a little pepper on the alcohol fumes. Speaking of the alcohol there is a fairly strong alcohol presence that caries mostly citrus lemon and orange aromas.

The taste begins sweet and that is about it at first. As I drink this coriander and some bitterness builds. The honey flavor here is quite strong and it takes about three sips until the flower flavors kick in then it is joined by wood, hay and pollen flavors mostly as after tastes. Not a bad Saison but the flavor could be a bit stronger.

The mouthfeel is OK.

Saison is one of the toughest beer styles to compete in due to the high quality and low cost of Hennepin; this isn't equal to Hennepin. This is OK and quite mildly flavored

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Photo of dyoung3
3.55/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasted this one as a sample at Cowgirl Creamery in Washington DC's beer tasting. Poured in a small IKEA glass about 2 ounces.

Appearance: Little more orange/copper than I expected for a Saison. Definitely not as carbonated as the Dupont but almost a welcome attribute.

Smell: Belgian presence but not very George Clinton (aka funky)

Taste: Man, this is a tough one. I probably didn't drink enough to give this beer justice but it was a little too cidery for me which in turn translated into a bit of perceived sweetness. Could have been a lack of hop balance but that is what held me back in the Dupont so I'm not sure where I stand on this style I guess. Remnants of the Klokke Roeland were buzzing in my head, a beer I have yet to review. Can't say I didn't enjoy it though.

Mouthfeel: I actually enjoyed the viscous nature of this beer more so than the Dupont's high carbonation. The alcohol was not as evident as you might think for a 7.9% beer but I could absolutely drink an entire bottle of this.

Overall: Would recommend but not necessarily over other Saisons since I don't have that much experience with them. Am definitely eager to explore the style further especially with the Stateside Saison from Stillwater. Next time...

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Photo of Vonerichs
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Clear straw color with a good amount of white frothy head.

Smell is mostly lemon, a little yeast.

Taste is also lemon and a slight funky yeast. This doesn't have the nice peppery hint that I like in saisons. Overall, pretty light in flavor.

This mouthfeel with high carbonation.

No detection of alcohol and light body makes this an easy drinker.

Overall, a good beer but too light in flavor for me.

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Photo of wedge
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.5

Solid orange, fairly hazy, with an expansive puffy head that deflates to a lumpy froth. Smell is yeasty...peppery oranges, dried flowers, spicy phenolics, and crackers. Peppercorns, apple, lemon, honey, coriander, bubblegum, and a powdery sort of sweetness. Fluffy bodied, crisp, and just a little tart. Not bad, but not quite coming together for me.

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Photo of TBoneJones
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.25

Poured this into a chalice, and it's a very hazy orange-copper, with barely a head at all.
It smells like antique funk, with some peppermint. Basic, but quite nice.
Tastes like a funky citrus/ wheaty version of the beer's scent. There's some bubblegum leading up to its tart, medicinal finish, yet this remains more sweet than dry and an underlying peppercorn dominates the aftertaste.
Feel is medium and crisp.
Overall,this was okay. Impression left was of a somewhat harsh Belgian saison as far as the peppercorn aspect, which is a less desirable departure from the more refreshing balance I've experienced in such styles.

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Photo of Thorpe429
3.56/5  rDev -9.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle from Rick's in Alexandria, Served in a Mikasa tulip.

Pours a slightly-hazy golden color with a HUGE rocky white head. Retention is phenomenal. There's a thick sheet of lacing as it goes down. Really impressive-looking beer.

The nose starts off with some peppery phenols plus some herbal spice. Light pilsner malt behind that. Muted nose, but pretty nice. The flavor is heavy on the yeast, with just a touch of malt and hops as background. Pretty good amount of spice being carried through by heavy carbonation.

The body is light-medium. Dry and smooth through the finish with a bitterness level that is a bit above average for the style. No noticeable alcohol until the final portion of the finish.

Overall, pretty good. This has a nice yeast profile but gets the alcohol level a bit too high. I think taking this down to 6-6.5% would lead to a more crisp and drinkable beer.

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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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