North Coast Brewing Co – Le Merle

I did this tasting on Friday.  It’s when I typically manage to open up a big bottle for tasting.  It celebrates the end of the week, and it is something that I actually have come to look forward to.  Thursday night I start thinking about what beer will be opened Friday around 5 pm.  My desires differ quite often on why certain bottles get opened.  I typically have 4 big bottles in the fridge at any one time.  This gives me a somewhat limited quantity of beer to choose from; however, it is good enough for one guy.  Sometimes I open a bottle simply because it’s been in the fridge for a while.  Every time a bottle comes out, I put a new bottle in.  I hate rotating all around a bottle, so I eventually just open it.  Other times I have thought of a good blog to accompany a particular beer.  I like to write a little lead into my reviews, and sometimes I allow those ideas to shape how I drink.  Finally, I find myself picking a particular bottle based on the week or day.  This week has been really hot, and my classroom doesn’t have air conditioning or very good airflow.  Having 150 students cycle in and out of my classroom every day tends to only increase the temperature in the room.  So this week’s beer is one that I thought would be the most refreshing.  I needed a beer I thought would be the most satisfying.

There is one other really big reason for me wanting to get this beer open, I am considering brewing a farmhouse saison for my next brew from Vigilante Brewing Co.  Thus far I’ve brewed an amber ale and an imperial IPA.  I’m not really sure what direction I wanted to head next.  I was considering a wheat beer, but I had some second thoughts about that.  Then I was considering something Belgian, and I ended up wanting to do a saison.  I’ll get into the reasons behind it at another point in time, but I think it could be a fun summery beer to have when it’s ready later on in the summer.  That’s the thought anyway.

North Coast Brewing Co describes this beer as having abundant hops, a rich Belgian yeast strain, and tropical fruits.  Although I’m not sure I got all of those out of it while I was drinking it, I was really excited for this one following a really long and supper hot week.

This one pours out a very yellow color with an extremely distinct orange tint to it.  This is some of the more interesting head I’ve been on a beer before.  If you actually look at the picture I took, you can see exactly what I’m talking about.  this beer has a very soapy and sudsy quality to it.  Head tends to have lots of little or foamy bubbles.  This one has really big soap bubbles that pop really quickly and manage to disappear fairly fast.  The beer has a very clear quality to it with a lot of visible carbonation in the glass as well.  Interestingly, there is basically no lacing even with all the bubbles, and it only leaves a very small amount of barely visible sticky residue.

The biggest scent I get coming off the beer is an ample amount of spicy clove.  This isn’t too shocking for a Belgian themed beer.  There is a ton of citrus that complements the beer really well.  Interestingly, I get a lot of big fruits that seem to dominate a lot of the smell as well.  I get some very light raspberry and strawberry aromas coming off the beer.  It’s really light, but it seems to be there.  There are some really mild hop aromas, but it is really overpowered by a lot of the yeast.

I like a lot of the subtle flavors that are accomplished here with this beer.  The citrus is the dominant flavor that starts off the beer; however, I get a lot of really subtle sweet fruits backing these flavors up.  I get some light raspberry and strawberries that really seem to compliment a hefty amount of orange flavoring.  This is all combined with some nice sweet malts.  There is a ton of spicy yeast that comes in with big clove flavoring.  This takes over and manages to overpower a lot of the flavor profile, but it also makes it easy to miss the hops that follow the yeast.  There is some hops that seem light, but I think need to be heavier to break through with all that spicy clove yeast in the way.  The beer ends with a little citrus, a lot of lingering clove, and a slight touch of fruit.

There is a ton of carbonation on the mouthfeel.  I feel like it would have to have it when it comes to this style.  This helps to make the beer really refreshing.  The yeast and carbonation keep the syrupy nature at bay.  The subtle fruit flavors are a great addition to an already tasty beer.

This beer really hit the spot after a long week of work.  If you’re looking for a really good beer to kick off summer with, I would definitely look for this one.  I might even pick up another bottle if I find it!

Teacher Grade: A



  1. This beer sounds delicious! Two summers ago, I was all about the Saisons, but then I got sidetracked as I explored other beer styles. Thanks to my mini Sour obsession over the past few months, I am back to hunting down Saisons (picked up a Green Flash version over the weekend). I feel like they’re somewhat related for whatever reason. Must be their wine-like qualities. I’ll add this one to my list!

    Happy Monday!


  2. I don’t believe I have ever seen this North Coast offering. It sounds very subtle and complex. I will have to keep an eye out for it. Nice review!

  3. Woohoo!! I was present for this tasting. Hoorah! Where’s the shout-out to your guest taste-testers, eh!? hhaha, jk. Glad to see this got an A. I heart Saisons!!

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