Friday, February 5, 2010

Le Merle (The Blackbird) - North Coast Brewing Company

Hello hello! How has everyone been? I know it has been a long time since my last post, but sometimes life just gets in the way. For instance the rest of my life, like photography, painting, traveling, skiing, relaxing, working, sleeping, eating, and brewing my own beer. Sometimes it is just tough to find and keep things balanced. From here on out, I am going to make a more concerted effort to keep things in balance and make more attempts to post regularly on this blog. So stay tuned; I'm making a comeback. Now for the beer!

Today I am reviewing a new brewery: North Coast Brewing Company, out of Fort Bragg, California. When I made attempts to view their website, nothing happened. The page wouldn't load. So A: they either went out of business, or B: forgot to pay the bill to keep their website up and running. I'm kind of thinking it's probably the latter. In any case North Coast Brewing Co is responsible for producing widely known beers such as: Old Rasputin, PranQster, Brother Thelonius, and Red Seal Organic Ale. The brew I am reviewing tonight happens to be a belgian style ale by the name of Le Merle (The Blackbird) Belgian Style Farmhouse (Saison) Ale.

Saison just so happens to be a french word and it means: "Season." Traditionally these beers were produced in Flanders (thus the reason for a Belgian/French combo name on the style) and only seasonally during the summer. Present day we can find and enjoy them year round. Saison ales are usually very fruity with overall good clarity, and big white fluffy heads. They contain lots of spice and herbs to create complex aromas and flavors. They are highly carbonated and typically are light to medium bodied. They are also usually of mid to high alcohol content. And so, without further adieu (adieu, another french word :P ) lets get to the good stuff...

Name: Le Merle
Category/Style: Saison (Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale)
ABV: 7.9%
IBU: 24
OG: Unknown
Malt Types: Unknown
Hop Types: Unknown

The Pour: Cloudy hazy dark yellow-orange. Head is off-white; initially fluffy, but quickly fades, and the result is little to no head retention. No lacing whatsoever.

The Nose: Nose is spicy. Bursts of citrus. Orange peel. Spices. Pineapple. Really sweet. Slight muskiness. Butterscotch. Bubblegum. Bready yeast. Makes me want to take a bite.

The Taste: Fizzy carb, quickly dissipates. Yeasty as it spreads over the palette. Spicy notes. Dulled out flavors I can't quite place. Almost makes your mouth water as it hits the back of the mouth. Light to medium body. Definitely sweet and bready; overall I'd say pretty dry. Notes of citrus, orange, pineapple. Slight warming effect on the back of the throat well after the fact...

The Verdict: Overall I would have to say I was slightly disappointed with this brew. I thought the aroma was much nicer than the actual flavor. However, the drinkability is high, surprising for an abv of 7.9%. The alcohol is barely detectable and the body was on the light to medium side. It was quite refreshing and would certainly make a nice summertime brew. I say your best bet to enjoy this one is in the shade on a hot summers day.

Thanks for reading!


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