Why we're here...

Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

La Merle Saison

Le Merle (French for Blackbird) is a Saison by North Coast Brewing Company of Fort Brag, California.

Saisons have become more popular recently. Traditionally, they are Belgium farmhouse ales brewed seasonly. Farmers would have their own distinctive recipe. Saison just means "Season" in french, so these styles would be brewed in different seasons. They vary widley in actual recipes, but they are meant to be refreshing, a little sour, light, and low in alcohol. In 2010 La Merle won Gold in the World Beer Championships.

I bought this at Taylor's Market in Sacramento for $10.99 for a 750ml. It has an ABV of 7.9% (on the higher end for Saisons).

It pours a golden straw color, with a big sea-foam head. Very little lacings, but a thin head stays behind as you drink. The aroma is fruity, like a white wine, pear or apples notes. The taste is the fruit pear/apple up front a bit of spice, citrus, and tangy. The mouthful is medium bodied, very well carbonated and has a slight dry feeling, like a tannic wine.  The finish is spicy, sweet, and tangy fruit.

I really like La Merle. It has a skillful combination of sweet, sour, tangy, spicy, dry, and carbonation. And in the end its refreshing. A excellent summer ale. Saisons vary greatly, but this is definitely a great example. While it is high in the ABV, you don't feel the alcohol too much. It even gets better if let to warm up a bit. I usually don't favor the sour beers, but La Merle gently uses sourness to compliment the sweet and spicy.

This is a Must Have It. It's unique, great tasting and Michael Jackson loved it. No not that MJ, the other one. Google Michael Jackson and Beer.

On another note - visit the North Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg. The Northwest of California is beautiful and populated by great breweries. Fort Brag has numerous affordable places to stay, right on the beach. While the tap room at North Coast is small, they have plenty of brews in bottles that are nearly impossible to find for sale outside the brewery. Take a weekend and explore the Northwest Coast of California.

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