I think there’s a Northern California brewer I’ve been ignoring a bit these past few years. NORTH COAST BREWING just seems to fly under the radar, despite the ubiquity of their beers at places like BevMo, Whole Foods and the like. I’ve still never had BROTHER THELONIUS; I wasn’t that fond of OLD RASPUTIN; I loved PRANQSTER but just plum forgot about it the last three years – and the others? Well RED SEAL and the more pedestrian beers of theirs are all fine, but I have them at barbeques and whatnot, and don’t pay much attention to my “scoring”, as it were.
LE MERLE is one that’s been on my I-should-probably-try-this list, and the other night at City Beer Store, I did just that. LE MERLE is a smooth, golden, out-of-this-world Belgian saison. The yeasts are everywhere in this one – very active, tingling, and alive on the tongue. It smells of tropical fruit and citrus, and definitely has a strong hop profile. It’s really got some great zing to it, but the operative word is “smooooooth”. This was fresh on tap, but I’m going to buy a bottle of this shortly and see if it holds up. North Coast beers are a bargain at appx. $6.99 per bomber – for a top-quality Belgian-style ale like this one, you’d better buy two of ‘em. 8.5/10.