"Le Merle" ("Blackbird")
Saison Belgian Syle Farmhouse Ale (North Coast Brewing Company, Fort Bragg, CA)
Part of their American Artisan Series (which also includes "Brother Thelonius"), comes in a cork-and-caged 750ml bomber that retails for around $7.99
Bottle reads :
"Le Merle is an elegant ale, pale in color, inspired by the rich brewing traditions of the Flanders region. Abundant hops and a Belgian yeast strain contribute the exotic aromas of tropical fruit".
Style : Saison
ABV : 7.9%
Bitterness : 26 IBU's
Seemed an appropriate choice of beer on a Sunday afternoon were the weather was as dazzling as Donny Osmond's teeth and I needed a respite from an exhausting morning reading the paper and drinking coffee. One of my favourite styles of beer, regardless of the season.
Poured into a Brewery Ommegang goblet.
Nice champagnesque "pop" upon opening.
Beautiful golden yellow. A very nice looking beer, it was hard not to devour this immediately but I managed to resist the instant gratification to let it warm up from it's initial chill.
Smell is of fragrant fruit, faint yeast?
Taste - immediate burst of citrus, melon, lemon, grassy with a subtle pleasant spiciness to round off the tartness.
Medium to light mouthfeel with a bit of a dry finish but not bone dry by any means.
This is a delightful and refreshing beer, immensely drinkable - I would never have guessed this as a 7.9% ABV, drinks like a 6% beer.
Rating : A-
A triumphant interpretation of a classic Belgian beer style by this iconic award-winning brewery, executed with aplomb!
More about the style:
Saison/Farmhouse Ale : Sturdy farmhouse Ale traditionally brewed in the winter to be consumed throughout the summer months when brewing was not possible due to the heat. Originated in French speaking region of southern Belgium (Wallonia), "saison" is French for season. Very complex style - fruity, spicy, earthy, mild to moderate tartness, medium bitterness, semi-dry. Normal ABV range from 5-8%.
Examples of the style include Saison Du Pont (the most acclaimed), Hennepin (Ommegang), Sofie (Goose Island), Cynic (Surly).