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May 5, 2012 - Shannon
The time is upon us! May 2012- It’s officially the 2 year anniversary of Shannon’s Beer Blog. And I’m tackling a challenge, summer brew. As you may know by now, summer is my favorite season for almost everything except beer. “Summery” beer to me is, by definition, light, watery, and bland. Some people argue that a summer beer should be refreshing, which I will not dispute, but refreshing should not mean tasteless. There are a few beer styles that I have identified that seem to meet my stringent summer beer demands, hefeweisen, IPAs, and Farmhouse Saison.
Farmhouse Saison Ale is an excellently refreshing beer that consistently meets my summer needs. Though, when I picked up this particular bottle, I had no idea it would be something summery. You see, it was the label that drew me in. Le Merle’s violent raven reminded me of an Edgar Allen Poe poem, so I was expecting something dark and brooding. How surprising to read that it’s a Farmhouse Saison, and just in time for May?! I decided to give it a try.
Le Merle is from North Coast Brewing company, located just north of Fort Bragg, California, and probably best known for their Old Rasputin Stout. Compared to most of the beer in my fridge, the 7.9%ABV is a little low, though it is quite high for a “summer” style beer. The typical pilsner or light lager clocks in around 4.5-5%. Once again, you’ll hear me say that nothing is as impressive as hearing that beautiful bottle POP as you open it.
Le Merle is a light straw brown with a fluffy head that remains frothy and thick long after it pours. For having such a light color, the beer is still quite cloudy. Typically I have found that unfiltered equals flavor, and this is promising! The smell is citrus-y, a little wheaty and sour.
Upon sipping, my first thought is, “it’s nice.” Probably not the rave review that the North Coast was hoping for, but I do find it quite pleasing. It’s a bit tart, a refreshing factor in warm weather, and there’s a distinct lemon pith and allspice that round out the flavor. The back of my tongue picks up a hint of white grape juice and bread yeast. In my cheeks, I get some granny smith apple and some honeysuckle blossom. Reading back over that list of flavors, it seems to be an earthy array that seems perfectly labeled as “farmhouse.”
As far as ratings go, I’d give it a solid B. Though if we’re judging by summer beer standards, I will even go a B+. For any of you who are intimidated by craft beer, or think that “fancy” beer can get too dark, complex and overwhelming, this may be a great way to transition. Embrace the flavors of the farm and some refreshing summer ale. Try a Le Merle, and find some inspiration in that feisty label!
North Coast Brewing – Le Merle