North Coast Le Merle

It’s getting to be the type of weather that makes me really enjoy this style of beer. I first tried this beer in Philly years ago, but didn’t review it. I bought a bomber of this to review. Let’s see how this went.


ABV: 7.9%

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Le Merle is a rustic ale, pale in color, inspired by the rich brewing traditions of the Flanders region. Abundant hops and a Belgian yeast strain contribute exotic aromas of tropical fruit. For all she has contributed since the brewery’s founding, North Coast Brewing is pleased to honor our Merle, Brewmaster Mark Ruedrich’s wife, with Le Merle (the Blackbird), a subtle sophisticated Belgian-style Saison beer.”

Random: It’s been over a year since I reviewed a beer from North Coast.

This brew poured with a one finger, white head that dissipated quickly. It didn’t leave any lacing on the glass, although it retained a very small crown on top of the body throughout sipping it. The body was a dark orange color with moderate carbonation visible. The nose had notes of clove with some apples and Belgian yeast. There were some white grapes that came through as well. The nose was really fragrant and very nice. The taste had some sweet notes, along with white grapes and pears. After a few sips, biscuit and cloves came through as well too. Belgian yeast was also there with some drying alcohol at the end as well. Although it sounded like there was a lot going on, it all really worked. The body was medium thickness with high carbonation. It had a long finish with Belgian yeast and clove. Awesome.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0

North Coast Grand Cru

Well, we’ve hit something that I didn’t think I would ever have the dedication to hit…post #1000 (note: it’s not review #1000 because I had a few months that I would do a top five list)! I started this blog knowing nothing about beer and just trying whatever I got my hands on. Although I don’t profess to know everything (or even all that much) about beer, I’ve gotten the chance to explore a lot of great beers so far. Here’s to post #1000…and the next 1000.

ABV: 12.9%

Style: Belgian Strong Pale Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Reminiscent of North Coast Brewing’s Gold Medal-winning Twentieth Anniversary Ale, North Coast Grand Cru is brewed with pilsner malt and agave nectar, then aged in oak bourbon barrels. We’ve had a good time exploring the brewing possibilities outside of the standard beer styles. North Coast Grand Cru doesn’t fit neatly into any established category. We brew it exclusively with Pils malt with an addition of agave nectar in the kettle. The beer is then fermented with the same Belgian yeast that we use to ferment our North Coast Brewing Le Merle. It’s subtle, complex and lightly hopped with a deceptive 12.5% ABV, and aging it in oak gives this unique beer an extra dimension. The result is really ‘champagne-like.'”

Random: This brew was aged since 1/27/2012.

This brew poured with no head at all on top of a cloudy, light orange-colored body. There was mild carbonation visible. The nose was apple juice, agave nectar and a touch of citrus. The taste was much more Belgian than the nose. I got apple juice, banana, the usual Belgian spices, Belgian yeast and honey. After a few sips, I got some peppercorns too. There was no booze detectable on this one either. The body was thin with heavy carbonation. The finish was long with apple juice and honey. Although there were a lot of different flavors, the body was too thin and the beer could have been more balanced. Only alright.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

North Coast Scrimshaw Pilsner

Another day done. Kate made me a great dinner. I had spaghetti with butter and cheese and then rice krispies treats for dessert. You laugh, but after not eating for a few days, this tasted absolutely amazing. Kate actually made the rice krispies treats because she saw me mention it on the blog. Score! Anyways, beer time…

ABV: 4.4%

Style: German Pilsener

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Named for the delicate engravings popularized by 19th century seafarers, Scrimshaw is a fresh tasting Pilsner brewed in the finest European tradition using Munich malt and Hallertauer and Tettnang hops. Scrimshaw has a subtle hop character, a crisp, clean palate, and a dry finish.”

Random: I love North Coast beers, but it’s been way too long since I’ve had one. Almost a year to be exact.

This one poured with a two finger, fluffy white head, more than expected for the style. It dissipated slowly and left lots of lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, straw yellow color with insane amounts of carbonation. The nose was grassy with a touch of honey. It was understated, but clean and nice, absolutely appropriate for the style. The taste was grain, grass and a touch of sweetness at the end. The flavors were clean, sharp and pleasant. The body was light with heavy carbonation. This was definitely a solid pilsner. That’s a lot coming from me, given that I’m not a huge fan of the style. This went down really easily and was quite flavorful. Give one of these to your BMC drinking friends, you could have a convert.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0

North Coast Brother Thelonious

Another beer tonight and the last one of the California six-pack. Well, technically I have one more California beer in the fridge, but I actually bought it when I went down South the last time. So that was part of the group of beers that I haven’t seen up here. Anyways, I went on and on about how much I loved North Coast when I had another one of their brews. So, time to break out the tulip and try this bad boy.

ABV: 9.4%

Style: Belgian Strong Dark Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “North Coast Brewing Co. is proud to partner with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz in support of Jazz education. The Brewery makes a donation to the Institute for every bottle of Brother Thelonious Belgian Style Abbey Ale sold. Like a Belgian ‘Dark Strong Ale,’ this beer is rich and robust with an ABV of 9.3%. The package features a label picturing the Jazz master himself, and comes in either a 375 or 750 ml bottle with a traditional cork and wire finish, or 12 oz. 4-packs.”

Random: It’s been awhile since I’ve used my tulip. I usually like heavier beers when it’s cold, but it just wasn’t a cold winter.

The brew poured with a two finger, tan head on top of a cloudy dark brown body. The carbonation was pretty active. The nose started with a lot of booze, dark fruit and an overwhelming aroma of raisins. The taste was a bit of a disappointment. First of all, too much carbonation on the brew. Next, the sweetness of the dark fruit and raisins did not work with the sour note that came through after. I was surprised that there wasn’t more spice on this brew. After a few sips, it almost tastes like old cherries. The booze was pretty apparent on this, with a very long finish. This is a brew that I had high hopes for, but fell completely flat. I wouldn’t have this again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0 (After trying it again, I was definitely more impressed)

North Coast Blue Star Great American Wheat Beer

Today was an absolutely insane day at work. I ended up dispatching for 90% of the day. When I started at my company, I got moved from being a road EMT to a dispatch and dispatched for a few years before getting moved to my current position. I always enjoyed dispatching, but hadn’t done it for awhile. I would fill in occasionally, but it has been awhile since I did it for the entire day. It was a lot more fun when I did it and didn’t have to get my other work functions done too! But, it felt like I was stepping back in time, and I wasn’t even that rusty. I’m trying to bang out a quick review before I have to jump in the shower and meet Katie for dinner. I have to say, she’s very cute. She’s really trying to get into beer, even though she’s a big fan of those fruity Mike’s Hard Lemonade things. I’ve even gotten here to do Jameson shots with me. I’m creating a monster…so the back to the beer. North Coast is a brewery that I fell in love with early on in my craft beer life. I remember drinking North Coast Pranqster and just falling in love with the complexity of it. Almost every offering from them has knocked my socks off. I thought that this beer would totally fit in with the weather too…so let’s get pouring!

ABV: 4.5%

Style: American Pale Wheat Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Choice American barley and wheat malts are combined with a blend of noble hops to create this light, fruity, refreshing beer. Brewed in the style of the American beer renaissance, Blue Star is unfiltered, the yeast adding a complex note to the flavor profile.”

Random: This is the 7th North Coast brew that I’ve reviewed.

Blue Star poured with almost no head. What was there was pure white and dissipated quickly, leaving no lacing on the pint glass. I was surprised…I thought that I’d get a nice, fluffy head. The body was a slightly cloudy dark yellow with moderate carbonation. The next odd thing about the brew was the nose. It didn’t smell like a wheat beer. I got honey and lemon zest. I really didn’t get that normal wheat element in the nose that I’m used to from the style. The taste was definitely different as well. The honey notes were present, as were light toasted malts. The citrus really took a back seat on this brew. There was a pronounced bready quality to the brew, which made it seem thicker than it was. The body was towards the thicker side for the style, but was medium overall. The carbonation was also less than I’m used to for the style. Although these flavors weren’t what I’m used to for the style, it didn’t make it a bad beer. But, if I was going for a wheat beer in the dead of summer, I wouldn’t grab for this one. This is definitely worth a try, but probably my least favorite offering from the brewery.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

North Coast Old Stock Ale 2011

What a long day. I can tell it’s going to be one of those weeks that drains all the energy out of me. Add to that, I didn’t get to sleep until about 0100 yesterday. Not that I was complaining because I got to hang out with my girlfriend. So, today was a pretty busy day at work and tomorrow is going to be all data analysis. I can’t wait, really. So, time to pop open a beer.

ABV: 11.7%

Style: Old Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Like a fine port, Old Stock Ale is intended to be laid down. With an original gravity of over 1.100 and a generous hopping rate, Old Stock Ale is well-designed to round-out and mellow with age. It’s brewed with classic Maris Otter malt and Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops, all imported from England.”

Random: Is it baseball season yet? I can’t wait for Spring Training.

This brew poured with half a finger of white head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a deep and cloudy brown with a decent amount of visible carbonation on the glass. The nose had a lot on it. Wow. It started with figs and a hint of booze and then went into some peat with a bit of toffee sweetness. On the taste…first of all, way more carbonation that I expected. Now, onto the flavors. I definitely got some candied sugar, dates, spice and caramel. There is a crapload going on with this one. There is a bit of sweetness to it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the brew. The alcohol is definitely a presence on this, but given the ABV, I’m not surprised. There was also a hint of nuttiness to it. The finish lingered for awhile with some booze and sweetness. This was a crazy complex, yet wonderfully enjoyable brew. I would definitely have this one again. I wonder how it evolves with age…perhaps it’s something I pick up to cellar next year.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

North Coast Old Stock Cellar Reserve 2009

It’s 10:30 and I’m finally sitting down to have my nightly beer. My Dad stopped by and I helped him move a bunch of stuff and in return, I got a box of beer and some beer books. Nice! For a guy that doesn’t know a lot about beer, he definitely gets some good stuff. He says that he picks things based on the labels and he tends to pick Belgians. But, I’m now to the point that there is no more room in the beer fridge, so I had to start cellaring some stuff. I could definitely get used to random beer gifts.

ABV: 14.6%

Style: Old Ale

Trivia: According to the North Coast website, “In an exercise of humanitarian charity and to demonstrate just how very much we care about our friends, North Coast brewmaster, Mark Ruedrich, has just now released an exceptional batch of 2009 Old Stock Ale that has been aged for 18 months in oak Bourbon barrels. In this latest example of the cunning of his hand, Brewmaster Ruedrich has set new standards for the brewers’ art. To say that it’s amazing would be an understatement. Look for Old Stock Cellar Reserve in the special decorated bottle, as they say, wherever fine beers are sold. There’s not much, and it will go fast, so be vigilant.”

Random: I’m all about bourbon barrels and aging beers…I’m hoping that this is a good one.

This brew poured with a two finger head that dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a murky dark chestnut-brown with some visible moderate carbonation. On the nose, I got definite bourbon notes, vanilla, oak, and raisins. Raisins actually came out the most for me. I also got a mild hint of booze, but due to the large ABV, I was really surprised that I didn’t get more. On the taste, wow…I got a lot of different flavors. First off, I got a bit of caramel and sugar and definite bourbon notes. Then, the raisins came out. Everything just works really well in concert. The booze really only came out at the finish with a bit of warming and the finish is pretty quick. The beer is also a little lighter than I expected with some moderate carbonation. This is a great beer and a definite sipper. Although this is a bit of a pricey beer at $24 a bottle, I would definitely have it again.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0