A poet may write a poem to express their love for their wife, while a sculptor may produce a beautiful statue. So, why shouldn't a brewer make a special beer in honor of his lady love? That's the idea behind North Coast Brewing Company's Le Merle, the second entry into the Fort Bragg, Calif., brewery's American Artisan series.
A poet may write a poem to express their love for their wife, while a sculptor may produce a beautiful statue.
So why shouldn't a brewer make a special beer in honor of his lady love?
That's the idea behind North Coast Brewing Company's Le Merle, the second entry into the Fort Bragg, Calif., brewery's American Artisan series.
"The name, Merle, is actually the name of our president and brewmaster's (Mark Ruedrich) wife," said Doug Moody, senior vice president. "Merle was here basically working prior to the brewery even opening it's door. She decided she wasn't going to be a full-time employee any longer, so we decided to have a beer named for her."
Le Merle, which means "blackbird" in French, is a Belgian saison. Saisons are Belgian farmhouse-style ales. The ales are typically dry, with a hint of sweetness.
Le Merle is a fantastic example of the style. It's a nice golden color with a spicy, peppery taste, mixed with a fruity flavor, maybe peaches. At more than 7 percent alcohol by volume, it is a perfect beer to split with someone over a nice chicken dinner.
Moody said Le Merle was based on a beer commissioned by Whole Foods a few years ago called Silver Jubilee.
"We produced a small amount, and we felt the beer was too good to make only one time and never be made again," Moody said. "It's the Silver Jubilee with a few changes. We couldn't be happier with it. We think it's one of the best beers on our list."
Le Merle is the second beer released as part of the 19-year-old brewery's American Artisan series. Last year, it released Brother Thelonious, a Belgian-dubbel, named for legendary jazz musician Thelonious Monk.
Le Merle, though, is a step up from Brother Thelonious, which was not one of the top beers released from North Coast.
Le Merle will be a year-round, permanent release for North Coast, and it is only available in 750 milliliter bottles.
The addition of Le Merle to North Coast's portfolio only strengthens what is a long list of excellent beers.
The most popular beer is Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale, a West Coast-style pale ale.
The Red Seal Ale is a wonderful, hoppy pale ale, but it is also one of the best beers for drinkers of all tastes. I've never known anyone who did not like this beer, and at 5.6 percent ABV, the alcohol is not overwhelming.
"Red Seal is an extremely well-balanced product," said Moody. "It's hoppy, but you don't need Chapstick to drink it. It has a nice hop profile. It's a great session beer. You can drink a few Red Seals without feeling like you're going to fall down."
You could say the same thing about the Scrimshaw Pilsner. At 4.4 percent ABV, this is a great beer to have a few over a long period of time. This is a crisp, refreshing beer. The German hops mesh with the malts perfectly.
"Scrimshaw has really caught on fire for us," said Moody. "We're selling a lot of it lately."
Their best beer is the Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout. One of America's top beers, this stout is midnight black, smells like roasted malt with a slight chocolate scent. The taste is otherworldly coffee, chocolates and it feels very smooth when you're swallowing it.
At 9 percent ABV, this is a sipping beer, but it is one every lover of stouts should seek out at least once.
Another North Coast beer worth finding is the Old Stock Ale, a traditional old ale. Old Stock Ale is meant to be aged for years, and each one is marked with the vintage on it.
The 2007 version is probably too fresh, but it is still tasty; it has a very thick mouth feel, a lot of raisin flavor, and even a little caramel. It is 13.5 percent ABV.
"Some people think it's a barley wine because it is so dark, but it's a traditional old English ale," said Moody. "It's a beer that has remarkable and flavorable malts, and as the beer ages, because of its big alcohol, it becomes more and more mellow. We're drinking the 2000 right now, which was the first year, and it tastes incredibly good. Mark thinks Old Stock will be good for 15 to 20 years."
Norman Miller is a Daily News staff writer. For questions, comments, suggestions or recommendations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-626-3823.